Why watch Winds of War, the made-for-TV 'saga' from the 80s, a multi-hour mini-series, extended to yet more multi-hours as War and Remembrance, both titles coming from Herman Wouk best-selling novels of the time?
1) Ali McGraw. Flat-voiced as she always was, nevertheless good-looking with marvelous legs. I think her 'dark beauty' satisfied someone's idea of a passable 'Jewish look', so her success earlier as Brenda, the Jewish Princess, in Goodbye, Columbus, led to the role here as Natalie Jastrow. She works her nostrils and puts up with nobody's guff. Frankly, she's hot.
2) Robert Mitchum. Always tending toward the 'sleepy', here should have been issued 'USN regulation' bedroll as a naval captain itching for a battle command and reluctantly being thrust into the highest diplomatic backchannels to show us history as it is unfolding. Just like McGraw, it's the 'screen glamor' that works. Old, tired, working-for-the-check, Mitchum still merits a gaze.
3) History to be watched by 11 year-olds. I'll rate it PG. Should be seen before middle school.
4) History as sentimentalized 40-plus years after the fact for a then-aging War generation of people sitting on sofas and planning Vegas vacations.
5) History as ironic reflection of what we took for granted and now have begun to see slip away: heroic America, the 'good guys', the 'world-beloved', the 'savior democracy' -- all those positive epithets and likely others now worn thin, or simply buffed-up at the Museum of the Right Wing.
6) History as the prospectus of a hedge fund, the kind of 'political capital' that a certain President, recently stepped-down, was willing to spend out of his sense of entrepreneurial caveat emptor on its surface manly, but in its recesses the sunken instablility of a lost child.
7) Ali McGraw: contact (this) home. There's a place by the hearth for you!
The scene in Fellini's Casanova where Donald Sutherland, as C -- the character aged now -- a librarian in the employ of Waldstein-Wartenberk at the latter's chateau, C seen by us the audience up to now throughout the film as a pre-eminent cocksman and witty rogue, see his face, alone, candle-light reflected. Candle-light extinguishing.
Poorly remembering this. The residual loneliness, though. Thus, memoir.
Fahrenheit up from the usual low 'corpse' readings that no doctors ever believe.
Three things from this illusory 'fever':
1) The word 'Edinburgh' appeared in the chance meanderings of the ceiling putty.
2) Reading about Gorky during 1917, his political good sense utterly lost upon that time, a man of letters judging the mob responses to Petrograd lawlessness. Then noting per chance an article in the newspaper about the release of Sarah Palin's book -- as a possible precursor for further political power.
3) Memory of head lights seen through glass -- home window? stationary car window? -- headlights moving in rain, feeling myself very young, younger than school age.
Society is vulnerable as a child.
The politics of this time pinprick stability like a fever.
Windmills Of Your Mind (Sting) Save Your Love For Me (Melissa Morgan) You Turned The Tables On Me (Anita O'Day) Isn't It A Pity? (Zoot Sims) How Long Has This Been Going On? (Julie London)
Tess's Torch Song (Dinah Shore) Until . . . (The Brodsky Quartet [and Sting]) What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life? (Irene Atman) Two For The Road (Greta Matassa) My One And Only Love (Art Tatum and Ben Webster)
When 'Sea Surface Full Of Clouds' measures-off a visual re-apprehension over 5 sections in four pages.
Phrases travel thus, in parallels among the sections, showing interaction between the water and the viewer's interpretation:
From rosy chocolate and gilt umbrellas To chop-house chocolate and sham umbrellas; Further, in continuing parallel, to porcelain chocolate and pied umbrellas. Then, to musky chocolate and frail umbrellas, Finally Chinese chocolate and large umbrellas.
Poaching on beauty carries a purgatorial sentence. Read the entire poem, of course. Absorb it. The point is that such writing, such witnessing, isn't merely a rich and eccentric description. Not just, no.
No one I've ever known in my widest acquaintance had, or had ancestral memory of, yachting off Mexico during the Harding era. Stevens had such access and likely a social orientation to match. But what he's presenting isn't a position in society, still less a hedonistic gloating, the value of the scene in USD.
His aesthetic balance gets defined. It's not a vulgar having or enjoying that's at stake. It's the human imagining. He's able to attain literal -- not allegorical -- visions. And what's arrived at and held onto is a reality, a situating of oneself in the moment that shifts around, as all moments do.
If this were music, we'd understand the modulations.
Which sounds like a bold, optimistic 'shot' by a systems-oriented mathematician.
A label so big it's overpoweringly fit for the lit stage of stand-up comedy.
That individuals of our species can devise a name, such as 'The T of E', with a straight face might give us hope that there is indeed an 'upside' to what year-by-year slides dirtward closer and closer. Could be careerism, useful as a big notch in a resume, in one's own self-esteem. Could have the heft of achievement of a Fabergé egg, true creation, but have little commensurate effect, except on practitioners and collectors. Remember: This is the same species that finds it hard even to tie a shoe without self-interested hurry, grumbling sloth, incompetence, or anger.
For giving me this past hour reading Northrop Frye quoting Italo Calvino and having them both make sense of finding, amidst the difficulty of such finding, the place where literature vibrates between me and what's not-me.
That it were not its rough-and-tumble character or that labyrinth of its institutions, but something deep, deeper- lodged, past the shadow of the coccyx, tucked inside the birth canal, in the alpha and beta of its AGCT, coded genetically, irreparably --
If it were that that drives the conflict of its reason to the serial, mad, self-negating conclusions
Again and heavier mounting again that push that strife to wring out to tear the need right out of itself by peeling back the skin and breaking each finger in the hand
To retaliate for not possessing the One answer that would stop the pain of its own committing -- if that were true:
1) 'In the morning I don't want to know where I'll be in the afternoon.' But in the afternoon, I'll know exactly where I've been. 2) 'A dead writer has no ego' . . . and a live reader dances upon its grave.
3) 'Where would you be if you left all your troubles behind?' Beating my Maker in a friendly game of checkers and having Her unbegrudgingly foot the cost of the champagne. (Credit nothingprofound's blog out of context: pieces of life for the savvy, clean launching points, me for the extensions.)