Sunday, September 20, 2015

Absurdity

I've been watching mostly westerns lately. While catching up with Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, I thought a lot about Frankie Lane's singing narration:

(clippy clop clippy clop clippy clop)

O.K....Corral...
O.K....Corral...
There the outlaw band
will make their final stand
O.K....Corral...


Nowadays, nobody would dare to use a song like that in a movie -- not even as a parody, because young people would not recognize the thing being parodied. Yet today's films are not better, and today's audiences are not wiser. Yes, that song now seems incredibly corny. So what? It's still great.

As I was watching, the thought hit me: Maybe that's what the French nouvelle vague films of the 1960s always needed -- singing narration.

(clippy clop clippy clop clippy clop)

Ennui...ennui...
Absur...dity...
Life is meaningless
And it's ridiculous
to Be...to Be...


Ridiculous indeed. The above attempt at humor will mystify most of you, because no-one under the age of 50 has seen John Sturges' version of the Wyatt Earp legend. (Actually, it's his first version: Ten years later, he did another one that was less fun but more historically accurate.) Most young people would not be able to recognise either Kirk Douglas or Burt Lancaster, although some of them might grin when the familiar face of DeForest Kelley appears.

Yes: We now live in a time when DeForest Kelley is the most famous actor in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Similarly, no-one under the age of 50 has seen any of the European "art films" that every educated person was talking about throughout the 1960s. Goddard, Antonioni, Truffaut, Fellini, Resnais. All gone.

We used to think of culture as a kind of battle between high and low -- a battle between Ingmar Bergman and John Wayne. Time is the great equalizer: Mention either name to most kids today, even the ones in college, and you will see blank expressions.

If you are under the age of thirty, you probably have never seen a movie starring John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart.

That blows what I am amused to call my mind. If you are young, everything that happened before your birth is such a mystery. You know only the Now. What's that like?

Our tabula rasa culture gives a great advantage to demagogues and manipulators. You can tell a young person anything -- however horseshitty -- about that great void known as history, and you will be believed. Young people are the audience for books and essays proclaiming that liberals are responsible for all racism and war. Revisionists are teaching young people that Hitler was a liberal and John Kennedy was a conservative.

If you're in your 20s, be warned: The day will come -- within your lifetime -- when only specialists will know that there once was a series of movies based on Marvel comics. Worse than that: The history of the 2016 presidential election will be rewritten to suit the prevailing prejudices of 2066. When you see how now is mis-remembered then, your synapses will char and your very marrow will curdle.

(Imagine how the real Doc Holliday would react to the Sturges film.)

Nothing lasts. Nothing lasts.

It is indeed ridiculous to Be.
Comments:
...strut and fret our hour upon the stage....
 
It gives you a serious appreciation if how distorted history must be. If the recent past, within memory of many of the readers of this blog, is already grist for revisionist pseudo-historians, what can we say of the Enlightenment in the 18th Century? How garbled and misunderstood is that?

It's a bit sobering to reflect that "real" history is based on first-person letters and documents between the participants in historical events. What documents (and photos) are going to survive in the digital era?

 
We're starting to sound like our parents. "Kids today, I tell ya..."
In addition, "old movies" now include movies from the 90's.

It's like when the oldies station on the radio started playing The Who and the Rolling Stones.
 
@ColoradoGuy : 7:06 PM
"What documents (and photos) are going to survive in the digital era?"
->
That "argument" is one which matters the least to me.
Because the shear amount of documents, plus the access to documents never in history has been such a great.
Which communication of memory, documents are objectiyfied memory, adds a {new] dimension to any subjectivethe perception,the narration of history.
There is but ONE science, and that is HISTORY, its MAKING.
The making of HISTORY has ressulted in the making of tools, which allow men to merge the perception of nature, HISTORY of nature, up to a degree, that allows me to communicate THIS to You plus anybody else in he Universe.
The NARRATION of history can be turned into reflection of HISTORY using the same means as have been proved to be practical in natural science.
When we look into cosmos, we use a telescopic tool,
when we look into the small world, we use a microscope,
when we look into any document, and anything we look at becomes a document, we SHOULD be using HISTORY as the standard tool.
Any information must be fit into the timeline of HISTORY.
Nano-second by nano-second.
Only then we can see patterns, which allow us to recognise any strings
The standard of science beeing scientifical is its mathematisation.
See Einstein. One formula images the Universe. AND the history of the Universe,
Surprisingly, this standard tool, the equivalent of SPACETIME, human conscienceness, does not generally evolve.
Instead, we have a stagnation of perception of HISTORY that compares to the perception of SPACETIME divided into space AND time.
And the regularity with which this meta-phisical dis-ception of human history has been promoted points to one already existing objective perception of HISTORY at some place, in SOME human minds of CLASS, which, like the figures in the
allegory of the cave, are quite real and on purpose (The ones OUTSIDE the cave).
If the sentence is true, that says "All of human HISTORY is a history of class struggle", doesn't that than mean, that the struggle is over the perception of History in the human brain?
The miiddle-ageion method of chopping-up heads is still arround and put on screen.
But the screen - isn't it like the rock of the cave, the canvas, the unaccounted-of black matter of the universe, the "sub-stance" in the language of philosophers?
Have a nice day
->
 
Cities and Thrones and Powers
Stand in Time's eye,
Almost as long as flowers,
Which daily die:

Kipling
 
"Similarly, no-one under the age of 50 has seen any of the European "art films" that every educated person was talking about throughout the 1960s. Goddard, Antonioni, Truffaut, Fellini, Resnais. All gone."

I suppose it will be small comfort, but I'm under 50 and have seen films by those you list. Of course, I'm 46 and took a couple film classes in college, so not much of a difference from what you said.

ColoradoGuy sums it up nicely though......can you imagine how different what we think we know about say, the American Revolution, is from what people actually experienced and lived at the time? History isn't just written by the victors, it's written by people who weren't even there and are relying on the written words of people who were (and all their biases, assumptions, and propaganda).
 
Some of Godard's early films turn into musicals for a few minutes - Bande a part, Pierrot le Fou - playfully, with no irony.
 
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