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Me and Gary, brooding (September 2004)

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A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.

John Milton


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Saturday, April 4th, 2009

The white shirt

Warning: do not look in this post for a train of thought. Sorry! I've been trying to come up with one for a couple of days but it's not happening yet. So this is just a placeholder, a couple of things I've noticed recently that want tying together.

Rosa (with whom I've been corresponding in English and in Spanish, thanks to Conversation Exchange for getting us together) sent me the lyrics to Ana Belén's "España, Camisa Blanca", a beautiful song that has really captured my imagination in the last few days.

I do not understand the metaphor yet -- Rosa explains that the song is about the end of Franco's regime in the late 70's, and that a white shirt is a symbol of hope. Looking around I see (from an article on El problema de España which I have not yet read) that the song's title comes from a poem by Blas de Otero Muñoz -- however I have not been able to find any of his poetry online, don't know the context. In the same article I notice a painting of Goya's, "The 3rd of May, 1808":

-- notice the white shirt which is the most striking detail of this painting. (The soldiers who are about to shoot the man in the white shirt are Napoleon's troops, suppressing civil unrest in Madrid during the occupation.) And now Dave is telling me that this painting features in Buñuel's movie Le fantôme de liberté -- onto my Netflix queue it goes... Hoping I will be able to suss out a thread connecting these items...

posted evening of April 4th, 2009: 1 response
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Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Sketch Comedy

I watched Buñuel's Phantom of Liberty last night (and thanks, Dave, for the recommendation!) and found it... mesmerizing? hilarious? yes, and Pythonesque. This is funny because while I've always thought of Monty Python's humor as "surrealistic," I think this is the closest approximation of their style that I've seen in the work of an actual Surrealist. I wonder what vectors of influence are working -- obviously the Pythons were familiar with Buñuel's work, and I expect Buñuel watched their shows, though I don't know what the timeline would look like; The Phantom of Liberty came out in 1974, a year before The Life of Brian and after Flying Circus had been running for a couple of years.*

The individual sketches are hilarious, and the transitions between them are kind of brilliantly jarring -- I am going to watch the movie again tonight because I felt like there was a thread linking the sketches that I was not picking up on because the thread was spinning so fast. Take a look at this sketch on Defecation, which is embedded inside a lecture on moral relativism that the professor (the guy with glasses) is giving at the police academy (hence the cut to the mostly empty lecture hall midway through):

I was thinking as I watched this about the Samuel Beckett quote I read recently, to the effect that he writes in French because he feels too fluent in English -- and really liking listening to the French dialogue in the movie, struggling with the help of the subtitles to understand it. It seems to me like listening to or reading a language you don't quite understand, and the process of understanding what is being said, really opens up some interesting new passageways in my brain.

* I don't know how many seasons they made Flying Circus for -- it premiered in 1969, may well have been finished by 1974.

posted morning of April 19th, 2009: 2 responses
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