Friday, November 23, 2007

Readings: Visual Versification

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the owners of the graphic referred to below seem to have made it unavailable. Too bad, as it was beautiful.

Having today off work, I was surfing around the blogosphere in a casual manner when, just now, I came across the graphic composition to which I will link below. It is an artifact, not an image of the "real world"; yet, it's just God-awful beautiful. It is, in fact, a poem in visual images. First read these lines from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land:

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.

[dead link removed here]

Does it not recall these other lines of Eliot's, from the first of the Four Quartets, "Burnt Norton"?:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

Which is to say:

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be;
and that which is done is that which shall be done;
And there is no new thing under the sun.

~the Preacher

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, yo...


Madscribe said...

All the hollowness and phoniness of "hi-tech" is making me rediscover (Better) works like Eliot's. While technology may eliminate the newspaper (a daily compendium of shallow wits and hackneyed scribblers and gossips that was never worth much, anyway), it will never replace true literature. I predict that as time goes on, the ubiquity of the NET and the never-ending supply of puerile thought that it brings, will actually make books MORE popular in the 21st Century, NOT less.

For thought, this review of a well-known director's take on classic literature:

Video games disguised as "art" will never replace a good printed work.

Rodak said...

I would like to think that you're right. What I fear is not that good literature will disappear, but that it will be available only in digitized form. All libraries have major space issues. These issues are best (from an economic standpoint, as well as from an access, or client, viewpoint) addressed by digitization.
Basically, you want the entire out-put of all of history available to you. The way to accomplish that is Web 2.0--but I can't read a book on a computer screen. This problem is being alleviated, more and more, by libraries being able to print a paperback copy of the book you want for you, from the web. This adds cost to you, but does give you a book you can hold in your hands and read.

Rodak said...

"Even Jolie, doing one of her exotic sexy accents, is visualized absurdly—a sea creature with high-heel hooves and, yet, nipple-less."

I want to go on record, as a proud and loyal member of the class Mammalia, that Jolie without nipples is of no interest to me. None at all.

An Interested Party said...

There's something about the names Robert Zemeckis and Beowulf that just don't go together...everything is so much better in its original written form...

Rodak said...

I can see a place for computer-generated "actors" in, for instance, a film version of the Odyssey. Certainly a more believable Cyclops can be produced that way, than by putting a man in a rubber suit. That said, computer graphics shouldn't be used to add elements that are not there in the original.

Madscribe said...

Rodak, I agree, and I have nothing against "effects," be they hi-tech or intensive and analog (as the animation in "Yellow Submarine"). I think computers facilitate the easier creation of dreck. A bad novelist in the late 19th or early 20th Century still had to go through a lot of money-intensive labour and resources in order to get even a bad book printed, distributed, and marketed, which limited bad writing (to a degree).

That being said, I still believe that the best writers and film directors know to leave enough to the reader's/viewer's imagination, such as the shower scene in "Psycho"; or this film, which still blows 99% of everything at Sundance out of the water, and without "effects":

Rodak said...

Thanks for the DVD review. That's something to go on the wish list.
My house is full of books, and I never have less than five or six going at once. This obsession with the printed word has gradually squeezed film out of my life, due simply to time constraints. I really should probably ease my way back into the movies; but I keep kicking that can down the road...

Madscribe said...

Ease back into GOOD movies! I actually watch very few if any films since my sojourn in the Southwestern Muck. As you, I never go through "one book at a time." Being in the desert increased my reading of books, but also my laptop reading of newspapers (to the degree that the one newspaper I subscribe to, I have problems trying to concentrate on the paper version of stories vs. web).

Since we had a down time, there were plenty of movies to view (the "wait" part of the military's "hurry up and wait" refrain), and realized just how much celluloid garbage there was. However, I did order a few DVDs from Amazon, that being one of them.

The others being Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Once Upon a Time in the West, and Battle of Algiers.
Another one that I think you should look up is

First saw it when I was 7 on PBS. There is a particular spiritual scene towards the end of the movie that has stayed with me even though my adult years as an erstwhile non-believer. I don't want to give it away, but since Amazon went and put the damn spoiler on the order page, I'll just quote:

"It's Oliver Twist as a mustache-twirling melodrama, pure sentimental pulp that verges on mawkish but for Pickford's innocence and sincerity and William Beaudine's rousing direction. He turns the climactic chase into a thrilling escape, dodging alligators and leaping across muddy bogs (according to Pickford, who used no stunt double, those are real alligators in the water) but transcends his entire career in one astounding scene. As Pickford cradles a dead child in her arms, Jesus steps forth from a painting and carries his lamb into Heaven, transforming death into a soaring moment of salvation."

Madscribe said...

Hopefully, in your neck of the woods, the Public Library doesn't deal in dreck as it does in Central Ohio, where you can't find a decent copy of film classics such as Battleship Potemkin or Napoleon.

But Suze Orman's latest piece of crap-WHOA, 50 fifty copies for you!!

Luckily, there is the academic inter-library loan system. Which is how a gent like myself became acquainted with the Wycliffe Bible many moons ago ...

Rodak said...

Yeah, but inter-library loan systems are only a stopgap measure against the space limitations of which I spoke. At this point, the depositories, where volumes that have been taken out of general circulation are kept in condensed, high-rise, non-browsable stacks, are pretty much full. From there, the next stop for a book is the mulcher.

Madscribe said...

Embrace the Cyber, Friend. You'll learn to love reading e-texts of Elizabethan authors from an LCD screen if you find a cafe that you are comfortable with. Or just stick an expresso machine next to your favorite chair at home and hook the wireless router up!

On another note, I believe that living in the Age of Cheap Chinese Made Goods might have a spiritual effect. If people have so many "things" in their lives already, they will either become more monstrous from not being able to satisfy a consumerist mindset, or will reflect on the fact that they really have everything they need or reasonably want, and possibly reflect on the original meaning of the HoLY-Day season.

If I hear one more asinine "Black Friday Sales" story, I'm gonna hit someone over the head with a "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" yuletide log.

Rodak said...

I've never been much geared up for the race to acquire the Ten Thousand Things. I buy books and CDs. I get my clothes for Christmas. I have a hand-me-down cell phone from one of my daughters. And I'm typing right now on the first computer their grandparents bought my daughters when they were in grade school, eight years ago.
I probably have enough printed books that I've acquired and not read yet to last the rest of my life. So I'm okay there.
I'll go cyber kicking and screaming if I have to go.
But I'm probably not normal.

An Interested Party said...

There's something very good to be said for not being normal...

Rodak said...

Thanks, AIP--
Coming from you that bit of moral support has the ring knowledgeable authenticity.

Madscribe said...

Well, speaking of going kicking and screaming, I thought of you when I heard this on the AM this weekend:

Madscribe said...

Actually, you want to go to the home page:

The Amazaon bit was just a small segment on a whole hour about the physical book and paper's existence in the upcoming century.

Rodak said...

Thanks for the clips. Having now considered all the options, I've decided that the solution is to put aside a little bit from each check, in hopes that I'll be able to afford time travel when it becomes available. I'll go back to 1967 Ann Arbor; and this time, I'll stay there!

Madscribe said...

Isn't that what Youtube is for?

I was the same age as the kid in the commercial. (which I still remember after 40 years).

I have to watch it with the links or this blog will devolve into the one I left!

Rodak said...

Man, the reason I want to go back to 1967 is that I can only remember it in flashes. I was smoking, but they weren't my father's cigarettes.