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March 3, 2003

Just found the quote I

Just found the quote I was (not too actively till now) looking for from the Third Man,

"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cukoo clock."

- Orson Welles as Harry Lime in "The Third Man"

Quite wonderful I think, and I'm not surprised Dollimore was so emphatic in bringing it out. The idea that conflict and flux seem to be the catalyst of creative vigour seems to hold a kind of ironic and ambivalent fascination for those of us who study this. I don't even know what more to say about it, except to acknowledge the amibvalence again of this observation, which Welles rightly makes so wry and pointedly funny.

I was just struck by this educational program on the BBC, probably tied to the Open University, that dealt with reading - something like how to read through editorial bias. They say things that basically the narrative theorist might say, that in reading a text - a news story in this case, that despite pretences towards objectivity, that the editorial presence is always there, that newspapers are not "the thing itself" - the immediate experience of the act. Talking about strategies of reading, they stress the need to think about intention, of why and for what these things are being written. We're looking for the author, I would say the implied author, since the author would too easily be thought of as the scriptor himself, whereas with newspapers, the more accurate description would be to think of the institutional intention.

Probably the news item that struck me the most from the morning news was the item about this school girl who had run off with this older policeman, known to be her boyfriend of sorts. Articles can be found here. The way they reported it seemed to stress the emergency of it, that they needed to be contacted. That seems a strange way of thinking about it, even though certainly their safety is probably a concern. My imagination posits them as simply a couple run off for the simple "romantic' reason that they wanted to, and all the constitutive reasons that precipitate that. The fact that their car was found at the tip of the island, at the northernmost point when they were nowhere near it, seems to point to a kind of desire for escape, if not simply escapism - a kind of nurturing in the indulgence of romance. All of which makes the rather rational furore around their "almost inexplicable" disappearance seem a kind of repudiation of the legitimacy of that drive, to the extent that they are simply unwilling to be cognisant of that possibility. They wished to visit The Ends of The Earth, is that so strange? En route, and under disguise of attending to the normality of their daily lives, they had made an arrangement, a cunning plan, whose intentions (perhaps they knew?) would be incomprehensible/unacceptable to those immediately around them. I want to condition all of this in case it all turns out badly but can't bring myself to dispel the wondrousness of the gesture that they are engaged in - which hollywood's earnest sentimentality renders so often as a deadened obeisance to idols of spontaneity and the gut wrenching clash with duty and responsibility - trawthe.

Reminds me of "A Chalked Heart" lying on the floor of my room, and of the youngness of the protaganist and the wonder whether I will ever bring myself to speak to her author.

Posted by subtitles at March 3, 2003 8:02 AM | Blogger Entries