20 March 2013

...thus movies are a moral force

I'm going to make a minor point on the back of Williams in Spring and All's poem XV (a favorite).  First, the poem:


The decay of cathedrals
is efflorescent
through the phenomenal
growth of movie houses

whose catholicity is
progress since
destruction and creation
are simultaneous

without sacrifice
of even the smallest
detail even to the
volcanic organ whose

woe is translatable
to joy if light becomes
darkness and darkness
light, as it will --

But schism which seems
adamant is diverted
from the perpendicular
by simply rotating the object

cleaving away the root of
disaster which it
seemed to foster.  Thus
the movies are a moral force

Nightly the crowds
with the closeness and
universality of sand
witness the selfspittle

which used to be drowned
in incense and intoned
over by the supple jointed
imagination of inoffensiveness

backed by biblical
rigidity made into passion plays
upon the alter to
attract the dynamic mob

whose female relative
sweeping grass Tolstoi
saw injected into
the Russian nobility


Now, barring an explication or interpretation, let me just say that in this we might equate the management of the "mob" with the rituals of church and movie-going.  That one has replaced the other says Williams (or I say Williams says) but also that the two, at least now, exist in a kind of symbiosis of myth delivery.  The key in the poem for me is the "selfspittle" which is masked by ritual and authority.


But as to "moral force" and why I started the post.  As I was flipping a pancake a line from the film The Silence of the Lambs popped into my head (ours is not to reason why): Lecter has escaped by disfiguring a guard and "wearing" his countenance and police uniform.  One guard, recognizable, is dying on the floor when the police discover the escape.  The chief and an underling rush over and the young officer is commanded to offer the dying solace, "Talk to him!"  The man stutters, "what do I say?"  The chief, "It's Jim Pembry, damn it, talk to him!"  Or something like that.

It's Jim Pembry, damn it!

In a movie that is full of prurient spectacle that line is, to me, a "good" within the whirlwind of confusion that offers for a hero the brilliant psychopath who must assert or define EVIL as characterized by that which affronts his sensibilities, or taste (ehem, the joke of the movie, one supposes).  It would be hard to show that Clarice Starling, the nominal hero, is a moral force of any equivalence.  She is confusion; He is certainty.

Thus the moral force of the movie is NOT the moral force of the very startling and HUMAN line--"it's Jim Pembry, damn it!"

Rather this and other films like it are

made into passion plays
upon the alter to
attract the dynamic mob
That is to say, this moonlight of human touch, is not found by rotating the object.

But perhaps this is misreading.

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