05 November 2009

Where the Wild Thing Is

This week, or was it last, started with the long promised screening of Where The Wild Things Are with my family and some friends. It began with a preview for The Fabulous Mr Fox as imagined quirkily of course by Mr Wes Anderson, and I was wondering if the future holds a Jim Jarmusch directed The Giving Tree featuring some fairly mainstream hipster band on the soundtrack. What next?
Actually the movie was really fulfilling and much more complex that the book would have us believe. I suppose more an interpretation than an adaptation. Thank you for the slow pacing which was refreshing. Thank you for the darkness. Thank you for the angry and confused protagonist. The kids name is really Max Records!?!
Anyway, I got some tears out of it and think it will hold up to time.

The reason that film is notable in beginning my week is that I have suddenly been relating to/as that mythical beast of Crete, the Minotaur. And mayhaps there are some similarities.

Why this is - I am feeling bestial; I am feeling the dichotomy of being two creatures; I am feeling stuck within a labyrinth; I am feeling like a bull in the woods, rutting solitary; I am feeling particularly fecund...

(not the real sonogram but reasonably similar to a yolk sack half of my making)

I am feeling a lot and dark and deep.

So, this is big news and I am happy about it for the larger part of me. I don't really care to go into scrupulous detail, but it is also at conflict with everything I have been experiencing up until. A new reality that is necessarily devouring the former reality.
A fact that is not itself a crisis, but resembles and will certainly cause (in fact already has caused) many complimentary crisis.

Rumble rumble says the Minotaur.

My week wrapped up in a Halloween I had been looking foreword to but that turned out to be a shadowy trough in the waves of events. 'T' and I were costumed as Dia De Los Muertos Skeletons - she a flamenco dancer, I a mariachi.

The Minotaur was rutting before the evening began.
We went to one party that showed considerable promise yet turned out a dud. Who schedules solo folk singers for a Halloween Party? Who,as folk singer, does not dress up their act for the festivities?
We went to good ol' reliable second choice - packed with appropriate entertainment in spades. The first thing I noticed was a reveler dressed as a Nazi. What Hipster doofus thinks that boundary is a good one to cross, thought I. I later encountered the Nazi wrestling ambiguously on the ground with some girl. 'T' encountered the Nazi later and being the foreword individual she is, decided to confront him on his tasteless costume choice. Do you really think this is OK, she asked him, because its not (a very civil confrontation on her part). The Nazi laughed, slapped his chest, Heil Hitlered and goose stepped away. What artist fuck thinks its acceptable to dress as a Nazi and provoke people?
The night went along, then she comes to me and says the Nazi saw her again and without provocation, spit beer in her face. What ass hole thinks its OK to dress like a Nazi, goose step around and spit beer in my pregnant wife's face?

Some switch turned in me and the rutting Minotaur drew its horns.

I calmly handed off my drink & accessories, walked over to the Nazi and cold cocked him. Then I hit him again. By that time some people were pulling me off him and moving me toward the door. Apparently a female friend of his broke a bottle and jumped into the melee. Single minded, as he was out of range of my swinging arm, I gripped his label and pulled him into my fist. About that time I was forcibly ejected.
Victorious and liberated, blood covered and confident the Minotaur swaggered down the street and sat on his haunches, defiant of crowd condemnation.

It was a righteous feeling.

Until I encountered 'T' again as she left the party to pick me up, as she called me out, and mostly as I woke up to a more sober and well lit reality of what I had done.
I felt a good deal of shame that consumed me for two days. I did not feel particularly bad that some douche who costumes himself as a Nazi had gotten his ass beat. Dress like a Nazi and you should expect that kind of thing. I am bothered, but not extensively so, by the fact that I cold cocked him. In my state of mind, and considering his behaviors, I was just rushing a foregone conclusion. What I am concerned about is that I was the modus for the beat down. The actions I took are unusual to me. I am concerned about my state of mind. Angry. Angry, angry. Why so angry Minotaur?

Good question self. I can see that I have anger over what I will be losing with this pregnancy. I have anger over issues with my children and the mirror family my ex-wife maintains. I have anger over my nowhere job that will never get better. I have anger over my choices and my realities.

I never realized I was such an angry person. I have always relegated anger as a more damaging emotion than not - that usually results in ignorance.
Maybe emotion is emotion regardless of knowledge or ignorance. The Minotaur will be angry regardless of what my mind thinks. I should respect that. I should have an awareness & control of the Minotaur because what happened was - I operated outside of my normalcy. I acted how I felt without intervention of thought. I do not do that often. I do not know that I often feel angry. My mind should be like a matador that dances with the bull, rather than a fence that contains dumbly and then is opened or broken.

One reason the Nazi triggered me so strongly, I believe is that I have been reading the final book in the Berlin Noir Quadrilogy by Phillip Kerr. These are hard boiled detective novels that are the closest approximation in the genre to Dashiell Hammett, and as literature greatly improve upon them.
They are the ongoing experience of a German Citizen operating as a private detective during the Nazi period. It is extraordinary because it is a perspective that most authors will not venture into and most people don't think to care about. It is brutal and complex and definitely transcends the genre by miles. It is well written. I want to recommend the series to friends but it is so dark, I am not sure how to go about it.
So, I had just finished this glimpse into the real heart of Nazi darkness and put it down with a particular distaste for Nazis. I am pretty sure this contributed to my impetuous actions, though without blame of the author or books.

Interesting thing that so many people are triggered by Nazis and that they are the cultural lodestone of evil. I recently came upon this graph in some news magazine that presents the last century's history of genocide.

Hitler's Germany is behind Stalin's USSR and Mao's China in total human beings murdered by considerable sums. I doubt that many people, myself included, would be upset if someone dressed as eithor of the latter dictators for Halloween. Why is that? Cultural relativism, ethnocentrism? Those are worthwhile inquiries, but I would guess that it is experiential. The armies of the west have never encountered the holding quarters and mass graves in Siberia or China. How many people do we encounter who are survivors or descendants of survivors of those events. There are many European Jewish immigrants, but fewer Chinese and even less Russian.

Blah blah blah. Here is a story I came across last night of a true inter-Axis hero: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/39821

Finally, the best time I had this Halloween was dressing as the Highwayman - no, not a pirate and not Johnny Depp goddammit! Dressing up as the Highwayman and reading the poem for the clients where I work. As an antiquated peice of culture, I did not expect they would be into it, so I lopped off a few of the less integral stanzas and rushed it a bit nervously...to thunderous applause -seriously!(its relative of course)
Here is the poem for your enjoyment:

The Highwayman
Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)


THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.


Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.


And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—


"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."


He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement! His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.



He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
King George's men came matching, up to the old inn-door.


They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.


They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now, keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!


She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!


The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love's refrain .


Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!


Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.


He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.


Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

* * * * * *


And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.


Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

- Minotaur out.