Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"We call the moment at which this ache first arises..."

Though I don't wholly share his views on the subjects, I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Chabon's recent essay in the NYRB on the films of Wes Anderson.  It opens as follows:  

The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research “childhood.”
There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises “adolescence.” The feeling haunts people all their lives.
Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again.


JMW said...

Yeah, I liked that too, but I'm conflicted about it. It's written very well, but in service of ideas that don't totally convince me, especially after finally watching Moonrise Kingdom a couple of weeks ago.

ANCIANT said...

Agreed. His argument suffers from the inclusion of ALL Anderson's film--as if there's no difference between Rushmore and Fantastic Mr Fox.

I actually gave up on Anderson around the time of the India movie; I saw "Mr Fox" only b/c the wife wanted to. I haven't seen Moonrise Kingdom, though I have heard generally positive things. Although, you know an artist is in trouble when the good reviews tend to run along the lines of 'a return to form.' Or: 'finally the OLD Mr X is back." Like Dylan in the 80s. Every album that came out, someone said something along the lines of: "his best since Blood on the Tracks." Or, 'recalls Blood on the Tracks." When none of them did. Same with Bowie, and Scary Monsters. Although Bowie ultimately did return to form in the 90s.

But I digress. What was your sense of Moonrise Kingdom? It sounds like it left you nonplussed.

JMW said...

I actually thought Mr. Fox was charming, and probably better than his last three live-action movies. Moonrise Kingdom is firmly in the "meh" camp. I wouldn't call anything he's done a "return to form," partly because he's always "on form," which is the problem. It felt fresh for Rushmore, and increasingly stale (and stilted) since.

Cartooniste said...

ANCIANT, that's twice in two blog posts you've used the word "nonplussed."

ANCIANT said...

That's b/c I finally figured out what it means.