28 March 2009

The Art of the Impossible

In a previous post, I wrote that I cannot read nonfiction. That was, of course, a somewhat facetious statement: I can read it, I do read it, but I wanted to make some observations about the mental requirements for reading fiction as well as the comparative powers of persusasion nonfiction has beside fiction.

Well, now I want to add some thoughts on nonfiction film -- or at least one specific nonfiction film. This is the documentary "MAN ON WIRE." This poignant, delicate, stirring little movie proved that when nonfiction is done like art, its affect is that of art.

"Man on Wire" is the vastly improbably true story of a quixotic French tightrope walker who plotted and schemed with several equally wacky friends to invade the newly-constructed World Trade Center, rig a circus cable, and dance his way back and forth in the haze above NYC. And he did it.

There are several reasons that this film is exquitely appealing. Some are mere personal quirks of my own; others are more universal.

First, the sheer bravado, chutzpah, and talent required to pull off such a mad stunt amazes me. I'm easily wowed by quirky, random skills taken to the extreme. Plus, my body goes wild with the shakes when it mounts to even a moderate height off the ground (when not supported by an airplane!), so my awe was increased as Philippe tackled higher and higher obstacles.

Second, I am turned on by lovely French accents and Gallic turns-of-phrase. The lilting voices, the goofy expressions, all delighted me. The story was that much better told in and out of French and English thick with "frog"!

Third, the filming was fascinating. Maybe not extremely slick, but full of odd angles, intriguing shadows, and so on [I should have a limited number of adjectives I'm allowed to use per post]. There was a scene in which the plotters had to hide from a night watchman in the top of one of the WTC towers, and it was all shot in sillhouette. The music was fun, the pacing perfect. It just tickled me pink!

Fourth, as I'm sure you guessed, the whole unstated irony of a non-terroist "attack" or "invasion" on the World Trade Center. The ineptitude of security would have been funny, were it not for recent history. Although I laughed through most of the film, there was a quiet sadness underneath.

And this, of course, leads into the last charm of the movie: the poignancy of the fact that it can never be done again. Nobody, of course, would do exactly that mad crazy stunt again -- but if they so desired, it can never be done. The towers are gone.

27 March 2009

Lost Generation

A friend shared this video poem with me. Watch it and be surprised as the form of the poem emerges.

03 March 2009

March Poem of the Month

I have recently been working on a series of "persona" poems, in which I take on the identity of some real, fictional, or archetypal character and speak in his or her voice. What's fascinating about this is how I can comment on my own inner workings or on those of my friends, family, and acquaintances, while also revealing or discribing universal psycho-spiritual truths. This was written for a friend who is in an agnostic phase. Enjoy.

In Persona II: Wotan Wonders if there is a God

If I took off this eye patch, maybe I wouldn’t be blind.
Maybe I would see myself, reflected in the pools of Erda.
If only I could remember I am a god—or else a son of God—
perhaps the clouds would open and I would understand.
If I dropped this twisted walking stick, maybe I could stand.

I could thunder and rage at the tall empty sky—
as that frog-faced Alberich blasphemes me,
paddling his webbed-footed fingers in puddles of earth,
dabbling in divinity—what does he know (but do I?)—
Beneath this intentional eye patch, maybe I am not blind.

From the altitude of Valhalla, I suspect the rarity of air
is a function of some vast expanse where I should be,
where a perfection dwells; but down here, wandering,
I shake my thunder-fist and howl dirty songs against the sun.
I cannot remember I am a god—or else a son of God.

I am a wonder, I know: the music made around me,
the glories of my face, the strong amazement of the body
that I wear among mortals; and I should pose tall
and pull the spear-deep wisdom from the world ash tree:
If I stopped leaning on a walking stick, maybe I could stand.

Your love is better than gold, more beautiful than magic golden rings,
I thought I told her: but she grew invisible and maybe turned away—
so I wander, wondering, imagining my fits of rage
do not shake the stars, do not wake dragons. I could blame
the eye patch, say that without it maybe I wouldn’t be blind.

I could learn from reading, writing: books of wisdom,
books of nature; facts that I should know, and do know
in the core of me. But in my handsome earth-suit I prefer
the alias of espionage, of unrequital, victimized agnosticized
skeptical despair. Remember, I am a god—or else a son of God—

a subcreator of my introspective self. I forge my right
to see peripherally or not at all; to understand
or miscomprehend; to fight the dragon or to walk away.
How many miles have I traveled, crawling, among men?
If I dropped this twisted walking stick, maybe I could stand

to listen to the answers:
Is invisibility necessary for ignorance?
Is infatuation the same as incarnation?
Is immortality the opposite of immolation?
Is identity a sole conception, or the soul’s receptacle?
If only I could remember I am not blind,
I could stand being a son of God.