I hope this is a sign that the rough patch I’ve been doggedly making my way through is finally coming to an end.
Silent film fans can be divided into two camps; the Charlie Chaplin camp and the Buster Keaton camp. I proudly wear my badge as a member of Keaton Troop 104.
My initiation took place in the early-1970s when the PBS station in New York City, Channel 13, was still figuring out its broadcasting schedule. Programmers would air Buster Keaton shorts in between episodes of Sesame Street and the Electric Company. On those rare occasions when my mother would allow me to stay home from school due to a tummy ache, I’d sit and watch PBS while Keaton performed his poetry in films like Cops, The Scarecrow and One Week.
Fixed with a stoic expression, Keaton kept moving and usually moving pretty fast:
(How many of you caught the Myth of Sisyphus reference?)
Even when the world was crashing down around him, Keaton didn’t give up:
But Keaton films aren’t all chases and rough and tumble.
Here he is looking most dashing in a suit as the clever detective who unknowingly avoids disaster in Sherlock Jr:
(Complete film here, folks. But watch it. It’s worth it.)
I just want that one day, when I retire, that people still remember me like they remember Buster. I really want someone to respect me the way they respect Buster. ~Jackie Chan
Keaton’s touch can be found today on Academy award winning films and even iPad apps such as The Fabulous Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore:
Another of my favorite directors, Woody Allen, based the premise of The Purple Rose of Cairo on Sherlock Jr.:
Speaking of absurdity, here’s Keaton starring in Samuel Beckett’s Film:
Surrealist, absurdist, dadaist, existentialist, actor, writer, director, action hero, amateur engineer, athlete, leading man, ukulele player.
Happy Birthday, Buster.
Fake it until you become it.
Artist Nick Bantock discusses the allusions to Yeats in his epistolary book Griffin and Sabine:
You can see some of the postcards and letters illustrated by Bantock throughout the clip.
I like that Bantock says that the armageddon to which Yeats refers in his poetry is not about destruction, but really about waking up:
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
When I was an English teacher, I taught this poem. I loved teaching this poem.
And I hope what Bantock says about the Sphinx rising in the desert is true. After the armageddons of this past year, I’m ready for a rebirth.
(By the way, here’s Bantock’s lovely blog.)
Keeping with the postal theme from yesterday, here is the correspondence I had via Twitter with the National Postal Museum during Ask a Curator Day:
(Roddy Frame *swoon)
I’m going to try to document each postcard I send as well as the ones I receive. I may parse it out by lots of 7 postcards each (1 lot per week) just to make it a little more manageable.
I found a bunch of antique postcards via Ebay which I plan to collage and purchased these lovely poet stamps from the USPS.
As a former letter carrier (yes, I wore the uniform, drove the truck through snow, sleet, hail; no, I never was bitten by a dog) the act of sending letters is very dear to my heart.
The Internet has really reshaped the notion of mail as the primary means of communication. Technology seems to have made the tactile aspects and function of writing and sending correspondance a more precious and even ritualistic or holy act.
One of the first artists to use the postal system as an alternative curatorial space was Ray Johnson. Take a look at his collages and moticos:
I also highly recommend the film How To Draw a Bunny about Johnson’s life.