Friday, September 08, 2006

A modicum of considerations on Janelle, and "Ludwig"

Pale September, and I am neglecting things utterly. My last moment of triumphal action was, in fact, September 1st, a pale and luminous beginning for this season of ripe fructifying, and I listened in the early light to Fiona Apple's song and then to Mahler's terrifyingly sublime Second Symphony (Zubin Mehta on the Ultima label). These profound and positive agitations-- well, only the Mahler can be described as an "agitation", since the song represents the quintessence of "Tidal"s contemplative, impressionistic mode (may she find it again!)-- reverberate still, and permanently indeed, but they were crashingly interrupted by a banking scare (where's my deposit?!?) and then by a nasty, naked wet flip-flop flop on the stairs (I finally milked that boo-boo on my tricep, as ugly as the worst tie-dye t-shirt monstrosity, for a free spaghetti dinner last night). Well, pale days still ensued, but Fiona Apple did not; and, though I am dutifully making my way through our oral reading of Dryden's "Annus Mirabilis" I am not humored into thinking I am making the best of my time.
Oh, but there has been "Big Brother All-Stars", has there not?! . . . Janelle, Janelle, will you marry me, you glamazon Marnie of the trailer-trash? --She's not trash, of course, but she works tawdry in ways that Paris Hilton would kill for (but then, wouldn't Paris kill for anything?), yet is the true aristoi: like a Greek champion, she masters challenge after challenge, then is struck down by the Fates with that one release of her hand from the key! And all in a moment of epistemic confusion, wrought by Mike Bogey's seemingly self-destructive gambit of strategic pseudo-profundity. Erika is a mere Briseis to her Helen, Dr. Will Ajax to her Ulysses. Though it cost her the city, she struck down her greatest foe to avenge her friends. Howie, Marcellus, you weeping Patroclus-boys, I hope you appreciate it . . . . Janelle, you have given me so much entertainment, such genuine and robust joy; at the height of your showmance with Will, my heart fluttered as never since the darkest wranglings of Valmont and Merteuil in "Dangerous Liaisons." Can these two serpents ever tangle? Janelle, you've worked him around your thumb. Will, you know it turns you on when she makes you do what you say you wouldn't want to do . . . .

But, Gentle Reader, you are missing my palinode to Visconti's "Ludwig", my tone-poem on Poussin's Assumption of the Virgin, and all the other little musings (actually, only one competing negative musing) of the late pilgrimage to DC. But elucidating Visconti's staggeringly executed study in Romantic doom is so daunting a task as not only to escape the reach of my modest powers but to break even the will to consumate what I should consider a beneficent duty. Visconti has given so much, and Berger has suffered so much, as to demand reams of belabored engagement with their work. Especially as it is so rarely seen, and seen here in a fresh-from-the-vault print. Well, if you have the second movement of Mozart's great G-minor Symphony freely available in your head, consider the spirit of it for a minute. Very near the conclusion of Visconti's film-- indeed, probably the very last speaking works from Ludwig's mouth-- you will hear a meditation on the spirit of Night, which ravishingly elucidates both Visconti's glacial tapestry of winter and snow and Mozart's ordered pattern of meaningful blankness. Night is also, he says, the time of heroes, and thus of reason. Visconti's epic is a sensual body gently floating on the surface of Visconti's thoughts, aware of the depths beneath, and above-- its tenderly godlike understanding of one man's, and an era's, plight, and its Platonic profundity of form, of beauteous dazzlement questing for, and astonishingly grasping, the very heights of visionary surrender.