Friday, June 23

De Sade and Dos

Is there a name for that phenomenon when a person, place or thing that you had never really given much thought to, all of a sudden seems to be ubiquitous in your reading? (There's probably a German word for this, there's a German word for everything). I am referring to a scenario like the following: You are reading a novel and one of the minor characters is a leper. That's interesting, you think, I'd never really considered the leper before. Then you stumble upon a magazine article, also about lepers. Then a newspaper article, lepers are in the news. Then maybe you read a book review on a new non-fiction about a leper colony in Trinidad and Tobago. All of a sudden you cannot escape the lepers! Well, something similar happened to me recently. Though, it wasn't with lepers, it was with the Marquis de Sade.

I read a book of interviews with film director Luis Buñuel. The topic of de Sade comes up again and again. At times it seemed as though the interviewers were steering the discussion down that path, but it is evident that de Sade’s work was well read within the 1930’s Spanish surrealist circle that Buñuel ran in.

Then I read an interview with philosopher Arnold Davidson in the May issue of The Believer. Davidson explains: “There were debates when the Marquis de Sade was arrested, for example, about whether he was wicked or suffered from a rare and hardly known mental disorder…. The category of sadism didn’t yet exist! So the Marquis de Sade couldn’t suffer from sadism, because it hadn’t been conceptualized as a possible disease category and his psychology wasn’t that of a sadist.”

Then there was some discussion of Marquis de Sade in either Playboy or Esquire, but I can’t locate it presently. I meant to write it down. So yeah, never had I given much consideration to de Sade, but now here he is, infiltrating my reading diet. This type of thing seems to happen to me a lot, but I am currently at a lose for other examples.

Now some more on Buñuel, because I can. Buñuel is what I would describe as a very literary film director. Perhaps an odd description for a surrealist, but I think it’s apt. In discussing his reasoning for making a film like The Phantom of Liberty, in which the viewer follows of a string of loosely connected vignettes with little central plot, Buñuel uses an example from Crime and Punishment. He says that Dostoyevsky’s classic did not interest him in the least, and that the story might have done better “…to follow Raskolnikov up the stairs, to see him pass a boy who is going out for some bread, to leave Raskolnikov and follow the boy, who becomes the main character in the subsequent episode.” We are to presume that from there in Buñuel’s re-working the boy might pass the story on to a young lady or street peddler or anyone that happened to catch his ineterest, and so on. It’s interesting.

I also enjoy this quote from Buñuel, a man of many obsessions: “I am not preoccupied by my obsessions. Why does grass grow in the garden? Because it is fertilized to do so.”

Side note: Buñuel, Dali and Lorca were close friends in college. That’s just seems too improbable to be true--these three artistic giants paling around the dormitories of Madrid.

Book-Loop isn’t really jumping off like I thought it would. I’m not sure what to post, but I wanted to post something.

1 comment:

MJA said...

Ben, fret not about Book-Loop. It's not urgent that it become the phenomenon it is destined to be. As long as we talk a bit about books, then it will serve its purpose.

Our instant gratification culture has trained us, or at least me, to expect everything to be huge and fantastic in no time at all. For example, when I daydream about having a band instead of a job, I dream of sold-out shows and platinum records. I don't give much consideration to the work that would go into such a scenario. I don't even daydream about playing a dead coffeehouse on a Tuesday afternoon. But if I were to truly live that life and not find joy in the Tuesday afternoon gig, what would be the point?

I wish I could express myself as well as you do (and Bryan too; you're profile is very nicely written), but my expressiveness is not developed well enough yet to convey my thoughts into words as I would like. In fact, my thoughts aren't themselves developed fully wnough to express my feelings. But what I am trying to say is this: I am slowly learning in my life to let things be as they are, and not wish they were something else, something better. I hope that this appreciationof reality is well-formed in my by the time I am married, or else I will never be satisfied that my wife is not simultaneously red-headed, latina, tall , short, sweet, and slutty.

Anyway, in regard to your post, yeah! WTF? That sort of thing happens to me quite a bit too. I'm sure it happens to everyone. What a strange curiosity about life, huh? Recently, I was watching Giadda de Laurentiis on the Food Network (she's a fox), and she mentioned some Italian artist that I had never heard of, it sounded something like Tiscian (sp?). Later that day, said artist was a clue in Jeopardy.

Has there ever been a TV show that you have only seen like 3 or 4 times, but every time you see the show randomly, IT'S THE SAME EPISODE? That happens a lot to people as well. Yes, I am curious if there is a name for these events.