Episode 125: Now What?

l_46949_b057785fYou’ve got to see the Blu Ray of “The Egyptian” (1954). Not just because it displays a certain kind of ‘high water mark’ for the Hollywood studio system and its visual and musical artistry. But also because it enshrines a kind of deep insight that a person simply cannot shake after you’ve seen it.

Taking a leaf out of the J. Geils Band (“Looking for a Love”), ‘Sinuhe the Egyptian’ spends his entire life looking for something. Looking for a love? Looking for himself? Looking for an explanation? Looking for peace? He gets them all, in fact. He gets his self-possession after a lifetime of losing things, the big things, every one of them. The funny thing is, Sinuhe gets his wisdom — really receives his life — from a proto-hippie Pharaoh, ‘Amenhotep IV’, known to us as Ikhnaton or Akhenaten — the First Monotheist. Flower Power 14th Century B.C. style.

But the story is true and it’s real.

Podcast 125 then looks at the matter of “what now?” I take four characters I love, from Galsworthy, and plot out their future lives after their creator is through with them. “Now what?” for ‘Dinny’ Charwell, and Wilfrid Desert; and Edward Pierson, and Michael Strangway. And for you, and for me? Honestly, what now (my love)?

We’ve learned about the God of Acquiescence rather than of resistance. We’ve heard about the God of Forgiveness rather than of criticism and judgment? What next? What now?

Needless to say, the answer is Blowing in the Wind (Las Vegas 2012).

Episode 126: Amberley Wildbrooks

The theme is change: transitoriness, and everything fades.

What can we make of it, this unwelcome Pre-Socratic impression of things, which experience bears out. And not just experience, but the Psalmist and the Prophets: “All flesh is grass” (Isaiah 40:6).

I want to compare the sentiments of “Woodstock” (Joni Mitchell) with, well, another kind of idealism. What gives? Where have all the flowers gone?

After a nod to a pretty poem, PZ gets himself involved, shoulder-deep, in a great conspiracy — The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

Episode 127: Hotel Taft

Tommy James (and the Shondells) had a lot to say. And not just “Mony, Mony”, fine as that is. There’s also, among many others, “Draggin’ the Line”.

This cast is about the hope and even the elation that results from dragging the line at the bottom of the Black Cauldron that is an everyday person’s life. When the bodies begin to float to the surface, when Candace Hilligloss and friends (Carnival of Souls) are pulled up, light begins to shine, even on the Ghosts of Christmas Past.

I’ve talked about Galsworthy’s inner dialogues before, there are dozens of them, maybe almost hundreds. But I’ve not talked about the equivalent in Mika Waltari, in his long and leisurely quest novels, world weary but almost always hopeful. They become hopeful to the extent that their heroes have fallen to the wrecking ball, whether it’s in 14th Century Memphis or 16th Century Algiers — or with Martin Luther in the Peasants’ War. The hero that gets dismantled is the hero that finds his feet.

Podcast 127 concludes with a favorite Christmas carol. Is it Charles Wesley, or Tom Johnston? Must be Wesley.

Episode 128: Dissociated Chef d’Oeuvre

blog+promo+photo+walgrerernsThis is not just about another movie, the 1973 musical version of “Lost Horizon”. It’s about some fairly timeless truths that exist in that movie, specifically within some songs written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach for that movie.

They’re a wonder, a kind of incongruent mood of music thrown, with tons of heart, into the story-heart of James Hilton’s master parable of divine love known horizontally and vertically in an altitude above “The Things I would not miss”, such as noise, crowds, and your job. (One of the songs singles out those three.)

Could you live contentedly, even doxologically, without noise, crowds, and work? Don’t know about the third. The movie and the novel say yes. PZ’s podcast wants to say yes, too. What would it look like?

Episode 129: First Infinite Frost

This is an experiment: to try to tell a story, which really happened in each detail, but also to tell it the way it felt it happened, which is backwards. I wish the event at the core of the tale had never happened. On the other hand, would I trade the moment of recognition on the Grand Central escalator? No.

The Irish-American writer Fitz-James O’Brien, who died in battle, a Union solder, during the Civil War, wrote a ghost story entitled “What Was It?” I’ve often asked myself this question: Whom did I see on the escalator — “up the down staircase” — during that incendiary rush hour?

It was the first infinite frost of my life, or at least the first such frost I ever was aware of feeling.

Podcast 129 is dedicated to Adrienne Parks.

Episode 130: OK, All Right! – Victor Hugo

“Didn’t want to have to do it” (Lovin’ Spoonful).

But I decided to. The material is too good, and seems to fit Mockingbird “like a hand in a glove” (Dylan).

This is a quick pass through the plays, the poems, and the novels of Victor Hugo. The plays include “Cromwell” and “Torquemada”; the poems, “”Written Beneath a Crucifix” and “The Rose in the Infanta’s Hand”; and the novels, the “Necessity” trilogy and also Ninety-Three.

There is vast Christian territory in Hugo. That is not a “reading into”. (He was also intensely anti-clerical. See him as he really was.)

Oh, and begin with ‘Bishop Bienvenu’ at the start of Les Miserables. Don’t skip the Bishop’s long encounter with the dying “Bolshevik”. It’s in the unabridged, and is still as “au courant” as anything he ever wrote.

All right, then! Did I do it?