Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Five: Favorites Among the Arts

I had a lot of trouble coming up with a topic for today's Five. And so, I decided that, if mish-mash was how my brain was working, then we'd turn that mish-mash into something constructive. And so, I present to you my favorites among the creative arts.

1. Favorite poem: "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot.

I could read this poem 1,000 times over and I get chills every time. I feel as though it's from a time where there was still some structure and integrity to approaching poetry--that is not to say good poetry hasn't been written since--but it's kind of like watching a movie from the 1940s or 50s and wishing that we were still that formal and fancy. Eliot captures the universal conflict between love and bravery (or lack thereof), introspection, and eventually regret. I love this poem for putting on display the darker side of falling in love, the sheer madness and lack of courage, the fear of rejection, and the consequences of letting those fears take over. Poor J. Alfred becomes what we all fear we will become: old, alone, and afraid to eat a peach, lest our teeth loosen and leave us.

Read it here.

2. Favorite painting: "Christ of St. John of the Cross" by Salvador Dali.

I don't know shit about art. That's my sister's department.I don't know what Dali's intentions were, nor his reasons for painting this. I only know this painting has always captivated me.

I love the fact that we are subject to what would be God's view of the crucifixion. Rather than seeing it from the earthy perspective, from below Christ (I get it, we are his servants, so we would be looking up at him as a figurehead), we are looking at it from far above, a place reserved for God. I don't see this as egotistical or blasphemous. I'm not even looking at it as a Christian (because I don't consider myself one). I'm looking at it as a person who has always been exposed to typical renderings of this event. If you look at it long enough, you may even start to feel dizzy. It makes me think about spirituality and how confusing and dizzying it can be. It also makes me think about how so few are willing to look at the same thing from a different perspective, how we're not really encouraged or allowed to, and if we were to try to take the viewpoint of God himself (again, from the Christian standpoint), we would be committing a terrible sin: we are not to ever place ourselves on par with The Big Cheese. But Dali does here.

3. Favorite Song: "Lateralus" by TOOL.

I discussed this song several Fives ago in this post:

Being it's my work, I'll just copy/paste what I said. Because I can. Because it's mine.

This song always connects me to a sense of spirituality. Lyrically, it basically sums up the core of what I believe, and musically it fires up an instinctive connection to universal energy. The drumwork, albeit complex, is somehow tribal in its nature, evoking a sense of ritual, and building to points of epiphany and clarity. I have seen/heard TOOL do this song live, and the energetic reaction is not only palpable, but euphoric and also exhausting.

Listen to it here

4. Favorite Movie: Fight Club

Eye candy aside, I love this movie for a variety of reasons, which I believe count as artistic. First of all, again, I don't know shit about technical movie-making, but I do know that there are elements of this movie that tickle all my fancies. Lighting and color correspond to the narrator's experiences: the sharp brightness of his day job/life that gets progressively worse the further into Fight Club we go. The association of bright but deep colors with Tyler Durden, particularly red, which is associated with passion as well as rage: the two things that Fight Club awakens and encourages to the point of anarchy. The dizzying effects when Tyler and Marla have sex are the same effects used with some of the fight scenes, suggesting that these two things evoke very similar emotions.

Plus the soundtrack kicks ass and the cast is spectacular (seriously, Helena Bonham Carter is so completely underrated as an actress, it's baffling). I love the movie for the same reasons I love the original author's work: it pushes the envelope past where you expect things to end and where you are comfortable. I like being forced out of my comfort zone.

5. Favorite Book: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

There will never be a film adaptation of this story that will satisfy me. Most on-screen renderings mix together Wonderland and the sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass. Props to Tim Burton for getting creative and making the film a follow-up rather than trying to re-render it (like he did and failed miserably with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

I love this book because it's a children's book that doesn't read like one. Yes, Carroll wrote it for a 7 year old girl (who starts as the main character), but Alice goes through some seriously traumatic experiences that take on a whole new perspective when an adult reads it. Some of the characters and places she encounters are outright nightmarish (and no, contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to suggest that Carroll was a drug addict). Alice is also constantly pressured to identify herself, but she can't. She thinks she knows who she is, but quickly learns that she doesn't, and it's absolutely frustrating and terrifying to navigate an unfamiliar world. Eventually she is forced to figure it out and find her way... aren't we all?

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