Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lauryn Hill and Tom Hanks both know about That Thing.

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Simon did some research and came up with some nice stuff on the roots of the word nostalgia and the phrase “nostalgia for the future.” Interesting that Ned Rorem may have coined the phrase -- from the little I've read, he frequently seems to be going for an “Oscar Wilde” effect of epigrammatic paradoxical brilliance, and while he does come off as a dandy, I've never seen him be brilliant. Also interesting because Rorem’s own composing -- that which I have heard -- is very Satie-Debussy, very retro-nostalgic-for-the-past. But in this case, he hit upon a really striking, paradoxical phrase. I’ll be curious to see whether anybody finds an earlier instance of it. Hey -- if anybody knows Ned, you should ask him! He’s still alive.

Nostalgia is of keen interest to me, and a year ago Simon and I were discussing it. This particular post metamorphosed into three tunes on last year’s NaSoAlMo project, and I have always been grateful to Simon for that. I had hoped to have the record public by now, but it’s been a hectic year, and, among other things, I’m a terrible procratinator. (One song got on the web before the month was out, and it’s still there, which pleases me.)

I’m excited to be jumping in again this year.

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Three admonitions as I jump or wade or duck dive into a new writing/recording project:

George on the connection of sensuousness and soul in language/poetry/theater.

Jonathan Mayhew is talking about his students (he’s a prof), but it’s good advice in general: “Don't give me perfunctory crapola. . . . Give me your ideas, your best ones, not just a few commonplaces I could find anywhere else.

And a post I linked oh-so-briefly to last night, from a theater blogger I had not come across before, named Maya Gurantz: “Thing = RADIANT ENGAGEMENT THAT COMES FROM THE ARTIST'S DESIRE TO COMMUNICATE/INTERROGATE USING THE MEDIUM OF LIVE PERFORMANCE.

Gurantz’s “Thing” is a radiant coinage. Lauryn Hill and Tom Hanks make it sexual: That Thing. Freud was onto something similar when he starting talking about “It” -- in German, Das Es; in English, the It; in Latinized, alienated, de-sensualized, de-souled, de-Thinged English, the Id. Same decade -- 1920s -- Clara Bow became The “It” Girl. And you know what It is. The year before Freud wrote Das Ich und Das Es (1923), Martin Buber wrote Ich und Du (1922) -- I and Thou, which sought to erotically transform every alienated object from a despised “It” into a beloved “Thou,” or “You.”

(A strategy for getting over my peevishness at a common rhetorical tic of much contemporary poetry: antecedentlessness. Whenever a poet tries to trip up perception by talking about “it” without having named an antecedent, I’ll think of Freud and Clara Bow, I’ll think of the poet’s crotch.)

(By George, I think she’s got it.)

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Probably very light blogging for the next month. Cheers.

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