Children of the French Lieutenant’s Woman

In The French Lieutenant’s Woman we see the protagonist, Sarah, find employment as a “companion.” Sarah displays independence, intelligence, fixation … and some ahem education. We also meet the interested party Charles, a paleontologist. At tea, the companion, utterly secure in her place in the society, and in the place of her society in God’s Creation, mocks Darwin. Charles takes it: no one tells the woman that her stupidity as well as her ignorance (as well as the damnation of her vaunted society) is showing.

In Children of Paradise an actor and a count trade insults. The count insults Shakespeare, to insult the actor, playing Othello. All his life people have deferred to the count: it was the generation before him that got their heads chopped off! Now in the entreact, no one defends Shakespeare. No one tells this aristocrat that his stupidity as well as his ignorance (as well as the damnation of his vaunted society) is showing. I introduce the materials, then make the point:

Jan and I watch DVD’s together. At first we watched whatever I had to hand: old Hollywood, old foreign language … But soon I said, Hold it, we’re starting from scratch, I’m selecting for you some of the greatest of all movies: from Italy, Japan, Sweden … favoring movies you likely haven’t seen: and then we’ll also select by star: Chaplin, Gish, Bogart, Brando. Jan knew lots of movies, she’s a bit older than I; but she didn’t know the great movies that only someone who haunted the repertoire theaters of Manhattan for decades would know: someone who knew Kurosawa and knew Ozu, knew Rosellini and Fellini and Olmi … knew Satyajit Ray, and Bunuel …

Last night we finished watching Carne’s Children of Paradise.

Children of Paradise
thanx Cade Snyder

Understand, whatever other points I’m building toward, Carne’s famous film was finished in 1945! was made under Nazi occupation! waxed nostalgic, dedicated itself to quasi-historical myths of Paris’ “Times Square” of the 1840s, its Boulevard du Temple, its Boulevard du Crime … jammed together a mime, a crook, an actor, a whore, and an aristocrat … (Uh, didn’t the French Revolution get rid of those?) Understand above all that the title refers to the blue collars and riffraff in the cheap seats of Funambules, the tawdriest theater: paradise was the upper balcony, the “gods” were the balcony itself (and its sometimes cutthroat and cutpurse patrons). (And the whore was a pay-per-view in a bathtub at that carnival!)

Last night concluded our watching Children of Paradise. It’s a three hour movie, packaged on two DVDs. I ordered it years ago, it bounced round my queue, a few months ago we watched part one …
Now: before I make my point, I tie in the second movie referred to in the title of this post: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

The French Lieutenant's Woman
thanx Amazon

Back in the 1960s my mother wanted me to read the John Fowles’ novel: so that I could “explain” it to her. I’d heard of its difficulty, it impenetrability. I read it, loved it. thought, There’s nothing difficult about it: if you live in the same universe as Heisenberg. If you live in the same universe as Pontius Pilate or Pope Urban or Bishop Sam Wilberforce, then it’s simply impossible: impossible: like the girl who can’t explain how she got pregnant after assuring the priest of her virginity during confession: or explaining to the dupe how he lost his money to the three card monte dealer.

The culture don’t allow understanding! ’cause honesty is verbotten.

Another wonderful thing Jan and I do, I mean before we hug, is read together. Neither of us see very well, I’m going blind by the minute, but our pleasure is vastly enhanced by bk & family giving me a kindle: I can raise the pitch size, and the screen has some of its own illumination. bk also included a couple of hundred books, starring among which is Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life. How the Vicorian propertied minority treated the servant majority is clearly presented. But the slaves never displaced the plantation owners, did they? The Union carpetbaggers displaced the plantation owners, not the slaves.
And Galileo will never outnumber Urban and the professors, neither will Jesus outrank the local kleptocrats.
Study how little you know of my work, despite my sixty-odd years of writing, speaking, trying to show, to teach …
Every module of mine reports a crime or two, none of which register on anything official.
In Serpico some bureaucrat dares to ask Serpico how come he hadn’t come forward sooner: she hadn’t followed any part of what he’d reported!

In simple: the Companion, and the Count, delay learning from possibly saving the genome: through evolution in terms of current feedback. Reroute the feedback and there’s no learning, no intelligence, no survival likely: possible but improbable.

scrap: I hadn’t realized till just now that the rag picker in Children was played by a Renoir, son of the painter, elder brother of the great French film maker!

a little raggedy for now, too many drafts written too quick, too simultaneously. revised, it will be smoother, and more pedestrian.

PS The first blogger to respond publicly to this post mentions Caspar David Friedrich. I then loved skimming around, till I saw this:

Caspar David Friedrich

OK, pk, why show that?
Compare and contrast the images for the French Lieutenant’s Woman! In the movie it’s Sarah who stands in the sea spray, vulnerable to the waves: the female! It’s Charles and his fiancée who hang back, chicken shit. (See the poster above: bottom image.) In the oh so German Romantic painting of Caspar David Friedrich it is of course the gentlemen who brave the sea surge, their ladies who sit a “safe” distance behind.

Now in biology, of course the females should be conservative, the males can be as foolhardy as they like, there’s so plenty of them: but any time culture rubber stamps evolution without troubling to see the many whys, then we’re really dodos.

Ooh, wait, a delicious memory: My NCO in the army was the same sorry son of a bitch who’d tortured me during induction, Sgt. Lyons. One evening he gathered all his victims together, as though we were his friends and fans, and showed us his slides from Saudi Arabia. We all laughed ourselves to hysterics as the slides kept showing veiled females in the background: poor horny asshole Lyons. Ah, but then a male Arab showed up. Lyons pointed out that the male always walked alone, several paces ahead of his bevy of wives, whores …
Except where the turf had been mined: then the male had the females walk ahead!
God and Satan are laughing so hard we’ll never have Judgment!


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
This entry was posted in culture, movies, pk Teaching, social survival, society. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s