Das Mädchen mit Locken sagte
ihr Haar seien Schlangen
zwar unsichtbar für andere
aber sie könnten
sichtbares Feuer speien
das werde alles verbrennen
Man war nicht zu Stein erstarrt
sondern man gab ihr
eine W a h r h e i t s d r o g e
ein Präparat das fast immer
sicherstellt dass der Patient
die Wahrheit sagt
Es heisst sie nahm nichts zurück
Die Klinik verbrannte
—By Erich Fried
“Sonderbar” is “strange” and “curious,” “odd,” “queer,” “weird,” or even “special.” Or rather “peculiar.”
There is the wonderful German (separable prefix) verb “aussondern,” which means to cull or separate. To sort.
The poem itself is not very poetic in its language; the translation is unintentionally more so by rhyming “girl” and “curls,” but the language itself is not what is poetic; it's just a potential carrier of the poetic, and what Fried's language has is both a dreamlike quality to the imagery as well as a care to rhetoric. What does not come across in the English is Fried's use of the so-called “first subjunctive,” which shows up in English rarely and usually in the form of “be” and “may” forms; we're slightly more familiar with the second subjunctive or past subjunctive (which does not indicate the past, it's just based upon past tense forms—such as when one says “if I were ...”). In German the first subjunctive is encountered these days mostly in newspaper and television reporting and it adds a feeling of “it is claimed that ...” to a statement. It is also used within indirect quotation, and the two forms that show up in Fried's text are “seien” (from the verb “sein,” or “to be”) and “werde” (from the verb “werden,” or “to become,” also used as a modal auxiliary for the future tense). And while the imagery is a bit mythical (Medusa) and dreamlike, the form of the “poem” is that of a newspaper report/article; the format and lack of punctuation might not match, but there is an overlap in directness of style, the verb forms, the briefness.
lm mentioned 28 Weeks Later and then posted a review about it, and so I felt tempted to see it on the big screen. Or at least on a bigger screen than that of my rather small TV. Or my laptop. So off to The Orpheum I went this afternoon. The walk did me good, I like to think, and as I was rounding the Square, post-farmers'-market, I encountered one of my professors as he was hauling off a $14 shrub he'd purchased.
As for the movie itself I'll agree with lm regarding its technical brilliance, and indeed seeing it in the theater was a plus. I'm not sure I'd go along too strongly with the “violence porn” metaphor, though. A couple years ago the term “terrorism porn” got applied to 24, but one could have just as well called it “terrorploitation” or similar, for what it does is both play on and exploit our fears, but at the same time play the violence and torture and abuse for thrills. I didn't really find that as much in 28 Weeks Later, but where lm is right in the “violence porn” type image is that whereas one way to think of porn is as sex just for the sake of titillation (greatly simplified, I know), another is as sex without an emotional connection, and what goes on in 28 Weeks Later is violence without an emotional connection, without an ethical connection. There is, later in the movie, an imperative to kill, but it becomes too broad and impulsive, and “good” and “evil” lose all meaning (there is no torture or experimentation, mad scientist experiments gone wrong, no madness at all).
There is a hint of malice in one of the “zombies,” but that's about it.
The sequel does lack some of the mid-movie pastoral scenes of the first, though there is something to be said for the early-in-the-movie sneaking into dead London sequence. But there is an all-pervasive sense of menace here, and it's not so much embodied by any characters as by the environment. Something lurking around corners. As for caring about any of those fated to die, I'm trying to figure out where the fault lies (assuming it's a “fault”), for the acting was competent and the characters had the same potential to be sympathetic or interesting as in other such movies. I think back to the first and to some of the small family scenes involving those who get whacked later, and there we developed a bit of a connection to them, whereas here none, and perhaps it's because we also saw characters in that movie develop connections to each other, whereas here relationships never really develop, and thematically most just fall apart as things progress. And there are a few poorly executed shots of the boy about whom we're supposed to care; he's not believable enough at times.
But all in all I did like it and would recommend it—it's got zombies and blood and good use of a helicopter. And it's probably better than the upcoming 3rd Resident Evil movie. Not saying much, I know.
After the movie off to Fair Trade I went. One of the guys who works there will have an end-of-season (or shortly-after-the-season) Doctor Who party the first week in July, he thinks, and I'm invited. Something approaching a social event. Amazing. Two iced coffees and a nearly completed doodle later I headed off for a slice of pizza. Because I didn't want to cook tonight.
And why not? Because cooking would require the oven or range, which with my luck would raise the temperature in my kitchen if not the rest of the apartment. Still no fan, and I didn't want to sweat. And the pizza gave me a chance to look at the current Onion and see that there's a 2-for-1 coupon for 4-Star, which lead me to walk down the street and look for cheap entertainment. Or something like that.
An urge to watch, or rather re-watch, Real Genius, a sort of Pomona cult-classic, came over me. But it was checked out so I instead went for the two Underworld movies (I blame cam) and Night Watch (because I want to watch it again before watching Day Watch), as well as Natural City.
I could or should be watching one of those four now; it's after 9p.m. already. Yet I still have an urge to read or to doodle. I got into a rhythm. A zone if not Zen. While doodling, sketching, whatever, I can continue thinking but not at all about what I'm drawing, and the strokes, well, my hands and fingers, attached the pen or pencil (today a pen) just produce the right lines and shades. Each line is a right line, nothing out of place, and it's almost a calm ecstasy, a place that is both emotional and cool.
When the doodling became too much I returned to reading—more of The Egyptologist, which is a fun yarn—and upon the pages my eyes kept projecting lines and textures and surfaces I wanted to draw onto and around letters and words, encapsulating blocks of texts, shading them, foregrounding and highlighting them. And so I'd close my eyes or look away, people watch without actually seeing those on the other side of the window walking by, and instead see canvases onto which I could scribble and then paint structures evolved from my doodles. But I don't paint, have no canvases, no easel. And I can't justify the time, the waste. The distraction.
And so the creative urge, of course just a personal, unimportant, and unrefined one, dies on the vine.
The girl with curls said
her hair is snakes
in fact invisible to others
but they could
spit visible fire
that will incinerate everything
They weren't turned to stone
So instead they gave her
a T r u t h S e r u m
a compound that nearly always
assures that the patient
tells the truth
They say she retracted nothing
The clinic burned down
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