Thanksgiving Is Ruined
December 06, 2007
Everett Sloane's greatest hit
It would have to be this, from "Citizen Kane":
Welll, you're pretty young, Mr., Mr.... Thompson?
A filmclip of the scene is currently here. The movie's script is here.
A hypothetical viewer easily could be forgiven, if they recalled the scene when contemplating a certain wall text in an amazing recent exhibition of photographs by Chris Marker.
The particular text read:
I stare at them, but not enough, not long enough.
TiR theorizes that the Larbaud poem that Marker references is "Images." The poem has been published in this volume. The poem in its entirety is here.
Marker's phrase, "megalomaniac melancholy," is mysterious and powerful.
Maybe we could take it to mean, contrary to the superficial impression created by the references to world domination, that the would-be megalomaniac here is not Marker but the melancholy.
That sense is supported by the photos in the exhibition, taken from forty years of political demonstrations around the globe. In another wall text, Marker suggests that, over those decades, he's watched protesters' faces become grimmer, and more pessimistic and distant from one another.
We can feel through his photos a yearning for lost time, lost people and lost individual causes -- an absence suffiently deep, without bottom or limit, encompassing all but swamping any past particulars (the particular instances become, in a way, irrelevant) -- that to surrender to giving it all the mourning it deserves would threaten to swallow up both rememberer and world.
[Yes, of course, this sentiment is trite.
Marker's apparent sensitivity to the irretrievability of past time came through in a brilliant response that he gave to an interviewer a few years back, about why he couldn't meaningfully answer questions about the movies he'd made decades earlier:
Twenty years separate La Jetée from Sans soleil. And another 20 years separate Sans soleil from the present.
At the same time, the remembrance embodied in Marker's photos is not necessarily mournful.
[Or at least not only that. As we know, "melancholy" is a large and many-splendored thing.]Neither, necessarily, was Mr. Bernstein's in "Citizen Kane."