EPISODE 260: Transgressive Enough 4 U?

Experiencing a massive re-think just now concerning world cinema! This has been occasioned in part by watching every disc one can get one’s hands on of the recently released catalogue of British “Vintage Classics”. Have you ever heard of “Mandy” (1951)? Or “The Captive Heart” (1946)? Or “The Sound Barrier” (1952)?

Or “The Maggie” (1954)? Or “The Angry Silence” (1960)? Or “Melody” (1971)?—which, incidentally, was the source material for “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) by Wes Anderson.

What you find out as you view these priceless expressions of popular art is that you’ve probably been wrong to idolize, almost to the exclusion of other expressions, the “cool” movies of the French ‘New Wave’ or the British ‘Kitchen Sink’/’Angry Young Man’ school.

I, for one, got so mesmerized, “When I Was Young” (Eric Burdon and the Animals, 1967), by the narrative of art as “transgression”, as the angry denunciation of boundaries and establishments, that I failed to recognize a whole host of other expressions—and in particular, expressions of human drama that were redemptive and optimistic rather than bitter and enraged.

Just compare Matt Monro with Sid Vicious. Or Terence Rattigan with John Osborne. Or “Shag” (1989) with “The Graduate” (1968). (Boy, was I ever seduced by “The Graduate”. Yet now I look at it, all brightly done up by the Criterion Collection, and see a superficial swipe at … the Presbyterian Church!)

So here’s a little word in favor of happiness, fun, and seaside romance. Did you miss out?

EPISODE 261: Mountain of Love

This is a kind of “work-book” question for the listeners to this podcast. The issue of romantic love is to the fore again, but the question is other: Why is there general radio silence on the vital point; or rather, why is there not more active concurrence in relation to it?

The point I’ve been making is this: the dynamic in individual human beings that drives us to want to connect with another human being in a romantic experience of union is the core drive within people. It explains our search for God — our life as a pilgrimage to know God personally — and it underwrites almost every important decision, if the truth be known, that we ever make.

That is a strong point, I realize. But it is what I am saying.

My question is therefore this one: while no one is rushing to contest the point, why isn’t almost everyone rushing to support the point? Am I saying something embarrassing, or possibly reductionist, by which I mean “people don’t want to think of themselves as ‘hopeless’ romantics”. (It is sort of a blow to one’s pride to think that, well, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (C. Lauper, 1983) or “You’re my Everything (you’re my everything, you’re my everything, you’re my everything)” (Temptations, 1967) or “My World is Empty without You, Babe” (Supremes, 1965). I mean, maybe you don’t want to think of yourself as that needy. But I beg to differ. I’m that needy!)

So I am asking the question: Does my point shed light on your experience? Does it explains some things? Or is it a downer? Is it a “Light That Failed” (Kipling, 1891)?

Or, maybe, does it amount to a “New Morning” (Dylan, 1970)? LUV U.

EPISODE 262: Magic

When it comes to rules or advice for long-term marriage, I often seem to hear words like “covenant” and “promise-keeping”. These conceptions of keeping faith with another person are laudatory and fine—and even necessary to keep the love going.

But “covenant” and “promise”, excellent as they are in principle, are insufficient to give you the oomph, the power, to do the thing you both want so much to do. That is because if something comes along that you actually find you want more than the thing you “covenanted” to preserve, or “promised” to keep, the covenant and promise will go out of effect. Covenants and promises are susceptible to being superannuated in exactly one minute. “It Only Takes a Minute, Girl, To Fall in Love” (Tavares, 1975).

How else could you explain the thousands, even the millions of sincere people who made a covenant or exchanged a promise which they then broke? It’s not that they wanted to be untrue. It’s just that something presented itself that felt superior to the prior thing. So the covenant got broken.

This is why I major on romantic love as the key to a happy marriage. When romantic love is there, between two people, they don’t need words of encouragement to stand by a prior agreement. They don’t need one single pointer to a covenant. “(All I want to do is) Act Naturally” (Ringo/The Beatles, 1965).

The one thing you can do to renew a relationship that’s gotten stale or even repellent (God forbid) is go back, in your heart, mind and memory, to the point when the relationship was fresh, fantastic, and enthralling. And there was almost definitely a time when it was—when it was fresh, fantastic, and enthralling.

The magic was there. (Otherwise, why would you have come together in the first place?) Apply the incomparable insight of Meister Eckhart, by way of Gerald Heard: “If you can’t find God, go back to where you lost Him.”

EPISODE 263: Too Weak to Fight

One’s Christian life will fail if it is not rooted in the truth of human nature, which we all share, like it or not. Similarly, everyone’s life, whether Christian or non-Christian or anti-Christian, will fail if it’s not rooted in reality. And reality, the reality of people, includes hidden drives, hidden emotions, hidden disappointments, and hidden resentments.

As the Rose Hobart character remarks, almost offhandedly, in “Susan and God” (1940), “No one ever says what they’re really thinking.” (I love Rose Hobart!)

The point of my Mockingbird podcasts that concern romantic love is to underline what’s often really going on—otherwise, how can you explain the extraordinary and seemingly uncharacteristic decisions about their relationships that otherwise “adult” people seem constantly able to make? If you don’t know yourself, if you’re unable to diagnose the drives and feelings that overtake you sometimes, then you’ll just be blown about by the wind. And possibly blow your own life to smithereens one day. (That happens every day.)

In the 1970s the vocal group Blue Magic recorded a song entitled “Stop and Get a Hold of Yourself”. The song is good but not great. The lyrics, on the other hand, are for the ages. The singer realizes something’s happened, and it’s upset his world. Therefore he wants to “stop and get a hold of (him)self”. Good luck! Wish he could have listened to this cast, which, incidentally, is DEDICATED TO DEBBIE BRAZEAL AND ROBIN ANDERSON.