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On the Way to the Forum 2

Continued from:


Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

― T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

On the Way to the Forum
a gory allegory

All the necessary and sufficient conditions have been met. He looks around. She looks up. Their eyes meet. If the breath of butterfly wings beat in Asia can be said somehow to have propelled this event, so be it. But I’m not going to say it. That butterfly plays no part in our story. If its wings somehow brought about the physical meeting of our boy and our girl, it is of no interest whatsoever to us here. The world in which our boy and girl meet is not the world in which Asia or Asian butterflies exist. But we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. Suffice it to say that “meeting cute” is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of the event in a world in which Asia and Asian butterflies exist. But what about our world here? Does entertainment work like Asian butterfly wings here?

Did we do our homework over the weekend? Yes, contempt is not the word! Indeed that might well do for a title if this foray is to have one, although I think Moravia and Godard beat us to it, although that was in French, which doesn’t count. Why? You may well ask why! I’ll tell you why. Because at the bottom of most of the grief in this old world of ours today stand the smart-asses who didn’t do their homework fifty years ago and who now have an opinion on everything. They are represented in our little monograph by the character Chopi, a fan of Chopin apparently, the pseudonymous manager of Club Duh Parrot Docks, and the archetypal “asshole with power,” as the playwright Tom Topor named the type in his play and film adaptation, a piece of inspired taxonomy more or less unrecognized today precisely because the taxon in question has over the course of the last three decades in point of fact been empowered on the grand scale. But enough of this exposition! We’ll get to Club Duh Parrot Docks in due course. Boy and girl have just about met and we were about to acknowledge our need, along with food, shelter and clothing, our basic human need, perhaps our defining need, for ENTERTAINMENT when, readers that we are, we were distracted by banalities.

We’ll get back to homework. And to Bach and Matthew. And to what for want of a better word I’ll just call my apophasis. We’ve asked the question about entertainment and there’s no taking it back. And there’s no going on. Not with that question hanging over our heads. Not in the shadow of that question. It’s like the shadow of the avenging angel passing over the mud-baked houses of— but there’s little point in drawing this out, in marshaling colorful images and classical allusions. No point really until the question is answered, or at least addressed. Until then, to resort to current parlance, the parroted parlance of those who didn’t do their homework in the past, but I’ll get back to that, as I said. Until then, until the question be addressed and possibly answered, at least to the satisfaction of the readers that we are, until then we have, as popular currency would have it, which is to say back by popular demand, and so ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together and help us welcome to the stage, direct from the stupendous world-famous world tour, our very own, the elephant in the room— Entertainment.

Etymologically, and right off I wish to apologize sincerely for the use of so strenuous a word, particularly in such a lighthearted essay, but its necessity will become evident momentarily, I dare say— etymologically, to entertain is to hold, to hold between, between whatever holds and whoever is held. The –ment part requires no analysis, it seems to me, and I am loath to provide one lest anyone’s intelligence be insulted, and quick apologies also for the perplexing subjunctive mood, needless to say; its necessity must be taken on faith, I’m afraid, as this is neither the time nor the place for grammar lessons. A ticklish affair all in all, and well put behind us. But as we all know, as we all have learned from the lamentable turn taken in world affairs—and by world in this case we mean of course the world in which Asia and Asian butterflies exist— if terms are not clearly defined, all manner of nonsense is likely to ensue.

In other words all that we call art is at bottom merely a form of entertainment. This is the highway accident theory of art, and while it has, qua theory, failed in fact to catch on in learned circles, the sad truth is that learned circles aren’t what they used to be, although naturally we are not supposed to notice this. Many indeed are the sad truths we are not supposed to notice today. This, mutatis mutandis, may be taken as the theme of this little propaedeutic of ours. Ach! Watch it, Buster! You’re out of control! Just get to the point if there is one, and keep your sesquipedalia in your pants!

The point? Ah, yes, the point.

The point is first we need a hook. We might have picked up on this point, readers that we are, somewhere on the way, you'd think.



DP Veteran
May 3, 2017
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New York City
Political Leaning
In answer to several PM queries I have received since posting the opening of this piece (@ https://www.debatepolitics.com/blogs...way-forum.html) , I can in good conscience say that this piece is indeed based on personal experience. Not merely in the sense in which everything in life is based on personal experience, but in this case on a particular personal experience, and a particularly unpleasant personal experience, of two or three years ago. On the internet, of course. The reliance on the allegorical dimension allowed for the personifications which give the piece its characterological aspects.
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