From Mozart & Cezanne to Oprah’s Couch

Happy Birthday to Mozart, who would have been 250 years old today. The DVD’s of Amadeus will fly off the Blockbuster shelves today in celebration of a boy genius, and irascible bad boy, described by the late Edward Said as follows, “Mozart’s gifts bordered on the supernatural, and have remained unequalled.” To grasp his genius Daines Barrington suggested “Suppose then a capital speech in Shakespeare never seen before, and yet read by a child of eight years old, with all the pathetic energy of a Garrick. Let it be conceived likewise, that the same child is reading, with a glance of the eye, three different comments on this speech tending to its illustration; and that one comment is written in Greek, the second in Hebrew, and the third in Etruscan characters¢â‚¬¦when all this is conceived, it will convey some idea of what this boy was capable of.”

Paul Cezanne accomplished in art what Mozart musically. “The art Cézanne made in Provence, especially his last convulsive images of Mont Sainte-Victoire, ultimately shook painting to its core. It effectively destabilized centuries of representation to reach a deeper, fuller, nearly hallucinatory kind of realism.”

From the lofty heights of pure genius, we modern humans have descended to Oprah’s couch where she tearfully announced, “I feel duped” and the hapless James Frey accepted his therapeutic whipping for fabricating a life, and then co-dependently with Oprah, unworthily accepting her blessed imprimatur and the riches that followed.

In the film, “Year of Living Dangerously,” photographer Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt) said to Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson), “We’ll make a great team, old man. You for the words, me for the pictures. I can be your eyes.” Later when Hamilton betrays her she sorrowfully reminds him “I made you.”

We live in a day of words and images and Oprah is the master of “shadow play,” the Indonesian art of silhouetted puppetry. She makes writers and she is now reminding them she can break them too. Thanks to Oprah the chimera of TV took Frey from obscurity to wealth and fame. Mozart was a genuine bad boy, but a genius. It turns out Frey, who never claimed genius but did claim to be a bad boy, was neither.

When the chimera-like nature of his own memoir was revealed, Oprah grabbed the phone and defended her creation to the nation on Larry King. Frey was visibly delighted, his arm lifted, fist clenched, a victorious vindication, albeit short lived. Overnight, Oprah’s cavalier attitude about truth struck a dissonant note with her adoring public and they began to turn on her. The man who pretended to be a bad boy had actually become one, and for the creator, the therapeutic phase was over and day of retributive reckoning had arrived. She pulled her puppet’s strings, he appeared on the show, where his image was forever dimmed and hers made to glow all the brighter. As the puppet was laid aside, his arms were no longer raised, but lay lifeless. Sapped of the puppeter’s energy, he appeared to have none of his own.

Where Mozart and Cezanne pushed for a deeper more actualized and concrete realism, our wafer thin media culture blows with the wind, creating an illusion, the image of reality without the substance,

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 27, 2006 by | No Comments »

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