Thirteen days (2000) – Roger Donaldson (Friday’s Finest)

Thirteen Days is a historical political thriller about the Kennedy administration at the height of the Cold War, namely the Cuban Missile Crises which occurred in 1962. I have a penchant for political dramas given my educational background and how my father was always enthused by the topic and attending town-hall meetings and seeing movies like All The President’s Men. Much of the dialogue from the movie is taken directly from Kennedy’s tapes, but there is also a lot of liberty taken with O’Donnell (Kevin Costner) as protagonist to escalate the drama, as you would expect.

Overall, I think Thirteen Days is a really solid historical re-telling of the events of those days. What I found so convincing apart from the production design of the White House interiors, military depictions (The 1960s’ vintage F-8s shown in the film are all real aircraft that were used by the Philippine Air Force) and costumes, were the portrayals of the brothers JFK and Robert by actors Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp respectively. The movie is based on the 1997 book, The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow. The movie was a box office bomb grossing $66.6 million against its $80 million budget.

IMDB Storyline: In October, 1962, U-2 surveillance photos reveal that the Soviet Union is in the process of placing nuclear weapons in Cuba. These weapons have the capability of wiping out most of the Eastern and Southern United States in minutes if they become operational. President John F. Kennedy and his advisors must come up with a plan of action against the Soviets. Kennedy is determined to show that he is strong enough to stand up to the threat, and the Pentagon advises U.S. military strikes against Cuba–which could lead the way to another U.S. invasion of the island. However, Kennedy is reluctant to follow through, because a U.S. invasion could cause the Soviets to retaliate in Europe. A nuclear showdown appears to be almost inevitable. Can it be prevented?

According to Wikipedia, former Kennedy Administration Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara criticized the film for the depiction of Special Assistant Kenneth O’Donnell as chief motivator of Kennedy and others during the crisis, but ultimately said the following about Thirteen Days:

I think it’s an absolutely fascinating portrayal and a very constructive and responsible portrayal of a very, very serious crisis not only in the history of this nation but in the history of the world‘.

Interestingly, Costner traveled to Cuba in 2001 to screen the film for Fidel Castro, saying at a press conference, “It was an experience of a lifetime to sit only a few feet away from him and watch him relive an experience he lived as a very young man“.

I find Thirteen Days a very re-watchable movie as I do most taut political-dramas. In a sense it’s a stage play done with so much intensity that you feel right there in the room. There are flashes of newsreels, CGI, and other footage to fill out the movie with the outside world. The Australian born director Roger Donaldson also directed Dante’s Peak and No Way Out, the latter once again with Costner in the lead. Costner’s attempt at a Boston accent in Thirteen Days has become notorious in Boston with a “Kevin Costner accent” meaning a non-Bostonian’s unsuccessful attempt at a Boston accent.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Movies and TV

Duncan and Brady (2000) – Bob Dylan

London, 2000 setlist

I saw Bob in Sydney opening with Duncan and Brady in 2001. The night later he won the Oscar for ‘Things Have Changed‘. Dylan’s execution of this old ballad with the sync-rollicking guitars and intonation and timbre of voice as he builds the momentum for a brand-spanking new audience is masterclass. This song has been recorded numerous times by many greats including Lead Belly and Dave Van Ronk. I have heard other versions, but Dylan’s is my favourite – surprise, surprise! His version was released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 – Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989–2006.

Duncan and Brady is a traditional murder ballad and originally recorded by Wilmer Watts & his Lonely Eagles in 1929. It is likely Watts heard the story or the song after it had passed through many singers. The story is a recalling of an incident which occurred in October 6, 1890 in a bar-room shooting, St. Louis, Missouri. A patron by the name of Brady was shot and Harry Duncan claimed to be the shooter and was convicted and sentenced to hang. It was rumoured that Charles Starkes (the bar owner) later confessed to the murder on his deathbed. For more information about the incident I point you to this page in the Singout web site.

Well, it’s twinkle, twinkle little star
Along came Brady in his ‘lectric car
Got a mean look right in his eye
Gonna shoot somebody just to see him die
Well, he been on the job too long

Well, Duncan, Duncan was tending the bar
Along comes Brady with his shiny star
Brady says, Duncan, you are under arrest
And Duncan shot a hole right in Brady’s chest
Yes, he been on the job too long

Below Bob Dylan performs Duncan and Brady at Vicar Street, Dublin. What’s Tony (On standup bass) grinning so much about?

References:
1. Wikipedia – Duncan and Brady

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Music

Dreaming (2015) – Smallpools

My eldest son Jesus Mateo is a footballer and a mighty good one at that! I have videos of him running rings around teams here in Colombia. Oh and ‘soccer’ is spelt ‘futbol’. Since COVID struck nearly 2 years ago Jesus hasn’t had the opportunity to take advantage of his talent because of the authoritarian regime which is just starting to get into full swing.
Case in point: This morning Jesus and his 6 year old sister Katherine Rose (seen below) just got vaccinated so they can enter a cinema, eat in a restaurant, even go to school. The tragedy is.. they haven’t even studied presential in a school for 2 years because of the regime.
The health corp just mandated that they (my kids) require a flu jab in 2 weeks. Ellas van a pagar.

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. ‘ ” – Matthew 19:14

So what does that have to do with today’s track Dreaming by Smallpools? It is from the virtual ‘futbol’ game FIFA 19 which my son and I heard as we started the program. There exists a whole host of songs in rotation on the FIFA game, but this one called Dreaming didn’t make me want to slit my wrists. I really like the verses. It makes my project list because…ummm… well it’s futbol and that’s that. As I write this, Colombia will play Brazil today in the World Cup qualifiers. Brazil sit comfortably 1st and Colombia in 4th position on the table.

Dreaming” was the Smallpools‘ biggest hit single; it charted at number 23 on Billboard‘s Alternative Songs chart, and was later certified gold. I would suggest you listen to the audio than watch the video below if you want to keep your food inside. It shows intense activities like—playing beer pong, socializing—before coming up for air in the backyard pool. It’s a shocker. The group invited all of their personal friends to act in the video. So that’s cool. I’m hip..down with it….

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Music

A Man’s World (Final – The Rainbow) – D.H. Lawrence

My humble copy of The Rainbow

Today includes our final read of The Rainbow. Last week we delved into the controversial section called Shame about Ursula’s struggle to find fulfilment and her same-sex relationship with a teacher. At the end of the book, having failed to find her fulfilment in another Ursula has a vision of a rainbow towering over the Earth, promising a new dawn for humanity:

She saw in the rainbow the earth’s new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.”

This is a three-generation family saga, set in Nottinghamshire, starting in Victorian times and ending before fears of WW1 loomed. the narrative sprawls across a wide swath of years, leisurely routing its way through the rituals of marriages, motherhood, and ambivalent father-daughter bonds to eventually usher us into Ursula Brangwen’s vibrant inner world which serves as the site of a perennial dispute between indefatigable individualism and the urge to live up to societal expectations. This is a profoundly sensual, sexual book, but it’s not at all explicit: the most intimate encounters are described in terms of flowers and flames, rather than human anatomy. I was seduced and intoxicated by the surreal erotic lyricism that is often more poem than prose.

The pure love came in sunbeams between them, when she was like a flower in the sun to him… feeling the radiance from the Almighty beat through him like a pulse, as he stood in the upright flame of praise, transmitting the pulse of Creation.

Even though the sexual politics of Tom and Lydia and Will and Anna Brangwen’s marriages are flayed open and dissected with a psychoanalytic precision, it is not until heroine Ursula steps into the embrace of nubile adolescence that I was able to determine a common running theme of an existential tussle between the sexes for supremacy and control.

The men placed in her hands their own conscience, they said to her “Be my conscience-keeper, be the angel at the doorway guarding my outgoing and my incoming.” And the woman fulfilled her trust, the men rested implicitly in her, receiving her praise or her blame with pleasure or with anger, rebeling and storming, but never for a moment really escaping in their own souls from her prerogative.

That Lawrence chose to re-create the persisting friction between one’s individuality and the need to fit into some generic pre-ordained role set aside for one by society from a predominantly female perspective is evident from the discernible narrative focus on wonderfully humanized female characters. Today’s excerpt expands on Ursula search for self-knowledge, as she rejects the conventional role of womanhood:

But very shortly she found herself up against her mother. Her mother had, at this time, the power to irritate and madden the girl continuously. There were already seven children, yet Mrs. Brangwen was again with child, the ninth she had borne. One had died of diphtheria in infancy.

Even this fact of her mother’s pregnancy enraged the eldest girl. Mrs. Brangwen was so complacent, so utterly fulfilled in her breeding. She would not have the existence at all of anything but the immediate, physical, common things. Ursula inflamed in soul, was suffering all the anguish of youth’s reaching for some unknown ordeal, that it can’t grasp, can’t even distinguish or conceive. Maddened, she was fighting all the darkness she was up against. And part of this darkness was her mother. To limit, as her mother did, everything to the ring of physical considerations, and complacently to reject the reality of anything else, was horrible. Not a thing did Mrs. Brangwen care about, but the children, the house, and a little local gossip. And she would not be touched, she would let nothing else live near her. She went about, big with child, slovenly, easy, having a certain lax dignity, taking her own time, pleasing herself, always, always doing things for the children, and feeling that she thereby fulfilled the whole of womanhood.

This long trance of complacent child-bearing had kept her young and undeveloped. She was scarcely a day older than when Gudrun was born. All these years nothing had happened save the coming of the children, nothing had mattered but the bodies of her babies. As her children came into consciousness, as they began to suffer their own fulfilment, she cast them off. But she remained dominant in the house. Brangwen continued in a kind of rich drowse of physical heat, in connection with his wife. They were neither of them quite personal, quite defined as individuals, so much were they pervaded by the physical heat of breeding and rearing their young.

How Ursula resented it, how she fought against the close, physical, limited life of herded domesticity! Calm, placid, unshakeable as ever, Mrs. Brangwen went about in her dominance of physical maternity.

There were battles. Ursula would fight for things that mattered to her. She would have the children less rude and tyrannical, she would have a place in the house. But her mother pulled her down, pulled her down. With all the cunning instinct of a breeding animal, Mrs. Brangwen ridiculed and held cheap Ursula’s passions, her ideas, her pronunciations. Ursula would try to insist, in her own home, on the right of women to take equal place with men in the field of action and work.

“Ay,” said the mother, “there’s a good crop of stockings lying ripe for mending. Let that be your field of action.”

Ursula disliked mending stockings, and this retort maddened her. She hated her mother bitterly. After a few weeks of enforced domestic life, she had had enough of her home. The commonness, the triviality, the immediate meaninglessness of it all drove her to frenzy. She talked and stormed ideas, she corrected and nagged at the children, she turned her back in silent contempt on her breeding mother, who treated her with supercilious indifference, as if she were a pretentious child not to be taken seriously.

Brangwen was sometimes dragged into the trouble. He loved Ursula, therefore he always had a sense of shame, almost of betrayal, when he turned on her. So he turned fiercely and scathingly, and with a wholesale brutality that made Ursula go white, mute, and numb. Her feelings seemed to be becoming deadened in her, her temper hard and cold.

Brangwen himself was in one of his states or flux. After all these years, he began to see a loophole of freedom. For twenty years he had gone on at this office as a draughtsman, doing work in which he had no interest, because it seemed his allotted work. The growing up of his daughters, their developing rejection of old forms set him also free.

He was a man of ceaseless activity. Blindly, like a mole, he pushed his way out of the earth that covered him, working always away from the physical element in which his life was captured. Slowly, blindly, gropingly, with what initiative was left to him, he made his way towards individual expression and individual form.

At last, after twenty years, he came back to his woodcarving, almost to the point where he had left off his Adam and Eve panel, when he was courting. But now he had knowledge and skill without vision. He saw the puerility of his young conceptions, he saw the unreal world in which they had been conceived. He now had a new strength in his sense of reality. He felt as if he were real, as if he handled real things. He had worked for many years at Cossethay, building the organ for the church, restoring the woodwork, gradually coming to a knowledge of beauty in the plain labours. Now he wanted again to carve things that were utterances of himself.

But he could not quite hitch on—always he was too busy, too uncertain, confused. Wavering, he began to study modelling. To his surprise he found he could do it. Modelling in clay, in plaster, he produced beautiful reproductions, really beautiful. Then he set-to to make a head of Ursula, in high relief, in the Donatello manner. In his first passion, he got a beautiful suggestion of his desire. But the pitch of concentration would not come. With a little ash in his mouth he gave up. He continued to copy, or to make designs by selecting motives from classic stuff. He loved the Della Robbia and Donatello as he had loved Fra Angelico when he was a young man. His work had some of the freshness, the naïve alertness of the early Italians. But it was only reproduction.

Having reached his limit in modelling, he turned to painting. But he tried water-colour painting after the manner of any other amateur. He got his results but was not much interested. After one or two drawings of his beloved church, which had the same alertness as his modelling, he seemed to be incongruous with the modern atmospheric way of painting, so that his church tower stood up, really stood and asserted its standing, but was ashamed of its own lack of meaning, he turned away again.

He took up jewellery, read Benvenuto Cellini, pored over reproductions of ornament, and began to make pendants in silver and pearl and matrix. The first things he did, in his start of discovery, were really beautiful. Those later were more imitative. But, starting with his wife, he made a pendant each for all his womenfolk. Then he made rings and bracelets.

Then he took up beaten and chiselled metal work. When Ursula left school, he was making a silver bowl of lovely shape. How he delighted in it, almost lusted after it.

All this time his only connection with the real outer world was through his winter evening classes, which brought him into contact with state education. About all the rest, he was oblivious, and entirely indifferent—even about the war. The nation did not exist to him. He was in a private retreat of his own, that had neither nationality, nor any great adherent.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Reading

Dream Weaver (1975) – Gary Wright

I have always been enchanted with this song and what it elicits in me. It opens my mind, transporting me back to when life felt more carefree. You might call it sex, drugs and rock,n roll‘ and the invincibility of early adulthood. The instrumentals convey something analogous to a psychedelic experience. Dream Weaver’s influence on popular culture is impressive as it has appeared in more than 20 movies, but I remember it most fondly in The People vs. Larry Flynt. It also conjures images of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights but doesn’t appear in its banda sonora (soundtrack).

Dream Weaver was released as the first single from his third studio album The Dream Weaver in December 1975. The song was inspired by Autobiography of a Yogi, which was given to him by George Harrison. His musical association with Harrison endured until shortly before the latter’s death in 2001.The expression “Dream Weaver” was popularized by John Lennon in 1970 in his song “God“.

Wright’s role in establishing the synthesizer as a leading instrument in rock and pop music was pivotal according to Wikipedia. He was a former child actor, performing on Broadway in the hit musical Fanny before studying medicine and then psychology. Wright turned to film soundtrack work in the early 1980s, including re-recording his “Dream Weaver”, for the 1992 comedy Wayne’s World. In 2014 Wright wrote his autobiography called Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation, and My Friendship with George Harrison.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Music

8/11 – 14/11/21 Jerry Seinfeld, Philosophers & Habitable Planets

news on the march

Welcome to Monday’s News on the March – The week that was in my digital world.

Jerry Seinfeld – The Complete ‘Pioneers of Television’ Interview – Steven J Boettcher
Video interview by Pioneers of Television

When I lived in Melbourne for the second time in the first decade of the 2000s I procured the whole 9 seasons of the legendary 90’s TV sit com – Seinfeld. I wore those DVDs out. I especially liked the behind the scenes videos and the documentaries about how the show came into existence. So when the above interview entered my feed, I frankly expected it to be a repeat of everything I had previously seen or known about Jerry Seinfeld.

I was surprised to find Jerry alluding to aspects of himself and how he became a successful comedian from a different angle. This video seems orientated towards his motivation and psychological approach to comedy. It was informative, refreshing and funny. I have just finished watching the first 3 episodes (season 11) of fellow creator of Seinfeld Larry David’s show – Curb your Enthusiasm.  The first 2 episodes were brilliant. (See entire video)

What philosophers believe, 2020 edition
Article at SelfAwarePatterns

Back in 2009, David Bourget and David Chalmers conducted a survey of professional philosophers, asking for their positions on 40 questions. Over the years, a number of people have pointed out the existence of that survey. While I don’t think anyone should change their position purely based on what large numbers of philosophers think, it’s still interesting to see which views are held and by what margins, and where our own conclusions fall.

It turns out that a new version was conducted last year, and the results have now been announced. (Read entire article here)

We can resist who we are for only so long
Read entire prose at Intellectual Shaman

We can resist who we are for only so long
until our deep self, protests.
This resembles physical exhaustion—
an emotional and spiritual drain.
Sleep is required, to ease the pain.
Basically, when you have done things, you shouldn’t do, for too long
a weariness will want you….(Read entire prose here)

How Did Earth Stay Habitable for 4 million Years? Science: Luck
Video presentation at Anton Petrov

This video channel about scientific discoveries in cosmology is on par with the David Butler channel. This video focuses on the likelihood of sustained life on other planets comparable to Earth. Anton talks about a study that suggests that the reason Earth is habitable today is purely due to being extremely lucky and the study makes a very strong point. It seems to be pro – Rare Earth Hypothesis which allows for extra planetary simple lower life forms (bacteria, viruses etc…), but argues higher form complex life is incredibly rare. (Watch entire video presentation here)

news on the march the end

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Movies and TV, News, Science

Dream Lover (1959) – Bobby Darin

Bobby Darin & Sandra Dee

Strangely Darin wasn’t certain of his legendary track when he demoed it for his bosses at Atlantic Records, but it became a huge hit and earned him more creative control as a songwriter and artist. The version of Dream Lover I prefer more than any other is the Demo version (take 5) below. Darin wrote this song about a guy who wishes and prays for the girl of his dreams to come to him so that he doesn’t have to dream alone. I think it’s one of the sweetest tunes I’ve heard.

Every night I hope and pray
A dream lover will come my way
A girl to hold in my arms
And know the magic of her charms
‘Cause I want (yeah-yeah, yeah)
A girl (yeah-yeah, yeah)
To call (yeah-yeah, yeah)
My own (yeah-yeah)
I want a dream lover
So I don’t have to dream alone

Darin found his dream lover just a year after this song was released when he married the actress Sandra Dee (pictured above with Darin). In 1962 he won a Golden Globe Award for his first film, Come September, co-starring his wife Sandra Dee. Their union would last until 1967. That’s pretty, pretty, pretty good for two major celebrities. Dee became a teenage star for her performances in Gidget.

Wikipedia states: During the 1960s, he (Bobby Darin) became more politically active and worked on Robert F. Kennedy’s Democratic presidential campaign. He was present on the night of June 4/5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles at the time of Robert Kennedy’s assassination. During the same year, he discovered the woman who had raised him was his grandmother, not his mother as he thought, and learned that the woman he thought was his sister was actually his mother. Those events deeply affected Darin and sent him into a long period of seclusion.

Darin died just 37 years young after a heart operation. His health was beginning to fail after he made a brief successful comeback in the 1970’s, but he always felt he was vulnerable following bouts of rheumatic fever in childhood which spurred him to use his musical talent while still young. Life for Sandra Dee didn’t go so well also after their divorce when Universal Studios dropped her the same year. In the 1980’s she was marred by alcoholism, mental illness, plus near total reclusiveness, particularly after her mother died in 1988.

This whole backstory including the innocence of the song and what eventuated for both Darin and Dee propels my mind into the outstanding Springsteen song ‘With Every Wish‘ and I’m not even superstitious:

‘…She sighed “Bobby oh Bobby you’re such a fool
Don’t you know before you choose your wish
You’d better think first
‘Cause with every wish there comes a curse

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Music

The Descendants (2011) – Alexander Payne (Friday’s Finest)

I caught for the second time on cable this 5 time nominated Academy Award movie including for Best Picture, which won for Best Adapted Screenplay. This American comedy-drama film is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. This is the fifth film which features George Clooney at Obervationblogger, and despite him playing a man at his most distraught and despondent, his nuanced and refined performance in The Descendants is my favourite from him. The film was a critical and financial success, grossing $177 million against a $20 million budget. It features here at Friday’s Finest because of it’s indie feel and overall sensibility responding to complex emotional and interpersonal circumstances.

IMDB Storyline:
Attorney Matt King is having a difficult time coping with his life at the moment. His wife Elizabeth is in a coma in the hospital following a boating accident. His youngest daughter Scottie is acting out and in many ways Matt is forced to be a parent for the first time in a long time. Matt is also in control of a family trust, one that is set to expire in a few years time. The trust owns a huge tract of land – vigorously sought by developers – the sale of which would be of great help financially to many of his cousins. He fetches his eldest daughter Alexandra from school and in a heated argument learns that Elizabeth was having an affair and was going to divorce him. Matt sets out to see the man, but isn’t quite sure what he will say or do when he locates him.

As described in the above storyline Clooney’s character (Matt King) is given lots of crosses to bear and I’ll expand on that aspect a bit. He’s not a loser exactly, rather an odd sort of guy, totally lost and a bit inept which is a bit of a departure for Clooney. He even said he was attracted to the part because he so often has played characters that have their act together and the character ‘Matt’ clearly does not.

Matt King is a man who was always bogged down with his work and apparently a dull and too familiar husband. He didn’t get inside his wife’s world and think of her spirit, so she eventually looked elsewhere, before a terrible accident put her into a coma. He learns about his wife’s infidelity, but doesn’t have the option of confronting her with it. He is thrust into a new role – one he should have been in all along. We understand Matt not so much based on what he says but by his subtle expressions and visual cues. This is where Clooney really shined in his portrayal and well deserved contender for best-actor. It’s also worth mentioning the supporting cast especially the two girls who played his children with plenty of wit and warmth.

One of the underrated aspects of the film is the sensational cinematography of Honolulu where the movie is set. It makes the most of the picturesque Hawaiian locations and landscapes that makes me want to book a holiday there one day after I win the lottery! The use of traditional Hawaiian music on the soundtrack gave the film authenticity and added a lot to the mood of the story, especially in the more melancholic moments.

References:

1. Wikipedia – The Descendants 2011
2. IMDB – The Descendants

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Movies and TV

Draining the Pool For You (1984) – The Go-Betweens

The Go-Betweens is the quintessential Australian indie-rock band who produced the quintessential Australian indie-rock sound. This is not your pro-typical rock band hence ‘indie’, but they went out on a limb to change the landscape of music and while they never became a big commercial success, they changed how other Australian singer-songwriters approached music. Today’s song comes from their 1984 album Spring Hill Fair.

The album was named after an annual fair in Spring Hill, Queensland, suburb of Brisbane Grammar School. Robert Forster and Grant McLennan (the lead singers) met at the University of Queensland where both were taking a theatre arts course. In November 1979, the duo left Australia, with a plan to shop their songs from record company to record company simply by visiting their offices and playing them.

McLennan stated years later “We all lived there (Brisbane) and the main reason was that in September, October of every year in Brisbane, there is, in Spring Hill, a fair, and as the album came out around then we thought it would be nice to have a parochial mention in a title because we hadn’t done that for a long time.

Remembered your name
Evidently, you’ve forgotten mine
You know a lot of people
I know, a mind dulled by work and wine

I got hired but I got tired of draining the pool for you
I got tired but not so blue
To see the cracks in you
I got hired against my wish
With better prospects, after this

This song reminds me of when I was in my early 20’s meandering through Melbourne’s inner urban suburbs having just arrived there and taking in the sights. I was looking for some kind of action /adventure, but I really admired the feel of Melbourne. Even it’s general architecture and home facades were more European than I was accustomed to in Sydney and elsewhere. Melbourne was a cosmopolis with respect to art, culture, sports and music. I was enthralled to say the least.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Music

Shame (The Rainbow) – D.H. Lawrence

For today’s Wednesday literature excerpt I present to you another extract from D.H. Lawrence’s book The Rainbow. This book was banned in England for a number of years. I wrote in an earlier article that I didn’t know what the fuss was about and why they banned his book, until I read this latter chapter ‘Shame‘. It introduces not just a lesbian relationship into classic literature, but one where the protagonist Ursula the third generation daughter of the Brangwen family (a student) and her class – mistress Miss Inger become sexually involved. Lawrence’s frank treatment of sexual desire, and the part it plays within relationships as a natural and even spiritual force of life got him banned for obscenity and this might well have been the chapter which did it.

I was labouring over whether to present this excerpt, mainly because I wasn’t sure what approach I would take or if it needed to be told. But I think it does since it illuminates that aforementioned about D.H Lawrence’s willingness to allude to openly presenting how relationships can play out. The philosopher Roger Scruton said – the prevailing theme of Lawrence’s novels is that ” We are desiring to mingle with something that is deeply – perhaps essentially – not ourselves and which brings us to experience a character and inwardness that challenge us with their strangeness.” Scruton believes that The Rainbow vindicates Lawrence’s vision.

So here I present to you a short excerpt of the chapter called ‘Shame’ from D.H.Lawrence’s The Rainbow. It could offend some readers or it might leave one hanging on. I’m afraid the chapter is too long to present here, but plenty of free online versions exist. I ask you not to take this excerpt out of context since Ursula like nearly all of us in our younger adult years struggles to find fulfilment for our passionate, spiritual and sensual nature against the confines. It values self-realization and independence:

Suddenly Ursula found a queer awareness existed between herself and her class-mistress, Miss Inger. The latter was a rather beautiful woman of twenty-eight, a fearless-seeming, clean type of modern girl whose very independence betrays her sorrow. She was clever, and expert in what she did, accurate, quick, commanding.

To Ursula she had always given pleasure, because of her clear, decided, yet graceful appearance. She carried her head high, a little thrown back, and Ursula thought there was a look of nobility in the way she twisted her smooth brown hair upon her head. She always wore clean, attractive, well-fitting blouses, and a well-made skirt. Everything about her was so well-ordered, betraying a fine, clear spirit, that it was a pleasure to sit in her class.

Her voice was just as ringing and clear, and with unwavering, finely-touched modulation. Her eyes were blue, clear, proud, she gave one altogether the sense of a fine-mettled, scrupulously groomed person, and of an unyielding mind. Yet there was an infinite poignancy about her, a great pathos in her lonely, proudly closed mouth.

It was after Skrebensky had gone that there sprang up between the mistress and the girl that strange awareness, then the unspoken intimacy that sometimes connects two people who may never even make each other’s acquaintance. Before, they had always been good friends, in the undistinguished way of the class-room, with the professional relationship of mistress and scholar always present. Now, however, another thing came to pass. When they were in the room together, they were aware of each other, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Winifred Inger felt a hot delight in the lessons when Ursula was present, Ursula felt her whole life begin when Miss Inger came into the room. Then, with the beloved, subtly-intimate teacher present, the girl sat as within the rays of some enrichening sun, whose intoxicating heat poured straight into her veins.

The state of bliss, when Miss Inger was present, was supreme in the girl, but always eager, eager. As she went home, Ursula dreamed of the schoolmistress, made infinite dreams of things she could give her, of how she might make the elder woman adore her.

Miss Inger was a Bachelor of Arts, who had studied at Newnham. She was a clergyman’s daughter, of good family. But what Ursula adored so much was her fine, upright, athletic bearing, and her indomitably proud nature. She was proud and free as a man, yet exquisite as a woman.

The girl’s heart burned in her breast as she set off for school in the morning. So eager was her breast, so glad her feet, to travel towards the beloved. Ah, Miss Inger, how straight and fine was her back, how strong her loins, how calm and free her limbs!

Ursula craved ceaselessly to know if Miss Inger cared for her. As yet no definite sign had been passed between the two. Yet surely, surely Miss Inger loved her too, was fond of her, liked her at least more than the rest of the scholars in the class. Yet she was never certain. It might be that Miss Inger cared nothing for her. And yet, and yet, with blazing heart, Ursula felt that if only she could speak to her, touch her, she would know.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Reading