By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND, JULY 5-7, 2013) — Whimsy, when crossed with wistfulness, produces a healthy attitude toward the past. Seriousness, when crossed with regret, produces Jay Gatsby, the rich man who thought he could repeat the past. You can’t.
That doesn’t mean to say the past isn’t real. The past exists on the continuum of life’s time scale, and therefore it has substance (and as quantum physics informs, existence). It happened and certainly exists in our brains, which science has shown literally remember everything event of our lives, from the tiniest significance to the most shattering import. All we need to hold on to is memory.
Gatsby, the protagonist (certainly not the hero), of Fitzgerald‘s great novel, tries to ensure his future happiness by re-creating the past. In real life, Queen Victoria, whose long reign ended at the dawning of the 20th century and the inevitable acceleration of blinding, crippling, as well as enabling change ushered in during that foolishly optimistic coming epoch, did the same thing as Gatsby. Read Lyton Strachey‘s famous biography of Queen Vic for the details.
In Comp. 101, Prof. Valenti assigns an excerpt from Strachey’s bio that illustrates this point. A woman who as queen can get anything she wants cannot do what her heart most desires. She cannot stop change, and so she begins to shut out the world and stay on her island of How-It-Was-And-Thus-Always-Must-Be. It’s fun to see young people experience through the written word an old person’s lament for the rush of the headlong future, which she knows will obliterate an entire way of life. Being young, they don’t “get” it, unless intellectually. It doesn’t penetrate the heart, for old age, the passage of eras, and death always happen to others.
The future can never be woven of pr from the past, which, at best, informs us through experience make better use of the only Time Truth we ever possess: The Present Moment or The Eternal Now (TEN). We spend our entire earthly life in TEN and in it create both our spent past and our coming future. This activity, ironically, means that TEN slips by without us seeing it or being in it.
This leads us to a cartoon.
This is the old Red Sox logo, used in the 50s and early 60s. A cartoon red sock holds a yellow bat. The right-hander hitter waits on an unseen ball, front leg lifted up, Met Ott style. The field is black (night game?). The batter wears an innocent, optimistic look, almost a smile — mouth, eye, cheek, nose, eyebrow, and ear combining for an ingenuous, trusting, unsuspicious face.
The face and the body radiate with confidence but nothing like swagger. Such extreme gloating would come much later, in the 90s and beyond, when greed replaced business and “family entertainment” replaced The Game.
The cartoon has the rounded, bouncing quality of a song, nothing stylistic or digital about it. The logo wears what appears to be a headband, at the top of which is a small double tuft of hair. The headband gives the little man a stylish, Tonto visage (Jay Silverheels, not Johnny Depp), perhaps in anticipation of the cultural upheaval of the mid- to late-60s. This logo sums up a feeling indicative of the era.
It sums up a once-present long gone now — past and expected only by fools to be the stuff on which to build the future.
TO BE CONTINUED …
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.