Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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The Wise Stupidity

Twitter Sonnet #120

Never fight a seal in a laundry room.
Dreams of wet clothes find ways into stucco.
Starch in the air conducts electric doom.
Harpo's taken the furnace from Chico.
Ralph Macchio's no match for Genghis Khan.
A bird in the hand's worth lycanthropy.
An adult goose should never fuck a fawn.
Youth's a musical colonoscopy.
And late worms are Tuesday's rubber pancakes.
The road to Troy is paved with octagons.
The pious man pole vaults for angels' sakes.
The path of truth is replete with ions.
A full court is better than half a ball.
Gratuity's the greatest gift of all.

Yes, two sonnets in a row. Michael Kupperman was doing a hashtag meme called "stupidwisesayings" and I thought to myself, "I say stupid things like they're wise all the time!" I was going to quit after one extra quatrain, but James Urbaniak tweeted one at me and I couldn't stop with Dr. Venture watching. But I actually had time to tweet last night because I finished the day's work on my comic just after 10pm--this is what happens when I stay on schedule, huh? Being absolutely terrified of letting things get backed up has helped, as has the fact that this has been a relatively easy chapter.

So I was able to watch all two hours and thirty five minutes of Inglourious Basterds, which I'd not seen since I saw it in the movie theatre. The first scene is really beautiful and, boy, is it Sergio Leone-ish. I imagine Leone, if he were still alive, coming across the movie and thinking, "Who is this guy trying to be me?" Though Leone was known to borrow a stylistic mannerism or two, so he'd probably understand. He'd probably criticise Tarantino for not lingering on close-ups longer.

I also fantasised about going back in time and showing the film to U.S. troops during World War 2. How different could it be from watching some of the cartoons at the time?

I realised they'd probably find the violence in Inglourious Basterds a bit much.

Speaking of Russia and Napoleon, one of the things I'm enjoying most about War and Peace is Tolstoy's keen ability to describe the sort of permanent naiveté of humanity, particularly in large groups. I just read a funny bit about two salons in Petersburg during Napoleon's invasion--one salon liked the idea of Napoleon invading, the other was against it, and a character named Prince Vasily frequented both salons. Occasionally he forgets where he is and expresses the wrong opinion, but everyone overlooks it. Which is so great--I think Tolstoy's very slyly pointing out here that groups who subscribe to a communal set of bullshit beliefs at some level know the beliefs are bullshit or superficial.

A scene at the start of Napoleon's invasion that takes place in a palace meeting of Russian nobles and merchants seemed like something that could be found in any Internet forum to-day;

"Excuse me, Your Excellency," [Pierre] began. (Pierre was well acquainted with the senator, but considered it necessary on this occasion to address him formally.) "Though I do not agree with the gentleman . . . " (he hesitated; he would have liked to say "mon tres honorable preopinant") "with the gentleman . . . whom I have not the honour of knowing, I imagine that the nobility have been summoned here not simply to express their sympathy and enthusiasm, but also to consider the means by which we can assist our fatherland. I imagine," he went on, warming to the subject, "that the Emperor himself would hardly be pleased to find in us merely owners of serfs whom we are willing to turn over to him, and cannon fodder, which we are willing to make of ourselves, instead of obtaining from us any co-co-counsel."

Many of those listening withdrew from the circle when they observed the senator's disdainful smile and the boldness of Pierre's remarks; only Count Ilya Andreich was pleased with Pierre's speech, just as he had been pleased with the naval officer's speech, the senator's speech, and, in general, with whatever speech he had last heard.

"I think that before discussing these questions," Pierre continued, "we ought to ask the Emperor, most respectfully to ask His Majesty, to apprise us of the number of our troops, and the position in which our army and our forces now find themselves, and then--"

But scarcely had Pierre uttered these words when he was attacked from three sides. The most violent onslaught came from an old acquaintance, a boston player who had always been well disposed toward him, Stepan Stepanovich Apraksin. Stepan Stepanovich was in uniform, and whether it was due to the uniform or other causes, Pierre saw before him a quite different man. With a sudden expression of senile fury on his face, he shouted at Pierre;

"In the first place, I tell you we have no right to question the Emperor, and secondly, even if the Russian nobility had such a right, the Emperor would be unable to answer us. Troops move according to the movements of the enemy--their numbers increase, decrease--"

Another voice, that of a nobleman of medium height and some forty years of age, whom Pierre had seen in former days at the gypsies' and knew as a wretched card player--a man also transformed by his uniform--came up to Pierre and interrupted Apraksin.

"Yes, and this is not the time for deliberation," said the nobleman, "what is wanted is action: the war is in Russia! The enemy is advancing to destroy Russia, to desecrate the graves of our fathers, to carry off our wives and children!" He smote his breast. "We will rise up, we will go, every man of us, and follow our father the Tsar!" he cried, rolling his bloodshot eyes.

Several approving voices were heard in he crowd.

"We are Russians and we will not grudge our blood for the defence of the fatherland! We must give up idle dreams if we are sons of the fatherland! We will show Europe how Russia rises to the defence of Russia!" he shouted.

Pierre tried to reply, but could not get in a word. He was conscious that the sound of his words, apart from any meaning they conveyed, was less audible than the sound of his adversary's excited voice.

In the rear of the little group, Ilya Andreich was nodding approval; several of his listeners turned sharply toward the orator at the conclusion of the phrase and cried:

"That's right, quite right! Just so! . . . "

Pierre wanted to say that he was by no means averse to sacrificing his money, his serfs, and himself, only one must know the state of affairs in order to be able to improve on it, but he could not speak.

So many voices were heard talking and shouting at once that Ilya Andreich had not time to signify his agreement with all of them, and the group grew larger, dispersed, re-formed, and moved off with a hum of talk to the big table in the largest hall.

Not only was Pierre prevented from speaking, but he was rudely interrupted, pushed aside, and backs were turned to him as if he were a common foe. This was not because they did not like the substance of his speech, which, in fact, they had forgotten after all the subsequent speeches, but to animate it the crowd needed a tangible object to love and one to hate. Pierre became the latter.
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