“I love to tell the story of unseen things above
because I know ‘tis true
…‘Twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story”….
(the same old story)
My, how we did sing that hymn in church of a Sunday! …”of unseen things above”. Little did we know how those unseen things would become “ the cloud” up there where every thing from this computer can be networked-- with apps-- into a heavenly storage and returned to us with a blessing. And that, they say, is what everybody is talking about.
A Network for Salvation.
Anyway, we saw the film Social Network a few nights ago. It is the bitterest pill of a movie in my experience. Just think, in all that dramatis personae, not one single person to warm to or admire. It was like reading Dostoyevsky.
But I soon got my bearings and saw that I was in an upside down version of old Excalibur-turned-Facebook. I thought I was in a brilliant, but demonic, inversion of that great old, old story of the bastard prince, finding the sword in the stone-- and that he could yank it out and find himself the greatest of kings with an idea about salvation. The Sword was his big idea of how a world might be rescued from barbarism and unified around a great round table of human love and brotherhood. Everyone would surely want to be of its communion. Wouldn’t they?
I was startled by the inversion of parallels everywhere. There was Lancelot du Lac, there Gawain. Guinevere was all over the place with Morganas le Fe bumping and grinding around at parties everywhere. And poor, silly old Merlin sitting there in the guise of silly old Harvard College itself (would you want to send your kid there!), the College of Merlin supposed to teach the boy to be king, but which in this story has no clue whatever as to what is going on in its halls let alone in the rampaging mind of that kid. And O! Those knights-errant! Such pretty boys!
A movie about boyness
What every boy dreams of
Of never having to grow up
The same old story of swords and facebooks and magic potions to keep them happy.
The once illegitimate prince, now the once and future king, revealed in this new telling to be just one more miserable undergraduate-- but a genius feeding off his own cruelty, insolence, petulance, and self-hatred.
He is the genius who is unteachable.
Why has it become our portion, in this time of luxury and privilege for many, that our stories are all shot to hell right out from under our feet? Why is it that we are deconstructed right out of every thing we valued and thought noble? The Round Table, for Christ’s sake! Why is it that we must have out noses rubbed in the rot under the rock, as in this movie, this rectal romance!
What did the film make, what was its product, what did it produce-- as a good old Marxist critic might ask? It produced money and lots of it, that’s what, inside and outside the movie. Millions, billions, only to be divied up at the end in bitterness, betrayals, and mindless greed.
I wonder if I am fooling myself…. I wonder it there may be operating in this film a generational divide, sharp and impassable, with me and my hymn singing on the wrong side, babbling away, while facebooks cite the way to a new and-- maybe not so terrible future after all….
Anyhow, whatever the truth of this movie may be, and I think there is certainly a lot of it, whatever its bitterness, it’s art to the rescue once again. Art turns the trick, transforming the bitterness of the movie’s subject into a valuable document, an analysis, a thing of its own perverse beauty, to tell the indispensable old story one more time. That is always a saving grace, a blessing.
Let us all sing it together.