Wednesday, October 16, 2002

M'sieu le Baron de Ringadingding

Yes, darlings, today is a day for nonsense. Aside from my usual lack of nothing to say, I am a little scatter-brained at the moment as well. Between the almost-unendurable pain of yesterday's completed root-canal (it's utterly amazing how much pain can be generated via the teeth...why, oh why don't people understand that "drug-resistant" means that my system requires four or five times as much asnesthesia as anyone would think I was a redhead, for pity's sake) and today's almost-unendurable excitement of my new computer scheduled to arrive via UPS (update: I called the Grandmother and it HAS arrived, I'm so thrilled, I know what I'm going to be doing all evening...eeeeeeeeee!), heightened by my favorable but distracting reaction to my new Patrick Fillion eroticomics that arrived in the mail yesterday along with a new Suzanne Somers bracelet, and then exacerbated by a boring day at work, I can barely string together three thoughts, much less formulate a cogent essay of any sort.

Today is Oscar Wilde's birthday! Although I can't stand his poetry, I absolutely worship everything else the man wrote. The Picture of Dorian Gray is definitely in the top ten of my favorite novels, and a turning-point influence in my literary and aesthetic life. I just adore the short stories like "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime" and "A Sphinx Without A Secret." The untold number of witticisms he let loose into the world... these alone merit his apotheosis. You can read all of his published works at this site maintained by the University College of Cork; you can find other neat resources via the Oscar Wilde Sites; and I totally recommend visiting Jonno's beautiful Oscar Wilde pages, Oscariana.

In an interesting case of semisynchronicity, the day before Oscar's birthday was National Grouch Day. And nobody sent me a card! Harrumph.

Another interesting birthday today is my favorite celebrity jewelry-designer, the fantabulous Miss Suzanne Somers! I was just counting and discovered that I currently own nineteen pieces of Suzanne Somers jewelry! Fifteen bracelets, one ring, and three necklaces. No earrings, yet, but I'm working on it!

Also celebrating a birthday today is my favorite grande dame of stage and screen, Miss Angela Lansbury. She was the essential musical Mame, she scared the pants off me as the scheming maid in Gaslight and the scheming mother in The Manchurian Candidate, and I even loved her in Murder, She Wrote and Bedknobs & Broomsticks. And here's another amusing little piece of synchronicity: Angela Landsbury's third US film role and second supporting Oscar nomination was "Sybil Vane" in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Kinda makes you think, don't it? About what, I can't imagine. But it makes you think, at any rate, and that's a good thing.

In other news...actually, there is no other news, but I feel like I ought to say something more. And, as I was taught in university, when you don't have anything particular to say, quote somebody else. So enjoy the following fabulous wisdom:

The Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

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