Thursday, November 15, 2007


There is a certain mood that people get into sometimes where we wind up looking at life from one remove--or maybe two, three, four; how far gone you want to get? And it's not such a forlorn meditation as that may sound even though it kind of comes down to a looking back from the grave sort of perspective. Okay, but it has to be that or it's no good. It's a way of looking at the world and life just as you would see it with the grand nostalgia of knowing it for something forever left behind.

This is a rare and delicious perspective, so powerful as to allow a glimpse, at last and for once, of the funny little incongruities that above everything were making this world and life in it something you know you would have better appreciated, had you only not been quite so close, so immersed in it as not to notice. Put it this way: Go ahead and just try taking Harpo Marx out of this world; take his funny curly be-wigged head out of the picture; take the harp from his hands, take away from your sight the wild look of wonder in his eyes, take from his head that funny crushed opera hat; take it all out of this world as we've known it, and would remember it--as if we could--after we're gone, and what would be left of anything magical enough to miss?

Harpo Marx is incongruous, as also, by ever so vast a contrast is Hitler. Both were clowns under the Big Top of the Greatest Show on Earth. In the center ring of Circus Earth, here indeed was Hitler where he trod the sawdust with mustache and whip to make the opposite of what he wanted, happen; to make the face of his opposite, Harpo Marx all the more lovable than it already was. But here was Harpo, the image of an angel (he could swear like a veritable Mae West in the midst of a three sailor tryst, drunken or sober) golden-haired (though the wig was actually pink) and plucking none but the most ethereal music from a harp he'd taught himself to play, through a most incongruous genius, by ear, and by using a system of tuning he'd invented himself--and there is Hitler trying to rid the world of Harpo.

Incongruity! Oh! How can it be that some skinny, greasy looking kid, stuck with a hick from the sticks name that can conjure nothing but the image of an ignorant country plow-boy, an "Elvis Presley"? How he could arise to such stellar majesty--why, one must only marvel with none but the greatest delight at the very incongruity of it. But this is that kind of world, into which the wild and unruly force of the absurd is continually bursting, always to so marvelously confound our every prejudice and expectation. And here where the impossible is constantly transformed into the possible; here, with such a mystery attendant upon our existence, we find the only kind of life that can possibly be worth missing, in all its glorious and outrageously unaccountable incongruity.
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