Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Blood-Dimmed Tide Is Loosed!

Satisfyingly poetic: only days removed from my tirade about Yeats Abuse, I watched No Country For Old Men again. (Third time, I believe.) Whaddya think? Does Cormac Freaking McCarthy get a free pass to loot well-worn poems for his novel-titling purposes? I guess I'd decided that he did, without really thinking too hard about it. I was never even a huge fan of Corky McC's, but that's really a pretty good title. I wouldn't have been able to resist it either, if I wrote novels. And there's well-worn and there's well-worn, after all. It's not as if he called it Beauty Is Truth. Or, uh, The Sound and the Fury.

Is the title exactly spot-on appropriate? Eh, not so much. The title of the novel/film seems likely to refer to Ed Tom Bell, virtuous sheriff, the Tommy Lee Jones character from the movie, and to the "old-timers" whom he wants to emulate. He's freaked out and unmanned by his world's seemingly arbitrary descent into savagery--it's no longer any country for him, as you can tell from his increasingly haunted expression in the movie. The speaker of "Sailing to Byzantium" seems a bit more conventionally crotchety and snobbish. He just hates the young because they're constantly singing and having sex, and have no respect for Culture in the way that he does. Hence he's getting the hell out the West to go someplace Old and Religious. If you happen to be under sixty and a fan of "sensual music," it'd be easy to snicker at the guy. But that's what poetry is for--it's allowed to just be right, whatever might be absurd about what it's actually saying. Who's gonna argue with freakin' Yeats? Consume my heart away; sick with desire / And fastened to a dying animal / It knows not what it is... Not me. Nice words. Pretty words. Keep saying words, Mr. William Butler sir.

Haven't even said anything about that movie. Pretty fine movie. No Lebowski, certainly. I'll get back to it.

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