When did "sentimental" become a pejorative barb? I do not at all share the notion that a piece of music, or a poem, or a film that bypasses the brain and aims straight for the heart . . . should automatically be heaped with scorn. I think it is symptomatic of a sad and dangerous impoverishment of spirit.
Hey, I got an idea, let's go to the movies. I wanna go to the movies, I want to take you all to the movies. Let's go and experience the art of the cinema. Let's begin with the Scream Of Fear, and we are going to haunt us for the rest of our lives. And then let's go see The Great Escape, and spend our summer jumping our bikes, just like Steve McQueen over barb wire. And then let's catch The Seven Samurai for some reason on PBS, and we'll feel like we speak Japanese because we can read the subtitles and hear the language at the same time. And then let's lose sleep the night before we see 2001: A Space Odyssey because we have this idea that it's going to change forever the way we look at films. And then let's go see it four times in one year. And let's see Woodstock three times in one year and let's see Taxi Driver twice in one week. And let's see Close Encounters of the Third Kind just so we can freeze there in mid-popcorn. And when the kids are old enough, let's sit them together on the sofa and screen City Lights and Stage Coach and The Best Years of Our Lives and On The Waterfront and Midnight Cowboy and Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show and Raging Bull and Schindler's List... so that they can understand how the human condition can be captured by this amalgam of light and sound and literature we call the cinema.
I suppose you think you know what autumn looks like. Even if you live in the Los Angeles dreamed of by September's schoolmates, you have surely seen postcards and photographs of the kind of autumn I mean. The trees go all red and blazing orange and gold, and wood fires burn at night so everything smells of crisp branches. The world rolls about delightedly in a heap of cider and candy and apples and pumpkins and cold stars rush by through wispy, ragged clouds, past a moon like a bony knee. You have, no doubt, experienced a Halloween or two. Autumn in Fairyland is all that, of course. You would never feel cheated by the colors of a Fairyland Forest or the morbidity of a Fairyland moon. And the Halloween masks! Oh, how they glitter, how they curl, how their beaks and jaws hook and barb! But to wander through autumn in Fairyland is to look into a murky pool, seeing only a hazy reflection of the Autumn Provinces' eternal fall. And human autumn is but a cast-off photograph of that reflecting pool, half burnt and drifting through the space between us and Fairyland. And so I may tell you that the leaves began to turn red as September and her friends rushed through the suddenly cold air on their snorting, roaring high wheels, and you might believe me. But no red you have ever seen could touch the crimson bleed of the trees in that place. No oak gnarled and orange with October is half as bright as the boughs that bent over September's head, dropping their hard, sweet acorns into her spinning spokes. But you must try as hard as you can. Squeeze your eyes closed, as tight as you can, and think of all your favorite autumns, crisp and perfect, all bound up together like a stack of cards. That is what it is like, the awful, wonderful brightness of Fairy colors. Try to smell the hard, pale wood sending up sharp, green smoke into the afternoon. To feel to mellow, golden sun on your skin, more gentle and cozier and more golden than even the light of your favorite reading nook at the close of the day.
Catherynne M. Valente