Weston: Look at my outlook. You don't envy it, right? Wesley: No. Weston: That's because it's full of poison. Infected. And you recognize poison, right? You recognize it when you see it? Wesley: Yes. Weston: Yes, you do. I can see that you do. My poison scares you. Wesley: Doesn't scare me. Weston: No? Wesley: No. Weston: Good. You're growing up. I never saw my old man's poison until I was much older than you. Much older. And then you know how I recognized it? Wesley: How? Weston: Because I saw myself infected with it. That's how. I saw me carrying it around. His poison in my body.
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The truth of the matter is that for all the drive-in movie references, what Weston Ochse has really created in Multiplex Fandango is a travelogue. Acting as narrator and guide, Weston takes you on a trip to places familiar and obscure-New Orleans, the Sonoran desert, Mexico's Pacific coast, and the dark, impenetrable reaches of the soul. He shows off sights that chill the blood, and as with any good trip, the things seen and experienced along the way will stay with you for a lifetime.
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Landscape pictures can offer us, I think, three verities: geography, autobiography, and metaphor. Geography is, if taken alone, sometimes boring, autobiography is frequently trivial, and metaphor can be dubious. But taken together, as in the best work of people like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, the three kinds of information strengthen each other and reinforce what we all work to keep intact - the affection for life.
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Already, I seemed to feel my intellect deteriorating, my heart petrifying, my soul contracting; and I trembled lest my very moral perceptions should become deadened, my distinctions of right and wrong confounded, and all my better faculties be sunk, at last, beneath the baneful influence of such a mode of life. The gross vapors of earth were gathering around me, and closing in upon my inward heaven; and thus it was that Mr. Weston rose at length upon me, appearing like the morning star in my horizon, to save me from the fear of utter darkness; and I rejoiced that I now had a subject for contemplation that was above me, not beneath.
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I have these secret pangs of shame about being single, like I wasn't good enough to get a husband. Rita reminded me of something I'd told her once, about the five rules of the world as arrived at by this Catholic priest named Tom Weston. The first rule, he says, is that you must not have anything wrong with you or anything different. The second one is that if you do have something wrong with you, you must get over it as soon as possible. The third rule is that if you can't get over it, you must pretend that you have. The fourth rule is that if you can't even pretend that you have, you shouldn't show up. You should stay home, because it's hard for everyone else to have you around. And the fifth rule is that if you are going to insist on showing up, you should at least have the decency to feel ashamed. So Rita and I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.
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Of the seminal moments in my life, Careers Day in the autumn of Year 5 is my favorite. Everyone had to dress as whatever they wanted to be once they grew up. I had gone in a tweed jacket and a bow tie, and when Miss Weston asked me what I wanted to be, I told her that I wanted to be the Doctor. 'Shouldn't you be wearing a lab coat and stethoscope like Paul?' She pointed to Paul Black, who was trying to strangle everyone with the stethoscope in question. Before I could answer, a boy I didn't know from the other class spoke up. 'Paul's a doctor, ' he explained, giving me a look of approval. 'He wants to be the Doctor.' 'Who?' 'Exactly, ' we said at the same time, relieved that she understood. She didn't. We were sent to the quiet table to reflect on why cheeking teachers was wrong.
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The Golden Bough captured the imagination of many artists in the early twentieth century. Eliot, certainly, was immersed in it, discussing it familiarly in his graduate school papers and book reviews and constantly alluding to it in his art. The most straightforward advice he offers to readers of The Waste Land (given in the notes to the poem) is, in paraphrase, that any serious reader of the poem must take into consideration modern scholarship in myth and anthropology, especially Frazer Golden Bough and Jessie Weston From Ritual to Romance. The poet says that he is indebted to this scholarship for his title, his plan, his symbolism, and many of his references to ancient religion and society. His claim about the title, taken from the monomyth of Frazer and Weston, his claim about the symbolism, associated with the birth-death-rebirth cycles of the myths, and his claim about the miscellaneous undergirding references have been discussed by Grover Smith and other scholars. We wish to focus more on Eliot's claim about being indebted to Frazer for the plan of the poem. We believe it refers, at least in part, to Frazer's use of the comparative method and to his practice of assembling many perspectives and allowing these perspectives to make his point. It must be noted at once that Eliot was quite selective in his admiration of Frazer. For example, he did not admire Frazer's positivism. Frazer put his faith in science and celebrated what he called the evolution from magic to religion to science. Nor did Eliot share Frazer's conclusions. In his 1913 paper on the interpretation of primitive ritual, he says that Frazer's interpretations of specific myths (the myth of the dying god is his example) are almost certainly mistaken. But Eliot did admire Frazer's erudition and his increasingly nontheoretical presentation of many angles of vision which in themselves tend to generate an overarching abstract primitive vision. In 1924, on the occasion of the publication of a condensed edition of The Golden Bough, Eliot wrote a review in which he lauded Frazer for having "extended the consciousness of the human mind into as dark a backward and abysm of time as has yet been explored." Eliot argues that Frazer's importance for artists is in his exemplary withdrawal from speculation, his adoption of the absence of interpretation as a positive modus operandi.
Jewel Spears Brooker
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