Monday, November 12, 2007

Handheld inspiration

I never know when and where inspiration will strike--or, when up against the gun, if--but I found it in a coffee cup's protective sleeve. I love the interplay of colors and think it would be fun to knit a scarf or a blanket (or both) in these shades. Something about it suggests retro--the 1960s, maybe?

One might say that spotting this kind of beauty among the disposable is no different than what I do as a film critic. Sure, movies are no longer looked at as things to be discarded once their theatrical runs conclude, but aside from the best of the bunch that earn spots in the critical and popular canons, there are plenty destined to be moldering on virtual scrap heaps. Forty years from now a quick perusal of a film list from when I began reviewing would likely unearth titles that have been out of print and not been missed for ages.

Finding beauty and inspiration in unexpected places can be one of life's pleasures. It's simply a matter of keeping one's eyes and mind open. This is one of the central messages of Jacques Tati's Playtime, one of my all-time favorite films. The following quotation from my own review addresses other issues too, but I can't bear to separate the applicable lines from the rest:
Yet in spite of the implicit criticism Tati points toward bureaucracy, confusion, and the needless complexity in modern life, he is hopeful that people will adapt. Order and beauty can be found in the chaos. What is the film's joyful second half but an absurdist wink at technology's limitations and a joyful celebration of humanity's ability to make the best of a bad situation. Hulot accidentally tears part of the wall and ceiling, yet an American executive turns the damaged decorations into a gateway for a cozy party. A waiter with torn pants gives the good pieces of his uniform to the co-workers who come to him with a torn jacket and a sauce-drenched bowtie. The doorman perpetuates the illusion that one of the entrance doors remains.

If any doubt remains as to where Tati stands on contemporary society and construction, one of the final images compares the soft curves of flower stems and streetlights. Beauty is still being created, even if it is in concrete and glass.
Or, I must now add, if it's on something to keep you from burning your hand.

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At 8:22 AM, Blogger Donna B. said...

Wouldn't that make a great retro afghan?

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Love the retro afghan idea, although I'm imagining it crocheted in ripple stitch or granny squares. If only I knew how to crochet...


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