Thursday, April 23, 2015

every consequence of happiness

I forgot to mention yesterday that I was writing from the plane. It was a very long travel day, a couple hundred miles by car, a couple thousand or so by plane. I had intended to look over the blog entry before I posted it but by the time I was home, I was far too tired. I can barely remember what I wrote, some rambling about Murray and his wife, Murray and Paul, Paul and his fiancee, Paul and the postmistress. I think I might have said that these men of Tickle Head wanting to bring the oil company to their town just to have a good paying job was a bad thing. Well, maybe I didn't say it, but I feel like I implied it. I do sort of side with the postmistress--her name is Kathleen, by the by. She rejects the idea of the factory coming to Tickle Head specifically because it's the oil company. Sure, it's a "petrochemical repurposing plant"--essentially a recycling plant, but just a PR thing the oil company is doing--but it's still "the oil company", shorthand for, you know, greedy bastards. But, all the men (and women) of Tickle Head want is to be able to make something of their lives, to feel useful. To be happy.

If it takes buying into factory jobs--there I go again, implying the negative, but seriously, whatever it takes to be happy, as long as it doesn't detract from someone else's happiness, do it. Matt Zoller Seitz, at rogerebert.com, calls The Grand Seduction "a formulaically constructed [film] filled with astute details, striking scenery, and well rounded characters living in reality." And, in reality, people lie to get what they want. That doesn't make them bad people. It just makes them people.

We all put on our best selves sometimes, when we've got a date or a job interview for example. It's not necessarily dishonest... unless you go by the most strict of standards. Hell, I may risk sound like a big proponent of moral relativism--not that there's anything wrong with that--but I'm not sure it's dishonest at all. We decide who we are on a regular basis. We reinvent ourselves constantly. We choose every time that we interact with other people which parts of ourselves to present and which parts to hide. Sure, there's got to be a line between this casual invention and outright lies, but I think that line is blurry when it comes to things like romance, and The Grand Seduction surely is a romance. It's a romance about a town--as if it is its own entity--trying to seduce a young doctor. This is the romanticization of the small town once again. In that entry linked there, I quoted Gene GeRue's (2009) How to Find Your Ideal Country Home: A Comprehensive Guide:

[It's] tempting to romanticize small towns and life therein [because cultural, if not personal] Memories persist of clean, uncrowded, crime-free communities, of warm evenings on front porches, of shy boys kissing giggling girls behind blue lilac bushes.

And, why not?

It doesn't matter what you really think of the small town. It doesn't matter what the small town might actually be like. You've got to romanticize something that you want and want something that you romanticize. If you don't do that from time to time, then you're not living Simple as that. No point in chasing after anything if you can't romanticize and idealize it.

No comments:

Post a Comment