Thursday, May 12, 2016

Get Busy Livin' Or Get Busy Dyin'

Form And Void

RUSS COHLE:  I tell ya, Marty -- I been up in that room, lookin' out them windows, thinkin' -- it's just one story. The oldest. 
MARTY HART: What's that? 
COHLE: Light versus dark. 
HART: Well...  I know we ain't in Alaska, but (looks up at the night sky) -- it appears to me the dark has a lot more territory. 
COHLE:  Yeah, you're right about that... but you're lookin' at it wrong.  
HART: How's that? 
COHLE: Once, there was only dark... You ask me, the light's winnin'.

-- Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson / True Detective (Season One, 2014)

Yes; recently went through a True Detective / Season 1 marathon (which explains the previous post, too, also). Days like these: Work = bad; experience of daily living = not a great deal better -- and I find myself drawn back to the lines Nic Pizzolatto had written for the character of Rustin Cohle as delivered by Matthew McConaughey: Existence as bearing witness to the Unsolvable, the bottomless and apparently no-limit ability of humans to fuck with each other; the unfathomable What of all and everything. Let's just say it's not a period when I choose to watch musical comedies.

(One of my favorite quotes: Episode 7, 'After You've Gone'; Hart and Cohle interview an older black woman who winds up spouting about Carcosa and death is not the end, another link in the investigative chain leading them on, upriver, looking for Kurtz, madness hiding in the Bayou.

(McConaughey lights a cigarette, looks off into some far distance and says to Harrelson, "Sure hope that old lady's wrong."  Puzzled, Harrelson asks, "About what?"   " 'bout death not being the end," McConaughey replies.)
McConaughey's character looks at the Daily Monster and doesn't flinch; he wants, and doesn't want, an answer to the What question (an old Suicide Club acquaintance once said, preparing to do a handstand on the summit of the west tower of the Bay Bridge, an age ago, now: "You're scared but you do it anyway"). In the end, he has an epiphany of a kind -- in my imagination he comes to some understanding that some days the universe is that bottomless, reductive, time-in-a-circle-eternal-recurrence, Dantean pit. Others, it isn't.

And that line penned by another writer, Frank Darabont (yes, he of TWD), keeps resonating, too: Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'. That's absolutely goddamn right.

1 comment:

  1. a dylan song that entered my life in 1965 when i was at a young and impressionable age is "it's alright, ma, (i'm only bleeding)"

    from the article about it at wikipedia:

    Dylan's preoccupations in the lyrics extend beyond socio-political commentary, and touch on urgent matters of personal experience--the challenge to live and grow in the face of uncertainty.

    He not busy being born is busy dying

    Jimmy Carter would later refer to the line in his presidential nomination speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, though it addresses matters of the self which supersede politics, in the process displaying certain themes associated with existentialism.

    Throughout the song, the words pour out quickly, with Dylan barely taking a breath between lines, so that the intricate rhyming structure is often missed: AAAAAB CCCCCB DDDDDB in the verses and AAB in the chorus.


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