‘I cried like some grandmother, I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.’ – Walter E.Kurtz, Apocalypse Now.
The ‘Good Colonel’ is here reacting to a particularly distressing, and at first sight vicious and meaningless, act of war.
However, a culture which can organise the systematic removal of the inoculated arms of its children must have a pretty clear conception of where it is at, of precisely what it means to be there, and also of just how to remain in that place.
‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown…’ – Lucy, Peanuts.
Can grief ever be good?
Charles M. Schulz clearly thought so.
The phrase runs like a litany through Charlie Brown’s debut T. V. outing casting noble failure on all his best efforts, and simultaneously highlighting the noble failure of all life to make any kind of a lasting impression.
Sometimes Schulz talks like a prophet and at other times like a lost soul.
With this particular ‘bon mot‘ he talks like both at the same time.
The meta-gag of this same episode is Charlie’s dream of sending the football soaring through the sky.
It never happens.
Lucy always removes the ball at the last.
It is Charlie who soars to end lying flat on his back, gazing up at the sky.
A living cadaver capable of pondering its own plight, and ours.
We have the terms ‘a proper Charlie’ and ‘a right Charlie’ for those unfortunates who end up looking like chumps in life’s Divine Comedy.
Are these phrases ‘Chaplin derived’ or much earlier?
King Charles I of England lost his head, and his life, for clinging on to an outmoded principle.
Scotland’s Bonnie Prince ended his life in ignominy and exile but even before that he was a Charlie.
A clown’s name for a clown’s game?
The Divine Right of Kings.
To do what?
To rue the almighty hash the politicians have made of it?
No, not that, simply to rule.
To run the measure over the populace and let ‘the Gods’ or ‘the Fates’ decide, which they do anyway, ultimately…
‘Death’s at the bottom of everything…’ – Major Calloway, The Third Man.