Thursday, May 19, 2005

Don't Think About the Dancing Midget

Woof. I'm not sure, but I think these two paragraphs are my thesis statement.
As if to underscore the dramatic shift in location from the rural American south to Washington D.C., the northern section of Jean Toomer’s Cane concludes with two segments that stand in stark contrast to the remainder of the novel. “Theater” and “Box Seat” — thematically twinned by musical performances, multiple stream-of-consciousness monologues and a focus on such “in-between” states as half-light and partial wakefulness — are made all-the-more conspicuous by their placement so close to each other. Both focus on a man and woman with failed romantic chemistry, both take place in a theater and both involve the characters’ seeming inability to engage themselves in the performances before them. Instead, John, Dorris, Dan and Muriel retreat into their minds, their scattershot ponderings forming the bulk of their sections.

Furthermore, the more bizarre aspects of “Theater” and “Box Seat” — notably Dorris’ sudden emotional breakdown following her dance and the blood-splattered midget’s serenade to Muriel — are reflected in the work of contemporary director David Lynch, whose films frequently feature characters who arrive at important conclusions after viewing musical performances. A comparison between Lynch’s work and the thematic ties binding “Theater” and “Box Seat” will reveal a wealth of common imagery and techniques, setting Lynch’s work after Toomer’s in the traditions of modernism and surrealism. These styles, while often weird and difficult, demand an active reader or viewer, suggesting that the performance most worthy of one’s attention is the analysis of the work — not the flashy stage show.
Editing to follow. At least I finally got to write my David Lynch paper.

1 comment:

  1. This one time, in my African-American Lit. class at Riverside Community College that I was taking with my best friend Matty who is a poli sci major and hates English but agreed to take the class because it was about Black people, teacher said that you could focus on any one thing in a story and write a paper about it so Matty said: "What about the dancing midgets?" and teacher said: "Well... yes... they could be reflective of the microcosm in which the reader finds oneself..." and so on and Matty really wrote the paper, but he's a poli sci major, so it was shit. The End.

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