Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gale Garnett and Sophia Loren

... appear together in a context I would not have expected!
I've been following the Northrop Frye blog I cited earlier, finding much of it beyond me (it is written largely by literary scholars, and they write largely as such - this is no complaint - each domain has its jargon and notions) but also finding much that is interesting. Frye's diary excerpts are a nice reflection on much of our history, and of course occasionally an astonishing entry into his character (though the history interests me more).
Michael Happy has an entertaining post today (and he amusingly confirms my general assessment by introducing it with "Lest this blog get too serious"), which is essentially a memoir from Barry Callaghan. I won't pollute this post with links - suffice it to say you can find Wikipedia entries for most of the people named.
Gale Garnett appears in a part of the memoir; I still think of her "We'll Sing in the Sunshine" when I hear her name; I imagine I might have other memories had I gone to see "Hair" back in the days, but it did not appeal.
I had mischievously put the actress Gale Garnett beside Frye on a banquette. The great scholar, whose public manner was often “shy reluctance” (masking an enthusiasm for the scatological), eyed her ample cleavage. People kept interrupting with “Good evening, Doctor Frye” and “Very pleased, Doctor Frye,” until Gale—a forthright literate woman of gumption, beauty and wit, a trouper in the finest sense (schooled as a girl by John Huston, a star in Hair, a companion to Pierre Trudeau, a journalist for The Village Voice, novelist and a mature actress in fine movies, including Mr. and Mrs. Bridge), said, “Doesn’t anyone ever talk to you like a human being?”
“Not often,” Frye said.
“I’ve a cure for that,” she said, taking two red sponge balls out of her purse. She squeezed one, it opened, and she clamped it on his nose. She damped the other on her own nose and the two sat side-by-side beaming, clowns on a banquette.
A film producer from Amsterdam cried, “Norrie, how are you?” Frye stood up and clasped his hands, saying, “Fine, fine.” Gale handed out a half-dozen clown’s noses and soon Greg Gatenby and Francesca Valente, director of the Istituto Italiano, and Premier Peterson were posing with Frye for snapshots, all clowning, happily wearing red noses.

Points to Gale Garnett!
And then to my astonishment, Sophia Loren pops up, and it seems to me in a way that turns out to be slightly serious, and allows Frye to adapt his own theories.

It was hilarious and touching and grew more so as the three great men began to quietly explain the world to each other, offering little insights, playful and provocative observations— three heavyweights flicking ideas like nimble featherweights, tap tap, jab jab, until Morley got around to Sophia Loren and — as Morley explained that the mystery of her beautiful face was that everything in it was wrong — Frye made a loud sensual umming sound. “The eyes are too far apart, the nose is too big, the mouth too big,” Morley said, “yet she is beautiful, she is her own perfection,” and Moravia, who had a perky light in his old eyes, said, “Si, Si, so much for Botticelli. . . .” and they laughed loudly as if they had just exchanged an insight on behalf of a beauty that was sensual in all its surprising irregularities, irregularities that had their own harmony . . . and Morley started in on one of his favorite notions: “I’ve been watching all those nature films on television, down deep in the Amazon, all that insect and animal stuff . . . and I’ve been fascinated to see the way a bug can’t be anything other than the bug he was meant to be, living only to realize the beauty of its own form, the form — whatever it is — emerging out of itself, completing itself, whether it’s a butterfly or Sophia Loren.”
“And this is why,” Moravia said, “Michelangelo’s last Pietá is so great, it is like watching a butterfly emerge out of the stone,” and Frye said, “But this is all I ever meant by archetypes. There are forms, they are in us, they emerge . . . we become who we are.”
“And with all our everyday exercise of the will,” Morley said, “we become who we were meant to be, freely.”
“Of course,” Frye said.
“Well, now. . .” and they paused for dessert.

Thanks, Educated Imagination gang; I'm enjoying it.


At 2:21 PM, Blogger Peter Yan said...

hope you keep reading the Fryeblog...Frye wanted the largest audience possible...I do too...Frye is perfect, I think, for the average high school student...


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