Thursday, 26 November 2009

Down California Way

Throughout the last couple of years, I feel as though my life in education has been focused on two key areas. Of course, I have branched out the other subjects unwillingly, and even in some rare cases, willingly, but I find myself returning to these two things. Every time. Its the sort of phenomena that can convince you of the existence of God. And not that happy-go-lucky God from the bible. Im talking a malicious god. The type you find in Pagan lore. A god whose sole purpose is to torment humans, to test us until one of two inevitabilities occurs; We go insane, or we deal with it and let it stew as a mental illness. I am talking about the two subjects in my education that appear again and again.

1. 20th Century America (and everything encompassed within: The Dustbowl, The American Dream, etc...)

2. The Gothic

The fact that I adore the first and despise the second probably says alot about me as a person, much like my choice on the age-old question, "flight or invisibility?" but the point remains, I have been drawn in by fiction/non-fiction/cinema/music/journalism based around the first choice time and time again, and as of yet, I have no idea why.

This strange compulsion was fed like an angry snake last week, with the viewing of John Fords classic interpretation of John Steinbeck's "The Graps of Wrath". It was a great movie, and whilst it was not as good as the book, as these things often arent, it did give a great visual interpretation of one of my favorite parts; the journey. I've always been attracted to the nature of travel, and I'm still attempting to take "the Great American Road Trip". Obviously this is a little hard when you come from the English south-west, rather than the American south, but I've always been enchated by Route 66, and the journey part of the novel reminds me of the childish sense of wonder I have about travelling. The truth is its damn annoying, it can make or break friendships, and it can be hellishly boring, but its always something that retains its magic.

The film depicts the journey as a time of hope, a time of the anticipation of prosperity, and its strange that despite the deaths of Grandpa and Grandma, the decision to press on is unanimous. Its sort of like the deaths of the Grandparents signify the cutting of the chord, like the family has no place in Olklohoma anymore because their history there has been lost. Or it could just be a way of evoking some emotion at the realistation that these people literally have nothing but eachother. Either way, its an event that Steinbeck really executes well.

Its no surprise that the novel was written as an attempt to show the plight of the citizens of the dustbowl, and its a shame that the message was lost in the financial storm that followed the book. Its a book, and a movie, that continues to feed my love for 20th Century America.

Maybe one day, I'll get out to Californee, see what all the fuss is about...

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