Sisyphus and the Sudden Lightness
By Stephen Dunn
It was as if he had wings, and the wind
behind him. Even uphill the rock
seemed to move of its own accord.
Every road felt like a shortcut.
Sisyphus, of course, was worried;
he'd come to depend on his burden,
wasn't sure who he was without it.
His hands free, he peeled an orange.
He stopped to pet a dog.
Yet he kept going forward, afraid
of the consequences of standing still.
He no longer felt inclined to smile.
It was then that Sisyphus realized
the gods must be gone, that his wings
were nothing more than a perception
of their absence.
He dared to raise his fist to the sky.
Nothing, gloriously, happened.
Then a different terror overtook him.
I had a thoroughly indulgent Monday around getting some work done and stuff in the house. After a lovely lunch with gblvr -- we had not had Thai food in ages -- I went to Best Buy because I had a return and, as I have been promising myself I would since catching it on TV in England, I bought myself the DVD with text commentary of Die Hard. You all can unfriend me or put me on your Bad Feminist List for this but I really adore that film and not even just because of Alan Rickman though god knows it would be a vastly inferior movie without him. I don't buy the argument that it's about knocking down the independent woman and making her into Mrs. McClane; it's Mr. McClane who's got issues figuring out what career sacrifices he'll make for his family (the whole topic of family being complicated by nasty-ass terrorist Karl and his adored brother, a bond cool-headed Hans just doesn't seem to get except as something that can be exploited).
Anyway, I wanted the DVD commentary just to see what Rickman said about the film and the process, but I came away impressed with the director and cinematographer, who were deliberately trying to invoke A Clockwork Orange, and also with the subtitle format for commentary because unlike voiceover commentary, you can really watch the movie -- the sound isn't muted, you're feeling everything that's going on as you're getting the reactions of the people involved in making the film. I've always found with Lord of the Rings for instance that as entertaining as it is to listen to the voices and reactions of the actors and crew to the film, it's not really possible to feel the film as such while listening, and in some cases what's being said aloud actually undercuts the dominant emotion onscreen. I didn't have that with the subtitle commentary at all.
Anyway, this activity was interrupted because older son announced, after homework and running around the neighborhood, that he had to have new dress shoes for the state chorus competition at the end of this week because his old dress shoes no longer fit. He's got Hebrew Tuesday, rehearsal Wednesday and math team Thursday, which meant we had to get the shoes before the shoe store closed at 6 tonight, so we went rushing out and ended up getting them dinner at McDonald's by the time we were done finding the shoes and indulging younger son, who was dragged with us, by getting him more pirate cards (he has two five-mast ships; the rest of us have none, and I covet his HMS Titan!) CVS Bonus Bucks were my friend, as I had a bunch I hadn't used. There's a county liquor store in the same mall as the shoe store which was dumping off eggnog (the kind with the rum already in it) for $5 a bottle, and we couldn't resist that, either, so here I am slightly buzzed on a weekday after an evening of shallow movie-watching. I should not be so calm and cheerful. *g* One thing I did not get to was computer stuff, e-mail, friends list and all that...sorry!
Question for anyone who's seen the Dali retrospective in Philadelphia: we didn't get our schedule worked out until last week, and now the only tickets left are either ridiculously early in the morning or late at night (i.e., we'd have to stay over in a hotel in Philly rather than driving home) or on Monday the 30th when the rest of the museum is closed so it would be nearly $75 just for the exhibit...is it worth it?
Tonight's arboretum photos involve non-plants. The USDA weeds in the cultivated gardens and takes steps to eradicate insects that damage trees, but they leave the helpful bugs and animals alone. Over the years we have seen various small mammals, turtles, snakes and birds, though this weekend we mostly saw pollinating insects and caterpillars.
There were a few large gorgeous butterflies like this one, but they wisely fluttered away from people chasing them with cameras.
And of course there were bees of every size and variety, though the most noticeable were the large carpenter and bumblebees...
...which showed a definite preference for hot pink and purple azaleas and stayed away from the white and pale violet ones.
We have had a pretty wet spring in the DC area, including the day before these photos were taken, and there were several small pools and channels like this one where my son discovered a frog.
But these were the animals we saw in greatest numbers, complete with water bottles and electronic equipment.