Stupid Tuesday questions, Julia Roberts’ leftovers edition

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    Hmmm. I have pieces of art that affect me strongly, but not inexplicably, and ALSO not because I associate them with a particular person or memory; but because the piece *itself* evokes that emotion, very-explicably/intentionally.

    That is, I know full well *why* they get me; but it doesn’t necessarily make me any more able to resist it.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Sometimes music makes me get a little foggy too. So I don’t think you’re crazy for that. But if that section of Rhapsody in Blue is what I’m thinking of, I’ve no clue at all why that would prime the waterworks.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Paintings by the pre-Raphealite Brotherhood inspire an extreme adverse reaction in me. They make me feel loathing and rage especially the ones with fantasy and middle ages themes.

    There is something about the absolute prettiness that is extremely false to me. They portray a Middle Ages that never existed and this makes me angry for some reason. Semi-related, I am also strongly opposed and turned off by the art of Edumund Leighton who was not a pre-Raphaelite but did do fantasy scenes.

    This is not to say that I dislike all representational art or art with a Romantic flair or 19th century art. I adore JMW Turner, David, and Goya, and the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. There is just a period in the 19th century from the death of Turner until the rise of the Impressionists and post-Impressionists which I deplore. But I want my representational art to have truth. There is truth in a Rembrandt portrait. There is not truth in a pre-Raphaelite painting. I am also a huge fan of 20th century/modern art.

    Many people seem to think that the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is the height of art though and anything after 1870 is invalid. I think there is more beauty in Rothko, Judd, and Flavin than there ever will be in something like this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_LeightonReport

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    What is this crying of which you speak…?

    (Sorry, but if you are going to fill in for Russell, you are going to get the sorts of questions I lob his way.)Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Here is some Pre-Raphaelite art that I dislike:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/94/John_Everett_Millais_-_Ophelia_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/1280px-John_Everett_Millais_-_Ophelia_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

    I was discussing this on another part of the net. Someone pointed out that the pre-Raphaelites are popular because they are kind of comic bookey and also have a strong sense of narrative in their art. I don’t really need a strong sense of narrative.

    What intrigues me though is that people who love literary fiction tend to love or at least have more tolerance for modern and non-representational art. People who love SF and Fantasy tend to really dislike non-representational art in my experience but love really old-school traditional art. The second part is slightly surprising to me considering how much of SF and Fantasy literature concentrates on what does not exist.

    A lot of new fandom art seems to go for neo-Victorian twee and this also repulses me.Report

  6. There is a moment in “Infinite Jest,” when one character is tending to another character who has been grievously wounded. The wounded character is a man, the one tending to him a woman. She wears a veil, for reasons that readers must determine for themselves. At one point during the scene, the man looks up at the woman and realizes that he knows her from somewhere else, he has recognized her voice. And she looks down and says “And lo.”

    It makes no sense out of context. Every single time I read that passage (I’ve read the book three times), it clenches my throat up tight. It’s a small, beautiful moment. Two sad and lonely people have come to care about each other, and a particularly sad and lonely person has allowed someone else to discover who she is.

    Makes me cry every time.

    As for the song, I don’t know. It seems to describe another small moment, when something happy and human happens. Life is made of those small moments, though, isn’t it? In the treasure box I’ll get to take to heaven with men (a subject of an as-yet unwritten Tuesday question), I’ll get to have a little collection of those moments, shiny little memories I’ll be allowed to keep. The moment my best friends from medical school asked me to be in their wedding. Laughing in high school next to a friend while we rode a roller coaster together. Watching my oldest child toddle toward the ocean.

    Moments are beautiful. And beauty makes us cry.Report

    • Avatar krogerfoot in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      “Moments are beautiful. And beauty makes us cry.”

      This is true, I realize as I get older. I choke up just when something is done well. Infinite Jest is definitely done well. Don Gately’s dream epiphany about the hard-ass Sergeant-at-Arms of addiction always does it for me.Report

  7. Avatar Pinky says:

    Jackson Browne’s “That Girl Could Sing”, because of a girl who was a friend to me when I needed one, who gave me back something that was missing in me, who could have turned out to be almost anyone with the possible exception of who I wanted her to be.

    Peter Gabriel’s “Solesbury Hill”, because of no reason that my conscious mind is aware of.

    A few years back I fell apart after seeing a few seconds of The Little Drummer Boy – I hadn’t seen it since I was a child, and every single youthful Christmas memory came flooding back in an instant.Report

  8. Avatar Pinky says:

    Also – Joan Miro’s works seem to be (I have to say this as a programmer, because I don’t know how else to say it) written in the brain’s machine code, at some untranslatable pre-thought level. Surrealism bores me for the most part, but his stuff, at least some of it, hits me like seasickness and the sirens’ call at the same time. I haven’t seen much Hieronymus Bosch, but I think the effect is similar.Report

  9. Avatar Maribou says:

    I’ve never quite had that experience, because emotion *is* evocative of memory for me. So even if some moment in a song doesn’t have anything to do with my life, the second I react, my brain will start pulling up memories to go with that feeling.Report

  10. Avatar Chris says:

    A couple years ago there was an art exhibit at the Frist in Nashville while I was home with my son, centered around Manet and his contemporaries/students (something like “Pre-Impressionism”). My Mom and I took my son, and about a third of the way through he noticed tears in my eyes, and I had to explain that sometimes art is a little overwhelming, especially in person, and particularly when you see paintings that you’ve loved for a long time from a distance. He got it, though, because even when he was little he used to describe some music by saying, “It makes me sad and that makes me happy.”

    I’ve mentioned it before, but Anna’s letter to her son in Life and Fate is the sort of thing that is virtually impossible to get through with dry eyes. It begins,

    Vitya, I’m certain this letter will reach you, even though I’m now behind the German front line, behind the barbed wire of the Jewish ghetto. I won’t receive your answer, though; I won’t be here to receive it. I want you to know about my last days. Like that, it will be easier for me to die.

    And gets more difficult from there, ending with:

    Vityenka… This is the last line of your mother’s last letter to you. Live, live, live forever… Mama.

    It’s even more difficult to read when you understand that Grossman is writing about the circumstances under which his own mother died, and essentially imagining what she might have said to him, were she able to.Report

  11. Avatar crash says:

    I have always loved “Girl in the Corner.” I can’t remember if I heard it the first time I played the CD or if it took a while to discover it. But I did discover it on my own, which is part of the charm.

    I always figured the singer ends up not with the girl in the corner, but with the hostess of the party whose hand is extended. Maybe she’s not the hostess, but the woman he’s talking to. Is this the way you read it too? I think it’s pretty obvious but I am just checking.

    If so, doesn’t that explain, at least partly, why this part of the song affects you? It’s not the girl in the corner! This is when it becomes clear. It’s the other one!Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to crash says:

      Huh! You know, I have to admit it’s never even occurred to me to look at it that way. I’ve always assumed the person at the end is the girl in the corner. But now that you say it, I’m not sure that I’m right. At the very least, I think it’s ambiguous.

      But man, you just blew my mind.

      Thanks so much for this comment.Report

      • Avatar crash in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Yeah this is one of the reasons I like the song so much. You are focused on the girl in the corner, but the woman next to you is laughing at you in a very knowing way. She knows how the girl in the corner affects people. The laughing is not mean-spirited at all, but is affectionate. She knows you better than you know yourself. And then the moment she extends her hand to you, to take you to the girl in the corner, b/c that’s what you say you want–that’s when you realize how much you like the one you’ve been talking to. I don’t cry but it’s kind of goose-pimple-y.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to crash says:

      I always assumed it was about Julia Roberts. Or really, the Julia Roberts Effect On A Man As Recounted Imagined By Lyle Lovette.

      The thing about Lyle is that when he *wants* his singing voice to break you down, he can and will do it. Think about the last few lines of the Porch Song. Some of Neil Young’s stuff has that effect on me, too.Report

  12. Avatar Patrick says:

    “The Patriot Game” doesn’t make me cry, but it does fill me with a melancholy attitude about humans, like no other song out there.

    “The Parting Glass” makes me tear up a bit, now, because there are people for whom I know I shall play it at some point in the too-near future.

    “Super Bon Bon” makes me feel like it’s time to be as goofy as you can be.

    “Killing in the Name” makes me angry. Come to think of it, “songs that make me angry” could be a rather long list.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick says:

      Killing in the Name is one of those songs that moves me in a way I simply cannot explain. It’s not that it makes me angry or any other specific, easily identifiable, emotion, tho that’s part of it. It’s definitely something different.Report

  13. Avatar Zac says:

    I don’t know how to embed things properly, so maybe some can fix this after I’ve posted it, but there a moment in an episode of the West Wing I’ve seen dozens of times that always makes me choke up. It’s right around the 2:30 mark in this clip. I don’t know why it makes me choke up, because there is literally nothing else in art I’ve encountered thus far that elicits that reaction, but, well, here it is:

    Report

  14. Avatar alkali says:

    There’s a moment in Bruce Springsteen’s “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” where he half-whispers, half-yells “a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance!” that for some reason does it for me every time. Wish I knew why.Report

  15. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    1. I’ve seen this movie any number of times and this scene gets me every time. I even teared up watching it on YouTube:
    http://youtu.be/qwB7fRI-jp8

    2. I’ve reread Cormac McCarthy’s The Road dozens of times, often in one sitting. It’s a very powerful book, one in which I see something new each time. This passage moves me each time I read it even though the message just about hits you over the head.

    The man squatted and looked at him. I’m scared, he said. Do you understand? I’m scared.
    The boy didn’t answer. He just sat there with his head bowed, sobbing.
    You’re not the one who has to worry about everything.
    The boy said something but he couldn’t understand him. What? he said.
    He looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one.

    Report

  16. The opening verse of Jackson Browne’s “The Load-Out”. It’s enough of a reflex after all these years that just hearing the opening piano line makes me tear up.

    Now the seats are all empty
    Let the roadies take the stage
    Pack it up and tear it down
    They’re the first to come and last to leave
    Working for that minimum wage
    They’ll set it up in another town
    Tonight the people were so fine
    They waited there in line
    And when they got up on their feet they made the show
    And that was sweet…
    But I can hear the sound
    Of slamming doors and folding chairs
    And that’s a sound they’ll never know

    Report

  17. Avatar rexknobus says:

    A big surprise for me was walking into one of the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican — there was “The School of Athens.” Had never even heard of it before. Sat down immediately and started to cry. In my 30s, then, and not a big art fan. Really have never quite grasped my tearful response. Granted, it had been a long sojourn through Europe and I had been exposed to a lot of art that I had been completely unaware of, and all in the company of a lady who could explain a lot to me. But tears?

    Something about the expert, emotionally full representation of high human thought, aspirations, and achievements. Both the reverent execution and the subject matter struck me as so human. I felt some connection with the more valuable aspects of my species. Perhaps we aren’t all that bad. Perhaps there’s hope. Perhaps we are worth the oxygen. A good moment, and one I’m thankful to have had.Report