.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 12, 2005

Yes, we have no Banarnias

Meghan O'Rourke in Slate Magazine defends the Narnia books against both the Polly Toynbee secularists and the whacky religionists.

A nice article, because if you did enjoy the books as a child (I have never read them myself), this article reclaims them for you, by reminding us that children read differently, and in fact usually need to have the Christian theme pointed out to them by adults.
In the end, Narnia is not a stand-in or merely an "allegory" for our world. It is, quite explicitly, an alternative to it, complete with its own pleasures and typologies.


And, in completely unrelated news, this article on the Beatles' appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, also from Slate, is very interesting. It's tied to the release of this DVD, which I'm afraid I completely missed.

I remember that Lennon quote about 1964-era American girls looking like "1940s horses", which was all you ever needed to tell me about the cultural impact of the Beats on the gobsmackingly crap cultural atmosphere of the USA in the early 60s. Once Elvis went into the army, that was it: back to the kind of entertainers immortalised in Broadway Danny Rose.

You experience a similar thing in the study of literature. You might read some set text thinking, god this is bad, god this is boring, but it's only when you consider what was popular at the time that you can appreciate your set text's cultural significance.
Ed Sullivan didn't entirely get it, either—and why should he have? He was even older than our parents. Legend has it that, on a trip to England a few months earlier, Ed saw the commotion the Beatles were causing and thought he'd book the lads on his show as a novelty act—until their manager, Brian Epstein, insisted on top billing. You can imagine Ed thinking: Top billing for these kids? Above Frank Gorshin, Myron Cohen, Gordon and Sheila McRae? Above Hollywood's delightful Mitzi Gaynor?!

Another significant factor was that - in terms of the continuity of popular culture - guitar music was a minority interest up till around 1956, when Elvis went national. And that it was a mere 4 years after that that he disappeared into the army and was confined to making those lame movies. So it was as if there had been a brief flurry of interest in guitar music (Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran were dead, Elvis in Hollywood, other rock 'n' rollers were unfashionable again) and then it was back to the strings and the orchestras, until a certain beat combo burst onto the scene.


Post a Comment

<< Home