Friday, June 12, 2009

The Nightingale

Akira Kurosawa said "To be an artist means never to avert one's eyes." I understand what he meant by that, and though I have an agreement with myself that when harm to animals is depicted in any form I may save myself the inevitable and terrible pain by turning away at the slightest foreshadowing of same, I also tend to look at the unlookable, think the unthinkable, and now and then do the undo-able.

One of the segments from Kurosawa's uber-brilliant Dreams

I grew up in the 50s. Cartoons in the early days of television were the ones made in the 30s and 40s, for the most part. Thus, I grew up watching profoundly lyrical depictions of the world; bucolic scenes of bees and flowers dancing to classical music; cows and horses to old bluegrass pieces. I grew up in and watching a decidedly non-pc world. Little Black Sambo delighted me with his cleverness in outwitting those tigers, Uncle Remus was a wonderful storyteller to my young ears, and the story of The Nightingale and the Emperor was one of my favourites. Now in my opinion, non-PC Beauty is beauty nonetheless, and I am unwilling to avert my eyes from this lovely feast. My first prom date was Black, my first husband Chinese, facts I always figured lent me a little slack in being called a racist for appreciating old movies and cartoons and books. Maybe not. And so it goes.

In 1998's obituary of Mr. Kurosawa by Rick Lyman, he wrote, "Mr. Kurosawa described a trip he made with his brother, Heigo, through the ruins of Tokyo after a massive earthquake in 1923. More than 140,000 people died in the fires that followed the quake. But as the pair moved through the ruins, Mr. Kurosawa said, his brother insisted that the young Akira look closely at the charred corpses.

"If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight, you end up being frightened," Akira remembered Heigo telling him. "If you look at everything straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of."

1 comment:

jonio said...

Ok, so now I know why I feel a kindred spirit with you. I made my mom read Little Black Sambo to me and Uncle Remus until I swear she either finally hid or threw the books away from exhaustion!!!!! Have I ever mentioned how reading your pm's and now your blog relaxes me and gives me a sense of inner peace? One other moves me the same way - my sister's blog. Thanks so much for your friendship! Joni