Aesthete Versus Aesthetic

In trying to reconcile my two great loves, I lately find myself wondering, what precisely would Oscar Wilde have felt about the cinema?
Had he not died so criminally young, and lived a mere 25 years longer to the ripe old age of 71 he would have not only been able to see his Salome and Lady Windermere’s Fan made into fantastic films (albeit somewhat insulting—-Nazimova may have paid more attention to Beardsley than Wilde, and Lubitsch used to brag how he hadn’t used a word of actual Wilde in the script for Windermere) but a plethora of titles which seem to draw out his very obsession—-Easy Virtue, Dangerous Innocence, The Virtuous Sin. Because in the ’20s and early ’30s, it seems, the way we thought about sex was as a total, and totalizing, paradox—-something cruel and beneficial, destructive and pleasurable. Something to be had at all costs—-but to be shunned in the cool, clear, public light of day.  It was held as something like to Bunburying. In short, he would have found himself in a paradoxical paradise. Part of me thinks he would have dismissed film as trash, as genius is wont to do on finding himself face to hideous face with something described as the ‘opium of the masses’. But then I come across an image like this:


and think he would have had no choice but to love it as i do. perhaps to retain a disdainful attitude towards what was being done with film itself, but to love film as film, the principle of it, the new, the reflective, reflexive, the moving art. Here could be found the wild, weird Salome of one’s dreams, more alive than the fabled painting which was so beloved of the uranians (paging Husymans):

and with all the added ethereality and vulgarity of movement. Plus there’s the yum factor


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~ by levantor on June 5, 2009.

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