On this day forty-one years ago, at exactly 6:18 p.m., in the now quasi-defunct Catherine Booth Hospital of Montréal's Notre-Dame-De-Grâce neighbourhood, the author was born. Neither the world, nor the author, would ever be the same.
I suppose I shall need to devote a good portion of my birthday to the task set for me by fellow blogger Catelli, who shall soon be moderating the debate of the century, or of the week, at least (alright, fine: of the day). I've been cajoled into defending the outrageously undemocratic methods by which our heads of state are selected and execute their "functions". I invite readers to submit to me any argumentative strategies that might occur to them in this regard immediately, for, by God, I freely admit I'm fresh out.
Stepping yet another unwilling foot closer to the lonely columbarium that awaits me puts me in mind of endings, again--and compels me to rectify an earlier post, again. The final scene of No Country for Old Men was a poignant surprise for me, as I'm sure it was for many of its viewers--especially those deeply versed in the wry, ironic detachment that defines the Coen brothers' oeuvre and those (like me) who've never been much impressed by Tommy Lee Jones' performances. Here, the Coens drop their hip archness and allow Jones to deliver a heartbreaking soliloquy taken virtually word-for-word from the ending of Cormac McCarthy's novel.
Jones plays the sheriff of a small Texas town that has just begun a descent into unprecedented drug-related violence. The movie chronicles his pursuit of a case that plunges him into America's modern heart of darkness, forcing him to witness both the bloody commission and the ugly aftermath of countless brutal murders. Ultimately, he must abandon the case unsolved, sadly admitting that small-town lawmen like him have become outgunned and outclassed: they know only how to proceed according to the rules in a land that no longer acknowledges or respects them.
In the final scene, the sullen, defeated Jones tells his wife about a dream he just had about his dead father, who also had served the county as a sheriff back in the old, peaceful days. This brief but rich sequence explores Jones' deep need to get back in touch with the safety, warmth and stability represented by his father (and, of course, his symbolic cognates--the Father, Law, Order), as well as the current futility of that need-- for Jones, naturally, must wake up to the chaos of his waking present. Peace lies only where his father has found it; this is the painful truth Jones has learned, after having waded through the ruins of his wrecked world.
As someone whose entire childhood emotional investment lay in a dead but much beloved father, I totally relate to Jones' longing dream. I suppose, too, I relate to his despair over a lost order--a mythical order to be sure, but all the more compellingly beautiful for that. I relate most strongly to Jones' apparent feeling that the mere telling of the dream brings order, just for a few minutes, to the very chaos from which the dream briefly helped him escape.