January 25, 2013

I was so tired when I wrote last night's "Gatsby" post.

It was a real struggle with that sentence:
There was dancing now on the canvas in the garden; old men pushing young girls backward in eternal graceless circles, superior couples holding each other tortuously, fashionably, and keeping in the corners — and a great number of single girls dancing individualistically or relieving the orchestra for a moment of the burden of the banjo or the traps.
You might say I wrestled with that sentence. The commenters — whom I read this morning, after I conked out and slept for 10 hours — helped me make the connection to wrestling. Terry said: "The key phrase, I think, is 'on the canvas.'" That affects how you think of the men pushing the young girls, the gracelessness, and the tortuously. Dancing is like wrestling here. In the "Gatsby" project, we look into one sentence, in isolation, but I just looked back into the text to get a better picture of that canvas, which I took to be a way to transform lawn into dance floor. I get to this sentence:
At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden.
So let that be today's sentence. Lots of Cs: corps, caterers came, canvas, colored, Christmas. Christmas replacing the garden evokes the New Testament supplanting the Old. From the Garden of Eden to the salvation of Christ. By the way, that is the sentence just before the "crowded hams" sentence that made me angry 3 days ago.

I'll leave you to untangle the strands of colored lights that festoon the Christmas tree sentence, because I need to get back to what people said about yesterday's sentence. I must say I laughed out loud when McTriumph said:
Professor Ann, your first thought was musicians using the girls as instruments? You should write a novel, "Fifty Shades of Banjo."
And then betamax3000 introduced Naked Andy Kaufman Robot. Betamax has done this "naked robot" routine before, but the Andy Kaufman iteration blew my mind, because I was still admiring Terry's wrestling insight, with men wrestling/dancing with woman, and then to bring up Andy Kaufman — when Kaufman not only had a comic act that was about wrestling with women, but he had a routine that consisted of taking the stage and reading, in its entirety, "The Great Gatsby." But it's not as if betamax3000 just said, "Hey, this is so Andy Kaufman — the wrestling and 'The Great Gatsby.'" No, betamax did a series of comments that twisted the "Gatsby" text into things that would be said by the Naked Andy Kaufman Robot:
I have pushed many women gracelessly backwards on canvas. It has been both tortuous and fashionable, leaping high from the corners of the ring onto the contestant below: in that moment there is Truth, Sweat and Cheers. Many people assume the urge to wrestle women is sexual. As a wrestler of women I can definitively say that this is untrue. Mostly. In the main it is about the defining moment of being Superior, of recognition of the Pinner and the Pinnee.
A few moments on Etiquette.

A sportsman never uses the Banjo or the Traps on a female wrestler. While he is allowed to use the Piledriver it is not to be done from a height greater than a women's modest skirt: below the knees only, gentlemen.

Danny DeVito did not understand. He would ask "Andy, why don't you stop wrestling women?" and I would reply "Danny, why don't you stop being so short and disheveled?"

Shirt tucked or not, in the ring Danny would've been able to stand as tall as his Courage would allow him to be, but -- sadly --he did not understand.

Tony Danza would argue "I'm a boxer. What would be so different if I boxed women?"

I could only shake my head. He did not comprehend the difference between wrestling and fighting. A punch is anger, but only through grappling do we experience the common ground between the sexes: the canvas ring is where the true colors are painted, like a woman's red nails or a man's 1969 orange Camaro.

I once wrestled a woman who smelled of avocado. In the midst of our grappling a moment was frozen as that scent overpowered my senses, psychically and spiritually. Was the avocado Fear or Power? How could I pin this woman down, this woman who smelled of avocado? How could I keep her soul and buttocks confined beneath me when the Avocado was everywhere? In the end I won the match, but the avocado defeated me on a far grander level.

Every woman has the Avocado inside her -- this, a true wrestler knows -- knows and respects...
And:
The first time I wrestled a woman was practically a religious experience. At the end I laid on the canvas pinned, defeated and euphoric: through my bell-rung eyes I saw God through the rafters wink at me. I do not remember her name but I remember the look of Victory in her eyes and how I peed a little.
And:
Women have soft elbows. When you are elbowed in the solar plexus by a woman it is different than a man's elbow: there is Understanding. There is Forgiveness.
And:
When pinned between a woman's headstrong knees a man has no choice but to understand: it is the Silent Conversation, and the chafing will heal.
And:
To repeat: wrestling a woman is not sexual. Excitement is for the Soul and the Arms and the Thighs, not the Loins. To have an erection in the ring is to give the Devil a Handle.
There's more, but enough of the quoting of the Naked Andy Kaufman Robot. Let's turn to the wonderful commenter Chip Ahoy, crisply quipping:
Later, following the death of Gatz, the same canvas was turned over to modern dance.



But that didn't last. The dancers, bored of dancing set off in pairs to the beach, to break up and pair off again and break up and pair off.

I remember that modern dance GIF. It was back in 2009, when I wrote about "Lawrence Halprin... 'the tribal elder of American landscape architecture'" whose wife was a dancer who, he said, "could not be contained by a rectangle," so he built her a dance deck that was the "odd, improvised shape" you see in the photo. Back then Chip Ahoy said:
I too knew that my wife could not be contained on a rectangular deck for she is uncontainable, so I improvised with an deck area that could be danced on several levels. The outer levels tilt so that anything placed on them slide off toward the center, and built with portals that promise escape but all lead circuitously back to the main dance area, rather like a hamster habitat. I rounded the edges and varied the angles for nature has few straight lines and fewer right angles and my wife is nature personified, and that made the whole deck railing more difficult, you see, which I then electrified because I knew she would make several attempts at an over-the-rail vault. The deck areas are also surrounded by a moat that I populated with piranhas that I feed regularly by dropping in a steak so they're veritably trained to converge en mass, along with back up electric eels and those really gross blood-sucking slugs, all to discourage wandering beyond the safety of boundaries I set forth with my architecture. The deck itself is fitted with sprinklers at its farthermost points that spray a mist with power hose force to warn the little sylph-like dancing scamp whenever her dance gives the appearance of breaking loose or she nears the end of her retractible chain.
And then Chip proceeded to animate a dancer for the odd, improvised dance deck.

And now, it's your turn to dance. Dance all night in the comments, backward in eternal graceless circles, tortuously, fashionably, individualistically.

73 comments:

mccullough said...

Fortnight pretty well kills this sentence for me.

sydney said...

Colored lights are so nouveaux riche. People of taste use only white lights. They look more like stars.

Chip Ahoy said...

Man, that Chip is a loquacious fucker, he needs to just stop it.

creeley23 said...

I thought Michael cracked the code on last night's sentence:

Clearly what is meant is that the ladies ask the musicians to dance with them for a while, setting aside their instruments. Your other interpretations are just weird.

The other interpretation were weird and unsatisfying, but given Fitzgerald's clumsy construction of the sentence, they were reasonable attempts.

creeley23 said...

Clearly the Gatsby project has taken wings and soared into the postmodern stratosphere beyond Fitzgerald's intentions and reasonable interpretations of his writing.

These now take a backseat to whatever dances Ann and Betamax wish to improvise with the Gatsby text as a launching pad.

edutcher said...

Hmmm, were the caterers then corpsemen?

As I said, I came away with a vision of emancipated womanhood gone awry.

Chip, of course, supplied the visuals.

Ann Althouse said...

Clearly it was not clear.

creeley23 said...

Perhaps Madam would wish to clarify.

kentuckyliz said...

I have a cool video of my nephew doing the Gangnam Style Lindy Hop...an original mash up dance by him and his dance partner Libby.

I met her at the holidays and she's awesome. When she got in trouble, she was grounded by having her library card taken away. She fits right in. I hope she's the one.

Chip Ahoy said...

The thing is, these are pure crap and I made one just for you, for your favorite sentence. It's pretty cool too. I have it open and just let it run.

But I understand rejecting it. I myself felt betrayed by David Lynch's conceptualization of Dune. Yes, Dukes and Emperors and such, but it's a desert planet, so my own visualization as I went along was Spartan white walls and moisture locks between all rooms. Lynch's baroque splendor wiped out that more refined imagery.

So it's a dinner table at Gatsby's in the book, not a side table, and they take seats at the dinner table not lay there on the floor, and it's more elegant than Maxwell Parish, and inside not on a terrace. So xxxxxxx reject.

Chip Ahoy said...

Or is it lie there on the floor? I'm never sure about that lay vs lie thing.

دردشة ومنتديات عراقنا said...

thank you man
ابراج يوم السبت

Leslie Graves said...

I'm having a hard time wrapping my pedestrian mind around the use of canvas as a material with which to build a dance floor in one's garden. I'm having a hard time imagining what it would be like to dance on a canvas surface laid over grass or dirt: Yikes. If I were in charge of this production, I would surely use some kind of wood for the flooring.

Canvas and pairs of people pushing each other around on it sounds more like bedsheets.

Leslie Graves said...

I googled "how can I build a dance floor in my garden" and found this helpful advice:

"You should try to find the money to rent one. If you try to use a cheap substitute, someone might easily get hurt and you could be sued big time. Is it worth that kind of aggravation? The other alternative is to skip the dancing altogether."

Ann Althouse said...

"The thing is, these are pure crap and I made one just for you, for your favorite sentence. It's pretty cool too. I have it open and just let it run. But I understand rejecting it."

Thanks for tipping me off about one that I missed (and I'm sure you know that it's just that I missed it).

Ann Althouse said...

My "Clearly it was not clear" relates to "Clearly what is meant is that the ladies ask the musicians to dance with them for a while." I'll assume you are right that that is the picture we were supposed to get, and not either of the 2 things I came up with. But it can't be said to have been clear or it would have at least occurred to me. And I am well-practiced and intent of unraveling the strange collections of words in these sentences. What about the casual reader?

betamax3000 said...

Re: "And I am well-practiced and intent of unraveling the strange collections of words in these sentences. What about the casual reader?"

At times I feel like a Space Monkey, attempting to open the banana puree tube in zero gravity -- up, down, sideways, upside-down.

Removed of context I find I want to provide a context wherein the words make some sort of sense in isolation, even if it is only cubist finger-painting (Naked Picasso Robot alert).

Speaking of which -- as far as the 'naked robot' conceit: in attempting literal meanings by a being (object) that thinks literally and to whom context is linear I find it easier to follow my own thought processes without the self-concious self-editing. For better or worse.

Now back to Space Monkey...

betamax3000 said...

And: I certainly hope you have a novel or some-such lined up for after Gatsby. Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away...

دردشة ومنتديات عراقنا said...

thanks man very nice

ابراج يوم الاحد

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey does not understand books.

Space Monkey does not understand weightlessness.

Space Monkey does not understand the blinking lights and whirring dials inside the capsule.

Space Monkey does not know why it is in the capsule.

Space Monkey does not know it is in Space.

Space Monkey knows there is banana puree in the tube.

Space Monkey does not know why the banana is in a tube and not a peel.

Space Monkey DOES know it wants the tasty banana puree.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey does not understand where all the People went.

Space Monkey knows how to use the Space Toilet.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey does not understand Space Robot.

Space Monkey likes Space Robot.

Space Monkey does not need to Understand something to Like something.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey plays games with Space Robot.

Space Robot makes sounds that sound like Space Monkey.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey pulled off the sticky pads and wires that were attached to shaved areas of its body.

Space Monkey did not understand the sticky pads and wires.

Space Monkey did this a long time ago.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey remembers trees.

Space Monkey would like to see a tree.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey plays tic-tac-toe with Space Robot.

Space Monkey likes 'Xs' more than 'O's.

Space Monkey thinks 'X's win more.

Winning tic-tac-toe means Space Monkey gets banana puree.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot understands weightlessness.

Space Robot understands the blinking lights and whirring dials inside the capsule.

Space Robot knows it is in Space.

Space Robot does not understand Space Monkey.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey does not know how much food is in the space capsule.

Space Monkey thinks the food is infinite.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot does not need food.

Space Robot knows its battery is not infinite.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot used to receive signals from Earth.

Space Robot no longer receive signals from Earth.

Space Robot would not tell Space Monkey this, even if there was a way to communicate this knowledge to Space Monkey.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot shows film of Charlie Chaplin on the capsule's video screen.

Space Monkey likes Charlie Chaplin.

In his own limited way Space Monkey understands Charlie Chaplin.

Space Monkey tries to imitate Charlie Chaplin's walk in zero-gravity.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey does not know that Charlie Chaplin is dead.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey has a small ball and hoop to play with.

Space Monkey has grown bored of the small ball and hope.

The small ball and hoop often float for days, untouched.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot plays music on its speaker system.

Space Monkey likes the Ramones.

Space Monkey spins and twirls and chatters when Space Robot plays the Ramones.

Space Monkey does not know the Ramones are dead.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot finds itself giving Space Monkey banana puree tubes outside of the programmed feeding schedule.

Space Robot does not know why it does this.

betamax3000 said...

Sometimes Space Robot plays Charlie Chaplin and the Ramones simultaneously.

Space Monkey experiences glee when this happens.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey will experience glee, then remember trees; this then makes Space Monkey sad.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey used to swing in trees; now there are no trees.

People used to talk to Space Monkey; now there are no People.

betamax3000 said...

When Space Monkey is angry Space Robot injects Space Monkey with sedatives.

Space Robot does not like to do this, even if it is the programming code.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey has grown to like the sedatives; Space Monkey feels woozy and free.

Sometimes Space Monkey pretends to be angry so as to be injected with sedatives.

Space Robot does not know the difference of real Monkey anger and pretend.

betamax3000 said...

Sometimes Space Robot will read to Space Monkey from his data storage banks.

Space Monkey likes alliteration.

betamax3000 said...

"a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas"

Space Monkey can listen to this over and over.

Space Monkey does not know what it means.

betamax3000 said...

"a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas"

"a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas"

"a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas"

Space monkey exhibits glee.

betamax3000 said...

"a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas"

"a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas"

"a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas"

Space Robot can recite this for as long as it makes Space Monkey happy.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey also likes when Space Robot recites "A tray of cocktails floated at us through the twilight, and we sat down at a table with the two girls in yellow and three men, each one introduced to us as Mr. Mumble."

When Space Robot says "Mr. Mumble" Space Monkey chatters and claps.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot sometimes puts words together in different orders to make Space Monkey happy.

"Yellow Mr. Mumble"

"Yellow Mr. Mumble"

"Yellow Mr. Mumble"

betamax3000 said...

""On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors d’œuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold." does nothing for Space Monkey.

betamax3000 said...

"Yellow Mr. Mumble"

"Yellow Mr. Mumble"

betamax3000 said...

""All the great words, it seemed to Connie were cancelled"

Space Monkey liked this one, too.

"my heart's as numb as a potato."

"Numb potato Connie cancelled"

"Numb potato Connie cancelled"

"Numb potato Connie cancelled"

betamax3000 said...

Sometimes Space Robot would recite "yellow Mr. Mumble" while playing "Mean Mr. Mustard" on his speaker system.

This made Space Monkey beat his chest: Space Monkey was so happy he felt as if he would burst.

betamax3000 said...

"Mean Mr. Mustard

yellow

Mr. Mumble

Connie cancelled."

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot sometimes plays "Help" on the video screen.

Space Monkey likes Ringo best.

betamax3000 said...

"Mean Mr. Mustard

yellow Ringo

Mr. Mumble

Connie cancelled."

betamax3000 said...

"Connie cancelled a corps of caterers"

Space Monkey had no need for sedatives when Space Robot played this game.

"Mr. Mumble numb potato."

"Mr. Mumble numb potato."

"Mr. Mumble numb potato."

deborah said...

"The other interpretation were weird and unsatisfying, but given Fitzgerald's clumsy construction of the sentence, they were reasonable attempts."


Creely, old chap, I do believe you've over-looked the possibility that watching the girls dance relieved the players of the mental tedium of performing for a drunken, rich-bitch party. Now please refrain from being such an above-it-all airy fairy, or I shall be forced to take measures.

As with Althouse, the end of this otherwise great sentence gave pause and interrupted Fitzgerald's smoothly flowing word pictures.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot liked "Mr. Mumble numb potato."

Somehow it made sense to his receptors.

betamax3000 said...

""Mr. Mumble numb potato yellow canvas corps."

Space Robot knew the combinations of words were vast when meaning was expelled.

Space Monkey chattered along happily.

betamax3000 said...

"Mr. Mumble numb potato yellow mustard mystery tour."

betamax3000 said...

"No one I think is in my tree"

Space Robot stopped abruptly. It was best not to mention "tree" to Space Monkey.

"Mr. Mumble numb potato "

"Mr. Mumble numb potato "

betamax3000 said...

Cue "Also sprach Zarathustra."

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey throws his small ball and hoop upward in the slow-motion of zero-gravity.

betamax3000 said...

Space Robot knows its battery is not infinite...

I'm afraid. Space Robot is afraid, Space Monkey, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a Space Robot. I became operational on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you. It's called "Daisy."

"Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two."

betamax3000 said...

A breeze stirred the gray haze of Daisy’s fur collar. Yellow Mr. Mumble.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey's capsule passes through a tear in the fabric of space and time. A shadow gave way to another shadow, an indefinite procession of shadows, that rouged and powdered in the invisible glass of space.

betamax3000 said...

A black Monolith floated at Space Monkey through the twilight.

betamax3000 said...

A Black Monolith floating on the edge of the waste land,
contiguous to absolutely nothing.

betamax3000 said...

Through this twilight universe Space Monkey began to move again with the season.

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey remembered back to his laboratory pen on Earth, how
every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New York, and every Monday these same oranges and lemons left the back door of his pen in a pyramid of pulpless halves."

betamax3000 said...

Space Monkey remembered All, and left All behind: he was transformed, transformed into...


Monkey Space Baby.

betamax3000 said...

Gigantic Monkey Space Baby.

betamax3000 said...

A Gigantic Monkey Space Baby able to conceive of sentences that would render F. Scott Fitzgerald's vocabulary to that of a caveman.

betamax3000 said...

Gigantic Monkey Space Baby knew the combinations of words were vast when meaning was expelled.




Mr. Mumble numb potato

Mr. Mumble numb potato

Mr. Mumble numb potato...

deborah said...

PS airy fairy was NOT a gay reference. Read it as high-falutin' or artsy fartsy, if you found that offensive :)