V for Villian
"The man who seeks Revenge must remember to dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself" -Chinese Proverb *

The Machiavellian villian, who gained popularity as a key figure in Jacobean tragedy, remains popular and seductive in modern films even though the plays in which the role originated (The Spanish Tragedy, the Duchess of Malfi, the White Devil, the Jew of Malta) have long been forgotten. The Machiavel, who now makes his reappearance as the stylish terrorist in the film V for Vendetta, was usually a man legitimately wronged (think Titus Adronicus), yet his voracious appetite for vengeance, no matter how justifiable, makes him monstrous and ultimately condemns him. The method by which the Machiavel exacts his revenge is ornate usually involving complex plans, a gift for deception and disguise, as well as heaps of patience. The vengeance may involve "turning the sin against the sinner", but not necessarily so. The Byzantine nature of the murders carried out by the Machiavel raises them to the level of art. The machiavel doesn't wreak destruction simply to exact revenge, but he invests in his destruction symbolic content. Unlike Mickey Knox who kills because "it makes a statement" although he isn't "100% sure what it's saying", V is utterly cognizant of the symbolic significance of his acts-orchestrating dramatic executions accompanied with appropriate quotations from Shakespeare.

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days. -Richard the Third Act I scene i

V is aware of his heritage and although he quotes Twelfth Night and MacBeth, he also quotes Richard the Third, one of the most famous Machiavels to grace the stage. Other popular modern Machiavels could include the Abominable Dr Phibes, Hannibal Lecter, and John Doe from Seven.

" ...if death
Is thereby hastened, I shall count it as a gain.
For death is gain to him whose life, like mine,
Is full of misery."

Although detectives desperately try to trace V, he is "like a ghost" leaving no trace of his identity. Antigone, from the Sophoclean tragedy by the same name, also leaves no trace of her presence when she buries her brother's body. Like V, Antigone is unflinchingly dedicated to justice, even sacrificing her upcoming nuptials to her beloved Haimon. Like V, her purpose is to educate despot who has become unjust and insane.

"The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta... for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily... it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V." V for Vendetta

But while Antigone's identity is clear, V's is obscure. Why he is taken to a detention camp is never disclosed. In fact, absolutely nothing of V's life before he is reborn is revealed. Like the villian in Poe's "Cask of Amontillado" these details are obscured partially to keep the audience focused on the plot. The details of V's personal history before Larkhill are unecessary and, therefore, omitted. Unlike Poe's narrator, V doesn't have a clear identity partially because his identity is obliterated by what was done to him, but he isn't the ghost of himself. Rather he is the ghost of all those disenfranchised by the Chancellor's opressive government. V lives underground, which is the domain of the dead. He is an almagam of traits of those opressed, thus he cultivates Valerie's Scarlet Carsons and cooks Gordon's "Iggy in the Basket" for breakfast. He is the desire for justice made flesh, which is why his face is never revealed, but also why his identity is so fluid.

Evey: Does it have a happy ending?

V: The way only celluloid can deliver.

V's praise of words in his televised speech is an inversion of the praise Virgil heaps on the power of paintings in Book I of the Aeneid. This was a banner year for books on film including almost a record number of books adapted to film or films about writers. Robert Scholes "On Reading a Video Text" places the medium of video in the same category as epic poetry for the Greeks and the Romans. According to Jung, art is "constantly at work educating the spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is most lacking" ("On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry"). If this is so, we conjure the days in which words meant something, we yearn for the Arts (for V is fond of films, painting, sculpture, books, and music), and we long for those who believe in justice more than the quest to make money. For unique style instead of generic consumerism. And we long to believe that if there was simply one person willing to embody those ideals, we would all have the courage to follow his example.

* Taken from Alex Cox's film adaptation of The Revenger's Tragedy

St Paddy's Day
I haven't spent St. Paddy's day in New York in two years. The last time I did I was proposed to by a drunken fireman. ( I so should have taken him up on that offer. I could be married in Westchester right now writing my novel in some nice house.) I spent the last two years in Florida where the day isn't even aknowledged. I needed my drunken fireman fix.

I woke up around nine, instead of seven as planned, thanks to the whole "I am feet away from a sexy Academy Award winner" shenanigans of the evening before.

The plan was to wake up early, take a bath, grab my make up bag and head down to meet Mu and Film Freak for make up application, morning tea, and bagels. The local would be opening at ten, and we agreed to meet at 11 as Film Freak wanted to be drunk before she went to her bartending job at 3:30.

Of course, I slept late and decided that a long bath before being shoulder to shoulder with a whole bunch of firemen and other assorted Jameson's swilling fresh from the parade flushed with liquor and pride bar patrons was unnecessary.

I got to the bar a half hour late, about the same as Film Freak, and set up my make up kit. I painted shamrocks in green body paint on our cheeks and decorated them with green glitter, while we had our tea. At about one, Film Freak decided that it was time to start drinking. The bar was still empty by then, still gawking at the parade, so we were able to commence our Guinness and Jameson's drinking in peace.

Soon as the parade was over, families started to come into the bar.

I should explain that at this particular bar, there is no food, just liquor. On St Patrick's day the bar had corned beef and the fixings for sandwiches, but it certainly wouldn't be the kind of place I would bring a four year old. Yet in they came, families with three or four kids, some in strollers, mothers and fathers passing kids back in forth between them while they sneaked sips of Guinness or Jameson's.

The kids spotting the shamrocks quickly began coming up and asking me if I would paint his/her face. Now heartless and pessimistic as I am, I am not quite vicious enough to say no to a child for such a simple request. Thus I began painting shamrocks on the faces of four and five year olds. The word circulating quickly, I found myself surrounded even by boys who wanted the decoration. The parents, grateful for the time off from parental duties, asked me what they owed me. Of course, it's St Patrick's day I'm not going to charge and thus the parents started paying me in Jameson's shots.

Paying a person for a task involving manual dexterity in shots of liquor, well, not the best apporach. But there I was with my "payment" all lined up. And I was happy sitting there, painting faces and sipping my shots. I thought about my Bunni bags from my reading and my make up skills and thought, "This is what I should be doing with my life. I know a bakerina, I know a professional caterer. I could put together a party business. For the love of G-d people, I could own NYC and all just by putting together themed goodie bags and painting faces."

Of course, such dreams are lost in the flush of Jameson's and Guiness. The Amazon arrived to save me with slices of pizza and her man, the Big Bad, walked me home early and made sure I got inside. I fell asleep with my shamrock still painted on my cheek.

Can you spot the point?
The following is an approximation of a sentence in one of the midterms:

A business goal is often more easily achieved by a person who is skilled at achieving that success.

Pre Paddy's Day Hijinx
I know, last week was spring break, and you are all disappointed that I didn't blog more and that I didn't finally finish Vegas diaries. I can almost hear Kiss Kiss cursing me, but you know he is ALLLLLLLLL the way in LA and well I can take him. (Yeah, just cos he's bigger, and a man, and from Jersey-I can still kick his ass.)

The night before St. Paddy's day, I ended up staying at the local far longer than anticipated. Now there has been debate about this following fact, but let me make this absolutely clear: this is a fact, if you dispute it, you run the risk of incurring a land war. Adrien Brody, yes the Academy Award winning actor and a personal crush of mine for quite some time, walked into the bar with a girl. Now his identity has been disputed. Why was he there? He was wearing a hat. We were drunk.

I'm going to say this again.

There aren't a lot of things that I know. Let me correct that. There aren't a lot of useful things that I absolutely know. But I know actors. In acting school, they used to call me the patron saint of character actors. If you are "ya know that guy whose in everything", the odds are I know your name. And Brody, well, I remember him from the movies that he probably wishes we would forget like Oxygen (oh the pain) and Angels in the Outfield not to mention the Affair of the Necklace, the Village, and King Kong. I know when Adrien Brody walks into a bar. The voice. The nose. It was him.

Now that we have established that it was him, there are certain rules that must be obeyed when you find yourself literally inches away from a guy only one year older than you who has won an Academy Award. And not an award for best cameo by a hamster in a short film. A Best Actor Award. Namely one must not bother him or acknowledge him in any way, but one must celebrate being the proximity of someone who has made your contribution to American culture feel infinitesimal by comparison. And then one must go home and leave garbled voicemails about it to all of your friends who could care less if James Cagney rose from the dead and ordered a bourbon on the rocks.

So I drank a later than I planned and danced with the Marmit and had a high old time completely ignoring and yet totally reveling in the Adrien Brody factor. And then I went home planning to rise the next early and help the girls at the local with St Paddy's themed make-up and other preparations

More to come...

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