Among of those benefits conferred by historical fiction, drama, and cinema is a sense of our not being alone in our own time; that in fact very little has changed through the millennia. Nay, through the eons.
After watching Darren Aronofsky’s Noah last night on the small screen — in this format it’s reminiscent of a snow-globe diorama — I compiled a brief list of such trans-generational equivalences. But before getting to this list I’d like to issue a stern advisory to anyone who might be next in line for my public library’s copy of the DVD.
Several minutes into the pitcher, at the precise moment at which you’ve begun to think, “Hey, I saw this performed by marionettes in the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916,” you’ll be teased with a ray of dubious hope. A man ray, so to speak. One of Noah’s offspring — I forget whether it was Shemp, Larry, or Moe — shouts desperately, beseechingly, into the primeval darkness north of Reykjavik a single terrifying word. That word is Dada.
Of course! It’s code! This is a thinly veiled biopic, you think: the story of Samy Rosenstock! (False prophesy if ever there were one.)
Here, then, is that list:
- Before the Flood, Russell Crowe’s forehead bump was the same size and in the very location (sixth Chakra position or Ajna) in which it would be visible much later, for example during the reign of Emperor Commodus, then on the high seas for Lord Nelson’s early 19th Century naval campaigns, and finally just twenty years ago, when racist John Nash was controversially awarded the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences.
- Those grubby fingerless gloves worn by white males slogging along suburban byways antedate the invention of the racing bicycle by nearly 4,000 years.
- Likewise the attire of young white adults — nothing new and different: skinny jeans, be they blue or burlap, come and go like the tides.
- White people’s schnozes have been marked by triangular tan-lines well in advance of the arrival of people of color and their cool shades.
- Centuries before the widespread acceptance of Leo J. Wahl’s patented electric shears, buzz-cuts were preferred for taming the wispy blonde locks of the semitic peoples. Precisely how they did it remains, like Stonehenge and the pyramids, a complete mystery.
- One tribe has dominated throughout the passing of time and shifting mores of human culture. Beginning with the white Antediluvian Patriarchs, that tribe has been known by one name: Thespians.
- The language they spoke, though highly formal and without such modern conveniences as idiomatic phrasing or apostrophes of elision, would be fully intelligible to present day white folk in Palm Springs — not least because grammar then was no less confusing …
- The conjunct and disjunct tetrachords of those Gregorian Chants so familiar to us from white dystopian blockbusters were fully developed by 2519 BC. As were violin sections, proving that mawkish pessimism preceded the advent of the modern orchestra.
- Nothing has ever got Sir Anthony Hopkins up on his white hind legs quite like a man-cave mise-en-scène.