E is for Eliot

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Here’s a clip from Apolcalypse Now (Redux version, I think) – “The Hollow Men” read by Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz.  WATCH IT, I DARE YOU.

Interesting note: “The Hollow Men” quotes “The Heart of Darkness” in the beginning Apocalypse Now is an adaptation of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness deals with colonization, the abuse of natives and guilt in colonial Africa, Apocalypse Now updates the setting to the Viet Nam war from the perspective of Captain Williard, who is called back to do a final mission after the failure of his marriage and a nervous breakdown, more or less.


His mission is to kill Colonel Kurtz, a former special forces agent that saw a bit too much and has ended up being a god-king in Cambodia. Here’s a clip of Kurtz, when we meet him:

I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile: a pile of little arms. And I remember I…I…I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized, like I was shot — like I was shot with a diamond…a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God, the genius of that. The genius! The will to do that: perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand it. These were not monsters. These were men, trained cadres — these men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who have children, who are filled with love — but they had the strength — the strength! — to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgement. Without judgement! Because it’s judgement that defeats us.

This is an intensely psychological movie based on darkness – it’s a war film, definitely, and the horrors of war are a focus, but you see how experiences degrade and change people…

Oh God, this was supposed to be about TS Eliot, right? Better stop before I segue into Taxi Driver, somehow…

OK, so TS Eliot’s definitely a guy you’d run into in college, pretty well-known, the poem here “The Hollow Men” is attached to the “The Wasteland”. The poem is written from the perspective, more or less, of the Guy Fawkes straw men burned in England to celebrate the failed attempt to blow up Parliament…but they represent the souls of the dead that are in somewhat of a purgatory state and you could interpret the whole damn thing as a metaphor for depression, or a sense of deep stagnation. It’s emotionally based in feelings of despair and failure, disconnection, loss, etc….

Sidenote: Doctor Venture, from the Venture Brothers, went by TS Venture in college. Hah.

Blogger Note: Blogger was once in rehab, rehab had poetry/song lyric day and she once subjected an entire room of unsuspecting women to “The Hollow Men”, probably just sections. Asshole score: 7/10.

T.S. Eliot – “The Hollow Men”

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.