Friday, July 1, 2011

John Ashbery Goes to the Movies

You can read Michael Glover’s “John Ashbery Goes to the Movies” over at PN Review.

Some of his [Ashbery's] recent favourites have included David Lynch's Inland Empire and There's Something About Mary, starring Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz. 'I saw that one about four times. All the essential dirty parts were cut for TV.' For all his addiction to home cinema, he made at least one trip out to the movie house recently, to see Sacha Baron Cohen camping it up in Brüno. 'That has to be the filthiest non-porn movie ever made,' he wrote to me later, 'and worth seeing if only for that, though it's quite funny. There was only one other person in the audience.'

Glover also mentions the cartoon Duck Amuck, which inspired Ashbery's poem "Daffy Duck in Hollywood" (Houseboat Days). Ashbery says more about this in his interview with Mark Ford:

FORD: You've said that Daffy Duck's predicament somewhat resembles that of Satan in Paradise Lost.

ASHBERY: Well, yes, in particular in relation to a Daffy Duck cartoon called Duck Amuck, in which you see the artist's pen being dipped in the inkwell and then drawing Daffy, and then sort of tormenting him by adding an extra beak or drawing a monster about to destroy him. All the time the artist is invisible. The same thing, it seems to me, happens to Satan and his fellow fallen angels in the first book of Paradise Lost, where God is almost comically absent, at least as far as the denizens of Hell are concerned. (pp.58-9)

Actually, I've watched Duck Amuck countless times (it's one of my daughter's favourites) and the big reveal at the end is that Daffy's invisible tormentor is [spoiler alert] Bugs Bunny. 

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