Thursday, June 7, 2007

"the young thousands," from we shall all be healed

i first started talking about horror back here, when the threat was, well, a little less threatening.

i almost loath to write about "the young thousands"--my face is scrunching up! grotesque! that's how much i love it!--but last night i was paralyzed watching schlesinger's the day of the locust, the film adaptation of nathanael west's novel, which i've read about six or seven times since high school, and i realized that, no, there is no escaping writing about "the young thousands," that, either way, "the young thousands" is going to continue to run on a track in my mind for years to come because "the young thousands" is about a feeling that does not resolve.

granted, in locust, we need a resolution, and we get one, but the movie's climax is also its most overly long scene (how long do we need to see william atherton's screaming face? longer yet). this is a drug feeling, or a mental illness--a deep paranoia, the feeling that, though things are bad, they are invariably going to get worse and worse, and you're waiting for the shoe to drop, but the shoe doesn't, it just sorta hangs above you and it might not even be a shoe, you can't even tell.

i don't know exactly what darnielle's talking about, but there are 30 overdubbed versions of him to warn me. in locust, schlesinger didn't want it to be a shock so much as a protracted sickness, the knowledge that this, well, this isn't even really a climactic moment so much as a shift in tone, that if you were hoping for ecstasy and release you can quite well forget about it. like hackett's visions in locust, the young thousands are faceless, ghostly things. they just keep moving and moving and moving and never quite arrive. onus to feel the world's mind-shredding powers is on you, buddy, and though i have pity in abundance, i also have a mite of jealousy--who's to say that agony isn't richer than the pleasantry of release?


Ian said...

Excepting "Have to Explode," this may be my favourite Darnielle song. Lines from it pop into my head a disproportionate amount of the time.

mp said...

aww man ian, i think you might really find some DEEP TRUTHS in day of the locust. darnielle couldn't'a written any of the characters, or even the tableaux, but he certainly gets the vibe.