Saturday, November 26, 2005
Beyond the obvious
Tonight I watched a movie that reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s plays. Indeed as I later found out by googling here and there, the movie was inspired by one of his plays “Lady Windermere’s Fan”. The Screenwriter chose to transpose the play to the 1930s. Yet the dialogues were so familiar, the wit was vintage Oscar Wilde, and the plot bore such an unmistakable imprint of him.
The world of yore to me is like a beautiful photograph in black and white. Charming people with an impeccable sense of dressing, and a grandiose manner of speaking. Nowhere is this typified better than in Wilde’s plays. The characters are so fictional, for how can a real person ever speak that way. There is a bit of Wilde in all the characters. As if he is the only one speaking and the people are merely moving their lips in synchronicity.
But even if you have a hundred Oscar Wilde’s talking to themselves it would still be so marvelously interesting. They would all have their own opinions, even contradictory opinions, and they would articulate it with such panache. Here is a quote that seems to have stuck in my mind. “A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her.” What do you think of it? Ridiculous? Profound? Untrue? Whatever you think of it I am sure you find it perplexing and striking. I try to understand it, find a meaning in it and always miss his point.
But then the point is he is not trying to make a point! The drift of the play and the meaning of it are for you to derive. The reader will have to weed out all that fluff and witty distractions and think beyond the obvious. Sort of like life. Nobody can tell you it’s meaning. It’s for you to find out.
Let me try an Oscar Wilde-ish quip to describe this great man. “A true intellectual is one who doesn’t mean a word he says.” Or may be, “A true intellectual is one who means so much more than what he says”.