Monday, May 20, 2013

Second Chances In The Plum Rains




Today’s post is a kind of afterword to two posts from last week.

Cynthia Lennon In The Plum Rains

People As Albums Of Inside-Out Songs

This post is not about the Beatles, but it is one final comment on Cynthia Lennon’s autobiography, “John.

That book has become more interesting to me after I read it than it was while I was reading it.

While I was reading it I was mostly thinking that she wasn’t really sharing any new stories. And that’s true. There wasn’t much new in there that Beatles fans didn’t have access to in other books.

But after I read Cynthia Lennon’s account—and if we can believe the front-matter she wrote the book herself, without a co-writer—I was really touched by many of the things she did say, and I became more and more interested thinking about how she said things and why she picked certain things to say.

And her final words are interesting to me, too.

On the very last page of the book, after having described her whole life, before John, during John and after John, she gives thanks for the good things, like her son Julian and her childhood friends, but then she concludes:


"But the truth is that if I'd known as a teenager what falling for John would lead to, I would have turned round right then and walked away."


I’m a talkative person. In my life I’ve talked to a lot of different types of people—I mean things like education backgrounds, economic backgrounds, social backgrounds. I have heard sentiments like this far more often than I’d ever have expected and from every “type” of person imaginable.

*

Some aspects of life are so difficult to understand, almost inconceivable, that even if you try, struggle, with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind to understand what is happening to you and around you, by the time you figure it out, if you figure it out at all, it can be too late to even hope for a second chance. Because your whole life will be behind you. And you will have been completely shaped by the life you lived.

*

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the kind of person who, if given a second chance, almost always just makes the same mistakes all over again. Or some variation of the same mistakes.

So I admire people who can learn quickly from their errors and make significant corrections and seriously improve. Because I usually can’t.

That being said, at the same time I admire people, too, who work out a course of action in the abstract, and then set out to make their vision real. And keep trying and keep trying and keep trying.

The issue, I think, is that it’s good to be tenacious but it’s bad to be stubborn, and it’s not always clear where to draw the line.

*

Recently I made up this joke:


Britney Spears walks into a bar. To her right she’s holding hands with Ludwig van Beethoven. To her left she’s holding hands with William Shakespeare. The bartender says, “Wow, Britney, with Beethoven to write music for you and Shakespeare to write lyrics for you, your next album might be the greatest album ever.” And Britney says, “Uh, yeah, and working with both of them they’ll buy me twice as much beer as just one would!”


The time I spent thinking about that is time I’ll never get back. I’ll never get a second chance to use that time more constructively. And even if I did, I know I wouldn’t.

*

I’m going to conclude this post with my favorite bit of TV drama, melodrama really, about the issue of second chances. It’s a transcript of a scene from the old British TV show “The Prisoner.”

If I can trust my memory and the Blogger search utility—and, really, I don’t much trust either one but the combination is the best I have right now—I have quoted that old TV show twice here at the blog.

A Little More Venus Talk

Music At The Garden’s Edge

I’m going to stop quoting old TV shows (and, in fact, TV shows entirely) but I want to do this one last quote because it will wrap up my interest in “The Prisoner,” and because I’ve wanted to do this particular quote for a long time and now I finally have a post talking about second chances.

This is from an episode called “Schizoid Man” and that episode is one of the most complicated bits of writing in that series which was full of down-right Byzantine complexity. (I’m not going to embed the whole episode here, it’s almost an hour long, but the whole episode is available at YouTube: The Prisoner: Schizoid Man. The scene from today’s post starts at the 45:33 mark.)

The story—in very quick overview—is about Number 2 trying to drive Number 6 insane by first subjecting him to behavior modification and drugs which change some of his habits and then bringing in an agent, “Curtis,” who is an exact physical double for Number 6 and who has practiced mimicking Number 6’s personality, and his mental skills and physical skills in every way.

Also there is a woman from the Village, Number 24, who has become friends with Number 6 because she and Number 6 realized they have a mild kind of low-level telepathic bond. They can’t read each other’s mind, but they can, often and inexplicably, make the same guess or make the same choice or just randomly work in unison without explicitly coordinating their actions. And, more simply, they can just “feel” each other’s presence.

Number 2 confronts Number 6 with “Curtis” and accuses Number 6 of being an imposter. As Number 2 “proves” to Number 6 he isn’t who he thinks he is, Number 2 documents Number 6’s old habits which are now changed (Number 6 has no memory of the behavior mod program that changed his habits) and “Curtis” is able to best Number 6 at all of Number 6’s mental and physical challenges (Number 6 is weakened from the drug treatments) and, finally, Number 2 brings in the telepathic woman. She is able to perform her telepathic link with “Curtis” but not with Number 6 (viewers then realize that the telepathic woman, Number 24, really is an agent working with Number 2).

As the plot unfolds, through complications and his skills, Number 6 is able to recover his memory, defeat “Curtis” and manipulate Village security into killing “Curtis” thinking he was really Number 6.

So, getting to the end, Number 6 has assumed the identity of the agent who had been brought in to assume his identity. As Number 6 impersonates “Curtis” he is driven by Number 2 to the airfield where he will be allowed to fly away in a helicopter. Number 2 goes off for a moment to talk to someone. Number 6 discovers that the telepathic woman, Number 24, is waiting for him there at the airport. She confronts him, alone. Because of their telepathic bond, she realizes, of course, that he isn’t “Curtis,” and Number 6 knows, too, that she sees through him.

Will she turn him in?

Number 24 and Number 6, impersonating “Curtis,” have this wonderful exchange by the helicopter:

NUMBER 24: “I’m ashamed of what I did to No. 6 yesterday.”

NUMBER 6: “Why are you telling me?”

NUMBER 24: “Everyone has to tell someone.”

NUMBER 6: “It was your job.”

NUMBER 24: “It was a betrayal.”

NUMBER 6: “Isn’t everything we do here a betrayal?”

NUMBER 24: “It’s not often one gets a second chance.”

NUMBER 6: “There are no second chances.”

NUMBER 24: “There are, sometimes, for the lucky ones. If I had a second chance, I want you to know that I wouldn’t do it again.”


And as Number 2 returns, Number 24 simply turns and walks away. She’s true to her word, and having been given a second chance, she doesn’t betray Number 6 again.

(Number 2, however, discovers Number 6’s ruse by asking him a question only the real “Curtis” could know and as Number 6 is flying away in the helicopter, Village security apparently contacts the pilot and the helicopter turns around and brings Number 6 back. Number 6 remained a Prisoner in the Village.)





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Pumpkin Are Free

“Now I Dream Of The Plum Rains”





















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