Saturday, March 24, 2012

Don Quixote

Don Quixote was a birthday present and I sallied forth on my fifteenth summer.  I made battle with the enchanted windmill, freed an ungrateful chain gang, pined for my tavern wench on a solitary mounntain top, and dutifully harangued all unwary passersby.  From the opening sequence to the closing paragraphs, through all the absurdities and profundities, I got it.  I just plain got it.  And while academia has since tried to endow me with a six dollar interpretation, it doesn't even come close to a fifteen-year-old's two penny epiphany: "Fuck it - I'm a knight."

Before you accuse me of being thickheaded, or suspect me delusional, I'd like to unpack that little nugget.  It's been lodged in my brain for some time now, crossing signals and bridging synapses, and it's had some effect on me.  First, there are two very distinct and mutually exclusive world views that evoke the fuck it.  One is merely pessimistic and defeatist, the other is a more nuanced acknowledgement of the arbitrary and the absurd.  The defeatist's fuck it lays its foundation in futility, where existence is of no importance and its constituents are hopelessly invested, and the only intelligent response is apathy.  The absurdist's fuck it founds itself in relativity, where every perspective is more or less true despite the surface contradiction, and the only intelligent response is creativity.  Though they celebrate the same motto, they derive it through irreconcilably different means, and these two champions of fucking it could not be more estranged.  The defeatist languishes, the absurdist thrives; the defeatist sighs, the absurdist laughs; the frowny-fran dies with a shrug, the wanking-wally exits with a bow.  To state the difference more viscerally: Some say fuck it because the world is a drifting tomb, some because the world is a mad circus.  I, and I believe Master Quixote, are in the latter camp.  We roam undefeated because we paint the world with our eyes.  Second, the claim that I'm a knight has nothing to do with ego or mental stability.  It is a reflection of the same arbitriness that inspires the precursing fuck it.  I am also a fish, a rainbow, a sailor, a king, and a chamber pot.  In the arbitrary world even my identity is a shifting and transmutable thing, so why not throw it this way or that?  Who's to say I'm not the Mastodon of Fertility or the Goddess of Rock'n'Roll? 

Fuck it - I'm a writer.

Anyway, that was all rattling around in my head in some form or another.  Mostly it was vague and immature, but it was there.  I leafed through Don Quixote's exploits on our newly built deck, in the shade of a box-elder tree (which was really an ash tree) drinking cherry cola and wearing a shit grin.  If Dickens introduced me to the magic between the lines, Cervantes showed me the power of the ideas behind them, and I've been defying the Enchanter ever since.

[The preceding is a restoration of a scrap of paper discovered in an unmarked chest that once belonged to Amadis Gaul, purchased at an estate sale by an anonymous Protestant for thirteen dollars.  Though the surviving text is in English, several peculiarities have prompted scholars to suggest it may in fact be a translation of an older, now lost, document.  The casual vulgarity has led some to believe it has a French origin, while the laziness of the opening and closing paragraphs have given rise to the Italian School.  Still others point to stylistic disparities - the stoic clunkishness of the middle paragraph, the sleepy nostalgia of the closing remarks, etc. - and claim that the work has several authors and as many translators, at least one of whom is either Russian or German.  There is no hope of consensus.]                       

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1 comment:

  1. Don Quixote is best interpreted as "Man of La Mancha", the musical. No offense to Cervantes, but "Don" is just better when done in song.

    Have you ever seen it?

    I've seen it done by a community theatre and it was fantastic. For anyone looking for the short way around Cervantes, try the Man of la Mancha. It's also a major motion picture.