Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sometimes a Great Notion

Metallic at first, seen from the highway down through the trees, like an aluminum rainbow, like a slice of alloy moon. Closer, becoming organic, a vast smile of water with broken and rotting pilings jagged along both gums, foam clinging to the lips.

The Wakonda Auga River, as described by Ken Kesey.

Not so much a rain as a dreary smear of blue-gray that daily wipes over the land instead of falling on it.

Ditto for the climate. I can attest to that. Hourly, the sky flexes its hue -- umbrellas only work as signal flares for the lost newcomer. When the clouds disentangle themselves like Baraka's time-lapse photography, there's no point in opening an umbrella. I walked six blocks from the theatre to the bank and back and surfed no fewer than four waves of Rain-Wind-Sun-Wind-Rain. It's a meteorological double for the manic pace of Manhattan human traffic, I think. Soggy and sandwiched in an A-train rain, I suddenly step out to see the sun set behind the Cloisters near my building. All in a Portland Minute. And at the risk of spoiling the climax of our story, I leave you with this passage from the invincible Hank Stamper -- a man who once fucked a freezing river into submission.

You'll make it acrosst because you ain't strong enough not to, I kept thinking as I swam. And I recollect this one other thing, a notion that came to me when I climbed out of the water: that there ain't really any true strength ... and as I climb the steps: there ain't really any real strength ... No, not the strength I always believed in; I kept hearing in my head -- not strength like I always thought I could build and thought I could live, and thought I could show the kid how to live ... No, there ain't any true strength; there's just different degrees of weakness ... But if strength ain't real, weakness sure is. Weakness is true and real. I used to accuse the kid of faking his weakness. But faking proves the weakness is real. Or you wouldn't be so weak as to fake it. No, you can't ever fake being weak. You can only fake being strong ...


Amanda said...


On April 5, I was at PCS watching "Sometimes a Great Notion." I really enjoyed the performance, and wanted to convey my compliments (a meandering "Sometimes a Great Notion" Google search led me to your blog). Aside from being an enjoyable evening, it also finally motivated me to read the book!

I'll keep my eye out for your name at PCS in the future.

Amanda Waldroupe

Oregondoggie said...

Karl Miller brought an edginess to the role of Leland Stamper in Sometimes a great Notion that reveals the power he could bring to the character of Jack Twist in a stage version of Brokeback Mountain.

Aaron Posner is perfectly equiped to take Annie Proulx's heartbreaking story to the stage.

This admirer is gonna send up a prayer of thanks, should this come about.

Time to let another rising star, besides Jake Gyllenhaal, sink his talent into the role of Jack Twist!


Anonymous said...

That quote about weakness is exactly what I need to believe that Michael Sarrazin can play Lee convincingly.