Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Poor, forked radish."

Orson Welles, from 'F For Fake'

"Now this has been standing here for centuries. The premier work of man perhaps in the whole western world; and it's without a signature.


A celebration to God’s glory and to the dignity of man. All that’s left, most artists seem to feel these days, is man. Naked, poor, forked radish. There aren’t any celebrations.

Ours, the scientists keep telling us, is a universe which is disposable. You know it might be just this one anonymous glory of all things, this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand choiring shout of affirmation, which we choose when all our cities are dust; to stand intact, to mark where we have been, to testify to what we had it in us to accomplish.

Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared, some of them for a few decades, or a millennium or two, but everything must fall in war or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash: the triumphs and the frauds, the treasures and the fakes.

A fact of life... we're going to die. 'Be of good heart,' cry the dead artists out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced - but what of it? Go on singing.

Maybe a man's name doesn't matter all that much."

The wonderful phrase, "poor, forked radish", comes from Thomas Carlyle's essay "The Hero as Man of Letters (1846), quoted below:

Strip your Louis Quatorze of his king gear, and there is left nothing but a poor forked radish with a head fantastically carved.


N. said...

It's from Shakespeare:

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Danny Campbell said...

Love this clip. Truly the actor of his age.

Lenny Boyle said...

Are you a Scottish dude with that name? Lovely post. Thank you.