Here’s a little vocabulary to help those whom Myles calls “non-nationals” (like Euripides) negotiate some of my more elliptical allusions—arcane idées fixes in my idiosyncratic language, nay idiolect. Myles makes a suitable place to start, then:
- At a time when it was neither profitable nor popular (leading to several posts developing the theme of cliché, like this and this)
- “Typical!” From Kate Fox’s “Typical!” rule in Watching the English
- YAY!—an expression that now comes as naturally to me as a Tory politician campaigning in a baseball cap.
To the divine Stella Gibbons I am indebted to
- flapdoodle (usually in the context of heritage),
and to Monty Python the concept of
Tempted though I was to do these in the form of an index:
muse, Terpsichorean, delighting in all manifestations of 174,
I’m grouping them by themes.
- S-S-Simon Rattle is a recurring theme of mine, referring to this story.
Several succinct allusions refer to Airplane:
Such catch-words are hopefully more entertaining than some of those in vogue among anthropologists (see e.g Bourdieu’s habitus).
The twentieth-century audience had only to see a stock character on the screen to know instinctively what moral luggage he or she was carrying, the past they had, the future they could expect. And this was after, if one includes the silent films, not more than thirty years of going to the pictures. In the sixteenth century the audience or congregation would have been going to the pictures for 500 years at least, so how much more instinctive and instantaneous would their responses have been, how readily and unthinkingly they would been able to decode their pictures—just as, as a not very precocious child of eight, I could decode mine.
And while it’s not yet true that the films of the thirties and forties would need decoding for a child of the present day, nevertheless that time may come; the period of settled morality and accepted beliefs which produced such films is as much over now as is the set of beliefs and assumptions that produced an allegory as complicated and difficult, for us at any rate, as Bronzino’s Allegory of Venus and Cupid.
So having gone to some lengths to try and understand the world-view of Chinese peasants, and liberated from the Lowest-Common-Denominator language of academia, I now feel emboldened to reflect my own, however arcane.