Sunday, August 2, 2015
*** Roslyn (Marilyn Monroe): "Horse killers! Killers! Murderers! You're liars! All of you, liars! You're only happy when you can see something die! Why don't you kill yourself to be happy? You and your God's country! Freedom! I pity you! You're three dear, sweet, dead men!"
*** In "The Misfits," (Marilyn's and Clark Gable's last movies) three broken-back old cowboys hunt wild mustang horses for scratch and dog food while believing that their lust for Roslyn (MM) will save them from death. But in this scene Marilyn is outraged by their violence and barbarity and she attempts to stop the slaughter. The screenplay was written by playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn's husband, and its based, I think, on an earlier actual experience. I am reading Miller's autobiography and he recounts that when he and Marilyn were living at Amagansett long island she encountered the surf-net fishers early one morning. The fishers drug their nets onto the beach then marketed the "money fish" but left all the writhing "trash fish" to slowly suffocate and die on the beach. Marilyn was horrified and began to get up early and follow these fishers and gather up all the dying fish and return them to the water. She became obsessed with stopping this daily slaughter ignored by everyone else and began rescuing the condemned fish every morning. Marilyn it seems (like Pope Francis?) rejected the economic ideology that classifies life as either 'marketable,' or 'trash,' but her life-saving work took a painful, physical and spiritual toll on her. A soaked-through Marilyn could often be witnessed shivering, stumbling, along the beach weeping and trying to get the dying fish back into the ocean, until one day she completely collapsed. Marilyn never fully recovered from that "break-down," and subsequent suicide attempt even though she was hospitalized for "treatment." She eventually recovered just enough to finish "The Misfits," but perhaps at the cost of her life. Other than academic/σαρκικός I have never really had much of an interest in Marilyn until recently, but it was this story and movie that have caused me to engage her again with more seriousness, sorrow, and maybe even reverence. I agree with what Clifford Odets said: “If they tell you that she died of sleeping pills you must know that she died of a wasting grief, of a slow bleeding at the soul.”
*** Not so different than most of us, Marilyn is/was too often made a prisoner of the discourses that attended her. But she was also, it seems to me, very aware of the web of narratives that attempted to define and ensnare her, and she often tried to resist, challenge, play with, and profit from those narratives. However, the Overlords of culture and administration are more clever and powerful than Marilyn and many others suppose and often those who set out to confront the 'death-dealing' masters of the 'precession of simulacrum' suffer mightily from the encounter. So of course I trust nothing that is written about Marilyn, and nothing that was written by her; i don't trust words--and neither did Marilyn. She adored all poets though and wanted to be one, and so she was. Not that being a poet instead of an actor would have saved her. Here's a favorite of mine by Marilyn written in 1958.
That silent river which stirs
And swells itself with whatever passes over it
Wind, rain, great ships
I love the river – never unmoored
It’s quiet now
And the silence is alone
Except for the rumbling of things unknown
Distant drums very present
But for the piercing of screams
And the whispers of things
Sharp sounds and then suddenly hushed
To moans beyond sadness – terror beyond
The cry of things dim and too young to be known yet
The sobs of life itself
And bear the pain & the joy
Of newness on your limbs
Loneliness – be still
*** How could that poem not break open your heart and heal it again? The Marilyn who wrote that poem is the same one who saved the dying trash-fish on the beach and saved the wild horses and the same one that escaped "The Black Dahlia" serial killer (or one of them). Perhaps we could call her *Saint Marilyn of Amagansatt* Patron saint of those who are suffocating, and those who were raped at age 6, and those left to die as un-marketable, and whores and those who must live life as only marketable, and the patron saint of horses (if horses have saints) and especially the patron saint of the beautiful who never got their own saint until Marilyn died.
*** Marilyn's last words on screen were, "Which way is home…How do you find your way home in the dark." But I don't think that Arthur Miller's answer is true, he wrote, "To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was. She was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes." But Miller was also one of those desperate clawing men pulling at her clothes. What Marilyn needed was not more cynicism or fantasy but the kind of love that finding her broken, floundering, and suffocating would return her to life-giving water.