Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On the subjective nature of literary criticism

You know that six days of intermittent yet shriek-making back spasm have really started to get to you when you read, in an innocuous piece of chick lit, a passing reference to the lyrics of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it hits you with a blinding flash that that song is nothing more than the simple expression of a death wish.

Which reminds me of one of my all-time favourite jokes. A man's singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in a seedy nightclub for a living and one night he simply forgets how the middle eight goes. He can remember the words -- 'Some day I'll wish upon a star / and wake up where the clouds are far / behiiiiiind meeeee' -- but the tune's gone right out of his head.

So he signals to the band leader to start again. All's well till he gets to the middle eight again, but nope, he still can't remember it.

This happens a couple more times until finally (it wasn't called the Depression for nothing) he thinks that if he can't even sing his signature song any more in this crummy gig in this dingy room then he might as well end it all, so he flings himself out of the nearest window.

And as he lies dying on the footpath, suddenly a beatific smile steals over his tragically smashed-up features. Because someone has called the ambulance, and in the distance he can hear it coming: 'Da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA ...'

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