PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, 1792-2018

Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-2018)

by Eleanor Jaffe

I woke up with Shelley on my mind, which was very strange because I had not thought of Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822) since I was an English major at Brooklyn College a long time ago.  All that had been on my mind were the Kavanaugh hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee and Trump’s harangue to the United Nations about his triumphs since becoming President.  Nevertheless, my unconscious made these connections between Shelley and my perceptions of contemporary political life.

To me, this is how Shelley predicted our current Republican majority in the Senate Judiciary Committee (from “Queen Mab,” 1813):

Power, like a desolating pestilence,                                                Pollutes whate’er it touches; and obedience                                                     Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,                                                       Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,                                                    A mechanized automaton.

In his 1817 poem, “Ozymandias,” Shelley describes the decaying remains of a once supreme king. The traveler who discovers the remains describes:

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone,                                                                   Stand in the desert.  Near them, on the sand,                                                    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown                                               And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command                                                    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read.

 The once powerful king had boasted:                                                                    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:                                                               Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”                                               Nothing beside remains.  Round the decay                                                            Of that colossal wreck…”

I no longer remember the political machinations of Shelley’s England that led him to make these poetic observations.  However, in my opinion, he provides poetic insight into our current political circus.  The majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee has shown itself to be slave-like in its obedience to Power.  And Trump’s boastfulness would make Ozymandias jealous!  What do you think?

BOLLI Matters feature writer Eleanor Jaffee\

Eleanor says that, since November of 2016, her activist nature has been reawakened.  In addition to writing for BOLLI Matters, she has teamed up with fellow member Elaine Dohan to form BOLLI’s new and vibrant “Make a Difference” special interest group.

STORIES FROM STEVE: AT THE MOVIES

As Steve Goldfinger has been one of our most prolific BOLLI Matters writers, we thought it only fitting that we give him his own feature for his blend of memoir and creative nonfiction writing.  Welcome to the stable, Steve!

AT THE MOVIES

by Steve Goldfinger

My fright alarm went off for the first time when I was three years old.   It was my first movie, and the picture, my parents later told me, was Pinocchio.  It was Stromboli who caused me to shriek and them to carry me out to the lobby and then home.

Little has changed since then when it comes to my shriek alarm.  I left The Deer Hunter when  the Russian roulette scene had the soldier pointing a gun to his temple. I knew enough to never even try to watch Jaws or Psycho. If I had known about the bathtub scene at the end of Diabolique, I would have been spared that episode of chest pain and tachycardia. I was brave enough to join friends to see Fatal Attraction–but not without a blue woolen sweater to cover my eyes at the scene they warned  me would be coming. I adjusted the pull length on the sweater to obtain a suitably gauzy image, but this maneuver prevented me from stuffing my ears to quench the music as it amped and crescendoed at the same time.

Much as I would try to imagine an orchestra on the set (ridiculous!) or a director in a chair in front of the actors and a hanging microphone just above their heads but cut away, it never worked . I just got too rapt up and would totally suspend any whiff of disbelief.

A sequel to the Saw series, a horror movie for the the films’ avid followers, will be released just before Halloween–concocted by none other than my own Peter Goldfinger and his writing partner, Josh Stohlberg.  How could such a thing happen?

It is not Pete’s first venture into the horror genre.  He is married to Jen Jostyn who had a lead role in House of a Thousand Corpses; and  yes, its producer, named Rob Zombie, remains one of their close friends.  A while back, the Pete and Josh duo wrote Sorority Row and Pirhana-3D which outdid Jaws by about a hundred mutilations, most of them attractive coeds being plucked from a lake and halved by huge scaly carnivores. The lake gradually reddened as the action progressed.

When I arrived to visit Pete in Los Angeles, he told me it was my lucky day–I could come on the set when they were filming Sorority Row.   The nude scene.  Well, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.   I discovered that viewing a horror movie in the flesh, so to speak, wasn’t really that upsetting.  Not at all horrible.

So I await the pre-Halloween event. The title of this one is Jig Saw. I’ve seen a few trailers on my iPad.  And I’m saving my blue woolen sweater for the real thing.

Frequent BOLLI Matters writer Steve Goldfinge

Since joining BOLLI nearly three years ago, after a long career in medicine, Steve has been exploring his artistic side.  He has taken writing classes and participated in the Writers Guild throughout but has also taken part in CAST and the Book Group.