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“The battlefield is symbolic of the field of life, where every creature lives on the death of another.”
–Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces Add a Tooltip Text


film clip from Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion, 2010, Sony Pictures.


The “Romantic Poets” have gathered a kind of glittery moss over the million years since they were alive. We just love to suckle on the legends of these artist/hero types, especially when they die young (and preferably poor as hell). “John Keats died penniless, believing himself a failure.” Oh, yes. Yes! Let him believe he failed. Let all his success come posthumously. Delicious.

Dead-guy worship is not simply a result of their “brilliance.” Because I was able to get quite elevated on the myth of Shelley, Byron, and the clever, long-suffering ladies who hung out with them. But I never understood their poetry. I did try. I read Shelley’s poetry into a portable tape recorder and then played it back to myself on the beach under a full moon. I am not kidding. I still didn’t get it. I liked Wordsworth at least a little bit, but he wasn’t broke and coughing up blood into a hankie. So he doesn’t get a movie.

W.A. Mozart offers a particularly sweet suckle, because he fell from great heights and was allegedly buried in a pauper’s grave. HE gets a movie. In the movie, his wife’s boobs (co-stars) are constantly spilling out of her tight bodice. They light up the Austrian gloom as the black wagon carries Mozart to his hole in the mud. The end. Go have a nice day, you untalented living person.

The first dead-guy thing I was privy to involved the late Jim Morrison. (He’s a lot later now than he was back then; I imagine poster sales are way down). But he was the midnight movie and a lot more when I was sixteen. I felt that my admiration fell short, however, compared to that of my boyfriend, his friends, and later my brother. After all, I was a girl. I had Janis Joplin, but she was ugly, so no thanks. Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding.

Even the professor who taught me Romantic Poetry in college was handsome and small, with sad eyes. He could have fit into John Keats’ velvet trousers. He could have sailed a small boat into the middle of an Italian lake and drowned, like Percy Shelley. Of course, Shelley’s wife, Mary, survived him and lived into her fifties. She settled in London and made her living writing entries for an encyclopedia. Bla bla bla.

In conclusion, Kurt and Courtney.