Letter from the Editor 

The other night, I was flipping through the cable movie channels and happened upon the closing scene of A River Runs Through It. You may know it: An old man stands in a beautiful mountain stream, fly-fishing in golden evening light, as the narrator reads the final lines from Norman Maclean's novella of the same name:

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.

I got moist-eyed, as I always do when I watch that scene or read those words. I don't know what that says about me or why those sentences move me so. But I'm sure we all have cultural artifacts — books, songs, paintings, poems — that have shaped who we are, that return to "haunt" us thoughout our days.

I have a pal who keeps a bound collection of Hemingway's Nick Adams stories on his bedside table, returning to them like an old lover, night after night. Another friend knows all the words to Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue" and can't tell you why, only that it's important. My brother listens to "Trouble" by Cat Stevens and gets emotional.

"Someday Soon" by Judy Collins always hits me in the heartstrings. I reread Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance every few years, and it never fails to resonate. There's a small Van Gogh painting of crows over a cornfield in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh that I used to go stare at on my lunch hour. The artifacts of my life, I guess.

The truth is, the art that moves us also defines and reveals us, whether it's Puccini or Prince. So I wonder sometimes what my children's generation's artifacts will be. Is there a poignant and meaningful Jay-Z song out there? Is Garden State destined to be this generation's Casablanca? Probably not. My son gave me a DVD copy of director Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo for Christmas. He's probably trying to tell me something — whether he knows it or not.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Common Sense Pot Policy

      Unlike Bill Clinton, I've inhaled. So have 49 percent of all Americans, according to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana (medical or otherwise) has been decriminalized or legalized in 23 states, and measures are on the ballot to legalize it in five more states this November, including Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California (where medical pot is already legal). A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans think pot should be legalized and regulated like alcohol ...

Blogs

Music Blog

Young Dolph at the New Daisy

Memphis Gaydar

OUTMemphis is New Name for MGLCC

Intermission Impossible

Want to Think Like Shakespeare?

News Blog

State Tourism Breaks Spending Record

Hungry Memphis

Another Best Memphis Burger Fest in the Books

From My Seat

A (Slightly Premature) Redbirds Season Wrapup

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Don Lifted

Hungry Memphis

Guess Where I'm Eating Contest 110

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

  • Common Sense Pot Policy

    Unlike Bill Clinton, I've inhaled. So have 49 percent of all Americans, according to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Marijuana (medical or otherwise) has been decriminalized or legalized in 23 states, and measures are on the ballot to legalize it in five more states this November, including Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and California (where medical pot is already legal). A recent Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans think pot should be legalized and regulated like alcohol ...
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Tales of New Orleans

    I'd reached the point in the evening when a gnat in my drink seemed more like a feature than a bug. I'd reached the point where that line seemed like comic genius, so I tweeted it. I'd reached the point where having a small dog walking up and down the bartop seemed perfectly normal. I'd reached peak New Orleans ...
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Schadenfreude at the Polls

    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Vendor in the Grass

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare

    Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.

    • Mar 31, 2016
  • Bombs Over Memphis

    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Memphis Has the Blues

    It's Saturday morning and Memphis has the blues.

    The rain is coming down, slow and persistent from a low gray sky. It soaks the grass, fills the gutters, and falls hard on the flowers left on the Beale Street sidewalk outside of B.B. King's club ...

    • May 21, 2015
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation