Photo by katiew.

My train of thought while showering this morning...

...was provoked by Gershwin's "Concerto in F", to which I was listening at the time. Gershwin reminded me of "Porgy and Bess." I listen to this occasionally, but I haven't seen it since watching the film version on TV as a young impressionable child. My visual impressions of the story are therefore hazy, selective, and imperfect. These conflict with my listening knowledge of the opera, which carries a pretty grim plotline. My distant childhood impression, on the other hand, is of something altogether more playful and frivolous. Hmmm... whence the discrepancy?

Then again, some years back, I was on a hike with the Boy Scouts, along a trail which went through the wilderness in stretches, and along a highway in others. Crossing a bridge, we saw riverfront homes. One such was particularly interesting to see, having fallen victim to the encroaching river, radically slumped over, roof caving in, one wall missing. On seeing this, my main emotional reaction was not I'd hate for that to be my house, but more: Gee, that looks like a fun place. Seems an odd reaction, right?

And then I had it--one small piece in the puzzle of the human mind. Maybe it's not such an odd reaction. The characters in Porgy and Bess live in a rather seedy world (as I recall) of houses with sagging roofs and leaning walls. What previous experience would a child have had in such an environment? The closest would have been the world of Lil' Abner (this is an old-timey comic strip about hillbillies, for you young punks out there), or maybe Pogo (another classic old comic strip)--which were fun places. Only slightly farther removed would be the world of Popeye. And a bit further down the road is the world of Dr. Seuss.

In comics, cartoons, and children's books, houses show curves and bulges. Dr. Seuss's architecture never makes use of a straight line. In the real world, on the other hand, houses are rigid, straight, and angular. Except on the rare occasions when you come across a deliciously ramshackle old ruin--and then you never know--Popeye or Daisy Mae might come strolling out.

I ought to watch Porgy and Bess again. Although I rather hate to lose the child's wacky fun version....

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