This is the first summer in 26 years I have not taught classes. I am writing. And I am about to embark on a long westward driving tour, taking me all the way to New Mexico before I begin my return. I expect to continue with my writing while I travel, but I do not know if I will be updating the blog at all. (There may be some new Instagram photos, over on the side of the page.) Admittedly, that will not be much of a change; I haven’t posted much that’s new in a while. I hope to have some new material for the blog when I return (middish June). I wish everyone a terrific beginning to the summer!
I love when writers so arrange words or events or characters that a line that would ordinarily be clichéd or hackneyed, conversational jetsam that means little, if anything at all, becomes truly weighty, deep. Jane Austen was a master of this; so too was Shakespeare. A nice example crops up on the final pages of James Gould Cozzens’ By Love Possessed, when Arthur Winner–having demonstrated throughout the novel his deep constancy and his capacities for different forms of suffering–answers his mother, who calls for him from upstairs: “Here I am.” Cozzens’ art is such that the line skyrockets to first among quotable lines from the novel–but of course it is in effect unquotable, since to quote it in isolation from its place at the end of the novel renders it paltry, some kind of truism: “Of course, Arthur Winner, you are here; no matter where you are, here is it.” To appreciate the line, you need to know Arthur Winner, and it of course helps if you know Samuel and Isaiah.
Chuck manages to do this sort thing often. Lines in the show gain in meaning or begin to take on additional meaning across episodes. The one I want to consider now is my favorite of these, Sarah’s comment about being in Burbank (broadly) and about being with Chuck (particularly): “I’m good here.” When she first says this, it means what it means primus visus. “I am ok here and with being here; I am making it, making it work.” But as the show unfolds, it becomes clear that the word ‘good’ puns. (Is Sarah punning with the word? Later, and surely by the time of her vows to Chuck, she must hear the pun, even intend it?) The claim still means what it meant before, but now it means more: “I am good (as opposed to bad) when I am here. This place, this guy, makes me better, a better person. I like who I am here.” Sarah, recall, more or less puts it this way when dancing with her father (in vs. The Wedding Planner). To appreciate Sarah’s line, you have to know her and what has been happening to her.
By the way, the Arthur Winner line is more or less Chuck’s too. Think of his vows to Sarah. “You can count on me.” It is his way of telling Sarah “Here I am.”
Two flights today
A layover between desolation and consolation
I get left behind
In Baggage Claim