Friday, February 15, 2013


I didn’t have a graceful way of bringing it up in my review of The Passion of Joan of Arc (and for once that was enough to dissuade me from just bringing it up awkwardly) but this week’s amusing unintentional overlap was supplied by the book I’m currently reading, Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. I’ve been slowly working my way through it (it’s interesting but a bit dry even for pop science and not exactly riveting) and sure enough, one of the many references to historical figures who (probably) experienced hallucinatory perceptions was Joan of Arc. I already had The Passion up near the top of my queue because of Roaring 20’s Month and just happened to be reading Hallucinations because it was on the top of my reading pile since Christmas. But coincidences abound.

It did get me thinking about something I really would like to do one of these days, particularly if further proof is ever needed that I have way too much time on my hands. The goal would be to allow whatever pop culture I’m consuming at the moment to determine, via reference points, what pop culture I would consume next. So really, the opposite of what I just described above. Instead of seeing a reference to Joan of Arc in a chapter on ecstatic visions and thinking “That’s funny, I was going to watch The Passion of Joan of Arc tomorrow,” I would see the reference and decide from there to seek out The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Martyrdom jokes!

Although, actually, I would want the references to be a lot more specific. Joan of Arc was a real person and gets namechecked all over the place; I could just as easily say that Sacks’s Hallucinations was pointing me towards a viewing of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Last month I saw Beverly Hills Cop for the first time (I know) and, since this reference-point idea has been floating around in my skull for quite some time, I of course took note of the moment during the climactic shootout when Judge Reinhold brings up the ending of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That’s an explicit connection from one movie to the next, and that’s the kind of link I would want. Plus, I’ve never seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (I KNOW) and one of my current obsessions is running down as many of those gaps in my knowledge base as possible, so that would truly be ideal.

The real trick would be to see how long I could keep these chains going. I don’t know if Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would explicitly suggest anything else, or if it would be a dead end reference-wise. Could I string together five movies/books/tv shows/comics/albums without hitting a wall? Ten? More? I suppose there would be some strategies I could employ like starting with a relatively recent work (because I’d always be moving backwards in time to prior works), preferably by an author or artist who tends to be naturally reference-heavy (so that I can pick and choose, among multiple references, one that is likely to be similarly target-rich, and so on up the line). Who knows, maybe this will be a project-resolution for 2014 or something. You will have to stay tuned to find out!

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