Happy Birthday Martin Scorsese!

I’m sure everyone is excited to know that today is Martin Scorsese’s birthday! I am aware of this uber exciting fact because I wrote the Martin Scorsese feature for today. You know with a lede like this, it has to fascinating:

“It’s easy to think of Scorsese as a kind of poet of the underworld,” the American Film Institute reflected when they granted him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Raised on the streets of New York, director Martin Scorsese has shone a visionary light on the darkest of scenes and characters.

(When I plagiarize myself on my blog, it is code for, “I have a migraine but refuse to break my blog-every-day commitment.)

But seriously, what is cooler than being called a poet of the underworld? (Other than winning a million dollars, selling your sitcom to ABC or not having a migraine anymore?) Anyway, what I think is remarkable about that epithet, and Scorsese, is the way he starkly and simply drew upon what he knew–a garish and conflicted childhood in Little Italy–and teased out entrancing combinations of suspenseful plots and elevated cinematic artistry. He has a rare gift of bringing a vision to everything he sees.

Now I know what you’re all thinking: RB, how are you going relate Martin Scorsese to yoga class? Well, ye of little faith: It CAN be done. Tonight, my yoga teacher was talking about the Wizard of Oz—earning her immediate points with the Wicked Witch, of course–but she was saying how Dorothy, at the end of movie, realizes that although she does crave adventure and excitment, she doesn’t need to go over the rainbow to find it. It’s right there at home. Yes–in Kansas! What’s so boring about Kansas??

Well. A lot of things may in fact be undesirable about Kansas. Just like a lot of things might be undesirable about YOU! Gulp. This is why, says my yoga teacher, we spend all day trying to a) shut out our surrounding and b) avoid being at “home” with ourselves. The bad news is, you can’t have a real adventure until you come to terms with the fact that you’re just stuck being you. The good news is, if you do enough yoga, you might find that for, like, 45 seconds out of every week, being you is not that horrible.

Or maybe, with or without the yoga, when we take the right kind of approach to playing the hand we’re dealt, we get to be poets of our own underworld. The stuff that isn’t working can always be ignored, but the ability to look at and create rather than judge, as Scorsese does, maybe be what makes it bearable.

Because I am studying the philosophy of art, I leave you with this:

“Beauty is the perception of the infinite in the finite….It is not the artist who by his knowledge of skill produces the beautiful, but the idea of beauty in him that produces it.”
-What is Art, Leo Tolstoy (on the philosopher Schelling)


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