the golden age

last night peter and i stayed up late and watched midnight in paris. i had wanted to see it since it came to theaters, but peter flatly refuses to watch chick flicks if there is another movie we both want to see. i got so excited when i realized red box had it that it would have seemed almost cruel if he insisted upon something else. almost. but peter, being who he is, didn't even look at anything else, he just rented it.

via imdb

have you seen it? you should. especially if you have ever thought about the wonder that must have encapsulated paris in the midst of the jazz age. can you imagine? expatriates flooding paris, artists and writers meeting and befriending one another while walking along the seine. the feeling of awe that must have permeated all such parties where household names showed up one after another. artists living in the tension of friendship, mutual admiration, and fierce competitive envy of the other artists surrounding them...

better yet, read hemingway's "a moveable feast" and then watch midnight in paris.
no, seriously.

the thing is they didn't realize that they lived in the golden age. to them it was all normal. it was just how life was. do you think hemingway thought it strange to rub shoulders with fitzgerald? or to visit with gertrude stein? even if he did at first [which i can hardly believe] after a while i'm sure it was simply expected. after a while people stop being anything besides people. we come to realize that friends and celebrities, innovators and artists, the unemployed, the failed-at-whatever-they-tried, the geniuses and the not-so-much -- we're all kind of the same. we're all people with strengths and weaknesses. with flaws and redeeming values. we come to realize that our own best qualities can turn on a dime into our worst, and that is true of others as well, regardless of name or standing.

it's easy to form an opinion now about the eras that have been given a title posthumously. we know what we know now. we know how many of the artists and writers floating around 1920s paris have lived well beyond their years in the works they created. but back then it was just normal.

and normal can be unnerving and a little dull when you don't know that you're living in what will come to be called the golden age.

i don't think most golden ages of anything are known as such in the midst of them. i think the golden tint is added to later memories about how amazing it would be for us to go back to then knowing what we know now. and yet, how soon would it become normal? how quickly would we realize that the golden tint we thrust upon a decade or an era goes away as quickly as the sun sets over paris?

some times are undeniably harder than others. undeniably. yet too often, no matter what time we're living in, we see other grass as being greener, and other lifetimes more golden.

the legacy of a time is due in large part to the people who make it up. if all i ever do is wish for something else it'll be a lot harder to impact where i am right now.

maybe what we're living in right now
will be remembered 
by our great-great grandchildren
as the golden age. 

of course, i'd still love to see
paris in the 1920s.


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