The classics

It has taken me decades to concede that much of the undying glamour of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck in Looney Tunes is the classical musical background to their dramatic performances. In additon the paradox of the union of classical music and cartoon characters is oddly inspirational. What better way to insinuate and improve the minds of young people? The music fully succeeds to capture and elevate the animation for both children and adults. As cartoonish as he may be, Bugs Bunny nonetheless expresses an odd sophistication, vulgar on the one hand, but discernibly clever on the other.

Bugs is an anthropomorphic gray-and-white rabbit or hare who is characterized by his flippant, insouciant personality. He is also characterized by a Brooklyn accent, his portrayal as a trickster, and his catchphrase “What’s up, doc?”. Through his popularity during the golden age of American animation, Bugs became an American cultural icon and Warner Bros.’ official mascot.

Bugs starred in more than 160 short films produced between 1940 and 1964. He has since appeared in feature films, television shows, comics, and other media. He has appeared in more films than any other cartoon character, is the ninth most-portrayed film personality in the world and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Bugs Bunny and Classical Music

The classical music background to many of the cartoons is the only sound one hears.  Yet the characters undeniably speak through the music. I have the hardened view too that the usage of classical music was initially for no other reason than to escape the costly obstruction of copyright law. Its imperative literally predicted the score of both the music and its visual expression and may have unwittingly diminished the need and cost of traditional narrative (though thereby provoking an immeasurable artistic demand). The alignment too is illustrative of the seldom acknowledged minuscule gap which separates our most comical and our most serious depictions. I see it further as a ready and fruitful addition to the artisitic expression of life’s mundane undertakings. It is part of my convictiion that even a laugh is solemn business.

Research as I may today, I have found little or nothing about which to occupy or to which attach myself other than the performance of my daily rituals. Moments such as these however are not to be dismissed casually as uneventful or more severely as tedious. It is by contrast perhaps the height of satisfaction, as I have heard it said, “Nowhere to go; nothing to do!”

Achievement of even one’s repetitive enterprise is no small compliment in spite of its purely domestic or mundane character. This is especially so I find with the advancement of age. Enough already! Watching the introduction to the movie “Midnight in Paris” was (in spite of its heady and mystical urban content) oddly inflammatory of the value of staying at home.  Seeing the ambling selection of romantic cobblestoned avenues and streetside café venues in Paris reminded me of the time I spent there years ago in Montmartre with Ricardo Schmeichler attending Alliance Française. We encountered a Jean Genet character; I bought a teddy bear of fureur veritable for an American girl whom I had met a month earlier on the Costa Brava; we were shephered to the opening of “My Fair Lady” in our prep school blazers on Champs-Élysées by a prostitute; we ate horse meat and escargots on the same plate; we took a horse drawn buggy about Paris past the presidential palace with my sister before she returned to Stockholm; we randomly met Jean Luc Meyer who invited us to St. Tropez for a party with Brigitte Bardot; and, we witnessed the entire city ablaze with fireworks on Bastille Day from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Alliance française or AF is an international organization that aims to promote the French language and francophone culture around the world. Created in Paris on 21 July 1883 under the name Alliance française pour la propagation de la langue nationale dans les colonies et à l’étranger (French alliance for the propagation of the national language in the colonies and abroad), known now simply as L’Alliance française, its primary goal is teaching French as a second language. Headquartered in Paris, the Alliance had 850 centers in 137 countries on every inhabited continent in 2014.

Yet as I say in spite of this magical account of youth and serendipity I am now ill disposed to contradict our changing and evolving travel agenda. Since the COVID-19 epidemic we’ve abruptly altered our customary winter journeys. Not having any ambition to walk through a forest (or, frankly, any further than the elevator), climb a mountain, stay at a Disneyland-type All-inclusive (with all I can drink) or submerge ourselves in somebody else’s cottage for a prolonged waiting period, we’ve willingly confined ourselves to our own place and things (subject of course to moderate but reasonable diversion from time to time). Indeed I am just now awakening to some of the local possibilities in addition to the golf club and the local scenery. Transitioning from six months in one place to another predicts the peril of losing immediate connection with local threads. It is another fortuity of this change that one willingly reduces the scope of one’s activity to what turns out to be a more complex but valued undertaking, one peculiar to the home environment.  At a point escaping the familiar is no longer an advantage or a desire. And the splendour of travel is an image quelled by its unwritten and underlying realities not the least of which is that “There ain’t no ship to take you away from yourself!” or the less toxic but highly pointed acknowledgement that (as my erstwhile physician’s son Marco said of Rome), “It’s just another city!” Callous.  By riveting!

By comparison to this insightful though seemingly jaundiced view of travel, I gleefully engage myself with the bucolic view from my drawing room desk. And this view includes the social outings we hope to share during the upcoming summer months with family and friends. Therein lies the most nutritious feature of activity whether at home or abroad; namely, the people.

I now see that I am beginning an outlook upon how I may divert myself in this new posture. What (when taking prolonged sojours) was once an ingredient for narrowness and  limitation is now (during extended home life) the foundation of change and choice. I recoil from the temptation to delineate precisely what I’m thinking (until I make enquiries).  But change is on the horizon! And it may involve the classics. It is no wonder the ionic theatre masks are both up and down, smiling and crying, black and white. It is a complicated project.