Elizabeth Taylor

Monday, July 11, 2005

Pissing Apollo off

The dust jacket copy of Donald Spoto’s A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor says: “Generous and compassionate, self-absorbed and egocentric, few stars have achieved as much.” In another place Taylor is described as a vacuous and vulgar egocentric. Egomania with her might be construed as a solipsistic vanity.

Probably writers about Taylor have the sensitivity to meaning all writers must have to succeed; yet only Sheridan Morley’s study shows real style and insight; I suppose the presumption that the audience for a star’s biography is unintellectual and probably downscale leads the other writers on Taylor to ignore, so to speak, Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Freudians have their id, ego and super-ego; Hollywood stars just have lots of ego.

In Latin the word ego tends to be suppressed. “Ego” is a particle which, as Chomsky would say, some languages suppress. Aside from the different alphabets, the Latin ego and Greek εγω are the same word. The Greek cognate is one of the first defiant words uttered by the first real character in The Iliad, the first real character in Western literature:
μη σε, γερον, κοιλησιν εγω παρα νηυσι κιχειω
Agamemnon says, “I will not return the beautiful girl, the beautiful booty, to her father, even if this angers Apollo.” Agamemnon may not be lovable or pious but his assertion of his desires against god and over those of the community is greatly significant. L’Etat, c’est moi?

Such too is the imperious significance of Taylor. Turturro admires Taylor because her whole life she has acted and she has never stopped acting. Marrying conservative Senator Warner and fundraising for AIDS research extended her career onto a political stage. Her nieces by marriage Paris and Nicky Hilton also perform on a kind public stage. Taylor has never retreated into impossible pseudo-Garboesque retirement, from the public eye. And does this assertion signify? Despite its primacy, I hesitate before a phrase like “the invention of self.” Is acting an assertion of ego? Does one thing underlies words like affection, attention, aggression and assertion? Aside from the different consonants, is this simply spirit in action?

1 Comments:

At 3:01 AM, Blogger Gef said...

I just wish that 1% of the interent community understood this topic as well as you did. Thankyou!
Have a great one.
Sean Cody

 

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