Friday, March 12, 2010

What to Bring on the Ark

Biblical level catastrophes have been making headlines with increasing frequency. So here is a list of essentials to take with you on the Ark:

Don’t go anywhere without the DVD set of Antonioni’s trilogy, L’Avventura, La Notte, and L'Eclisse  (the stock exchange sequence in La Notte with Alain Delon is as essential as K rations). Life as we know it could not continue without Bergman. How could we understand personality without Persona, endure the absence of god without The Silence, Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Lights, comprehend marriage without Scenes from a Marriage (Paul Mazursky would never have been able to make An Unmarried Woman without it), or appreciate life in general without Fanny and Alexander, which has nothing to do with the Romanovs, and has still less to do with Franklin J. Schaffner’s Nicholas and Alexandra? Tolstoy told Chekhov that his plays were almost as bad as Shakespeare’s, but we need to make sure there is room for War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Three Sisters, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard, along with Lear to deal with problems of aging, The Tempest and The Winter’sTale to reinforce the notion that nothing is over until it’s over, and yes, Cymbelline to remind us that beauty can exist without perfection. Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf is great to have in any storm, along with The Wasteland  (a poem that is starting to have practical applications in our polluted world). Make room for Dante’s La Divina Commedia, Balzac’s La Comédie humaine and Hitchcock’s Vertigo, along with two chickens, two turtles, two lambs, two snakes etc.  


  1. and what of music..??? a piano, a violon.... Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Verdi , Tchakcvsky..... ad infinitum... banjoes, guitarres...drums and drum beats..tu-tum, tu-tum...
    and paintings? a paintbrush, a white canvas..... a pencil.. a pen-knife to sculpt r to engrave the markings of a new calender.. anna a

  2. Hi Anna, nice to hear from you. How is the book doing? You have omitted Cage's 4'33" and any Ark needs Schonberg and of course The Temptations. Warm Regards, Francis

  3. Any selection of works must of necessity be biased, but it's worth pointing out two things:

    1.) Given the capacity of double-sided DVDs, there's no need to make a choice, so far as written literature is concerned. Such disks can hold the equivalent of approximately 5,000 books apiece, each book having proper formatting. If you set the total of truly great classic books from all languages having a written literature at 100,000, you'd need only 20 double-sided DVDs to hold the entire collection. (Of course, the Library of Congress has more than 32 million works on deposit, many of them illustrated, so you'd need more than 10,000 double-sided DVDs to save all of human literature -- good, bad, or mediocre.)

    2.) Consider that you're going to need to need power sources to run your computers & home-theater systems, so start investing in solar power and wind energy now!


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