Tuesday, May 9, 2023

A Coney Island of the Mind

Lawrence Ferlinghetti famously wrote A Coney Island of the Mind (1958)which might have been the epigraph for Ray Ashley’s Little Fugitive (1953). The black and white movie sees the iconic amusement park from the point of view of a 7-year-old who’s run away from home. There was the Garden of Eden where Eve bit into the Forbidden Fruit and the Cyclone where the Adamic fall is relived every day in real time. The forbidding climb on the old wooden rails leads to a precipitous drop into a nothingness that’s the objective correlative for everything from a punch in the stomach to the feeling of being abandoned by a lover—and for which one is never  prepared. The Cyclone literally takes the wind out of you. Readers of the Ferlinghetti, which is one of the most popular books of poetry ever written, with over a million copies in print, will also be familiar with another classic of the same era, The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. Here are a few lines from the Ferlinghetti's eulogy after which the book is named: 

she too lay down flat

                                                    and just lay there looking up
                                                                                         at nothing
                   yet fingering the old flute
                                                            which nobody played
                       and finally looking over
                                                              at him
              without any particular expression
                                                             except a certain awful look
                        of terrible depression

read "Slumming" by Francis Levy, HuffPost
and listen to "Round Midnight" by Miles Davis

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