The art of the spectacular mark compels us to suspend our understanding of gravity. As a child I internalised the notion of the bird man and came to the realisation that I wanted to be an action man. Permanently steeped in aftershave, tackling mountains with or without sherpas, skooling vermouth mid bar brawl, hitting a ton in boiling humidty on a spinners paradise in Madras, trumping the house with a royal flush, necking lagers out of a toothpaste tube on the command module after putting my footprint on the moon and parachuting in solo to a rampant oil rig fire to quell the inferno Red Adair style. This was the life ahead of me at age 4.
Then I saw the film Mary Poppins.
Her ability to fly like the emerging jet man conjured up aspirations of flying hitherto available only to those indulgent within lysergic culture. Other insiders amongst the chosen to ride the backs of their fellow man in one spectacular speccie after another also had inside passage to share Mary’s astral visions. I couldn’t wait to get out of the cinema and onto the roof with mum’s brollie to traverse the neighbouring farms and enchant the various animals. Beyond the gal was offered an 18 foot drop. I stepped off that roof confident in the visions to come. Once mum’s trusted umbrella failed to provide sufficient drag to slow my descent, let alone glide me into the treetops, I knew my days of action were essentially over before they’d even been removed from the gift wrapping. Once the swelling had subsided and the reality shock – nay grief – internalised, I’d learnt a new concept I was to revisit time and again through life – free falling free and, in public.
All was not lost. From this lesson, I took heart in the persona of the poseur. I looked into the heart of Roland Barthe’s essay on wrestling – “What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself”. I realised that posuering was a type of action into which I could safely buy in, for “what is thus displayed for the public is the great spectacle of Suffering, Defeat, and Justice.” The act of posing gives the wannabe a way – with dignity – into worlds that are beyond him or her. For example lads recreating sensational marks on the park – be it Jezza, Shaun Smith or Brett Burton. While all eyes focus on the actor taking the recreated “mark”, the true performance of purity belongs to he who provides the “sit”, the “ride”…the “lack of timing” … “the incomplete and inept competitiveness” to the climax of final and total public outplayedmanship. In the recreation of bad timing, pain, loss of muscular and skeletal control, surprise, humiliation and humility lies the true essence of the immortal poseur. Like mutants, we are everywhere going about our business ready to perform being bowled all ends up by Steyne, sold a dummy by Cyril or beaten easily down the line by Dokovic amid footwork in disarray. Its not the act of defeat but the joy of defeat’s performance that is the poseurs hard won province.
The genius behind the cinematisation of Mary Poppins Walt Disney was long rumoured to be “frozen” on his death in 1966 awaiting maturity in the after life of the nascent cyrogenics industry. While the 24 frames a second deep freeze is rumoured to be simply a rumour, should Walt be returned and re-energised, he’ll emerge into a world comfortable and familar with the less noble aspect of posuer life in an endless cycle of selfies and status updates. Confronted with social media, Walt will make the surmise that cats and food now reign in place of crest fallen Christianity. Poor Walt will be out of touch with digital mores, will struggle with the tablet and glass and be behind the animated eight ball before you can say mitosis. Potentially he risks infamy with the sort of comeback afforded Tony Lockett’s return after a year or two out of the game – unless mashed up in some post 23rd century techn goth mix When you wish upon a star. Personally I’d prefer an augmented reality version of Mary so I’d have someone to talk to as I crashed to earth holding my virtual umbrella. At least she’d “like” my fall. We’re now a long way from Barthe’s nirvana:
“Wrestling (Football – sic) presents man’s suffering with all the amplification of tragic masks. The wrestler (Footballer sic) who suffers in a hold which is reputedly cruel (an arm- lock, a twisted leg) offers an excessive portrayal of Suffering; like a primitive Pieta, he exhibits for all to see his face, exaggeratedly contorted by an intolerable affliction (getting a bake – sic).”