And I Listened
It was late in the evening. I had finished teaching online and had headed upstairs to go to bed. There is a small landing at the top of the stairs which has a small shelf. I have utilized that shelf to put a couple of what I call my treasures. My treasures are things that I have accumulated during my travels here and overseas.
The shelf contains a gargoyle from Notre Dame in Paris, France, a carving of a wooden nutcracker from Oberammergau, Germany, and puppet from Yangon, Myanmar. However, there was also a treasure that I have had for most of my life...a Maltese Falcon.
I had gone past all the other treasures, but, when I came close to the Maltese Falcon, it spoke to me. More precisely, it asked me whether I wanted to talk to it. I have gotten used to many of my treasures wanting to talk, usually late into the evening; I accepted its offer to chat.
The Maltese Falcon began by asking me a question? "How much do you know of the backstory of the movie, The Maltese Falcon, and me?"
I explained that supposedly some pirates seized the ship sailing from Malta to Spain with the Maltese Falcon. We went to my office where I googled The Maltese Falcon opening card, because I didn't recall the actual date and which Spanish king it was. While the Maltese Falcon waited, I pulled up the opening card to the movie, which read.
I added that there isn't any actual historical truth to that assertion, but that set the backstory to the movie. The Maltese Falcon said, trying to impersonate Sam Spade, "The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of." I mentioned that its impersonation was quite good and showed him Sam's comment on YouTube. In this way, the Maltese Falcon could readily compare his impersonation to Sam Spade's comment.
Then the Maltese Falcon asked, "Apparently, you enjoyed the film. Why was that? What was it about that movie, which was made just prior to your birth that interested you?"
I told the Maltese Falcon that I liked many of the film noir classics. This is particularly true of those film noir movies in which Humphrey Bogart starred. Aside from The Maltese Falcon, my other favorite is Casablanca. Interestingly, Casablanca was released three days after I was born. The general release date was January 23, 1943 even though it was seen in Hollywood a couple months prior. I told the Maltese Falcon that Bogart was born on January 23, 1899, which was exactly 44-years prior to the general release of Casablanca.
I also told the Maltese Falcon that the actual term, film noir, is French, which means black film. Additionally, the term was invented in 1946 by Nino Frank, who was a film critic in France. Essentially, most all the movies were filmed in black and white, which reflected in a figurative way the downbeat, pessimistic, and sense of lost innocence of film noir classics. Additionally, most all the movies' storylines ended without a positive resolution.
Finally, I added a couple years later the Manhattan Project named the two atomic bombs Little Boy and Fat Man. Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima and Fat Man on Nagasaki. Interesting "Fat Man" was the slang term that Sam Spade used to describe the character, Kasper Gutman, in The Maltese Falcon.
My little movie history lesson about film noir, Humphrey Bogart, the two movies in general, and Casablanca's two release dates seemed to bore the Maltese Falcon. Therefore, it asked again. "There has to be more than that, which caused you to like The Maltese Falcon."
Apparently, the Maltese Falcon was serious about me addressing my predilection to its namesake. So I continued by mentioning that I am into still photography. I am very careful about issues regarding light and shadows and camera angles as is film noir.
Strangely, the Maltese Falcon interrupted me, "Allen, that may be true, but the movie is about you." The Maltese Falcon's comment about the movie being about me didn't make any sense. I didn't see anything in the movie that paralleled my life at all and said so.
The Maltese Falcon's retort was, "Think about what Sam Spade said, 'The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.' That is the striking parallel that I see between you and the movie. In fact, many of what you call your treasures around the house see the same thing about you. Dreams are a critical aspect of your life. One of your mentors is Don Quixote. Both you and the Man of La Mancha are into dreaming all sorts of impossible dreams. Both of you are willing to joist with various windmills with the dream of being successful. In the last several years, you have written several dozen essays about dreaming as did Don Quixote. Your emulating your mentor allows you to joist with the windmills of life."
I agreed that I am a dreamer, but the Maltese Falcon continued, "Sam Spade understood the value of dreams, which started the Knight Templars and came down to his day in the early 40s. Actually, most of all the characters in the film dreamed finding the jewel-encrusted Maltese falcon statue."
My rejoinder was that their dreams weren't realized and neither have all or even many of my dreams become reality. I was about to list a number of dreams that still haunt me due to my not being successful when the Maltese Falcon again interrupted me.
"So what? Then sit in the corner and pout; see if that helps. Seriously, you have learned from both Don Quixote and Sam Spade to dream the impossible dreams. Dreams will motivate you. In fact, dashed dreams are beneficial also. They serve as a means to get you to get to the next windmill. I have seen that in your life. You don't like failure. However, the dreams of what could have been but weren't enables you to move on to other dreams and windmills."
I agreed that failing is not something that I enjoy; failure hurts even when I know that I am correct for joisting with that particular windmill.
The Maltese Falcon countered with another question and then continued. "Do you remember the closing scene of Casablanca? Let's watch it; it will make my case quite clearly."
"Rick says goodbye to Ilsa. Actually, Rick, Ilsa, and their shared dream failed to materialize, but Rick adds, 'We'll always have Paris.' That dream, of what could have been but wasn't realized, was a failure. However, it got both of them involved in joisting with other windmills. You have learned that lesson from both your mentor, Don Quixote and The Maltese Falcon."
This is The Maltese Falcon on YouTube.
Visit the Talking with Objects page to read more about this topic.
Visit the "Don Quixote" page to read more about this topic.
Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.