[lit-ideas] Allusions living free...

  • From: Ursula Stange <Ursula@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 16:46:35 -0400

I've been reading John Lye's tag line (We're chained to the world and we 
all gotta pull) for years now (on all three lists) and it always makes 
me smile.  Coincidentally, this afternoon I heard the song they come 
from.  A dark and ominous album.  I've been a Tom Waits fan ever since I 
heard his famous line about 'better a bottle in front of me than a 
frontal lobotomy' on the Merv Griffin show (back in the early seventies, 
would be my guess).  Sometime later, a friend brought over "Small 
Change" and I fell in love with 'Tom Traubert's Blues.'  I didn't think 
things could get better than that, but then I saw Margie Gillis dance to 
that song.   A life-changing experience.   Small Change also had the 
wonderful song, "Step right up," with the great line, "the large print 
giveth while the small print taketh away."    It was years before I 
realized how that line echoed the Bible (chapter and verse escapes me 
now, but I did look it up once).  

Allusions have always fascinated me.   I loved learning that Khan's 
speech from his burning spaceship about "from hell's mouth I spit at 
thee" comes almost verbatim from the middle of Moby Dick.   And the 
lines in Moby Dick which Ishmael speaks about 'and I alone am left to 
tell the story' come from the middle of  the Book of Job.  The world is 
such a rich tapestry of texts speaking to each other (and the 
postmodernists sum that up in the ugly word, intertextuality!).   
Another favourite tale like this has to do with the cartoon cat 
Garfield.   My son had the show on one day (again in the early seventies 
and the episode had to do with  a horse's head in the bed.   Went right 
over every child's head, but kept the writers and the parents amused.   
There's so much poetry in the world.  

I'd love to hear others' stories of allusions living free in the world 
or caught in the wild.   Pity the poor unread kids today who don't catch 

Quoting all the lines from memory,

John Lye wrote:

>"We're chained to the world
> And we all gotta pull."
>                -- Tom Waits

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