The scene below is taken from early in the 1972 movie, Man of La Mancha, starring Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren. In it, the poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes is challenged by his fellow prisoners to defend his actions as each of them waits to be summoned to answer to the Spanish Inquisition in 1605. Although the movie’s plot and interactions depart significantly from the book, Don Quixote, it is a delightful film, nonetheless. If you are skilled in the art of wasting time on high and lofty thoughts, this 2-minute clip and the 10-minute clip on the next page will move your mind, alter your attitude and hollow your heart, leaving only a deep and happy ache, a yearning for adventure, an eager listening for the call of the trumpet to battle triumphant.
“Twelve minutes! You suggest that I give you twelve minutes? You obviously know nothing of the pace of this online world!”
It is because I do know the pace that I suggest you slow it.
“Well, I’ll give it a minute. And then, if I like the first minute, maybe a second one.”
We shall see then?
“We shall see then if your old movie is worth 12 minutes of online eternity.”
Yes. We shall see.
This clip opens with the question of a detractor to Cervantes,
“Why are you poets so fascinated with madmen?”
A reasonable question, I think.
It is a question that has been asked many times, and in many ways.
HELEN HUMPHREYS: What do you think is the public function of the poet?
SHARON THESEN: The restoration of joy and tenderness to the soul. Relief from bullshit. Beauty. Truth-as-laughter. Wholeness and connectedness, bite, intelligence. This is what poetry can achieve.