What is Facebook good for?
After several years’ pondering, I have the answer:
Facebook is good for
- pictures of animals; and
I wrote about #1 in an earlier post. If I could remember the blogger who prompted the generalization, I would give him credit. Unfortunately, when I wrote that post, his name had already leaked out of my brain.
Such leakage happens with increasing regularity.
Anyway, the reason for #1 is that pictures of animals make us happy. Videos of elephants rolling in mud, a sloth petting a cat, (a long video because sloths pet slowly), a hamster wrapped in a blanket and eating a carrot–if these don’t lift the spirits, what will? Facebookers who share them aren’t empty-headed or cretinous or inane. We’re compassionate, caring, and kind. We have senses of humor.
Number 2 on the above list, however, I worked out for myself. Facebook exists for serendipity.
I first heard that word when the Serendipity Singers sang “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down” on the Red Skelton Show. That was a few years back.
Serendipity is the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. Horace Walpole coined it in a letter in 1754.
Walpole’s source was a Persian fairy tale: A king fears his three sons’ education has been too “sheltered and privileged,” so he sends them out into the world. On their travels, “they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of …”
But a picture of Alec Guinness is even better. Alec Guinness is the god of my idolatry.*
Recently, in another bit of serendipity, I came across a video of Guinness’ movie The Ladykillers on Youtube.** “Professor” Marcus, portrayed by Guinness, rents rooms in the house of sweet little Mrs. Wilberforce, telling her that other members of his string quintet will visit regularly to rehearse. Behind the closed door of the Professor’s room, while chamber music plays on a gramophone, the musicians plan to rob an armored truck and use Mrs. Wilberforce to transport the lolly. They don’t reckon with Mrs. Wilberforce’s parrots, her friends, or her penchant for serving tea. Or coffee, if they prefer.
The movie is laugh-aloud funny on several levels, but my favorite part is watching Guinness’s face as his expression changes from moderately crazy to deranged verging on maniacal. I’ve studied and still can’t see how he does it. A slightly raised eyebrow, a slightly lowered eyelid, an almost imperceptible change about the mouth?
Guinness was a chameleon. Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai, Japanese businessman Koichi Asano in A Majority of One, eight distinctly different characters in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi–none of these characters could ever be mistaken for another. It’s not because of makeup; it’s because of what Guinness can do with his face.
If only I had access to more photographs, I could prove what I say. The best way to check my facts is to watch the movie for yourself.
Unfortunately, the “full movie” version of The Ladykillers on Youtube lacks the very beginning and the very end. There are also versions available for a fee. I’m going to order a DVD, however. Old technology, but I want to watch it over and over, binge style.
And here’s more serendipity: Kiri Te Kanawa and Jeremy Irons–My Fair Lady in Concert. I hate to say it, but Jeremy Irons makes as good a Henry Higgins as Rex Harrison did. Te Kanawa? Loverly.
*Shakespeare wrote “god of my idolatry.” I’m just borrowing it.
**Not the version with Tom Hanks. The Tom Hanks version would not be serendipity.