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"Carson's reputation has soared to a level equal to that of the half-dozen most admired contemporary American poets of the 21st century."
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"The most exciting poet writing in English today."
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Read an Excerpt
TV Men: Lazarus
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: VOICEOVER
Yes I admit a degree of unease about my motives in making this documentary.
Mere prurience of a kind that is all too common nowadays in public catastrophes. I was listening
to a peace negotiator for the Balkans talk about his vocation on the radio the other day.
"We drove down through this wasteland and I didn't know much about the area but I was
fascinated by the horrors of it. I had never seen a thing like this.
I videotaped it.
Then sent a 13-page memo to the UN with my suggestions."
This person was a member
of the International Rescue Committee,
not a man of TV.
But you can see how the pull is irresistible. The pull to handle horrors and to have a theory of them.
But now I see my assistant producer waving her arms at me to get on with the script.
The name Lazarus is an abbreviated form of Hebrew 'El'azar,
meaning "God has helped."
I have long been interested in those whom God has helped.
It seems often to be the case,
e.g. with saints or martyrs,
that God helps them to far more suffering than they would have without God's help. But then you get
someone like Lazarus, a man of no particular importance,
on whom God bestows the ultimate benevolence, without explanation, then abandons him again to his nonentity.
We are left wondering, Why Lazarus?
My theory is
God wants us to wonder this.
After all, if there were some quality that Lazarus possessed,
some criterion of excellence
by which he was chosen to be called back from death,
then we would all start competing to achieve this.
God's gift is simply random, well for one thing it makes a more interesting TV show. God's choice can be seen emerging from the dark side of reason
like a new planet. No use being historical about this planet,
it is just an imitation.
As Lazarus is an imitation of Christ. As TV is an imitation of
Lazarus. As you and I are an imitation of
TV. Already you notice that although I am merely a director of photography,
I have grasped certain fundamental notions first advanced by Plato,
e.g. that our reality is just a TV set
inside a TV set inside a TV set, with nobody watching but Sokrates,
who changed the channel in 399 B.C. But my bond with Lazarus goes deeper, indeed nausea overtakes me when faced with
the prospect of something simply beginning all over again.
Each time I have to raise my slate and say
"Take 12!" or "Take 13!" and then "Take 14!"
I cannot restrain a shudder.
Repetition is horrible. Poor Lazarus cannot have known he was an imitation Christ,
but who can doubt he realized, soon after being ripped out of his warm little bed in the ground,
his own epoch of repetition just beginning.
Lazarus Take 2!
As a bit of salt falls back down the funnel. Or maybe my pity is misplaced. Some people think Lazarus lucky,
like Samuel Beckett who calls him "Happy Larry" or Rilke who speaks of that moment in a game when "the pure too-little flips over into the empty too-much."
Well I am now explaining why my documentary
focuses entirely on this moment, the flip-over moment.
Before and after don't interest me.
You won't be seeing any clips from home videos of Lazarus in short pants racing his sisters up a hill.
No footage of Mary and Martha side by side on the sofa discussing how they manage at home with a dead one sitting down to dinner. No panel of experts debating who was really the victim here.
Our sequence begins and ends with that moment of complete innocence and sport
when Lazarus licks the first drop of afterlife off the nipple of his own old death.
I put tiny microphones all over the ground to pick up the magic of the vermin in his ten fingers and I stand back to wait for the miracle.