Friday, December 12, 2008

Myrtle Wilson, we presume ?

We seek and find all sorts of large outdoor murals. Some are beautiful, some are snappy, sneaky promotional art, others are just plain strange. We find them in major metro areas adorning the otherwise dead flat walls of commercial structures. We find them sharply painted upon the fading brick walls of abandoned public places. They jump out at us in the most unexpected spots in rural communities. One place we do not see them is within the confines of the Charleston peninsula where carefully managed historic facades neither need nor are allowed such aftermarket adornments.

We are on Liberty Street which runs the one block between King and St.Philip Streets. This one jumps out at you. Where all shops in the area are at ground level this images looks down upon them. It reminds us of the billboard advertising Dr. T.J. Eckelburg's Optometry Practice in F. Scott Fitzgeald's "THE GREAT GATSBY." In that book the all seeing eyes on the billboard seemed to lord over the " valley of ashes " observing all of the sordid coming and goings of the wealthy libertine summer people.

Myrtle Wilson is the attractive wife of a simple compliant garage mechanic. They live at his garage and under Eckelburg's all seeing billboard. She spits on their honest, but dreadfully boring life as she drops her dignity and lifts her skirt for a taste of the fast and glamorous life of Tom Buchanan. Buchanan later runs her over with Gatsby's automobile and leaves her behind as just so much roadkill. In his despair Mr. Wilson looks up at Eckelburg's billboard and says, " God sees all ."

We doubt that the artist ( had intended the woman with her chin on our roof to be God. To our way of thinking she could well be a Myrtle Wilson looking out over the breathtaking jewelry, high fashion dresses and other keys to luxury which she craved so desperately in life. Far too dead to possess any of these things she's condemned for eternity to watch others shopping for, buying and enjoying those material objects for which she seems to have discarded her life.


Post a Comment

<< Home