Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oscar Wilde As Holy Fool?

A few weeks ago I saw the movie Wilde for the first time. The movie left me with a surprising thought: that perhaps Wilde was a sort of holy fool. Now because of his homosexuality some of my readers may rejoice in the idea while others may find such an assertion as questionable or offensive. Even so I am not going to defend the idea or even say that he was a saint per se, but I'd like people to sit with the idea while I work out some of my thoughts, and do a little research on Wilde and holy fools.

In part I think this impression was left on me because the movie itself is a sort of "Passion of Oscar Wilde". Intentionally or not the writer and director of the film create for Wilde, among various persona, a christic persona, a martyr. And not a martyr for Gay and Lesbian rights, but a martyr for love, that seemed to have its grounding in Gospels. This is heightened by the fact that the screenplays presentation that Wilde undertook the libel suit both out of his love and concern for Bosie and knowing the fool heartiness of the suit.

Along theses line Wilde's life and art seems to strip away much of the false proprieties of the Society of his time, ultimately coming to a head as it allows an abusive powerful man to level accusations out of a desire to control his son's life and then punishes Wilde instead of calling for repentance(at least at that time this would have been the only Christian option). In that sense the society of Wilde's time plays out the story of the Woman caught in adultery but with out the Church standing up as Jesus. But in a sense Wilde at his own trial is both the one caught and Jesus asking for a search of conscience of those who accuse. (note all of this is due to the way the film presented Wilde's story.)

The other aspect of this was how Wilde's the Portrait of Dorian Gray seemed to play with and critique both a certain aspect of high society and the cult of youth that the film presented as part and parcel of the homosexual life style, in its underground form at the time. (Foucault wrote about how this was still true among homosexuals in France in our time.) This gave the impression that Wilde simply did not fit well anywhere he was, that he was a bit of a misfit that saw through and critiqued the multiple hypocrisies of his time and of a supposedly Christian nation.

Well see if any of this remains upon further reading and research. In any case Wilde was certainly a fascinating figure.