Biography or Romance?by Eduardo Cerviño
I am a curious man, and by conventional measurements, an educated person. Like most readers, I know a bit about almost everything and a lot about a few things – above all, my profession and avocations.
Not much. To me, “Modesty is a virtue of the mediocre.”
In my formative years, I read one book every week and watched three movies every weekend. The city of my birth had as many movie houses as New York City. Over the years I have lost track of the books I have read – hundreds for sure – or the movies I have watched. I never paid much attention to the scriptwriter, but always noticed the following on the screen: “Based on a novel by —.”
My curiosity about the world in general and humanity in particular formed my taste in books and films. I saw both mediums as tools for learning, more than as entertainment. So historical subjects and period films became my favorites.
Inevitable comparisons surged in my mind. Was the book better or worse than the film? This preoccupation diminished the enjoyment of one or the other. I stopped these comparisons once I realized books are images projected on the mind’s screen and films are visual manipulations of our emotions. Book authors and scriptwriters are different brainy species.
I envy the good ones of either creative field. Do not misunderstand me; it’s a constructive envy pushing me to emulation, not disparagement. I envy the contribution of geniuses in every human activity. Biographies used to be among my favorite reading. In particular, I enjoyed books about the lives of those who achieved last-name recognition status.
Confucius, Rubens, Mozart, Da Vinci, al-Jazari, Shakespeare, Byron, Picasso, Lloyd Wright, Gandhi, Chaplin, DeMille, Kurosawa, Einstein, and Dylan – you know what I mean?
Some scholars say “Geniuses are born not created.” Since I’m not a genius, I don’t know. But have you heard about the indigo children, a wave of gifted boys and girls being born today? Their brilliance in one field sometimes means a lack of other abilities.
Forgive me, but I have digressed from what made me write this blog in the first place.
I recently went to see The Theory of Everything, the movie about Stephen Hawking. The actor portraying him did a convincing job – with the help of makeup artists. His mimicry was excellent. The result is a voyeuristic attempt to evoke images of the difficult consummation of his marital intimacy.
The script reduces the contributions of one of the greatest minds of our time to curiosity about his sex life. Which, by the way, seems to have matched the prowess of his brain. At the end, I thought, Was this a biography or a romance?
Here goes another confession of mine. I sometimes cry at the movies. I empathize with those who suffer on the screen as in life. Love is my credo, my religion, and my goal. The scenes where the movie deals with the progressive decay of Stephen Hawking’s body made me tearful. The rest left me quite blasé.
It would be inadvisable for a man to confuse my tears with a lack of manhood. But a woman might understand that my Yin-Yang is in balance, which in turn increases my respect for all women.
The movie failed to grab my interest the entire time, so at the theater, my mind wondered about futuristic possibilities. Hawking has already beaten all odds of surviving his Lou Gehrig’s disease. But what if he could live long enough so that future scientists could connect his brain to a supercomputer? Stephen’s brain could be the HAL computer of the future.
I imagine Stephen and I talking a century from now. “Hi, Stephen,” I say. “Einstein’s lifework revolved around the properties of light. It saddens me to know his brain lingers in the obscurity of a formaldehyde-filled glass bottle. I’m here to offer you my body in exchange for your brain. I checked with the Obamacare rep, and she said it would cover the cost of such a simple procedure. Please? What do you say, Stephen?”
He floats back his anti-gravity wheelchair so he can study me from head to toe with his intense blue eyes. His metallic, computerized vocal cords say, “NO! Rrr-uuu kidding meee?”
Eduardo Cerviño, a Cuban-American writer, architectural designer, and painter, has published four novels and numerous short stories. He has participated in more than 100 art exhibits in the US and abroad. He is currently working on Crocodile Island, a semi-autobiographical novel. His extensive travels have taken him to Europe, North America, Central America, and South America. Learn more at his website.