Harpo Speaks.

June 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm | Posted in links, pictures | 25 Comments
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(escaping the tyranny of language…  

“One of the three great American Surrealists,” Salvador Dali on Harpo Marx.
(Dali sketches Harpo playing the barbed wire harp.)
For more on Dali’s great admiration for Harpo Marx here is an excellent article in the Telegraph.co.uk  
…the piano player surrendered)


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  1. haha. I might be sounding weird, but to me there was something dark and disturbing in that clip. It’s almost like a covering up of tragedy. There is this undertone behind those laughters…

  2. sumedh, your comment makes me want to watch it again! and again just because i want to

    what i noticed was an authenticity in the host, a sweetness, he’s really laughing, he’s really involved, he’s real! in today’s culture, so much is constructed and while harpo certainly constructed how he planned to respond, this clip shows the interaction is beyond a mere concept…it seems as if both are profoundly engaged in the interaction personally not just for the camera

    is that possible any more?

    james brown is on the radio right now, and i just read a peice about a tribute to al green–can a singer put that kind of emotion into music over and over again any more??

    btw, who are the other 2 great American surrealists according to Dali?

  3. Walt Disney and Cecil BDeMille were the other two I believe. Dali is a fascinating subject to explore – the ultimate businessman combined with a deep-rooted talent that he seemed to abhor in himself sometimes. Sheesh, sorry, I can be very boring about Dali, haha. That clip is brilliant. Thanks for this Paul… made my day!

  4. You’re welcome. Yes, Dali liked Walt Disney but we can forgive one appalling lapse in taste. I loathe Walt Disney for reasons I am going to write about next week. I was so excited to find this clip. “Harpo Speaks” is a wonderful book which captures the time and the amazing joy and passion of Harpo. And the anti-book nature of the clip, ‘escaping the tyranny of words’ made me smile, Harpo’s chattering teeth could be taken symbolically, I’m sure Dali would have seen the connection between speaking, words, chatter. Dali and Harpo, very cool, I think.

  5. i think escaping word tyranny is wonderful though the part where the pages were ripped out of the book disturbed me a bit.

  6. Harpo exposed the absurdity of the whole shebang, don’t you think?
    I agree with art predator, the host dose seem authentic, but then again, he was prepared to laugh.

    I’ve always loved the Marx Brothers. And it’s true, for me, the way Harpo never speaks is kind of creepy, in the same way that court jesters are creepy.

  7. What blows me away about the great Harpo….is that he was a member of the Algonquin Table. He sat with Dorothy Parker!!

    That’s just awesomeness right there. I am rather interested in his book…..I may swing by B&N and give it a skim.

  8. a book? Did I miss something?

  9. Harpo Speaks, Sumedh, his autobiography which he is tearing pages out of. Amber, I have a post in here somewhere about Harpo at the Round Table,

  10. No No, I was referring to a comment you posted on a previous post of yours – your book – that’s what I’m excited about… 😀
    I see my comment was misplaced, and tends to sound like a query following amber’s comment – haha, I meant to post this on that previous post actually…
    Oh, I see. I have a manuscript ready, Sumedh, but I can’t interest anyone in publishing it so I am thinking of doing it myself, using a POD (print on demand) publisher, maybe Lulu.com but I’m not sure yet. Maybe I just be more patient and wait for a mainstream publisher to become interested.

  11. I always love Harpo…what a brilliant talent he was.

  12. Ah, and I love Dali…too many people don’t get the irony and beauty in his work.

    Or I am just weird. I need to make that a t-shirt. I keep forgetting that.

  13. Paul…that would be devine if you could find that stuff with Harpo at the Table.

    *whines* I wanna have a Table like that damn it!!
    A More Heroic Age. that is the post with Harpo and the Table, there’s a clip of Harpo harping too. It’s kind of like the Table around here, except wierder, of course,

  14. paul before you dis disney you have to find and watch the amazing film dali and disney did, ooooh so beautiful, i saw it at the henry miller library in big sur sept 2006

    it was … it is… you see…

  15. Yes, I have seen it and I still loathe and detest Walt Disney for his many crimes against humanity and one in particular. The film is kinda cool, though. It’s on youtube.

  16. agreed–his empire is a nightmare and his creations terrorist

    but that one film with dali is pretty cool and i love fanatasia

    the rest of it is way scary and what has done and is doing to children is immoral

  17. which one in particular? living here in disneyland we are often insulted from significant discourse

  18. both masters of language other than that of voice, indeed

  19. I love Harpo and all the Marx brothers. In this household, we have all the lines memorized. But of course that leaves Harpo out. As for Disney, I hate him, too. I hate that he kills off all the mothers, starting with Bambi, that he scares children and is violent in his own insidious way. I never let my children watch Disney. But…the popular adoration of his movies is surreal in and of itself.

  20. I am still working on my piece about why I consider Walt Disney the embodiment of evil. I want it to be right, final and done. It’s an idea I have been working on for a long time, a kind of lynchpin idea in the aesthetic so it means a lot to me. Unfortunately I am in one of those, ‘words don’t come easy modes’ at the moment so it may take a while. Hello, Gloria.

  21. Oh, you’re in a Harpo mode. Well, that’s not like you’re not speaking.

  22. Hey, you have been tagged… Do play if you want 🙂 …

    The Memoir Game

  23. You with writers block? Nah!
    Well, I can’t wait to hear your diatribe on Walt! And here I was thinking he was a nice guy…
    Nah, not really writer’s block, Simonne, more extreme laziness, haha, I’ll start again tonight,

  24. Ah, right, that makes more sense 😉 Well… get to it!

  25. thanks for that clip… harpo was always so so so… unflappable.. hilarious and made most people uncomfortable… never knew what he was gonna do next… he musta been a sensitive guy ya know… the way he handled the harp was altogether a different tune than when he played the clown… now dali, there is no other… disney dang was he a communist… haha… regardless the machine he built hidden in a castle i still like parades… not so much now, grown up lose some of the magic.. what a book too?

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