March 22, 2014, by Eve
Me and Oscar Wilde: A Conversation
The setting: A Student’s Living Room. Velvet curtains, a tattered carpet, cigarettes in a gold cigarette box and a handful of fast-food flyers.
Oscar Wilde is smoking. Eve comes in through the open window from the terrace.
Eve: Oscar, what are you doing? Smoking on such a day as this? It is a beautiful, English day; it has only rained twice this morning.
Oscar: All bad art comes from returning to life and nature.
Eve: Well… yes. Maybe. It depends what you’re painting, or drawing, or photographing. You never thought about photography, did you? But what does all that stuff about life imitating art really mean?
Oscar: Literature always anticipates life.
Eve: So does that mean we’re going to be growing babies out of jars in the future? Like in Brave New World? Or are we going to discover magic and fly around on broomsticks? And play Quidditch? Or is all this life copies art stuff just a big pointless paradox?
Oscar: Paradoxes are always dangerous things.
Eve: Yes. That’s clear enough.
Oscar: It is none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.
Eve: Alright, you’re sticking to your guns. I get it. But it just doesn’t make sense. It only works logically to a certain extent. Like the stuff about poetry influencing fashion and a certain style of beauty –
Oscar: The long ivory throat, the strange mystic eyes of Rossetti’s dream –
Eve: Yes, yes, alright! No need to go all decedent on me! You said you ‘treated Art as the supreme reality, and life as a mere mode of fiction’ but that means life which is copying art is copying reality. It’s just not very consistent.
Oscar: Who want to be consistent?
Eve: Well, most people – if they want to get a good mark in their essay. I’m just so confused, Oscar – I don’t mean to be cynical. I mean, I’m a big fan!
Oscar: A cynic – a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Eve: But I’m a woman. So are all these paradoxes all just about creating lots of – sort of – masks or different personalities? What did you –
Oscar: My own business bores me, I prefer other people’s.
Eve: Alright. Alright, I won’t ask you to explain yourself – enough talk about theories and art. No offence to art and literature and all that but it gets a big heavy after a while.
Oscar: All art is quite useless.
Eve: Yeah, yeah that’s what I meant. I think… But did I tell you about the work experience I’ve got lined up?
Oscar: Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.
Eve: Thanks for the encouragement. And can you stop smoking inside, please. I know you think it makes you look like a dandy but it’s really unhealthy. To take your mind off smoking – can I tempt you with a biscuit?
Oscar: I can resist everything, except temptation.
Eve: Was that a yes or no to the biscuit? Wait a second, I’ve heard that before somewhere… don’t look so innocent! You know what I’m talking about!
Oscar: Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.
Eve: That sounds familiar as well… I – Oscar Wilde, are you plagiarising yourself! You are! Well what an unoriginal show-off! Your epigrams might be original to start with but how many times do you have to repeat something to make it unoriginal? Why can’t you just be straight with me for once? Pardon the pun – no offence meant. Why won’t you be serious? Give me a sincere opinion! Is that so hard?
Oscar: On the contrary, I’ve now realized for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.