I’ve had a movie quote floating through my head for a couple weeks now:
“Where are all the good men dead? In the heart or in the head?”
I don’t really get it either. It’s a line uttered by Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver) to her radio listeners in response to a surprise, emotionally awkward visit from ex-high school flame Martin Blank (John Cusack) in Grosse Pointe Blank. Googled and Binged and Yahooed and don’t find the line is a lyric or pulled from a beat writer or philosopher. Closest I come to origins is a similar passage from Willy Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. A song, a warning not to judge by external appearances: "Tell me where is fancy bred, in the heart or in the head?"
I like the quote, I love the pithy quotable film and soundtrack that's a zesty mix of Fishbone, Chili Peppers, Clash, Femmes. Still I don’t get the line, can't makes heads or tails. I’ve found the good men both alive in heart and head, just as I’ve found those straying from relationships, the bad if you will, supremely honest in their pursuits. Good-hearted men are not so presumptuous as to bring condoms on a first or second date. Bad men don’t call the next day and text only when hard or available or both.
So which are more alive in heart and head?
To make some sense I strike that, reverse it and turn the phrase on myself. Where, if any, am I dead? I follow my heart while giving it specific instructions; that in itself a conundrum wrapped in a head scratcher and covered in secret sauce. I wonder should I follow one more than the other. Perhaps it’s as simple as wanting hands in my pants one night, returning the next day to sit on the couch and watch a popcorn movie.
Where are all the good men and women dead? In the heart, or in the head? Or are they/we hopelessly alive, flipping the script and playing each day as anything can happen, hoping for joy and embracing pain as a path to learning.