Saturday, November 3, 2012

Only Bits Of It

What is it?

Never mind that, how does it work?
I find sometimes, when I make things, that they illustrate some part of me I thought nonexistent, buried, irrelevant, stupid, or wrong.

It tends to drag up pieces of myself out of me and make them stare me in the face.
Not always pleasant. Don’t go asking what precise project did what precise thing, but in general, here is the result. Parts of my personality, my subconscious desires and ideas that I repressed or ignored in childhood, in adulthood, whose traces are left in my imagination, jump to life the minute the creative juices begin to flow. Why they were ignored is a story for another year.
One of the comments frequently made about art/creativity, aside from the difficulty of defining it, is that it’s illogical, hard to understand, hard to manufacture. It can be fostered, grown, nurtured, but there is no formula.

Its illogicality (is that a word?) is its strength. We use logic to defend ourselves, shore up our personal and societal denials, then inflict them on others. Let that defense down, that wall of rationality and order, and the truth may just stand up and slap you. The question isn’t so much, “should that happen?” as “what do I do with it?”

When there is a theme, visual, philosophical, or otherwise, that I simply cannot get rid of in my work, I need to pay attention to it, try to understand it. And I should use logic to do that, to understand it, connect it to the rest of the things I know.
 Here's a related quote:

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

What? I take that to mean that art can bring up the things that are ignored or stuffed down in a particular time or society, the gaps, denials and lies, and make us face them. Those who are disturbed may be disturbed because they see the gaps, and their consequences, and those who are comfortable have forgotten that the lies exists.

So I guess it helps me see my gaps.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Film and Art. (nice pretentious title, yes?)

So I finally finished Girl With a Dragon Tattoo. And though I haven't seen either the American or Swedish film versions, in researching the author a bit I encountered the usual carping that either

(a.) Neither film was any good compared to the book. (Unlikely, yes? There are favorable reviews and unfavorable reviews for both.)
(b.) One was better.

So leaving that specific subject, let's talk about film and art. This is going to be a rant. You've been warned.

I am dead tired of hearing “They ruined the plot. They left out my favorite character. They casted wrong. They made it too (insert whining here.) Look, I’m really quite sorry no one called you up personally and asked your opinion. I’m sorry making a film is a complicated process involving a million other factors besides making an exact replica of a book. You realize that doesn’t work? You can’t just spit out a word-for-word visual copy of a book and expect that to work. The flow is different. The expectations are different.

Books. And films. They are different forms of art. They have different strengths, people process them differently. And don’t tell me, “But I had a picture in my head!” Yeah, so did I. So did we all. Get over it. I am a vividly visual person when I read. I make movies in my head, that’s part of the magic of reading.

When you watch a film, do not begin by thinking “What is wrong with this?” Remember that all art is communication, whether it communicates epic story or nihilism. What are they trying to tell you?  The money and time was limited, the resources were not perfect, and things just go wrong, but for Pete’s sake, when you watch a movie, stop expecting it to cater to your personal vision of the story. I guarantee you will enjoy it more, and who pays ten bucks to sit around and mope for two hours? If you see a film you know is bad, there's no one to blame but yourself for the loss of your time and money. If you got your butt out of the house to go see a movie, give it a chance.

Perhaps, just perhaps, accepting the filmmaker’s vision may deepen your own. Both can exist. That’s art.

p.s.. that said, there are certainly some terrible film adaptations. But please don’t go in expecting that, or it will most certainly come true. You find what you’re looking for.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How I Stayed Up All Night On A Street In Stockholm.

To begin with, I took a bus to Gatwick. That phrase is entirely insufficient. I forgot that the tube had closures on the line I wanted (District, District, District, I have loved thee, I have hated thee…) anyway. Waiting for trains when you are late is a rotten, rotten stinker of a feeling. I popped up to ground level, and ran like a sneaker-clad hare for the bus stop, cheered on by several cheeky bystanders. I round the corner, and see the bus, sitting there. Run run run ruuuuunnnnnnn……on the bus. Through Gatwick, onto a little plane, little but not tiny. Over the dark ocean. It is 11pm when the plane touches down in Skavsta airport. You know, you would not think snow would be an emotional experience. It’s precipitation, for crying out loud. But London, for all its wonders, does not have good Northlandy snow. Sweden does. Obviously. It was immediate, the moment I saw snow. Home. This is like home.

We got off on the right foot, Sweden and I. Even the sparseness of the airport reminded me of northern Minnesota, and I knew in reverse why the Swedish settlers in Minnesota stuck with such a weird place. You don’t love it because it is lovable. You love it because it’s home(y).

 I am starving. I sit down on the Ikea furniture to eat my dinner, thinking to take the bus at 4am, get to Stockholm ever so conveniently at 6am, get picked up, and see the city. Neat little plan. I think well, perhaps I’d better make sure the buses are running when the site said they would.

 Au contraire. The ticket lady informs me that the last bus till 8am is nearly full. Well shiz. I go out in the soft, snowy cold, and stand with a bunch of other people, staring fatalistically at the full bus, most of them smoking. The driver informs us we can either stand the 2 1/2 hours to Stockholm or stay here. “I’ll stand.” I say.

 No sooner have I got myself situated in the aisle than a mother with a sleepy toddler taps my arm and indicates I can have her child’s spot. He doesn’t care, he stuffs his face in her sari and falls asleep. I thank her and doze pleasantly till the myriad lights of Stockholm appear, along with a large bus station.

A dark, closed bus station. It is 1am and I am alone, in the middle of winter, in a city I don’t know. A plan. I have need of a plan. The plan is to not go off this street, so I can find my way back easily when I get picked up. Start walking. And behold! The familiar logo of Burger King. It is open. I walk in, buy nothing, and sit down at a small table. The place is full of people, talking animatedly or exhaustedly eating their Whoppers. They are travelers, street people, night-owl natives, and me. In the spirit of Lemony Snicket, ( “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”), I have Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in my backpack. I begin to read, hardly looking up till the boy sweeping the floor taps my shoulder and apologetically informs me that they are closing.

 3am. I’m already a ways from the station, and nothing else is open. It’s chilly, probably about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind is nasty, and I head for a three-sided bus shelter. Sit down, make sure as little body is exposed as possible, and keep reading. I owe J.K.R. one for that night, because it would have been awful without her story to keep me company. With something to do, it was interesting, even enjoyable.

During breaks in reading, I watch the street in front of me. It is quiet, clean, unthreatening. I hear a distant siren once, and a street sweeper truck passes. Otherwise it is empty. Occasionally, well-dressed hipster-looking kids my own age pass, prancing down the street in the wee hours. They don’t seem intoxicated either, they are simply wandering and talking, pushing each other into the street. Later, I am informed that this is a result of the boredom of deep winter, when the sun is only up for about 6 hours or less. The ol’ internal clock starts to malfunction.

 Three boys stand across the road. Two of them look wealthy, the other has a streety, crustpunk vibe. I can hear them, and though they’re speaking Swedish, I find their body language and tone tell me what they’re saying. They’re saying goodbye in the drawn-out way of people who aren’t sure when they’ll meet again. After several hugs, the scruffy one lopes across the street and past my spot. His friend yells what I take to be the Swedish version of “Take care!” after him, watches him disappear, and walks on. little tiny stories……

 I was supposed to text Christina. A girl comes and stands next to me at the bus stop. I ask her with my bestest manners if I may text my friend on her phone. She hesitates, smiles, and hands me her phone. I begin to text….

BUT WAIT. the autocorrect is Swedish, and her bus is coming! I put spaces between every character, and hope it makes sense. Hurryhurryhurrysendlittlemessagesend! Is sent.

 I walk to the bus station, which is now open. As I walk through the doors to the parking lot, I see someone vaguely familiar walking towards me. Even though I haven’t seen her in years, somehow I know it’s Christina.

 Back to her house, and I collapse in a big soft bed in a big pretty house in pretty much utter pooped-out contentment....

 To be……continued…….(because Stockholm is nice in daylight too.) Yeah.