Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Prologue: In Which I Indulge and Write about Myself, Not the Movie

There’s something comforting about the self-doubt, the ordinariness, the neuroses, the paralysis of the character of Charlie Kaufman as I sit here trying to write about Adaptation – he couldn’t begin, I don’t know how to begin. He was afraid of being cliché, I’m afraid of being cliché, of being boring, of being a cheap imitation of someone else. A little bit afraid of being so almost every time I speak, write, even post something online, on the film forum, on Facebook, on Twitter (there’s some real paralysis there), wherever. Of course, Kaufman - both the character and the man – has less reason to doubt his writerly abilities and wit than I do, but he, the character at least, acts and thinks the way I feel and often think when I’m supposed to be creating something, especially writing something. The hesitations and falterings, the bursts of words that seem profound and perfect at first but then quickly reveal themselves to be what they are, shallow, pretentious, imitative, and stupid. On the forum I can’t compete with the quick, omniscient wit of a member like pixote or the dry, confidence of an sdedalus (long-time forum member) or the fluid, wonderful charm of a worm@work (another long-time forum member) or any others of all the amazing Filmspotters. And I guess I don’t want to, compete with them, that is. I’m quite happy to admire. Mostly, it bothers me that I can’t compete with myself, my best work - hmmm, the stuff I wrote in grad school, I guess that would be? A very long time ago. Where is it now, anyway? Moldering away somewhere in a box in our garage? So I’m haunted by that old stuff, paralyzed in trying to write new stuff ‘cause it’ll never be as good or interesting or original. (If it ever was.) And yet, on I go.  I will force myself to write about this film, Adaptation, because I loved it, because I love films in general and love to think about films – and because writing forces me to think more deeply than I would otherwise. I say that to my writing students, and I believe it. I believe with E. M. Forster that “I don’t know what I think until I see what I say.” So I’d better try to see what I say about this thing. Here goes: (see next post)

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