I’m not a Kubrick specialist but if I were to play the favorite director game he’d be my pick. There’s something about the way his films seem to be every bit a film. They speak through visuals and sounds instead of trite character exposition or unnecessary narrators that don’t believe the audience is perceptive enough to pick up on what’s currently going on in a scene: “So the next day I had detention. Which, thanks to recent budget cuts meant cleaning.” That’s a lot to put together for an American teenage audience when it’s already happening on screen. Directors better explain it just in case.
But I didn’t intend to make this a rant. I want to focus on how so much story can be told in one long, unbroken shot. In Lolita, Kubrick delivered a gorgeous take of Charlotte Haze’s death from the moment she reads Humbert’s diary to her outburst that sends her running into the street in front of an oncoming car. You never see the impact of car and woman, but the camera pulls back from the house to the street in a classic unbroken take where the sounds and developing visuals tell you everything that’s happened.
Am I going to come close to replicating that beautiful bit of cinematic language? Of course not, but I do plan on ripping off his technique in my book trailer to hopefully get across half of the emotive power that Kubrick can summon up. Now that I’ve put that down for the vast world of the internet to read or ignore, the bigger question is whether or not my trailer will even reach a fourth of its aspiring master? Once we see the wizard behind the curtain a good chunk of the magic is lost. My trailer will be just a sad limping homage to one of the masters, but I think I’m good with that because it sounds a lot better than another forgotten Ken Burns’ bunch of pictures as movie/book trailer.
“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”
Uuuuuuhhhhhhh. This one feels extremely topical for me right now as my son watches the new Toy Story That Time Forgot again. But beyond Pixar’s amazingly tight storytelling (like TV poetry), I can’t not help think about one of the most difficult match ups in fiction the imagined world and the real world. I know it may sound a bit simple at first but when you really stare deeply into the forms of these two worlds it becomes a mess and headache to even come close to wrapping your head around possible answers or truths to go by.
So let’s try it anyway. The imagined world, kind of the easy one, is created by us and follows the rules we see fit even when the rules contradict one another. And that’s the key. Everything bends and twists and re-shapes to take into account what we want in any given moment. We are God of the imagined world, but we’re not very good at it because it’s about what we want. That is the 99% dominant desire in the imagined space, a selfish one. So what is the purpose of such an inconsistent and vain vision of life? I think it’s to give us hope that changes can and will come. It also can give us perspective on our limitations when we actually take a moment to comprehend what we’re seeing isn’t really there. Ouch! I don’t know if I have the endurance to ponder and explain further on that world for now.
That means it’s time for the real world. A place that’s been here long before we were and will continue on perfectly fine without us. The rules are simple here; so simple that we forget them all the time even when they’re working so plainly in front of us or on us. We are the ones that bend and jump and hide from this world. We are the “wanton flies” hoping to stick around in God’s playground long enough to figure out one of those pesky simple rules and pass it on to our children so they can hold it in one hand and reach for another rule. Maybe they will be more than a pest in someone’s house. We have to learn those rules and keep to them or else they will break us. I can feel myself getting lost in the real world just through this paragraph.
What I want to finish on is how these two worlds dual in fiction writing. Most writing favors the imagined and most readers are drawn to this type as well which is completely fine and dandy because it is the easier of the two, the one that hurts less to get involved with. Less hurting means less friction, though. That’s why the real world pops up. Stories need a friction to create conflict and to move towards something worthwhile. Does that mean the balance of these two worlds in writing should be 50/50? I don’t know, but I do know the more I attempt (that’s all I can do now) to inject the real world the more difficult the writing becomes for me and I, fear, also for the readers. But don’t we secretly want to intellectualize those rules so that we gain a chance to use them? And wouldn’t more exposure to them lead to this? How much pain are we willing to take from the brutal, uncompromising real world when the imaginary is waiting to bend over backwards for us?
I need to stop ending with questions, but I’m really only at the stage of being able to ask them instead of answer them. No one’s left feedback or comments yet so please feel free to talk it up whomever might be out there reading this.
“The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact.” Damn quotes again, saying it better than me.
I’ve been thinking again, which many times splits into something beautifully insightful or frustratingly crippling. Hopefully putting it down in the semi-permanent existence of the internet will lean the odds towards the former goal. “I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” said someone with more success at reaching the beauty of thoughts than I’ve had. (I can’t help quoting others. They put words together so well).
So back to my ponderings, I think. It all started with another small bout of writers block that led to the question currently bouncing around in my head; do people want to read something sad? To further that question and to make my chain of thoughts more clear I moved next to ‘Why is it sad?’ I don’t want to make people cry although that would be a pretty good indicator that the writing has had an effect. But tears are so temporary and the effect I want my writing to have is much more. I want readers to come back to my work and find more with each visit until they’ve reached a point of permanency in being someone else because they encountered what I wrote. Lofty ambitions, I know.
Another question to add to the musings so far; will a tearjerker accomplish what I want? I want to strike at something true and through my perspective that means not holding back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about trying to teach some moral lesson by damning characters for their fictional wrongdoings. It’s again about reaching and possibly glimpsing the awesome, the inspiring, the terrifying, the all. Am I reaching too far? Have I gained some deeper understanding here? Or am I stuck in the dirt staring up at the sky waiting for the answers?
So I’m re-listening to Shakespeare’s King Lear through a librivox recording. The volunteers do a decent job but all too often remind me of my students taking turns reading aloud. There’s a huge dissonance that takes getting used to. One speaker will drawl out the lines like Patrick Starfish. Another makes a horrendous Severus Snape impression while maintaining barely a whisper so that the next person blows out your speakers and ears with a simple “Fare thee well, king.” But I’m only complaining because it’s still worth sitting/driving through.
It’s Shakespeare and you don’t get glorious bites of insight into the human existence while switching between NPR and easy listening stations playing Swift’s “Shake it Off” and every Journey song ever. Plus I’m lazily refreshing my memory of what happened in the story I’m ripping off for my next book.
I doubt l’ll come close to “Out, vile jelly! Where is thy lustre now?” But “Nothing will come of nothing,” so I must try. And I should probably sit down and read the play in book form again before I find myself “More sinned against than sinning.”
P.S. Quoting is fun and an easy way to fill up a first blog.
Check it out here for some olde tymey fun: King Lear Librivox