21.8.07

Signs #146, 147, and 148 That I Really Want To Go Back to School

#146: I actually got mad at a at 36-year-old character in a book who was "forced" to go back to college to pick up a mere 8 credits he needed to earn his lifetime certificate. He was miserable throughout the 5 week experience. He consoled himself by reminding himself that once he'd survived those 5 weeks he'd "never have to go back!" FOOL!! *shakes fist!!!* I'd KILL to "have to" go back for 80 credits!

#147: I was listening to an interview with Phillip Seymour Hoffman (an actor so brilliant I actually saw Mission Impossible 3 JUST BECAUSE HE WAS IN IT, and for far too short a time, I might add!) and the interviewer turned the interview to the topic of Capote (incidentally, my favorite film of 2005). Hoffman made two observations - one obvious and one that made me go "hmmmmm! There may be a paper there!" The first observation was that Capote fell in love with Perry Smith - one of the two murderers - while visiting him and interviewing him in jail. The reader of In Cold Blood will definitely feel the author's love for Perry, but it didn't seem as clear to me in the movie.

Capote didn't finish In Cold Blood until after Perry Smith and Dick Hickock were executed. In the movie, Capote becomes more and more drunk and despondent with every appeal and stay of execution, but the viewer feels that he's being incredibly selfish - he does nothing to intervene in the execution and indeed acts as though the delay is costing him dearly because he can't finish the book until Smith and Hickock are dead. They're being terribly inconvenient. This brings me to Hoffman's second "huh!"-inspiring observation: that Capote could not finish In Cold Blood until after Smith and Hickock were dead. Their lives - particularly Smith's - had to be sacrificed for him to complete his work of art. This made me think of another movie, my second favorite of 2006 (after Pan's Labyrinth) - Stranger than Fiction.

In order to write her masterpiece, Karen Eiffel has to kill off her character, IRS agent Harold Crick. She doesn't realize that Harold Crick is indeed a real living human being. Crick finds out what's happening because he can hear her narrating his life, step by step. He finds the narration annoying and unnerving, and of course at first he thinks he may even be going crazy, but when he hears her say that he's going to die, he decides he must find the source of this voice and stop her from killing him off. Dustin Hoffman (another brilliant Hoffman! I'd even saw Ishtar JUST BECAUSE HE WAS IN IT, but in this case, I really want my money back, Hoffman!!) plays a brilliant, coffee-swilling English professor who actually tries to stop Crick from intervening. His argument is: if Crick doesn't die, the book will only be sub-par. If he does, it will be one of the greatest books ever written. A masterpiece. Does life have to be sacrificed for art? When? Discuss. I actually considered writing a paper discussing this topic and comparing the two films. That there is reason #147.

#148 was another paper I briefly considered writing after having two songs take turns running in my head for over a week. I thought a paper comparing the lyrics of David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting Out The Fire)" to those of Dio's "Holy Diver," particularly the lyrics that may have been inspired by Blake's poem, "The Tyger," may be in order.

I believe that last one clearly defines me as a true Shimerian, and it makes me damned proud! Particularly since I'm pretty convinced that Christopher Guest had Dio clearly in mind when writing some of the songs for Spinal Tap.

2 comments:

Rev Transit said...

Another question:

Would it be ok if the lives of bad people were sacrificed for bad art?

OrangeMoJoJo said...

Lord, as though we don't have enough bad art already. Look, if you want to go sacrificing the bad people, please do so without the "artistic" tradeoff. You can start with the pedophiles, rapists, hate criminals, and women who pee on the seats of public restrooms.