“The blinding light of redemption came a few nights ago. I slumped into the kitchen, pale faced and drawn. I was looking for a quick hit from a half gallon, but the carton was getting low. I needed a fix and I needed it fast. The withdrawls were coming on and the shaking and rickets were unbearable. Captain Amazing put up the last of the dishes and observed me from across the counter. I knew I looked bad, but all he said was:
‘Babe, you gotta start writing again.'” (Crazy Writer Girl)
There’s that great line in Blade Runner when Deckard and Rachael are talking about getting the shakes and Deckard tells her it’s part of the business, and Rachael—as a replicant—says, “I’m not in the business. I am the business.” I love that line and that scene for many reasons that I am not planning to discuss here.
But, thinking about that line this morning while editing, and while generally thinking about art and artists, a meaning or application of that line, strikes me, that I have never thought about before.
Joe Byron of the LA Film school says that if you watch enough movies you don’t have to go to film school. And I know that to be true, in general. But even as going to film school, watching movies, and working on films all teach you distinct sets of lessons, the more general playground is just your life. And that’s the playground artists really need to be paying attention to. Watching enough movies may be a substitute for having to listen to film school teachers break it down for you, but watching your life is the basic school for all art, all science, all business, all love. Movies made by people who mainly pay attention to other people’s movies—instead of their own life, or even other people’s lives—those movies suck. I always said, at film school, that cinematographers and sound people and production designers, yes, they should go to film school. But directors and writers, when they show up, the school should give them their tuition back and send them on a road trip. People who make the best movies are making them about their lives, or something they know about from life…not things they know from school, or even from other movies. We should, as artists, not be in the business…we should be the business.
Of course, with Deckard as an example, maybe it’s possible to do both.
I wrote this during an English class in eleventh grade. Just going through old CD-Rs tonight and found this and a bunch of old poems, which I’ll post next. The idea with Contract With The Real was that Julian and I were going to perform it. Going through all this old stuff tonight—old writing—I’m seeing from tonight’s chair how early my mind has been active, and how active it has been. And my dreams from then (from high school and my two quarters at OU and the first few years of my working life) are the same as they have been since: writing and programming, and tangentially making movies. Notes from that period have shreds of what has become Camp Lake…that’s a story I’ve been trying to write for a long time.
I guess this is part of growing older: it’s odd…to think of myself, then and now, as in many ways a coherent piece…the feeling that I have about what I want to do…I think some parts of that feeling are consistent between then and now. Of course my knowledge of the world has changed—increased. And that colors my dreams, so that my dreams, now, while they’re still the same intention as I could manage earlier in my life…those dreams are more realistic, framed more by the parameters of reality as I have learned them. I want to maintain touch with my increasing awareness of what the world is…but I want also to maintain touch with the pure feeling of dream…that part of me that I read so much more clearly in my writing from high school, that me who thought that whatever I wanted to do, I could do, that part of me who, when deciding what to create, didn’t temper that to fit the world.
We dream big. Then we talk to other people. And their dimness rubs off on us.
I think it’s appropriate for each of us to actively fight against this.
Stay in touch with :: the pure feeling of dream. =)
More old stuff I posted tonight:
I have this recurring dream
The Myth of Real News
I hate literary critics
There is no God.
It’s not that I don’t like thinking,
Lightness was walking up the street with that look on her face again.
eyes of April
when i came upon the valley
Indelible Dick Tracy
“…I have known what happened to it for years, but I had a good chance to sum it all up when I went back last summer. It is a ruined and defeated town, and it is full of ruined and defeated people. If you think that I am happy about this, you do me an injustice. After all, it was my town, I was born there, and some of the people I care for most on earth still live there. But I found out last summer that you can’t go home again, and now I know why. … I am going better places, and I invite you to come along. … Did you ever read a story of mine that came out about a year ago called ‘I Have a Thing to Tell You?’ Well, I have a thing to tell you now: that is you can’t go home again, but there are other places you can go. So why not try to find them?” (Thomas Wolfe via nchistoricsites.com)
Of course I’m all for this in a literal, environmental-conservation sense :: but wow, what a metaphor.
When I think about letters, symbols, images, languages, I feel good. I do not feel good when I think about riff-raff economics, cultural paperwork, road signs, or the false lines of municipalities. I need to arrange my life so that as little time as possible is spent dealing with filling out forms for governments, and as much time as possible is spent creating.