Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Archives Project: STL #38

Title: "Other Dreams My Erring Soul Employ"
Description: A Note on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Date: 2 April 2004

I admit being drunk (droonk) when I wrote this, and it shows. This shames the previous candidate from worst post ever! It was also the last post before a temporary hiatus that then gave way to a longer hiatus. Ergo, my drinking ruined my blogging career.

This is the briefest of notes, written on a Friday night after inventing a ratio for making boiler makers out of "Gentleman Jack" sub-trademark and Shiner, left all alone after my hard day a-reading. It was edited thereafter when I remembered that some drunk guy left a post on me blog.

I saw Charlie Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. My first nota bene leads to the next: no other screen writer gets benighted with the project. Yeah, some guy named Michel Gondry directed this, but it's a Charlie K. "film." Secondly, note the way that the writer's process, his "inventio" gets captured in the plot of the movie. At the crucial juncture between the clinical treatment and 'reality' (also between the mental projections of Joel and Clementine and the 'real' clinic staff), Kirsten Dunst recites two quotes she gleaned from Bartlett's, one of which gives the movie its name. When I saw this wonderful movie, I thought to myself "hey, I bet that Charlie wuz paging thru Bartlett's one day, and these two quotes starting knocking together, until the sparks led to the script." But later I start thinkin' to myself: what if it's a little harder than that? What is CK is only pretending to be like the clinic receptionist, reading quote books for conversation topics. And so I checked my sixteenth edition: four quotes from 'Pope, Alexander's' "Eloisa to Abelard," not including "The world forgetting, by the world forgot/ Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind"! I bet the Nee-Chee aint there neither, but I is too droonk to look it up. My point? There's a lot of work happening here, a lot of deep thinking and reading of the old school that's getting disguised in an entertaining movie. The bottom line is that this movie isn't as simple as it looks.

In fact, it doesn't seem that simple compared to other movies: it respects your intelligence to let you juggle temporal lines based on the color cues of Kate Winslet's hair. But I think as I see this movie again and again, as I hope to, I'll keep thinking about the significance of this movie, of the intertwining of the subject and object, of the inseparability of moment and history. The saddest part of the movie only comes to you in retrospect: by removing Clementine from his life, he's sacrificed Huckleberry Hound, who obviously threaded in with his life earlier. You can try to separate emotional entanglements from your life, but like Alexander Pope says in the Big Alexander Pope Book and not Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, there are always "other dreams" that "my erring soul employ."

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