Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Eventful weekend at the writer's retreat.  "Readers start from the beginning and work through to the end.  Writers start in the middle and fight their way out."  I learned a great deal about being trapped in a corner.  Writers conceive of characters who are trapped.  The drama of the novel, the theme of it, is in how they deal with their "box".  Either they deny, they adjust/adapt, or they fight their way free.  All three are interesting.  Does that mean that there are only three stories?  Probably.

I watched The Pianist the night before last and Angels and Insects last night.  Both were devastating films, although The Pianist is the greater.  I can't stop thinking about it.  It has gotten under my skin.  In most films about disaster, either natural or human, my mind is tricked into thinking "how would I react in that same situation?"  But in this film that is impossible.  The random series of events which resulted in Szpielman's survival is simply too nihilistic to apply to my own life.  Thus I am left with the realization that I would have died.  Which is not to say that I reflect on every film through the lens of self.  It is The Pianist's emotional detachment that allows one to identify with Szpielman.  In that way the film is like a novel, and Szpielman becomes an emotional surrogate for the observer.  But of all the holocaust films, this is one of the least sentimental and most mordant.

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