Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Other - Thomas Tryon

So, this entry follows on the heels of the previous entry, as I further hone my thinking about psychological doubling, and the doppelganger. One non-fiction project I've had on the far back burner for some years (along with an encyclopedia of Seattle murder) is a biography of Thomas Tryon, the author of The Other. What makes Tryon's life interesting is his metamorphosis from a leading man film star with rugged good looks into a literary lion. In that transformation I feel a resonance within my own life (though I was never so handsome nor famous as Mr. Tryon). The forsaking of acting for an altogether more secluded, isolated form of creative endeavor. I'm indebted to my dear friend David Dollase for confronting me with this truth ("I think acting is a creative outlet for you."). With regard to Tryon, his switch, or drift, or course correction, as it were, may have come as the result of a species of artistic post-traumatic stress disorder after working with the dictatorial German director Otto Preminger. It took him seven more years to complete the transition, but perhaps the seeds of the change were planted during this horrific experience.

When actors must expose themselves to the most dubious manipulations in the bad-director's handbook, they have very little power in the matter. They can only hope that their directors are human beings. People like Christian Bale, for example, regarding his recent on-set tantrum, can be forgiven their temperament because that's the only way they have of maintaining a sense of personal power in this relationship. Bale was powerless to walk away from this commitment. He would have been ruined financially. But nothing in his contract prevents a temperamental outburst. I'm so happy I'm out of it...

Anyway, back to Tryon. It seems clear to me that The Other is a classic example of the doppelganger/doubling trope in American literature.

1 comment:

Steve Will said...

Mike, you're so well read and literary! I follow what you're talking about when you use examples like your own life and the well-chronicled Christian Bale outburst. I don't know this Thomas Tryon, or The Other, but I'll take you word for it.