Sunday, June 08, 2008


i don’t know why it is so, but i hate the word ‘portrayal’ when writing about movies of films. ‘the film portrays ….’ somehow seems like the narrative is the prime mover of the film and the structure or form incidental; or sometimes, in rare periods of honesty to myself, i feel maybe it is my own fear of appearing juvenile that it might seem like the ‘story’ is why i read a novel or watch a film (which i do all the time- especially in novels but not so much in film) as if such a need from art is childish. i don’t know where i get these kinds of ideas from. maybe it is the architectural urge to favor the frame rather than inhabitation.

in ‘john and jane’ portrayal is formal. its not only that the movie is about the dissolution of identity into amorphous other - like a portrayal of oneself as anew constructed on received images of perfection - namrata as naomi, or even glen as glen the rebel brat, but it also makes the portrayal of the ‘real’ self as construct apparent.

every relationship suffers a distancing through a consciously constructed artifice until they become archetypes or typologies to be observed, like fish in a bowl or blips on a surveillance monitor. these shadows of people, for that’s all that can possibly be portrayed- a part that is played- are empty outlines. we are not asked to empathize with them by making them ‘human’ in that cuddly way- by fleshing them out. their humanity is their vulnerability, their lives a hollowness into which we project our own sense of what it means to have be 'complete'; and we emerge feeling a gap- a huge hole waiting to be filled and finding only the eternal empty choices of a consumer society to help. the people answering those calls are like the waves of virginia woolf lapping against each other on a desolate dreary tubelit island.

this blog is a sort of diary. not the confessional sort. i don’t think i have it in me. i am too afraid of exposure and instead take on the odd cynical grating voice that even i can’t reread. this portrayal is an addiction whose trap i can’t escape. reading ‘henry and june’ i kept turning this idea over and over. what was the truth? who was anais nin, really? does this confessional diary or the portrayal of a diary tell what really transpired between her, henry miller and his wife- the mind games of domination and sex, the longing and self analysis. the writing must have changed it all into something else. i am sure of it. yet, the book is unafraid of making all the anais nin’s into real people. i am tired of books and movies that make motivation a simple equation between need and action. whose need? which version of the person? anyone who has been in love with more than one person at a time will tell you that things and people are not that simple when love takes so many forms ranging from duty to unbridled desire. or at least have not been simple for me.

am i veering into a confessional diary, finally?

to follow up ‘henry and june’ with ‘tropic of cancer’ millers novel written during his association with anais nin is turning out to be tremendous. nin plays herself while miller dons a parallel persona. it is like seeing two sides of the same coin- one laminated and precise/analytical and the other just as precise but volatile and wildly groping for the truth; one about the mind and other about the body; one elegant and the other incendiary.

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