Forgive my being at sea a bit; the last few weeks were like being in a conversation with an extreme egoist, in that I’d have something to say, but the other party (my life) would not shut up for one damned minute to let me say anything. Imagine I was Teller and every time I turned around, Penn Jillette was going on with some inane thing; that was my life for a bit.
And now that that’s over, I can try and say something with hopefully half the eloquence Teller shows when he has a chance…
Mind you, about the biggest thing I didn’t get to note that happened in that time was the AP declaring Somali piracy dead. Which we’ve wondered about over here for months on its own, though the problem with pieces like this is that they may be premature. Much like serial killers that have their own film franchises, popular film monsters, and disco, these things we think are gone for good can sometimes return…
Which brings up something that weighs on me, a topic I’ve shared in conversation a few times with people I’ve been social with. (And as I understand it, I can be quite social, so do look me up if you ever get a chance…) And as Susan Rocan at mywithershins has been prompting others do discuss things that scare them, or at the least things that creep us out and make us uncomfortable to be around, I felt this is the time to share.
To be frank, there are two things I cannot watch on film, as they just freak me out:
Spiders and writers.
I don’t know what it is about spiders. Maybe it’s the fact that of all the land-based predators on the face of the planet, they are best adapted at doing what they do. Their speed, their awareness, their use of fangs and venom are all formidable enough doing the cold calculus we needed as primitives when we first encounter them. And when we consider their trapping abilities with their webs or their stalking abilities over the ground they cover with quick agility atop eight legs, their fearful majesty becomes overwhelming. Is it any wonder that many of the Five Hundred Nations have myths tied to spiders as major forces of creation, tied to the deeper mysteries of the Universe?
As I watch them, I feel a sense of dread observing such perfect killers, creatures practicing their craft honed since before the days of the dinosaurs. Part of me imagines what the victims feel, ensnared more often than not, biting fangs that were probably the deep memory we all draw on when we consider vampires, the prey being consumed from within as the innards are liquefied and sucked out by the victorious anthropoid nightmare.
As a result, I cringe when The Fly comes to its conclusion. I squirm uncontrollably as we visit Aragog in Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets. I feel uncomfortable if there’s even a chance of my catching a scene from Arachnophobia. And don’t get me started on Eight Legged Freaks, please…
I don’t know what it is about watching writers at their craft, or to be more precise, not at their craft. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re trying to watch people who normally are working alone trying to do something but being kept from it by what they are trying to write about , or why they are writing in the first place. The frustration, the effort to process what’s going on around them, trying to get to the right point where they can focus on the event without the narrative eating them alive; the quest for balance between the writer and the event in order to craft reality into narrative, an ongoing struggle from the days when humans realized they had memory and imagination. Is it any wonder that the Five Hundred Nations have such respect for the story tellers of their culture, the beings all writers descend from, who try to explore the deeper mysteries of the Universe?
As I watch them, I feel a sense of dread as I see in their frustrations bad moments I myself have gone through. Part of me remembers those bad periods when the rejections pile up, when everyone around you tries to talk you out of pursuing your craft, sucking that gift out from inside you and asking you to be normal, which you can’t help but feel is condemnation to walking around as an empty husk.
As a result, I cringe when Capote comes to its conclusion. I squirm uncontrollably as we watch John Turturro in Barton Fink. I feel uncomfortable if there’s even a chance of my catching a scene from Stranger Than Fiction. And don’t get me started on Adaptation, please…
I am truly screwed in these realms, because if there’s two things movie makers love to film, it is spiders threatening to succeed in their hunt and writers threatening to fail in their craft. And between you and me, the spider tends to get what it wants more often in Hollywood than the writer.
(Please, hold off on the obvious movie production jokes that last sentence encourages…)
My big fear is, someday a script will go into production that will have spiders the size of Clydesdales surrounding a program that’s a thinly disguised take-off on the Clarion Writer’s Workshop, filled with scenes of these spiders leaving the husks of aspiring writers in the trees around the compound.
My bigger fear is, once they make this film, they drag me to see it, keeping me focused on the action the way Little Alex was programmed in A Clockwork Orange, unable to turn away as another fledgling writer dies at the hands of a big-ass spider.
Whimpering the whole time as I watch, “Kill. Me. Now…”