Thursday, October 14, 2004

I dreamt there were two Linuses and one of them was going to kill Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown didn't actually show up in my dream but the Linuses were uncommunicative, dangerous black-cloaked (black blanketed?) characters who could run faster than cars and for some reason they enjoyed running north. They were kind of scary, especially as I was sure one wanted to kill me, too.

Last night was kind of interesting. I went to see a movie called Maria Full of Grace. Not the sort of movie that would usually capture my interest by its advertisements, but I periodically like to stave off stagnation of my appreciation for diverse art.

It's very easy for a drug movie to become boring and/or preachy but I was pleased to find this wasn't the case for Maria. On the whole, I found the movie oddly relaxing in the way I may've found a good movie from the thirties or forties. The reason I draw that comparison is that Hollywood movies from the mid 20th century had a tendency to want to be decently pretty and stress-relieving no matter how dark the story, in essence, was.

Maria Full of Grace is about a seventeen year-old Columbian girl who, finding herself without work, pregnant, and without the baby's father, decides to become a mule, carrying cocaine in her stomach for delivery in New York.

It's not that the movie sugar-coats anything (although Maria is improbably pretty and everyone has perfect hair and skin) so much as it avoids overdramatic gloom and doom. Maria shows herself capable of keeping a cool head in a tight situation, which I found engaging. And, as Ebert and Roeper pointed out, all the characters behave realistically and the people involved in accepting Maria's drug delivery are shown as being realistically stupid and macho instead of villainous. And there was a basically happy ending, which is just fine.

So I came back and decided to interact with the internet community a little more and made a lot of replies and posts on different Live Journals. One topic of conversation I was keen to engage upon was one taken up on both Poppy Z. Brite's journal and Caitlin R. Kiernan's, this idea of whether or not the artist's suffering is a requisite for good art. I finally found a forum where people were talking about it, and posting was possible, at prime_liquor. But this morning I found my post to it was inexplicably deleted, in spite of the fact that I didn't say anything mean or rude. Methinks I have a secret enemy.

But basically my take was that it's not necessary for an artist to suffer. The idea seems to me based on the idea that suffering is regarded as a kind of field research but, as I've already argued, experience with a subject is not necessary for creating good art about that subject. Experience is a tool, not a component, of good art. There're lots of tools and methods for putting those components together.

Yes, you have to know emotions and the only way to know human emotions is to have them. But there’s no reason to go overboard. To look for suffering is silly as, unless you’re a cartoon character, you’re bound to’ve suffered at some point in your life.

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