I've been thinking a lot about John Cassavetes lately, so I finally broke open the plastic wrap around the boxed set of Cassavetes films Mark gave to me last Christmas. I didn't expect to wait this long to break open the plastic wrap, but it's not an unfamiliar pattern. I have a knack for keeping new novels on the shelf for years. I won't even crack open a book until I have a gut feeling I'm in the right state to take it in, and I'm usually right about matching book to mood.
As far as Cassavetes: the fascination with faces, eruptions, moments of public embarrassment, people who won't (or can't) adjust to societal expectations. Life off the grid. I watched his first film, Shadows, last night. It's as mesmerizing as a poem, the signs of 1959 Manhattan--Fascination! Howard Johnsons Thom McCann--burning like suns over the night streets. The whole city as interior state: glamorous, depraved, a little sickening, but not hopeless exactly: interesting that such a dark movie could turn toward possibility, or at least ongoingness, in its final minutes without giving in to sentimentality. Tonight I can't decide whether I'm going to go in sequence, or skip ahead to the sublime A Woman Under the Influence. Below I've embedded the Shadows trailer--the music, by the way, is by Charlie Mingus--and Gena Rowlands' Swan Lake scene from A Woman.
It's only starting to dawn on me that the short pieces I've been writing over the last two years have been an attempt to think into my mother's dementia, through form. Even when I haven't been writing about it directly. The disruptions, the abrupt shifts in tone, the fluid identity, the nonlinearity. I might have known this intellectually, but in the days since her death--can it really be almost two weeks now?--I've recognized it on a deeper level. The clarity that the death of a loved one can bring. This morning, I already have the sensation that I'm not going to be writing the way I've been writing from here on out. I know it's not going to happen overnight, just the way it felt like we were still in the 90s until 2001. And have we really left the Bush years behind?