People have stopped asking me if I’ve ‘seen anything good lately.’ It has come to the attention of close friends and family that we do not share the same taste in movies. This is a hardship for my husband, because I’m in charge of the Netflix queue (I’d give him the password if he’d just ask for it). It’s also a problem for my mother who doesn’t have cable and is relegated to watching films I either check out from the library or have in my collection at home.
Take Michael Haneke’s THE SEVENTH CONTINENT. This is one of my top three favorite films. My mother detested it and my husband refuses to watch it. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him what it’s about (a middle-class family agrees to destroy all their belongings and commit suicide together). I get it. My husband doesn’t want to see a 10-year-old girl commit suicide. My mom was just annoyed that Haneke showed the family brushing their teeth on several occasions. Truth be told, I can barely watch the film. I feel sick halfway through and am exhausted and tear-stained once the final credits roll.
I took a course through Seattle’s TheFilmSchool in 2008 in which instructor (and film/story/character maven) Warren Etheredge asked his students to take a closer look at not only their favorite films, but favorite pieces of art, favorite books, favorite songs, even favorite examples of architecture. Come up with ten, he challenged, and you will start to see a theme. A “nugget,” as he called it, of what makes you tick. This (seemingly) simple exercise remains as one of the most important moments of self-examination not only in relation to why, how, and how best I can express myself through writing and painting, but how I function as a person and relate to others. I wonder if Warren knew he was doing all that?
In fact, it’s that ticking that feeds art. That ticking that is so simple, so purely the essence of you that it can be elusive in the same way that it’s difficult to describe a color to a blind person or define a truth like absolute zero.
I read somewhere the other day that art ‘bears the responsibility of being profound.’ That statement hurt my head for a few days. In my mind, art should flow, should move without responsibility. Fire doesn’t burn because it knows it will cook food or keep people warm, a river doesn’t run because it knows it can move a canoe southward. It just runs. If someone hops in a canoe and goes southward, so be it.
Now, I know what the word ‘profound’ means, but I actually had to look it up in the dictionary just to make sure I wasn’t missing something: