Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Grifted.

I can't remember the source-- someone on Facebook posted a link to this story @ The Collagist (I'm thinking it was either Richard Thomas or Christopher Dwyer, though I could be wrong). The story's called The Grifted by Jac Jemc, and it's a cool, cryptic, noir-ish tale. One interpretation is that the narrator is passing into a none-too-cozy afterlife; another interpretation is that there is no interpretation-- only the reality, and whatever you bring to the table. The compelling oddness of the story naturally makes people want to "figure it out." It's likely there is a a "true" interpretation of the story. It also doesn't matter in the slightest. This phenomenon of plasticity reminds me of the films of David Lynch (in general); furthermore, it reminds me of David Lynch the personality-- or, more specifically, facets of his personality in terms of the meta-marketing campaign he launched with the release of his film Inland Empire. That whole bit with the cow.

For those unfamiliar with David Lynch's cow, here's a brief explanation (credited to Joshy Tyler, 2006):

Apparently bovines are [Lynch's] new method of self-distributing his films. The Mullholland Drive director tells The Hollywood Reporter he's sick of studios and will now distribute his movies himself. To do it, he'll embark on a ten city tour to promote [Inland Empire], using only cattle and a folding chair. "I ate a lot of cheese during the film, and it made me happy," he explains. "I'm hoping the Academy members will be sick of 10 million trade ads and appreciate something a bit different." Cows are certainly different. I'll give him that. Accompanying Lynch and his moo-buddy will be Pianist Mark Zebrowski, who will play "Polish night music" from Inland Empire.

Yeah. So. There's David Lynch and his cow. The whole non-sequitur about the cheese might strike you as a kind of a toss-away eccentricity (it sort of is), but to me it speaks of the way that language has a lot of ground to cover in conveying complex thoughts or ideas; to me, he's atttempting to convey several things at once: first, that A) cheese made him happy; B) happiness is a sort of transitory, simple thing, sometimes as simple as a taste-- a kind of butterfly of an emotion, landing here, landing there; C) the nested idea that his conveying of the above sentiments in connection with the promotion of his film is an attempt to convey both the simplicity of such a chance pleasure (the eating of cheese) and the fact that that pleasure is, in all reality, completely unrelated to the film itself, thereby implying that the relationship between the cow and the promotion of Inland Empire is just as valid as Lynch's enjoyment of cheese in concert with the filming of his latest movie. He's an alchemist, trying to conjure depth from disharmony.

Why all this talk of cheese and David Lynch's cow? Someone has to talk about it. But aside from that, I see parallels between Lynch's cunning oddness and Jemc's story. I'm no David Lynch expert. I like the man's films, but I don't know much about him as a person outside the context of his work. I don't know what it says about me that I find his concept of marketing his films with a cow in tow to be somehow completely sensible in terms of the human experience of creating art, but I get a similar sensation in reading Jac Jemc's story The Grifted. Sometimes, people try to apply sense where there is no call for sense: only feeling.

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