Earlier in the week, my wife drew my attention to the whole Lena Dunham affair (web-search it), thinking it could be an opportunity to engage in a larger field of debate and attract some new readers. I found it interesting enough to write a short piece about it, hoping I could get it published somewhere.
That was two days ago, and the piece didn’t really turn out that good, so I shelved it (for now). The problem was simply that I wasn’t that interested in Dunham, and I had to admit that I wasn’t writing about her because of the intensity of my interest, but because of the intensity of other people’s interest. It was opportunism. While it was an opportunity to write about things I was intensely interested in (sexual trauma, my past, the shadier aspects of the entertainment industry), apparently that wasn’t enough of a reason if my central focus was blurry and diffuse. So I forgot about the piece and my desire to publish, easy enough because none of the sites I’d approached responded to my pitch—not a single one!
In contrast, yesterday and today I wrote a 2,500 word piece on Stanley Kubrick and had an hour and a half’s conversation with Doug Lain, of Diet Soap Podcast, about Kubrick’s movies. This was at my instigation: a week ago I’d had a sudden insight about Kubrick—concerning why people think his movies are so great when all I can see are great big lumbering exercises in soullessness—and had suggested to Doug we discuss it. He agreed, but only when I volunteered to edit and publish the result. And while I am now also seeing this as an opportunity to promote the book, the difference is that the initial spark was my own intense interest—the opportunity came from within.
I have been mildly obsessed with Kubrick—or rather, with the idea that he is the most overrated artist in history—for going on three decades, roughly since I first saw A Clockwork Orange. And today, with Lain’s help, I feel like I have finally solved the puzzle—and had a blast doing it. The essay and podcast were the means to that end, but also, in a way, just side effects of it. A realization of this sort would have surfaced one way or another, writing and talking was just the way I formalized it—the way I gave it form. (This is what needed to happen with the Dunham piece, but didn’t; not really any wonder since a week ago I had never heard of Dunham.)
Whether or not the Kubrick piece gets published (I just pitched it to half a dozen sites, including Salon, calling it a “liminalist” piece), and whether or not the podcast with Doug generates any great interest, my soul has been engaged. And the result is that I now feel different, and not only about Kubrick fanatics (I sympathize with you more now that I understand the spell you are under); I also have a new respect for Kubrick and his films, even if it’s a wary, highly ambivalent respect (a bit like how many people feel for Leni Riefenstahl, I imagine).
In relation to the chronicling of this process, of the groundhog’s search for Springtime, Kubrick, as the evil genius and artist who sold his soul to gain the world (in my view of him, naturally), represents perhaps the clearest embodiment of my shadow—the thing I most dread becoming, and of course secretly desire. Identifying means owning, owning means integrating.
Stanley & I are one at last.