Honestly, I hardly notice when I’m confident. It feels like water through my fingers. It is smooth and quiet bath, this state of confidence I step into from time to time. Most other times I am very aware what I am feeling, and what I am feeling is self doubt. Self doubt isn’t a spring day where you barely notice a breeze, it is a pricking cold, a suffocating heat. It is present and whining, an alarm.
The human experience is rife with darkness and horror. When most people encounter gross violence or monstrosities depicted in art, they may be shaken, sickened, intrigued and/or become desensitized to it, but a homocidal person may connect in a more sinister way not only to disturbing art, but to seemingly unrelated things. Art effects people, but it doesn’t cause people to kill people, or to commit crimes, and the artist isn’t to blame for actions people take after they encounter theart. That’s what I think, at least, but writer John Grisham once very publicly stated that he believed this wasn’t the case. He thought Oliver Stone, and practically everyone involved with the making and distribution of Natural Born Killers, should be help responsible for the deaths of people killed by “copycat” murderers. He argued that people can be “under the influence” of art to a degree where the artist should be held accountable. When art imitates life, and life imitates art right back, who’s really to blame?
Ariel is grand, but you don’t know the tale of the little mermaid until you’ve read Hans Christian Anderson’s version. His decadent and mournful twist on mermaid lore has shaped our imaginations for centuries, and shines a searing light on the pains of growing up, identity crises, and, of course, unrequited love, which can snap an indescribable place in the heart. Cloaking this particular hurt in a macabre mythological tale gets this feeling precisely right, especially if you throw in the problems of bisexuality in an especially unaccepting time.
The Babadook isn’t a Hollywood monster or spirit that pulls you across the ceiling or sucks you into a strange underworld. He’s a Jungian-type shadow of the darkness inside our own hearts.
Cheryl Strayed, like many, found in an opiate a temporary patch for life’s wretched emotional churning. Thankfully, she didn’t dance with it long enough to become physically or psychologically addicted. Instead, she sought out a different cure: solitude and physical pain on the Pacific Crest Trail. 17 years later, she published a memoir about that experience brimming with insights about memory, love, and wrestling with the self.
Olive Kitteridge is one of best examples of the “difficult” person in modern literature, and she’s been expertly channeled for the screen by Frances McDormand.
29-year-old terminally ill Brittany Maynard is bringing massive national attention to the issue of our right to choose when we die in the face of imminent death. Should we have the legal choice to peacefully end our own lives when diagnosed with a fatal illness sure to bring a painful death?
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s film Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is an electric fever-dream of a movie. It’s a swan dive into ego and madness shot with the kinetic motion of a seemingly unedited single shot.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
He was said to be a charming scholar and heir to English nobility, but Edward Mordrake suffered from an uncommon malady that drove him to suicide at only 23. This Victorian legend was spread mostly by whispers and apocryphal texts and now circulates on the internet as boiled down “creepypasta” attached to a wax rendering of the mythical man driven to madness by a second “demon” face. Was there a real Edward Mordrake, or is this just fantasy?
We talk about happiness as something to “attain,” a state of being, but what is happiness, really? Are we expecting the wrong things from it? Are we using language that sets us up on a treadmill of disappointment?