Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stranger than Fiction

The writer's block is an interesting phenomenon. The double looping of the narrative on itself elucidates a strange blend of reflexivity and authorial intent. Harold Crick can hear the narrator spelling out his life, talking about his deepest emotions "in a better vocabulary" and filling in the details during silences. The author, Karen Eifel, is not only the privelged person who can see the insides of Harold, she is also his fate. She writes his future and also makes him feel, want and do the things she needs him to do to advance her narrative. The idea of the wrist watch- and consequently the story as an interesting experiment in the space-time fabric is brilliant. The reality of Harold, which we are made to believe at first, lies entirely in the hands of Karen. His life is prevented from being an ordinary linear narrative because of he plain fact that he can hear her voice without her intending to. This strange scenario reminds me of the question of fate and free will so prevalent in Greek drama especially in the Choephori, in which Orestes must kill his mother's lover or die himself.

Harold seems to be inhabiting two spaces simultaneously. He lives a part of his life completely outside the purview and the knowledge of his creator. This is the part in which he meets the professor and gets the advice on what to do. The professor does not belong to the cast of the author unlike Anna Pascal, Harold's colleagues and even the doctor who tries to make Harold see that "trees are trees." This simultaneous occupation, characterised mainly by his exchanges with the literature professor is brought into being only because of the stimulus of the author's prediction of Harold's death. An entirely surreal effect is, of course, the life of the chain-smoking author herself who suffers from the writer's block and her relation with the new secretary Penny. The author stumbles into the world of her own creation unintentionally when the tables are turned and Harold has "a sneek peek" of her on television without her knowledge. Harold's world then is not entirely controlled by Karen. He "exists" as she remarks with a sense of enlightenment. All the characters that she has killed were indeed real people, and writing a book then seems like the subtlest most ingenious form of murder that even the law cannot trace.

But in the end, Karen has the god like power of preventing death and allowing Harold to live in spite of his severe injuries. Strangely, the literature professor's advice to Harold "to do nothing" and his consequent tv watching and the dramatic intervention of the crane seems to occur in a middle space. The parallel world of the author sees her struggling to find ways to kill Harold. She goes to hospitals, she gets drenced in the rain and shares an umbrella with Penny. The complex structure of the narrative brings into question with suspicion the nature of the narrator who is recounting us the story in the film. The film itself is a narrative and we are its readers or listeners. We are characters in somebody's mind.. and maybe our death is nothing but the whim of creative idea.. possibly of a mind tormented by a writer's block. We invent ourselves, our lives, reality is a construct that shapeshifts like the mind itself. Who exists? that is the question that eventually arises; furthermore who governs our lives? It is true that most of us do not hear voices narrating our lives and hinting at the future. But creativity seems to be a killer in more than one ways.

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