Ktismatics

18 April 2008

Ciné-Musique

Filed under: Fiction, Movies — ktismatics @ 10:07 am

[Patrick Mullins (aka Jonquille de Camembert) has been a sporadic and memorable commenter here at Ktismatics. I just read his book…]

In ciné-musique we live a movie fiction that was first suggested to us by real movies. To keep living this ciné-musique, we turn the materials of movies into objects that go beyond them. – Patrick Mullins, Day of Ciné-Musique, 2005

A cumulative artifact assembled from cinematic objects gathered from very specific but diverse sources, Day of Ciné-Musique (2005) transports the reader to an abstract aesthetic milieu that author Patrick Mullins calls “reality fiction,” a sort of tangible imaginary space he discovers beneath the hypnosis of a lifetime of infection by Hollywood.

The book begins and ends with a series of visual images: photographs of works created by Swiss painter Christian Pellet. Each image appears abstract and iconic in isolation, but collectively they function like screen shots excerpted not from a particular movie but from the protean arche-movie that spawns all films. Oddly, the poses and gestures have been transposed from “real” movies and re-staged by live models. These transmutations, conveying a sense of artifice in the extraordinary attention paid to seemingly irrelevant details — clasped hands, buttons of a vest, part of an armchair — lend a formal gnostic aura to the book. This process of abstract idealization, where cinematic events intertwine with the material world, mirrors Mullins’ writing, in which he juxtaposes real visits to L.A. with idiosyncratic glimpses of mostly obscure Hollywood movies. The cumulative effect of these transformations is the assembly of a ciné-musique landscape that verges on the surreal, perhaps bordering on Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytic territory of disembodied organs and childhood fantasy. The approach also calls to mind the novels of Alain Robbe-Grillet, who, through attention to details that repeat themselves in different times and places, paradoxically creates a sense of eternal transcendence. It’s appropriate then that both Mullins and Pellet cite the film version of Robbe-Grillet’s enigmatic novel Last Year in Marienbad. But Mullins’ writing is more subjective than Robbe-Grillet’s, more personal and romantic.

Los Angeles isn’t just the primary setting; in a sense it’s the main character in this sui generis work of reality fction. Here L.A. isn’t anchored to a specific physical location: it manifests itself in other places, in movies, in people’s lives, in Mullins’ life. The ubiquity of L.A. is the joint production of the individual imagination and the image-making machinery of Hollywood. But L.A. is also a real place, which Mullins visits a number of times in the book. And then there’s the visit to Tahiti, which exists in the author’s imagination as the limit of L.A., the physical beauty of the place infused with the magic of Hollywood but stripped of the Disneyesque machinery. Maybe Tahiti is the reality, the charmed and exotic substance of which L.A. is the Hollywood-projected fantasy. But confronting the reality, even if it’s a beautiful one, is to confront a “finality” that is also the limit of Hollywood.

And ciné-musique, though not as authentically ‘Hollywood’ a product as cinema, nevertheless takes the facilities found in Los Angeles into itself to define what was transformed and created by Tahiti.

The result of all this movement and transformation and assemblage is a kind of still photo of ciné-musique in words.

Appropriate to a work of ciné-musique, Mullins’ text embodies a musical structure, its four chapters not forming a continuous narrative but rather complimenting each other like movements in a musical score. The first movement, where trips to LA are near-doubles of each other, causes L.A. to become a kind of eternal return that could be glimpsed any time and all the time. The second movement consists of a series of brief “movie reviews” which stand separate from the movies on which they’re based, populating a kind of staged statuary of cinematic objects composed of actors and roles, sets and songs, and always of Hollywood. Mullins’ focus is idiosyncratic, imbuing seemingly trivial objects and events — a particular seat in a theater, a throwaway line of dialogue — with importance. Motifs repeat themselves in a musical way, crescendoing and fading, only to return again. The third, lyrical movement recounts the author’s trip to Tahiti; the fourth and final movement reprises the opening with a return to the first L.A. excursion. The work as a whole is unusual in content and structure: engaging and charming, not analytical or theoretical. It’s not really a memoir in the ordinary sense of the term, and yet the personality of the “composer” reveals itself in this unique literary composition.

* * *

The all-but-forgotten film Welcome to L.A. represents the first flowering of ciné-musique. When I first saw this film in 1977, says Mullins, the film itself was my first trip to L.A. Here L.A. and Hollywood are inseparable. L.A. is about glamour, says Mullins — the cinematic glamour doesn’t just draw you to the real place; it’s part of the place. The image and the music, even the actors who play the roles, are part of the real fiction they depict.

Then come the “real” trips to L.A., populated with airports and liquor stores, motels and streets and boutiques. This L.A. too is a real fiction, a place where actors have homes, where vistas open up on clear nights to reveal something like magic, or like movies. By virtually duplicating one another these trips transform L.A. into a kind of eternal mythic place. The days recounted in sequence create a cumulative effect, like waves piling onto the shore, which while clearly numbered and dated combine into something almost timeless, so that the empirical sequence becomes less important than the feeling of these waves washing over the writer and also the reader…

There’s something intangible about the plenitude bestowed by “that day” in Los Angeles — one gets the sense of quest, pilgrimage, attainment, but the reason why these particular events had such a profound effect remain mysterious, deeply subjective, hinted at and alluded to but never fully stated: to Ann-Margret, the way out of Blanche DuBois Southern-Fragile Syndrome for me, whose hilltop home and whose cine-persona are in a sense the objects of the pilgrimage; to the aura that somehow seems to surround Mullins here, drawing the attention of blondes and dangerous automobiles; to the attainment of the sort of adulthood that preserves or restores the idealism and enthusiasm of youth. He takes a taxi back down into town,

and yet how in my memory I am always instead walking down that hill, a finished and perfect person, and as I am walking down that hill, I am exactly who and what I always wanted myself to be…

Then comes the day after “that day”:

mainly what you saw was Hollywood itself, directly below, spreading out in all the glamour it is reputed not to really have… mainly what you saw was that all these lights were literally twinkling.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime manifestation, and not only for the pilgrim — even the natives had never seen the city look like this.

It is just that I can’t stand not to, I can’t stand not to stop time.

Reading Mullins’ movie “reviews” one gets the sense of a strange sort of autobiography, almost cubistic, being assembled from pieces of these movies as they touch the author’s life. A young Alabama boy admires the movie posters in his small home town; many years later he finally gets to watch these same movies. These posters and movies possess the Hollywood aura that build the foundation or rhythm of ciné-musique. Other movies open up a sexual awareness that’s destined not to conform to the standard romanticomedy — and yet the films fail to capture this particular magic. Does this mismatch between overt cinematic reality and a covert sexual mystery lead into Robbe-Grillet’s world of surfaces, always hinting at something more profound but never actually showing it, so that the surfaces themselves become the mystery, the peculiarly ambivalent objects that appear and disappear without apparent cause or purpose, the purity of aesthetics as the object of obsession? Then come movie music and movie stars, building the ciné-musique and the glamour, along with the darks underside of the glamourous surface of L.A.

And then Mullins returns to Welcome to L.A., having gone through this life progression traced through the movies, no longer blinded by the glamour but consciously attentive to specific images and lines of dialog, revealing the flavour of the upper-middle-class world-weary young and disappointed. This revisiting of the same film seems to signal a turning point in the writer’s life, and also in American life. Now the reviews begin to unveil the cold indifference of the city, occasionally punctuated by deep humanity and love. It’s this gradually transformed self, a habitué of a transformed world, romantic and humane, sophisticated and jaded, who embarks on the L.A. quests.

Afterward the myth of L.A. can be sustained only by surpassing the place itself — by going to Tahiti. This is a going-beyond, into a place that Hollywood wishes it could conjure but that exists as something prior to L.A., something L. A. is built on top of, so this is also a going-before even though it happens later in the chronology. There are the hotels and the nightclubs and the lascivious types that could be L.A. or actually Hollywood, but there’s an interior to Tahiti that holds no correspondences in L.A.: lush, verdant, steamy, silent. And even in this dream trip Mullins is thinking about L.A., making comparisons, remembering, trying to consolidate. Even the perfect twinkling vision of L.A. the day after “that day” is cold, hard, urban — the opposite brilliance of Tahiti. Now, says Mullins, there is no further need to compare or to merge the perceptions of these divergent paradises, because now I possessed them both. He’s free to juxtapose without being forced to merge one into the other, to allow for the possibility of radically different, “singular” paradises. Still, there’s something important about sandwiching Tahiti inside of another L.A. experience — perhaps L.A., or maybe Hollywood, is the gateway to all paradises, the sense of embarking on a glamourous voyage, of preparing the palate for the flaneur’s ciné-musique. And “why are you staying just one week?” is asked three times: first, Mullins offers no answer; second, I’ll be back; third, none of your fucking business. Touching the enchanted rock under the waterfall, hearing the sanctified choir, and the epiphany is accomplished. Only through the dissolution of that other myth, the mythic Tahiti, is Mullins somehow able to sustain the mythic glamour of L.A. But the real Tahiti is magical enough, so both places can survive as two distinct manifestations of ciné-musique.

Having passed under the cascades of old movies and Tahitian waterfalls, Mullins returns to the day after “that day.” Now the L.A. quests, always crossing each other in the book’s timeline, converge even more completely: Tahiti attitude and a secret motel with a Tahitian garden juxtaposed with 1984, surrounding this most important trip in late 2001, perhaps changing the experience retrospectively. An encounter at the motel with a young man, a slight sadness to the inauthenticity of his charm, exposes the money-and-action business of Hollywood.

It didn’t matter that his life was inauthentic for the cine-musique to use it as part of its story. The authenticity was given by Tahiti and ‘filmed’ in Hollywood, because that’s where the ‘cameras’ are. Incidentally, that’s why this is ‘true fiction.’

Even the purity of Tahiti is endangered, and it’s got its share of bullshitters and jaded sophisticates, of abominable public works projects and high-money development schemes. And even L.A., a city of deliberate collapse, is able sometimes to offer up its own perfection:

It was the only time I ever saw the diagram of the topography of another planet — too slick, too sharp and too brightly gleaming for the world just yet.

What to choose? Perhaps it is a movement toward this distant future cityscape, a hard and glittering and noble new paradise rising up from the midst of the apparent collapse of the fantasy, bringing some of the Tahitian purity with itself into the city. Ciné-musique.

* * *

The book is dedicated to Sandra Dee, Pellet paying her homage with a portrait not of someone portraying Sandra but of Sandra playing herself. Sandra Dee the perennial ingenue who never made it as an adult Hollywood star. Sandra Dee who is quoted in the book as saying: “It’s so hard to establish an image and you work damn hard to get it. But once you’ve got it, baby, just try to get rid of it.” Sandra Dee, whose Hillsdale Avenue apartment becomes the pilgrimage site for the day after “that day.” Sandra Dee, who is directly responsible for seeing this overwhelming natural event — the glittering vision of the otherworldly city. Sandra Dee, who died shortly after the publication of Day of Ciné-Musique.

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11 Comments »

  1. Yes, the guy can write. I mostly don’t get him; I think he mostly doesn’t get me. But he can write.

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    Comment by Dominic — 18 April 2008 @ 12:12 pm

  2. Great stuff, ktis. Kind of gives me the vibe of Joan Didion copulating with both David Lynch and a late-60s JG Ballard simultaneously. Seemingly, here’s a link for the book…I guess. I have some thoughts on this, but maybe later.

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    Comment by Seyfried — 18 April 2008 @ 6:06 pm

  3. Good catch on the Didion Seyfried — she has a cameo role in the book. A quote from the first page of Ch. 1: “But this was the period in which a lot of overblown writing was done about LA — and I don’t mean the brilliant perceptive work of Joan Didion, which has always helped us to see the reality of LA and deal with it somehow (she did, or tried hard to).”

    Here’s the list of movies reviewed in the book: Diary of a High School Bride, The Phenix City Story, Woman Obsessed, Other Voices Other Rooms, Last Year at Marienbad, The Hollywood Review of 1929, Valley of the Dolls, Love Has Many Faces, Laredo, Mulholland Dr., Welcome to L.A., Habla Con Ella, A Night at the Adonis, Picnic, Hair.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 18 April 2008 @ 7:36 pm

  4. My insolent parody correspondent is actually such an insecure queen that he doesn’t even realize his talent, this is why he wastes it on the Hairspray remake and Paris Hilton. Otherwise I could not agree more on everything you said!

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    Comment by parodycenter — 19 April 2008 @ 1:52 pm

  5. Yes, Patrick has talent to spare. I hope you’ll notify your readers about this post, PC, since I’m sure many of them will be interested to hear about one of Jonquille’s other manifestations.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 20 April 2008 @ 6:40 am

  6. Dominique you’re playing hard to get. It’s only because she couldn’t get you that Jonquille doesn’t GET you, do you get it darling? Or should I put it in mathematical format:
    {playFlattery + HardtoGet = getDominiqueNow}

    Clysmatics maybe Jonquille should see how cruel the readership is. Only Comrade Fox had the decency to express his admiration for my brilliant parody correspondent’s writing skills. Where are all the other so-called fans? All put their prissy noses up in the air! I will see if I can squeeze some space in for Jonquille at the next blog buzz.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 20 April 2008 @ 7:41 am

  7. “Where are all the other so-called fans?”

    You might be right about the prissy noses, but I doubt whether many of the other fans visit Ktismatics very often, so most of them probably don’t even know about this post. If they do visit they never comment, so why should this post be any different? Also, most of them probably haven’t read the book, so it’s difficult for them to have much to say about it one way or the other. In that regard it’s like a post on any other book or movie that you or I might put up. Perhaps this review and discussion will pique readers’ curiosity, along with that of anyone else who happens to hear about the Cine-Musique book from other sources and finds this “review” by googling.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 20 April 2008 @ 8:27 am

  8. While writing this post, though, I conducted a sort of email interview with Patrick about the book and the events surrounding its writing. I’ve edited the exchange, so if there are nonsequiturs it’s my fault. Here’s what he had to say about the transition from L.A. to Tahiti:

    In the process of the writing, I remembered that I had heard a kind of ‘inner prayer’ in that once-in-a-lifetime moment overlooking the twinkling lights not more than an hour after visiting Sandra Dee’s West Hollywood apartment, where she still was living at the time. The ‘prayer’ (and only since you have written this have I begun to realize that it was a prayer) was fulfilled, as you note, by protecting the mythic L.A. by going to Tahiti and seeing its profundity. But I had forgotten that in that moment overlooking the rarefaction of Hollywood and the ocean from Los Angeles, I kept saying to myself ‘This has to be as beautiful as Tahiti. I won’t have it any other way!’ And, of course, it is ‘the day after that day’ that somehow survives bombardment of natural beauty as having more inside it than the other two even, and yet look how rich they both are, and for my own development as well.

    One must admit that a choice had been made, and had to be made. it was probably made because such a vision had found an artificial cityscape which held some future promise. By extension, this cityscape was then Art. Since it had been breathtaking even before I found the ‘proof’ in the choirs and the Papenoo Valley, this then became the Promise of Art. If it could happen in the most jaded of cities—as Los Angeles surely is, and part of this is, of course, not only Hollywood, but all the speculation and get-rich-quick schemes that charmed a whole American public even before they started cranking out the silents—then there is a way of looking at the future with hope. I am, as you would know, a tough customer when it comes to this sort of thing—it took this kind of image for me to even entertain ideas of ‘hope’, which usually just sound like platitudes. Paradoxically, then, this particular image could not exist in Tahiti, because no matter what people say, it is simply not ‘spoiled’, I saw this for myself, and also the mundane but vital fact that Polynesians and not their French administrators own 85% of the land says it all.

    But it is also true that my demand that ‘the day after that day’ be as beautiful as Tahiti did not necessarily have to come to pass. That it did so is also slightly paradoxical: The fortuitousness of it that proclaims the fact of it is part of what it always was, but that I also would not allow, however much I also demanded, without absolute proof that it had this privilege. And this privilege could be conferred only by the real Tahiti. The natural perfection of Tahiti was so strong an investment to make in so many ways that Los Angeles could, at least on ‘the day after that day’ be given the Crown—because, not least of what Tahiti did in transforming the outrageous tentacles of Los Angeles (which plays with its Hollywood twin all the time, they are sometimes distinct, sometimes they are interchangeable and sometimes there is the Hollywood as World Motion Picture Symbol alternating with Hollywood the Geographical Area of Los Angeles, of which if comprises perhaps 2%!), into a ‘stilled object’ that can be managed and not overwhelm one.

    On the L.A. motel:

    Another interesting kind of play here then that the motel in Hollywood is infinitely more enchanted and strange than where I stayed in Tahiti and (in the second trip) in Bora Bora. It is of the garden of the motel that I think of always when I think of Brecht’s most marvelous quote, “Los Angeles is Tahiti in the form of a big city.” I wouldn’t continue to go to Los Angeles if the motel was sold and demolished (they take me in as family there by now—Guatemalans, Chinese, Malaysians, Salvadorans, the whole lot). It probably goes without saying that I went to church again on the 2nd trip to Tahiti, to hear those literally celestial choirs, after the huge Sunday Papeete Morning Market, from which farmers from all the rural parts of the island bring their produce. From this market I had the most superbly flavoured roast chicken I have ever tasted, and this extraordinary bottled sugar cane juice.. I find it a little too eccentric that those are the only two church services I have attended except for a Christmas concert at St. Ignatius Loyala on Park Avenue (a day or two after that important LA 2001 trip) in the 00’s.

    As I looked out from Room 215 onto the pool, there were some eccentric types in the garden talking silly things, and the pool never looked more 50s Elysian than that late afternoon. I’d brought in a fresh pineapple and made Hamburger Helper on my hot plate (I had 4 of these altogether, a result of gas leakage in my apt. here in 1995, and when people got gas back, many of them threw out the hot plates the landlord provided; I picked all of them up I could, and now have but one left. I used the 3rd in this recent trip.) The motel itself goes back to the 60s and has miraculously survived, and is kept spotlessly clean despite the furtive nature of some of the guests. So that that day was all voluptuous, gentle glamour. The touch of the sinister in the hard, cold urbanity would have been too hard to accept had it not come from the human gentleness of a visit to Sandra Dee’s house (and the likelikhood, but not clear certainty—so that I almost never mention this—that I did see her just inside the condo gate…but from behind). By itself alone, the vast, almost too-perfect and perhaps Wagnerian cityscape, all hard and metallic, is too high to concentrate on.

    Oh yes, that encounter with that young man did happen (you must realize that such exotic encounters are not unusual with me, and I don’t just mean the homosexual element—reality fiction ‘takes you there’, as it were.

    On the dangers of L.A.:

    Los Angeles is dangerous, it is just as dangerous as it is reputed to be, and it was in this way that I found a way to dominate Los Angeles so that it did not swallow me—I should add that this is also due to New York, but that had long been built-in and, while crucial in the extreme, was not quite enough to really polish off the job. And ‘New Yorkness’, of course, is not nearly always enough to prevent the vilest fates that Los Angeles can offer, and most willingly. All our discussions of ‘Mulholland Drive’ prove what LA can, in very short periods of time, give you, even though Betty/Diane comes from Canada (it may even be Vancouver, which is idyllic but she is early on very dismissive of that, comparing it disparagingly to Mme. Coco’s perfectly atrocious interiors!). In fact, I go very close to all these dangers every time I go out there even now (I’ve been back 3 times since the 2nd Tahiti trip), but if LA were to swallow me up on any subsequent trips, I think it would be mere coincidence.)

    There never ceased to be incredible things every minute, overly stimulated at all times—I was in great danger momentarily way out in Compton on a bus with a driver suffering from the second case of road rage I’d seen that day—and I only figured out what to do in those vast ‘pieces of supercity’ as I called it in ealier versions, but forcing myself to say that this was, in fact, the same town that Ann-Margret lived in…and was I going to be part of the part that she had something to do with and that I’d seen just 3 days earlier, or was I going to be a victim of a drive-by shooting, mugging or whatever other specialties you may expect if you don’t know to stay out of Compton.

    I had meant also to say that there is a natural resistance to the slightly frightening nature of the accidental that made ‘the day after that day’ happen. That day is comfortable and we are really happy enough and thankful for such bounty. But the second kind of occurrence has a touch of the sudden and quick-change to it, and we do a bit of an echo of that change in plans—brought on purely because of a freezing bus—by quickly restoring the ‘origin’ of what led to the hard severe otherworld, which will always have in it something one wants to recoil from.

    On the paintings:

    Christian’s paintings in the first book are mostly more beautiful to me in a visceral way. He’s very influenced by Bacon, as is fairly obvious. They are elegant and at that moment he was even getting many commissions to do portraits of wealthy friends, and went to Montreal, Argentina, Monaco for these things. Then this disappeared as quickly and unexpectedly as it had begun. He was a psychologist! That is his training. And he is brilliant at it.

    On the movie “reviews”:

    ‘Habla con Ella’ attracts all the intellectuals and theorists (lol). I put it in there because Christian had been interested in the film and had put me on to it, and then I had found it interesting in my scornful way—that is, my inability to empathize with ANYBODY in the film all that much except Geraldine Chaplin (and not even the character that much, although I liked that she was a ballet coach), but primarily because of what she had been in ‘Welcome to L.A.’ 25 years earlier, and in a television production of ‘House of Mirth’ which was inferior to the Terence Davies version in most ways, but Chaplin alone made it into something. This review, while not quite as flippant as I may be seeming to make it (I am not unsympathetic to some of these miserable people, but I obviously refuse to focus on them much—you see that in my most self-indulgent piece of writing in the entire book, where I go on much longer than is really reasonable about Martha Graham’s silly talk about her garden (magical!) and Suzanne Farrell talking about roasting veal (magical!). This is actually, insofar as it has a subtext that is subtle, a bit of a dig at socialism and that part of it that tries to equalize everything. It’s cruel to refuse this, but I have chosen to refuse it. Otherwise you don’t even have any goddesses like Graham and Farrell at whose outrageous self-importance you can poke fun (of course, since they are both great artists, it’s good-natured. But you see that it is really only Chaplin’s character that stays with me.

    On Joan Didion:

    She has been very influential in my work until the current one, in which I finally see that I need to go in a different direction, but accompanied still more this time by Robbe-Grillet — mind you, he’s as specific a presence in the 3rd Book as Didion is in the first two. Although I’m not sure I mention her in Deep Tropical Cine-Musique, all the ideas of ‘context clues’ and ‘legends’ comes from some splinters in one of her essays on Los Angeles. This kind of ‘miraculous’ condition of directive elements—in this case an absolutely freezing bus from which I knew I would become sick if I went all the way out to the Getty, and which I had planned single-mindedly to do until the cold air literally forced me out of the bus—has attracted her in such works as the last novel she wrote ‘The Last Thing He Wanted’ In her case, it is more often disasters that result, as she has always been especially attracted to them, but in an interesting way; in ‘The White Album’ she mentions a housekeeper or babysitter telling her that she had a ‘death aura’, and it is very clear that she wants us to know both that she is above hocus-pocus because of class, and also that she is taking the babysitter dead seriously. (I don’t think she’ll try to write another novel after what she’s been through, losing most of her family in the last 5 years, but I could be wrong. I suspect she will restrict herself to political pieces in NYReview of Books). It’s true I had planned to go to Sandra Dee’s apartment on Hilldale later that week, but…as we see, the day provided me was a confluence of extraordinary mundane things, and none of those would have been there on any other day.. But it is very atypical of me to change courses like that once I set my mind on a journey toward a specific end.

    I think ‘The Last Thing He Wanted’ is Didion’s best novel, but she was much more celebrated for ‘Play It As It Lays’, which was a huge sensation as a Hollywood novel. Her California memoir ‘Where I was From’ from 2003, is fabulous. The section on the McDonnell Douglas layoffs I mention when returning to the Watts Towers after going to Tahiti (you will notice I have an intense delight in juxtaposing opposed things, things foreign to each other in very quick succession), is simply fierce and brilliant. The letter I wrote her in Papeete on the first trip would have arrived in New York right as her nightmare was beginning—her husband’s death, her daughter’s incredible illness at the same time, and a year of writing about all this, only to finish ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ and the daughter died too. Didion is fiercely interested in places as you can see that I am, and I remember asking her in that letter why she had never mentioned Tahiti given that she wrote about so many exotic places except to mention that her grandmother had ‘a shell necklace from Tahiti.’ I reminded her of having spoken to her at several of her readings and having asked her about the ‘big house on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood’ from ‘the White Album’, and how she had corrected the essay itself for me (verbally, at Barnard). It had been slated for demolition but then had not been, and so after the reading I asked her for the address of it and she gave it to me. I then visited the house several times (the first time, interestingly enough, was on the day that could be called ‘the day before that day’…) About a year and a half later ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ came out, and she mentioned recipes gotten from the actress Katharine Ross’s in-laws who ‘lived in Papeete’. I can’t be sure, but it’s most likely she wrote that as an oblique reference to my letter—it is the kind of thing she does and the kind of thing I do. She definitely knows who I am, because I went to a few too many readings and once she stared me down from the stage as though I was scaring her a bit…so I just didn’t go listen to any more of the readings for awhile. When I did, I sat in places she could not see me. I may mention in Day of Cine-Musique that I re-read the Lakewood sections of Where I was From in my hotel room in Tahiti.

    On Sandra Dee:

    It is not romanticizing to say that Sandra Dee is directly responsible for the sequence of events that led to much more than seeing her name on the buzzer. I had followed her all through the period of total obscurity, when most had forgotten about her. The fact that she was hugely famous for a few years and then disappeared completely in the public imagination is part of her strange rarefaction, her extreme American-exotic nature (it is surely no accident that she would appear with Lana Turner in ‘Imitation of Life’, and even steal their important scene from the more famous star).. But part of the book’s ‘love’ amidst all the jadedness has to do with her (and also Ann-Margret). There was a rarefaction of image itself in the one day in L.A. ultimately chosen as “that day,” as well as the slightly greater stimulus of an exotic and arcane object like the Real Sandra Dee (almost unknown, whereas the Movie Sandra Dee was for one year the #1 box office star) than Ann-Margret, whom I adore, but is much more normal and has enjoyed good health, etc.

    One thing I left out—and with all these rich details one of my most prized techniques is to ‘leave out things’—is that I wrote Sandra Dee a long letter about passing by her house, and how important it had been to me; and I know she got it, because later I sent one other note, and it was returned. By then, she had left the apartment and this strange ‘legend reduction’ to the ‘DEE’ on the doorbell had not even a forwarding address (she was still alive at the time, though). One of the other poignant things is that, in the case of the dedication page, Christian forced himself to draw the face as in the photo (in a highly literal style that goes against what he wants to do; he did that one for me) I sent him bought at a memorabilia store—and when was about to give me the original, the printer who had assembled the book had been unable to find it.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 20 April 2008 @ 10:12 am

  9. (I’ve been alerted by the author, in the form of rarified aesthetic analogy, of an error I made in assembling the “interview,” which I thought I’d post as if it were a comment — though the author currently remains in seclusion from the blogosphere so it isn’t really a comment.)

    “There was a rarefaction of image itself in the one day in L.A. ultimately chosen as “that day,” as well as the slightly greater stimulus of an exotic and arcane object like the Real Sandra Dee (almost unknown, whereas the Movie Sandra Dee was for one year the #1 box office star) than Ann-Margret, whom I adore, but is much more normal and has enjoyed good health, etc.”

    How adorable that you would confuse them yes again! It took me forever to find this in my emails to you (it was much earlier than I had thought in our exchange last week), but if you call it “that day”, it still seems like you are referring to the that day of the book. You can call it ‘the ultimate day’, or ‘the most profound day’ or ‘THE day’ and/or refer again to it as ‘the day after that day’. I think it’s healthy the way you always cling to ‘the Ann-Margret day’, etc., the ‘Verdi day’, as I might also call it. Who really wants to have to stay up there with Gurnemanz and Titurel and wait for Parsifal to break the severe monotony of endless devotion to being a monk—to enjoy Kundry’s vileness since she works for Klingsor, but doesn’t bore you out of your mind like Amfortas, every day washing his unhealable wound? But those highest things somehow speak for themselves, don’t they? When I watched the Vienna State Opera with Domingo in ‘Lohengrin’, there was simply no way I could argue with the nobility of the slow royal walk of Lohengrin and Elsa into the church where they’d be married.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 20 April 2008 @ 11:27 am

  10. clysmatics thanks to your efforts i decided to extend de camembert’s contract for another year. more fun times are cumming at the CPC!

    Like

    Comment by parodycenter — 21 April 2008 @ 11:04 am

  11. I’m glad the two of you are getting along again, which is due entirely to your own irrepressible good natures.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 21 April 2008 @ 11:59 am


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