Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Movies and books.  §

Noah Millman suggests that we watch some movies over and over—as people are wont to do—because we find comfort in them, often some sort of familiarity. He lists films like Groundhog Day, Pixar films, and Star Wars films as those that are most rewatchable.

“..the experience of rewatching is first and foremost the experience of returning to the familiar…an experience of comfort from the familiar, both in terms of companions—these are people I know—and in terms of a journey you want to go on over and over even though—in fact in part because—you know where it ends.”

Apropos of my post a day or two ago on being mobbed by people that thought I was somehow socially misformed, and of a lifetime of being different…I am trying to reflect on what this must mean for me.


© Film Duemila / 1964

I mean, Millman explicitly names Last Year at Marienbad as the sort of film that people don’t watch over and over again.

Except that… I do. It’s on my list of most-watched films, which probably looks like this:

Last Year at Marienbad
Red Desert
8 1/2
Week-End
Vertigo
North by Northwest
Apocalypse Now
Blade Runner

These are my watch-and-rewatch canon. By and large, they’re filled with characters that you can’t get to know. They embody journeys that are unintelligible, bewildering, uncanny. In most cases, they lead to no resolution; quite the opposite, in fact. They leave troubling questions and even narrative grounds hanging uncomfortably in the air.

Do I find them comforting? I suppose in some ways I don’t, but in some ways I do. Given Millman’s argument, that is both troubling and illuminating. Not to mention suggestive of why groups of people often find me to be unintelligible, bewildering, and uncanny—even if one-on-one or one-hundred-to-one it is often somewhat better. What I should clearly never do is try to interact in small groups.

— § —

On a different-yet-somehow-similar note, Hemingway has been my favorite author since I was very young—maybe even since I was a teen. Yet I’d never stopped to consider before what sort of influence his writing and his characters may have had on my own sense of self over the years.

Enter Frank Miniter’s This Will Make a Man of You, and I’ve now stopped and am considering.


© Asier Solana Bermejo / CC-BY-SA-2.5

Without ever previously realizing this, I do believe that Hemingway’s influence on me is nothing short of profound. His image of masculinity, its characteristics, its nobility in the face of the empty reality of modernity after its fall—these are things that deeply reflect and shape who I am, how I approach situations.

Maybe even the words that I choose to use and the ways in which the interactions that I have had over the years have played out. I don’t talk much. I don’t suffer fools. I try to be honest. I have a distaste for pretense. I often feel as though chat is wasting time.

From long before I was a man, they were compelling to me; they felt right.

My ex-wife absolutely hated Hemingway. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a shock that in the end she came to feel nearly the same way about me.

Be quiet. Know that you’re weak and be strong anyway. Don’t imagine that it matters, but do it just the same. Have a code. Live it because a code is the only thing you can actually have, so you don’t want to lose it.

Plant a tree. Fight a bull. Have a son. Write a book.

Indeed.