Authorial Contention

(Soundtrack: Team Dresch — Captain, My Captain)

So, I was listening to the commentary (by Kaufman and Gondry) track on the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind DVD, a film which I discussed when I saw it in the theatre last March, and I was struck by the fact that these two offer completely different interpretations of what’s going on in the film! Kaufman’s story is that all of the memory sequences are intrasubjective–Joel is merely talking to himself (and this is an important corollary of his conception of the Joel/Clementine relationship in general–i.e. Joel is drawn to Clementine because she acts out his wilder impulses for him)…

Gondry, on the other hand, holds out (quite stubbornly!) for an interpretation of the memory conversations as frankly mystical gestures toward the possibility of intersubjectivity (i.e. the other figures in Joel’s memory aren’t native to the place, but have seeped in through apertures in the experiencing/remembering self… that Joel, in this deep trance which can be likened to the creative process, really is able to gain access to–or at least hear a whisper of–an authentic voice from beyond the confines of his own subjective position! This is a view which presupposes that the “self” is always a “self-in-relation”, that we can never truly be “identical” to ourselves, and that the people we love somehow embed themselves in our memories like cookies of Otherness… Not surprisingly, this view of the self is also at war with Kaufman’s understanding of relationships as stairways to more perfect versions of ourselves–from what I’m calling the Gondrian position, relationships are ends in themselves– they don’t make “us” “better” or “worse”, they ARE “us”!)

Of course, neither of these guys is “right”–but guess whose interpretation I like more? Helps to clear up why I loved this movie so much more than Adaptation and Malkovich

Also on the movie front–Rick Geerling plunges into a full month of horror-blogging with a discussion of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed! Quoth Rick: “Now, I was never a fan of Frankenstein films…until I saw this one.” Calling all James Whale fans! Meet me in Chicago with your pitchforks! We know how to deal with his kind!

Seriously though, Rick is a guy who understands what he loves, and that’s all you can ask of a critic, right? That’s all I ask anyway, and I feel honoured that he’s allowing me to take part in this undertaking! I’ll be contributing a piece, a week or two from now, on Scorsese’s After Hours as a fright-flick.

Good Evening Friends!



  1. Okay, okay…to be fair, I haven’t seen the original Frankenstein in quite some time. But I’ll go back and give it another viewing and see what I can get from it this time around.


  2. Have you checked out “Human Nature”, the first Kaufman/Gondry film? It’s nowhere near as good as “Eternal,” but it does bring up some interesting points.

  3. Interesting stuff on the Eternal Sunshine front — the DVD comes out on Monday over here, and I can’t wait to get it!

    Also: I am going to answer your 5 questions very soon, by the way. That Clowes/Morrison question has had me stuck for almost a week now, and that’s a good thing.

    It’s not an angle that I’d ever really considered before, and it’s proving most interesting, so yeah — thanks for that!


  4. I definitely do want to see Human Nature Ian–and David, looking forward to those musings + your own thoughts on the Gondry/Kaufman commentary!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s