9.11.2003

Look, everyone. Life has been pretty different for me for the last couple of months, so if I seem like I'm not myself, I apologize. Though I preach a message of accepting change, I struggle to follow my own advice.

But whatever. Any of you who know me half-decently know that whatever's going to happen, good or bad, I'm going to let it sit on my shoulders and keep walking uphill. There are a lot of things I'd like to do, I'd like to write again like I did in college, and I'd like to get Dead Nephew working. I'd like to become a better person. I'd like to see the Pacific Ocean, and I'd like to be a good father to Lili.

Sometimes things get in the way of the things we want to do. Sometimes you just have to readjust the weight on your shoulders and keep walking, until you find someone who'll share it with you.

Enough of that bleak shit.

I want to talk about the movie I saw last night, American Splendor, and why I liked it, and why I was fascinated by this Harvey Pekar character, and why I like his comics. Mostly, it's a response to interrobang's thoughts.

Harvey Pekar is not a punchline-oriented guy. Hell, he's not even that focused on narrative in a conventional sense. His stories don't have introductions, rising action, a climax, and a conclusion (or "punchline", as my joke-oriented roommate calls them). Actually, they do, but they're not like other stories, because they're mostly the details of real life set in sequence: something happens, people react.

Let's examine our lives: when was the last time you experienced an honest-to-goodness punchline regarding a sequence of events in your life? I don't think I ever have. That's because we live, something happens, and then we die. In between is just tangled strings of relationships, exchanges of money, insults, and bodily fluids. Closure doesn't exist. The reason jokes work, punchlines work, is because we don't know them in real life. This makes them novel. Novel things capture our attention, for some reason I can't really explain. It's the reason we look at the woman in the red dress walking amongst a group of men in black suits. It's the reason your first cigarette will always be the best one you ever had. It's the reason we meet new people.

Anyway, after so many stories, jokes, movies, whatever, that use the convention of the unconventional, it's strange and disorienting to read something that seems to go nowhere. But that's the point. If you're a guy who lives a life that seems to go nowhere, what do you think your art will be about?

It's like in Ray Carver stories, at the end, where nothing at all happens. There's no release, no sweeping conclusion. The stories are compelling because they don't have that. They build up the tension, and at the end, the tension remains.

Welcome to the real world.

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