Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Black Swan

Yesterday morning, I woke up and there were light snowflakes, not the kind that would accumulate and make things all white and wintery looking, but snowflakes just the same, a sign, as if the biting cold weren't good enough of one, that winter was/is here. I had all these things I wanted to do with my day yesterday, the last of my days off. These days off always seem to fly by so quickly with me having little to show for them, and then finding myself back at another week of work, of waking up too early, of going to bed too early, of feeling slightly cranky, and not getting any of the things that I would like to get accomplished accomplished. It didn't help that I didn't even leave my house until around noon yesterday.

I went to St. Mark's bookshop and purchased a book for my Secret Santa at work and bought myself a copy of n + 1, an unnecessary purchase considering all the unread things in my house, the unread things even in the tote bag I was carrying with me in that bookshop, but a purchase I couldn't say no to. Books are always vying for my attention, the most recent find often displacing all the other books - sometimes the current book I was reading being paused (sometimes indefinitely) so I could engage with this new item found, acquired. It is a really difficult thing for me to go into a bookstore and to not leave with books. Throughout high school, I worked at a library for a couple years as a page. In college, I spent some summers working at a Borders. That cool bookstore in Sarasota would not hire me, despite applying numerous times. My first job in New York, which lasted for two years, was at the Strand. I love bookstores so much, too much. I want to take their contents home with me, replicate their shelves in my home, want to spend money I don't have on titles I want to read and will purchase with that intention, only to have the items sink further and further down my to-read list, bumped down by new acquisitions. I instituted a rule at one point several years ago, telling myself that I would only ever purchase one book at a time and only after finishing whatever I was currently reading. I followed this rule for a long time and it is a very good rule to follow, though lately I have been cheating a bit. Again, the situation is getting a bit unruly, too many unread books in my house.

A slight diversion here, but only a slight one, is to comment on Bookmarc, the new bookshop on Bleecker street that is catty corner from the Marc by Marc women's store. I was disgusted when I read that a few months ago that Biography Bookshop, a West Village gem, was being displaced due to high rent and that the space was being scooped up by Jacobs for a bookstore. The man already has too much going on in the West Village. The character of this city was being eroded again, a longtime business displaced. But I stopped in there on Sunday evening after getting my holiday photo taken with Jacob in the women's store window, and the store is actually a really beautiful bookstore with an amazingly curated selection of books. I went in there not wanting to like it, and I still have problems with the place and what it represents about trends in this city, but I liked it a lot. I came across a lot of titles that seemed really interesting that I hadn't heard of, many from small presses.

Diversion over, hopefully so, or at least that particular diversion. Truth being, this entire exercise is likely a diversion, diverting my attention from this book that makes me fall asleep, from my not wanting to write a resume and cover letter and apply for new jobs, from many things.

After stopping into St. Mark's, I went to the movie theater at Union Square and saw Black Swan, which is really good. I am still working through how I feel about it. I don't think that it is nearly as good as The Wrestler was, but it is still pretty amazing filmmaking, passionate, which is more than you could say for most films. There is a strong voice, the thing is lovingly crafted, and that alone makes it worth seeing. I have been thinking of the movie all day in spare moments and I think its aftereffects are going to be staying, going to linger for a while.

The film is a tense, psychosexual thriller with lots of echoes for me of Polanski's Rosemary's Baby especially, but also The Tenant. There is this crazed, demonic aspect present in an otherwise staid setting. It gets at a mind adrift, a mind becoming increasingly more and more unhinged. There are moments that are ridiculous, that seem really camp, but I am trying to parse out whether these are intentional or not, whether that even matters with regard to how I perceive the film.

Aronofsky is saying a lot in the film about what it is that makes an artist great, what it takes, what one has to give - that one does have to give, has to give everything of themselves, that this is what great art is made out of, plumbing these depths, giving in to these demons, losing control. And maybe it's true, and maybe it's just a cozy myth that we like to hear told again and again for some reason. I honestly am not sure. The movie is flawed, but also totally fantastic.

From there, I went to the gym and worked out for quite a while. I came home, wrapped this gift, drank some beer, got high, jerked off, and fell asleep reading The Brothers Karamozov, a to-do list with far more unchecked than checked, but also an okayness with that.

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