Talking Movies

May 31, 2022

“Who are you really and what were you before? What did you do and what did you think?”

I fell over a quote in the Atlantic the other week to the effect that nobody is the same person now that they were before the pandemic. Is it true?

Well, maybe… Certainly as things have opened up I have found myself… unwilling to return to 2019. Not unable, though also that to a degree, but more unwilling. I cannot rouse myself to excitement at scanning cinema listings for the new Mia Hansen-Love, try I ever so hard. I find to my surprise that the Gate theatre has a new artistic director, but scarcely shrug. Barry Douglas performs the Beethoven Triple Concerto at the NCH, and I am not there. It may not even be a question of will, so much as a fundamental disconnect – I know I should be excited by these things, I have the memory of being enthused by their predecessors in the past, and yet it seems like everything in that sphere happened to someone else, not to me. One sympathises, but it has nothing to do with me. Maybe this is only a temporary aberration. Maybe it is a permanent seachange. But, having initially scoffed at the idea that everybody is no longer themselves, I now think- yes, that’s true.

In some senses I find myself doing a somewhat baffled personal inventory akin to Kate McKinnon’s post-6/1/21 ‘What Still Works?’ SNL sketch. It’s rather like standing dazed in a room full of disassembled building blocks, and seeing which ones I can still get to glom to form a Lego statue recognisable as me. I still like listening to Lykke Li, the bard of heartbreak and unrequited love. I still like watching The Avengers, and savouring John Steed and Emma Peel being debonair and romantic. I still like walking in Marlay Park, and hearing the strange sound made by the wind whistling thru tall trees. I still like ruining both coffee and ice cream in restaurants, by pouring one over the other. I still like the inimitable sound of Sorkin speeches and Gershwin glissandos, the thrill of Mondrian lines and Van Gogh swirls. But on many fronts I feel psychically unsteady when my hollowed out sense of self clashes with the 2019 self remembered by others; who are disconcerted to find my ‘passions’ extinguished.

And so I ask myself Bogart’s Casablanca question to Bergman in the mirror, and unnervingly I don’t know the answer.

November 8, 2020

Lykke Li: 10 Songs

I’m Good, I’m Gone

Tonight

Little Bit

I Follow Rivers

Get Some

Sadness is a Blessing

No Rest for the Wicked

Just Like a Dream

Heart of Steel

Better Alone

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