The Open Soul in Episodes

Paula Fox once said something in a Paris Review interview about how (paraphrasing generously) people would say to her that they couldn't write because they had self-esteem issues and that she never understood that because she would just always write, regardless, and didn't see how the two were connected.  I was just reflecting on the fact that while I feel like I should admire that sentiment, and certainly admire Paula Fox, I don't think that's been true for me, generally, or at least not much of the time.  Which isn't some statement about my current level of work and/or psychological condition, but just something that came to mind while I was chatting with someone and taking a break, and my mind was in that rare and sometimes ideal state between consciously doing something and consciously doing nothing.

Writers write...and other such banalities.  It may be true, but it's a banality, and surrounded by more interesting truths.

I re-watched the Godard film Vivre Sa Vie yesterday after reading Susan Sontag's essay on it.  Sontag focuses on the idea of becoming oneself, and how the main character, Nana, who starts off as an aspiring actress and eventually becomes a prostitute, at some point "becomes herself."  (I believe that's a direct quote.)  I'm not sure if most people would see it that way, and I'm not sure I do, but I do see the possibility for it, which might be more important in the context of the film.  I also see that most summaries of the film describe it as a "downward spiral" and/or focus on the idea that Nana is "forced" (either stated as such or implied) into prostitution when in fact Godard doesn't supply us with any of that information, in fact at times seems to deliberately withhold it.  In some respects I feel that to miss that is missing the point of the film, insofar as it has one, or one of the points.  The assumptions that we make are therefore our own.  We are, to echo the sentiment in a conversation Nana has with a friend, responsible.

Being oneself, being a writer who writes, an actress who acts, or someone who becomes what they are or are supposed to be in any sense, is no joke in my book.  It's a very serious thing, and if we treated it as such rather than scoffing at it (as so many do or would at the idea of someone who aspires to an artistic life but finds it difficult, or to the possibility of anyone being or finding themselves in a life of prostitution), then...well, I don't know.  Then, something.

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