Monday, April 24, 2006

The Shark Fin

I went and saw The Squid and the Whale the other night. I liked it a hell of a lot. I liked The Life Aquatic as well, so if you're a fan of viewing the kinds of quirks that leave you feeling a bit weird then this is the movie for you. Basically it's about the tearing apart and sorting out of a family that is going through divorce. Laura Linney as always is absolutely sublime - I fell in love with her when she played Mary-Anne Singleton in the serial adaptation of Tales of the City - a role she was perfect for. In fact, there aren't a lot of roles that she's done that she hasn't been perfect for. She knows how to pick what's right for her. Anyway, I digress..

There is a brand of psychoanalytic theory that the cinema screen is like a mirror - reflecting points of identification for us, the spectator. Philosophically (or psychoanalytically, as it may be) speaking one can compare this losely to when a baby first recognises itself in a mirror and sees itself as a whole entity. This is the first point of identification of self that is not completely fractured - it is not just a foot or a hand or whatever babies usually look down and see. Of course that image is a mis-representation of self as that image that we see in the mirror is always 'other'. It is not self at all. Anyway, it has been philosophised that film spectatorship recreates this search for identity of self through the other. The big celuloid mirror. I can't remember the how the whole thing goes, it's been 7 years... I took a class on it at uni. The whole subject was a fucking big mistake. In fact that whole honours year was a big fucking mistake. But that subject still gives me nightmares - I remember walking into my first seminar in my tracky dacks and sneakers, all ready to kick some freudian arse. Every single other person in that room was wearing a black turtleneck. I swear to God! Not even the death of one of the wiggles would have attracted so many black skivvies. I was agog. I had no idea what to do. I very seriously almost walked out, but unfortunately I didn't have the guts to just turn around and walk away. I made my way to a chair and just tried not to stare with my mouth open. I seriously thought I might have been on candid camera - surely this french cafe pseudo philosophic gathering was a big ironic joke! Surely a farce such as this wouldn't dare actually happen in real life - in the English department of all places. Just next door I'm sure they were debating the similarities between the fifth Beatle and the First Mrs Rochester. Someone was having a laff! Then I noticed that it wasn't just the black skvvies..it was black pants, black skirts, black shoes and horn rimmed glasses. The lecturer - the main offender - was a self important snob and the rest bore me to tears. I love a bit of black, but bloody hell - at least be funny about it. Nope, all deadly serious. All deadly serious about ...Freud. A fun class. I liked the weeks we spend on film psychoanalysis and Hitchcock though.

Anyway, I was sitting there in the cinema watching The Squid and the Whale and did that familiar little mind dance that I usually do when watching film, which is to find parts of myself in the otherness of the celuloid mirror. I can imagine what it would be like to go through a divorce and that's the horror of watching something like this. It helps you to remember the things you want to forget. Our little nuclear family never quite figured out the finer details of it all - and truly, my father died before we actually went down that road - but my parents got to that stage where they always fought, screaming all the time actually and the D word came out more than once like a shark fin circling the familial waters.

It was on the cards for a while. I remember one balmy night in my early teens doing some maths (gross!) homework in the kitchen when my father came in to make a cup of coffee and grab a cigarette (as he did, a lot). He turned from the stove and came to lean against the bench I was working at and asked me the question a parent should never ask their child. If your mother and I got a divorce who would you want to live with? Good god! What are you supposed to say? Which side is the right one to take? I mumbled something about not being able to choose and spent the rest of my teens until he died trying to be the peace keeper between them. I often wondered what it would be like to be part of a 'divorced family' actually. Sometimes I thought it would be preferable to the war zone we usually lived in. In fact, yes - it would have been. The whole business put me off marriage entirely. It's only in the past couple of years that I've seen normal people (ie: not my parents) attempt it that I figured that it's not an entirely evil concept.

I like the ideal of marriage but ...geez - how do you know it'll work out?

For those that have been through it, does one ever have a tiny little feeling at the back of one's head that it won't be forever? Are the cracks there to start with? Or does every marriage begin with the same chances, hopes and dreams as any other? I can handle the idea that sometimes people make bad choices. Get married too quickly, or too young or too..something. That's okay - bad choices can be avoided if you have the clarity of foresight, or insight.. But what if that has nothing to do with it? What if it just happens later ...and you look up suddenly and there it is... The shark fin circling in your waters.

And now:

I did have something a little more high brow lined up. But instead I thought I'd use this opportunity to make a public service announcement in keeping with the theme of today's post.

Girls, don't marry this guy

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Jimmy Fallon - Idiot Boyfriend <3 <3 <3