Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Author: Ryan Hanrahan (Page 1 of 2)

Keegan Linnett 

Macsen Baumann

Ryan Hanrahan & Hayden Crongeyer 

 

• • • 

 

Starring Jackie Pleus

Self Reflection Journal

At the end of Fall quarter I was ready for something new. I had just finished my first quarter at Evergreen, a program that integrated philosophy, marine biology, and ethnomusicology. It was an interesting class, but I felt a little bit deprived of creativity in my education. I was ready to start learning more about Media Arts and filmmaking.

I enrolled in Eye of the Story with the intention of growing as an artist and learning more about storytelling and filmmaking. I think I have been pretty successful in achieving this goal. The film I made this quarter was my first college film, and it was a stretch for me, as I had never before made an experimental narrative film. I suppose all the experimental work we studied in class really did have an influence on me. Working with other creative individuals helped me to gain new perspectives on the art of filmmaking. This was one of the more ambitious projects I have taken on, and it truly required my full effort. I was particularly inspired by the work of Ozu and Godard. These are filmmakers that will likely impact my work for the foreseeable future. Eye of the Story helped me to regain confidence in myself as an artist and a filmmaker. 

Dreamer in a Dead Language: Close Reading

 

 

There is no rest for me since love departed

No sleep since I reached the bottom of the sea

And the end of this woman, my wife

My lungs are full of water. I cannot breathe.

Still I long to go sailing in spring among realities

There is a young girl who waits in a special time and place

To love me, to be my friend and lie beside me all through the night.

 (p. 266)

 

            Grace Paley uses poetry in her short works of fiction to provide insight to the minds of her characters. This is an effective agent of communication as it is capable of evoking a complex emotional response using relatively few words. Poetry can be cryptic, and interpreted infinitely

Of course its my mother. My mother, young.

I think it’s a different girl entirely (p. 266).”

 

Paley uses poetry to throw the reader into the mind of a character with little context. She encourages the reader to ask questions, rather than answering them immediately through conventional exposition. Mr. Darwin’s poem is introduced early in Dreamer in a Dead Language, setting the emotional atmosphere of the story.

               Mr. Darwin’s poem ages as the short story progresses. The poem grows increasingly relevant and intricate, and, as a reader learns more about Darwin’s troubled mind, one begins to learn how truly relevant and significant his latest poetic work is. When I first read his poem, I thought Darwin’s wife was dead and that he longed to join her, to “lie beside her through the night.” I interpreted the poem as a weary old man’s unending dedication to his late lifetime partner. As the story unfolded I began to realize that the piece was far less endearing than I had originally imagined. Rather, it became increasingly tragic. Mr. Darwin lost the wife he knew after an operation went poorly “Her operation changed her (p. 278).” Living in a nursing home with her, Mr. Darwin feels trapped, drowned in the stale atmosphere of people who he feels are much older than himself. Mr. Darwin is a self-proclaimed idealist, and his idealist nature shines through his dense and tragic stanza. He wants what is right for him, and is willing to give up everything for the young life that his young soul deserves.

               Dreamer in a Dead Language follows the lead character, Faith, through a complicated and troubling time in her life. Through Faith, Paley exposes some of the harsh realities of familial life, relationships, and responsibility. Her ex-husband Ricardo is behind on his child support, and doesn’t visit the children often. Since her divorce with Ricardo, Faith’s life has been turbulent. There is no rest for me since love departed. She, in trying to make ends meet, invests in a typewriter with the hope of “going into business.” Her mother is unwell and lives in a nursing home, and her father isn’t content living there with Faith’s mother. Much like the intolerable Mrs. Hegel-Shtein, life is making Faith sick.

               Perhaps with this short story Grace Paley hopes to teach her readers a lesson about idealism. The idea of an ideal life can overpower the reality of such, resulting in eternal longing and dissatisfaction. Maybe Faith and her father would do better to focus on their present situation, devoting energy and support to the people in their lives that care about them most: their family. Mr. Darwin’s poem is a glimpse into the mind of a man who would drop everything to pursue the ideals of his imagination. Much like his poem, Darwin’s dream may seem harmless, even venerable, on the surface, but in pursuing it he would be disregarding his responsibility to his family.

Faith’s son reminds her that, no matter how overwhelming, some responsibilities are not to be ignored.

“Why is everything my responsibility, every goddamn thing?

It just is, said Richard. Faith looked up and down the beach. She wanted to scream, Help!”

Freestyle Poetry

-quick rhymes straight from the brain-

 

Trees, potato crums like cookies

sits on log and cries

Wearing gloves and seeing doves

screaming    why   why   why 

 

Though the bold and under block 

text defies you like a rock

Wearing shapes upon its shoulder 

tear you down its like a boulder.

 

Why the thief takes in the night 

up to you its not, though might 

you see the thief within you then 

you might just be born again 

 

I find each day my thumb replacing 

fingers losing on the daily 

typing, checking, looking up 

Are human thumbs causing failing? 

 

How many shapes can fingers make 

W, L , letterbox 

How many lives can fingers take 

Tortoise never beats the Fox 

 

Rain drops on my mail box

letters don’t get wet 

except for those left on the porch 

from those I haven’t met.

 

 

Thoughts on Painting With

I am listening to Animal Collective’s Painting With. I’m writing thoughts I have about the album as I listen, so it will likely be scattered and unorganized. Definitely not a review. This is my fourth listen of their most recent album. It is a huge jump from their 2012 expirimental pyschedelic pop album Centipede Hz. Painting With has a playful energy that doesn’t slow down. The first track, FloriDada, is a high energy, catchy tune that has been in my head since it came out as the lead single. It leads into Hocus Pocus, sung by Panda Bear. His echoing vocals are reminiscent of Boys Latin, a track from his most recent album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

The album is fast paced, percussive, with catchy hooks and odd munchy synthesizers. Verticle is a groovy song. Avey Tare leads, no effects on his vocals. Panda Bear sings backups. The harmonies often remind me of The Beatles, and Panda Bear’s vocal resemblance to Brian Wilson adds to the 60’s vibes. 

One of my favorite songs on the album is The Burglars. Avey Tare and Panda Bear spit out fast vocals over wild synth bass. Overall it’s a fun album with infectious melodies and enough energy to get you pumped up. My only complaint is that it never slows down, and I am a big fan of slow Animal Collective jams. And though it is a great record, I dought that Animal Collective will ever produce another album amounting to the emotional complexity of their golden era- Feels, Strawberry Jam, and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Thoughts About Ozu

Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story was striking to me in that it gracefully and accurately portrayed a universal human condition while also achieving striking visuals and an engaging story. It isn’t often that a film both feels true to life, is superbly engaging, and visually interesting. Intentional cinematography and shot composition is something I watch closely for in films. Ozu showed that even with limited resources a filmmaker can create effective cinematography. He used a 50mm lens (one of my favorites), minimal camera movement, and often used the same angle multiple times. Ozu masterfully took advantage of his sets and locations, using landscape and architecture to frame his shots and guide the viewer through his scenes. 

I love a film that is slow, quiet, and engaging. Too often filmmakers rely on quick cuts and heavy action to engage the viewer. This is something I would like to work on in my filmmaking. I often feel it is too risky to leave a shot for more than, say, five seconds. This is an inhibition I will work to overcome. 

In my film this quarter I am striving to tell a simple, personal story through interesting visuals and locations, something that Ozu has clearly mastered. 

Zeitgeist

Last year I attended a rally for Bernie Sanders at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. Maximum capacity at the stadium was 20,000, and 28,000 supporters showed up to fight the establishment and the billionaire class. I stood in a line that rivaled the massive cue of fans at the Paul McCartney concert I went to in Salt Lake City. I was with my sister, Louise, and some other people form my high school. We bought Bernie pins and stuck them to our shirts. We found what we thought was the place where people who had RSVP’d (we had) were to line up. A grumpy middle aged man grumbled “I don’t think so! End of the line is back there.” So we made our way to the end of the massive crowd and waited to be let in. Already I was shocked at the turnout. Bernie Sanders, the guy who won’t take anything from ‘Big Money.’ The guy who the media did everything in their power not to cover. The socialist! It was amazing, and spirits were high because we all knew it. Luckily, when the time came we barely snatched up some seats and sat down to listen to the old man preach his unapologetic message: we will win and there will be a revolution. It was like a rock concert as Bernie explained to us that by redistributing wealth back to the working class, we could accomplish free tuition, health care, and proper retirement. “It is a disgrace” or “it is a national atrocity” were some of Bernie’s favorite taglines. As the night went on his hair got messier and his hand gestures wilder. Passion was the word of the night. 

Screenplay Exploration 1

She picked up the journal. It was a tattered old diary-like journal, lying on the cold, wet ground. Drops of rain fell onto her forehead as she opened to the first page. 

“Water is important to those who have it, the same is true of control”

She turned to the next page.

“Move to the sound. Find yourself at the shore.” 

Confused, she tucked the journal into her backpack and started walking, vaguely looking for the shore. Everything around her seemed amplified: the sound of the rain dripping, her shoes squishing in the dirt, even her heartbeat was sounding like a floor tom. She closed her eyes and listened intently. As she relaxed, the sound of running water became clearer; it was more in focus. She turned her head around to close in on the location from which the sound was coming from. (note: in film, audio will pan back and forth to convey this experience) She started to move toward the sound, becoming increasingly immersed in the task her new journal had assigned her. 

Dialogue Exercise

“What are you?” she said, staring into the pool of pure, clear liquid/ It was her reflection, at least she thought, until a moment prior when she swore it had moved without her consent. Her mind raced, the way minds do when faced with immobilizing fear. Fueled by her recent tragedy, her fear of the puddle overcame her, nearly became her.  It was like a dream, but more vivid and visceral than a dream ought to be. A thousand Benedryl couldn’t conjure a dream so real, and she was chained to it, somehow aware she would never wake up. Why was she dreaming? She wanted nothing more than to be in the world where she belonged. But that place was slipping away. Why? 

“Why was she dreaming?” 

She froze. It was the puddle. Her reflection- the her that wasn’t. And it had her voice. It was like someone had created a text-to-speech program to emulate her vocal timbre. 

“She became the water- a ripple.” 

A drop fell from the sky and landed in the pool. 

Week One Journal: A Memory

I was probably 12 or 13 years old. It was summer vacation, and I was at what I jokingly called “Jesus Camp.” It was a week-long summer camp with children of the Episcopal Church from around the Pacific Northwest. On this particular night we had gathered outside under a shelter for an evening mass. To me, not being particularly religious, it was a spiritual only in that I was sharing reflective moments with my peers. After the service, the group gathered around a fire, and we were instructed to write down on a small piece of paper something that we were going to let go of. A few weeks prior I had paid my last visit to my mother’s grandfather, and in his condition he hardly knew who I was. He was weak in mind and body, admitted to the hospital, and it was clear that he was living his final days. And so, knowing that his life would soon be over, I wrote ‘Great Grandpa’ on my paper and watched it burn away in the fire. I felt grief, but also a sense of relief. I had released my great grandfather and allowed him to become a memory. A few days later I returned home, and my mother had that look in her eyes that said ‘something happened.’ I sat on the couch next to her and she said ‘Grandpa died.’ She played back an old voicemail that she had kept from him and we both cried. 

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The Evergreen State College
Olympia, Washington

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