Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Author: Sage M.

Close Reading Winters Bone

What I want to talk about is description. How things are laid out within the story presents something that sparks a conversation with the reader, affecting how the story is read and understood.

Woodrel doesn’t just present his characters by describing them directly. He uses other methods I find interesting and also like. For example, Ree is describes by what she does and her relationships with other people. Not just that though. Also what she thinks and sees in the world seems to make a difference.

The narrator’s descriptions of the physical environment in which Ree lives lends much to the story. Throughout the book, little pieces, fragments of the truth are dropped throughout the pages in this poetic way. Woodrell arranges this trail of fragments in such a way that it makes the reader think. This is where the dialogue between the book and reader comes in.

There are many descriptions of the world within Winters Bone that speak far beyond their surface meaning, and spark something deeper. On page 13, Ree took note of how Virginia smelled, she liked it. This occurred twice, in two separate but close together parts of the book. Once when she first saw Virginia and they spoke. Then when Ree is walking away from Virginia’s and Teardrop’s house, back home, Ree notices the pleasant smell of Virginia on her sleeves. In truth, the smell is less of Vieginia, and probably more marijuana. The connection can be made after Virginia offers to roll Ree a “doobie” for her walk back home, along with the direct relation of Virginias scent to weed on page 13. To the question of offering a joint, we are left without a direct answer as to whether or not Ree accepts it, but it can assume she took Virginia up on it when directly after that question, description of altered consciousness follows. (15) “She took to pausing more often to study on things that weren’t usually of interest.”

Why does Virginias relationship to dope matter? Woodrell may be assigning characters in the book different drugs to help represent them. Virginia, is involved with weed. In this first section of the book she is the only one who makes any mention of it. This observation is in contrast to Teardop, a violent fellow who seems much more interested in the bag of crank on the table he examines in the light. Drawing away from these two characters, Rees mother and father both have their own drugs. Her dad, Jessup, is a meth cook and her mother is hooked on anti-depressants. Then, Ree’s two brothers, neither of which do drugs, seem to like booze. They aren’t drinkers and the only time they drink alcohol is when Ree gives them some mixed with honey for the hoarse throats they both have from coughing. It is nothing to take note of until later on page 20 there is a funny moment when her brother Sonney brings it up again.

““Sonny called forth a shallow cough and said, “Got’ny more of that syrup?”

“Huh-uh. You two like it too much.” Replies Ree

“It sure gets rid of that scratchy feelin’ good, though.””

It is kind of a funny moment, possibly darkened with foreshadowing, and it wouldn’t be anything to think of really accept I cannot think of a single person who has ever thought Cough medicine tasted good. However, for some reason these two little guys seems to be taking a liking to it. it is a humorous moment connecting them with alcohol, possibly speaking for their future.

This is only a small piece of the book, but their might be some purpose to it. I see characters connected to their different drugs in ways that speak for them. These drugs represent part of them in a way, and at the same time, speak for Ree as well.

Drugs have their connotations. Weed, is much different than meth. Both are very different from alcohol and pharmaceutical antidepressants. It might be argued that I am a little wrong here, but I would like to continue on my train of thought and say that they are at least thought of in different ways. Meth and tweakers go together in a way different from how alcoholics and alcohol do, same with weed and stoners. It seems that through the way these characters are initially presented through their connection to specific drugs, we are taught something about them through that connection.

 

Now I want to go into the actual description of environment. For their reality, the crude imperfections and the history and even future of this world we are reading about, makes things pop. Everything becomes real.

On page 16. The description of Gail and Floyds property: a small single wide trailer with a crappy barn close enough to its deck that one could pee on the side of it is mentioned with importance enough to tell us that part of the barns wood had been discolored by the time people had spent peeing on it from the houses deck. This simple observation throws a lot of weight. Along with learning that the property is inherited, and falling apart. A history of that family is painted by such description; I see them slowly falling into that description.

The description shows years of people not really caring, having other things to worry about, and not having money to fix things needing fixed. It gets to the point that a sort of game has been made of pissing on a barn that has been in the family for generations. This little piece is like the charry on a banana spilt, topping it all off with a purposeful punctuation point.

The next little slice comes on page 18. “A giant Beer mug filled brown with pennies sat on the dresser. The bed was an unmade wallow of yellow sheets and patchwork blankets.’ From these two sentences these words might come to mind: Poor, Beer, Dirty, and Old – with a hint of love and care. Poor, because if someone goes through the trouble of saving a mug full of only pennies, they are probably poor; so poor in fact, that they have scraped that mug out of desperation for any change that does not include pennies, leaving only pennies. The beer part goes along with the beer mug of course, it makes sense. Any connotations that go along with beer are directly given to us through a lense of poorness and our own experiences and understanding of alcohol and poverty. Next, dirty, because yellow sheets sound gross. Piss and long periods of sweat and bodies sleeping on them comes to mind. Sheets that were probably once white, becomes an automatic assumption, along ith an understanding of why cleaning them is not at the top of the bucket list. Old is thoughts of from the description because a patchwork blanket and dirty sheets are usually old. Even the pennies scream some age. It takes a while to get a mug of only pennies. The love part comes last. A “patchwork blanket”, not only patches but “patchwork”. It involves thread and hands that are used to sewing. The old blanket is loved and cared for, it is needed for warmth. Love comes from the time and care put into that “patchwork blanket”.

Then again though, here is the dialogue that has been created between Woodrell and the reader. This blanket can make us think thriftiness and a number of other things as well. It does not inherently symbolize love. I think the fact that my lovely grandmother made quilts, which I associate with patchwork must have an influence on me thinking about love. These are just my connections with the text. They are not the only conversation.

So here’s the point. Throughout this story, so many pieces, slices of life, are intentionally laid out for the reader to digest. I think the author does this very well. The story poetically speaks for itself in dialogue with whoever reads it. This isn’t a telling of events. It is a sharing of pieces that can be related with.

One last piece. Page 20. “Pine trees with low limbs spread over fresh snow made a stronger vault for the spirit than pews and pulpits ever could”. Ree is closely related with nature. She longs to get away. She finds solace in nature, parts of nature anyway. This is important to the story as well. Equally important is Ree’s constant listening to nature sounds that she would never find in the nature that she seeks solace in around her home. In her world.

Where I am At

2-25-2016 My Project

Yeah! It’s all working out! Well, relative to my never having made a film and now being on a path to complete one; everything is working out. I have what I think will be the final edits to the video part of my move. All of that is mostly complete for now. At the moment I have turned to editing and creating a sound track for my film. In the beginning this was going to be purely taken from the audio I pick up on video shoots, but plans are changing.

 

I am collaborating with a local artist to create the soundtrack of my film. It seems that everything change drastically with this one decision, I am excited and very glad to find myself unattached to the original ideas of what I imagined this film to feel like and be about. Although I think the general message of the film will still be present. How it is given to the viewer will be much different. Not completely sure how it will play out yet, but I am imagining electronic music combined with the diegetic sound of this film. Everything will begin beautiful, elegant, slightly trippy maybe, and possibly dark. The main concept for the beginning is slow, peaceful, maybe awe inspiring. There should be an amount of beauty to it. As the film progresses, this will change quite a bit. Sounds will become disorienting and negative. The end shot will conclude this with some tonal resonance. Not sure of precise details yet.

 

This is all part of the process, and I am wholly enjoying it. Not knowing what to expect is fine. I am in this project to learn more about the technicalities of making a film. Learning what it takes, how to put it all together and the process I can only be aware of by experimentation. I am learning a lot, and this gives me freedom.

 

Not being attached to restrictive filters, making me go for perfecting. I am learning so I am playing. This is not a job, it is exploration, observation. While I am aiming for something with my project, I think going at it, knowing that I know nothing makes me think less, and do better. That’s not to say there are not imperfections in my project though.

 

I am very happy with the progress I have made with this film, in an odd way though, I am a little happier with what I notice to be its weaknesses. There are many things in the composition, both audio and video, that I would like to see different. Things are not perfect. But this is where I am learning everything, what I should keep in mind as I go about filming is important.

 

Currently I am playing with the audio, like I said. I think I need to be more careful next time I am recording audio. I want clarity. With everything I have captured, there is constant hissing in the sound and I am learning to work with it in the program. The problem is a learning opportunity, in the present and in the future.

 

This is where I am at.

 

Sage M. wee editing bits

I am in the middle of editing the video on my project. Finding difficulty in one part. Not sure how to explain it. Here, I am going to think about it. First, the transition I make in this film between natural landscapes and those inhabited and changed by humans is needing to be created in a way that makes sense and keeps the viewer in a place, not jarring them into confusion, shock or something weird. Although I think I want there to be some disorientation within the film, I need there to be something solid and linear in how everything unfolds.

 

I showed some people in my class a bit of the footage I currently have, in its rough edited state. Repetition seems to be something I will tackle. That is not the big deal in my eyes. They mentioned that when humans come into the picture, there is a strange lack of purpose felt in the moment. The intentionality of putting a person in natural space seems lacking. I think I want there to be a person in this film. But am not sure if it is important.

 

A lot of the footage I have of nature and the city does not have people in it. I am capturing the landscape. In the city, I think people make up a large part of the landscape, but they do not necessarily have to in this film. I can show a mentality, the feeling of the places and the overall impact on environment when it comes to human intervention with nature.

Close Viewing, Sage M. of Masulin Feminin

Sage McClune—- Close Viewing of Masculin Feminin.

“Little by little during these three months I’ve noticed that all of these questions, far from reflecting a collective mentality, were frequently betraying and distorting it. My own lack of objectivity, often unconscious, most of the time corresponded to an inevitable lack of sincerity on the part of the people I was questioning. So, without knowing it, I was deceiving them and being deceived by them. Why? No doubt polls and samples soon forget their true purpose, which is the observation of behavior, and insidiously substitute value judgements for research. I discovered that all the questions I was asking any Frenchmen conveyed an ideology which didn’t correspond to today’s customs but to those of yesterday, of the past. Thus I had to remain vigilant. A few random observations came to me by chance and served as guidelines.

A philosopher is a man who pits his own consciousness [conscience] against opinion: to be conscious is to be open to the world. To be faithful is to act as if time did not exist. Wisdom would be if one could see life, really see, that would be wisdom.”

In class the other day we were asked on a list of questions, “what do you make of this statement?” I am going to explore my own interpretations of this piece for my essay.

First off I think that the commonly held idea, that Godard projected himself onto Paul, is important to consider when evaluating Paul’s last monologue. Depending on the answer, what can be made of the statement would likely change drastically. I imagine the director definitely does project himself onto the character. Second, If Godard had such a close tie to the film that Paul became a surrogate self for the director, understanding the film means understanding Godard, or at least learning a bit about his motivations and thoughts on the film.

I found an interview in which Godard speaks about the film. He says that for him, it was a search for cinema. Not knowing where he was “from the point of view of cinema” He was “in search of cinema” and “wanted to use cinema to speak of youth, […] or else use youth to speak of cinema.” This statement is confusing. However, as a result of Godard approaching the film in this way, it can be understood that Masculin Feminin is essentially an experiment. For him, the film is an exploration, a search.

I think this helps answer the first question of whether or not Godard projects himself into the film, specifically onto the character Paul. If this film is an experiment, with Paul being the main character of the experiment/ story, it makes sense that Paul would naturally be a character for Godard to use in such a way.

Along with this, Paul is a character of questioning. He is interested in sociology, philosophy and poetry. He is also a pop culture revolutionary, trying to learn about the world around him that he is never content with. He always seeks change while trying to understand the truth. This last statement can be made after considering his engagement with the work in polls he is doing, along with the questions he poses and the things he says throughout the film. This last monologue expresses an important aspect of Paul’s character. “To see life, really see, that would be wisdom.” These last words we hear him speak, along with his observation of the deceptive and tricky process of taking polls, expresses his longing to understand the truth. This makes me think of Godard. Godard was also searching for something, looking for the cinema, something he had somehow lost.

In the same above mentioned interview, Godard expresses his thoughts on young people and why they are so central to the film. He sees the youth in the film as not yet morally conditioned, and as a result there is a spontaneity about them. This spontaneity is what drives the film. It is less a film about the characters in the story, and more about the people who act in it. Masculin Feminin is a story created with the young people, it is not about them.

The spontaneity Godard sees in young people is apparent in the films structure. The story itself is quite spontaneous, created without any plot line, the only things really linking the story together are the characters we see, the environment in which they live- largely influenced by the relationships between them, and a rough idea of time. Instead of using developed plot, Godard takes notes in a spiral bound notebook and often creates script pieces and structure for the story the night before or on the set. The piece unfolds as it is being told. There is no exploration of a predeveloped idea, instead, exploration of reaction and interaction; what is currently happening and what that means and what happens next is central to the film.

This sounds very connected to Paul’s last speech. He says: “I discovered that all the questions I was asking any Frenchmen conveyed an ideology which didn’t correspond to today’s customs but to those of yesterday, of the past.” And in another segment he says: “without knowing it, I was deceiving them and being deceived by them.” His own “Lack of objectivity” the questions posed, created by people living in worlds separate from the ones they sought to explore made it impossible, or at least very difficult to find what they looked for.

If this film was an exploration, a seeking of cinema, as Godard says, maybe it was also an answer to the dilemma regarding wisdom that Paul poses, or rather, Godard poses, at the end. To see things as they really are. Maybe to see things as they really are, one has to observe rather than pose questions that directly influence the answers so hungrily sought. If this is true, this film is a piece, developed in search of an answer to a question that can’t be asked.

Godard worked to create the piece reactive, to make it alive. He even says “There is no difference between what they [the actors] did during the day and what they represented in the film; it was exactly the same.” That is why the film was not made following a predeveloped storyline. As it was being created, the story told itself for Godard. Masculin Feminin is the consolidation of 15 facts, 15 observations of different events in the characters’ lives.

For Godard, the film was a process of exploration, of observation, trying to find cinema. The character Paul, takes note of “seeing, really seeing” as being important for wisdom. This seems to be what Godard was after. Working with young people, he went out of his way to capture the lives of youth. Their lives and worlds presented in the film, represent something larger. They represent the youth, the spontaneous, reactive and morally unconditioned youth the film is all about.

This leaves me with a shaky question. What then is cinema to Godard? He thought he could find it in the lives of young people, by watching, listening and talking with them. For him it cant be something he asks about with questions conveying predeveloped ideologies. Maybe instead, for Godard, cinema is the truth, a certain truth. It is representation of the world as it is. Preconditioned filters distorting reality. That would be why Godard chose to have young people create the film.

 

What then is cinema? Wisdom? Pure cinema, would be to see, really see.

 

Godard couldn’t ask the questions he wanted an answer to. So the film served, in another way, as an exploration for that answer without directly asking the questions.

Notes On Project

I have been spending time editing and compiling the raw footage I have taken from online, and in the outdoors. During the process, I am beginning to understand how to tell a story with film. It is both complicated and simple- I think, not sure; one thing for certain is it takes a lot of time.

 

I have been going through all of the footage, and as I sit there my mind is running, putting everything together trying to form an understandable story with everything I have shot. That is the trick it seems, creating an understanding. I have filmed in a variety of settings, capturing my surroundings. I understand where I have been and what I am trying to do. But when I put it on film, conveying that information for other people is a trick. I have to provide context. I have to make it so that somehow, all of these different shots are linked together in a way that is not completely confusing.

 

I first noticed this as a puzzle when I began trying to tell my story, beginning with a scene in the mountains. I started with an understanding of what I wanted the structure of the story to be like, but the scenes that give information to make everything understandable, linking them together is like a jigsaw. All of the different scenes must be connected somehow.

 

At the moment, a solution I have been draw to is trying to at least make the cuts and transitions understandable to the eyes. I want to move between scenes in a way that does not leave the viewer spending time trying to understand what they are looking at. This, I think, means matching up lighting, contrasting shots, subjects and more, in a way that sort of leads the viewer on a journey they don’t have to helplessly feel their way around in.

 

This is what I have been doing so far. At the moment, everything is still very roughly cut.

 

I shot a winter scene in the Olympics. There is snow and trees and rocks. Then I cut to a scene in a green forest. To make the transition between the two worlds, it seemed that with what I have, the best thing to do would be to take advantage of tree lines. I found shots from both scenes that end up pointing to the bright sky, with tree tops visible coming from the bottom of the frame. The winter shot pans up to the tops, then the green shot pans down. Then I can move into that scene. The next two transitions relied on close up shots showing lots of detail, with two different trees as the subject. I transitioned from the forest to a swamp, first panning slowly, with a semi close shot, across the trunk of a mossy tree trunk with ferns growing from it, then I cut to a close up of a tree trunk in the swamp. The tree is on the left, with swamp environment shown blurrily in the background. After that, I transitioned to a desert/ plateau scene, transitioning using close-up stills of berries on bushes I found in both locations. The first, a holly tree with bright red berries, the second was a Juniper with dusty blue berries.

 

Two more notes before I end this entry. I have also been tweaking and learning how to transition from shot to shot within scenes, moving around the environment in a way that works with what I am doing. This requires similar techniques. It seems this way anyway. Everything I am learning here is purely based off of my own watching the things I have shot. Putting things together, when they were filmed with no thoughts on how that works.

 

The second things I learned: when I am filming, I need to keep transitions in mind. It couldn’t hurt I think. Story boarding and knowing exactly what I am filming would be very helpful as well. May make for more cohesive piece.

Thoughts

Thinking about the simple truth of we are all beings of individual experience. I think of the fact that we are beings. We are experience, individual. Hmmmm. Something about the clock here. I keep thinking about the clock and how we follow the rules of a clock so religiously. I think about the clock and the world we live in, it is mechanic and artificial. It seems that we are training ourselves to be disconnected from what we are trying to tell ourselves. What our bodies hearts and minds scream to us every waking day.

Example. Base off of logic and some stuff I have read. Giving birth, many muscles are used. It is commonly know, I think, that muscle tension in general is not a good thing. We get massages and all sorts of remedies meant to cure the tension. Now I think of a hospital. These places are built, sterile and inhumane. Clean is good, but who can say they feel comfortable in a hospital? Now when it comes to giving birth in one, somehow we have convinced ourselves that this is the way to do it. Sometimes it is necessary. I think though, giving birth in a stress free environment, one where it is possible to be calm as possible that seems important. I have heard of many very successful homebirths. I have also heard of many C-sections in the hospital.

This leads me on the tangential path of us fucking up our bodies by not listening to them, and instead listening to these other forces around us that seem social and helpful but may be anything but.

We are told what food to eat, how much to sleep, what to do for exercise, what habits are good, how to be happy, to take medications to cover up problems, to suck it up and push through, to be this and not be that. On and on and on.

We are social creatures yes. So I feel that fact must play a role in our health. I was just reading a study about synchronicity between humans and increase in pain tolerance. What does that say?

Are we really getting the help we need from humans who want to help us? Are we living in a community of people who love and care for one another? Or are we becoming isolated and blunted, insensitive to the world around us as we listen to the words of corporate life that feeds off of money. Are we listening to a fictitious creature that lives off of our perpetuation of that fiction? Must we devote our lives to keeping this creature alive? Are we also living in a world that makes it so difficult for us to listen to our bodies, to celebrate them and understand them?

Maybe we should keep throwing drugs at the pain and discomfort, dumbing ourselves to sensation. Maybe we should take more drugs for psychological ailments and forget about the roots of the problem or other ways of helping these people.

Think think think….

Are we living in a world that disconnects us from ourselves? From our bodies and minds? Are we addicted to feeding the creature? (Capitalist, corporate, profit driven priority.)

From a book: Most of our world is made up inside our heads.

From Buddhist philosophy: take away craving, aversion- the need to control. Replace with awareness to all things. Everything changes. Feel and be aware

My thoughts: what role does social relationships have in us being aware? Of experiencing? Why is relation, friendship, synchronicity, solidarity important?

Research: Synchronicity, the social animal, mindfulness, meditating, stress, environmental factors in shaping the human experience, the human experience- also based on context.

11-17-16 thoughts on project. Sage.

This is completely uncharted territory for me. Still figuring out what I need to do and how to go about doing it. I am compiling more of a strategy for handling this project though.

 

I need to reach out to people. I can do this in a variety of ways. Public interaction. Planned interview. Friendly conversation. Listening and observing without my interacting.

 

I also need to simplify my approach. This was mentioned to me by one of our instructors when I first brought up by idea for a project. I am handling something that is a little too vague and out of my reach. This was brought up to me by a friend when we were discussing my project. I am working on this refinement right now. Seem to understand it more and more.

 

Also working on more research. As I have never worked with film in such a serious setting, I am needing to learn a lot. Techniques for shooting, capturing feeling, certain perceptions. Telling the story of a scene and directing the viewer in a way that leads to that and their own interpretive understanding of the scene.

 

How emotion is more successfully captured on film? Something to look into.

 

Much of what I imagine needs to be shot outdoors as well. Waiting for the rain to clear. Hmmmm….

 

Side notes…. I find it difficult to figure out how to properly juggle school and work, along with this project. So many things happening. I think a planner will help. Must not procrastinate.

 

Also, trying to figure out how I can incorporate the work we are doing while viewing films and reading and discussing books into my project. I think watching the films in class helps give me a better understanding of film techniques, with the right eye. The three books we have read all deal a lot with personal perception and identity it seems. Especially the outer and inner worlds of people, cultures and more. I think I am missing some important things… Must keep an open mind.

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The Evergreen State College
Olympia, Washington

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