Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Category: Week 6 Journal (Page 2 of 4)

Notes on Breathless


14 February 2016

Lucas Weisman

I am grateful for this program, because had it not been for this class, I would have never seen another film by Jean Luc Godard in my life. Prior to watching Masculin Feminin, I had seen Godard’s film Weekend. I hated Weekend, I found it to be pseudo-intellectual and pretentious. I can hardly remember any redeeming qualities of it. It was long and boring.

Luckily, Masculin Feminin was everything Weekend was not. It was engaging and it led me to give Godard a second chance. As I am writing my close viewing on Masculin Feminin, I thought I’d do some research on Godard. I took out a few books from the library and watched his first film Breathless.

I was happy to find that Breathless was as compelling as Masculin Feminin. To be honest, I noticed a lot of similarities between the two films, especially regarding their developments in the history of cinema. Both films are fictional narratives, however their form has a noticeable influence from Cinéma Varité. Breathless has interesting characters and enough spine to keep a viewer interested throughout the entirety of the film.

Michel, the main character, is a crook guilty of the murder of a police officer. He is a self proclaimed “asshole” and Humphrey Bogart wannabe. He wears traditional American mobster clothing and calls his lover “kid”. While he is French, one gets the sense that he romanticizes American culture. When he steals a car’s, his preferred makes are American. Even his love interest is American.

Interestingly, Michel has fallen in love with a woman who seems to have an opposite obsession—she is an American who romanticizes French culture. She puts up posters with the artwork of famous french painters like Monet, Matisse, and Renoir. She is a young reporter for the New York Tribune (who also sells subscriptions walking up and down the champs elysées; everyone needs to start somewhere).

Michel didn’t lie when he said he was an asshole—he really is. He doesn’t listen to the woman he loves and he often accuses her of being a coward (a trait he believes to be the absolute quality for person to possess). Of what he is accusing her of being afraid of is not always clear. These remarks do more to characterize him as a classic misogynist than anything else, perhaps he is influenced by Bogart.

kate macmillan, journal wk 6

descent of isa (a vivid dream)

I was watching Isa but somehow, against my will
and better judgement, we ended up at stranger’s party.
Isa got drunk and began to physically digress in age.
Her four years of life were sucked away in front of my eyes
and I couldn’t bare to watch. When I tried to swaddle her up
she peed in my hands and screamed in my face.
I left her on her own, squirming on stranger’s floor.
The night train was coming right by stranger’s door
and I jumped onto the caboose. I grew tired and closed my eyes
When I opened them  Isa standing was with me, four again, and I told her
that all of this has to be a secret and for once she didn’t ask why.
We leaned over the railing and watched the tracks shoot out from under us
and disappear into the distance. 
I opened my eyes and Isa was where I left her before,
of course I had to go back. When the train stopped I got off
but I knew it wouldn’t start until morning
so I set out on foot, tracing the tracks back.
It felt like I was walking nowhere,
but in no time I found Isa in a crib
in an empty blue room
in stranger’s house.
Looking around,
I knew that I had once lived there.
But all comfort pissed out of me
when I bent over the crib and saw
that Isa was now a small rabbit.  
Her pelt was too fragile and
peeled away in patches
and I tried to stick it back on.
The crib was infested with black beetles
that bit Isa but she bit them back and swallowed
but they reemerged from a small hole on her haunches.
I was repulsed but I stayed in the blue room.
I loved this little girl.
I knew this would never get better,
I knew I had to take care of her,
I knew there would be no end.
I sat by her side every day,
trying to keep her skin on
and the beetles off.
I awoke every morning to her screaming.

Whitman: Oscar Wao, a wondrous life?

It’s probably because its 1:00am, with my usual defenses down, that I am struck with such hope and sadness after finishing The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao. I hesitate to say that the ending was profound, or rather endings (Tolkien would be proud). Though I hesitate to call anything profound nowadays. But the ending has struck such a chord within me, that I find my exhausted self not wanting to sleep. Once Oscar died I found myself wondering, despite the refreshingly honest tone of the book, if any of Oscar’s life could be considered wondrous. But the book kept one last trick up its sleeve by withholding Oscar’s letter until the end.

            It’s almost cheesy but Oscar’s new found appreciation for life “The Beauty!” re-contextualizes the martyrdom of his death for me. Looking at the pen-ultimate ending, in the quote Oscar picked from Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan says “Nothing ends, Adrian, nothing ever ends.” For all the nihilistic connotations this line has, with the fate of the curse and the futility of choices, there is also a relativistic view of existence. Without ends, lengths of time are irrelevant which is what Ybon reminds Oscar when he shares how he waited “so god damn long” to get laid. She says to call the wait life. Oscar found wonder in his life outside of fantasy, in the intimate moments he shared with Ybon. It seems to Oscar that all his suffering doesn’t matter in the end, he died for his own happiness, which is more than Yunior can claim, saying to himself at his most indulgent low, “You win Oscar, you win.”

If time is relativistic and Oscar’s life is defined by what little happiness he managed to find, then it truly was a brief and wondrous life.

Keegan Linnett, “Neighborhood Starting Gate”, 2/14/16

The closing of the door to my posterior and the first breathe to implode in me a vibrant new world is the first reminder of every crashing new day in this cul-de-sac . And there’s no rest and there’s no breathe to take that will hold me down in the way that I want it to. And the last hum of the sunrise dissipates itself as a gift to the clouds en masse.

Going to school, going on my bike, on bike fully chilled, my head bobs to the power trip substantiated in the canonized lyrics of the Wu-Tang or the fat power punk of Titus Andronicus still sounding true. Legs can float and bikes float faster.

My starting gate is the entire neighborhood because it is inconveniently partitioned by the deep ravine that separates us from the going to anywhere. It isolates a whole neighborhood, dooming it to a diagram featuring the characterizing “NO OUTLET” signs of the place. With one way both in and out, I nuzzle the familiarity of the starting gate.

The trees here are mangy and sick looking, the ones that are built strong and impenetrable but in asking too little have forgotten their own claim to lush homeland. It’s like the settling of this neighborhood was a colonization that introduced things unholy in an unnatural evolution, like houseloads of students. The malleable binaries are not enough that blend the natural and the implanted. Streets ride to dirt in subtle transitions sure enough but this only raises the question of intention or interest.

Now I have my landmarks here in my starting gate: the stone statue of a hound by the mailbox that is not stone, the fenced garden lined with prayer flags, the interior porch of the red house that used to hold an upturned bicycle but now just storage boxes into which I cannot see, the detached  garage I watched being built by two for the four weeks of December: rocks, cement, frame, and one day it materialized into existence. In fall there was the man who walked the biggest dog. At least as frequently as every other day, I saw him in never the same place. There was the familiarity between nods, but that landmark has since gone and left the tiny residual sadness of those nice things that are not very important but leave you missing them nonetheless because some small part of your cumulative happiness was shallowly burrowed there.

Freewrites. 2-14-15, Tommy Chisholm

As it stands, my project is broken into three sections. The first one dealing with mirrors. I sat down for about an hour or two and tried to write down everything I could think of when “mirrors” came to mind. I’m currently using this freewrite as a bit of an outline, well, actually, it’s more of a point of reference to mine for inspiration. I’d also like to note that this was a completely unedited stream-of-consciousness bit of writing, so bear with it when its language fumbles and becomes occasionally obnoxious. 


Here’s some samples from it…


The mirror is a window, and a window, too, acts as a mirror. We mistake a window for a mirror, as they disguise themselves as such. Mirrors are also metaphoric of windows. They show us our physical unconscious selves. We can consider our subconscious while sitting on a couch or laying down before bed, but we aren’t face to face with it as we are when we gaze into the mirror. In the mirror we start to piece our past together, up to the present, we try to make sense of the linear path, and we find ourselves skeptical. Skeptical of who we are and who we’ve been. In this gaze we exist out of time as we mine the past and examine the present. Memory is blurred by the fictions our minds create. 

What is a mirror? A piece of glass with a thin piece of plastic, or metal, glued to it? A mirror is an object, a vanity tool. We gaze into them and find our most hated features, we focus in on them and that seems to be all that’s there: a walking, talking, living, breathing: blemish. But mirrors also allow us to see around corners, behind us, and in secrecy. They are carriers of light, bouncing it away in new angles. They’re opposites too. Left is right and right is left in the mirror. It throws my depth perception off and I’m mystified by every person who can use a mirror to cut their own hair. Mirrors are often left with lesser animals, those who can’t make the distinction between themselves and the image staring back at them. They are kept company by their own reflection, made less lonely by the mirrors deception. It’s a haunting thought. Do these animals then lack self awareness? They are conscious, we can observe their decision making processes. 

Mirrors can be broken, their shards used as weaponry. The glass is struck, a crack spiders out and the pieces fall; in that moment before the drop you see yourself, fragmented in infinity and just as soon as you were there, you are gone (DEAD).

A mirror is like a chameleon–though even lower–it can only reflect, it cannot e anything of it’s own. So what do two mirrors reflect back at one another? Press them together, their kiss is just for the two, and in darkness. And in the darkness they are one with lightlessness. Their reflection is nothing. Their dark embrace is a secret. I’m at a loss, is it impossible to steal a glance? Could words even merit that glance? There’s no way I know how to shine–to sneak–a light onto their embrace without them just chameling, reflecting that bulb, that flame, that chemiluminescence. What their true reflection is, or if it even exists, is not going to affirm anything. If we find out, what will be there to gain from this new knowledge? A new metaphor? 

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera writes: “Metaphors are dangerous. Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.”

I like the idea of mirrorselves, when we look into the mirror it stays after I leave, it behaves in some different way. It’s behavior needs to be pure sincerity, all vulnerability. It’s the fearless version of myself with nothing to lose. He’s completely honest, humble, and empathetic. How can that be shown and not told? 

Headin the Right Way

I was reading Oscar Wao one fine Sunday Evening trying to think of what I would write for my close reading that Tuesday. As intriguing and well written as the novel was I wasn’t sure what my take on it would be be. The perspective of the story teller, the stream of contagiousness mixed with the footnotes and interesting use of brackets and ellipses. The novel was ripe with material to deconstruct but I lacked my own thesis.

I went to bed searching for inspiration in my dreams. Turning my pillow onto the other side of my small twin sized bed, trying to inhabit a different mental space hoping for inspiration.

That night I dreams of climbing to the top of a great mountain where a wise man whose beard inhabited the entire funky galaxy resided and sat cross legged waiting for me..

“What should I write my paper about?”

“Know the truth and it will set you free.”

He anointed my forehead with his index finger and sent me off the edge of the universe, where I fell past all time, history and civilization.

I opened my outer eyes. I awoke staring at the floor.


My stomach was clenched, ears wringing. I writhed on the floor moaning. Aaah. 180 lbs of me had fall out and bed and landed four feet down on my forehead at ~6:00 AM. The confusion was unparalleled. 

In the doctor’s office on campus I was examined and told that I was unable to read or watch video or do any strenuous mental activity for the next 24 hours. I asked incredulously what I could do besides stare at a blank wall. She suggested I go walking.

On my walks around campus I met some new people, talked to some girls and then caught up with some people I hadn’t chatted with in a while. I walked to the beach and then to the organic farm and then back to my apartment. I played Frisbee, pet a cat, fed some chickens. The weather was gorgeous and my skin became less pale.

I had a lot of interactions I wouldn’t have had if I was able to do my homework (or play video games). Things were good till sunset. At which point someone came to our apartment and held us as musical hostages while he forced us to listen to his shitty music. It was so bad I chose to stare at a blank wall.

I was like Oscar in more ways than I realized. Preferring the comfort of my fantasy world to the vulnerability of interacting with others.

In my shoken up state of mind this story seemed like a really good way of framing my close reading and talking about the text. But upon hearing that I was too brain scrambled to the assignment Sam decided that I should do a close reading of Winter’s Bone instead- This is probably good since I was unable to read the book. If there was a point to any of this it’s that I should leave my apartment more and maybe worry less about homework.

Medical Note

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.

2/14/16 – Two Days Running – Mike Pezzillo

2/13/16 – 1:42 pm est

Etapa – Stage or phase

Yuengling doesn’t taste the same to me any more. Now it’s too thick, too mealy, too bread-like for my palate. Maybe I’m getting sick. Or maybe I’ve been drinking too much icehouse and I’ve just gotten used to it. Doesn’t really matter. Sitting in Motel 6 in the Banksville burrough of Pittsburgh, my smoking room stinking like an after party, having listened to an intense but brief love-making behind the headboard last night, wanting to fuck, being too fucking tired, she talking about it this way and that, “That was pretty quick,” like you don’t know anything about quick, like at the bar when she used that dessert euphemism that I didn’t pick up on, “Nah, I’m stuffed,” feeling like an idiot, then all this, “I’m glad we both got showered,” and now in bed and blah blah, I love you, I love you too, no sugar tonight, no my friend, none for you, then spending all the live-long morning waiting for Elesha and getting dolled up and on facebook and trying hard to make me smile while not trying hard at all, but wouldn’t I just be the cock of the walk were I to start whining about how we didn’t have sex, about how I feel neglected in this way or that, about how I still wonder why the hell she’s with me, if it’s not secretly just because I fucking pay for things, and round and round we go, and look, the fridge has been turned off the whole time, and look, TSA stole my shaver, and look, I know it’s your friend’s wedding, but I can’t help but feel like some kind of hassle, some chump you’re just gonna shluff off to dance with some hot to trot mother fucker and I’ll go be bitter at the bar, and yes, I know it’s self-pity, yes, I know I’m being over dramatic and stupid, but what more should I feel when lip service is the order of the day, and I wonder again why you would love this diasporadic asshole that shares your bed.

The shame creeps in under the mask of self-pity, turns in on itself, becomes anger, and before I know it she’s crying and I’m berating myself in my head again, caging silence around me like a death’s shroud until she leaves, and then it all comes flooding in in a rush, what a fool, what a goddamned fool.

2/14/16, 11:27 AM EST – Valentine’s Day. What a day for a wedding. Last night, the family Bonhomme and ourselves made good on that age-old tradition of debauchery-before-sanctity (or some such nonsense. The whole marriage thing still strikes me as a bad idea.), and both parties, bachelor and bachelorette, wound up at the same strip club. We raged a private booth with $200 bottles of champagne and tequila, gave our sagest advice to the groom and bride-to-be, and in general spent a shit-ton of money none of us had. Overall, a very satisfactory evening.

I couldn’t even get mad when, sly as a fox in a run, the girl, as she was heading to the bathroom after an auspicious tequila shot, wrapped her arms around me, nuzzled her face into my shoulder. I laughed as I realized the warmth spreading across my chest in gushes was her vomiting. I rubbed her back and told her I loved her. She whispered the same as we embraced, then pulling apart, we both guffawing as our shirts peel away from one another and the cloying stink of bile and lime and agave comes ringing to our noses. I made her give me her sweatshirt and, slick as a boss (if I do say so myself) I manage to remove my puke-shirt in the corner and replace it with the hoodie. No one had noticed, and I tossed the ravaged shirt (via con dios, muchacho!) under a table to the side, a libation offered to the gods of over-priced booze and under-loved dancers.

Smooth sailing the rest of the night, everyone found home safe. Today is the wedding, and by all reports, it should be a doozy. Open bar, fancy digs, good people. And while, again, I wouldn’t advise marriage to anyone, I have high hopes for the couple.

So here’s to them: May your days be long and your nights be pleasant, and may all your love be received in grace and returned in style.


Michelle Grinstead, Week 6 Journal: Heartlessly In Love

Oscar falls in love the way I pretend that I don’t. He sees someone and their life together flashes before his eyes. When he falls in love it is always head first with his heart not far behind, and his penis even closer. I have always wanted to fall in love in an equally dramatic fashion, sans the penis. It feels that sex leads Oscar’s quest for love, and my own path has always had an aversion to that.

I like to make jokes that I don’t fall in love, because I cut my own heart out. In reality I’m just uncomfortable with my judgments on the people I have tried to love in the past. I won’t give a rundown of every person who has left their hand resting for a touch longer than normal on my arm or the times I have made elongated eye contact with someone who made my heartbeat rush to fill my face with a blush. These moments don’t define my own experience with love.

The love I have felt has often been surrounded with hesitation and too little too lates. I never want more unless they have already given me something I could rely on, something to wander off with in my mind. It has always been easier to create what ifs and could have beens in my mind, the way Oscar created heroic rescue missions. I have not wanted to put myself in a place for people to see the creature that lives inside me. It seems easier to create something that won’t ever be real, than to let myself be seen. Oscar is admirable in that way for me, he put himself into the world to be seen and sought out love, where I never could.

The last time I fell in love was with a girl who wanted to fall with me, but like me had a creature in her mind she didn’t want to define her. We built the what ifs together and circled the creatures we had shown each other, while still too afraid to let them go. To let them no longer define how we sought out affection. In the end our emotions became too much too fast. There was no too little, and it wasn’t too late. Just too soon. 

So for now, I will continue to joke about my self imposed heartlessness, and hope in secret that there will be no too little or too soon next time. 

And that there will be a next time.

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