stories

I don't want to tell you a story

I have a problem with narratives. I don't believe in them. Don't find them interesting. To be perfectly honest, it's not that I haven't tried. But you just can't survive in this world without occasionally disguising your weaknesses as convictions. So there it is. I can't tell a story to save my life. It's true. You'll see. 

Not only that, but there's a little bit of contempt rising up in me whenever I observe a storyteller in the act. As I watch them speak, I can almost see them transform into a little spoiled brat with an oversized lollipop, running around with glazed eyes, contaminating the room with their careless stickiness. 

Maybe I should do poetry. People might be more forgiving about not understanding what the hell I'm trying to say when the understanding part is not officially required. Or maybe one day I'll just miraculously cease cherishing my narraphobia so dearly, and it'll naturally evaporate, looking for someone else to cling to, who'll love it unconditionally as I once have.

But we're getting sidetracked. Let's focus: narratives.

When you adopt the identity of the observer early on in life, you naturally get used to perceiving life as reality within reality within reality. What people sense as TIME that is pushing them further and forward, you grasp as SPACE that is taking you deeper and below. Experiencing life this way becomes easily an addictive habit, since it also happens to be escapism's most effective device. 

However, it seemed undeniable that whatever it was that was 'happening' in the horizontal realm of things - narratives' kingdom - could never be half as engaging as the texture of one moment's infinite layers, constantly unfolding into the present. 

Juxtaposed

(When I said goodbye to my father before leaving Israel a week ago, he left me with two things: "My oatmeal is cold" and "Stop being a philosopher". It made me laugh... imagining a tiny philosopher sitting inside a microwave, gazing patiently through the glass door.)

I'll try to describe the book -- Well, maybe I'll backtrack to our first correspondences. No, actually, let me go further back to film school in Paris. Seems like a million years ago. It was the year I discovered the wonders of editing and the Soviet Montage Cinema.

Have you heard of the Kuleshov effect? A Russian filmmaker made an experiment using an image of a man that he alternated with various shots of different objects. The audience was convinced that the man’s facial expression changed dramatically following every image he was supposedly looking at. Only it didn't at all. Kuleshov used the same image every time, yet the man seemed deeply and differently moved by each thing he "saw". 

So where does the value, the quality of the image lie? The frame has its defined features and limitations. However, its hidden essence or potential can only be revealed, or rather created, through its interaction with other frames, and within the context of the entire sequence or film or life it is part of.

I wonder, maybe that's why we need to go on this ride called life. Some discoveries you just can't make without getting a little… involved.

That’s how I’ve been thinking about our correspondence. I was thrilled when you first replied to my letter. As time and additional letters went by, there was something about my replies that took me by surprise – a foreign yet familiar quality that I wasn’t able to define or point to. As if - as in the experiment - the juxtaposition of our “frames” at that time in our lives created a third element, an effect only our particular match could inspire, and it changed the nature of what each of us brought to the table. 

The next step was, inevitably, going over my email account’s outgoing folder from the past decade or so to study this more thoroughly. I wanted to examine how one side of the conversation – fed by the encounter with a hidden other side - can carry an encoding of a story that is bigger than itself.