Author Topic: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel  (Read 4218 times)

Retinend

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2020, 11:25:00 PM »
Welp. I'm rather enjoying it currently.

kittens

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #31 on: August 17, 2020, 05:13:02 PM »
just finished it. certainly an unpredictable read

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #32 on: August 18, 2020, 09:51:48 AM »
chapter by chapter breakdown pls

kittens

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2020, 10:40:17 AM »
read it yourself, i had to

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #34 on: August 18, 2020, 01:51:58 PM »
Whatever it is, it’s certain to be yet another turgid, overhyped foray into Kaufman’s self-referential, self-congratulatory psyche.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #35 on: August 18, 2020, 05:07:45 PM »
it was pretty good

Retinend

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #36 on: August 21, 2020, 08:10:23 AM »
Whatever it is, it’s certain to be yet another turgid, overhyped foray into Kaufman’s self-referential, self-congratulatory psyche.

What a shitpost.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #37 on: August 21, 2020, 05:39:17 PM »
Yeah I think that’s unfair on Kaufmann, he is probably more self-aware than that. For example, the film Adaptation, I think, pokes a lot of fun at the sort of creative person he is.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #38 on: August 21, 2020, 05:40:42 PM »
Yeah I think that’s unfair on Kaufmann, he is probably more self-aware than that.

It's actually a line from the book. The protagonist is a film critic who hates Kaufman.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #39 on: August 21, 2020, 05:57:00 PM »
That makes sense. Perhaps Retinend hasn’t got to that bit yet. In any case, I feel he’s doing a valuable service in posting his thoughts on it. I may tackle it when I’ve finished Don Q and had a go at some Bolano.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #40 on: August 21, 2020, 06:03:53 PM »
Anyway, I think it's pretty good so far. I stopped reading it after a few days, just got sidetracked doing something else, but I've picked it up again in the last week, about halfway through it now. It's very funny in the way that Kaufman's films are. Not necessarily packed with jokes, just lots of strange and absurd dialogue, and set in a world that's just a bit off-kilter. It's a lot denser than I was expecting - can definitely see the relevance of the Pynchon comparisons now. And the main character is just a ludicrous, pompous hypocrite. And I'm really loving the bits when he's put under hypnosis and is recalling Ingo's impossible film.


That makes sense. Perhaps Retinend hasn’t got to that bit yet.

I think he's ahead of me, but it would be easy to forget the line because it's so densely written and the protagonist takes a lot of swipes at Kaufman's work throughout the book (or at least, throughout the first half of it). The only reason I noticed it was because I read that part of the book probably just a few hours after reading olliebean's post, which I did initially think was very harsh as well. 

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #41 on: August 21, 2020, 08:30:58 PM »
You got me! What can I say.

Retinend

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #42 on: August 25, 2020, 07:48:57 PM »
Where was I?

Chapters 51-56

At sessions with the hypnotherapist Barassini he is hypnotised into obviously fantastical memories of the film. Bud Mudd and Chick Molly prattle on amusingly within scenes of the Ingo movie. Rooney and Doodle enage in Laurel and Hardy antics and deal with the trappings of fame; end up putting on a show called "Hades and Gentlemen".

B.(alaam) Rosenberg takes on a roommate who goes crazy and confines him in fear for his life to his room, knocking manically. Very little is done with this character, Dominick. On page 475 the book sort of breaks: "B. is gone" Kaufman writes. He mourns the loss of the character.

Chapter 57: Beckett-like prose (à la "Molloy") in which Rosenberg is reborn in the realm of "The Unseen". This is a metaphor for the mystique of the obscure and unseen films that exist and that film critics crave: He imagines he will find Ingo if he "moves eat towards the Unseen Unseen, for hope springs eternal" and he talks to puppets, a character called "the meteorologist" that doesn't really make sense to me (few of the characters do), and finally he makes love to a sort of goddess called "Oleara Debord" whose characteristics or purpose is also hard to determine.

Chapters 58 - 60: he returns to "The Seen" world and now he has a doppelganger. "My replacement is famous." This doppelganger has successfully remade and adapted Ingo's film "frame by frame" into a Netflix show coming soon. He is also a lot less obnoxious than the real B. Rosenberg and ...is jewish! Have I yet mentioned that our Rosenberg is obsessed with letting people know that in spite of his name he is not in fact jewish and that in fact esteemed ideologist of the third Reich Alfred Rosenberg was in fact named Rosenberg? Chapter 59 is a very enjoyable example of what I previous referred to as a "textual doodle". Our Rosenberg cannot stand this and brutally murders him after he is taken out for dinner by him.

The great enthusiasm I had during the previous 10 chapters is wearing a little thin right now. I hoped we would go somewhere with the doppelganger stuff but now he's dead already so that's that.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2020, 01:55:38 AM »
I'm exhausted just reading your posts.


Retinend

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #44 on: August 29, 2020, 11:19:06 PM »
OK well I may as well say it now, I was keeping a brave face, but this isn't really my kind of literature. I am not having a good time reading it. And I'm supposed to be keeping tracking of this mad plot. 

Still, as Roger Mellie said, "I've farted, so I'll finish":

okay

Rosenberg takes over the life of his doppelganger. He had been living a better more successful life than Rosenberg had been living and is essentially the Rosenberg Rosenberg could be if he wasn't so neurotic. He has a doting girlfriend, Clown Laurie. She is obvious a "new" Laurie, though, not the Clown Laurie whose house he burnt down etc.

It's another example of a fresh start. Nothing that happened so far really matters because the characters have, in a technical sense, no integrity from chapter to chapter. This is much like the effect of reading a book like "Molloy" or "Malone Dies", which are bona fide classics by Samuel Beckett, referenced in this present novel. Such novels as these dismiss the regular conventions of novel, such as any sense of a fictional world's moment-to-moment integrity i.e. internal consistency. That's the genre's form, I understand it, but I still feel a bit cheated and maybe I will discuss later the reasons why it works in the aforementioned works by Beckett, and - I'm afraid to say - does not work for me here.


Chapters 60-75

anyway

...he does Charlie Rose
...he' s a big celebrity
continues to fall in manholes
he's now becoming more and more stereotypically jewish in appearance - Kaufman can't get enough of this gag
...confesses to the murder on Charlie Rose but nothing happens
...revisits the realm known as "The Unseen" to commune with Ingo's puppets for some reason
...there's a vague subplot about a McDonalds type franchise (called "Slammy's") becoming a sort of totalitarian"McGovernment". Just by the way.
...boring footnote: The character whom Rosenberg makes love to in "The Unseen" called "Oleara Debord" is referenced again, but as part of a street name "41 South Oleara Debord". On page 546. I just feel annoyed.
...there's a character called "Hypno Joe" right now and I have no idea what separates him from the hypnotherapist Barassini character we've had the whole damn time
...by this point every one of Kaufman's films has been self-referenced in order to be unfairly insulted in the voice of an odious film critic. Make of that what you will.
...Kaufman's description of some parts of Ingo's film borrows directly from Henry Darger's "Vivian Girls" (p562), and Darger is explicitly mentioned in the text (p630), which seems insecure.
...on page 591 an interesting sort of manifesto for the book's stance on the theme of political correctness. Chapter 70 is very enjoyable in style, but, like most of the parts that are purely enjoyable, a little bit out of step with the odious Rosenberg as ostensible narrator.

Er - Rosenberg has a dream(?) in which he is king of a sort of anthive of Rosenberg doppelgangers (B2, B3, B4 etc) in a post-apocalyptic world. Donald Trumps are replicating everywhere, and they are the servants of the Slammy's McGovernment and there is some sort of war planned between the two camps.

See this almost makes sense when I tell it to you, but I swear to you it doesn't read nearly as clearly as that paragraph did, because Kaufman doesn't say any of this stuff explicitly. One chapter simply begins "Rosenbergen moldering, piled high" (-en is the plural suffix in German, he could have simply written "Rosenbergs"). It doesn't read "A wartorn scene reveals bodies piled high, each bearing my own face" or somesuch conventional literary chapter-opener. Heaven forbid...

anyway

Chapter 75: Rosenberg discovers all the reels of Ingo Cutbirth's film. Obviously this must be a dream sequence, although the "reality" of the novel is stranger than this chapter is. There's not a lot of actual plot going on here when the contents of the reels are described. It it what I earlier called a "textual doodle", and quite fun to read but it suffered from my expectations that something big would be revealed here.

Chapter 76: Ingo is alive and talks to Rosenberg... in a dream, we must presume.

Chapter 77: Now it's far from clear that any of that was a dream sequence. There are far too many mundanities. But it doesn't matter if Ingo is alive or the film is intact because - oh look at that - the film is gone again! (Where Ingo went is not explained. cya l8r). Oh dear. There is a single frame of it which remains, though.

Backstory for one of the several Abott-and-Costello-type duos, Mudd and Molloy.
p645: a sincere statement of purpose for the novel re Ingo's film.

Chapters 78 and 79: we have Slammy's University, Slammy's Space Travel, Slammy's Phones, Slammy's Clinics etc. It sounds like a lot of world-building but don't get the wrong impression: these are mentioned, not described. A lot of this novel feels like "mentioning" rather than "describing." File these chapters under "textual doodles".

Retinend

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #45 on: August 30, 2020, 12:38:02 AM »
Ok so the final chapters return to normality and Rosenberg decides that he will renounce criticism and live the simple life. He falls down a manhole and dies.

Now, what do I make of this book now it's over?

The structure of it was essentially real - fantasy - real, which is like Alice and Wonderland or der Steppenwolf or A Christmas Carol or Heart of Darkness. Like these books Kaufman's novel is a tale of learning from one's own mistakes. Rosenberg learns the errors of his ways and endeavours to be a better human.

The style of it was very beckettian, though a bastard child of Beckett and Pynchon. I think that Beckett had better taste than Kaufman in terms of balancing the literary with the demotic. He, like Kaufman, aimed to incorporate some of the grime of the every day world into the beautifying frame of the novel. This novel tries to incorporate some of the mental grime of the real world: the thoughts that "virtue signalling" seeks to assuage. I think Kaufman is gleefully un-PC in this novel. That's my impression - it's provocative at points. Yet I think at an artistic level he's doing it as a means of pouring his own hateful thoughts into a hypocrite mould that implicates all in our current age: we claim to care about racism, but we still have racist thoughts, don't we? The genre of film criticism is chosen, I think rightly, as the home of this kind of modern hypocrisy.

Beckett was not as concerned with fashionable thought as Kaufman is. I think this is because Beckett's imagination was rooted in literature and the literature industry (i.e. all his literary colleagues), whereas Kaufman's imagination is rooted in the faddish world of the film industry (i.e. all his Hollywood colleagues).

On that note, this is the most I've ever had to create my own mental film in order to read a novel.

Most novels require you to use your imagination, but never have I had to translate words to images so much to try to understand what is going on in the writer's mind.

I think Kaufman's language is often very much the language of the screenplay. Characters speak in a way that is authentic to how people speak in real life. He uses quick, witty throwaway lines that would be realized much better by an actor's performance, than they are realized by me in my armchair trying to make heads or tails of the text on the page.

The allusory nature of the text is also more similar to an essay than to a novel. Novels sometimes make allusions, but these will typically be works that the character in question is likely to have read. In the case of Kaufman's novel, Kaufman's own range of knowledge covers a far broader base of interests than the fictional persona of Rosenberg could possible be equally steeped in. The result is a disconnect between the objectives of the chapter and the intentions of the broader work. Naturally this is fatal for such a large novel, because implicit in releasing such a large work is the expectation that we are dealing with a book that unites the disparate and the unified in life: we expect a War and Peace, or a Moby Dick, or a Middlemarch for this sort of length. I didn't get one. Don't expect one. You might enjoy it.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2020, 01:59:05 AM by Retinend »

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #46 on: September 18, 2020, 01:06:18 AM »
Oh dear.



Retinend

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #47 on: September 18, 2020, 08:18:18 AM »
Quote
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Eh4ttq2XYAE5wyk?format=jpg&name=large
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Eh4ttrBXgAAeEde?format=jpg&name=large

I remember that bit. It didn't bode well with me as I am a huge fame of Kermode, and it wasn't even a witty jab.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #48 on: September 18, 2020, 10:21:22 AM »
It's terrible (and I'm not a Kermode fan). It doesn't make sense. Why would someone write an essay about a film series and title it I, Mark Kermode, Am An Asshole? I think he needed to work harder on the setup.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #49 on: September 18, 2020, 10:46:33 AM »
What's more "chud" actually has an (insulting) meaning in today's twitter jargon (a corruption of the "chad" meme, e.g. as seen in my avatar). Unless he meant that (which also wouldn't be witty), I have no idea what "C.H.U.D." is supposed to signify.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #50 on: September 18, 2020, 11:03:55 AM »
It's these terrible cult 80s films. So I guess a comment on Kermode writing essays about shitty old horror films


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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #51 on: September 18, 2020, 11:35:10 AM »
Thanks for the clarification! OK silly me... that makes sense. Still, it's a shitty dig, because 70s horror exploitation cinema is full of interesting sociological insights, and Kaufman reveals himself to be a little like his snobbish Rosenberg alter ego in treating it as a pointless critical pursuit. Ironically, the one critic he mentions by name is less like the satirically pompous, highfalutin persona of Rosenberg than ...himself.

What did Kermode say about Kaufman's latest Netflix film, I wonder... ?

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #52 on: September 18, 2020, 11:42:17 AM »
Thanks for the clarification! OK silly me... that makes sense. Still, it's a shitty dig, because 70s horror exploitation cinema is full of interesting sociological insights, and Kaufman reveals himself to be a little like his snobbish Rosenberg alter ego in treating it as a pointless critical pursuit. Ironically, the one critic he mentions by name is less like the satirically pompous, highfalutin persona of Rosenberg than ...himself.

What did Kermode say about Kaufman's latest Netflix film, I wonder... ?

Yeah, The Exorcist and The Omen are certainly far removed from films like C.H.U.D. But maybe Kermode has some writings about less acclaimed horror exploitation stuff.

He didn't particularly like Kaufman's latest, although not as critical as he was for Synechdoche.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #53 on: September 18, 2020, 11:58:40 AM »
I do believe he did write his PhD thesis on such horror exploitation films, but that's a vague memory on my part.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #54 on: September 18, 2020, 04:20:09 PM »
It's terrible (and I'm not a Kermode fan). It doesn't make sense. Why would someone write an essay about a film series and title it I, Mark Kermode, Am An Asshole? I think he needed to work harder on the setup.

I think you may have misunderstood what's going on in this book.

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #55 on: September 18, 2020, 04:29:58 PM »
I don't get it either then. It seems to me simply a jab. Just like the several jabs he makes at Seth Rogan Judd Apatow through the book.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #56 on: September 18, 2020, 04:37:55 PM »
I think you may have misunderstood what's going on in this book.

I haven't read it :-D

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #57 on: September 18, 2020, 05:07:02 PM »
I thought it was just a silly meta joke about Kaufman being petty enough to take a swipe at a critic he doesn't like in the middle of his book. It's not supposed to be clever, or even a good burn (although he is definitely having his cake and eating it, as he gets to make a self-deprecating joke about how petty he is, and at the same time he also gets to call Mark Kermode an asshole).

Kaufman is very present in the narrative as the author of the book; he's always reminding you that you're reading a novel written by him. Most obvious example is that he keeps making horrible and undignifying things happen to his narrator as revenge for the narrator's dislike of Kaufman's work. Whenever B starts in ranting about Kaufman, you know he'll soon be falling down a manhole or getting shat on by a bird, getting fired or getting hit in the face by a plank of wood.

Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #58 on: September 18, 2020, 07:01:16 PM »
I'm not saying it's clever, or justified, just that it doesn't matter that it doesn't make sense for someone to write a film essay and title it "I, Mark Kermode, Am An Asshole" because the book isn't suggesting that an essay with such a title actually exists within the universe of the book - only within the somewhat distorted universe of the protagonist's thoughts, in which not making sense is pretty much par for the course.

Retinend

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Re: I see Charlie Kaufman's after writing a novel
« Reply #59 on: September 18, 2020, 07:45:32 PM »
It's a good point that the tone of the book is, in the style of Paul Auster, a very self-aware one. "I am Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter, writing my first novel, which is about films" is an ongoing metajoke that the Kermode passage is feeding into.

On the other hand that feels like letting him off too easily for that passage. Because another central pillar of the novel is its satire of the highbrow end of the criticism industry. Like Nabokov, Kaufman portrays critics as feeble and parasitic, and there's no way in which Kermode could, reading that, feel like he wasn't directly in Kaufman's sights.

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