Category Archives: Split Decision

Split Decision: Anti-Realism

by Tony Nigro

Another sample of the digressions Lewis and I get into via email…

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Lewis: This book Reality Hunger is making a lot of noise in the literary world. He’s saying shit like the novel is dead, that there’s a growing aesthetic towards reality.  One of his main arguments seems to be that the novel is dead, but much of the work he cites in the excerpts seem to point to reality being dead.

Is that too old an idea for a Split Decision?  It seems real postmodern, but it’s not entirely invalid for Split Edit given current popular cinema: The Blind Side is a true story, The Hurt Locker‘s “hyperbolic realism,” the shaky camera of The Pacific, Saving Private Ryan, any war film, and then there’s Werner Herzog‘s documentary re-enactments.  It’s not a new idea, but accepting that “reality is dead” forces a creator to actually think about his aesthetics.  And as I’ve said before, opting against a realistic style usually results in a work that can actually relate to reality.

Tony: I like that, although I tend to agree with you so I’m not sure how split the decision will be.

“A growing aesthetic toward reality” sums up that it’s not reality he’s talking about but our understanding of what reality is or can be.  I’m not sure how that relates to novels — they’re just words on a page, right? — but cinema, demanding more of our real senses, certainly leans toward a version of reality whether it’s trying to or not.  That is, what you see in the real world is real, therefore what you see in a movie is real.  That’s some Bazinian shit, I think.

At least, what you’re seeing is a real movie.  That’s some quasi-Godardian shit, maybe.

“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.”  That’s some Bob Dylan shit. Continue reading

Split Decision: Killing the Monomyth

by Tony Nigro

Carl Jung / Joseph Campbell

It’s a little known fact that Lewis and I do more writing to each other via email than we do for Split Edit.  Most of the time it’s mundane stuff, but every so often a simple cross-country “hello” devolves into overwrought, coffee house-ready discussion.  And rarely does it end in agreement.  We’re talking no-holds barred, cage match kinds of emails.*

Dig a recent exchange below, in which we render a certain Joseph Campbell concept meaningless.

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Lewis: What book(s) do you recommend for learning the fundamentals of playwriting?  And don’t say Aristotle.

Tony: Does it have to be playwriting in particular?  Because there are fewer “rules” for the theater.  Most of what I learned about playwriting I learned from reading and studying other plays (and Aristotle).  For dramatic writing in general I like Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, which basically simplifies Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and puts it into movie terms.  I like using that book as a skeleton for an outline and for keeping characters straight as archetypes.  I think it translates to theater and prose as well.

L: I’m not sure how I feel about the monomyth.  It gets boring, not necessarily to watch, but to write.  To keep with one structure gets tiresome.  Granted, a lot of beautiful poetry was written in the sonnet form, but who the fuck reads sonnets anymore?

Audiences are stupid, and I don’t mean that they’re idiots. I mean these days, when someone sits down to watch something, they turn their brain off.  Same with books.  It’s a bit discouraging, but perhaps we can use that knowledge to our own nefarious ends.  It’s like mass hypnosis where thousands of people voluntarily put themselves into a trance, open to any suggestions we want to give them.  I’ll bet you $5 to $7 that teen pregnancy declines in the wake of the Twilight movies.

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