8.03.2011

Fun Thing Twenty-One: Creative Escapism

When I was in high school, I participated in a summer program's writing group for three weeks. We wandered around a college campus and sometimes into the surrounding town and practiced our craft. We wrote villanelles and one-act scripts and read each other our favorite pieces of writing. I think I read something from Albert Camus' The Stranger. I was so weird.

One day, we visited to a used bookstore. Determined to carry home a properly used book, I bought Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Previous to this moment, I'd only read Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Since I'd exhausted all of F. Scott Fitzgerald's bibliography and I hadn't hated The Old Man and the Sea, A Moveable Feast seemed like the right kind of book for me. Again, I was weird. Still am, actually.

I vaguely remember reading the book, but just as the stories it houses have left my memory, it has since disappeared from my shelves.  Perhaps I lent it to someone or it vanished in one of the many post-college relocation projects. It might be hiding in a rubber box, tucked between certificates of participation (why did I think volleyball was a good idea?) and albums of adolescent smiles. For how little I remember of its actual content, the physical book carries a significant weight in my authorial (and personal) identity. The book reminds me of a time when others pushed me to a creative edge and challenged me out of my tiny secluded world.

The film, Midnight in Paris, with its romantic kitsch and neurotic dialogue, attempts to capture the moment Hemingway's moveable feast. The film indulges the particular American escapist dream of expatriate Parisian life and asks how far one should go to escape reality and discover creative inspiration. It wasn't my favorite Woody Allen film, but it's a cheerful reminder to push myself into a new creative territory. That is the kind of fun I can get behind.


PS: I recommend brushing up on your 1920s authors and painters before going to see this film. The name dropping in this movie was tremendous.

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