I’ve made a habit of exhausting one’s work before moving on to discover something new. Like a vulture, gobbling-up the last scraps of meat still cling to the frame of an unlucky animal. I’ve done it with music: I’ve exhausted all chance of listening to The Tallest Man on Earth for the following years since I first stumbled upon it, in some fish download website. I did it with Bright Eyes, most recently. I’m now devouring, Mumford and Sons and The Head and The Heart. I’ve been doing it for the past three months or so, and I’m terrified of the day I’ll have to move on, and look for other prey. Dead prey, to make the scavenging metaphor compliant. The current musical panorama also suits the metaphor perfectly, as it resembles the habit of many Coragyps atratus, Torgos tracheliotus or Aegypius monachus… the desert.
Such routine I adopted also with movies. One much less frustrating when applied to the cinematic arts, instead of the auditory. I’ve plunged into Woody Allen, Scorcese, Tarantino, Coppolla, Kubrick, Herzog, Kurosawa, etc. It’s so much easier and so much rewarding, first because they’re such a greater pool to choose from (I’m not picky about movie genres but I’m incredibly so when music is concerned). Since a movie is on average forty times longer than a song, and it’s an activity which requires your full attention, a director usually takes a lot longer to get sucked to the bone.
Most recently I applied this discredited method to the literary arts. I started with Mario Puzo, incredibly entertaining, but not much else. I dove into two Portuguese authors, first Saramago, one of my few sources of prides as a Portuguese man; him, along with Eça de Queirós and the language they both employ so differently, but to close extents of perfection. I’ve also read most of their work, and was amazed at how differently irony can be employed to the same effect. I did the same with George R. R. Martin, but for different reasons. One does not simply stop reading A Song of Ice and Fire. Bukowski was next. Six books in about a month. My whole style of writing changed, and what not. (I rant about it here)
I’ve found that this method is not the best someone could choose. I’d like to say that it works for me. But that would surely be a lie. Reading that many books from the same person that fast, makes me forget them faster and mess everything up in my head: “So he was writing a screenplay about a barfly aspiring writer, who tried to solve a mystery about the Post Office with the help of an alien hottie?” (Bukowski’s fans will understand). Truth is, I’m comfortable with it. It might not be the best method, but I’m not up for trying to find another one. Because guess what, this one is comfortable.
Reading the same guy for a few months is also comfortable. Watching what the same guy directs for a few weeks also comfortable. Listening what the same guy sings for a few months is also comfortable.
Stopping to do something that feels comfortable can lead to two things. Finding out the the comfort was just diminishing the greatness of the thing, and going back to it will just enhance it. Or it will show the quality of the thing resided solely on the comfort you would take from it. It’s a scary endeavor, to leave what feels good in search for something that might feel better. More so when you’re aware of the risks involved. Maybe if we’re just talking about movies, or books or singers or bands it isn’t that scary. But maybe that’s not what I’m talking about. Not really.
I’m reading Kurt Vonnegut now. Three days, three books. I stopped to read something else, and it didn’t scared me that much. I’d like it not to be scary for everything else either.
It was not the thought that I was so unloved that froze me. I had taught myself to do without love.
It was not the thought that God was cruel that froze me. I had taught myself never to expect anything from Him.
What froze me was the fact that I had absolutely no reason to move in any direction. What had made me move through so many dead and pointless years was curiosity.
Now even that had flickered out.
How long I stood frozen there, I cannot say. If I was ever going to move again, someone else was going to have to furnish the reason for moving.
A policeman watched me for a while, and then he came over to me, and he said, “You alright?”
Yes,” I said.
You’ve been standing here a long time,” he said.
I know,” I said.
You waiting for somebody?” he said.
No,” I said.
Better move on, don’t you think?” he said.
Yes, sir,” I said.
And I moved on.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night: A Novel