Saturday, May 19, 2012

She's a friend's imaginary solitude standing with a second kind of one of us

"And i turn to the crowd as they're watching
They're sitting all together in the dark, in the warm
And i wanted to be in there among them
I see how their eyes are gathered into one"

From Solitude Standing by Suzanne Vega

Assuming anyone ever reads this and also cares about spoilers, i'm planning to ruin a short story, a movie, a webcomic and possibly also a song for you. The movie is translated in English as She's One of Us, the webcomic is Nowhere Girl, and The Second Kind of Loneliness is an old scifi short story by George Martin. The song, though less specific through brevity, serves as a convenient backdrop for the others.

Elle est des notres seems to perplex its viewers. It apparently put off even the nerdy, artsy crowd, as it lacks a simple wikipedia entry. Not that it's too violent. The one scene of physical violence lasts for all of two seconds and ranks somewhere below the Three Stooges in terms of graphic detail. I would also question anyone who complains about the lack of an explanation as to why a lonely, painfully awkward and withdrawn woman kills the one other being that shows her a bit of friendship. The problem is that the movie does blatantly attempt to suggest an explanation but it is so far removed from socially acceptable causality that viewers' minds reel from it.

As a basic point, the movie's protagonist is alone in crowds. This brings us to The Second Kind of Loneliness. A man takes a job as the interstellar equivalent of a lighthouse keeper, manning a hyperspace gate. It's an unbearably lonely position, isolated even from communication by the sheer distances involved. However, when the relief ship with his replacement comes to take him back home, he closes the gate on top of it, destroying it. The short of it is that simple loneliness is still more bearable than walking among others as a failure, incapable of connecting with them, implicitly rejected and ignored.

Both of the main characters so far also share a certain desperation which leads them to cling (from a distance) to one particular individual, building intricate dualistic fantasies around a coworker or former lover that hover between a view of this other as a saviour, the singular entity that may provide a social bond, and the fear of rejection, of failure and loss. Nowhere Girl is built around this facet of unwilling hermitry. Well, at least the first chapter is, but whatever the larger story might have been if it were finished, the first part stands as a self-contained work. An isolated college student, hovering a few disappointments short of suicide, clings to her perceived relationship with an old friend as the one good thing in her life. The intimacy is of course imagined, and she finally realizes that she knows nothing about him, that even other casual acquaintances, the campus rumour-mill and friends of friends, are all much closer to him than she is.

This is the unpleasant edge that most will shy away from. All these characters seem unique in the extent to which they fabricate the conditions of their potential interpersonal relationships and this ultimately keeps them away from the targets of their obsessions. However, by extension, they also call into question the reliability of normal, 'healthy' human relationships. Is fabricating the pretense, the social niceties, instinctive alliances of convenience, mutually assured destruction and irrational concessions that make up interpersonal contact that much safer simply because this is a mass hallucination?
Her palm is split with purity and passion.

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