When I first met Jacob, we would occasionally go see a movie together, and in this way I came to know of his rule of movies, which was that one shouldn’t talk about a movie immediately after seeing it. Something about seeing the concentrated output of someone’s (a lot of someone’s) creativity discussed in a casual way on a walk or drive home seemed dishonest to him. In the beginning it annoyed me, the way I’d come out of a movie burning with ideas and feelings and he would be a silent wall next to me, but in time I loved the sacred space we allowed ourselves after seeing art.
In a few years, for whatever reason, it faded. He grew up, or whatever. Learned how to politely see a movie with other people present. Fucking stupid, the way we make concessions to others. Sacrificing our inner rituals for the sake of polite conversation.
We went to see the new Wes Anderson movie tonight, and afterward I didn’t want to talk. I left it almost unbearably sad, and thought about that phrase, “unbearably sad,” most of the way home. The way your heart beats so heavy, you feel each thud aching away in a hollow ribcage. He allowed me the quietude with endless patience and space. In time I opened up a little.
What I was mostly thinking about wasn’t the movie itself but how all Wes Anderson movies draw so much attention to their making. You’re so drawn into the world, but you never lose the consciousness of the obsessive mind behind the making of the world.
What I was mostly thinking about was how jealous I was of Wes Anderson. The movie’s themes—war, loss, the fading of a world of fine vintage clothing and home furnishings—were sad-making, too, but most of the sadness came from feeling almost unbearably jealous of someone who was able to say no to everything in his life except one singular project, over and over, for years and years. How when you’re shooting a movie you must have this intense freedom to tell everything else in your life to fuck off. “Sorry, I’m shooting.” for months and months. No pleasant dinners out no playdates no social obligations.
I have that freedom around Valentine’s, and Christmas, and, if I push it, Easter. Last summer I cooked these fancy dinners and that swept up the entire summer. I don’t think I went to one party, one movie, one dinner with a friend the whole summer. Best summer ever. Most stressful summer ever. I don’t want that summer this summer. This summer I want time to myself in the woods, I want to sit in my backyard, which I did precisely two times last summer. I want to read books outside. I want a vacation from humanity this summer, I want to be wolfishly selfish. I want to say no to everything but my own passions and pleasures, I want to run myself down with midnight obsessions, coming in late to work every day and leaving after midnight: missing the loud peopled daytime and having the nights for my own ridiculousnesses. I want to be Wes Anderson, obsessing over every detail of the world I’ve created with no one to tell me to come to bed, get some sleep, take a break, eat a meal, see this band, come out for a drink. I want only to finish the hat, always.
I’m writing all that, and at the same time I’m thinking about the people I love in my life, and how when we’re at our best we’re obsessing together. Forming a team and losing ourselves in perfectionism. This is what happens around the holidays, and it gives me good structure and meaning. I’m slowly learning to let others into my obsessive worlds. I’m learning how to think around other people. I can get deep quiet, Jacob-after-movie quiet, at the drop of a hat at work. I just turn it on, I go inside. Transcendentalism—I call on it every day. Otherwise the days would be so shallow to me—every day an introvert is surrounded by people is a shallow hell. I survive it because as a kid I read a lot of Thoreau and because I surround myself with the very best people.
I’m at a low ebb right now with solitude. After Valentine’s I usually attempt to “take it easy,” and I’m at the end of that particular cycle and am about ready to blow my brains out looking for the next project to wear me down. Nothing is more rage-making than trying to relax in societally-encouraged ways, though, paradoxically, without it I would surely go crazy from being inside the box of my own obsessions. So. I threw a party. I hosted a family member for several days. I’ve been going out to dinners with friends. Leaving work at a decent hour. Movies. Everything has been perfectly delightful, filled with interesting friends and nice times and I’m so fucking tired of it I want to scream until my head explodes. I need intensity, now. The secondhand intensity of a movie clarified it for me, and it feels so good to step into that knowing. To have a problem and to know how to solve it: this is the genius of being an adult. See ya when I see ya.