I've been rediscovering a couple of favourite books lately.. Although I do have a tendency to stick with a few staple writers and perhaps don't allow myself to discover something new as often as I should, I'm all for re-reading books, and certainly for me the feeling of engaging with a book you loved the first time and have since forgotten is something I like quite a lot. The books in question are rather different on the surface yet perhaps are not all that different when considering them a little further. First up is Mrs Dalloway, seen by many as Virginia Woolf's masterpiece, an ongoing prose stream of consciousness, striving to uncover the human condition through the thoughts and emotions of a small group of characters. At its core Woolf explores the difficulties of communication and the profound effects of memories and the passing of time. The second is J.D. Salinger's couplet of short stories, Franny and Zooey. Most famous for The Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey focuses on the youngest of seven children of the Glass family, a family Salinger has written numerous short stories about, and who, coincidentally, provided rather a heavy influence for Wes Anderson's film The Royal Tenenbaums (not as original as you think). This short novella is heavy with dialogue and once again describes the difficulties language has of communicating inner feelings and emotions, and also discusses the meaning of spirituality. The first part in particular is a rather poignant vignette of a couple growing ever distant, conveyed by Salinger through simple and fragmented dialogue that allows us to witness the deterioration of their closeness.
Writing often influences and informs my own work and these two books seem incredibly relevant to me right now, and perhaps this is why I've picked them up of the shelf again. Woolf's ideas of the transience of time and the significance of fragments of memory have certainly been feeding into my recent work, and the attempt by both authors to highlight the limitations of language when trying to truly express oneself is something I feel I am attempting to convey in fragmenting and distorting images.. It's almost a sensory experience that I'm trying to depict, a feeling of nostalgia or intimacy that you can't quite pin down, trying to remove the image without losing the sense of what is felt. For me it's like listening to music - a lot of the time for me the lyrics are secondary to the melodies and textures of the sound, which often stir up more feeling and emotion in me than the direct images being sung aloud by the singer.
I'm hoping to make a short film in the near future and finally use my ancient cinefilm camera and projector. I'm sure Woolf and Salinger's writing will be somewhere in the back of my mind when it happens.