The Dark Creative Passage

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Roberta Imboden

The Dark Creative Passage. A Derridean Journey From The Literary Text To Film

ISBN 978-3-88476-732-0, ISBN 3-88476-732-1, 172 S., kt., € 19,00 (2005)

(Focal Point - Arbeiten zur anglistischen und amerikanistischen Medienwissenschaft, Bd. 1)

One of the most important images in this book is the element of darkness within the creative act. The film-maker who reads closely a particular literary text must pass through a long process of turning away from everyday light, toward forgetting, toward a kind of darkness that eventually will lead to a vision that will produce a new work of art. In Derrida’s Memoirs of the Blind, this art becomes sketching or painting. Here, within these pages, this art becomes film. Greenaway reads the text of the Heian Court’s Sei Shonagan, where lovers write letters of poetry, then films a late 20th century Japan and Hong Kong where Shonagan’s text becomes calligraphy written upon beautiful human flesh. Jim Jarmusch reads William Blake and then puts these words into the mouth of an aboriginal who, along with an accountant from Cleveland named Bill Blake, flee the sheriffs in a Wild West film. Denys Arcand’s Montreal actors are crumbling memories of the empty Marcan tomb; Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” characters arise from ancient Maltese Falcons; Jean-Jacques Arnaud’s “The Lover” arises from Marguerite Duras’ Vietnam nights of deep blue, and Anthony Minghella’s “English Patient” lives in sun-drenched deserts, rather than in Michael Ondaatje’s dark Tuscan villa. What happens in between these literary and filmic texts is part of the mystery of creation that this work explores.


"The author's poetic discussions of literary and film texts creates a new text, which is itself creative and, ultimately, a performative application of Derrida’s notion of (in)visibility."

Nicole Anderson, Film Quarterly 60.4 (2007)