Otter-dogs 84: Uninspiring

There’s a bit in Garden State, a bit that if you have seen the film you probably remember, that was my first-contact with the manic pixie dream girl type. Natalie Portman’s character shows us what to do when we feel unoriginal. We should stand in a spot and make a sound that we believe has never been made before. This should be complemented with whatever body contortions we think are least likely to naturally occur. This was the bit when the character of Sam lost me. She won me back later but at this point, setting aside the fact that artifice tends to annoy me and lying more so, her conviction that this was all that one needed to feel original was ridiculous. For one thing, she couldn’t know for sure that her collection of particles hadn’t done that thing, in that place before. I am willing to concede that it was highly unlikely that they had unless you consider time as happening all at once and she is still doing that ridiculous thing and always will be. And, of course, Natalie Portman, the actress may have had more than one take so if you are watching with that sort of cynicism the scene reads as somewhat accidentally meta. Surely, though, being original is more than mechanically working through a new action.

In any case, feeling de ja vu about something you actually do everyday, and know you do everyday at least twice, seems to me to be an absolute failure of the human mind. It is like taking the wistful wonder out of the world. It’s like the opposite of inspiration. It’s what Natalie Portman doesn’t defeat in Garden State. It’s what she highlights. And, oh boy, is that feeling a dark pit.

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