It was only after the movie that I started to wonder -- where did that sense of danger come from? Even with the first shot of the dinner table, before we know how any of it goes, that feeling is alive. Why? How did the director do this? It's quite clever.
The house is dark except for the spotlight over the family. They're eating next to a black sliding glass door, adding to a subconscious feeling of exposure. There is no music, suggesting a space that needs filling. All tricks to clue you in.
Every corner of this film indicates craft. Every shift of the camera is significant. I like that. I noticed a lot more the second time, too. When Donnie stabs the mirror with the knife, he's stabbing Frank in the same place he shoots him. In the opening pan around the school, the youngest Darko is practicing the same routine she'll later perform onstage. At the very end when Donnie is reading his book in bed and laughing out loud, it's the same book that Pomeroy has assigned to the class for reading, and that he is asked about the next day. And perhaps a central quote of the film is tossed off by the science teacher in response to Donnie's project: "Did you consider the possibility that children require a certain amount darkness as part of their natural development?"
Today I bought a pair of insulated ski-gloves for fifteen bucks, a jar of grease, a can of WD-40, and a wide-style bicycle seat. I was at work until the sun went down, but still determined to ride my bike, so I clipped a lamp to the overhang in the driveway and set my tools out. To make the bike-lock fit, I had to take off the bottle-carrier, but I couldn't find a hex-wrench that fit the screws, so I clamped it in vice-grips and tore it off.
When I went back inside, someone pounded on the front door. There were four teenagers on the front lawn, talking excitedly. A truck was idling nearby with all the doors open. "Is this your cat?" said the girl who'd been knocking.
I looked down at the grass, and there was Rollo, being held to the ground by one of the kids. The poor cat's head was stuck fast in a green plastic watering can. He must have dragged himself backwards into the street, where the kids saw him in their headlights. The girl was afraid for Rollo's life. "Can you help him? Is he gonna be okay?"
I felt pity for him, but also a desire to take it in stride, for the sake of Rollo's worried rescuers. "That stupid cat," I said. Since my hands were full with a bicycle seat and tools, I said, "Could you pick him up and get him in here? That way I can keep track of him, while I get some tools. It looks like I'm going to have to cut the can off.
It's a good thing it was plastic, and not metal. I found a pair of heavy gardening shears, and slid the thin half under the bucket, along the side of Rollo's neck. He held still for the operation, which was helpful, and also very smart of him. His head was wet and looked uncomfortably small on his furry body, but he wasn't bleeding anywhere, and after about two minutes on my lap he jumped down and went for the food dish, as usual. I was glad I hadn't accidentally cut his ear off with the shears.
At 11:30pm I put on the gloves, sweater, headphones, and iPod. Rollo ran circles around my legs, perhaps in appreciation, but more likely just because I was outside, and nearby. He ran under the house when I got on my bike.
Meat Beat Manifesto escorted me across town, to the Del Mar. The line for Donnie Darko was all the way to the corner of the block. The girl taking tickets recognized me as her friend's boyfriend, and said hello. The kid sitting next to me expressed interest in my iPod, so I let him play with it, and we had a nice little talk about technology and 'fair use' legislation.
This whole deal with deliberately seeking common ground, with shaping conversations to find a connection,... It's all starting to make sense. Things are coming together in my brain, surprising me with their synergy. The ideas are so clear, and right in front of me, for anyone to pick up and follow. I can make choices with my time, to get into situations I am comfortable in. I can guide my behavior in these social situations to find the common ground. These become points at which I can start an exchange. A swapping of opinions becomes a vested interest. We trade names. Perhaps we arrange to meet again -- or not. But that connection moves them over, across the boundry, from the them, into the us.
In that shift, all kinds of opportunities open. New ideas to consider. New things to try. New people to hang out with. New places to sleep. New places to eat. New people who will help if there is trouble. New people who will take your side. It connects: This is what George Washington understood when he led the continental army. It connects: This is what the psychologist was describing, when he said that people "manufacture" good luck. It connects: This is why stardom and fame are so desirable. It connects: This is what I did at UCSC. This is how and why I seduced Eleanor so fast, those years ago. This is how families work. This is how real estate works. This is how everything works.
Can it be that, finally, after these years of focusing, and pondering, and gathering data, I'm starting to get to work reaping the benefits of it?
I don't know, but I do know that I'm feeling a burst of newfound energy, courage, and clarity.
Thank you, my beloved. I know you must have a hand in this change.