Donnie Darko Inspired
Last night I came across a review of the movie Donnie Darko. Actually it was more of an analysis. I have seen Donnie Darko over 5 times and it's one of my favorite movies. It's one of those movies that is very cerebral and makes you think but I never really re-searched what it was 'really about." So last night I stayed up until 7AM not just reading countless articles and reviews about it but watching the movie twice in a row. The second time with the director's commentary. I'll save my own thoughts on the movie for another time but during my research I came across something titled:
"88 Reasons to watch Donnie Darko Again"
I thought it was interesting and decided to check out the rest of the site. It seemed to be someone's personal site to display his writings and web design skills. I read through a few of the articles and came across one that really resonated with me and I thought I would share it. It's not really abnormal to randomly come across something about Leonardo da Vinci - but this one seemed significant enough to share - especially the parts about Mona Lisa's eyebrows, which I'll have to look into.
Where do you get your inspiration? I would have to say that I usually get my inspiration from random or unexpected events, or through syncronisticly stochastic ways.
I see this mini-poster everyday. When I had a cubicle at Sykes I had the poster taped up right next to me in plain site. Where do I get my inspiration? Everyday I spend a brief moment thinking on this topic. Where do I get my inspiration for life, love, music, art, and being creative? Where does this light come from? This light that tells me to live life everyday. This spark that makes me get up to shower and shave everyday.
Why do I do what I do? Why do I say what I say?
or better yet……
Why do you do what you do? Why do you say what you say?
With their actions, and or words, everybody wants to leave their mark on this world. They want to touch something or someone and change it forever.
From famous artists to building contractors, we all want to leave our signature. Our lasting effect. Your life after death. We all want to explain ourselves. Nobody wants to be forgotten.
I was recently reading about the Mona Lisa. This painting alone has a whole entire story to it, from being stolen twice to conspiracies of witches cursing the painting. The most astonishing information that I read about was how the Mona Lisa originally had eyebrows. They were the last piece to be added by Da Vinci’s own hand. All the paint had dried at this point and he added wet paint on top of the face. This was Da Vinci’s last touch of his grand design, his last hurrah on a painting that is recognized by the entire world.
His magnum opus.
The first major overhaul and touch up of the painting was in 1909 and was done by a master restorer under the name of Eugene Denizard. He performed watercolor retouches on areas of the paint layer disturbed by the crack in the panel. Denizard also retouched the edges of the picture with varnish to mask areas that had been covered initially by an older frame. Denizard came back to work on the painting for a second time in 1913. But this time he “on accident” used the wrong solvent and washed the Mona Lisa’s eyebrows away. The art world was shocked. A scandal broke out that Eugene Denizard used the wrong solvent on purpose to damage the painting. Denizard said that it was a freak accident and pleaded with everyone that is was not his fault. He was scorned by the art community and never worked in his profession again. After his death in the late 30’s some paperwork and documents were collected and given to his family. In those documents was a journal written in Denizard’s own hand. It stated how he knew that the solvent would damage the painting, and knew enough about the history of the artwork to know that the eyebrows would come off revealing skin underneath instead of blank canvas. He wrote about how he thought nobody would notice, he wanted to finish the painting with nobody knowing the difference but him and god. In the journal he confesses why he did what he did and in the very last sentence he wrote: “The Lisa is such a thing of beauty, a timeless classic. I just wanted to be apart of the magic, apart of the history…………I wanted to leave my name behind, I wanted to leave my mark, so to speak.”
This was Da Vinci’s masterpiece.
His magnum opus.
His timeless classic.
His very own piece of history.
In 1956 the lower part of the painting was severely damaged when someone doused it with acid. On December 30th of that same year, Ugo Ungazza Villegas, a young Bolivian, damaged the painting by throwing a rock at it. This resulted in the loss of a speck of pigment near the left elbow, which was later painted over. The painting itself is under attack. Not only does it face the forces of time but the forces of humankind. Everyone wants a piece of history. To alter or to destroy something great. To hold up their middle finger at god and scream, I was here! I did this! Carpe Diem!
Old-school building contractors, they’d never start a new house on a Monday. Only on a Saturday. After the foundation is laid, they’ll toss in a handful of rye seed. After three days, if the seed doesn’t sprout, they’ll build the house. They’ll bury an old Bible under the floor or seal it inside the walls. They’ll always leave one wall unpainted until the owners arrive. That way the devil won’t know the house is done until it’s already being lived in. Carpenters are always writing inside walls. It’s the same idea every man gets, to write his name and the date before he seals the wall with sheetrock. Sometimes they leave the day’s newspaper. It’s tradition to leave a bottle of beer or wine. Roofers will write on the decking before they cover it with tar paper and shingles. Framers will write on the sheathing before they cover it with clapboard or stucco. Their name and date. Some little part of themselves for someone in the future to discover. Maybe a thought.
We were here.
We built this.
Call it custom or superstition or feng shui.
In art history, they teach how Pop Pius V asked El Greco to paint over some nude figures Michelangelo had painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. El Greco agreed, but only if he could paint over the entire ceiling. They teach that El Greco is only famous because of his astigmatism. That’s why he distorted his human bodies, because he couldn’t see right, he stretched everybody’s arms and legs and got famous for the dramatic effect. Because of something so small, so simple, and so irrelevant that he was hailed as a genius. A true artist. A work of art.
John Toole’s mother wanted nothing to do with his writing. She cursed him and put him down everyday for not making something of himself. For not being somebody great. John lived the typical sheltered life of a man who could never get out of his mother’s shackles. He lived with her even in his 30’s. Finally one day he took a garden hose and shoved it inside the exhaust pipe of his car and the other end in through the window of the car where he sat and wrote poems, letters, and his suicide note. After John’s death his mother was mortified. She got sick, really sick with consumption or something. Only after the death of her loved one did she read a single sentence of John’s writing. She confided in another writer friend of John’s and many of John Toole’s novels were published under his own name and became instant classics. “A Neon Bible” (written when John was 16) and “A Confederacy Of Dunces” are reviewed as timeless and continue to be the major source of inspiration to writers across the world.
“Maybe people have to suffer before they can risk doing what they love.”
What lies behind all this inspiration? Maybe it takes something really fucked up for you to write, draw, paint, be creative, or to just be you. If John Toole had not sacrificed his own life he would have never been able to inspire authors everywhere. If John’s mother had not berated him on a daily basis he never would have been in a mental mood to end his life early. Michelangelo was a manic-depressive who portrayed himself as a flayed martyr in his painting. Henri Matisse gave up being a lawyer because of appendicitis. Robert Schumann only began composing after his right hand became paralyzed and ended his career as a concert pianist. Nietzsche and his tertiary syphilis. Mozart and his uremia. Paul Klee and the scleroderma that shrank his joints and muscles to death. Frida Kahlo and the spina bifida that covered her legs with bleeding sores. Lord Byron and his clubfoot. The Bronte sisters and their tuberculosis. Mark Rothko and his suicide. Flannery O’Connor and her lupus.
Inspiration needs disease, injury, death, madness.