Rendered Fat Content


Charles Sheeler: Church Street El (1920)

" … none of it can ever be usefully interpreted literally …"

I believe that I am immersed within a movie produced especially for my edification and occasional enlightenment. The scenes I witness reflect something about me, always allegorically, and it's always up to me to interpret what they're trying to say. Some days I pay close attention. Other days, I doze. I know for certain that I miss much that might have proven significant had I paid closer attention, but it remains a significant part of the human condition, to which I'm no less subject than you, to not always pay close enough attention such that opportunities to more deeply understand quite naturally slip by. Nobody else can interpret my movie for me and I can never interpret anyone else's movie for them, either, and not just because I cannot quite see their movie from my perspective. Sometimes, a movie appears that was apparently produced for communal consumption. In those cases, more than one might watch and make shared meaning from the experience. This world is a complex multi-plex, with innumerable simultaneous movies running on an almost infinite number of screens.

Very few things are as they first seem.
Closer scrutiny and greater generosity can always shift initial meaning. Mostly, I completely miss the deeper message on my first viewing. In reflection I might catch significance and thereby gain some understanding, but often, in the moment, I'm confused by the performances I witness. I'm not always or even usually able to keep up. I often find myself trying to limit what I can sense, the rough equivalent of plugging my ears or covering my eyes in an attempt to reduce the number of senses pulling in overwhelming impressions. I find I can often see what a scene seems to mean for me when I deliberately try not to see the whole production. Sometimes just the soundtrack seems significant. Other times, just the images absent sound. Each production seems so rich that I might make almost anything out of it. What it "really" means seems irrelevant.

My movies provide my insights. Most are everyday affairs. When I notice that I'm scared of something, that feeling might make enough of an impression to catch my attention, which might shift my perspective in that moment. Then, my experience can be different than it began. What I thought a chore might become an inspiration or an inspiration, a chore. My life can be just as tedious and boring as anyone's, I guess, but both tedium and boredom can carry deeper insight within them if only I can notice. The problem with tedium and with boredom might be that they numb me to TheMovie playing before me. It often happens that I catch myself napping because I've temporarily forgotten there's a movie before me and that it's trying to communicate something, though always allegorically. Anyone literally interpreting TheMovie might be damning themselves to mundanity.

My most inspired times have been when I caught myself watching a musical production before me. I realize that it was often me writing the soundtrack, projecting that outward onto the action I witnessed. I moved with their cadence. Their lyrics proved to amplify significance. I might have been dancing, gliding through my scenes unseen by anyone but me. I not only watched those movies, but also seemed to star in them. An unseen director found my most photogenic side and I felt a little more present and alive as a result. I knew it was only a paper moon but since I was not interpreting my experience literally, the scenery's authenticity never mattered to me. A life, any life, might amount to some form of believable fiction, an allegorical interpretation intended to edify and occasionally enlighten. I suspect that little of it was ever intended to be taken too seriously and that none of it can ever be usefully interpreted literally and that it's all terribly, terribly, terribly important, anyway.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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