Monday, May 19, 2008

Cloze test

Rose from Titanic, Lars, Shrek, Annie from Sleepless in Seattle.

What do these characters all have in common? They are all examples of film protagonists who begin their on-screen life entrenched in their IDENTITY, but fully embrace their ESSENCE just before the end credits start to roll.

IDENTITY is what psych majors would call "persona", it is the false self we present to the world, because it is safe. ESSENCE is the person's truth - it is what we bury under our identity. I wonder how that would translate into the blogging world? Is my blog my identity or my essence? Huh! As if I'd tell you.
Moving right along.
A helpless woman who must rely on the material support of a man; a man who can only have a relationship with an inanimate object; an ugly and unlovable ogre; a rational woman who organises her life like clockwork. These are the identities.

A passionate and independent woman; a deeply sensitive and empathetic man; an adorable, lovable being; a woman who will abandon everything safe in her life for the sake of her own magical destiny. These are the essences, and they are also happy endings. Sometimes they are classic Hollywood happy endings, other times they are simply enthusiastic signs of hope and promise. Either way, they make for good, fun movie viewing.

So. Now. How does one go about determining a character's true essence? Fill in the blanks:

"I'll do whatever it takes to achieve my goal, just don't ask me to __________ because that's just not me."

Whatever you filled in for the blank, is in fact EXACTLY YOUR ESSENCE. It is the real truth of you, that you will adamantly deny, because it scares the living crap out of you, and you would rather jump off a moving ship than face it. But it is you, and you would do well to remember that passion trumps fear every time.....eventually.

This is only a tiny bit of what I learned at a scriptwriting workshop held this weekend by Michael Hauge. It was a wonderful experience. He is a modest and unassuming man who teaches with wit, humour and a huge dose of generosity. He finished his day-long seminar by telling his students: "Now have the courage to go home, and fill in YOUR blank."

It was really only then (look...I was tired...and the line for coffee was really long) that I realised Mr. Hauge was teaching not merely how to write a screenplay, but how to view life, and art, and...most to understand yourself.

And what could be a happier ending than that?


Kathy Rogers said...

Apparently, I am a ditch digger at my very core.


Hilary said...

Passion will always have its way, won't it? What a lovely observation about those movie characters. I can't coem up with an answer to fill that blank. Do I have no essence?

Anonymous said...

I'd do anything to be free, but just don't ask me to leave Cal.

Anonymous said...

I'd do anything to feel loved, just don't ask me to feel it.

Anonymous said...

I'd do anything for Fiona to love me, just don't ask me to tell Fiona that I love her.

Anonymous said...

I'd do anything to bring magical love into my life, but just don't ask me to believe in it.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this post all day.

Identity vs. Essence

Very intriguing. But I couldn't answer it if I tried.

PS-Does this mean we are not waiting in vain for your first novel?

RW said...

I am excited to hear about your course. Please share some more insights.

Sömsmånen said...

Oh boy, this was interesting. How brilliantly you put the characters together! There you see, some people write about their shoes, some people write about the psychology of mankind(and the secret of cinematographic narration). Don't ever hide your shoes in a closet because you think I would dare yo have an opinion about them! Or as Patrick Swayze, another identity bloke who goes essence, would say: Nobody puts Eleanor's shoes in a corner!

Anonymous said...

Whoa. That line right after the fill in the blank -- how what is in the blank is one's true essence -- took me totally by surprise. Now I will be thinking all day about how my essence is empathy and counseling; that's kind of a thwack from left field for an accountant (left-brained, organized, logical, task-oriented) person. There is at least a grain of truth in it, though...

Sömsmånen said...

Ja, that's riktigt, Maria läser your blogg. Hon is inte quite nöjd with skriva på English but will börja if många läser her blogg. Betyder this that your familj doesn't get kvällsmat tonight heller!!??

Maria said...

If you want to, you can use your Swedish/English dictionary everynight if you read my blog in Swedish...but then there's no good for your family if you never make the food...=)
I think I maybe just can write a very short summary every day in swenglish...YES I start with that tomorrow! =)

RW said...

Swedish comments.
Amazing. It brought back so many memories. I lived in Sweden for a year in my early 20's.
It seems ages ago.
Wait a minute. It was.

Anonymous said...

I'd do anything for my children, but just don't ask me to care for, and nurture, myself.

Mary said...

Er Eleanor - that last comment was not from me. I promise I know how to look after myself.

Just reassuring you ! Just in case for some weird moment you might have thought I had gone all anonymous on you!

Maria said...

Hello again Eleanor!
Interesting thoughts in your text, but I don´t know if I agree with everything =)

From now on I write a short summary everyday for you and some other readers from abroad. In swenglish!! =)So ypu are welcome!

I wonder about the it night right now where you live? Here the clock is a quarter to nine (AM)

Suse said...

Oooh you're attracting the anonymice with this one!