Lost In Translation

Lost in Translation is ultimately little more than a film about a guy who scores a young escort for himself during a business trip to Japan. True, he doesn't fuck her—what!?—but that's because this is a dystopian millennial romance, where sex is an instrument of corruption and betrayal, which has no place in true, temporary, love between a burnout movie star and his whiny little ornament.
Somewhere on the way to getting older—not yet feeble, but older—we realize that we have arrived at an undiscovered country, as Shakespeare says:

Who would fardels [bundels] bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

From the perspective of the older person, we might call losing "the name of action" in "the pale cast of thought" wisdom. From the perspective of the deranged person, which is to say the younger person, we might call it cowardice.

That is in part what Hamlet is about, a debate between the wise and cowardly, and the foolish and action-oriented. All that holds murder and vengeance to be noble and necessary, the play tells us, cannot rightly claim to be wise. Yet, that which would make us bear the fardels of cruel fate, calling that wisdom, cannot rightly claim to be just.

And then, on top of that, there is the question of what should be done when you're just fucking crazy, or even better, a fictional character. The latter is of course what all modern people are, mashups of various proportions of presumption and vanity and utter, hopeless, fraud.

I was reminded of that unfortunate reality recently when an old correspondent, from the dinosaur days of alt.tarot, came seeking (or stalking) me, wanting to reconnect. She does this once a decade now, but only really to resurrect out last conversation, about whether or not I had stolen her life story and turned it into the Oscar-winning screenplay for Lost in Translation. Yes, that screenplay for that movie, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. The screenplay was ostensibly written by Sofia Coppolla.

But my correspondent, who I shall call R, demands that Sofia cannot have written the movie, not all of it anyway, because the story of Charlotte is in fact R's story—word for word. R says that in correspondence with me twenty years ago, I was the Bill character (albeit more demonic—i.e., honest) and she was Charlotte, delivering many of the lines that would end up verbatim in Johansson's mouth in 2003.

When R. first accused me of having delivered her life story, or anyway enough of its pigments to paint the rather drab and empty vessel of Charlotte, to Sofia Coppola, I just figured she was trying to make conversation, and was noting a similarity between herself and the character. I pointed out to R that this similarity wasn't surprising, as Charlotte was intended to be a blank slate, written as an outline of possibility into which any young woman beginning life in similar, privileged, circumstances, might jumbo-crayola-in her own hopes and fears. That is what they do with movies. Try to connect with lots of people.

R wasn't convinced. And I decided she was delusional, fantasizing about me and some power she imagined I possessed to steal people's souls and lives, and peddle them for profit. A lot of crazy people are attracted to Tarot, as we all should know. I stopped responding to R.

Ten years go by.

Then, earlier this week, I got an email from R. She wasn't writing from a mental institution or a halfway house, so far as I know. She actually has a respectable-seeming job in journalism, is widely traveled, and should have a certain peace in her life and times. But apparently she still hasn't reconciled what she lost in translation.

I asked her what she wanted.

R said she was back to review the matter of how I had obtained and transferred to Sofia Coppola the facts of R-Charlotte, and to ask me, repeatedly—WHY! had I done this to R?

I thought this time I would take the direct approach, maybe give R a wakeup call.

I explained to R that I was quite certain Sofia Coppola wrote Lost in Translation, and that while I was sure Coppola had borrowed bits and pieces of lots of things from other people to construct her characters, I was also quite certain that neither I, nor R, had ever corresponded with Coppola, and did not know her, and so the real answer for the alleged R-Charlotte matchup, was something else.

I thought about Bill Murray's character in Lost in Translation, Bob Harris. I thought about what a thoroughly dishonest person Bob is. He's an actor after all. Deceit is his stock and trade. It cost him nothing to lie to Charlotte, to give her hope, because he will never see her again. What Bob cannot do is to live Charlotte's vain and dreary life for her. She has to do that. And let us be clear, living a privileged Western life of comfortable unimportance is what most Americans call the desirable dream.

I decided I would be the anti-Bob, and tell R a truth she had not gotten into her head in twenty years (or forty if you count her whole life), and that was simply that her vanity, her narcissism, her delusions and paranoia, were all common as dirt. She was like what Charlotte no doubt would have grown up to be.

In fact, she was like the quintessential American these days, raging like a pack of wild dogs at armies of phantom enemies, all hammered out by propagandists in Hollywood and their affiliates in the MSM to encourage the feeling that living a life of constant terror is normal, and entertaining.


Maybe. Or maybe this whole multi-decade schtik of R's is just a writing exercise, to see if she can convince somebody from her past that once again stalking lunatics, with tiresome fantasies concerning imagined injustices they must right, have come calling.

Who knows? Who cares?

I will close with this happy thought. There is a real person, Sofia Coppola, and she did an interview last year discussing the 10-year anniversary of Lost in Translation.

She had this to say about writing the character of Charlotte:
The Scarlett character [was] where I was feeling very introverted and didn’t know what I was doing. It was just a certain actress type that I was hanging around sometimes. It wasn’t a slight at anyone in particular. But the character of the husband, I was just married and trying to figure it out, so that relationship was based on what I was going through at the time.
Now, you'll probably think oh, so it's mostly autobiographical with some touches of various actresses tossed in for flavoring. But R will notice only one thing from that paragraph: Sofia admits she did not know what she was doing. This is proof positive to the R-Charlotte conspiracy theorist that Coppola did not write the character of Charlotte, but rather obtained the lines from—somebody.

R says maybe it was from me. Maybe it was from some guy named Bill. Maybe it was from some guy named Wayne. Maybe it was...

Well, back to sanity—sifting through battle reports from the siege of Kobani.

Oh look—Islamic State blew up a giant suicide bomb. Right.


You set off a particular kind of laughter in me that's rarely triggered as no one really works the Glenn angle save for Glenn. This shake down slayed me.

Glad to see a new post.

And just reread your ruminations on your Life card, The Fool and it's as stunning as the first time.

Wishing you the best.

Glenn Wright said…
I've had (or got) to explain this woman and her ideas to two different women I was with at two ends of a decade. They didn't really laugh. They instead got that special kind of look which if it could be at the end of the missile would be much more terrible a weapon than a stupid nuke. Anyway, I'm moving around again, so I have to settle and we'll see. Maybe this time...I'll be a writer.

[Cue Patsy Cline singing "I fall to pieces"—no really, SB playing it right now.]

What an outdated vision of love [Mac OS CHANGES "love" to "laugh"—naturally]. Today it would be "you walk by, and I shoot you to pieces you fucking bastard!"

The latter seems a healthier response. Anyway, the typical one. What a cunty crop of psychos love brews.

See ya' out there, Mr. Woodruff. (not a threat—just a metaphor).