So a while ago I stumbled across (or Upon, to be fair), this article by Matt Zoller-Seitz on the Museum of the Moving Image's website. In five parts, it outlines various aspects of filmmaker (I use that term to encompass the myriad of roles he fills) Wes Anderson's style that makes him stand out from the rest. I've always been a fan of Anderson's movies; the clear story arcs, the depth of the characters, and that indescribable something that makes you walk away smiling and thinking about it for days to come. This article outlines, in delicious detail, those stylistic nuances that I can't describe myself.
The article, entitled "The Substance of Style", explores the influence of author J.D. Salinger in Anderson's work in Part 4. I figured with Salinger's recent death this was vaguely relevant.
SIDENOTE: read the New York Times' obituary for Salinger here.
One of the things that really resonated with me from this article was their mention of a concept called "MATERIAL SYNECDOCHE", a style which the article describes as
"rooted in the notion that character can be signified, revealed, perhaps even distilled, through observable details ... showcasing objects, locations, or articles of clothing that define whole personalities, relationships, or conflicts."They go on to provide examples from each man's work(s), i.e. Franny and Zooey's description of Zooey's handkerchief and gold swizzle stick or the extensive use of detail in each character's wardrobe in The Royal Tenenbaums.
Too lazy to read the article? Do you want to have these ideas described to you in a style consistent with the style it is, itself, describing?? I know I sure as hell did. Ask and you shall receive. Watch the accompanying video below:
Synecdoche is defined as "a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole, or vise versa". Seems like a simple enough concept now, do not ask me to describe the intricacies of how it relates to the Charlie Kaufman movie of the same name, which r.s. and myself have long pondered without understanding. (r.s. I beseech you to review that mindfuck of a movie!) I digress... the concept of "material synecdoche" described in the context of Anderson and Kaufman's character studies struck a chord within my own consciousness: I find that I, more often than I'd like to admit, look around me and consider how the objects, pieces of clothing, books, etc somehow define who I am or how I fit into society, or what I love. As I write this, it seems so obvious how we all create our own synecdoche (consciously or not) around us all the time.
What would a stranger gather about YOU from taking a walk through your living space? What story would your material possessions tell about you?
It must be so much fun to be a production designer for films, and have it be your job to create these personal environments that tell a story about the character through their belongings.
What are YOUR thoughts on this?
I think it would be an interesting experiment to post a list of 10 items (be they at home, work, where ever so long as they are a common presence in your life) and have a stranger comment on what they (appear to) say about you. LETS TRY, SHALL WE?
TEN ITEMS: B.G.'S MATERIAL SYNECDOCHE
1. A stack of specialty notebooks with only 5-10 pages written in each
2. Tuberose cologne
3. Spectator shoes
4. Framed children's artwork
5. Labels of Russian words on furniture
6. A tin of Dutch stroopwafels
7. Mario Testino's RIO, full of post-it notes
8. A pile of shells, one turned over as an ashtray
9. A beaten up leather soft briefcase
10. Basil plant in a blue pot
Well?? Who am I??