AnotherBlueRoseCase wrote:counterpaul wrote:AnotherBlueRoseCase wrote:By almost any standard measure most of The Return has failed artistically.
It's probably inadvisable for me to respond to this statement, but I'm genuinely curious about what you consider to be "standard measure(s)" of assessing artistic success/failure. Unless I'm misinterpreting, you do not seem to be speaking of your own subjective reaction (which: different strokes for different folks and all that), but rather you seem to be implying something more objective.
I can think of several measures by which TPTR, so far, would be considered a resounding artistic success (critical and general fan consensus, the ability to create "buzz," inspiring other artists, how it makes my guts flutter and zing) but I am also totally willing to admit that they may be measures you would consider non-standard.
It's also odd to me that you follow this statement by comparing The Return to the work of some of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. I suppose the comparison could be meant to imply that Lynch has only attempted something these great artists have succeeded at. Or would you contend that Joyce and Calvino and Kaufman and Beckett are also artistic failures, by almost any standard measure?
Man, I can see how most of that might sound really snarky. I genuinely don't mean it that way (I find snark dull and counterproductive in nearly any context). I find your post fascinating in its apparent contradictions!AnotherBlueRoseCase wrote:It is really anti-narrative, in the sense we’ve had the anti-novels of Calvino and Joyce, the anti-comedy of Andy Kaufman and Jerry Sadowitz, and so on.
This is what really prompted me to respond to this post. It's an interesting thought, and there is some textual evidence that Lynch is at least partially taking an anti-narrative approach (the glass box can be read as a TV and the creature murderously breaking out of it and attacking the "viewers" as a commentary on how we as viewers of The Return will not come out of this project unmutilated; ??????? breaking the 4th wall to seemingly appraise us as viewers before going on to essentially appraise the film itself--these are two examples that jump immediately to mind), but I don't think Lynch is interested in Brechtian methods that keep the audience from investing emotionally. It's not his style at all. He's all about immersion, and I do not think TPTR is an exception.
It's actually not new for Lynch to try and have his cake and eat it too in this way. From his very earliest experiments, he has always been interested in simultaneously revealing the seams, even reveling in the artifice of his creations, and encouraging total immersion--getting "lost inside a dream," as he likes to put it. I think it's because, for Lynch, reveling in the tools of art-making is not in any way contradictory to being consumed by the art. The making of the thing (or, for the viewer, being invited into becoming almost a post-facto participant the making of the thing) is a huge part of the joy of art for him. To be reminded of artifice, in this context, is not to be made self-aware and distant from the art. It's part of the immersion!
This isn't a totally unheard-of approach in the world of filmmaking, but it is extremely unusual in the world of narrative filmmaking and possibly unprecedented in the world of narrative filmmaking at this scale/budget/audience size.
It's a big part of the magic, though. It's not so much anti-narrative and narrative-plus. At least from Lynch's point of view.
It works for me like gangbusters!
I like your Beckett comparison. I think Beckett worked similarly in a lot of ways.
By the “standard measures” of narrative art – strong characterisation and storytelling – many anti-novels would be regarded as artistic failures, no? I’m not saying I necessarily see them that way, but that many others would. In fact, for the moment I’m parking my own judgement about The Return’s failure or otherwise until somebody comes up with a plausible explanation for its anti-narrative approach. Impossible to judge the overall work until we can see why it’s taken this route.
And here it’s necessary to retract something said right at the start of this thread, which was that it doesn’t matter if the shoddiness of this series is deliberate or not. Obviously I’ve done a 180 on this, my only defence being that this is a headwrecker of a work to grapple with! The key has been to see the shoddiness (I could put such words in quote marks but would rather not) as systematic and scenes such as the floorsweeping and shovel-painting as clues to this; systematic anti-narrative being brought to millions via television – as you say, that’s an interesting project all right. And having done such a 180, I should probably be more forgiving of those who see nothing wrong at all with this show. I think they’re wrong in the same way people cracking up at Andy Kaufman (non-existent) punchlines are wrong, but none of us is without sin here.
Good to see the suggestion about an anti-narrative approach has some resonance with you. So let’s put the question directly: why do you think the creators may have taken this approach? Call it narrative-plus if that helps, as the anti-narrative thing hasn’t been completely systematic.
The stuff above about Eastern practise is only an initial guess, one that allows me to maintain the more slightly more optimistic feelings I’ve had about the show recently.
I'm enjoying this conversation and before Counterpaul responds I'd just like clarification on something. I get the anti-narrative thing you're talking about and have theories as to why, but what do you perceive as shoddiness in The Return? Are you saying you see the floor sweeping/shovel painting as shoddy? What are you referring to?