It Was a Fascinating Trip; My Last Day In New York City, and a Discussion of Repetition, Interest, Stagnancy, and Movement (TheByteWeek Issue 16)

I originally planned for this final article about New York City to be published on July 31st, since my last day took place on the 30th, but circumstances arose and a momentary case of writer’s block managed to aid in delaying the publication. To be succinct, my last day had me visiting the Jackson Heights neighbourhood in Queens, attending a short film festival at the Queens Museum of Art, returning to the MoMI for a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s well-known thriller Vertigo, and ending my day with dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant. I was hoping to spend some time in Central Park – the entire day actually – but the film festival seemed far too compelling to pass up, and though the offerings were less than enticing, I don’t regret attending it.

The event featured a few short films from the Kashish-Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, a four day event held in the city of Mumbai every year. The selections opened with a short documentary detailing the prominence of homosexuality in India, featuring several prolific and key players in the movement to bring awareness and legality to their cause. Though the introduction was reminiscent of many PBS specials, it was undeniable that the presence the documentary held was well felt by the crowd, especially since the feature was shot candidly, with attention only being paid to the members of the movements, their reasons, their motivations, and the facts, never antagonizing one group or polarizing another. I will admit that the documentary was the highlight of the selections, with only one other short film truly catching my eye. The remaining few were an amalgamation of cliched writing, poor directing, disappointing editing, and even worse acting.

To say that the features were amateur would be an understatement, though the core principles of storytelling were still intact – the only problems the directors seemed to have was utilizing these principles in a meaningful and interesting way.

I’ve commented on the difference between a cliche’ and a trope, and I stand by my statement that a story doesn’t need to be told in a new or different way as long as the end result is interesting to experience. It’s easy to misunderstand and misconstrue this statement as contemptuous and an insult to artists the world over, but my point is not that there isn’t such a thing as a new story, or that artists and creators don’t need to challenge themselves – and those that experience their work – by attempting to create something fresh. Instead, my point is merely that art needs to be interesting, fascinating, intriguing, and enticing to both the creator and their audience in order for it to encompass any derivation of the word “Good.” The directors, and their writing staff managed to grasp the main tenements of storytelling, but simply failed to do anything interesting with them – not new, but interesting.

Repetition is even more important to understand in order to recognize that there’s nothing wrong, and there is certainly no shame in repeating themes, ideas, or opinions in order to tackle them in interesting ways. Alfred Hitchcock, a director, writer, producer, and filmmaker renowned for making thrillers that instilled fear in the minds of their respective audiences often used similar themes throughout his entire repertoire, choosing to repeat ideas in order to influence his audiences in interesting ways. Certainly, he created new work, and used different plots to interest his viewers, but the core principles of his work were always the same; his goal was to inspire fear, and though his films aren’t scary by 2012’s horror-show standards, audiences in his time, and mine, were, and are, aware that the plot devices he uses – in addition to the directorial choices he made – are universally known to send chills down one’s spine.

Excluding the fact that Hitchcock’s main purpose was to instill fear, his films also often focused on illuminating the supposed weakness of the female form, and almost all of his films feature a female character receiving justice for her deception, or decision to sin. Whether his reasoning was personal or otherwise is beyond my scope, and what must be derived is that he chose to repeat this theme in almost all of his films, for whatever reason. It doesn’t dilute his work knowing that he repeated himself in any way, since the original goal remained intact; to this day, Hitchcock’s films are regarded as fantastic thrillers that deserve to be analyzed, critiqued, and viewed.

Ultimately, Hitchcock’s films, including Vertigo, are interesting.

This human desire to be kept interested and intrigued extends far beyond the realm of film-making or art, and Hitchcock or the directors at Kashish are in no way the only ones forced to combat interest. It’s undeniable that humans actively seek to be fascinated in every aspect of our daily lives with concepts like boredom or ennui being regarded as matters that require dissection and analysis to eradicate and eliminate. We don’t want to be bored because we don’t like to be bored for the simple reason that standing still or not moving is a psychological and physical impossibility. I’ve often brought up the topic that the only path to move is forward, with difficulty needing to be overcome, conversation needing to be maintained, opinion needing to be provided, and ideology needing to be challenged and discussed.

Not doing so is strange and an abdication and resignation of the most basic human desire to know, despite the fact that adamantly maintaining one’s stance on an issue, and issues in general, requires just as much movement as stillness. It’s humourously paradoxical that stillness is nothing more than the equal balance of movement, especially since the two paradigms are entirely contradictory. Clearing one’s mind for meditation or concentration doesn’t eliminate movement, it merely changes the focus to another more pertinent topic that occupies a more important and more interesting spot in our collective cerebrums. It changes the focus and scope of movement by providing the illusion of stagnancy and stillness.

Whether through a film, or a vacation in a once visited city, or even taking the bus instead of flying, ultimately, any matter of movement is a matter of stagnancy and stillness, any discussion of novelty is a discussion of interest and the appropriate application supposed novelty. I don’t digress by saying that my trip to New York has revolved around these concepts; everyday I spent walking and exploring the city was a day spent exploring a new environment to discover something interesting – if experiencing a novelty wasn’t the core idea to begin with. My vacation is now absolutely and irrevocably over, but the point is that, for a few fleeting days, I overcame the psychological and physical stagnancy that I’m seemingly predetermined to struggle with until the inevitable end. My vacation is undeniably over, but the memories I’ve gained and the experiences I’ve accumulated will always remain interesting.

The journey is over for now, and though it was a repetition of a previously made trip, I must mention the fact that the repeated quest for interest never really ends. Until, of course, The End.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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