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Watch: In Charlie Kaufman’s Work, The Self Is Bottomless and Will Outlast You

Watch: In Charlie Kaufman's Work, The Self Is Bottomless and Will Outlast You

A sense of poignant exhaustion runs through Charlie Kaufman’s stories. Not the bad kind of exhaustion, where you simply want to pass out, but the clear kind, in which you see only one thing in front of you, and that thing, that idea, that concept, becomes the entire world; the reason this idea becomes the entire world is that you’ve been thinking about it almost constantly. It may be a screenplay, such as the one Charlie Kaufman impales himself on in ‘Adaptation’; it may be an art project as big as the Ritz, as in ‘Synecdoche, New York’; it may be one’s memories, and the gulf before and after them, as in ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.’ Whatever it may be, all it does is drive you deeper inside yourself. Leigh Singer’s latest probing, soulful video essay for Fandor points up the loneliness at the heart of self-examination, even as it is essential. In Charlie Kaufman’s vision of the gaze into the self, we are all either running along a deserted wintry beach, like the two hapless guinea pigs in ‘Eternal Sunshine,’ or spat out on a New Jersey interstate, as in ‘Being John Malkovich.’

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