I’m excited for Quentin Tarantino’s new movie in a way I haven’t been excited for anything in a long time.
But this year I seem to’ve been excited about something all the time.
I sat anxious and waiting for the advance copy of Don Winslow’s The Border, which concluded his mindfuckingly good Cartel trilogy (from which I’ve learned as much about storytelling as from any other source in my life). I was just as anxious for Bret Easton Ellis’s first book in a decade, White, as well as for Mark Z. Danielewski’s first book since the apparent cancellation of his masterful series The Familiar back in 2016.
The Tarantino thing is exceptional because I almost feel the excitement twisting my guts around. I’m restless. I’m wondering if some of my recent productivity isn’t an effort to distract myself from how excited I am.
When I went by myself to one of Leonard Cohen’s final concerts in 2013 I remember balking at the relative passivity of every person around me (I was 21, they were older) and dwelling on it for days afterward, discussing it with peers and elders, and coming to the realization, finally, that this is how life works: you get older, and things just don’t impress you as much. You stop investing lots of excitement (which is, after all, a kind of emotional capital, so I can understand the reticence) into a single artist’s ability to dazzle or inspire you.
Of course, I can see online that there are tons of people my age and older who hang onto that excitement and comfortably geek out about artists and forthcoming releases. And, somewhat similar, I see the droves of people, the tens of thousands, who pay top dollar to attend Joel Osteen events, Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk. (Myself among them, at least for Vaynerchuk.)
It’s something I’d like to hold onto, this capacity to be really over-the-moon excited about something. It’s distracting and stressful at times but…the giddiness is special in a way I can’t quite put into words. Like this fist-clenching excitement about artists and their forthcoming releases, this belief in their work’s ability to do something powerful, is maybe almost a secular kinda faith. Because the excitement is definitely about the artist, to an extent, but also it’s looking beyond, like, their corporeal self toward that glowing thing in their core that allows them to create. It isn’t Tarantino the guy who gets me psyched for these movies; it’s his imagination that I dig so much, the intangible thing that gives him these stories; and I love how that imagination is filtered through his encyclopedic familiarity with cinema and how that then filters through his talents as a storyteller, his passion as a filmmaker.
A religious colleague who often tries to press his beliefs on me was saying the other day that the reason we can’t prove God’s existence is because he isn’t comprised of matter but, rather, by the Word. I kept asking him to explain, but he’d just say stuff like, “Faith is the proof of things yet to happen.”
Anyway, that idea of God being this ethereal thing—a Word—fits well with how I’m conceptualizing the thing I love about certain artists. They themselves, as men and women, are flawed and maybe unpleasant and even at 28, having only met a handful, I’ve learned that it really is probably the case that the writers you grow up admiring are best left unmet.
What’s cool about these people is the muse, the shapeless inspiration that’s both in and outside of them. The non-thing. The art.
It eludes Words.