Struck Down By The Moment

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-12-14 21:00:00 No comments

When COVID was ravaging Spain in 2020, Pedro Almodóvar tried not to let it stop him:

“If I stop to look at reality, I think I’ll be struck down,” he wrote in an online Spanish newspaper. “And I don’t want to be.”

The linked article, by the way, is a great look at Almodóvar and his work, including some insight into his creative process. But that sentence in particular jumped out at me. It's not that he doesn't want to face reality, but be struck down by it. The size and totality of the terror and the grief, especially of the here-and-now, would stop anyone, and it has.

I do not think an artist is being irresponsible if he does not want to confront the moment, because every artist does that differently. Confrontation of the things that need confronting comes as differently for each artist as the texture of the rest of their lives. Small wonder Almodóvar's new movie is about confronting the ugly reality of Franco's reign of terror that sent hundreds of thousands into the abyss. It's something that needs tangling with, and he tangles with it in only the way he can.

Some time back I wrote about how one did not need to write doomfic about Trump 2028 to "grapple with the moment" or somesuch. The moment is always influencing what you do, because it influences you, period, and all your work comes from you in some form. There's nothing wrong with speaking more directly about the moment you're in through your work, but I've found that has the disadvantage of having a very short shelf life.

One common counterpoint to that is some work isn't designed to have a long shelf life — it's meant to just get the word out, as it were. Maybe so, but there's no guarantee its shelf life will have expired by the time it reaches its intended audience anyway. And at that point, what are you really producing? Most polemics rarely do more than preach to existing choirs.

Tags: Pedro Almodóvar creativity these troubled times