Last weekend, having a rare evening to myself, I sank into the sofa with a glass of red wine and watched Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s take on urban decay and modern life (more decay) through the eyes of a disillusioned and depressed vampire. I had been wanting to watch the film for a while, and its languid pace and dark palette suited my mood perfectly. Not to mention the fact that the inimitable Tom Hiddleston plays the part of the disenchanted vampire, Adam, opposite Tilda Swinton as his blood-sucking though weirdly ethereal wife of many hundred years, Eve.
“I’m sick of it—these zombies, what they’ve done to the world, their fear of their own imaginations,” Adam complains to Eve, compelling her to travel from Tangiers — all night flights, of course — to where he is living as a reclusive and very reluctant rock star in Detroit. The suggestion that it was possible to live in fear one’s own imagination was one of three things that stayed with me long after the film was over.
The second thing that lingered for me was the film’s soundtrack, comprised mostly of moody guitar riffs in minor keys, lit up towards the movie’s climax by a mesmerising performance by Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan. I had not thought the music would remain with me for so many days afterwards, but strangely enough there it was, the memory of it filling my ears at unexpected moments.
And then, finally, there was the idea of “getting the work out there” which posed such a problem for these long-lived vampire types. How is it possible for a vampire to create, publish, record or (gasp!) perform, without revealing something of their identity or, shall we say, the “peculiarities” that constrain their nocturnal lives? And what of the “delicious chaos”, as Eve puts it, that would result from owning up to authorship? As Andrew Tracy says in his review of the film, “[t]hrough equal parts design and conceptual confusion, Jarmusch sets up his vampiric protagonists as both the secret source of some of our culture’s greatest accomplishments and admiring, discerning critics of the best that we have attained, both participants and observers.”
So why did this third idea, in particular, haunt me?
Because I am neither a vampire, not any other sort of immortal. The problem of “getting it out there” is not one that I face.
Nor am I afraid of my own imagination.
And so, here it is: my first blog post. It won’t be Shakespeare (or Marlowe), it won’t be Mozart (or Salieri) either. What I write here may never be great, or even particularly good, but it will be mine.
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