― Jim Jarmusch

Saw the film Deadman last night. It’s about an accountant, named William Blake, who is mistakenly sought after for what looks like a double murder. As he flees, with a bullet wound near his heart, an Indian tries to save him, and recognizing the name, William Blake, mistakes him for the poet and artist by the same name.

I didn’t know how I felt about the film, at first. It is purposely slow, but with a powerful masculine portrayal of the 19th century wild West, but without the usual stereotypes or commercialized cowboy images.  Frankly, the film brought me back to my sense of the godlessness and the develish brutality of man on a hellish earth that I experienced in Vietnam. Was there any hope in this world?  My wife and I looked up the film on the Internet and found that the film was well researched regarding the fur trade industry and, especially, the character of the Indian, whose name is Nobody.  In the end, Blake is launched on a small boat, not across Dante’s River Styx, but on the Pacific ocean where his soul might return back to its poetic and spiritual origins, rather than continuing  to “speak with a gun”.  Perhaps a hopeful sign until the last of three bounty hunters finally kills Blake and the Indian, as the Indian kills him. Hope? Maybe looking into Blake more deeply. Maybe the soul transcends it all, as the boat continues to drift.

The character’s names were often symbolic, and their were many references to Blakes poetry surprisingly recited to the “outlaw” by the Indian, suggesting to me a possible rare confluence between Western poetry and Native American spiritual concepts.  I found that the play is regarded as an excellent example of postmodernism, with many references to at least Twentieth Century and Twentyfirst Century film artists, poets and musicians by director Jim Jarvis and with its minimal plot and emphasis on character. A concept that I have often heard as an artist is eloquently and usefully repeated with the quote below by Jarmusch, found in many places on the Internet, like Wikipedia. Reading it felt like he punched the refresh button on my browser:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.’ ”

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