Friday, May 20, 2011

Gef as noir

Spewed from the maw of Leviathan on 5/12/2011

These pages are a mangled mess of ideas and metaphors/similies with a little recursion. Retyped here with minor corrections.


His name is Gef.
He is a mongoose. He appeared on a small farm called Doarlish Cashen. How he got there, I do not know. Somehow he found his way from India to the Isle of Man by way of Europe, Britain and then there.

Gef is a little furry timebomb that detonated in the life of the daughter, Voirrey, a slow motion explosion that spread out from the time of his arrival until she evenetually died in 2005. The shrapnel of his existence permeated her life, residing within her and making her existence intolerable. It did not matter that she ran and hid, she was still caught in the blast.

Things may have been alright had the father, James Irving, not decided to notify the world of the existence of Gef. For whatever reason, Jim Irving felt compelled to draw attention to the remote farm and the isolated family. He wrote to Harry Price, a pre-eminent ghost/medium buster about Gef, as if to dare him to come with fabulous tales of the miraculous. Captain X was given just enough of a taste of Gef to be able to entice Price to the Isle and to the farm.

Where do I come in? I am a point of view applied by force to the story as I have read it, I am an ever shifting view, I am not yet fixed on the one path through the many ideas that cluster around the farm, the family, the girl and her mongoose. The idea that Gef is Voirrey's mongoose is possibly a fiction. The link between them has become established over the 80 years since reports of the miraculous mongoose first came out of the IoM (an abbreviation that reminds me of a magical order like the golden dawn (the actual abrev. has fled my head )).

As a writer I need to focus on the decisions that have been made by the characters in this story. Like James' decision mentioned above. Voirrey's decision to stay out of the house. Should Gef make decisions?

I read a list of 10 writer's "rules" for writing Noir. (from where Christa Faust writes for number 10 (in part):
10) No happy endings. Everyone goes down and winds up either dead or wishing they were dead. If your cool, witty, handsome, fedora-clad, jazz-enthusiast Detective Mary Sue walks away unchanged and unscathed at the end of the book, then it ain’t Noir.  
 This made me think of Gef, Voirrey and the rest. Voirrey wishes she had never met Gef, Gef is dead, James loses contact with his children. perhaps the story is nir, or more likely my perversion of noir. Perhaps. Perhaps?

I don't believe in characters remaining unchanged at the end of a story. That's a little a strong. I don't find the idea compelling and I try to move characters on from where they began. it's possibly why I really like the structure of Pinter's play BETRAYAL. It plays with how characters change over time, and the peeling away of time is the reveleation of the character's actions.

GEF needs me to apply the same processes. That each step backwards in time reveals character's actions. That this revelation shows them making and executing a decision. Casts a light backward onto scenes that the audience has just witnessed and forwards onto future ones.

It can never be as simple, i would not want it as simple as "This character did this because of this other event." I want mystery to be part of these things. How characters act throughout will provide the motivation for their decisions, will hint at these motivations.

The concept of making GEF a noir-ish story is attractive. I love the idea of noir: a person finds themselves, due to their actions, in dire, danmgerous and destructive situations.

I am unsure if this could or shoul dbe taken literally with GEF. Though, it could be constructed around Voirrey's inability or reluctance to confirm or deny the reality of Gef. Perhaps that is the set of decisions that have to be explored? Voirrey is given many opportunities to say hat it was fake and then go about her life, to place Gef firmly behind her.

Why does she no do this? Why does she not cash in on her relationship with Gef? Noir is tragedy, and perhaps this is where my love of King Lear comes in. The tragedy is that the decision that could save themselves is not taken until too late. Voirrey could have said at any time "he was made up," but she refuses to. In the face of many opportunities to deny, perhaps that is Voirrey's tragic decision: to deny Gef is to betray whatever prompted her connection to him, real or not. By denying Gef, she denies herself.

Perhaps the idea is similar to Peter denying Christ. Peter's fateful decison could have ended in him dead with no contact with his redeemer. Perhaps this is true for Voirrey. In some way gef saved her, and to deny him is to undermine that redemption.


Okay, all kinds of confused in there.

Next post: a list of decisions/actions taken by the characters.

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