Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Making Contact

I’ve always been quite taken with the opening of the movie Contact. First, there’s a swirly-blue-white-and-green view of Earth, then the camera slowly widens to show other planets, the whole galaxy, then countless other galaxies. The imagery is compelling, especially for 1997 when the film came out. If you saw Gravity last year, you can compare the special effects. This holds up pretty well, I think. The audio accompanying the images completes the experience. Our universe is represented as a hodge-podge of voices, broadcasted by television and radio, recorded for education and entertainment, and compiled in this opening shot as a metaphor for what “contact” is: communication.

We all have voices in our heads, don’t we? Whether it’s your conscience reminding you what you should be doing, your juxtaposed memories of childhood, that earworm of Beyonce’s latest, or just a confluence of random, meteor-like snippets—this is why we pay money for yoga sessions or The Power of Now books, or escape to movies or fiction (or alcohol!). We creative types often give in to the voices.
If your mind is like mine, it’s constantly buzzing with ideas. Most are half-formed, flighty things. That look given by a grandmotherly type to her dog; the way sunlight slices through palm fronds; the feeling of isolation while you’re watching that damn opening to Contact. Currently, I have two projects simmering and once in a while, things will occur to me. Sometimes I’m in a place where I can write them down; sometimes I’m not. But I believe this buzzing, this almost-background-noise, is productive in its own way. It’s like the galaxy of the book/play/whatever is existing out there, making its own declarations, expanding and contracting. Later, when I finally find the time to focus on one or the other, it will be like turning a radio dial to a certain signal. And I’ve been fortunate in that so far, whenever I’ve set that dial, the station comes in clearly and my outer universe seems to align with the task. At that point, all stimuli, all voices contribute to the one thing. Coincidences pop up, words in books I’m reading jump out to show their relationship, everyone I come into contact with says something helpful. But of course, there isn’t much contact at that point. Because I’m like Jodie Foster, sitting alone with headphones on, taking it all in and sending out hopeful missives through the keyboard.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, lovely piece, and thanks for the clip of that great movie, and reminder of these wider perspectives.

    It's a privilege being able to filter the inner and outer white noise to a succinct wavelength - to receive a dynamic image or voices that feed into a story we then shape. Best success with your next missive.


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka