I have always been convinced that the music of La La Land was better than the movie itself was. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes like stories about elusive dreams that lead those dreamers to tragedy–whether Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Despite their pessimism, they seem unable to divorce themselves from the allure of the ideals they try to debunk. Of course, La La Land is celebratory of its dreamers, believing–as I interpret Don Quixote as ending on the note in calling it’s hero “the good”–“It is the world that is wrong and not the dreamer.” Yet the ultimate betrayal of Sabastian and Mimi’s dreams was done to death in La La Land. I couldn’t take that much gloom in the story. So I am left with “City of Stars” and “The Fools Who Dream,” the latter of which refuses to admit that dreams and dreamers are wrong:
Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make…
Reading it on the screen, I wonder if my own life will find its favorable resolution. I remember writing my book Brazil… even since I published it (it is no longer for sale), I kept editing it. The first ending was too gloomy, and even after several changes, I could not seem to sell my beauty (as I continue to see it). The truth is that the book is important to me. A “friend” of mine even said of the book “She can’t write,” and implied that if I read more fiction I would make sense as a writer of fiction more. The truth is, I do not get to read fiction as often as I would like, because my writing requires research. Yet I was very hurt by this person’s insinuation that I was wasting my time writing novels (or poetry, though this particular friend never read my poetry).
The truth is, this friend is not the only person who failed to understand something: yes, I do enjoy the writing of my fiction and poetry. It is not that I literally just churn out pages out of a sense of duty or a desire to make money. Yet for me writing is a vocation. I do not think my work is merely “fun.” If it had no “deeper meaning” for me, I probably wouldn’t do it. It rather hurts to be told somebody that my reading books like The Cambridge History of Russia Vol I-III and The Complete Folktales of A.N. Afanas’ev Vol I-III, that I should not bother tell a story about Communist Russia as fiction. I know both sets of books are non-fiction (although the second is almost a collection of fiction), but it genuinely hurts me that people deny that I can use the knowledge they impart creatively.
Still, if Jazz, which supposedly no longer sells, can have a film comeback as big as La La Land, then perhaps my novels about at home or abroad can sell, too. And despite the pessimism of the movie, perhaps the song “The Fools Who Dream” buoy me with confidence that even a “failed” dreamer hasn’t really failed if they keep trying. Supposedly the book can’t be what blockbuster films now are (bearing in mind that Hollywood sales are down, I think), but if I believe…