Friday, September 11, 2009

Music and Film Inspirations

If you've read the novel, you might have noticed that some of the chapter titles are taken from songs and films. There are also moments in the novel that were inspired by some of my favorite movies. Here's a few:
  • The Rilke epigraph that begins the novel (For here there is no place that does not see you...) was inspired by a scene from Woody Allen's criminally underrated drama, Another Woman. The great Gena Rowland reads from Archaic Torso of Apollo in the film.
  • Chapter One (The Dreaming) is named after Kate Bush's album and song, which was inspired by Aboriginals who believe that every person in an essential way exists eternally in a state called Dreamtime. Dreams are an essential part of Conquering Venus.
  • Chapter Two (The Other Side of the Mirror) is an allusion to Alice in Wonderland and Stevie Nick's song, which is also about Alice. Martin and Irène first see each other through a looking glass.
  • Chapter Seven (Affliction) from Paul Schrader's film starring Nick Nolte, James Coburn and Sissy Spacek, about a cop who has a mental breakdown while investigating a murder.
  • Chapter Seventeen (Fantomes dans la Machine) from Arthur Kostler's book where he theorizes that as the human brain grows, it builds upon earlier, more primitive brain structures, and these are "ghosts in the machine." Koestler's theory is that at times these structures can overpower higher logical functions, and are responsible for hate, anger and other such destructive impulses (thanks to Wikipedia for putting it so succinctly). It's also the name of a fabulous album by The Police.
  • Also in Chapter Seventeen, there is a scene where Irène and Martin see themselves on television and the image is reminiscent of a photograph take of Irène and her late husband. This was inspired by a scene in Krzysztof Kieslowski's film Red, starring Irène Jacob, about logic-defying connections between a young fashion model and a retired, bitter judge.
  • Chapter 25 (The Dead) from James Joyce's story and the film adaptation by John Huston.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window was on my mind while writing about Irène's spying on the Bel Air Hotel across from her apartment.

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