Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Books: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

It takes a person as cold and callous as myself to read this book, "written" painstakingly by the single blinking eye of an otherwise completely paralyzed man—imprisoned by "locked-in" syndrome—and admit, in writing, on the internet, that I found it disappointing. If only I had read this pamphlet-sized elegy before seeing the stunning film based upon it, I might have had a different experience, something similar to the measured exuberance of the critics quoted on the front and back covers, but, having already been exposed to Schnabel's sundrenched, dreamy vision, the simple straight text on the page could do nothing for me but recall pale shadows of that vision. How Schnabel could transcend these still marks and create what he did seems, hideously, far more fascinating than how Bauby could, with the power of one trembling eyelid, transpose these sentences onto the page.

I am a horrible person, a complete objectivist. But I am judging art, not men.

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