Thoughts on Episode 111
Arts Calling 111. Jan Stinchcomb | Congratulations to Jan Stinchcomb on the release of her novel, Verushka! A phenomenal work I had the pleasure of reading this last week. In our conversation, Jan reminded me that fairy tales and stories still have a place in our modern world. I loved that Jan is completely committed to horror as one of our most powerful storytelling tools. What she does in this novel is quite special, her writing hearkens to a perennial storytelling tradition that feels so lived-in and refreshing at the same time. Maybe I had an emotional response to it because I am fascinated with legacy and generational afflictions. Can’t say much else about it without spoiling the narrative, so check it out: Truly worth a read!
Note to Self
You have an artistic lineage.
Aside from cultural lineage, of course.
This is what Ira Glass refers to as Taste, and how we go about bridging the gap between one’s taste and ability. It’s what Austin Kleon wants you to steal and remix. It’s the raw intake that one continually digests like a ruminant animal. It’s what you consume and have ingested since you started experiencing the world. We take in plenty on a superficial level, but it’s up to you to dig into the root of things.
Paul Thomas Anderson, who’s one of the many filmmaking mentors I’ve never met, mentioned in a DVD commentary that he loved Jonathan Demme’s films and tried to learn as much as possible from them. I remember PTA singled out Jonathan Demme’s closeup shots in Silence of the Lambs, and how effectively he used them in that film. He does this often, but if you look at PTA’s earlier films in particular, he uses extreme closeups on faces just like Demme. That’s just one example, but as a student of storytelling, there’s something truly magical about a filmmaker inheriting specific techniques that are both effective and aesthetically true. That is lineage.
It’s also important to note Demme was one of the many who came from the Roger Corman school of filmmaking, which is a huge legacy all on its own. I guess it’s a reminder to know your inspirations inside and out, and that requires digging back further. You should understand how Beckett stood on the shoulders of Joyce to firm up the branch of his craft and likewise, how Joyce leaned into Ibsen among many others. It’s up to us to do that deep work! We have the ongoing pleasure and responsibility of intentionally developing our artistic selves, now that all of history is at our fingertips via the Internet. (Time to watch some Silence of the Lambs, Stop Making Sense, and so many countless greats by Demme!)
And so long story short, you have to look at what molded you, look at the art and books and content that made you fall in love with your craft, and explore how those authors and creators shaped themselves. And in that respect, if we do that work: we become fruit of our favorite tree, ever so eager to learn how deep our roots go, before we fall off the branch.
As some of you may know, I am building a community over at the coalition. In preparation for the coalitionworks summer issue, I went ahead and gave the website a new look. I think it suits the content a lot better and will allow for more customization as the coalition grows. I’m eager to widen the scope of the work by bringing more collaborators along, but it’s going to take some time. I hope you check out the latest issues, as well as the Creative Drive archives.
So why am I writing Cruznotes on here rather than Substack? Because I’m consolidating my output, as usual. I’m also going back through the Arts Calling catalog to pay closer attention to the insights shared by my guests. There’s a lot to learn here, so I’m going back to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’ll come back and report when I can.
Go make a dent. Much love.