notes on Shirkers #1

Last week I caught this 2018 flick called Shirkers on Netflix

I really dug it, and I jumped onto Twitter to indulge in a little fansplaining.

Director Sandi Tan was game enough to acknowledge my portentous musings. Yesterday she proclaimed:

Click for Twitter thread.)

Naturally it’s hard to judge the tone or the sincerity of that laughing invitation to continue sharing.

But hey, she didn’t ignore or block me. That’s good, right?

I replied by coolly saying that I’m good, thanks. Got it off my chest.

The truth, of course, is that I’m not done with Shirkers. And I’m sure there are already countless thousands of us who have been infected by Sandi’s story — drawn into its weird, recursive world of rumination about things that are long lost, yet never finished.

For those of you who don’t know what recursion is, you can always google it and find a deliciously recursive definition:

In essence: If a form is recursive, it means it’s kind of imploding. Folding in on itself.

Some choice examples:

Yes, dear reader … we’re deep into Shirkers territory!

Shirkers is at once an unmade film (itself rampantly recursive, in its allusions to other films) and a cinematic commentary on that unfinished project, made in a post-film age that nobody could have predicted in 1992.

It’s a hall of mirrors. A rabbit hole. A work that is objectively damn near perfect (100% critics’ rating on the Tomatometer at time of writing) yet at the same time a pile of unresolvable shards.

If and when I get around to further Shirkers posts, I will doubtless go deeper into such paradoxes — finished/unfinished ; film/non-film; entity/non-entity; &c &c — with abundant use of em dashes, brackets, semicolons, hyphens and ellipses (…) along the way.

A string of blog post is maybe not the ideal medium for the kinds of Shirkers connections I want to make. The deluxe treatment would be a more dynamic platform; maybe some combination of a wiki and something like this NFB interactive (which won’t even play on my current device, tant pis).

Alas, limitations of technology, skill, money and patience must prevail.

What you’ll continue to get, if there end up being more of these ShirkerNotizen, is a string of fragmentary jottings in the tradition of the commonplace book.

That tweet is the first to use the #notesonshirkers hashtag, which I encourage others to use if the urge arises. The announcement for the post you’re reading will be the second use.

Anyhow … that will be one way to find any of my future notes on Shirkers, in either blog or tweet form. You can also check the word cloud at the top of the sidebar, or subscribe to the blog using the button further down the sidebar. (I almost never blog; don’t expect much.)

One future Note on Shirkers, if I can muster the energy, will draw parallels between Sandi’s story and my traumatically lost dissertation on the über-recursive Jacques Callot : an unwittingly destroyed e-draft that was far better than the Callot dissertation I ended up submitting, and that I would love to have had the chance to work on further.

We all have those what-ifs — the road-not-taken stories — and Shirkers is no doubt prompting many of us to go there. It’s certainly got me looping back into some strange territory, and I’m sure its legacy will be deeply personal for every viewer.

Stay tuned. Or not.  And keep it recursive!


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