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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Kurt Vonnegut: the huge illiterate population can sure as hell watch a movie

In a Forbes special on communication, Kurt Vonnegut ventures about how to tell a story today: “All of the arts, with the exception of architecture, are practical jokes, making people respond emotionally and at no risk to themselves, because things aren’t really happening… What I do, which is becoming more and more impractical I think, is make people respond to idiosyncratic arrangements of 26 phonetic symbols and ten Arabic numbers in horizontal lines on a page. And there was a time when this was a form of home entertainment, and so it was worthwhile for people to learn how to read. But reading it is actually quite difficult… But ink on paper is no way to tell a story anymore. Film and movies are the best way to tell a story today… Because of our terrible high schools, we have a huge illiterate population, but they can sure as hell watch a movie.”

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DENNIS COOPER

The next thing that really changed my world and thoroughly influenced my writing were the films of Robert Bresson. When I discovered them in the late seventies, I felt I had found the final ingredient I needed to write the fiction I wanted to write.

INTERVIEWER

What was the final ingredient?

DENNIS COOPER

Recognizing that the films were entirely about emotion and, to me, ­ profoundly moving while, at the same time, stylistically inexpressive and monotonic. On the surface, they were nothing but style, and the style was extremely rigorous to boot, but they seemed almost transparent and purely content driven. Bresson’s use of untrained nonactors influenced my concentration on characters who are amateurs or noncharacters or characters who are ill equipped to handle the job of manning a story line or holding the reader’s attention in a conventional way. Altogether, I think Bresson’s films had the greatest influence on my work of any art I’ve ever encountered. In fact, the first fiction of mine that was ever published was a chapbook called “Antoine Monnier,” which was a god-awful, incompetent attempt to rewrite Bresson’s film Le diable ­probablement as a pornographic novella. So I came to writing novels through a channel that included experimental fiction, poetry, and nonliterary influences pretty much exclusively. I never read normal novels with any real interest or close attention.
~ Dennis Cooper Discovers Bresson

The whole world within reach.
~ Filmmaker Peter Hutton

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