Art imitating art:

The spectacle - exhilaration and humiliation all muddled together, on stage as in life - will appear at FringeArts Thursday through Dec. 13 in the form of The Sincerity Project. Then, if all goes as planned, it will return with the same cast every few years for the next 24 years. Like a live-theater version of the Up documentary films that have tracked a dozen British children since 1964 from age 7 to 56, it will, Torra hopes, capture the aging bodies, evolving relationships, and changing views of seven cast members whose ambitions, impulses, and fears provide content for the show.

This longitudinal study of the effects of life on experimental theater - or is it the other way around? - was born out of Torra's desire to create a performance that was honest.

"I have a weird thing about theater feeling like lies all the time," he said.

So, a few years ago, he and his collaborators set out to make a "sincere" work - one that doesn't just imitate life, but chronicles and interprets it. (Source)

Meanwhile, Tom Noonan has been following him everywhere.

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...and he's failing.

Over six years ago, the idea formed in his head, and when it existed in the laboratory that sits between his ears, the concept was so simple, so clean, so utterly perfect in the way a circle drawn by some theoretical supercomputer is perfect. A) There is New York. B) There are people in New York. So, C) There could exist a total, whole and complete document of Every Person in New York.


It’s almost as if Polan has come to terms with what lies at the core of one of art’s great intrinsic dilemmas: The whole thing is, by its very nature, a sisyphean task. That is, in the context of all our constructions surrounding stuff like truth and representation, art is always an attempt at something impossible. It always fails. It’s never perfect because in order to exist, it must exist in the imperfect place we call “here.” (Source)

You can view some of his work at

Thanks to Jean-Philippe!

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Do you know how many people come here looking for analyses of Synecdoche, New York?

LOTS, is how many.

This one is for you folks. Jordan Siron points us to his "Exploring Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York”: A Philosophical Analysis." It's a meaty read.

Synecdoche, New York is a film that concerns itself with examining solipsism, and in disposing of the harmful concept of “The Other”. Solipsism is the belief that only one’s own mind is certain to exist; that one’s perception of reality and events is the only certainty, the only truth. As a philosophy, it is akin to Objectivism — the belief that the pursuit of one’s own self interest is the only moral obligation to which any human is bound.

Solipsism is a gross philosophy. It does not leave room for the understanding or concern of others. It is diametrically opposed to Altruism, which — while impractical to some extent — at least gives us something worthy to strive for. While one can argue against the practicality of Altruism, it’s hard to rationalize Objectivism and Solipsism as being inherently healthy life philosophies. While they may serve the individual, they do not foster the wellbeing of the human community writ large.

Now, all of that isn’t to say that individuals who prescribe to philosophies that place themselves at the center of their own universe are inherently bad. One can argue that such philosophies drive individuals towards great personal success, and through that success said individuals can turn around and provide aid of which they might not have otherwise been capable. There is a certain benefit to being concerned with one’s own self, but this dissection is not concerned with those few individuals who put their own universes in check before extending their helping hand. So it follows that Synecdoche, New York does not concern itself with such.

The film examines solipsism at its worst, demonstrating the dangers of such a philosophy through its chosen vehicle: Caden Cotard. (Source)

I've been meaning to link to this for aaaaages. I am a horrible website editor person.

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2 Movies A Week is a new blog from Sean Phillips. Each week he'll be reviewing a pair of films that folks might've missed, and Synecdoche, New York is one of the first on the site, alongside Life Itself.

I decided to pair these two in my original post because there is a (small) connection between the two.

The first, "Life Itself" (2014) is a brand-spanking-new documentary about the life of the most famous film reviewer who ever lived, Roger Ebert.

The second, "Synecdoche, New York" (2008) is, in this writers opinion, the most ambitionus fictional narrative ever made. It was written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, the Oscar winner for 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' for best original screenplay in 2004. His other credits include writing 'Being John Malcovich'(1999) and 'Adaptation.'(2002) Kaufman was also nominated for best original screenplay again for the latter. Nicholas Cage stared in that film and gave performances worth two Nick Cages. (Source)

Lost in Translation and Summer Hours are the next two to be reviewed.

Thanks, Sean!

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This one, via Gizmodo, goes out to Adele Lack:

Even a perfectly smooth human hair looks like a scaly, alien creature under a microscope. Zoom in on this particular hair, though, and you'll find something even stranger: a teeny, tiny comic strip called "Juanita Knits the Planet."

Ten micron-tall Juanita and her friends were etched onto the hair using a focused ion beam. The microscopic comic strip was created for the Exceptional Hardware Software Meeting, a gathering for open source and DIY enthusiasts in Germany. (Source)

Check out the short video below--and you'll find the comic strip, without the hair, at the link above.


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Synecdoche, New York is finally landing on Italian shores! I had no idea Italy was still waiting for it to arrive.

Andrea writes:

I think it interests only to Italian fans, but finally June 19, 2014 (after almost 6 years) Synecdoche, New York will be distributed in Italy. The press release says that there has been a long legal battle that prevented the distribution in Italy. This is our poster:

SynoNYC ita-e1399955703283

Poster source.

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BCK's logs tell me that a lot of people come here looking for interpretations of Synecdoche, New York. These two videos are for you--David Chen from Slashfilm and Amy Nicholson from L.A. Weekly take a look at the film and what it all might mean. Each video goes for around 13 minutes; the first one's here, the second one's behind the cut.

It's more than a little poignant, given the loss of Hoffman.

Thanks to Thomas for the heads up!

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Philip Seymour Hoffman has been found in a Greenwich Village apartment, dead of a drug overdose at forty-six. Says the New York Times:

The death, apparently from a drug overdose, was confirmed by the police. Mr. Hoffman was found in the apartment by a friend, David Bar Katz, who became concerned after being unable to reach him.

Investigators found a syringe in his left forearm, at least two plastic envelopes with what appeared to be heroin nearby, and five empty plastic envelopes in a trash bin, a law-enforcement official said. (Source)

His family has released this statement:

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers." (Source)

Terribly, terribly sad.

Thanks to Ethan for alerting me.

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Here's an unofficial music video for "Little Person," with some really gorgeous images. Matt Bauer is the director. A couple of months ago, Matt contacted me, to ask if I had any idea how he might get in touch with the song's publisher or whoever retains the rights for festival screenings. I mentioned Kraft-Engel Management (Jon Brion's reps), Charlie's agent at WME, and Lakeshore Records (they released Synecdoche's soundtrack), but Matt had no luck. If you have any leads, maybe leave a comment on YouTube, or on here?






On an unrelated note, you might've noticed we're doing our annual donation drive thingy, to help cover BCK's running costs. If you feel like helping out, you might want to kick in a couple of bucks via the link in the right-hand sidebar. Every bit's appreciated. :)

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Omni Reboot's Claire L. Evans has written a really cool article, in which she examines Seinfeld's "Parking Garage" episode as a "Ballardian nightmare: the pornography of infinity, somehow contained within a New Jersey mall." Which brings to mind that giant warehouse with Schenectady inside it, eh?

Indeed, the more I reflect on The Parking Garage, the more it evokes a specifically Ballardian nightmare: this so-called pornography of infinity, contained within a New Jersey mall. Like the Unidentified Space Station [in this short story], which conceals, from the outside, its magnificent vastness, The Parking Garage becomes its own world, a replacement—literally, since they broke the apartment set down to build the mirror-garage—for the comfortable parameters of Jerry Seinfeld’s ordinary world. It seems to have its own mores; Elaine, desperately seeking a stranger to drive them around the lot and help find the car, only comes into contact with indifference and aggression. No one will help, because on some level no one here is real. (Source)

Big thanks to Garrison for the link!

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Via Nature World News:

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have painted the smallest-ever image of Mona Lisa. The painting was created using an atomic force microscope and a process called ThermoChemical NanoLithography (TCNL) and is painted on a substrate that is 30 microns in width or about one-third the width of a human hair. (Source)


(Pic above is not actual size. Click on it for an enlargement of the... tiny micro version. Or something.)

Dust mites are gathering around it, going "Ooohhh" and "Aaahhh."

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On BCK's Facebook page, Vanisha-Arleen Gould asks:

hypothetical question. if someone wanted to dress up as caden cotard for halloween, where/how would that person be able to get that mask? does that mask exist? (Source)

That would be super cool! I have looked around and come up empty. I suppose any Phil Hoffman mask might do the trick? But where would one find Phil in mask form?

Any help? Anyone?



On an unrelated note, you might've noticed we're doing our annual donation drive thingy, to help cover BCK's running costs. If you feel like helping out, you might want to kick in a couple of bucks via the link in the right-hand sidebar. Every bit's appreciated. :)

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Here are "31 Strange Medical Conditions," courtesy of John Green (who is awesome) and the Mental Floss team (also awesome). Charlie doesn't get a mention, nor do his films, but observe this:

#19 - Walking Corpse Syndrome, a.k.a. Cotard's Delusion. Synecdoche, New York's lead character, I probably don't need to point out again, is named Caden Cotard.

#20 - Capgras Delusion. At one point in Synecdoche, when Caden visits Adele’s flat, "Capgras" is one of the names on the building's address list.

#21 - Fregoli Delusion. You know Anomalisa? Charlie's upcoming animated film, based on his own play? When he wrote the play, he originally hid under the pseudonym "Francis Fregoli". (The Coen Bros' half of Theater of the New Year couldn't be performed in L.A., due to scheduling conflicts, so Charlie wrote a second play -- "Anomalisa" -- to double bill with his "Hope Leaves the Theater.") 



John Green has a weekly show on the Mental Floss channel. It is cool. I recommend it. I'll embed another episode after the cut. Just for fun. Cos I'm cool, too.


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The New Scientist's Mindscapes column profiles Graham, who has the condition known as Cotard's Syndrome, in which a sufferer believes that he is dead or no longer exists.

"When I was in hospital I kept on telling them that the tablets weren't going to do me any good 'cause my brain was dead. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I didn't need to eat, or speak, or do anything. I ended up spending time in the graveyard because that was the closest I could get to death." (Source)

Stuff like this freaks me out a little bit. Also those reality medical shows. One day you're perfectly fine; next thing you know, you're foaming at the mouth and paralysed from the eyebrows down because you picked up a pen with a germ on it. Those make me want to sit still in an empty room and stay quiet for a very long time. But even that could cause medical problems. YOU JUST CAN'T WIN, MAN.

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I really like this cover of "Little Person," Jon Brion and Charlie's song from Synecdoche, New York. It's by Foxtails Brigade, a chamber pop band from Oakland, California, and Laura Weinbach's vocals really suit this song. Observe the video:



If you dig it, you can download the song for free on Facebook, Soundcloud and Dropbox.

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Over at Mental Floss, you can read about 10 reported incidents of Cotard's Syndrome. Synecdoche, New York's Caden Cotard was named after the bizarre condition. Matt Soniak describes it like this:

Cotard’s Delusion is a mental disorder where people suffer the nihilistic delusion that they are dead or no longer exist. First reported in the 1700s, the disorder is still a largely a mystery today. The underlying cause isn’t understood; it’s been linked to bipolar disorder, depression and/or schizophrenia depending on the patient’s age.

Here's #3 on the list:

3. In 2008, New York psychiatrists reported on a 53-year-old patient, Ms. Lee, who complained that she was dead and smelled like rotting flesh. She asked her family to take her to a morgue so that she could be with other dead people. They dialed 911 instead. Ms. Lee was admitted to the psychiatric unit, where she accused paramedics of trying to burn her house down. After a month or so of a drug regimen, she was released with great improvement in her symptoms. (Source)

That's not even the weirdest one.



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Thomas and Joey point me to a blog entry, in which Joey has a two-degrees-of-Kaufman experience in a gallery -- randomly bumpin' into a woman and her mother, who worked as an RN on the set of Synecdoche, New York. It's a trippy read with a unique style. It starts like so:

BENNINGTON -- Lisa and Julia were putzing around on their phones during lunch in the brew pub across the street when they stumbled upon a link for Fiddlehead at Four Corners. The cuties hit the link and loved one of the pictures -- Brian Hewitt's "Carriage Barn Gala" oil painting -- and then saw a link for the Google Street View virtual tour inside the art gallery. They took and loved the tour and decided to walk across the street to check out Fiddlehead at Four Corners in person.

At first AGD was pretty stoked to hear the cuties tell this little ditty of a tale because Fiddlehead's Street View tour went live on Google just an hour or two earlier, so he immediately thought how sweet it was that this new technology was working as intended. But the longer AGD engaged the cuties in conversation the more he wondered if they weren't in on the jig, whatever that jig might be. (Source)

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