Watchmen and Found

March 6, 2008

rorschachfull.jpg

Earlier today, Zack Snyder, director of the upcoming Watchmen adaptation, released photos of the aforementioned men. While part of me wants to get really excited, most of me is simply sick to my stomach. It’s no secret that the Saladeers are none too fond of Snyder’s 300; indeed, D. med Butwithawhimper’s post is the number one google hit for “300 worst movie ever.” As the picture of Rorschach demonstrates, The Watchmen photos exhibit the same faithfulness to the source material as Snyder’s 300: the look of the film is basically the same as the comic, if a little darker in color. Still, the visual look isn’t everything. As I’ve argued before, imitation of a visual style is not a particularly successful way of creating art. From another side, Benjamin argues in “The Task of the Translator” that the key in translation is not to translate word for word, but to find the essential (and here I mean relating to essence) translation, the one that best corresponds to the broader meaning of the piece. Snyder’s 300 is an interesting proof for Benjamin’s theory, as Benjamin discussed languages rather than media. Still, it’s safe to say that part of the reason 300 was so poor was its fidelity to the literal level of the source rather than its broader meaning. This is a mistake that Snyder seems to be making with Watchmen. His Comedian looks like the Comedian, yet the film version visually resembles the Punisher rather than the more nuanced ironic Comedian of the comic.

And speaking of Benjamin…I’ve managed to find some weird stuff in books recently. I discovered a letter about Hebrew grammar between people using Latin aliases, and I found a grocery list that I wrote last year in the Widener Library Copy of the Baer edition of Shebet Yehuda. I still haven’t bought half of those things. But my best recent find came from a text by Walter Benjamin. I’d somehow managed to read every essay in Illuminations except for “The Image of Proust,” and decided to correct that mistake. Lo and behold, this great quote about Proust, viz:

“Proust was most resourceful in creating complications. Once, late at night, he dropped in on Princess Clermont-Tonnerre and made his staying dependent on someone bringing him his medicine from his house. He sent a valet for it, giving him a lengthy description of the neighborhood and of the house. Finally he said: “You cannot miss it. It is the only window on the Boulevard Haussmann in which there still is a light burning!” Everything but the house number! Anyone who has tried to get the address of a brothel in a strange city and has received the most long-winded directions, everything but the name of the street and the house number, will understand what is meant here and what the connection is with Proust’s love of ceremony…”

If only all literary theorists explained textual nuances with stories about trying to find brothels.

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