Sarabande Books

Thrown by Kerry Howley

Thrown by Kerry Howley

A few years ago when I watched Darren Aronofsky’s haunting film, The Wrestler, I found myself in a strange state as the credits rolled—one of un-containment. Once I re-contained my self, I ran to my laptop and typed in some notes, yelling to my husband in the next room that I wanted to write my thesis on this film, which, sadly, I didn’t. I had only experienced this feeling two other times at the end of films (if it happened with more three-dimensional moments, I cannot recall them, which in itself intrigues me): the first after the long and beautiful Jacque Rivette film, La belle noiseuse (where no hand-to-hand fighting took place, that I remember), and the second after David Fincher’s Fight Club. After watching Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin, and Emmanuel Béart in a ring shaped like a triangle, I left the student union theater running, and I didn’t stop until I’d run out of breath on a dark, wet sidewalk in Minneapolis. After watching Brad Pitt and Edward Norton fight “each other” in Fight Club, I hopped into my ‘77 Chevy Scottsdale, revved the engine, peeled out of the parking lot, and drove as fast as I could through West Des Moines, and almost drove straight into a Krispy Kreme for a truck full of glazed doughnuts just to keep my then-named “rush” going. Years later, I came to understand this rare surge/escape as an experience of the ecstatic: an experience that feels unrepeatable, unpredictable, and ever leaves the residue of wanting to understand that which culminates in such experiential overflow. The transcendent moment of losing self became something I came to identify with watching others on screen live fully, unbounded, focused, without striking “balance” in their lives.

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