That online quiz I took – the one about which new novel I should be reading – was right on. I am enjoying 10:04, by Ben Lerner.
The novel is essentially an author writing about an author (possibly a fictionalized version of himself). The fictional author hasn’t been given a name, so far.
Yesterday, I read the pages where the fictional author goes with a friend to see The Clock, by Christian Marclay. I’d never heard of The Clock before, and the idea fascinated me, so I looked into whether it’s a real artwork. It is real.
The Clock is a video installation from 2010. The video lasts 24 hours – people come in at any point, and watch as long as they want. The video consists of clips from films and television shows. In each clip, time is an important element. People look at watches, or there is a clock in the scene, or someone speaks a time. Here’s the fascinating thing: The clocks in the film clips sync up with real time. If you walk in at 3:45 in the afternoon, for instance, you will see a clock displaying 3:45 during a scene in the afternoon. The Clock is an elaborate clock.
(The fictional author’s favorite part occurs at 10:04, and is a clip from Back to The Future with the clock in the town square. That’s the first reference I’ve seen to the novel’s title.)
While viewing The Clock, the fictional author looks at his phone to see what time it is. He immediately realizes how absurd that is – the film is telling him what time it is. This gives him an idea for a story.
The fictional author writes a fictionalized story about himself. In the story, the main character is referred to only as “the author”. He changes the names of his friends and alters events. He sells the story to New Yorker magazine. That’s where Part One ended.
I started reading Part Two in line at The Egyptian. I had the feeling that I’d read parts of it before, somewhere. Then I realized that I was reading the fictional author’s New Yorker story.
Now I’m reading an author’s novel about an author who has written a story about an author. And I’m loving it.
Before we bought the DVDs, I took an online quiz named “Which minor Firefly character are you?” It told me I’m Jubal Early. At the time, I had no idea who Jubal Early is. Of course, I looked into it. Jubal Early is a bounty hunter from the final episode of Firefly. I didn’t read any farther, just in case I should see the episode someday.
On Christmas Eve, Phillip and I watched the penultimate episode, “Heart of Gold”, and the final episode, “Objects in Space.”
“Heart of Gold”, I’m sorry to say, was a bit of a disappointment. Firefly is a Western/Sci-Fi mashup, and “Heart of Gold” is almost pure Western. If they had removed the hovercraft, the laser gun, and the solar-powered brothel, it would be a pure Western. That would be fine, if the writers had added some imaginative twists to it. As the crew of Serenity and the whores prepared for a gun battle with the town’s evil capitalist, we both wondered aloud how it was going to play out.
Unfortunately, it played out with a gun battle. There were more than enough scenes of henchmen getting shot off of their horses.
I’m not saying it was a bad episode, though. I loved the surprise in the strictly-business relationship of Mal and Inarna, and the way it played out into a cliffhanger. I would have enjoyed seeing it developed into something. It made me sad that the series was canceled so abruptly.
I loved “Objects in Space”, however. It was almost pure Sci-Fi, with imaginative twists and clever dialog. Jubal Early is a fascinating character (not likable, but fascinating). I decided, as I watched it, that “Objects in Space” is among my favorite episodes in the short series.
The thing about Firefly is that it’s not afraid to make the bad guys very bad. When Jubal Early asked Kaylee if she’d ever been raped – that implied threat felt all too real. I was truly worried about what was going to happen next.
Jubal Early is not a stereotypical villain, however. He speaks in riddles and koans. (If a room isn’t being used, is it still a room?) He seems to have some code of honor – but that code seems to be uniquely his.
Then there’s this bit of dialog. I don’t know what it means, but I like it:
Simon: Are you Alliance?
Jubal (obviously confused): Am I a lion?
Simon (equally confused): What?
Jubal: I don’t think of myself as a lion, but you might as well. I have a mighty roar.
Simon: I said Alliance.
Jubal: Oh, I thought..
Simon: No, I was..
Jubal (deep in thought): That’s weird.
And there’s the scene where Jubal looks down at Book, who’s unconscious on the floor, having been attacked by Jubal earlier, and says, “That’s no Shepherd.” (What does that mean? Did Jubal know something about Book that we don’t? Oh, wait – I just now thought of something. Is that related to the question about the room? Is a Shepherd a Shepherd if he’s unconscious?)
I have no idea why that silly quiz thinks I’m Jubal Early, though. Phillip didn’t see it, either. I took the quiz a second time, after seeing the episode, and it still thinks I’m Jubal.
This is also the episode where we begin to see some of River’s powers develop. Again, it’s a shame the series was canceled so abruptly.
Wash (discussing River, who’s not in the room): Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction.
Zoë: You live in a spaceship, dear.