After watching the Netflix French gem J’ai perdu mon corps, I’m starting to think more about the body of my character, and specifically where the narrator’s head is in relation to it. As a reader are we looking down at it? Or are we floating slightly above? Are we wondering about its movements, unsure of its every motivation, or did we the perspective help make that choice, the arm reach here, the legs drive there? Better yet, what level of bodily control do I have as the writer, creating both the character and its representation?
In the movie, the hand is chasing the body, meeting it in the narrative at the pivotal moment where they part. Much like a Joy Williams story “The Excursion”, the storyline starts at both the beginning and the end to converge upon the climax moment. I am trying to write a story out of time, and when I say that, I just mean that I want to manipulate time to my own ends, that I want to earn something from time, that I want to craft time in a meaningful way, the way I cannot in my own life. Perhaps rather than removing time, I need to similarly arrange it in a way that fits the nature of the storyline.
But that would require knowing the full extent of the storyline, wouldn’t it? And that would require knowing where in relation to my character’s body the story is being told. The movement of Elsie’s body and her perception of it are key to the story. She is a reawakened photographer, so her representation of herself could change throughout the story as she changes her own perception of what photography is to her, how it helps her see. Maybe I walk them together, the body and the mind, so that the climax of the novel is her noticing herself as both subject and object of her own art.
Could we stay that long, in the novel, the mind at some parts, the body at others? I don’t see that as too different from the way I walk about the world, sometimes in this body, sometimes elsewhere entirely. That time might allow the two to meet for a moment, one around which I could centre a whole story, seems perfectly roman-tic.