Creative Tangenting or is there a type of “Sampling” in Writing or Literature?
So, one of my favorite film series of the last fifteen years was the Jason Bourne trilogy, starring Matt Damon. It’s a great spy/conspiracy action-adventure series. I’ve watched them quite a number of times and there is an interesting character relationship that at first seems innocent but — is it really?
What started me thinking about all of this was watching Mark Ronston’s TED talk about sampling – and how just about everything is being sampled, not just lkyrics or hooks or notes of music. He makes use of other TED talks and snatches of phrases to make a music track from them – it got me thinking – is there a style of writing or literature that does that? Or will there be in the near future?
The closest thing I can think of is slam poetry – I can’t think of a specific one, but I know I’ve heard several that weave popular lyrics into the narrative and they are more powerful because I know the lyric and understand how it fits into the stream of the poem which elevates it because now I feel I am sharing that same moment with the poet. Its creative licensing of a sort or perhaps a kind of hyperlinking where experience and knowledge meld – which is nothing new I know, I’m just trying to work it out 🙂
A good friend and my ex-wife and I took a number of trips to Massachusetts to visit friends in the mid-late 90’s and it was like a 12 hour car trip. My ex and my friend Wayne ad a great way of interacting, which I would feign annoyance about much to their amusement – I used to play up getting upset because it seemed like they could not stay on one subject for more than two minutes tops before rocketing off on another one that may or may not be related to the previous one – I was usually driving during these rapid-fire storm of words between them and was listening to the exchange with both wonder and yes a bit of chagrin. Because while I could follow I really wasn’t keeping up with them – I had my own train of thoughts while they were tangenting and tagenting and tangenting – it really was fascinating. And annoying 🙂
But what I appreciated about it was the ability and possibility of what was going on – and recognizing that it happens all the time, all around us.
So, getting back to Bourne — and what really makes this pop for me is because the third installment actually ‘samples’ a moment from the end of the second installment — sort of 🙂
I’ve done this before with films or stories from films (thinking about the story from a different angle – Willow for example – maybe Elora Dannan isn’t the savior we think, maybe she will bring destruction and the evil queen trying to kill her really is the good guy – it could happen!), so this isn’t new for me, or these fine folks at Cracked After Hours– but I was thinking about this one in particular because I’m just wondering what the writers of the films actually were thinking about the relationship.
In the first Bourne film, The Bourne Identity, we are introduced to a character named Nicolette Parsons played by Julia Stiles. In this film she’s portrayed as a low-level tech liaison between the Paris op center and the Treadstone team in Langley, VA.
Jason lets her live when he confronts the baddie near the end and she appears in the two sequels, playing a really big part in The Bourne Ultimatum, mirroring almost exactly the same relationship with Bourne that Marie (Bourne’s love interest played by Franka Potente in The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy) had, short of becoming a romantic one.
So, why am I making a fuss about this? Forgive me, this next part requires knowledge of having seen the films – so spoilers if you haven’t seen them.
Well, what I thought during subsequent viewings of the films – and what the spy /conspiracy film uses as a trope most of the times – is that nothing is ever as it first appears.
Nicky is in all three films – she seems like an innocent – but is she? The first two films establish her as an almost pawn, someone just following orders – but my thought was – what if she’s not? What if she is the one who orchestrated the whole Treadstone program from the very beginning? It puts a real “OMG” twist on the films if you think about it.
In the first film, she’s established as being stationed in Paris – she’s Bourne’s contact point before he goes all amnesiac.
In film two, she’s “dragged” back in by Pamela Landy when she is digging to get to the bottom of who is responsible for this black ops program – she’s used as bait to try and trap Jason.
In film three, she is conveniently assigned to the exact field office that Jason goes to to when tracking down info on Blackbriar and accompanies him to Tangiers to track down the fleeing field officer and after almost getting assassinated, she goes on the run, fleeing the Agency for good.
The real question would be – if this were the true underlying truth to the Bourne films – that Nicky is the real head of the Treadstone/Blackbriar program – why would she allow all of this to fall apart around her?
There are a number of possibilities:
1. She wants out, to cover her tracks and so uses Bourne as the instrument to destroy the program she built.
2. She is an agent of chaos (see what I did there :)) and just wanted to see what would happen
3. She loved Jason and wanted him to be free.
or any number of others –
A really really really smart head of a spy program could do that – orchestrate an elaborate layer after layer after layer program, operate through proxies, hide in plain site and so on…
I guess it’s sort of fan fiction or idle fancy to extrapolate on things like this – but the idea of sampling just struck me and stewed in my brain.
But in the end, it’s always good to explore storytelling, how it works, what doesn’t – taking it apart, putting it together, telling it again – the same thing we’ve been doing since we all first sat down around the bonfire and asked:
“Tell me a story.”
I don’t think I nailed this exactly – but its still something that has a kernel of something, an idea or a thought – or maybe I’m just not thinking of it the right way. I know I’m just not sure if I expressed it well…