Originally Posted by mutabor
I think that your mistake is that you analyse the film according to your perceptions ( you can totally miss the point of the movie). For example, you confine Kaufman film in the realm of art. It's an existential film which is based on philosophy.
Some people noticed that the last name of the protagonist Cotard is a hint at a French post-modern philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard.
If you listen to Kaufman lectures ( I just listened several minute passage from his lecture from which I got his general ideas) you will understand that he proposes the same opposition to universals and generality as Lyotard did.
The solution to understanding of the film's logic is really easy. Don't make your own ideas, just listen to what this guy was talking in his lectures. He is really clear about his intentions. To judge Kaufman you have to have your own picture on what post-modernist philosophy is. If you think that post-modernism is a crap then Synecdoche is a crap. If you fancy post-modernism then you will find Kaufman film insightful. Because I evaluated his film as 0/10, then you can guess what I think about post-modernism.
For the second time I post the passage from Kaufman's speech where he describes his philosophy which helps to understand what Synecdoche was about.
Kaufman says that the essence of our being is the wound. Our essence is what make us weak and pathetic. Our essence is "a thing that truly, truly, truly makes loving us impossible".
So in Synecdoche movie we watch Cotard being weak and pathetic and also we watch that he ruins his relationships ( "exposing our wound makes loving us impossible").
Here is the second part of his philosophy: we have to expose our wound to change the evil pattern of our life. Here he furiously criticizes the profane structure of our world.
In Synecdoche he destroys the reality by parodying it. He creates parallel realities where protagonist watches himself from aside.
So according to his philosophy the protagonist changes evil pattern of profane being by exposing his wound getting pathetic and unlovable. Do we see this in the Synecdoche movie? Yes we do. Amen.
By the way his philosophy suspiciously reminds me esoteric Eastern teachings. 1. Life is a suffering ( our essence is the wound). 2. To cope with suffering we have to disconnect ourselves from the profane reality.
1. Art can be existential and philosophical--I don't see why you think that it's either got to be art or it's got to be a philosophical treatise. This carries over into the world of actual, written philosophical treatises, as well, especially among post-modern thinkers. Have you read any Derrida or Ronell? Both are post-modernists, and both have produced philosophical books that function as treatise and as art. Another fine example (outside of post-modernism) would be Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Hofstadter, a (somewhat) philosophical book whose structure I find to be absolutely sublime. In any case, art (theatre, painting, performance art, body art) plays a major role in the film.
2. I think Cotard as a last name has less to do with Lyotard and more to do with the Cotard Syndrome: aka, Walking Corpse Syndrome. I alluded to this in my review, and I think keeping the symptoms of this disorder in mind help to unravel many of the film's secrets right off the bat.
3. Post-modernism is, at least in part, about applying severe skepticism to its subjects. If I were to only take someone's word for what something meant and leave it at that, I would be an awfully lazy post-modernist/post-structuralist. I also don't see how anything you wrote contradicts my take-away from the film--which is all about applying *severe skepticism* to art. I realize you're a big fan of treating the author's word as gospel, but myself and many others find that we prefer greater subjectivity (in the realm of reviewing, at least), and I'm of the opinion that authors are far from infallible with regards to their own works. Subjectivity vs. objectivity is a major theme in post-modernist thought, with most thinkers ultimately embracing subjectivity.
4. Not everyone finds Eastern spirituality to be nihilistic--freed of its religious trappings (I'll admit that I find religion to generally be inherently nihilistic), I think Buddhism in particular is quite the opposite of nihilistic, and find its adaptability to be immensely refreshing when compared against Western spiritual traditions.
Anyways, that's all I'll say on the matter. I suspect you and I could spar for eternity and never get anywhere, though I enjoy said sparring nonetheless. However, I strongly suspect our thread-mates might enjoy it rather less. ^^ My apologies to them! I would say that it won't happen again, but that'd probably prove to be a statement built on sand foundations. :-D