Watched Capote, Movie Capote. Reading Capote, book Capote. Thinking of Capote and the authorial construct of Capote.
Read In Cold Blood a few years ago and after watching this movie it has me rethinking the title, because in a way what Truman Capote does is in cold blood, in the end, helping them until he’s not helping them, using them until he can’t use them anymore. I think again of the price of art, of writing, the price of using up the stories around you and spitting them out, of writers using other people and throwing them away. Like Faulkner and that Greecian Urn line you probably know (and you should) that art that is immortal is worth the murder and abuse of other people…
and yet, this was his last book. Great book as it is, a last book. In Cold Blood. Could he not deal with what he’d done? Of who he had become? One point in the movie we see a survivor’s guilt emerging out of Capote- that he and Perry Smith were dopplegangers of sorts. When asked if he loved Perry, Capote says something in the movie along the lines of they had the same childhood, and Capote went through the front door and Perry went through the back. Dark sides of the same person somehow, and maybe he wants to kill his twin, his double, maybe he saw Perry as some evil twin of some sort, when he finally relays the murders and shows what kind of person he was deep down deep inside- a violent person prone to just acting out in murder.
The movie and the book show complicated people not good not evil but complicated people capable of either or anything. It makes me think back to my thoughts on who we are, what we think we are, who we pretend to be, what true natures exist if true natures exist. Perry and Capote both probably saw themselves as good and honest people but had actions that betrayed them (with Capote practically murdering them by inaction, wanting them dead to finish his novel so that it has an ending) betrayed the fiction of selves that they created for themselves.
How do they deal with that once it becomes an actuality? Do they deal with that? Capote is to the point where you can see him being manipulative and doing things himself that abuses and betrays people, but at the same time, is that the whole of it, you have to think, when you actually sees at some points he cared in spite of himself? What space do they occupy, negative space, outsider space, or the space within the rigid confines of society itself? You have to wonder about people, about who people are.
Interesting bit about Harper Lee riding through and taking notes with him, and then her publishing of To Kill a Mockingbird where yes Capote is even a character in the book (Dill for those unknowing). Weird spell check says above that mockingbird doesn’t exist in it’s little dictionary. Mockingbird. The word Mockingbird. It doesn’t correct it, it says it doesn’t exist. And now it says it does exist…but for a moment there the universe exists without mockingbird and now it has mockingbird in it again. Maybe that says something about the movies and the books and the way they fold in and collapse on themselves. Words disappear, words reappear, like ghosts haunting us.
Still, we have to wonder why was In Cold Blood the last of his books? What did he really feel? How many layers of masks was he holding up, and who in the end was the reality there, the real Capote underneath it all, waiting to be given up to the light?|
An addendum: after reading and posting this and remembering some of the words of Perry Smith about the murder, I remembered in the film Capote turned on him and stopped talking to him and all this other stuff after he gave his cold account of what happened on the days of the murder. Maybe Capote felt betrayed by someone who came across so kind, maybe it wasn’t him just wanting them dead to finish the book, maybe it was him knowing what darkness there was and what murder was capable and such cold things existed, and maybe it frightened him and he wanted them dead after all because of what lurked behind the complicated kindness. Maybe in a way that was it, and that was what destroyed him, because in a way he maybe actually loved them (or maybe not) and knowing what had to be done didn’t make things easier or less right or less wrong, just in a way he knew what the actuality of the situation was…the non-cynical part of me thinks and wants to see this as it, and not see the manipulative side of Capote just wanting to finish his book and wanting the death row death to happen for that reason.
Again, complex actions. Realistic actions. No simple motives exist here. Characters just wanting something is too simple for what was happening here. The actuality of it was messier and not just one note, and I think maybe somehow all these workshops demanding you define your characters by what they want and by motivations is just so simplistic and unreal and false sounding.