Still Life in a Narrative Age: Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation

Critical Inquiry 37 (3):497-514 (2011)
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We are living in an age that is narratively obsessed: both in the academy and in popular culture, temporally articulated phenomena currently exert a vice-like grip over the collective imagination. Under such conditions, how may non-narrative sources of aesthetic power be made available once again to human observers? Charlie Kaufman’s response, in Adaptation, takes the form not of statements but of actions, of “philosophical therapy” for our insatiable narrative hunger. It leaves us, in the end, with two phenomena that have (in the full sense of the word) no history at all: the beauty of flowers and the intricacy of a human soul.

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Joshua Landy
Stanford University


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