To Robert Blake (first letter)

Dear Mr. Blake,
I just saw that scene from Lost Highway again (the one where you tell Bill Pullman you’re at his house, give him your cell phone and watch him talk to you).
Some say it’s just another movie about movies (a feedback loop of essential Film Noir) but it helped you connect with something much more personal, something inside yourself. You tried to claim the film’s self-reflexivity and retro-formulae in the process. You let it inscribe you.
You brought a critical awareness to Noir-as-Idea despite yourself. After the shooting wrapped (after the theatrical release ended and worn videocassette copies started showing up at garage sales and thrift stores) you made a fateful decision, one you’d never consciously acknowledge. You made an homage out of the life you had left.
The contents of your trial had the impact of Surrealist-derived manifest dream content, mystery-lit expositions of sex and violence alluding narrative coherence, the fetishization of everyday life for uncanny effect… There was a perpetual absence of clarity, verifiability, moral certitude…
You might have struggled with your wife’s sordid hustling for years, but it was only after that last great role when you claimed a femme fatale entanglement for yourself. You offered up a spectacle of misogyny blow-back. You fed a mediascape that has always nurtured semi-pornographic, male-adolescent fantasy. You provided a life-into-art/art-into-life catharsis con.
I keep thinking about the plans you announced after being cleared of all charges. You said you were going to “cowboy it… Get in a motor home or van, feel the wind in my hair and find a little bar in Arizona or someplace.”
What a way to end the story. You embody the paradoxical nature of the Noir Dream (patriarchal, eurocentric, capitalist America as fictional nightmare). The great frontier is a wasteland. The pursuit of freedom is an endgame trap, triggered by criminal violence. The lure is always an Other.
jeremy