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In Defense of "The Fountain"

When a man spends six years to make his dream reality, it is disgraceful for it to be immediately destroyed by shallow words ("Buddha-Go-Round," Arts & Culture, Dec. 6). Thomas Peyser certainly believes "The Fountain" is a bad film, and we can't fault him solely for that. But if his appeals fail easily in the hands of rational, intelligent thought (which they surely do), should he not be called on it? I present a brief sample of Peyser's errors, the total sum being too great for the space of a single editorial.

We have the immense stereotyping of the graphic novel form — correlating it to a comic book (which certainly they are not) and acting as though the story is malum in se because it is a graphic novel (an argument that holds no weight, even if graphic novels and comic books were the same thing).

Peyser misunderstands religion and mythology to the point of ignorance. We have what appears to be an attack on Buddhism and a claim that the lotus position is ridiculous. Coupled with the idea that the Tree of Life in New Spain is unfathomable because everyone knows it's in Mesopotamia, we see the true breadth of Peyser's open-mindedness.

I have no concept of what "Hollywood-style science" would be. Though I definitely can't see how a movie utilizing macrophotography of fluid dynamics can be utilizing anything but real science.

Apparently, Peyser doesn't actually understand the plotline, for anyone who does realizes there's no divergence whatsoever. Perhaps Peyser simply equates nonlinear chronology with divergent plotlines. I'm not even sure he understands that the Spanish/Mayan sections were visualizations of the book Izzi wrote. And his complaint that the protagonist is in every scene belies a lacking knowledge of general story structure.

Finally, at the risk of sounding petty, I wonder what qualms Peyser has about his own masculinity. He claims the movie calls for a "taming of masculinity" and then goes on to deride it because the man does "all the cool, heroic stuff." First, the movie makes neither of those claims. Second, the "garish cosmology" of male principle is overwhelmingly supported in the ancient religions and cultures Aronofsky is drawing upon. And third, I recall no adolescent fantasy worlds in which the man does the "cool, heroic" act of self-inflicting pain to escape from haunting memories of failure, which ultimately leads to a tearful revelation of his impermanence and an existential self-sacrifice.

I will surely be inundated by responders who agree wholeheartedly with Peyser, and that is all too much a shame. It is no wonder production companies continue to churn out simple fare — they know their audience all too well.

Justin Fetterman
Delaware, Ohio

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