Collateral Confabulation


You can lie to a grand jury and get away with it if you confabulate, because if they catch you, they’ll forgive you because it’s a “condition” that can’t be helped and doesn’t equate to perjury.

Confabulation isn’t just making stuff up, it’s “filling in the gaps of lost memory.” I’ve caught myself confabulating three times in the not too recent past, and it always embarrasses me when I’m “caught.” I don’t do it intentionally, I just get things mixed up, sometimes mixing up my life with historical events or scenes out of a movie.

I also manage to get short guys mixed up, so I once confused Ty Cobb with Napoleon, either imagining Cobb sliding into horses with his spikes raised high at Waterloo, or Napoleon standing at the plate in a Tigers uniform setting the record for bases on balls. When I found out that Cobb was 6′1″ tall my multi-cultural mixed-doubles confabulations stopped, but maybe had Cobb actually been at Waterloo the more than runtish Napoleon could have learned how to spike Wellington to death and avoided exile.

Speaking of “runts” and “exiles” brings to mind the Hollywood movie “Collateral” with Tom Cruise portraying a character that hated being in L.A. because it was too spread out and “disconnected,” this from a socio-pathic character whose middle name writ large was DISCONNECTED while he ran around in Jamie Foxx’s taxi-cab all night murdering government witnesses, a kind of “work” that is the ultimate expression of the “little man” complex. Since we all know that Tom isn’t Ty Cobb, the best line in the movie was made by the gangster (Javier Bardem) who had hired Tom but was talking to Jamie but thought it was Tom, when he said, “I thought you’d be taller.” It’s nice to know Hollywood leading actors can let themselves be made fun of and also end up in permanent exile on L.A.’s rapid transit at the end of a movie.

I didn’t like the movie because of the violence and horrible mindset of the Cruise character, but around the seventh viewing I started to wait for certain scenes where Tom kept slipping back and forth between being a complete, if rather cardboard, sociopath and a man of deeper merit, exposing sensitivities toward such diverse issues as “whale hugging,” labor law, jazz, motherly love, and the psychology of denial and romance–all very serious mood confabulations of sorts: “Have you joined Oxfam, Green Peace, Save the Whales? Do you know how many people died in Rwanda before sundown?” Tom lectures Jamie Foxx. “I don’t know any Rwandans…” “You don’t know the fat guy in the trunk, either.” Funny stuff.

But my Oscar nomination for the best supporting actor definitely goes to the security guard outside the gangster’s dinner-dance joint, a bulked-up Nicolas Cage look-a-like who says to Jamie, “Whassup, homes?” He was bigger than Ty Cobb, corn-fed and equipped with security belt and night stick, and he had such a thorough command over his space on the sidewalk, that without menacing Jamie, he did let him know that he was out of his element, leaving Jamie to feel small and helpless.

I don’t recommend the film even though I’ve now watched it twelve times, but the photography is excellent, as is the music, and that’s no confabulation.

About soaringdragons

Twenty years and still alive--in China, that is. I write about China and the world of spirit--all very non-expertly--and whatever else strikes my fancy. You'll find posts on even days of the month.
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