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10/15/2001
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"From This Point Forward." Part Three.

Paul Buscemi's Column for Monday October 15th, 2001. Buscemiarts@hotmail.com

Continuing this week, with the thoughts of industry professionals on where our work should take us in a post September 11th world. I posed a question something like this, to past contributors of this column:

"With the tragic and alarming events of the past weeks, our work life seems so trivial now. Much has been said about ?getting on with our lives.' So then, what should we in Hollywood be doing right now, in light of what has happened?"

Like Ross Bell last week, this weeks "answer" to that question was a complete essay in it's own right by Howard Klausner. It seems silly to present it in any way other than how I received it. So I give you screenwriter, Howard Klausner:

THE POINT OF IT ALL

Let's face it. The world changed on September 11, 2001. We've been bombarded these past two weeks with the permanent changes in our security, our economy, even cherished personal liberties...

But for us, the creative community, the changes, I believe are a unique opportunity to reclaim territory we might have temporarily lost. Lost to the marketplace, to the breakneck pace of the twentieth century as the world demands more and more from its unending appetite for pure stimulation, and perhaps to our more selfish nature.

The message for us right now is the same as it is for all of the world...

PAUSE.

Throughout history, the storyteller has been an honored position in every culture, civilization, and community. He is our standard-bearer, she is the preserver of our values, and the assurance of our presence on this orb, long after our bodies have failed.

As commerce entered this picture these past few centuries, this relationship evolved. At his best, the storyteller was able to harness the advances in knowledge and technology to leave a stamp on the world the shamans could only dream about. At his worst, he compromised his gift, and dumped poison into the public well.

It can be argued that Hollywood has represented both these extremes. Anyone conversant in filmic literature can cite examples of both. This is human, and deserves examination and reflection, not guilt.

I'm not going there.

It is at moments like that awful Tuesday, and the difficult yet magnificent days that followed, that we do pause, and ask the hard questions. There's not a thinking, feeling person that didn't want to rush to that scene, to comfort someone, to grieve an unimaginable loss with his people, to roll up his sleeves and dive into that rubble and find just one brother or sister clinging to life, calling for a hand.

And I would venture to say, there's not one of us in the creative community who didn't pause for a moment, and wonder at the choice we've made for our life's work; asking that most dangerous question-"what's the point of it all?".

The question itself is the answer. We exist, we thrive, we move forward because the world-- rightly or wrongly-looks to us to ask this question, in all its many forms.

Who are we, what is our place in the universe, how do we co-exist with one another, how do we cope with information growing at a pace and volume beyond our capacity to grasp it, how can unspeakable evil live alongside divine good...?

What is it to be human at this moment in time?

It is our sacred charge to put these questions before our village at the world's campfire at night. It is that now, and it always has been.

When our world has been this shaken, we are reminded of these nagging questions-questions that have no answer in this dimension, only comfort in knowing that they are at the core of our being-each of us. To be human is to ask these questions, not escape them.

We go to movies, we watch television, we listen to music to come together, and listen to a story. We're sharing the experience of being in this world. All of us-- free-thinking adults, the much bally-hooed fourteen year old demographic, even small children watching animated heroes and clowns.

This is the family we serve. We serve them by making them laugh, making them think, making them love, making them angry, challenging them to rise above themselves... as we always have.

This moment is not one of shrinking away, backing down, or retreating. Hands are reaching for us, from the rubble of such unanswered questions-as never before.

Our moment is now.


-Howard A. Klausner

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