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“We don’t go by numbers”: Baseball and Brooklyn in the films of Paul Auster

BROWN, Mark (2003) “We don’t go by numbers”: Baseball and Brooklyn in the films of Paul Auster. In: The Brooklyn Film: Essays in the History of Filmmaking. McFarland, Jefferson, N.C., pp. 127-147. ISBN 9780786414055

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Abstract or description

In the companion films, Smoke (1995) and Blue in the Face (1995), Paul Auster presents a very particular Brooklyn. It is a Brooklyn that stands in contrast to the global finance centre of Manhattan, the familiar skyline of which forms a distant backdrop to the dramas that unfold on the streets and in the stores of the Park Slope neighborhood. I use the term "particular" here to indicate a quality of Auster’s Brooklyn that is unique to its place and time, and to indicate some of the theoretical probings of Raymond Williams that shall illuminate my understanding of the communities, in a very real place. I wish to argue that Auster presents a mode of urban living, not in the dystopian mould that we’ve become used to (think of Blade Runner or Falling Down), but more in the way of affirmative and positive relationships of communal support through informal social groupings, that is, family and friends. For Auster, the conditions of possibility for such communities are contingent and subject to chance. Individuals are shown to be battered by the misfortunes of urban living (random violence, loneliness, poverty and crime), but also to find themselves, occasionally, comfortably accommodated in a set of social flows that are sympathetic, neighborly and communal.
Raymond Williams’ writings on the constructions of community are particularly useful here. He writes of "militant particularisms" that arise within societies to disrupt the easy and identical reproduction of social relationships in the form preferred by the dominant culture. "Militant particularisms" appear as fugitive social actions that secrete themselves in the interstitial spaces beyond the vision and command of the dominant order.

Item Type: Book Chapter, Section or Conference Proceeding
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Arts and Creative Technologies > Journalism, Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Mark BROWN
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2013 15:52
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:40
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