By Manu El
Writer, director, actor, composer and graphic artist Andrés Useche was born in Manizales, Colombia. Critics have pointed out influences by Sartre, Camus, Berkeley, Einstein and Freud in his work, and Useche has recently expressed his new passion for the work of Shakespeare, Poe, Zhuang Tzu, Descartes, Hume, Nietzsche, Heisenberg, Bohr, Wittgenstein, Jung, Cortázar and of course: Borges.
In the 1998 Idle Mist film, the dream world and the "phenomenal" world of the dreamer converge, revealing "the secret drama" of existence, questioning the audience's perception of reality, as one of the "diverse intonations of a few metaphors," the history of this metaphors which constitute, according to Borges, universal history. This metaphor, of all waking being a dream, Useche intuited and developed on his early Vana Espuma work and later rediscovered in Shakespeare, The One Thousand and One Nights and all his other aforementioned favorites. Borges also found it in the Moslem Koran, the Jewish Genesis, the Cabalist Sepher Yetzirah, Pythagorus, Bacon, Carlyle, Bloy and Mallarmé among the many others which he explored in both his fiction and non-fiction works.
Like in Shakespeare's Tempest, and "The Circular Ruins" by Borges, the characters of Idle Mist find they are "of the stuff that dreams are made of" and true to the name of Useche's production company: Paradox Arts, the work is both circular and open-ended. It also attests to the reversibility of the creative process but not as much as his subsequent feature film Waking Shadows in which an echo of Jung's theory of the unconscious and archetypes seems to represent the true driving force behind our actions and perceptions in the material world.
In Waking Shadows (Sombra de una Sombra), an artist fails to direct his dream, his own artistic creation, and consequently his dream rebels and directs him. In meta-literary fashion Useche's work plays with the parallels between dreams, the idealist conception of existence and the creative process. The main character is haunted by his past creation: Idle Mist, and with this fundamental inter-textual reference, yet another layer of reality is added to this multi-dimensional universe, which always withholds a secret to decipher.
"After a long search, we, insignificant creatures, realized that the god we had always been looking for was none other than ourselves. Our search had been an act of creation."
--Andrés Useche (Quoted in El Tiempo, Café 7 Dias, March, 1999, Pg. 32)
Perhaps these lines also carry one of the few metaphors which comprise the history of the universe, for unconsciously Useche echoed the Mantiq al-Tayr referenced by Borges, and thus became the Simurg.
Back before the Idle Mist film, in the 1996 graphic novel Vana Espuma, Useche, still unsuspecting of his long inheritance, had already created a labyrinthine dream narrative in which conscious and unconscious worlds eventually clash. The characters are mirroring shadows trying to exert their own identity. Borges sometimes recognized he was just a shadow projected by those "intimate intricate shadows." The Buddhists and the Gnostics also recognized this, and saying so, they had become like Khayyam and FitzGerald with their pantheistic Rubaiyat, or more slightly like Borges and Useche, masks scribing the works that the Tlönists had already established were part of the totality of literature written by one single author, atemporal and anonymous.
Waking Shadows -- The film's official Web site.
IMDB Idle Mist Page -- The Internet Movie Database entry for Vana Espuma.
Idle Mist Fan Page 1 -- A wonderful Japanese-based fan-site for Idle Mist.
Idle Mist Fan Page 2 -- An English-language site where you can view the trailer for Idle Mist.