Watching Only Lovers Left Alive – Or: An Artistic Mindset

[MILD SPOILERS: About the Characters in the film and the set. Nothing about the plot (As if there is much plot in a Jarmusch film (which I truly appreciate))]



This probably won’t be the last time I will write about the film “Only Lovers Left Alive” by Jim Jarmusch. It is my favourite movie and this is because, for me, it is a personal guide how I want to live and work as an artist. Not that I am saying I am an artist or that I will ever be (bring on all those doubts). Although this is always connected to the question what it is, that makes you an artist and from which point on you can call yourself one. I love to put down words on paper and as a naive, but much more open child, I always knew that I wanted to write and that at some point in my life I will be good at it. Today I still agree with the first point, with the second I am not so sure anymore. But it doesn’t matter. For a long time I did not put up a pen. And if I wrote some pages they sounded horrible to me. Like my first attempts to write a diary when I was five or six:

“Today I woke up at seven. Then I brushed my teeth. Then I had breakfast. Then I went to school. Then I went home. Then I had lunch. Then I did my homework. Then I played. Then I had dinner. Now I will go to bed.”

So, since my adulthood began, everything I wrote felt wrong and sounded whiny, arrogant or psychotic. Writing was connected to shame, fear and superstition (If I write about my hopes and dreams, they won’t come true). But let me tell you about Eve, one of the main characters in Jim Jarmuschs film, and her importance to me.

Eve is a vampire, who is deeply in love with Adam. It is not confirmed in the film, but I think that they are immortal, or at least live for a very long time. Both are artists in their distinctive way. Adam makes music. He plays many different instruments, records tunes and merges them to songs. He has a very experimental way of doing this, for example, creating new sounds with a drumstick and a violin bow on his guitar.

But in this post I want to concentrate on Eve. She loves literature throughout all the centuries and across all languages of this world. She as well loves to listen to music and most of all, to dance. She is a free spirit without fear and with so much love in her. We can observe this in the opening scene:

There we hear the song “Funnel of Love” by Wanda Jackson, but played much slower then it ought to be (to highlight how it feels to live forever, that time is moving slower). The scene shows how Adam and Eve are waking up at the beginning of the night. Adam sits on his couch with a guitar in his hand. Eve lies on a Persian rug in front of her bed, surrounded by stacks of books. At the moment, when the intro song stops, they open up their eyes and now a very small, but important difference happens: After waking up, Eve opens her eyes wide, looks to the ceiling and gets up. A new day is starting, and there is so much to do and to discover. Adam on the other hand does not get up. He stays seated and looks down onto his guitar, with a sad expression.

This drive of Eve, to awake every morning with the intention to start something new, although you have lived for a hundred years and probably have seen anything that this world has to offer, seems very important to me.

And there is more to Eves artistic mindset which I will list in the following:

  • Eve is able to be alone. Maybe this does not occur to anyone as an important feature. When you are alone, you are alone, there is not much one can change about this. But there is a difference in how you are on your own. Eve never gets bored or feels lonely. There is always something to do – there are so many books in this world, that can be read or re-read, and every day there is something new one can experience. She does love the company of good friends and being with Adam is the most wonderful thing for her, but she does not depend on anyone to be happy. I believe, that one can only be truly free to do what you love, if you are yourselves best friend and be able to keep your company
  • Eve is amazed by everything. She sees beauty in even the smallest day-to-day moments. And don’t forget, she already lived for a very long time, which means there is hardly something new to her. Still, when she sees a badger, or a piece of art or hears a beautiful story, she is interested in it and happy and thankful for this experience. It it as a gift to see the world as one big improbable wonder. It is those small occurrences that give our existence so many colours and makes it a wonderful painting that expands in a random, but meaningful way.
  • She has a positive attitude towards the future. Adam is very worried about this world and mostly because of the “Zombies”, how he calls the mortal humans. They carelessly destroy this planet and do not appreciate talent and wisdom. It makes him very sad and he feels helpless. But Eve reacts differently to this situation. She as well knows, that things are not going well on this planet right now, but that’s no reason for her to give up. The only thing that she can do is to make an effort to change things. And to be different. You maybe live between a million of ignorant and destructive people but that is not your responsibility. Only your own attitude is, and that you can control – so do it.
  • Eve is not jealous and she is not intimidated by things that are growing and evolving. When she sees something another one has created, she truly appreciates it. Seeing something coming alive, something new and beautiful being created, makes her happy. There is such an important sentence she says during the film: “How can you have lived for so long and still not get it? This self obsession is a waste of living. It could be spent on surviving things, appreciating nature, nurturing kindness and friendship, and dancing.”. I wrote this sentence on a piece of paper and pinned it to a photo, that I put on the wall in my flat. The photo shows the many small blossoms of a purple flower and it was taken by a friend of mine. The important thing is, that it was me who planted this flower. I did not create it or its beauty, but I gave it the opportunity to grow. I imposed myself with the task to take care of it. Through this support the plant was able to grow and fill this world with beauty. The picture is an everyday reminder, that it is much more important to support other beings, instead of destroying them.

In the last part of this post I want to explain you how these thoughts inspire, and are important for our project to live with less furniture and among our stuff.

In the beginning of the film we can see Eves apartment in Tanger. She owns a beautiful four-poster-bed in a spacious room. The floors are covered with exquisite rugs and there are books to be seen everywhere. Stacks of them pile up like growing trees. Eve is surrounded by the things she loves and which inspire her, and there is still enough room for her to dance.

Our flat is quite different at the moment. It is packed with furniture, that hides away everything. In the drawers and cupboards are those things I love, and also things that are just necessary or even weigh on me. There is not much space to move around and when I want to start a new activity, like painting or sewing, I first have to find space for that and gather together all the tools I need. It is a weird, unspoken rule, that things must not lie around, but have to be stowed away and furniture is designed to fulfill this task – hiding away all those very important things I really love, like my journals or my sewing machine.



When we are done with the reorganization of our flat I hope that there will be much more room for inspiration, so that I can truly concentrate on those things that are important to me and us: Reading, writing for this blog and writing my master thesis, taking care of my plants and start new art projects including my sewing machine and our 3D printer and much more.

In future we will own less, but what we own will be an everyday inspiration and at our service. Breaking the standard rules of living is not easy and it takes effort, but I have the feeling that we will be well rewarded.

I hope, that this post was inspirational to you and I will keep you updated!

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