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Dhaka Tribune

Paterson -- something out of the story

Light bulb moments can come all the time. Here a reader shares his own moment while watching “Paterson”

Update : 09 Jun 2022, 10:56 AM

Couple of nights back, I watched Jim Jarmusch’s fine work Paterson (2016) for the gazilionth time. Living through this intricate work of Jarmusch a week of the life of the empathetic observant bus driver cum poet Paterson, in the poetic town of Paterson and watching the boring-yet-wonderful subjects of his wandering eyes and mind is a feels trip.  

For me, the movie has been a life altering one, for it introduced me to the soothing poems of the beautiful poets Ron Padgett and William Carlos Williams, from the famous New York School. Which I also, got to know from the movie. And I have been somewhat obsessed with their poems ever since. But here I am not writing a movie review. It is about something in the movie that struck me with the charm of watching it for the first time which in not part of the story I am about to write -- one uncanny co-incidence that I noticed during my third time watching the movie.

I still get baffled at the fact that, unlike today, humans were not one single species in their early days. There used to be several species in the genus that is Homo. I read about it in my social science book back in my school days, and later in the famous book of Harari – “Sapiens.” At the present era of only a single Homo species, and the Homo Sapiens supremacy on earth, the perception of a different species is much more alien than it used to be back in the prehistoric days. What comes to your mind if you are asked to think about discussing your favorite poem with another species? Are you thinking of your cat, or your pet tortoise? Would it be able to reciprocate and tell you about its favorite verses by a poet in the cat or the tortoise society? That seems too far-fetched.

In the final scene of the movie -- the famous scene with the mysterious Japanese poet, when Paterson, grief-stricken after his stupid dog Marvin ate his “secret notebook,” which had all the poems Paterson ever wrote, goes to his favorite spot overlooking the Passaic falls, sitting on a bench, grieving in his own silent invisible way. 

That is when the sweet Japanese poet (portrayed by Masatoshe Nagase), visiting the hometown of his favorite poet William Carlos Williams, joins Patterson, who is also the biggest fan of Williams. They talk about the famous poets who grew up in this poetic town, and share a laugh.

That is when I suddenly noticed something uncanny. The resemblance of Adam Driver’s facial features to that of the numerous pictures of the Neanderthal humans I have seen in books and documentaries, leaving me no doubt that he must be a Neanderthal descendent. Later coming to know that Driver has Dutch, English, German, Irish, and Scottish ancestry fortified my belief as Homo Neanderthals used to exist in the Eurasia region about 40,000 years ago. Then they started to get extinct on account of various debated reasons, including genetic assimilation with other human species, climactic, and demographic reasons, competitive replacement, etc. Neanderthals had distinct facial features like big nose and protruding upper jaw. While on the other hand, Masatoshe Nagase did not remind me of anything such, it seems much more probable that he would be a Homo Erectus descendent, since according to the theory supported by most paleontologists, Erectus was the most common archaic human in Southeast Asia. But again, this information is subject to error as usual. Yet whoever may have been Nagase’s ancestors, whenever I look at the frame, it blows my mind that these two poets used to be two different species. 

It is amazing how sub-species have merged over millions of years and now they can bond, share moments about their favorite poet, William Carlos Williams, one afternoon in the poetic town of Paterson, New Jersey. And there could not be anything better for it to show up unannounced, except for the warm and sweet masterpiece by Jarmusch -- “Paterson.”

Parthib Mahmud is a student of Economics in Dhaka University.

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