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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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p. vii

I offer sincere thanks to the contributors of this volume for writing essays that both celebrate and enact the best qualities of their subject. It is a testament to the contributors’ dedication to intellectual rigor and inventiveness that, in the midst of busy lives, they produced these remarkable essays. ...

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Introduction: Charlie Kaufman and Philosophy’s Questions

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pp. 1-20

When I asked a leading philosopher—one of the most influential and celebrated of the last half-century—if he would contribute to this volume on the work of Charlie Kaufman he politely replied: “Dear David, I have to be honest—I don’t know who Charlie Kaufman is, or what he has done, or why I should ...

Part 1. On Being and Not Being One’s Self

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Charlie Kaufman, Screenwriter

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pp. 23-45

Does the film Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman and featuring a protagonist named Charlie Kaufman, chronicle Charlie Kaufman’s actual experience? Is it memoir? Undoubtedly the predicament that so overtaxes the character Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage), his great effort to fashion meditative ...

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On Being John Malkovich and Not Being Yourself

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pp. 46-65

In Being John Malkovich, the first of Charlie Kaufman’s screenplays to be made into a feature film, the protagonist, Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), finds a portal into the body of actor John Malkovich (John Malkovich), allowing him to inhabit it for fifteen minutes. Craig describes the experience to his sexy ...

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The Divided Self: Kaufman, Kafka, Wittgenstein, and Human Nature

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pp. 66-88

When Charlie Kaufman’s Human Nature was released in 2001, it met with a mixed response, not only from those who had previously applauded Being John Malkovich and were curious about Kaufman’s next project, but also from professional film critics, whom the movie connoisseur rightly expects to contribute ...

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Unauthorized Autobiography: Truth and Fact in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

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pp. 89-108

Chuck Barris says he was a hit man for the Central Intelligence Agency. Meanwhile, everyone else knows him as the iconic host of the 1970s game show The Gong Show and creator of The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. Was the “godfather of reality TV” a secret agent for the United States government with thirty-three kills?1 ...

Part 2. Being, or Trying to Be, with Others

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Me and You: Identity, Love, and Friendship in the Films of Charlie Kaufman

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pp. 111-131

The films of Charlie Kaufman are masterpieces of humor and insight. They also collectively represent a significant study of what it means to try and sustain a relationship with another person. At one level the films might be said to be generally concerned more with the problem of personal identity than with relationships. ...

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I Don’t Know, Just Wait: Remembering Remarriage in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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pp. 132-154

“Meet me in Montauk.” This line near the end of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind presents a problem for Charlie Kaufman’s film and for his viewer. The problem for Kaufman’s film (as distinct from the finished film as seen) is that he didn’t write the line—in any event, it doesn’t appear in his shooting script ...

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Charlie Kaufman, Philosophy, and the Small Screen

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pp. 155-168

It goes almost without saying that Charlie Kaufman is best known for his work on the big screen. In 1999 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his first screenplay, the breakthrough Being John Malkovich, and then in 2004 he went on to win the Academy Award for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. ...

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The Instructive Impossibility of Being John Malkovich

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pp. 169-190

In reflecting about what it means to understand another person we can easily think in terms of a continuum stretching from complete knowledge to complete ignorance. On the one extreme, we would have no insight into, no sense of, and no conception whatsoever of what the other person’s experience might be like. ...

Part 3. Being in the World, Partially

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Living a Part: Synecdoche, New York, Metaphor, and the Problem of Skepticism

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pp. 193-207

There is an old bit by absurdist comic Steven Wright in which he tells the audience, employing his characteristic deadpan monotone, that he has a map of the United States, actual size. “It says, ‘scale: one mile equals one mile.’ I spent last summer folding it. I also have a full-size map of the world. ...

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“There’s No More Watching”: Artifice and Meaning in Synecdoche, New York and Adaptation

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pp. 208-223

The character Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation wants nothing more than to remain true to what he perceives as the best way to adapt Susan Orlean’s best-selling nonfiction book The Orchid Thief into a film. But when he attempts to write, hunched over his makeshift desk—a chair with his electric typewriter ...

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Human Nature and Freedom in Adaptation

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pp. 224-238

Charlie Kaufman’s film Adaptation is the story of the struggle of Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) to adapt Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief into a screenplay.1 Susan Orlean’s book weaves accounts of the history of Florida and of the orchid trade with the story of the arrest and trial of John Laroche ...

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Synecdoche, in Part

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pp. 239-253

It is strange that while we are alive, we so often feel that we are not really living. Although we are born into a world—by most accounts, an endless web of interrelation—something seems to separate us from things, from others, and from ourselves. Nature is elusive; relationships are hard; it is even a struggle to be who we are. ...

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Nietzschean Themes in the Films of Charlie Kaufman

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pp. 254-268

There are a number of filmmakers whose work has obviously been influenced by one or more philosophers. Some make explicit reference to such figures (as Woody Allen does in several of his films, for example, in Another Woman to Martin Heidegger); others reflect their director’s familiarity with philosophical ideas ...

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Inconclusive Unscientific Postscript

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pp. 269-294

Charlie Kaufman is said to be an anxious man.1 Or perhaps that is a confused judgment based on speculation over the characters he creates—characters who appear to suffer from anxiety. Or perhaps it is the viewers themselves who experience anxiety in watching Kaufman’s films. Still, the anxiety that Kaufman has, ...

Filmography

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pp. 295-296

List of Contributors

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pp. 297-302

Index

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pp. 303-309