Being an artist is tricky business. Artists have to position themselves and what they do in society and navigate the stereotyped image of the deranged genius and idle vagabond. They have to work hard to project professionalism to fit in. But sometimes it’s necessary to exert a little ‘creative license’. Charles Bukowski’s character Henry Hank Chinaski takes no prisoners. He’s the main character in the film Factotum, played by Matt Dillon, based on the book of the same name. The dialogue in the scene starts; Pickle Factory boss: “Writer huh? Are you sure?”, Henry Chinaski: “No, I’m not”. Hank doesn’t give a shit about the boss. His response is vulnerable, honest, sarcastic and bluntly nonconformist. When is an artist ever sure they are an artist? What are artistic standards based on? Hank’s response sets the tone and agenda. The dialogue continues; Pickle Factory boss: “What’s it about?”, Henry Chinaski: “Everything”, Pickle Factory boss: “It’s about… cancer?”, Henry Chinaski: “Yes”, Pickle Factory boss: “How about my wife?”, Henry Chinaski: “She’s in there too”. He doesn’t give anything away and he asserts his right to not have to. At the same time, Hank exposes the broad scope of his vision. It’s a masterful retort of artistic freedom.
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