The poems that Paterson writes touched me-lines synchronously flashed on the screen when he creates in several fixed locales, say, the basement, the bus before departing and the bench near waterfalls, where he often takes a walk. Poems were-in handwritten forms-claiming ownership of Paterson-the “poet” and of Jim Jarmusch-the director/auteur (some poems were written by Jarmusch himself, like the water falls).
I found one poem intriguing for its breaks with the aforesaid synchronicity. It appeared on Paterson’s way to home; but the content went as follows, “I’ m in the house…/my legs run up the stairs and out the door/my top half here writing.” A so-called “horizontal montage” seems to be more faithful to the original poem. Catherine Breillat once employed such strategy in “Romance” to shot the top half of man-woman gracefully talking while their lower half having sex. The desynchrony between the poem and its visual representation in this film somehow foregrounds Paterson’s anxiety vis-à-vis his body, his identity.
Paterson once moved blithely between the identities of poet and bus driver, like his literary idol William Carlos Williams. But he gradually found difficult in balancing, which is self-evident as he was interrupted by his Indian colleague in the workplace and his wife at home (the Indian fellow had knocked on the bus window when he was writing for five times while the wife freely entered the basement where he creates). As the bodily separation in above-mentioned poem, Paterson experienced the same in perceiving his identity (can bus driver and poet coexist?) and it further culminates when the bulldog tore his notebook. The one and only “material” which verify his “poet” identity thereby vanished. As Deleuze affirms “consciousness itself can become a viable fact only in the material embodiment of signs.”
The material embodiment of signs, a new notebook is given through a Japanese literary lover to Paterson in the near end of the film, thanks to the kind-hearted director. He will keep writing, I “optimistically” believed.