Character study of Mark. Takes place right before "What You Own." Won a tie for First Place of Best Portrayal of Mark at seriouslyrent on LJ.

Stendhal's Syndrome
by lostlikealice

Mark thinks that Roger can go fuck himself for all he cares, honestly, because Mark knows he's no saint and knows he hasn't got everything handled but at least he's not running, and of all people Roger should understand, Roger should know, because they're all subject to the same force.

Psychologists or psychiatrists or ... whoever (Mark doesn't know nor care despite that half of his high school probably became them, because if anyone likes telling people what they need to do with their lives, it's Scarsdale Jews), they have a name for this. It's called Stendhal's Syndrome. Stendhal was a French guy, writer or author or something, who actually fainted dead away, felt pain at the sight of the art of the great Florentine painters.

Mark likes to name things, to compartmentalize them, because even when he's shooting without a script he likes to have order and coherence, so he self-diagnoses (a habit he has had for a long time) himself as a sufferer of inverse Stendhal's. There is too much passion, too much pain in the real world, that without channeling it into an outlet such as film, he's certain he would die.

It's all about survival, now. His bitterness and his failure are a poison and infecting everything and he just purges and purges and purges but he can't stop feeling things on this scale, this high dramatic scale. It's to the point of frenzy, and it's easier to be numb and delusional, declaring reality to be a documentary, than to be so, so scared that everything is actually happening that you can no longer function.

So he sits in the apartment alone, editing. Editing is painful. Every time the scissors press against the film and it falls to the floor, it's like an emotional amputation. It's good for him, he convinces himself. He cares too much. He worries and he frets and he loves too much to actually survive.

So snip, snip, snip cut out everything that really hurts, Mark. The truth. Himself. The fact is that the camera allows Mark to pretend that none of it is real. Unscripted... sure, but not real. Snip. He cuts out a kiss of Maureen and Joanne. Lesbians are a cheap way to get media attention. Just ask Maureen, he thinks.

He smoothes the tape over the film, and his hands don't even shake.

Mark Cohen, accused of failure, loneliness, hypocrisy. Roger Davis, the accuser and hypocrite. Turn your back on him, Roger. It's not as though Mark needs you. He only has an ex-girlfriend, an ex-college roommate, everyone, everyone has something better to do, something bigger. His main drama is that he has no drama, all passion and no one to give it to, and there is nothing to be done about that. Basically, Mark is the cameraman and no one looks at the cameraman, no matter if he loves the whole world, villains and homeless people and junkies, no matter if he would shoulder the weight of all of their sins if he had to.

He'll never admit it, but he already is.

Snip. There goes Roger's painful gaze directly at him. Snip, there goes involvement. He would rather think of Roger in Santa Fe, of poor Mimi at the Cat Scratch Club, and stare at the wreck of their lives without coming to terms with that he is their friend and is incapable of solving their problems at all.

He just barely finishes and falls asleep. When he wakes up, Roger is not there, and that makes it all so much easier to pour that overabundance into work for those who could not care less whether he lived or died in a freezing apartment in Alphabet City.

The pain will go away, if there's nothing left to care about.