A young writer has called his friend with an urgent concern. In the course of sitting down to write, he has found himself overcome with ideas that he does not recognize the source of, “the thoughts of someone else”. This leads the author on a search for the source of his inspiration. An attempt to destroy his work nearly results in the destruction of himself; a fire breaks out after trying to burn his writing. In discussing the events, he stresses to his friend that this was not a case of cryptomnesia or some other mental recall process, but that the words were putting themselves on the page through him. Ultimately, despite his strongest efforts, the author is unable to escape from the words he puts on the page.
Where Ab Aeterno is most effective is as an exploration of the creative process, particularly in regards to ideas of originality and sources of inspiration. Like other films about writing, it presents the challenge to the filmmaker as to how to visualize the internal creative process. Feinstein manages this through a series of evocative shots detailing the physical effects that the author’s internal struggle has on him, from little details like anxiously smoking a cigarette, to the memorable image of the page of his writing burning in a glass of alcohol. The editing is tight, and Feinstein uses cutaways to keep the dialogue scenes visually interesting. An interesting recurring image is present in the shot of an insect crawling on the typewriter, creating a moment of Kafkaesque imagery.
Ab Aeterno is written and directed by Jared Feinstein, and presented by Tetragrammatos Productions.