calvin weir fields

“This is the true and impossible story of my very great love. In the hope that she will not read this and reproach me, I have withheld many telling details: her name, the particulars of her birth and upbringing, and any identifying scars or birth marks. All the same, I cannot help but write this for her, to tell her “I’m sorry for every word I wrote to change you, I’m sorry for so many things. I couldn’t see you when you were here and, now that you’re gone, I see you everywhere.” One may read this and think it’s magic, but falling in love is an act of magic, so is writing. It was once said of Catcher In The Rye, “That rare miracle of fiction has again come to pass: a human being has been created out of ink, paper and the imagination.” I am no J.D. Salinger, but I have witnessed a rare miracle. Any writer can attest: in the luckiest, happiest state, the words are not coming from you, but through you. She came to me wholly herself, I was just lucky enough to be there to catch her.” 

Calvin Weir-Fields

This is the true and impossible story of my very great love. In the hope that she will not read this and reproach me, I have withheld many telling details: her name, the particulars of her birth and upbringing, and any identifying scars or birth marks. All the same, I cannot help but write this for her, to tell her “I’m sorry for every word I wrote to change you, I’m sorry for so many things. I couldn’t see you when you were here and, now that you’re gone, I see you everywhere.” One may read this and think it’s magic, but falling in love is an act of magic, so is writing. It was once said of Catcher In The Rye, “That rare miracle of fiction has again come to pass: a human being has been created out of ink, paper and the imagination.” I am no J.D. Salinger, but I have witnessed a rare miracle. Any writer can attest: in the luckiest, happiest state, the words are not coming from you, but through you. She came to me wholly herself, I was just lucky enough to be there to catch her.
—  Calvin Weir-Fields, Ruby Sparks
  • Ruby Sparks: Were you disappointed when you got to know me?
  • Calvin Weir-Fields: How can you ask that?
  • Ruby Sparks: I'm such a mess.
  • Calvin Weir-Fields: I love your mess.
  • Ruby Sparks: The first time I saw you, I thought, look at that boy -- I'm going to love him forever, and ever, and ever.
  • Calvin Weir-Fields: What if you get sick of me?
  • Ruby Sparks: I won't. I promise.

100 FILMS IN 2013
→ 103/100 Films: Ruby Sparks (2012)

Calvin Weir-Fields: This is the true and impossible story of my very great love. In the hope that she will not read this and reproach me, I have withheld many telling details: her name, the particulars of her birth and upbringing, and any identifying scars or birth marks. All the same, I cannot help but write this for her, to tell her “I’m sorry for every word I wrote to change you, I’m sorry for so many things. I couldn’t see you when you were here and, now that you’re gone, I see you everywhere.” One may read this and think it’s magic, but falling in love is an act of magic, so is writing. It was once said of Catcher In The Rye, “That rare miracle of fiction has again come to pass: a human being has been created out of ink, paper and the imagination.” I am no J.D. Salinger, but I have witnessed a rare miracle. Any writer can attest: in the luckiest, happiest state, the words are not coming from you, but through you. She came to me wholly herself, I was just lucky enough to be there to catch her.

Ruby Sparks (2012)

I’M IN LOVE WITH A GIRL.

by Chad Perman

When we were young, we created imaginary friends to complete ourselves, to fulfill our particular needs. Often, we simply imagined better versions of ourselves: us, but braver; us, but stronger; us, but without parents; us, without constraints. Our parents didn’t know what to make of it. First, they panicked. Then, they asked their shrink, or they read books on parenting. They were ultimately reassured—this was often a necessary developmental milestone. This was okay. This was normal.

But what if, as adults, we had imaginary friends? What if that was a thing? What if we created imaginary others to answer and/or fulfill our deepest existential anxieties? And what if that was normal. A thing grown-ups simply did.

Because the thing is, author (and grown-up) Calvin Weir-Fields has an imaginary friend. Or, rather, an imaginary girlfriend.

Trying to get things right, we ruin so very many things. We let the perfect become the enemy of the good. We lose sight of the forest for the trees. We break our own hearts in a thousand different ways. And, for a good many of us, we get back up on our feet over time and roll the dice all over again. Some of us, though, don’t. We give up, we retreat, we fold. We tell ourselves the risk is simply not worth it, that people are mostly awful and can only hurt us if we let them in, and then we set about collecting only the evidence that will serve to confirm our narrative. Not realizing that the lens we are seeing through—the filter we’ve created out of our own past wounds—can not help but return to us proof of what we’ve set out to see.

When first we meet Calvin, he is among those walking wounded. A once successful writer who can no longer write, a man whose long-time girlfriend left him just weeks after his father died, a person whose only regular contact with the outside world seems to be sporadic meetings with his brother and regular visits with his therapist.

And then a girl begins to come to him in his dreams.

One day, his therapist (Elliott Gould, who really should be everybody’s therapist) gives him a writing assignment, something to get his fingers moving across the keys again, intended for his eyes only.

“Can it be bad?” Calvin asks.

“Oh I want it to be very bad,” he replies.

Calvin is unsure but not dismissive.

That night, he dreams of meeting the girl again.

And so he creates her, first in his dreams and then, the following morning, on his typewriter, on paper. He creates Ruby Sparks: super-hero girlfriend to lost lonely introverts everywhere. At least at first, any way.

She’s a painter, because he wants a painter. He wants a painter because he imagines what a painter is and fills in the rest with what he needs her to be. She becomes his Dream Girl, his projections writ large. In his narrative, she falls in love with him immediately, unconditionally. Because that, too, is what he imagines he is looking for, what he thinks his character needs in order to feel the way that grown-ups feel. He creates her to be a certain way that he is predisposed to fall in love with, and then he does. He worries aloud to his therapist that he’s writing too much about her, just to spend time with her, a brief and flickering awareness of how silly that sounds.

But then she manifests, appearing first as random shoes, shaving gel, and unexplained lingerie around the house. And then one day she is simply there, in his home. A real, shining, living human being. Ruby Sparks. He can’t process this, because who can?

He worries he has officially lost his mind.

Yet there she is. Real-ish. Acting as if she knows him, as if they are together, and have been for awhile. Making him eggs in his kitchen. This girl from his dreams. This dream girl, somehow come to life. He is fascinated, but still can’t make sense of it, so he takes her out into the world.

People see her, respond to her, interact with her. He has his proof: it’s the situation that’s crazy, not him. Ruby is real, somehow, and she is his. He has created her and can shape her, can make her speak fluent French on a whim with a few strokes on his typewriter. The problem, of course, is that he’s created a character, not a person; an idea rather than a woman. His brother, Harry, points this out to him after meeting Ruby for the first time. Almost immediately, Calvin decides to stop writing/creating Ruby and the story of their relationship and let life itself steer the ship.

As if on cue, she becomes more difficult, more complex. She fills out and expands, becomes what living things are: adrift, miserable. Their relationship begins to travel the way relationships mostly do, weaving through ups and downs, arguments and compromises, damage and repair. Calvin, though, isn’t built to handle true conflict or intimacy—having been badly burned before, he has learned to stay away from fires.

So, when Ruby begins to assert her own authentic self, when the Manic Pixie Dream Girl becomes The Girl With a Real Personality and wants to get a job and meet his parents and make new friends, when her life becomes about more than just him and who he wants her to be, when she no longer needs him in the ways she did before, Calvin goes back on his own word and best intentions, turns back to his typewriter out of fear and desperation. He starts writing Ruby once more, making her bend to his will.

He makes her need him again.

There’s a scene near the very end of Ruby Sparks that is as narcissistically cathartic and enthralling as anything I’ve seen onscreen in a long while. It’s messed up, sure, but it’s also fascinating in the most telling of ways, a complete stripping away of the superego and its defenses that leaves us staring at a purely base level, id-driven type of wish fulfillment that most any artist, if they’re being wholly honest, often harbors at their very core: a person we love deeply, jumping up and down in front of us, saying words we long to hear: “You’re a genius! You’re a genius!”

And then, finally: “I will love you forever and ever.”

Wanting to hear these things is all very well and good, of course, but the train wreck quality of this particular scene comes from the fact that the recipient of such love and praise (Calvin) literally created the person (Ruby) now offering these things to him, is sitting there typing the words out right in front of her, forcing them to come out of her mouth like some heartbroken ventriloquist coming completely unhinged. It’s perverse and almost awful to watch at times, perhaps because it cuts incredibly close to some very important truths about all of us—our loneliness and neediness and humanity— but also about the nature of art, where it might ultimately come from, its relationship to identity, authenticity, and control.

Ruby Sparks is not a perfect film, though it is a very good one. It gets an awful lot right in its deconstruction of the Pygmalion myth, and it stays mostly true to its heartbreaking and fantastical premise, realizing, as it must, that there is no simple way for Calvin to write himself out of this one. Imaginary friends must all leave us one day, often once we’ve outgrown them, but maybe, sometimes, when they’ve outgrown us, too. Ultimately, they are band-aids and stop-gaps, temporary solutions to our need for companionship and growth, bridges to the people we are slowly learning to be. But people, even imaginary ones—especially imaginary ones—can never save us. We are all of us lonely and desperate for control, but relationships will never save us either, as much as we might want them to; controlling others only leads to an entirely different kind of ache.

Ruby Sparks was not the answer to Calvin’s life.  But, in the end, at least she was a part of the way forward.

Chad Perman is a writer living in Seattle, and the editor-in-chief of this site.

 This is the true and impossible story of my very great love. In the hope that she will not read this and reproach me, I have withheld many telling details: her name, the particulars of her birth and upbringing, and any identifying scars or birth marks. All the same, I cannot help but write this for her, to tell her “I’m sorry for every word I wrote to change you, I’m sorry for so many things. I couldn’t see you when you were here and, now that you’re gone, I see you everywhere.” One may read this and think it’s magic, but falling in love is an act of magic, so is writing. It was once said of Catcher In The Rye, “That rare miracle of fiction has again come to pass: a human being has been created out of ink, paper and the imagination.” I am no J.D. Salinger, but I have witnessed a rare miracle. Any writer can attest: in the luckiest, happiest state, the words are not coming from you, but through you. She came to me wholly herself, I was just lucky enough to be there to catch her.

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Ruby Sparks 

Relata la historia de un escritor que se enamora de uno de sus personajes femeninos. Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) había sido un niño-prodigio, cuya primera novela había tenido un gran éxito. Pero, desde entonces, sufre un sistemático bloqueo creativo agravado por su deprimente vida amorosa. Finalmente, consigue crear un personaje femenino, Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan), que acaba materializándose y compartiendo la vida con él.