Tuesday, 27 May 2008

A simile to my face

Some thoughts have been inspired by a double take (a form of recognition in itself, of course) repeatedly prompted, for me, by sight of what I interpret as the mischievous, malapropistic subtitle of Factotum (A Man Who Preforms [sic??] Many Jobs (Bent Hamer, USA 2005). See what Neil Young says in his Film Lounge review (7th November, 2005):
Although the film is generally referred to in the media simply as Factotum, the title is actually given on-screen as Factotum (A man who preforms many jobs), and therefore appears as such on the British Board of Film Classification's certificate which precedes the film in UK cinemas. The mis-spelling of 'performs' as 'preforms' is presumably accidental/careless, unless Hamer intended to make some kind of jokey point about drunken people spelling things incorrectly. Evidence of the famed Norwegian sense of humour?
Most reviews of the film didn't exactly reproduce the film's subtitle in this way, preferring to substitute (as does the Internet Movie Database) Factotum: A Man Who Performs Many Jobs. I'm not sure that the spelling is accidental or careless, given the subject matter of the film; thus I prefer the 'jokey' thesis. Like others, I'm sure, I enjoy the idea that, even when it is 'recognised' as a misspelling, 'preforms' provokes a rushed (and potentially unnecessary and pompous) brandishing of the [sic] 'editorial reflex'. Indeed, not being prompted to double-take -- to single-take wrongly, as it were -- is here (potentially, at least) an interesting form of error recognition, or misrecognition, as well as a failure to take up a chance for pleasurable 'error recognition' (irony?), an interesting subcategory of pattern recognition to which I shall (must!) return. It's a highly preformative one, too.

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