A young man battling extreme mental illness brings his sadomasochistic fantasies to life in Harnisch's (Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia, 2014, etc.) latest novel. As this riveting story opens, Georgie Gust, a suicidal Tourette's syndrome patient, tells his doctor he wants to leave the mental institution where he's been committed. When the doctor puts him off, Gust finds himself buffeted by violent fantasies of escape, and he even prepares to hang himself. The novel plunges readers into the mind of a man at war with his own urges, memories, and sexual obsessions. After a scene shift, Gust's chauffeur, Ben, delivers him to his empty home, where Margaret, his only friend, visits to check on him. However, she annoys him because "she seems to care." Later, Gust, a foot fetishist, gives a pedicure to his sexy neighbor, Claudia, in a scene lit with unexpected poetry and poignancy. As the narrative viewpoint flickers among Gust, Ben, and a quasi-omniscient third-person perspective, Gust's voracious appetite for pain prompts him to hire Claudia to torment him. (He has wealthy parents, so he spends cash liberally.) When Claudia's house goes up in flames, she moves in with him, and their sadomasochistic bond descends into extraordinary, hallucinatory violence. In Claudia's hands, Gust discovers new depths of masochism, and she finds joy in tormenting him. Despite the garishness, brutality, and squalor of many passages (which are not for the squeamish), more sophisticated readers will appreciate the extraordinary feat Harnisch has accomplished. He lucidly, poignantly conveys a mind riven with what are, after all, human vulnerabilities: mental pathologies, shameful fantasies, anguished doubts about the natures of reality, love, and memory. In the hands of a lesser writer, these themes would splinter the narrative. Fortunately, the author masters his material; readers will believe the voices that vivify it and compassionately wish them to find the healing that eludes them. An extraordinary, harrowing odyssey into an embattled self, full of humor, compassion, and a rare understanding of mental illness.
I completed Chance Encounter while undergoing a dark, deep experience with depression, existential despair and with new tears for old grief. So many people appreciate this film’s inherent beauty. I thank you, all, to God, and to all my fans, friends, and family for playing such a unique role in these short experimental pieces, although perhaps without knowing it. The holiday seasons often bring along a deep sense of nostalgia for good times long gone, from lost film footage in the archives here at the production office to experimenting into the depth of new ground, and new artistic expression with my goal of finding and redefining myself, through my art. A new original soundtrack for these films originally shot on both Super 8 film stock and Hi-8 video, will be developed and inspired by the final cut of The Morning After, Chance Encounter, and Emptying His Pockets. All three films on loss, love, and life will enhance with a revised original score, or soundtrack, over the coming months. Please leave comments, if you would. The responses to all the live cuts of these pieces have inspired me to bring The Morning After, which I recommend if you enjoy Chance Encounter, to the film festival circuit. It has been years since I retired from Hollywood film and TV work. It might, however, be time to see what I can do to reconnect with an audience in the world beyond online, once again, in some way, and if not we’ve always had the Internet, after all. Professional financing and marketing, etc., will often cause me a great deal of unwanted stress, which I prefer with not to do. I suffer from rare and comorbid mental health diagnoses, namely those within the schizophrenic and autistic spectrum. My mental illnesses have blessed me over the years with many creative gifts. So, with immense gratitude, I thank you, my muse, my wife, my students, and my family and friends without hesitation. Onward bound, as always.