While in the middle of a desert, actress Zenith Ander wrote a profound script about an all-too-possible frightening future…
It was the beginning of March 2022 and Zenith Ander was speeding down US Route 90 toward Marfa, Texas. Beside her; Don Cheadle, an approximately 40 centimeter-long Chihuahua, returned to his native plains alongside her in the passenger seat. They zoomed past the zeppelin off to the west as Valentine’s loved/hated Prada store appeared in the near distance.
East Texas is not for everyone. Or anyone, maybe. Just days later, Zenith and Don would be passing through Waco wondering what the f*ck they were doing out there. Endless gray skies and the world relentlessly raining, the only redeeming cultural offerings existed within the roadside tiny libraries placed randomly in mysterious town squares off the highway. Paris, Texas offered a bakery, and then the existentialism came roaring in at a speed faster than they were doing down Route 90 days previous. It was time for a plan.
Zenith looked to Don lying on the motel bed. He had definitely had softer times. He was old when she got him, and that was 6 years prior. Today, he was in his last months on earth with her. She wasn’t to know this until the day came in May. Maybe he already knew. Maybe at that point they together were the most free in the history of road-trippers to have ever driven from California, all the way down the Mexican Border, through Eagle Pass and toward a mysterious and probably bizarre Arkansas.
The sky was pouring rain and the landscape was industrial and exhausted. The west called them back. Years before, Zenith had been offered a writer’s residency placement in New Mexico on the banks of the Elephant Butte. She was to return temporarily to Australia at that point and had to decline. “Would they remember me?” Zenith asked Don. His shiny eyes didn’t know, but he always supported her swift pivots. Zenith opened her laptop, found the email offer from years earlier and clicked: Reply.
Within days, the offer was once more extended, and not just had they remembered her previous contact, but were elated to finally meet and have her at their residency joined by her chihuahua. Zenith and Don once more headed west. The mystery of Arkansas was not to be revealed.
As they drove toward Ruidoso the clouds began to part. Beyond the gray sky of the east in previous weeks lay a fluorescent golden sun and an electric blue sky as the west came into view. New Mexico always provided Zenith with an intensity on most levels of existence that overwhelmed and intrigued her. The desolate land, entirely riddled with questions and secrets flew by their open car windows in a seemingly infinite abundance. The script concept that awarded Zenith her 2-month placement lay on the floor at the foot of passenger seat, the purple paperclip in the right-hand corner the only thing holding the pages together as the desert wind blew maniacally in through their car window film screens. Don lay wrapped in his purple blanket on the car seat beside her. This was truly a version of heaven for Zenith.
Nothing could have prepared neither Zenith nor Don for the 2 months that were to come. It was mostly excruciating, spectacularly human and frighteningly expansive. The script concept (held together by that purple paperclip) would evolve to Zenith’s own nightmare-level philosophical and biographical experiential foundation, above which a dystopian community of female scientists, artists and good ol’ God-fearing farmer folk would lay their hats to rest in their absurd home. Welcome to the world of InVerse.
To describe this script as disturbing is mild. I described it as “profound” and while it is impressive, captivating and entirely immersive, the depths of which Zenith allowed herself to question the meaning of life and existence along with the depths of the pain experienced in nursing beautiful Don to the end of his life, the characters and premise of InVerse is partly a startling reminder that we have collectively strayed far from the path of a beautiful life, written by an artist truly facing mortality and loneliness in a way afforded to people who write crazy prose and... um... screenplays. The other parts of InVerse are not so gentle suggestions of possible solutions we have to collectively survive and thrive with each other as a human community. Deep therapeutic mental workouts are suggested, especially if your neural pathways pre-2019 are deep! What is explored in this script is nothing short of existential torture. With Essence of Camus wafting from the pages of InVerse we get the opportunity to assess where WE, the human race are here, now, 2022-style. If this script has any insight to offer it is that we are placed precisely between 2 nuked planetary poles with demons we cannot see staring at us from dimensions we cannot understand. From the pages:
“There were a few people there who said the men were told that if they felt dissatisfied with their lives and felt like they weren’t “heroes” that they could go with them.
While the current journey of the outer InVerse is bleak and seemingly hopeless, how they got there is a humbling path that most people in the modern world can totally relate to. It is our now. Their past is our current. The path is headed directly for the reality on the pages and it’s brutal. Slow-motion car crash vibes…
I love this script. I loved every torturous second of the world created by Zenith with her now-departed muse by her side as they existed too close to death, getting too familiar with God out there under that remote star covered desert sky while wildfires ravaged New Mexico’s forests. The explorations within this story are necessary, and on-screen it will be another journey entirely I imagine.
As always, I fan the *eff* out of Zenith Ander and will pray for our collective survival.
“I was reading about Oppenheimer while living for months just miles from his detonation point in New Mexico. His self-realization of an angel of death seemingly frightened him into a self-empowerment that should be reserved for Gods exclusively. I was definitely propelled by his awakening writing InVerse. I was out there, fires on the horizon, relentlessly questioning my own nature, and musing pretty constantly about a reinvention of myself. Like many, my prior ideas about “self” were largely evaporated on the back of 2019–2021. Personally, I went through some profound pain and change. On the kayak in the butte with my now dear departed dog at the end of the writing days on my residency, I would float around out there in the vast, vast desert water wondering what am I truly capable of. There is a reason we don’t delve into this question often, and I think Oppenheimer at least partially answered it.”
Til next time.