Here’s an excerpt from Andrew OHehir‘s q & a with Synecdoche, New York director-writer Charlie Kaufman, up today on Salon:

O’Hehir: Charlie, I guess we have to talk about the title a little bit. You may be sick of doing that. I was at the press conference in Cannes where somebody accused you of committing commercial suicide with that title.
Kaufman: I remember talking about that. Why would they care? It wasn’t the distributor, since I didn’t have one yet. Who said that? Do you know who that was?
O’Hehir: Yeah, it was Jeff Wells, who writes the blog Hollywood Elsewhere. He’s definitely an opinionated guy.
Kaufman: That was his review of the film, too. How much he hated the title. It wasn’t about commercial viability, he just hated the title. I think he said that something like “we dumbasses won’t go to this movie because of the title.”
I don’t like to think of people that way. This movie is for people who want to see this movie. I haven’t set my sights anywhere, you know? I just tried to explore ideas that are interesting to me in a way that felt honest. I’m willing to let the chips fall where they may.
O’Hehir: Journalists in the film world sometimes think with two hats, which isn’t always comfortable. We’re trying to gauge our own honest response to the material, and also think about how distributors will view it, and whether a large public audience is likely to be interested.
Kaufman: Oh, I think filmmakers do that too. If you’re writing for Variety that’s part of your job. That’s a trade paper. But when you’re a filmmaker and you think that way, that’s called pandering. I don’t want to do that.
O’Heir: Let’s talk about the word “synecdoche.” It’s an ancient Greek term of rhetoric, it’s a figure of speech. Tell us what it means, and what it means to you.
Kaufman: I was hoping you were going to explain it. You got so close to explaining it! It’s when you describe the whole of something by using a part of it, or a part of something by using the whole of it — the general for the specific, or the specific for the general. Calling your car your “wheels” is a very easy example.
O’Hehir: Right. And obviously there’s a joke going on too …
Kaufman: There’s a play on the name of the city, Schenectady, N.Y. I found out that many people in the world, outside the United States, don’t know about Schenectady. And they don’t pronounce “synecdoche” the same way anyway. So it’s useless.
O’Hehir: See! Jeff Wells was right!
Kaufman: It turns out that Jeff Wells is always right. I’m going to start listening.