Blog Title Photo

Blog Title Photo

Sunday, October 21, 2012

School of Hard Knocks

January 1, 1984

The New Year ushered in with a restless sleep - bombs and firecrackers exploding all night.

Dreams of white rats loose in my apartment, pursued by furry white weasels which eventually caught and killed them. In my dream, the pursuit happened slowly, a time-lapse chase up the side of my bedroom door. I noticed the weasel's fur was tattered and falling out, as if they had been stuffed, then I came to the conclusion that they were stuffed, from Uncle Freddie's collection at Trophy Lodge. Somehow during my sleep they had come off their mounts and begun to run around the house.

Yesterday I worked five hours alone in the cutting room, then took the subway to Soho and bought a Japanese print for P____ and M____ as their wedding present, in the process seeing a lot of other prints which I've decided that I want for myself. The gallery I visited is called Azuma. Mr. Azuma himself is an intelligent little Japanese man who speaks hardly any English but somehow understands perfectly just what you mean. He makes very good prices, and has, besides many floating world prints, fine swords, and ceramics.

Web Keene came over for a brief chat, and gave me a list of some good books to read. We talked about the traveller's life. Soon he'll be leaving the University of Chicago to do field work in Indonesia. After that he wants to teach and write. "Isn't it awfully hot down there?" I asked him. "Yes," he said. "Thats why I'm trying to pick an island with high mountains."

"That sounds like the same kind of decision as finding an apartment," I quipped. "Not too hot, language easy to master, natives friendly, not too spoilt by the white man." We laughed about this.

"It really doesn't matter where I do my field work," he said. "Everywhere there are people living, and that is good material for a study. But I have to make use of the people at Chicago, and Indonesia is their specialty. It would be foolish to ignore that!"

Choices. What are the reasons we think we obey when we make choices? They may not be the real cause, or even lead to the desired effect. Reason's a bridge to somewhere uncertain from a place that's already abandoned. The bridge therefor is one of style, and thus, a vanity.

Chris told me of a dream he had, seeing a deer under water, in the surf by an ocean beach. Even its antlers were submerged. It was running along just as if it were on dry land. This made me think of what it would be like to see a humpbacked whale in the woods. You would come upon it, resting, in a grove of pines, then it would swim slowly away, giant flukes brushing away the limbs, belly gliding over the ferns.

New Year's Poetry reading at St. Marks. Allan Ginsberg was there, presiding. The School of Hard Knocks did a marvelous dance. A few good poets read, though it was generally impossible to concentrate. R_____ was there looking very pretty.


Tuesday December 20, 1983

Talks with PA on the phone about Jean-Luc Godard, and his recent film "Passion". Godard refuses to let any thought, character, location, even synchronization of soundtrack with picture, become certitude, as if anything established or accepted in conventional film language were death itself. Instead his language evolves into a new kind of 'anti-fabric', of film syntax. He enjoys flirting with norms and conventions, then disrupting, corrupting, overwhelming in obsessive and destructive bouts.

It's a film about activities, about a filmset, about fornications in a nearby hotel, about the hirings and firings at a local manufacturer, all mishmashed together, with all the connecting tissue somehow implied, never explained, always glimpsed with pieces missing, so much missing that the story ultimately, if one could say there was a story, has to be imagined.

It's a film about flux, flux as in solder, flowing hot sputtering always at the verge of congealing and becoming hard, but by constantly applying the hot iron Godard keeps the flows of energy moving forward, abandoning the present for something more present, more of the 'now' never quite getting behind enough to call it 'past', a film whose dialogue can never quite be annealed together into anything that could be labelled a logical statement. The film makes no statement, it is anti-statement, and insists that over and over again by leading the viewer to expect some sort of logical clue or tidbit of storyline logic ala the normal expository manner of directing and writing, instead Godard revels in disappointment of this faculty. What is left over but film itself, the images, and the soundtrack which do nothing to explain each other, yet somehow dance. He has taken the rucksack of modern cinema and emptied it out onto the table, cut it up, added perturbed visions, macerations, and dislocutions and dislocations. This becomes then a dizzying ride, an emptying out of the barrel, an expurgation of the clotted nonsense and all that linear time-flow exposition has become.

"Here is what I don't mean!" he shouts at his viewer, or, "It means nothing here either!" . . ."What you are seeing is imaginary!", . . . "This happened on a set!" . . . "I contrived this".

His vignettes, are insets of bit of drama which pretend to be his actor/models 'true' orientations or preferences . .  and then once viewed, we realize these too have been contrived.

What Godard has cut OUT of "Passion", are all the elements around which all other feature films seem to be constructed. He's abandoned the very elements which most filmmakers deem essential, story, consistency of character, logic, cause and effect. He introduces no characters, establishes nothing, neither time-line, space or character. The order of events, the normal dramatic 'glue' is not to be found. Not the tiniest element fastened to anything else. And by so defeating the natural lignin holding the film corpus together, he defeats memory itself. The whole structure collapses into the bowels of the subconscious, split seconds after viewing each shot.

Meaning derives from association, not connection or direction. He fears we'll know or learn too much about his formula, which after all is anti-formula, or his characters which are anti-character, or his locations which are anti-location. It seems to be Godard's task as director to prevent us from sating our curious minds to finish whatever he starts in ways that we are used to, conscious that those leaps of imagination are the real film, and that bits of celluloid are merely the inconsequential head and tail of the mind-shot, the identifying slates to a never recorded mental-work, a black spot or abyss whose mystery would disappear if ever a light were made to shine upon it. So we constantly circle and touch with our eyes closed but never invade with the film medium, only with the film possibility. That possibility is of the thing we imagine, an assembly of starts and stops with the centers missing, the center he knows lies fully crafted within our psyche.


Talks with Michael at Cafe Dante over cafe amarettos. Mike's full of thoughts, responses to my updates on Merchant-Ivory developments. Mostly we spoke about Ismail, the need to see scripts developed, a little like the tending of a good seed bed, a nursery of ideas. This Ismail does not see the value of. I think I said something like the direction of Merchant Ivory is being decided by what Ismail reads before going to bed.

Search This Blog