Rooney Mara could have just as easily starred in any number of Val Lewton movies as any made now.
Rooney Mara could have just as easily starred in any number of Val Lewton movies as any made now.
There comes a moment in all hangovers when the sufferer comes to a fork in the road. To the left lies death. To the right, madness. Brunch is down there too. For let us be plain: The perfect hangover cure is a cold Coke and a swim in the ocean, followed by a nap. Brunch in contrast offers only lukewarm coffee and watery bloody mary mix, harried servers and shoe-leather bacon. It may promise redemption. It generally delivers nothing of the sort.
Here is the food-world luminary and former line cook Anthony Bourdain on the subject, in his “Kitchen Confidential”: “Brunch is punishment block for the B Team cooks, or where the farm team of recent dishwashers learn their chops. Most chefs are off on Sundays too, so supervision is at a minimum. Consider that before ordering the seafood frittata.””
Look at what the light did then (just over a year ago, in Tahoe).
Been going through a ton of old moving images since I quit my day job, trying to fashion some version of a précis on light (what’s new), and it’s a lot harder than writing (cf). Learning to write with light is a whole new thing. And collaging snippets has become somewhat cloying in the age of HD and Vimeo and all those little “portraits” we see here and there. So: to find a way that makes the expressive seductive without being boring, rhythmic but unpredictable, affective yet not (overtly?) affected, a constellation of associations building an argument I’d be unable to make in words, one that, simply, requires images and movement and time. I’ve also been doing some obvious JLG freeze-frame-slow-mo stuff that tickles me silly but may have to go in the end unless I can somehow justify it against the rest of the stillness and activity. But that’s just it: learning the rules of something I may not even fully understand, trying for that new grammar we want from digital—it’s tough! Thank G-d there’s no due date.
Write only about what you love. We need more celebrations, not righteousness, in this world.
Let the object tell you how to read it. Find its grammar, and use it.
Reading the object is the goal because anything you should write should be written to expand the argument of the object, not reduce nor dissect nor even replicate it. And no reading has an end.
Pay attention to your moods — and remember that they do not believe in each other.
Trust your gut and respect your pleasure. If something works, reject the idea that it may be “cheap” or “sentimental” or, egads, “manipulative.” Rather, attempt to think about why it might have worked on you, or worked you over, as you experienced it. Remember that you were open to it.
That is, check your experience of the object instead of prescribing your tastes upon the object. Keep the object, and your experience of it, alive.
Furthermore, if you’ve set yourself to writing about something (anything!), please do experience the object at least twice.
Pay attention to the differences that make a difference.
Do not read about the object before you’ve completed your work. Let the link vultures quote you, not the other way around.
However, do not be afraid of the associations the object brings forth for you, especially from other art forms than the one at hand. And do your best to find the best in these affinities, these links, no matter how fanciful.
Resist easy analysis. Find a flip side for everything. And then flip it again. As much as you want to inhabit the experience of the object, and relay that to your readers, you want to surround the object from every angle. (Allow yourself to fail this aim.)
Think of yourself in a relationship with the object as you would a friend: Refuse the temptation to “master” it and be open to its suggestions, its passions, its pains, its questions. Be the helpmeet. Return, dialog.
Understand that understanding is, like most things, constantly shifting.
But make an argument. As noted earlier: perform a reading for your audience (and yourself).
Allow that argument to change and rewrite accordingly.
As much as you want to invite the reader to share your experience of the object, resist the first person except when necessary. Navigating the first person is the trickiest thing for us to do with anything like grace.
Remember who is speaking, and for whom. More often than not, you are simply speaking for yourself, so the plural “we” is forever suspect, though quite a handy rhetorical move in the apposite and charitable constructions.
Think of your readers as reasonably intelligent, but do not assume they’ve read what you’ve read (or seen, listened to, danced with, smelled, tasted, felt, etc). Give them what they need to be participatory interlocutors.
Activate your senses. All of them.
Rewrite it again.
Trust your editor, presuming you’re getting paid, and take their notes to heart. It will only make the work better.
You can make typos and incomplete arguments on your blogs/tumblrs/twitters/facebooks, but don’t think you’ve covered any ground therein if all you did was type and spell check before “publishing” your ideas. That is, know that you are left naked in those arenas and that you deserve any hate the haters will toss on you, no matter how inane, for the simple fact that you, in all likelihood, did not think about your argument, nor your words, as thoroughly as you might have had you pitched the story and accepted the true responsibility and vulnerability that words published for the public take on when met by strangers.
This isn’t to stymie fun, nor simply to reiterate CYA (Cover Your Ass) but to know that as inadequate as language is in its everyday use, its doubly inadequate when you’re performing one half of a conversation with a stranger and cannot be present to continue the conversation but in the “comments” section — and even then, on average, to no good.
Get paid for your work. It may not be dollars and cents, but that’s okay. Some kind of token.
[An aside: Emotional capital matters, and breaking bread is, on the whole, more rewarding than the pittance we’re so often given for our work. The truth is there is hardly a career to be had in criticism of any kind, which points again at the first precept. You want to use your energy to contribute to the world, not categorize it. Enough things are broken into bits and pieces, including humans. Therefore, do not ignore the value of being physically present with another human being that you respect, and enjoy.]
The point is: treat it like your job. Show up for it. Make a schedule for it. Be there for it. Be honest with it and you’ll be honest with yourself — and, one hopes, with your world.
Remember this should be fun.
Rewrite it again, and enjoy it.
Think of your work as a gift. To yourself, to your lover, to your mom or dad, to whomever it pleases you to think you’re addressing. Hell, maybe it’s God.
Don’t promote it until you’re done with it. Just do it. Then blab about it all you want, within reason.
This is a photograph by Nan Goldin. It kills me. Hope you have a reason to be happy, today, unknown and unknowable valentine.
still from Philip Kaufman’s 1988 film adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Elizabeth Gumport has this other tumblr that’s all about models, and sometimes artists and models. Its title is a call, “What are you looking at?” and its url is a response (and another call), “And what do you see?” It’s cheeky, and smart. And, yes, there are a lot of beautiful women to look at and to see.
On that silly letterboxd thing I wrote:
Truly polyphonic film that posits love as a cleaver, or at best an elsewhere, that makes reality a thing not quite of the past but of the unmatched souls that inhabit us and compete to sing for the audience we are skeptical of even existing.
However, an hour later, a friend asked me, somewhat obliquely in his own way, to elucidate that somewhat opaque construction. So I offered three aphorisms I try to live by, or live every day aware of, as some patchwork perspective on how I want to live towards my next self (which is an idea endemic to our first voice here, Cavell, and his idea of perfectionism as a way of being that may be reduced for my purposes here to something like: we are forever trying to become better at life).
While my friend appreciated these words, he still felt confounded by my idea of “unmatched souls” and, to be fair, that is something that you need the film for, not some other possibly esoteric (useless) ideas (abstractions), because it’s a particular aspect of Resnais’ construction of players and images and text.
If you do not know the plot of this film, such as it is its own plot, my best summation is this: A playwright has died, and his butler has invited his closest actor friends to the playwright’s last house in the mountains above Nice, for an odd seance posing as the reading of his last will. The butler arranges the actors in chairs before a screen, and suddenly the playwright descends into the image (inside an image inside the image we are watching) to ask his audience for their opinion on a new production of the play he wrote that each of the members of the audience performed in at one point or another in their careers together (and apart again until this moment).
What follows is almost a call and response performance in triplicate with some roles doubled in the chairs and on the screen within the screen and the central couple tripled across the screens (there’s even some bad-on-purpose green screen) and chairs filling the auditorium we are audience to as viewers of this promise, Vous n’avez encore rien vu. “You haven’t seen anything yet” is a cheeky way to get your attention but it might actually be true here.
In all this mirroring, each of the actors are participants in a text, so where Pierre Arditi is Lambert Wilson as Sabine Azéma is Anne Consigny, so are they all one another, of one voice, of this text. Which is where the “unmatched souls” comes into play. Because Arditi isn’t Consigny for obvious reasons. And the film isn’t itself replicated but simply itself. Yet it all sings together, and the audience of all these performances, across the screens and the auditorium of the house, which opens to “fake” rooms and “false” elsewheres, is simply this choir-chorus-ensemble.
What to do with all this circling may be found in the run towards death’s wholeness that the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus points at, but the “pathetic” father played by Piccoli has his say, too, and our grim reaper Amalric sees the value in the father’s faith in life, even if death should be a closer friend in its unending tenderness, its forever embrace, against the plight of pain that is this life we all want to live better than the last day. It’s no accident that the film ends (once) at dawn, over water, and ends (again) at what might be dusk, over a pyre.
The other thing I haven’t spoken to is the romance element. The story at hand is one of love found in a flash and lost as quickly. To be plain about it: I see myself in some of this wrinkles and these characters’ desires we cannot quite fault them for in large part because the desires are but one desire: that desire for the better world we know exists but is forever out of reach. “The grass is always greener” may also apply. But I think I’ll end with another Cavell, which I once used in a Conjunction of Quotations, which, suffice it to say, may not fully tie a bow on this argument but pose more questions, because, after all, I’m of the seemingly minority opinion that we can never know all of everything, or of any one thing. We live in the space between answers, that always already liminal world we call every day life. And what is art but a response to the call of confusion we find every time we open our eyes and risk a walk outside amongst our peers, our betters, our poor and our pets:
Consent is, on earth, always a risk, as democracy is, and hence is always accompanied by a knowledge of being compromised. So understood, consent is the show of a readiness for change, of allegiance to a state of society responsive to a call for change. This is how I present the enduring comedies of remarriage in their conversation with society, and how I see Astaire’s farewell gesture, as he merges into the shifting crowd on the pavement outside the Arcade. The question is therefore how compromised consent is shown, is made—in Locke’s use of the terms—express as opposed to tacit. The idea is not to hedge consent, as if your commitment were incomplete, but to give it in the knowledge that its object is still in essential part idea, its existence incomplete. This creates a romance of America, but it tends to make those who are not ambassadors into boosters, the former uneasy about the future, and somewhat guilty because of it, the latter refusing uneasiness, and proud of it.
Jean-Luc Godard on the Metro.
(via Oliver Farry’s twitter)
His cargo pants say utility, his glare says, Fuck You.
Check out this terrible photoshop job somebody (my dad?) did of the first house I knew.