Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Wrapped up in Books

Few books that have been important for me in 2009. Now only 5, there's a lot more of them, but the rest I'm going to list separately.

1. Return to T.S. Eliot



"In the last ten years – gradually, but deliberately – I have made myself into a machine. I have done it deliberately – in order to endure, in order not to feel – but it has killed V."

First, he made me sympathize with a prematurely aged 20-, than 30- and 40-something at the age of 15, when, via the Metaphysical poets, he’s became my most cult author – because his influence on me didn’t include only poetry, but mainly – essays. Tradition and Individual Talent, Music of Poetry, What is a Classic and various essays on the aforementioned poets I could quote by heart. The dissociation of sensibility and detachment between senses and intellect haunted my youth. Then he’s became an object of my dissertation at my early English literature studies. Then I’ve became more prone to the “experimental” poetry and started reading Pound, Lewis and Laura Riding more ferociously.

There is something about good old TSE you just can’t resist. Even though he, at some point, professed fascism, expressed anti-Semitism, misogyny and god knows what else. It probably has to do with that he was able to permeate my desperate teens to such a deep, overtaking extent, along maybe only with Rimbaud and Thomas Mann (sic!). The publication of the Letters 1923-25 reveals the especially difficult period in TSE life: he published The Waste Land, a shocker of a poem, which shook the ground of English literature and determined the development of poetry at least for the next decade, his marriage with Vivienne Haigh-Wood has proven to be a disaster for both, Eliot still worked at Lloyd’s bank and descended slightly into an especially severe condition, a combination of depression, guilt and self denial. As he wrote in February 1923, to Middleton Murry: ‘it will take me a year or two to throw off The Waste Land and settle down and get at something better which is tormenting me by its elusiveness in my brain.’ It actually finally took place, cf. The Hollow Men, but in a rather exhaustive manner to say the least. Certain vein, set of possibilities, certain momentum, had been already exhausted and faded to an infinite gray.

2. Julian Barnes, Nothing to Be Frightened Of


Call me reactionary; I like this book. I like Julian Barnes. He’s frequently genuinely funny, self-ironic and never falls into self indulgence or hatred, as for example Martin Amis does. Flaubert’s Parrot is a brilliant book and one of the best accounts on Flaubert there are, remaining an enjoyable, hilarious read. The same goes with A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters and Before She Met Me. Even Talking it Over is not without charms. I can forgive him his French pretentiousness and his living in Provence. And I enjoyed his last novel, Arthur and George, quite much. Surely, no wonder, he’s no new Dostoyevsky, but we just can’t afford any new Dostoyevsky or Dickens nowadays. Let’s face it: Barnes at least represents cultured, cultivated times, when writers at least could write proper sentences, and he’s reasonable, modest, and definitely knows how to operate with the pen.
I said ‘reactionary’, cos Nothing considers this usually controversial topic, that is (non)religion. Before you start yawning, I ensure you, that Barnes deals with his own maturing to atheism in an interesting way. He struggles with his brother – analytic philosopher, ultra conservative mother, agnostic father, and grandparents: communist granny especially neat. But he’s not mocking any possibility, and the review of his family beliefs is a nice family portrait and I’m always interested in family portraits. Then there goes his review of books and his significant other authors, like aforementioned Flaubert or Jules Renard, and their views on religion. The conclusion is not revolutionary, we are all afraid of death etc., but what the hell. As Flaubert says, “We have to learn everything, from how to talk to how to die.” Philosopher, c’est apprendre de mourir, wrote Montaigne. Ah well.

ps. Barnes on Orwell here

3. Miron Białoszewski Chamowo & Juliusz Strachota Cień pod blokiem Mirona Bialoszewskiego



Some strictly Polish stuff, haha. Białoszewski (1922-1983) was our one of the best poets of the 20th century, pushing the boundaries of what was possible in linguistic poetry, soaking it with an extremely ‘local’ climate. He was a local poet to the bone, and Warsaw, with its topography, architecture, shape, district division, and the local languages, was his city: his territory, his destiny. I will write a ‘hauntological’ post on Białoszewski once, feel warned!

He survived Warsaw Uprising as a young man, which experience he delineated after years (1970) in the one of the most stirring and poetically excellent war account ever written, that is The Diary from The Warsaw Rising. He invented a new type of literary language: colloquial, mundane, trying to be as sincere to the way things are spoken as it’s possible, simultaneously inventing a new way of recording it: experimented with punctuation marks, small letters etc. But what is the most important is the wholly new way of writing about oneself, which is at the same time very close to life and distanced, as if the writer’s ego, its ontological status, translocated and transformed and become the speech itself. Chamowo, which title is derived from a common name of a part of Saska Kepa, a district in Warsaw, is an exercise in combining a diary, autobiography with a “chronicle of events", but a very strange one indeed, because those events are of a kind, that someone went for a trip near Warsaw or bought a new pair of trousers. It’s a metaphysics of the everyday, of the ordinary.



[this is actually literally "the shadow over the Miron Białoszewski tower block" in Saska Kepa in Warsaw]

Juliusz Strachota is a late heir of Białoszewski, that has a cult status among Polish writers. He was a creator of a whole tradition in Polish literature and Juliusz (1979), whom I happen to know, is its new continuator and a great fan of his. His short stories are really short – like 2,3, 4 pages maximum and his style you could describe as a combination of Etgar Keret, Raymond Carver and Bialoszewski himself. Strachota is the best portrayer of the current 20somethings generation: his typical hero is as anti-heroic as it’s possible, usually a 30 years old computer programmer, neurotic, haunted by memories (clearly soaked with Peoples Republic reality of PL) and the fantastic, grotesque visions of reality. Clearly he’s also unable to express or to feel emotions. But it's not a typical ‘loneliness in a big city’ type of desolation – we are too provincial for it and Strachota is too ironic and self deprecatory. The language is laconic, hilarious, restrained. His hero struggles with his demons, but is looking for a way out.

And Strachota is also one of the most local authors I know, in whose prose details, like the number or a route of a tram or the design of a special street, are of crucial importance. He was obsessed with Saska Kepa in Warsaw, where Bialoszewski lived, living himself in Grochow. And now he lives in Krakow’s Nowa Huta, a famous social realist district designed for workers, a city within a city indeed. The spectral tower blocks and nonsentimentalism of this areas in his prose delight me. Now Nowa Huta has become also a theme for the discussed collection and for his next novel, which I’m currently reading in a manuscript. Hell, it is good. And we need another account of Nowa Huta in literature.

But it doesn’t change the fact I was absolutely thrilled, when I discovered this some time ago from my favourite blogger. Scroll a bit to the top and you will read, how Owen is juxtaposing Nowa Huta with Shirley in his familial Southampton. As far as I’m concerned, we could carry on a twinning of Nowa Huta and Thornhill any time.

4. Rereading of L-F Celine


I don’t really want to dwell on Celine, that is, Louis Ferdinand Destouches (1894-1961), famous for his anti-semitism and favouring Nazism too much. To me he was one of the rare true literary geniuses of the 20th century and its one of the most problematic if not controversial personalities at the same time.

Celine is an ideal writer when you’re young, angry and prone to any shallow radicalism, then he becomes a writer of non-comparable despair. Show me more excruciating, heartrending passages, than those of Bardamu, the hero and the narrator of Mort a credit (Death on credit, 1936). Show me a more contradictory genius of 20th century prose, who was, no doubt about it, such a scum and sociopath. The keys to Celine are his miserable childhood and youth, as presented in Death; then his nightmarish experiences at the WWI front, described in the Journey to the End of the Night, that left him a handicap. Celine had a tin plate in his head and had a high ringing sound in his ears for the rest of his life, as a result of an explosion he endured. then there comes his lifelong experience as a doctor for the poor - his contemptous passages on the proletariat he treated from Death are stirring, but on the other hand, he cured them for free without any spare questions; But nothing can explain or justify what he wrote in Trifles for the Massacre (1937) or then in an even more terryfying pamphlet, L'École des cadavres [The School of Corpses] published a bit later (1938), where Celine postulated a total subjugation and fraternite with the Nazi Germany.

This is something “one would expect from an anti-Semite of Céline's tireless and impenitent ardor, a writer who, from 1937 to 1944, spent all his flagrant literary energy and aptitude calling—shouting—for the death of every Jew in France (for a start).” (to quote this helpful piece). “Once one extends the reach of Godard's claim to include the anti-Semitic trilogy, the congruence of Céline's wink-wink misanthropy with his unblinking sociopathy becomes apparent. It is not that we shouldn't read Céline because he was, at a profound level, contemptible. It is rather that, to understand Céline, we must be ready to, and permitted to, read all that he wrote. Only in this way can we begin to understand what we are saying when we might think to class him as—of all things—a humorist.”

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Kino uber Alles

Films remembered without renewed research, not in the order of importance and not only from 2009:

Inglorious Basterds (2009) dir. Quentin Tarantino



Just two observations over this film, on which you can read practically everywhere else. First, the use of language: Tarantino always has been playing with language, from strange poetry of the trivial, from the gangsta slang in Reservoir Dogs to the woman’s chat in Deathproof. His films are “talked” films par excellence. In Basterds, by various uses of speech, i.e. actually four languages (among which English is one of the least used!), numerous discourses, and the virtuosity of speaking, that sometimes become monstrous (in which obviously the terrifying SS colonel Landa excels), demonstrates that in certain circumstances language can be a lethal weapon, or a measure that is capable of saving life (e.g. the fantastic scene of playing cards in the tavern); nevertheless, chatting may occur a matter of life and death.

Secondly, Tarantino was always a master of depicting the cathartic powers of violence. Here, in this at first glance unacceptable mash-up of a Holocaust movie with a spaghetti western and adventure movie, Tarantino surpasses the efforts of Spielberg in Indiana Jones and more sophisticated fantasies of contemporary art dealing with the Holocaust.

Beeswax (2008) dir. Andrew Bujalski



Latest from this still underappreciated independent filmmaker, which, like his previous films, Funny Ha Ha (2002) and Mutual Appreciation (2005), deals with the ambivalence & inexperience of young adults who find themselves in situations that might well determine the rest of their lives.

Beeswax tells a story of twin sisters, Lauren and Jeannie, both in their late 20s, I suppose, focusing on the latter. It documents few months of their lives, when Lauren seeks work and love in the most unlikely places and Jeannie struggles with managing a quite unattractive, but agreeable second hand store and a former co-partner, who is about to sue her.

As usual we have amateur actors, who are so beautifully directed by Bujalski we don’t even notice it. Jeannie is paralyzed, and the film is utterly straightforward about it without making it an issue. We see her getting in & out of the car, soliciting help from strangers, going to bed with a guy etc.

Dialogue is the best part but already much has been said of Bujalski’s use of language. He’s got a quite rare ability to capture the demurral, hesitation and non-commitment in dialogues that usually concerns the most banal issues.

When Jeannie drives with her on-off boyfriend Merril to a meeting with a friend from whom they want to borrow money for the troublesome business, in a 20 sec exchange Bujalski gives a vision of the couple’s past life together, why they broke up and an idea how they might make their relationship work the next time. Will it be worth it?
The film ends with a sex scene, which ends at the beginning of a foreplay – we can’t really say, whether Merrill and Jeannie will succeed, but they have a slight chance.

Hunger ( 2008) dir. Steve McQueen



I dreamed about seeing this movie long before I was able to actually see it last summer on the festival I worked at. I’m just going to mention few things, since the film remains a truly mind-blowing experience, at some moments approximating to a masterpiece.

First, many months before, I watched all the scenes I could find on the Youtube numerous times. For the one scene only, that is, the 10-minute completely static dialogue scene of Bobby Sands and the priest in the Maze prison, this film would be a masterpiece. But it remains so much more: it combines what is the best in contemporary visual arts with the naturalist tradition of the movies of Irish terrorism, such as In the Name of the Father.

Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands reaches the edges of what is possible in acting, in a good and in a bad sense, but the effect is stirring. The cinematography, monochromatic and static, is brilliant. The way of depicting violence is breathtaking.

As far as the political inclinations go, Hunger remains a positive example of the long discredited engaged cinema. I asked my English friends, did the film cause any new discussion over the Thatcher “legacy” in England; I was told, to my great surprise, that what's been discussed, are mostly only artistic values of the film. Pity.

The Beaches of Agnes (2009) dir. Agnes Varda



I was already writing about Varda on the occasion of presenting her husband's, Jacques Demy, gem of a musical, that is Les Mademoiselles de Rochefort. In this case, forget the “meditation from the legend of Nouvelle Vague over life and death” – it is more another masterful exercise over blurring the boundaries of cinema genres from this great cineaste, that is Agnes Varda. It is a beautiful film, shot by a woman over 80, who clearly is preparing herself for passing away. What she wants to capture is her beloved ones, first of all her husband, that passed away of AIDS years ago, and their mutual life and love within the movies. Most of all, she impresses with self-distance and irony, never aiming at a serious resume, always witty and humble. I love the sequence about her childhood and existence between the fishermen, that made her to do her first movie about her village. And her last film is able to touch really deep and dense matters without ever getting into self indulgence.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) dir. Paul Greengrass


The greatest secret of contemporary cinema is that the real value you can no longer spot in the art house movies. The best moments, of true CINEMATIC value, in many senses, you can get in the most commercial cinema made for the biggest money.

My adventure with the discovery of the astonishing cinematic richnesses of mainstream, high budget cinema, is quite fresh: one can shake off the suffocation of the so called high “kulchur” only when one have been soaking up for enough time with it. I always liked the genre cinema; then there goes the re-evaluation of the pure cinematic values, like editing, sound, cinematography.

In Bourne-Greengrass (director of both Bloody Sunday and Flight 93) edition cinema is again the feast for the senses. It is like in this old story of a bourgeois, who comes to the theatre/cinema/what have you unwilling to make any intellectual effort. Here everything is done for us before we can even think about it. but I’m not saying this in an estimating manner. The editing here is a masterpiece and it’s crucial – the subliminal effects are here in the order of the day. I don’t remember the exact number of cuts, it’s probably few millions or something; and it’s not for nothing. It creates an overwhelming spectacle, a massage for the brain, levitation of the senses.

I’m not even going to mention the plot and to sketch the strangely fascinating-repulsive figure of Bourne himself. Matt Damon proves to be made for this part, being barely watchable apart form this movie. Here he’s a perfect embodiment of a plain men, whom you wouldn’t notice on the street; a perfect embodiment of the forces ruling in the Cold World.

to be continued...

My resume for 2009



2009 was to me more a year of discovering and rediscovering things, than a ferocious if not desperate attempt to be au courant with all the novelties (and it will probably be continued, hopefully as long as possible), as it is usually the case nowadays. This year I spend probably more hours on, most of the time completely futile, groping in the darkness of the internet, marked as so called “research”, than ever before. Like millions of my addicted compatriots, I was digging the tenth references of my current, usually most trivial excitements, spending sleepless nights in search of a holy Grail, measuring out my life with coffee spoons and cigarette butt-ends, not even knowing, when I’ve become some sort of a human-vacuum machine, in all the endeavors, doomed at the bottom obviously, to know or at least to be aware of what is there, to excite a life of a culture zombie or at least to kill the omnipresent boredom, that defines the present moment.

The boredom combined with nostalgia, defines our moment of culture, and can be discovered even in some under-aged kids making this. if some kids born ten years after me are already expressing this kind of ennui and nostalgia, what does it say about the whole culture?

So being already 26, I should probably start to think of myself what my coeval T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) thought back 96 years ago, when being nearly exactly my age he wrote one of the best poems there are, The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock: I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. / I do not think that they will sing to me.

The main plan for the upcoming 2010 will be to balance (not merge) the omnipotent “online” with the more and more dubious “offline”, when it is still possible. That is: replacing “software” with the “hard copies”, reading more books & magazines, than digesting blogs, more listening to the music than READING about music. Traveling & going outdoors in general as often as it’s possible, when it’s not interrupting the actual work etc. Wishful thinking, but at least let’s try to stick to those few simple principles.

Anyway, what will follow, will be a bunch of things that I probably devoted the most of my doubtful cogitations and considerations, things that excited me, taught me things or simply gave me pleasure, hopefully, unmediated with the self-censorship, internet hype, and silent culture requirements.

Oh, and btw, below it's me, on my especially powerful 2009 moment, accidentally. I discovered I don't have any photos of myself. From 2010 I'll try to document my exterior slightly better. And the Chicks on Speed image on the top is there simply because i liked it.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Pretending I'm updating



So I'm working a lot, but outside the blog, that's for sure.

below some of the effects of my work:

two interviews from the 6 Week Notebook, on with the expert, scholar and journalist Edwin Bendyk and the second with a group of very interesting Lebanese artists, who told me some about the difficulties of being an artist in a bombed and distroyed city

go here fo the pdf

and here the interview with Mr Owen Hatherley, which I've published nearly 3 months ago, but since Owen is coming to Warsaw for a short visit to have a lecture in MoMA, I can't not re-post it:

go here

I know the future of this blog, if there's any, lies in writing it i POlish and I finally will start doing it...

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Awesome tapes from Africa!



A real treasure hunt:

go here

lately only music "outside western idiom" brings me any joy or rest.

listen to the Middle East Divas as well: Fairuz, Googoosh, Ofra Haza. though all of them represent different worlds, from LIban to Israel, from more traditional-influenced arabic music to euro-pop, they are still something different. i wonder if im not committing the classical sin of orientalisation, famously postulated by Edward Said, a Palestinian himself; nevertheless, this trip into the world of different rhythms and pitches was and still is fascinating.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

6-weeks-Notebook #56 & some explanations


hello again, after a while...

first, a link to 6-weeks-notebook that just appeared:
go here

contains my interview w/ David Crowley, London's V&A curator.

"Winter kept us warm", TS Eliot famously wrote in the Waste Land, but it's not enough an explanation, when winter is paving her actual way through our houses and hearts. the toughest time of the year has just begun and I have no solution to this amount of a sudden lowkey mood and depression. many things has just collapsed in my life.

it appears, that maintaininig a blog is really a job that one has to devote to to some level...
and it seems my latest work totally eclipsed my blog activity.
so my freelancing job pushed me to conduct a number of interviews of more than 10, including established London curator (effect above in the link, though in Pl as usual), Renata Salecl, a famous psychoanalitic theoretician, , Ewa Kuryluk, my cherished artist and writer, some artistic collective called Critical Practice, a guy from Chto Delat, Swedish writer who authored a book on Ulrike Meinhof and Milena Jesenska, a journalist, who wrote a book on Marlene Dietrich, Hungarian author of a 800-pages long novel on Adam Mickevitch...
last few days I spend with Jakob Jakobsen, founder of Copenhagen Free University and our improvised Flying, Nomadic University of Warsaw, which was based on meeting in private flats and parting while exchanging knowledge...

and now I have to write all of it down. make a story. write articles people would read. make it interesting and useful. make it a source of knowledge.

is blogging really for me? I started to ask myself this question after I haven't desired to write anything for the last 3 weeks.
maybe I will return to regular writing, but I just feel better outside the omnipresent NET at the moment. if anyone started to read this blog and were ever interested, forgive me for this impertinence and inconsistence.

i just know i have to focus more on something else now. some form of life, people, taking care of someone/something. that sounds extremely cheesy, but this is just the way it is. since I didn't have any agreement w/ anybody about this blog and it's a mine and mine only space, I just decided to suspend it for a while.
maybe im just not a material for a blogger, maybe this form of responsibility and discipline have to wait for a better moment.

so see you soon!
A.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Let's dance





I'll now try to explain to you, why this is probably my favourite scene in the whole history of cinema (ok, one of favourites).

In Godard's Vivre sa vie (To live one's life) Anna Karina plays a girl, who out of some circumstances (breaking up with a dull man, boredom, then lack of financial means or sheer indifference) becomes a prostitute. This shot in a pre-experimental, pre-Marxist, pre-Dziga Viertov Group, more "traditional" style, that has more to do with early Nouvelle Vague style - more or less open form, freedom and improvisation on the plan, lots of plain air, streetlife from Paris. This scene has always seemed to me as autotelic, sort of self evident, without any greater need for explanation - one of the few moments, when Nana can "escape" her existence and devote herself to a "sheer being", without any reasoning (as opposite to the last scene and her conversation with the old man about language and possibilities of self expression), just simply being and dancing as a purposeless act. But of course this is also the last stage, when Nana is concerned with the society, she's not ashamed of putting herself on display, she no longer cares about her position. from this peak moment her existence will become more and more problematic, until her accidental death from the hands of mafia.

The other scene from "Bande a part" is another example of a quite independent, taken out of time, scene in Godard's films. With the reflection on time ("one minute" scene and a commentary on the individual sense of time in cinema), then - an interruption from an autotelic dancing, and then the opening of a narrative with "parentheses", it proves also a sheer cinematic bliss.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

All the flowers for Herta...



Nobel prize for literature for my cherished author Herta Muller

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Depression...


[contemporary Chernobyl]

Oh no, not mine: it's just due to the publication of Dominic Fox's book Cold World, which I had the, excusez le mot, *pleasure* of reading earlier in pdf. It's a great book, where the author examines the *positive* potential of so called dysphoria, as opposed to euphoria, calling it "militant" in every case when the dysphoria and displeasure (or dejection) is an *active* state practised by the subject. or, as Alex Williams claims, "[T]he Left is trapped in a sort of depression, in a dysphoric state itself. Here “militant dysphoria” means the dysphoria of the militant. The hope arises that it is through a radicalisation of this very negative state that a future emancipatory politics might be born. A radicalisation in what sense though?" Good question and follow the rest on Splintering Bone Ashes blog on the right from this post.

I'm not going to outline the book now, the right time will come when I will have more time, but here just to sum up an event that took place just few days ago in London at Goldsmith's, where a panel discussion with few persentations by very interesting thinkers grouped around Zer0 Books took place.

I'm quoting a piece by Nina Power she posted on her blog Infinite Thought, where she refers to, among other things, von Trier's "Antichrist" (which I personally, had to admit that, rejected as pretentious soft-slasher kitsch), Herzog and Shulamith Firestone, famous feminist and her reflection on woman's body. lots of links to other speeches at her blog.
here it goes:

[Herzog on 'Fitzcarraldo'] Of course we are challenging nature itself, and it hits back, it just hits back, that’s all. And that’s what’s grandiose about it and we have to accept that it’s much stronger than we are. Kinski always says it’s full of erotic elements. I don’t see it so much as erotic, I see it more full of obscenity … And nature here is vile and base. I wouldn’t see anything erotical here. I would see fornication and asphyxiation and choking and fighting for survival and growing and just rotting away. Of course there is a lot of misery, but it is the same misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don’t think they sing, they just screech in pain …. Taking a close look at what’s around us, there is some sort of a harmony. There is the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder …. There is no harmony in the universe. We have to get acquainted to this idea that there is no real harmony as we have conceived it. (see this post on Conjunctural a while back, with useful comments from Ben)



A dysphoric relation to nature may see itself fascinated and reflected in a world of killing and eating but our age is characterised by a dyphoric relation to forms of nature in general much closer to home: human nature, particularly bodily nature. Think of eating disorders, self-harm, particularly prevalent in young women, where any concern for health gets subsumed into a desire for thinness, beauty or desirability. In this sense, then, there exists a common, generalised form of dysphoria in the west, a turning away from 'health', either mental or physical, towards a lessening (if not a worsening) of the world, to exist in a smaller way, to take up less space. To be dysphoric in the shape of body dysmorphia is, particularly though certainly not only for women, to be on board with the idea that our inner nature is to be punished. Just to give you a strange example of these priorities, yesterday I was walking past a pharmacy and saw a sign advertising a cervical cancer vaccine for £379 and beneath it, Botox for just £50: the vaccine that one might hope would be distributed for free by the state is more than seven times more expensive than having a barely-legal poison injected into your face.


the paradoxes and seeming dualisms of health/disease, positive/negative penetrate us at least since Romanticism and were probably most famously put by one of the most "entrenched" and powerful Modernists, Thomas Mann, who was a late heir of a long philosophical tradition, culminating in his last great novel , Dr. Faustus. I hope to muse on that more later.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Desire



In his Critique of Judgement Kant describes desire as "a faculty which by means of its representations is the cause of the actuality of the objects of those representations". it is quoted in the first chapter of Deleuze/Guattari's "Anti-OEdipe" as a symptom of the revolution in philozophizing about desire. An inteersting remark can be made about this Kant quotation, as not only from the literature of the subject, but from my own experience I can tell desire is mostly caused even by simply thinking about desire. The "triangular" system described by Rene Girard (ie, in shortest, that we always desire what is already desired by someone else, who is the real cause of our desire) always appealed to me. This idea is actually taken from Lacan, but via French Hegelianism of the 1940s, as it is Jean Hyppolyte, in whom we can find a thoght that 'human desire is always a desire for the desire of an other'. But I could agree more with Deleuze/Guattari actually, who claim, that desire is a more or less universal force, prior to the subject-object distinction, prior to representation and in fact even RESISTANT to representation.

We are bodies subjugated to many various, mostly chaotic modern sensations and experiences - I find it sometimes hard to withdraw enough to feel again the wonderful empowerment of desire. which is good, it brings me back to life, on a more basic and at the same time, profound level. My desire makes me think and long this one specific person, what makes me more focused and realizing what do I want to do in life. My desire makes the world all the more real. Desire is often described in negative terms, as a realization of lacking, but to me this whole concept of lack was rather appealing.
I don't want to be full all the time, my longing makes me more perceptive and more alive.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Traume fur Herbst

October...



What a lousy, wet freshly october day. You can only think about the inevitable passing of time and surrender to melancholy. As I have to finish my MA now, the only thing I can do before going on short hiatus is to quote the very sweet object of my queries, Mr James Schuyler.

Schuyler (1923-1991) was a great American poet, who belonged to so called "New York School of Poetry", including such greats as John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara, but like the "school" never actually existed and was an easy label for the critics, trying to capture the phenomenon of, from the one side, Abstract Expressionist school of painting and accompanying phenomena of the great revival in American arts: literature and especially poetry, Schuyler was not also a typical "member" of this societe des artistes. Being a secretary to mighty W. H. Auden, whose early poetry was the major influence on NYSP, for couple of years, he decided, what kind of poetry he wants to write, or, more importantly, does not want to write.

Schuyler was first of all a great lyricist, an author of numerous lyrical and personal poetry, but more in the style of Whitmanesque-WC Williams-Stevens, than Confessional poetry.

He often wrote about himself, his friends, his sometimes dull and "nothing-has-happened" days, he was autobiographical, with an everlasting desire "to see things as they are, too fierce and yet not too much". he was a weak brave man, struggling with some kind of schizophrenia and nervous breakdowns and then also healt problems, for most of his life. Hosted by his friends, the family of the painter Fairfield Porter, lived in hotels and small rented flats, sometimes supported also financially.

He remained a wise and perspicacious commentator of his and his friends events and accidents, stating once in the "Hymn to Life": Life is hard. Some are strong, some weak, most/Untested. I can hardly believe that there is any line in any poetry that I could more agree with.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Polanski...

Interesting side commentary over Polanski's furore. i recommend reading the whole of it, but here a quotation:

go here

Yet just as Polanski was a victim of alleged Sixties excesses, so he was a rapacious product of those excesses, too. Any sympathy for Polanski quickly dried up following his conviction for unlawful intercourse in 1977. This, too, conservatives argued, was part of the degeneracy of the open-minded, open-trousered culture of the American West Coast in the mid- to late-twentieth century; it sprung from Polanski’s and others’ determination to ‘push back the boundaries of sexual liberation’, as one report said this week (4). Some American law enforcers and right-wing commentators seem to imagine that having Polanski returned to the US will finally bring to an end the odious influence of the 1960s on contemporary society and morality. Under the headline ‘Why we dislike the French’, one conservative American columnist asks how ‘liberal’ Europe can ‘support a child rapist’ (5).

Yet if this attempt to write off 1960s sexual liberation and experimentation (some of which was progressive, some of which was solipsistic) on the back of Polanski’s past is bad, then the defence of Polanski by European government officials and commentators is even worse. They are motivated not by anything remotely related to legal norms or questions of justice, but by a snobbish and opportunistic anti-Americanism in which Polanski (who is probably a bit of a creep) becomes recast as a paragon of European decency against hung-up America. So determined are some liberal observers to use L’Affaire Polanski to get one over on America that they have even forgotten about their normal role of stoking up hysterical panics about paedophiles and have re-depicted Polanski’s encounter with Gailey as just a somewhat over-exuberant heavy-petting session.(...)

For many American and British commentators this is all about Samantha Gailey, whom they have transformed into the archetypal and eternally symbolic victim of the alleged great evil of our time, Child Abuse. ‘Remember: Polanski raped a child’, says a headline in Salon, in an article that provides sordid, misery-memoir-style details of what Polanski did with his penis to Gailey’s vagina and anus (9). For European observers, by contrast, Polanski’s actions can be explained by his own victimised past, especially during the Holocaust. We have to understand his ‘life tragedies’ and how they moulded him, says one filmmaker (10). Anne Applebaum, the American commentator who spends much of her time in Europe, says Polanski fled America in 1978 because of his ‘understandable fear of irrational punishment. Polanski’s mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived in Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto.’ (11) (Applebaum fails to disclose that she is married to the Polish foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, who is actively campaigning against Polanski’s extradition.)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

You're not my Wonderwall



Another treasure found (and lost) somewhere between the 60s psychedelia and and fashion/drug culture. Starring the starlette of the day, Jane Birkin. film is about music, colours and atmosphere, not about the plot. Just enjoy your eyes.
from Dangerous Minds website

Wonderwall is probably the ultimate “swinging London” film and what a pedigree it has. The film stars the lovely Jane Birkin and featured Anita Pallenberg and Dutch design collective The Fool (who art directed the film and were well-know for their work with the Beatles) in cameo roles. The soundtrack was by George Harrison and featured Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, some top classical Indian players in Bombay and an uncredited banjo performance by Monkee Peter Tork. There is one song called Ski-Ing that features one of the single most ferocious guitar riffs that Eric Clapton ever laid down and most of his biggest fans have never even heard it. Made in 1968 by first time director Joe Massot (who would later direct the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same and work on the psychedelic western Zachariah with the Firesign Theatre), Wonderwall was released on DVD in an elaborate package by Rhino in 2004 that now goes for top dollar to collectors.


George Harrison's music in it is great. I resist embedding too much of clips - you can easily found it on the net. And imagine those f***in' tarts Gallagher bros, while releasing their mediocre hit Wonderwall, ekhm, tried to channel the Beatles. I'm no a die hard fan of the Fab Four now, as I know tons of the equally (at least) great bands from the 60s, but this should really be prohibited. And George did say "um..no" to Gallaghers.

And I'm looking for some other spectacular films of this era, like, Who are you, Polly Magoo? check this one out.





Un peu des rhythmes diverses

Just a bunch of links, since I have to do some serious work now. While looking for some, excusez le mot, non-european idiom and thank to my friend, DJ and a versatile person at all accounts, Jacek Staniszewski, I come across some rap from RPA from a collective called Die Antwoord. Not only the arfikaner language makes it completely unusual and sorta alien to our own Western idiom. of course, you can syill recognize some common, mutual rhthms and articulations. but as a combination totale it is a new sonic and cultural experience to me. ie it's actually great:

"Die Antwoord is a zef rap-rave crew from Cape Town, South Africa.

Die Antwoord is a lovable, mongrel-like entity made in South Africa, the love-child of many diverse cultures, black, white, coloured and alien, all pumped into one wild and crazy journey down the crooked path to enlightenment.

All DIE ANTWOORD's next-level rap-rave tjoons are downloable FOR FREE off: www.DieAntwoord.com"




http://www.dieantwoord.com/

and here some other treasure from Africa, Duda dj Txiga, actually I don't know anything about them apart from what can be heard & seen on the clips I found on YT. here some more familiar african rhythms, but having in mind of how tremendous significance african rhythms were to the development of western popular music, we may say that they are now familiar, we internalized it, but did we also appropriate it?



and here an example of the appropriation totale, but at least done by one of the most legendary french rappers MC Solaar, appropriating also some Eastern influences. Even though I can't imagine anything more commercialized than this, at the same time Solaar inscribes into a very long tradition of mixing. So Inch'allah, indeed.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Free Roman



and the Genesis P-Orridge text goes:

Are You Free? Are You Really Free?
Is It You? Is It Me? Or Is it Simply History?
Is It You Or Is It Me Or Is It Simply Jealousy?
Sharon lies on a Hollywood beach
Sharon sees all her hopes are in reach...
Sharon knows all the Hollywood names
Sharon plays all the Hollywood games
Sharon walks alone as your wife
Sharon gives her life for a knife
Sharon floating high up above
Sighing, crying, dying for "LOVE"

Oh Oh Roman, Oh Roman, Roman P

Are You Free? Are You Really Free?
As You Hide Away In Gay Paris?
Life of money, life of sex
Life of honey, life of hex... Więcej...
Little girls drinking and eating cupcake
Little girls cause you
your grestest mistake
Flesh of the flesh of insidious flesh
Little girls wearing their Hollywood dress
Corrupter you are, corrupter you be
Corrupter you are, the corrupter you see

Oh Oh Roman, Oh Roman, Roman P

Roman you are, Roman you be, Roman
you are in your history
Roman in your victory
Roman in your destiny

Are You Free? Are You Really Free?
Is It You? Is It Me? Or Is it Simply History?
As You Try To Keep Your Liberty?
Are You Really Free?
Or Are You Simply Roman P......

rage



and sentimentality

Les Valseuses

Memoirs des films continued. I simply love Les Valseuses by Bertrand Blier and this is probably the funniest scene in this film and also maybe in the history of cinema



and this one too



couple of fragments



and for the good beginning of teh week, the defloration of Isabelle Huppert ;-))



I have to finish here, because I can't stop laughing right now.

ENJOY![more on the film later, as I post already TOO much]

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Edufactory

Partisan Songspiel. Belgrade Story from dmitry vilensky on Vimeo.



[taken from Chto Delac, Partisan Songspiel, love it!]

Just attended a very inspiring and productive seminar w/ Gerald Raunig, whose book Art &Revolution. Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century, published at semiotext(e) was quite a revelation for me, when I read it when it was published 2 years ago.

Organised as a part of Free University of Warsaw, curated by Kuba Szreder, seminar was conducted by Ewa Majewska, who gave a compelling introduction on some key Deleuzian terms and notions, such as war machines and various meanings of the "body" in Deleuze/Guattari diptych, Anti-OEdipus and Mille Plateaux, then with lots of ideas coined by Raunig himself and then an interesting exchange between the attendants, including Jaroslaw Lubiak and Daniel Muzyczuk. It was an intense afternoon indeed. for now I can send you to the text of Gerald we were discussing, like this one

the themes of productivity/nonproductivity, free time/labour, exploitation and going on strike, resonate in me since some time ago; especially since I can call myself a part of so called "prekariat", as I am a rather low paid freelancer occupied with writing on art, attending meetings, doing a lot of research all the time; and now starting this blog, which is projected as a training ground for variety of ideas I have, which I'm ferociously update'ing. Of course I'm doing it, because I need it, want it, but it's also a pleasant, and as I discovered lately, quite exhaustive, and of course absolutely non paid extra "job".

I had the pleasure of attending Martin Kaltwasser's, very interesting Berlin-based artist dealing with the notions of public space etc., Picnic of Creative Leisure in June in Warsaw, where Martin gave a very interesting open air lecture, which I translated then; and the interview with Kuba Szreder i also translated.

Martin made me even more conscious about the notions I'm unwillingly dealing with every day: the division between work and non work, leisure and labour, that has been completely erased in my life. The recurring question will be, which model I will choose and whether I have any choice at all.

The interview w/ Martin can be found at the 6-Weeks-notebook and Bec Zmiana Foundation website on the right from this post.

and here some e flux Liam Gillick's articles I'm reading at the moment:

here

and here

and a wonderful piece by Nina Power and Alberto Toscano on Badiou and May '68

Toscano and Power - The Philosophy of Restoration - Alain Badiou and the Enemies of May

"Charbovari"

Three films on which I'm going to write short notes these days:

Roman Polanski, who will probably never get rid of this sale histoire until his death, has been arrested today in Switzerland, which collaborates veri nicely with American justice administration. the new category of wtf, indeed.

The Tenant, a film which I saw 1st time in my childhood in TV and was fascinated ever since, found in a whole at some Japanese website

go here

Chabrol's apparently classic adaptation of Madame Bovary, in 15 parts on youtube, with this delightful "Charbovari" scene:



Marat/Sade by Peter Brook, famous adaptation of Peter Weiss play



and Wajda's Danton, one of my fave by this too often humourless director, shoot during the Martial Law in Poland, great cast, music and interesting interpretation:




And I'm still thinking about Eustache. A strange, cameral, even performative movie by Eustache, Une sale histoire, is the one that sort of encapsulates all the anxieties and despair of this director. With a wonderful performance by Michael Lonsdale, who tells the title "dirty story", interpreting a man addicted to pornography and a voyeur, who actually finds himself detesting women. In a arresting monologue he pushes the boundaries of the story over and over

go here

here some lucid quotation from Senses of cinema:

In both these early shorts, relations between the sexes is a matter of resignation and empty distraction rather than connection or genuine feeling-there's no love or tenderness, only groping and conquest. For all Jean Nöel-Picq's storytelling skill and wit and Eustache's exhilarating experimentation, Une Sale Histoire expresses the same conviction. Nöel-Picq clearly gets a kick out of pushing his story to the limits of what is socially acceptable, testing his audience, daring them to be offended. But that's not to say that he doesn't mean what he says. After spending hours and hours at his post before the spy-hole, he observes that "all the hierarchies about the body had been overturned" so that he had come to believe that "the mirror of the soul is the pussy," and this seems to me to be as blunt an expression as possible of the state to which the relations between the sexes, in Eustache's view, have been reduced. The frankness in Une Sale Histoire or The Mother and the Whore is not a sign that Eustache condones this new freedom-he's not enthusiastically pushing the envelope even further but rather wallowing in the human wreckage he sees it as having produced. It's not that sex has been elevated to a spiritual level but that religion, morality, and love have been reduced to the physical plane. Later in Une Sale Histoire, Nöel-Picq complains that he's sick of taking women to movies, talking to them, learning about them-"That's the part I hate most." It's not that "the mirror of the soul is the pussy," but that the pussy is the soul now, as close to it as most men care to get anyway. Eustache seems to believe that sexual liberation has drained male-female relations of any mystery and emotion they might once have had, that sex has become so central that a great emptiness has washed over society.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

6-weeks-Notebook



I cordially invite you to read the current issue of 6-Weeks-Notebook, a publication of Bec Zmiana Foundation , with which I cooperate. There you can find my interview with Nasty Brutalist aka Owen Hatherley, "Nothing is Too Good For Ordinary People". Owen is a young & very talented critic of architecture, and the author of one of my favourite blogs, Sit Down Man, You're Bloody Tragedy and others, that may be found on the right from this post, where he writes also on music, politics & culture.

And Foundation's website offers the whole pdf of this issue, unfortunately for the PL language people only, but you may always try the Google translator, at least for some kind of amusement.

go here

Narcissism



Women's (and men's) narcissism is probably the greatest inspiration for creative work of all sorts. I'm not saying it is necessarily an inspiration for any kind of creation - I mean rather the kind of self-consciousness or over-coensciousness, that can come with writing, especially self reflective writing. In couple of next posts I will try to dwell on the notion of narcissism in women's eroticism and creativity; then - on men's. For a good beginning, probably the most openly narcissist photo that was taken of me, from a project of a friend artist Alexandra Hirszfeld, a Repetition of Warhol's Marylin at the icon's 82nd birthday last year (and the book I'm holding is Fragments of Lover's Discourse by Barthes, no less. I have a strange feeling that it is at the same time a nice excercise in submitting oneself to derision ;-)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Strange Attractor


I'm kinda fascinated by this Bettina Rheims photo. I'm not going to refer to her other work, just would like to focus on this particular one.

This is from a series of women (but Rheims only photographs women) (un)dressed like some mythology/historical heroines, often referring to religion, obviously in a campy blasphemous way.
This one reminds me of the Bible woman "dark characters" - Lilith, Dalilah, Mary Magdalene or the harlot, who, though pardoned and praised by the Christ, has always remained in my head as a somewhat not entirely happy with her salvation. And the Rheims' model IS Lilith, as she takes away and reverses the power of the Snake by writing it, permanently, on her breast.

Why did the woman do the tatoo? did someone convinced her or made her to do it? did she do it for esthetical/religious reasons? Was it painful? People do far more harsh stuff to their bodies, but it fascinates me, why women decide on the mutilation of breasts, probably the most delicate part of our body. And tremendously powerful in symbolic sense: motherhood, feeding the baby, preserving life. In the Bible there is this passus about a woman, who blackens her breast to repel the baby from it and let it learn to eat other things, i.e. grow up. And this is obviously one of our greatest attractors, isn't it? which woman would deliberately get rid of one of her most indisputable powers? of course, lesbians, transgender women etc. Women that have no choice and try to survive cancer. Amazons, militant mythology women.

We sometimes find attraction in disgust and it is even to well documented.
And the round form of it, around the round nipple, at the same time embellishes and outrages from it.
I'm not even going to touch the snippet of the breast symbolism here, I just found this image strangely attractive and couldn't understand it. And when I can't understand, I have to find out.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Cria Cuervos!

Distraction w/ Miranda July & Blonde Redhead

Une sale histoire



La Maman et la Putain (1973) by Jean Eustache (1938-1981) is one of those rare, incredible coincidences in the social, cultural and art history, that aside from having strictly artistic features, manage to capture the most tremendous aspects of the moment, the Zeitgeist in every sense - and in this case, though it's a very Parisien film indeed, it is a post-'68 sexual revolution impass and existential void of its heirs.

Eustache, who commited suicide after being disabled from a car accident at only 43, never revealed details from his youth or life, and was always saying that "The films I made are as autobiographical as fiction can be.” which make us think they are autobiographical. But even if Eustache really was in a threesome portrayed in the film, as Alexandre, played by Jean Pierre Leaud in a compelling post-Doinel maniere, living between The Mother figure and The Whore figure, trapped, mean, cynical, faible, ridiculously self-centered, stupid, naive, charming bluebird between two women in a sado-masochist relation, this only partly explains the phenomenon of this film.

I happened to see it on my first really independent vacation, somewhere between 17 and 18, in a small cinema in Quartier Latin in Paris, Studio des Ursulines. I remember lots of details of this event, because the film was so unusual and left an everlasting impact on me, even though my French was not so good at the time and it's 3 hrs 40 minutes long. I remember getting back home, walking a dark street, Boulvard de Montparnasse and passing the Balzac statue, questioning and reasoning in my head, what had actually happened.

Until today I don't know any more authentic and moving rendering of male/female toxic relations (apart from maybe Japanese cinema and Bergman is to me a piece of cake compared to this), with such investment of humanity at the same time. The visceral aspects of sexuality; graphique sex; vomiting; quasi-rapes; love; passion; humiliation; humanity - everything merging on the plan of two small dirty flats, 2 cafes in Paris and some few hours from the viewers lives.

and some quotation on Eustache from a critic:

In the thread of the desolate 70s, his films succeeded one another, always unforeseen, without a system, without a gap: film-rivers, short films, TV programs, hyperreal fiction. Each film went to the end of its material, from real to fictional sorrow. It was impossible for him to go against it, to calculate, to take cultural success into account, impossible for this theoretician of seduction to seduce an audience.

Films in (re)watching










Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Une demoiselle de Varsovie




I'm absolutely delighted by Les Demoiselles de Rochefort by Jacques Demy I've just seen today and will definitely post something around it in couple of days. What a Joy! What sheer, pure bliss of cinema!

Demy did some wonderful stuff with the musical genre, introducing his very own cinematic esthetics and being faithful to it ever since. A husband of equally arresting director, Agnes Varda, one of my favorite directors actually, together they created a one of its kind cineaste duo. She - more inclined to documentary and inventing a unique way of articulation - very literary and personal mode of filmmaking, him - seemingly with his head in the clouds, a fairy tale storyteller, of lighter-than-creme, completely disrupted from 'real life' sugary sweet colorful n'importe quois. Of course not entirely true and his inventiveness was probably never rightly understood. Just give you this fragment at the moment, a wonderfully amusing caricature of some vile "contemporary artist" juxtaposed with some "naive" daubster of "L'ideal feminines"; later will write sth at length about the incredible world of Demy. Enjooy!! as it is a keyword here.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Lust for truth





Okay, if you thought it's a "civilised", "cultural" blog, now it's the time you find out you're wrong! I knew that blogosphere includes all kind of stuff, and this is a wonderfully terryfying feature of the net: all kinds of abnormalities, which actually can teach us more about life, ethics and humanity that anything else. actually at the moment I can't imagine myself without this experience of a unbelievable variety of humanities if it wasn't invented. I'm fully aware how bluntly and naive it may sound, so to make more clear what I mean, let me introduce to you....Suzannah and her world of a rare quality

http://suzannahlust.com/

This is Suzannah (a pseudonyme naturally) who writes about her experience as a sex worker and a girl who simply likes sex. of course, you may say, that we had actually a lot of this kind of stuff, some tenth washings after singlegirl.com or pitiful careerists of the worst sort, with their kitschy nymphomania and whatever comes after it. but Suzannah is different. she's first of all, a good writer. At least since Sei Shonagon and her treatise The Pillow Book and tons of books of all sorts, from Bataille to Pauline Reage and Catherine Millet, we know that the pleasures of literature and the pleasures of sex can go together and that the letter is not the opposite of ectasy.

Actually sometimes I think "The Pillow Book" is Peter Greenaway's best film; of a rare beauty and great sense of aesthetics, even though rather shallowing the infinite possibilities of clashing writing with sex, when we think of it beyond its lush, sensual atmosphere and exquisite visual beauty.

But Suzannah. let's take the first accidental section:

It’s funny how people are labeled in society. People who work for charity are good, drug dealers are bad. People who cheat on their spouses are bad, single mothers raise eyebrows.
I was brought up to believe such righteous judgments and am still working to rid some of them from the far reaches of my subconscious.A few weeks ago I entered the subway, passing a homeless man who was trying to move his worldly possessions from the bottom of the stairs to the top. He was struggling and it crossed my mind that he needed help. I watched the struggle as I waited for my train, and I watched as another commuter came by and moved the bags for him.

There aren’t a lot of people who would have moved those bags. I’m trying to be one more often. I became friends with a bag-mover recently, someone quite selfless and truly empathetic, whose gift for appreciating the hidden good in others is unique. In theory, she should be bad, like me. We inhabit a questionable place on the fringes of society. I should add here that I am also good, when I work at a reputable and elitist corporation and have sex within the confines of a relationship. Sometimes I’m between good and bad–let’s say questionable–such as when my dog, who isn’t neutered, raises the ire of a fellow canine on the street. I was definitely bad last week when asked by a couple of missionaries whether I believe in Jesus.


What follows is usually a very lucid and true analyzis of - no, not sexual behaviours, but the society and the individual self in it. not to mention that this is a woman's experience. i admire the way Suzannah is dealing with her feelings, how she's totally open to the experience and the generosity of sharing it. it's a lesson of some type of humanity i'm equally fascinated with. so, do not ask, what is it, but read, read, read.

http://suzannahlust.com/

Monday, 21 September 2009

News from the Netland





A quick morning mindwipe in the net and here we are, a bunch of treasures, that only this culture enabled to come up, such as:

Bigozine 2 is a somewhat self-appointed watcher of some priceless lost&found bootlegs and radio registrations that there are.

here's the access to a Brian Eno's soundtrack for derek Jarman's Glitterbug, a combination that brings me some pleasant cramps in the heart

http://www.bigozine2.com/archive/ARrarities/ARbeglitter.html

sir George Martin in studio, tens or perhaps hundreds of hours to listen, a studio orgasmatorium for recordphiles

http://bigozine2.com/roio/?p=297

and The Who concert in 1969 Minneapolis

http://bigozine2.com/roio/?p=293

if it's not enough, here's some collection of Polish classic book cover design, from a great blog on books from a real bibliophile I've been following for some time

http://ajourneyroundmyskull.blogspot.com/2009/09/thirty-book-covers-from-poland.html

it's a quite great example of Polish design of posters also, proving that the esthetics of Cieslewicz and Tomaszewski was not an alone phenomenon and how splendidly design was developing during the communist years.

And on Quietus a very nice article on David Bowie's acting career, something I quite never decided about, since even Dame's failures tend to be quite splendid and interesting.

http://thequietus.com/articles/01850-cracked-actor-get-hooked-to-the-silver-screen-for-david-bowie-the-actor

on this last topic I may express myself at length in the future, as I just got access to some earlier unknown stuff and stare at Mr. Bowie ever since.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The all too human world of Kazuo Hara



Only about two years ago I've read for the first time about Hara Kazuo, one of the most important Japanese New Wave directors, together with the likes of Nagisa Oshima and Shohei Imamura. His films include the most extraordinary documentaries you would ever see, like The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On(1987) about the atrocities of the IIWW in Japan and the most outstanding rendering of cinema-verite docu-autobiography, and somewhat the strangest travelogue there is, Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (1974), centering on his ex-girlfriend Miyuki Takeda, not long after their breakup.

She leaves him and goes to Okinawa island with their child. He follows her as a somewhat the strangest and humiliating way to preserve their relationship. Miyuki is a militant feminist, a pioneer of women's liberation in patriarchal Japan: she lives exactly as she wants and nothing will stop her before realizing her decisions. the sado-masochistic drive is obvious; but behind that stands a non-deniable, authentic love, as he documents her relationships with other women, black American GI's and her work as a go-go dancer. not only his voyeristic masochism is totally moving; his extreme naturalism as well. we observe two births in nearly real time.

I couldn't find any fragment of his proper work as a video on the net, but here's a fragment of Barbara Hammer's documentary on artistic-productive collective of directors, called Ogawa

Devotion, A Film about Ogawa Productions by barbarahammer.com from barbara hammer on Vimeo.


here some biographical stuff:

Kazuo Hara born in 1945, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Studied photography at the Tokyo Academy of Photography. Together with Kobayashi Sachiko, Hara founded Shisso Productions in 1972 for making documentaries. After debuting with Good-bye CP, Hara made Extremely Private Eros, Love Song 1974, a film featureing Takeda Miyuki. Takeda who had a child with Hara, took the baby and left him to live with a black American soldier in Okinawa. Later in Okinawa she gave birth to a racially mixed child. Hara and Kobayashi Sachiko ( Hara's present wife) documented this very private episode in a 110 minute, 16mm independently produced film. Besides receiving tremendous audience response, the film won an award at the International Independent Film Festival in Thonon les Bains, France. In 1975, hara directed a teledoc on women's liberation: Women Now…History Begins Here. The Emperor's Naked Army Marches on (1986) is hara's most sensational work till now. The film is about a Japanese Imperial Army soldier Okuzaki Kenzo, who appeased the death of his fellow soldiers at the end of the Pacific War. Inspite of the recognition the film received in Japan and abroad, major film distributors in Japan refused to show it because of its inherent criticism of the Japanese imperial system and cannibalism among Japanese troops.

and some useful links:

http://www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/090522/article.asp?parentID=108401

http://www.villagevoice.com/2007-01-23/film/kazuo-hara-crosses-the-line/