THE HEAVENS: COLD, HOT, COOL|
NORTH OF THE WEST
FILM: THRESHOLD OF POMO
ANTI-CITIZENS AND HYPER-HUMANS
ARISTOTLE, PLATO, HEGEL, KANT as FILM CRITICS
EXISTENTIALISM, ALIENATION and SAFE SCHIZOPHRENIA
FILM-MARXISM: added value
AMERICA: The CONSPIRACY of Commercials
Sorry for errors and incompliteness, I didn't expect readership.
Those "files" are old (1995) and I do not know, when I will time to work on them. Take it "as is"...
Theory of Spectatorship aDiary + Film-North Album (new)
PART ONE. NORDIC WHAT?At the turn of the century a greater number of Swedish writers and painters traveled abroad. Some few remained, in Paris or London, but the majority expressed a reaction which became a fairly standard one thereafter. They took one steady look at Europe, recoiled in extreme horror, and returned to Sweden where nonetheless they were rarely able to tolerate existence because of their secret conviction that anything important in the world was happening somewhere else. I suspect it was then, if not earlier, that spectator neurosis was born. -- Vernon Young
Instead of Abstract:
The two: Bergman and Tarkovsky, "Wild Strawberries" and "Mirror." Mortal POV: facing the postmodern.
Everything has a north side, even the South. In fact, everything we know as civilization and history is a product of the south of north. North is the end, edge and marginality. North comes with a split personality. There are two extreme poles of the north: one is in the north, another is in the south. We call this second Arctic, Antarctica. There is a physical explanation why we have two norths and the rest of the geography in between, but this duality of North has its metaphysics. The North is the last place where life is about to end and the great Space to begin. We like to think that it's our last frontier, although it could be seen as the Cosmos frontier. The dichotomy of the north is the subject of the best films from a man facing the north.
Why not say it -- a man between life and death. What else is human existence if not this standout. The West and East, we heard a lot about them, we are comfortable with those two, they give us a sense of our difference and achievements. In fact, that's where we live -- in between. We all are southerners. Only death and now the Space Age with its new super-human technologies ask for understanding of new geography. What is this place where we do not live? What is this world of the Other? In order to talk about it we have to have a non-human language -- the cinema.
...radio had a peculiar ability to compress narrative time and space. The cinematic term montage isn't applicable because the joints were undetectable. The musical term segue is more appropriate: radio segments followed each other continually and easily without a break. ...this segue technique was an important model for TV, in which 'lead-ins' are an essential device. -Monaco...
Yes, but in order to "compress narrative time and space" we have to mutate them. Einstein almost a century ago offered us a model of how to see the big universe where time and space are inseparable. The chronotope of the world outside of our experiences of living was presented under the name of theories of relativity. Originally, Albert Einstein thought about giving a different name -- Theory of View Points. According to this non-human, perhaps, "northern" vision of the world, we do not have "common" space and "mutual" time. Our experiences are separated by the unique situation of each observer. This is the world of many Ones, a single and the lonely. It's MY time and MY space, NOW and HERE only. My death is always MINE.... and this explains a lot about MY life and more important -- ME.
The new physics introduced the theory of observer before film theory introduced the concept of POV (point of view). The shape of the world from now on depends on conditions of the moment. The same object could be seen differently, depending on perspective, the position of camera -- the ultimate observer. Film is based on the theory of relativity and its narrative nature organized through travel from one factual testimony to another. Film is multi-vocal and we call those voices -- shots. A blending together of reality and me, the viewer. The northern physics asks me to rethink not only the Real, but Myself. Who is this traveler from one shot to another, separated in time and space? How is it possible?
Einstein had his answer in speed, the ruler of space and time. The super-speed changes it all -- time, space, matter. The diabolic speed of light, as Paul Virilio calls it, is the basics of the new physics and their human equivalent -- film. One light say "divine" -- the invisible world of the astral, the world beyond our human ability to comprehend.... unless we have a technology -- tele-phone, tele-scope, tele-vision. The technology, or the summary of our omni-human knowledge is included in this act of observation. It's always I, Universe and We. That's why the new narrative became possible. With the montage, the segue technique and what postmodernist call *pastiche*. It's a different way to talk and to listen -- the narrative of visions, as you may assume the divine or the diabolic should operate.
And the North began to sing its songs. They are hot! We cool it -- "cool"!
The West ended its existence in its invention of cinema, the universal language. No wonder that "America" became the place for this after-the-end phenomena to rule. "Northern" America. Northern West. European South has its hold on the Central and South new world. With amazing consistency the North and the South keep their separation with no less determination than the West and the East. ...
The conspiracy of the North is in giving us FILM, which in its secret intentions is a "northerner" -- we all understand this language; even if we can't write in it, we can read. In many ways this way of communicating by glances, looks, gazes is always SILENT. The "talkies" belong to television, as Monaco noticed. The grammar of film needs no sound. The North is not talkative, there is nobody to talk with, you are left alone -- to think. Eisenstein insists that the "inner monologue" is the NATURE of film narrative (Joyce considered it as "thinking"). But why should we call it the "northern" way? Do we need another name in the Information Age overloaded with new signs and definitions? What could it possibly add to our understanding of film, physics or ourselves with an introduction of the "nordic"!
The Northerner is an ultimate spectator. We all are -- the mystery and majesty of the cosmic drama unfolds in front of us and we are mesmerized, shocked and motionless. Freud's observations on the nature of spectatorship at the last count have no negative connotations. The spectacle of the universe and history is too much for a mortal soul. We are stunned and speechless -- as in a stupid action movie. Spectator neurosis is only natural, we should be surprised if we didn't have it -- an indication that we are dead. The birth of cinema wouldn't be possible without this nordic dimension in our heart. Not the live human performance, but the universal spectacle, when everything -- skies and objects, light and darkness, people and parts are mixed into a spectacle of the divine, where we are the part. We forget that we are observers only, we are the part of the screen event! Quantum mechanics already describes such a situation under the name of the "uncertainty principle" -- when we can no longer separate a spectator and the event.
I have to consider a film phenomena as something "north of west" -- our previous arts were too human (as Nietzsche noted). This "westerner" is too active to be an observer; he is too much a doer to watch movies. And he is the explorer and very reflective next to the Southerner or the Oriental, self-contained minds. The western spirit had to be stopped -- frozen -- to make him a viewer. The camera did it....
Angelic and satanic "art" -- non-human. Now I understand the source of the unbelievable power of movies. Illusions? Who do you think ghosts are? How about the reality of illusions?
As long as my eyes are open, I, the spectator, can do nothing but identify with IT -- the camera's visions. I lose my individuality, my existence, I am dead. Who the hell lives in my body while I am watching a movie?
Spectator -- the place of the story. Remember, I said about the "space" in cosmos? There is no "human" space in the big open space, only PLACES. Points of view. Dots, where you are at the moment. I am the space where the action takes place. I have to confess. The reason is simple -- I am the source of time! Space can't exist without time, remember? I provide the time, I give birth to space.
Why Devil? Why not God? Lucifer, the fallen angel of light, the king of darkness, was the best candidate for film-making. Of course, he is a devil -- he doesn't create the world, he photographs it! He is not God, he copies what exists -- and then he rearranges the order of things! Oh, Satan, the inventor of cuts! He puts together things that are far with stuff which is close, jumps from yesterday into today without a blink of an eye, he knows no limitations.... because it's only PICTURES. They look very real, you can't remember that you see PICTURES, because they are in motion! Because you fly with the prince of darkness, like in a dream. Oh, man, your soul is gone!
[Without "space-time" we have speed. Fiction as reality. Documenting dreams.]
FILM: THRESHOLD OF POMO
In "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late
Capitalism," Frederick Jameson discusses the "pastiche" of
current American culture. (A pastiche is a composition of other
works, a concoction of multiple ingredients). Jameson's
postmodern pastiche is without sentiment about its ingredients;
instead of parodying any other works, it is neutral in its
response, and media-like in its language. Eisenstein insisted
that an isolated shot has no fixed meaning. A photo of a hand can't
be equated to a word "hand" -- the meaning of the shot could be
born only in a context, next to another shot. Shots are neutral,
even prearranged during the filming, the cut (montage) finalizes
What a strange language! Film semiotics can't really follow the path established in linguistics. Film can't have encyclopedias of shots. (No referential existence, signifiers in "free-standing isolation," floating signs. More in "Film-Marxism" later.) Postmodernists, as you know, declared the end of language, meaning, book, novel -- they all are film-makers! Oh, the revolutionary with a video-camera! We don't have to talk anymore, prove or explain -- show me the it!
That's how young Eisenstein writes about his intentions. (Notes of a Film Director, 14) No, not the nihilism but the revolutionary spirit asks for a divorce from all the muses. ART REQUIRES AN UNDERSTANDING AND KNOWING, FILM DOESN'T. Art has to be negated in order not to be on the way of a new narrative. Understanding is TOO SLOW!
There is another, probably, more important essence of montage -- the Emotional Pastiche. It's an arranged storage of frozen and preserved feelings. Eisenstein insists on direct stimulation of film viewer unlike the previous arts which were using your imagination. Film imagination has a speed of light, it has no reflective qualities.
It has to be a mass art. Pure social feelings. Super-society and hyper-social. Segmentation and emotional packaging....
ANTI-CITIZENS AND HYPER-HUMANS
They are democratic in the sense that they require no
allegiance to any ruling forces: the pastiche holds no sentiment
for its predecessors; by implication the (pomo) citizen needs
show no deference either. However, the postmodern pastiche does
not emphasize the individual as, for example, the philosophies of
Emerson or Thoreau do. Media targets emotions, not people.
America is certainly an observer culture.
Binarism or Dialogism? Not thesis and antithesis -- montage is a more interesting combination.
Other dialectical pairs include realism and expressivity, montage principle and the long take, and the centripetal and centrifugal (or off-screen) composition....
If we see history as a preparation for the present, it would be obvious that "film" was known long before its actual appearance. In fact, it was thought out and, finally, INVENTED. Before cinema became a phenomena is was a BECOMING as a thought. The great minds deserved their film credits. Nobody mentions names of Plato or Aristotle at the Oscar ceremonies. Even the film critics ignore the contributions of a pre-film era....
We have to recognize how film technology incorporated philosophy -- and why should we be offended? I don't mind that the greatest discoveries of math, physics, chemistry, engineering and etc. are "included" in a beer can. Does this can "know" about it? Why should it? Why when it comes to an analysis of a commercial am I ashamed to see Bergson's theories of time and mind being applied? Would Leonardo be shocked that General Motors and Ford use his innovations and discoveries?
Deleuze and delusional analysis. Institutionalized madness. Christian Mystics and Magic Man. (See POETRY OF SCHIZO in part 2: Bergman).
How about the provocative egoism, aggressive faith? Existentialism would be impossible without the war of Reformation, without Protestant thought, without endless chain of European revolutions. Film is the most recent form of this tradition of revolt. ....
From film as THE MOVEMENT-IMAGE to TIME-IMAGE: transition from the silent film aesthetics. Overcoming the sound, including the wonders of neo-realism, the miracle of the South....
Hamlet, the film director. The Northern existentialists had to wait till the film technology could let them tell their version of life as tragedy. Before they were a provincial West, a forgotten attic of Europe.
"But isn't the arctic night very brilliant? And after the aurora borealis isn't there an arctic day, no less prolonged? I think there is no great truth that sensitive Nordics don't sometimes discover: only they don't stick to their best insights. They don't recognize the difference between a great truth and a speculative whim, and they wander off again into the mist, empty-handed and puzzle-headed.... A moral nature burdened and over-strung, and a critical faculty fearless but helplessly subjective -- isn't that the true tragedy of your ultimate Puritan?" SantayanaI don't want to call in the last pre-film giants of modernity -- Sartre or Hiddeggard. They won't help you anymore. Film is an "image of irreversible Becoming" (Deleuze) -- we can't overcome our own contractions, as before the world dominated us. Now it's me, the ultimate tyrant of me.
According to Deleuze, cinema concretely produces a corresponding IMAGE OF THOUGHT. Why not to say it -- THE THOUGHT. We are too modest. We can't admit that our silly movies are THE WAY OF THINKING. We invent nothing, we discover it.
Why don't you use say it, Hamlet. Cinema is not only dangerous, it's suicidal. The old continental psychopaths never developed the AGONY OF THE NONPARTICIPATION to the art of the popular culture. We made it into FILM INDUSTRY. Every film is a poem of northern darkness. Religious idealism of the Lutheran ethos became a pleasure of madness in every corner of the world. Darkness at Noon is not a metaphor in the circumpolar north. White Nights are real. Now we all know it. The movies teach us nordic sensitivity. A reflective desire to become completely neutral, metaphysically distant, virtual and safe -- go to the movies. When you rent a video -- this is the act of suicidal self-expression. (see Part 5. USA: Virtual Puritans).
We need the Ice Age -- to cool the reactor of evolution to avoid a meltdown. We move too fast, the speed of progress is out of control. Even after Chernobyl you still don't know that a nuclear reactor is a slowdown A-bomb. We need to KILL time of the critical mass of humans, we have to take the young off the street, we must turn them off, if we don't want more revolutions, war and bloodshed. The Hollywood military machine has a name used in the Vietnam War -- pacification. Peace is war, man. Cool. Politics of entertainment must be kept secret. (See EISENSTEIN.nts in VP).
One of the most significant theoretical discoveries in the history of film is the effect discovered by Lev Kuleshov in the early 1920s in the Soviet Union. Kuleshov proved that two shots projected in succession are not interpreted separately by the viewer; in the audience's mind, they are integrated into a whole according to the well-known equation A + B = C (in which A and B are the two joined shots and C is a new value, not originally included in any of these shots).
Nothing more could be said about Kuleshov as a film director or a theoretician. His discovery came out of playing with the pieces of film. He glued together a shot of a closeup of man and a shot of plate with food. Looks like the man is hungry. Then he glued the same shot of this man next to a shot of a naked woman.... looks like the man was in lust! Wow! Any next shot changes the meaning of the previous one! How could the After manipulate the Before? What is it, theory of subtext?
The consequences of the total intertextuality are staggering. Every new addition is rewriting the previous! Not revealing like in a traditional narrative, but constructing it.
The arrival of TV -- by the late sixties it was over. TV won. The summer of 1968 was a surrender. Film was replaced with the movies. Hollywood, LA, the South, the sun and songs of flesh.... The post-war cinema ended up in a new great war -- WW III of all against all. We gave a weak name to it -- the postmodern.
The Art of the Machine
Considering the seamless character of television programming, it is not surprising to find that the mechanics of the Kuleshov effect apply even here, far beyond its common interpretation territory within the individual film work. In fact, Kuleshov's original experiment involved an isolated shot of the actor5 juxtaposed with shots of other isolated images; Kuleshov commented on results of these juxtapositions without including them into a complete film work, or an explicit narrative sequence.
We live the "illusions" without realizing that they are real, because they ARE real....
Siegfried Kracauer, _Nature of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality_ London: Dobbson, 1961, p. 158. In his book, Kracauer concluded that film should conform to its affinity by stressing the realistic aspect.
Christian Metz, _The Imaginary Signifier_, Film Theory and Criticism, Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen, Leo Braudy ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Jean-Louis Baudry, _Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus_, Film Theory and Criticism, Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen, Leo Braudy ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Sobchack, Vivian. _The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience_. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992.
Smith, Paul (ed). _The Historian and Film_. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976.
TOUCH. Oil, canvas, 36X48, 1983. Clickable
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