Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Poetry, The Movies


“The image is not a symptom of lack, but an uncanny, excessive residue of being that subsists when all should be lacking.” (Steven Shaviro, from The Cinematic Body)

[About film criticism] "Beneath its claims to methodological rigor and political correctness, it manifests a barely contained panic at the prospect (or is it the memory) of being affected and moved by visual forms. It is as if there were something degrading and dangerous about giving way to images, and so easily falling under their power. THeory thus seeks to ward off cinema's dangerous allure, to refuse the suspecte pleasure it offers, to dissipate its effects by articulating its hidden but intelligible structure. Behind all these supposedly materialist attacks on the ideological illusions built into the cinematic apparatus, should we not rather see the opposite, an idealist's fear of the ontological instability of the image, and of the materiality of affect and sensation?" (Shaviro, The Cinematic Body)

“I agreed whole-heartedly with Jacques Vaché in appreciating nothing so much as dropping into the cinema when whatever was playing was playing, at any point in the show, and leaving at the first hint of boredom –of surfeit – to rush off to another cinema where we behaved the same way and so on (obviously this practice would be too much of a luxury today). I have never known anything more magnetizing: it goes without saying that more often than not we left our seats without even knowing the title of the film which was of no importance to us anyway. On a Sunday several hours sufficed to exhaust all that Nantes had to offer us: the important thing is that one came out “charged” for a few days.” (André Breton, from The Shadow and Its Shadow)

“The room is darkened. Suddenly the Ganges floats into view, palsm, the emple of the Brahmins appears. A silent family drama rages with bon vivants, a masquerade –a gun is pulled. Jealousy inflamed. Mr Piefke duels headlessly and they show us, step by step, mountaineers climbing the steep, demanding paths. The paths lead down through forests, they twist and climb the threatening cliff. The view into the depths is enlivened by cows and potatoes. And into the darkened room – into my very eye – flutters that, that... oh, dreadful! One after the other! Then the arclamps hissingly announces the end, lights! And we push ourselves into the open... horny and yawning.” (Jakob van Hoddis, Der Sturm 47, 1911)

“Cinema. Whirlwind of movement in space. Everything falls. The sun falls. We fall in its wake. Like a chameleon, the human mind camouflages itself, camouflaging the universe. The world. The globe. The two hemispheres... Fusion. Everything opens up, tumbles down, blends in today, caves in, rises up, blossoms. Honor and money. Everything changes. Change. Morality and political economy. New civilization. New humanity. The digits have created an abstract, mathematical organism, useful gadgets intended to serve the senses’ most vulgar needs and that are the brain’s most beautiful projection. Automatism. Psychism...” (Blaise Cendrars, “The ABCs of Cinema,” 1917-1921)

“In the theaters: The spectator who is no longer immobile in his chair, who is wrenched out, assaulted, who participates in the action, who recognizes himself on the screen among the convulsions of the crowd, who shouts and cries out, protests and struggles.” (Cendrars, “ABCs of Cinema”)

“Rather the roaring of hordes of desperate zombie losers than rhymed verse or political rhetoric.” (Aase Berg and Mattis Forshage, “Surrealism in Ulterior Times,” 1996)

“The ulterior times: raging and unintelligable, but still remarkably banal and predictable. Surrealism in the ulterior times unreasonable, compromising, conspiratorial, confused, single-minded, bloodthirsty. Meet it by the lemures or on the blood stained back streets or in the parks that still are ugly!” (Berg and Forshage)


Blogger Nada Gordon: 2 ludic 4 U said...

Johannes, do you know the collage film Lyrical Nitrate? There's a section in it called "Ideal Cinema" with a scene inside an early movie theater from the perspective of the screen. Even after the movie within the movie has ended, one of the women sitting in the front row sits with a rapt, dazed expression on her face, like she's in a trance she needs to be shaken out of. I was watching this with students recently and pointed out that this is a perfect image of what it is to be absorbed in the cinematic experience. Idea: a collage film just of people watching movies... it's almost pornographic...

Anyway, great quotes. I'll use some of them in class. Today I had my ESL students describing Un Chien Andalou scene by scene...great vocabulary: nun's habit, leer, martini shakers, dead donkeys...

12:22 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

I had forgotten about that movie. Thanks for the reminder. I've got to watch that again.


1:02 PM  
Blogger JP said...

I really loves those quotes by Shaviro...the way they point out how idealism keeps sneaking into theory, into so many types of so-called "materialism"...

I saw Jack Smith's Normal Love not too long ago and was struck how much it's a film of pure cinematic pleasure. It's almost over-rich (which I mean as a compliment), like sections of Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers...

1:17 PM  

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