Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Untitled



I've got a nose bleed that won't quite heal, "Waste of Paint" on repeat, and I can't care about anything else.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Q

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 4, episode 10: "Hush")

The only question that matters.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Now I Don't Even Bother



Laura, are you still living there
On your estate of sorrow?
You used to leave it occasionally
But now you don't even bother
To ride that commuter train, west to Chicago


I used to leave it occasionally, but now I don't even bother to ride that commuter train to Cluj. To set foot into the darkness of a movie theater. Vicarious living as an addiction. Vicarious living as the only known way of living. All those other bodies, all those feelings, all those different paths and possibilities - "their beauty carved out of absolutes you could never claim or even envision."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Still Alive Here

- bday selfie -

Those self-effacing, vanishing-act tendencies - like weeds spreading all over this little space here.

Sometimes I think I should start sending telegrams (or postcards) to people saying "I AM STILL ALIVE" - like On Kawara. There's no one to send them to, though. There are also the daily tweets. That could work for me. Just send them out into the big black nothingness of the Internet.

*

Earlier this week I've finished reading this book recommended by Natasha Khan, Women Who Run with the Wolves, each page feeling like a slap. With a few tiny exceptions (like the excerpt below) that I can't help but find comforting. Maybe, just maybe, I'm not so far off from the path towards whatever it is that I'm looking for.
To return to an alert innocence is not so much an effort, like moving a pile of bricks from here to there, as it is standing still long enough to let the spirit find you. It is said that all that you are seeking is also seeking you, that if you lie still, sit still, it will find you. It has been waiting for you a long time. Once it is here, don't move away. Rest. See what happens next.

This echoeing "You've Got Time," Regina Spektor's theme song for Orange Is the New Black:
Taking steps is easy
Standing still is hard
I'm definitely mastering the standing-still part. I just don't think I can kill the "too-good mother."

Keep thinking that I wouldn't mind becoming Baba Yaga. The old hag living alone in the woods. But there's no becoming Baba Yaga without wisdom, and I haven't got an ounce of that.

*

Things I used to get so excited about leave me mostly indifferent now. It worries me. Maybe some books. Maybe a song here and there. Maybe a movie or two. No new or returning tv series. Just Buffy. Ohmygosh, re:watching Buffy feels so good. And Cluj? Till a couple of days ago I kept canceling my plans for Cluj. Not even MMH's new book could get me there. Not even the social agitation I've been dreaming of since I was a kid. I know exactly how long it's been in between the last time I went out back in summer and this recent train trip to CJ, and it scares me that this amount of time doesn't scare me.

*

I've been trying to get into my own time zone but I can't manage to stay there for more than three days or so. I just start gravitating towards Japanese time again and again. And for a little while, staying up all night reading yaoi manga felt so right. But most nights, the air here is so heavy and I'm suffocating. I know I've said I enjoy re:watching Buffy - and that's because this show is even better than I thought it was. At the same time: it's also very painful to watch. In Why Buffy Matters, Rhonda Wilcox explains the role of light in this show, and I just burst into tears when I read that part because I realized why I avoid the light of day. It has nothing to do with the matters of the soul. No, nothing so deep. The light vs. the darkness of the soul - that's for heroes, that's for people with a purpose, that's for people with Scooby Gangs. No, nothing so deep for this eternal teenager.

(And can we please discuss about Buffy being the Wild Woman - as described in Women Who Run with the Wolves? The many layers of this show have me in constant awe.)

*

When I watched Terry Zwigoff's Crumb, I saw my future self in Crumb's brother who had nothing else to show for his life than a few piles of books, read and re:read. At that time, a tiny part of myself rejected that prediction: no, I won't let it go that far. And yet here I am, letting it go that far.

*

Pretty much everything I read / see / listen to sounds so chastising.

Though this world's essentially
An absurd place to be living in
It doesn't call for bubble withdrawal


And yet I know "bubble withdrawal" / standing still can be okay. It can be okay if you do the work. But if you don't do the work, of course you'll feel useless and unworthy and start dreaming of rats.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Kathy

"Maybe you're dying and you don't care anymore."

- Kathy Acker, Florida

*

My first Kathy Acker, finally!

*

Mix & match (1): Kathy Goes to Haiti would go great with Ulrich Seidl's Paradise: Love.



*

Mix & match (2): My Death My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini & Whoever Says the Truth Shall Die - A Film About Pier Paolo Pasolini (Philo Bregstein, 1981).

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Eternal Wandering (2)

From Insomnia: A Cultural History / O istorie culturală a insomniei, by Eluned Summers-Bremner (trad. Laura Savu) (my emphasis):
În romanele gotice, spiritele, cum ar fi Diavolul, nu dorm niciodată, iar echivalentul lor uman era întruchipat de „sufletele fără somn”, aşa cum erau cunoscuţi, din vremuri medievale şi până spre sfârşitul secolului al XIX-lea, sinucigaşii (după cum menţionează Richard Davenport-Hines, sinuciderea a fost considerată o crimă în Anglia până în 1879). În Metz şi Strasbourg, cadavrele „sinucigaşilor erau puse în butoaie” şi lăsate să plutească pe râuri, reconstituind, astfel, fizic, „rătăcirea eternă” la care sufletele lor erau condamnate. Se credea că, din moment ce ele „nu aşteptaseră chemarea morţii”, aceste suflete nu puteau ajunge pe tărâmul morţilor şi, de aceea, obişnuiau să revină pentru a-i chinui pe cei vii. Ca o ironie, dorinţa sinucigaşului de a atinge o stare de somn în moarte se transforma într-o veghe eternă. Conform legislaţiei engleze din 1853, sinucigaşii puteau fi îngropaţi numai între nouă seara şi miezul nopţii, şi numai în pământ nesfinţit, pentru a reduce riscul contaminării spirituale. Ei erau îngropaţi la răscruce de drumuri, în speranţa că acea cruce îl va ţine deoparte sau îl va dezorienta pe Diavol, sau sub zidurile cimitirelor pentru ca viii să nu calce din greşeală pe pământul care-i acoperea.

*****



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grrrls (No Shame)


I'm kinda sorta obsessed with this video. When I first saw it it only had a few hundred views. Glad to see more people have discovered it. Actually, I'm not surprised more people have discovered it - it's been featured on a lot of my favorite blogs/websites.

Also: I'm in love with the video for The Knife's 'A Tooth For An Eye' and even more so with the statement they've released:
'A Tooth For An Eye' deconstructs images of maleness, power and leadership. Who are the people we trust as our leaders and why? What do we have to learn from those we consider inferior? In a sport setting where one would traditionally consider a group of men as powerful and in charge, an unexpected leader emerges. A child enters and allows the men to let go of their hierarchies, machismo and fear of intimacy, as they follow her into a dance. Their lack of expertise and vulnerability shines through as they perform the choreography. Amateurs and skilled dancers alike express joy and a sense of freedom; There is no prestige in their performance. The child is powerful, tough and sweet all at once, roaring "I'm telling you stories, trust me". There is no shame in her girliness, rather she possesses knowledge that the men lost a long time ago.
Their Shaking the Habitual Manifesto is pretty awesome too. A favorite quote from that:
There’s a blood system promoting biology as destiny.
A series of patriarchies that’s a problem to the Nth degree.


(I've started a little experiment today. Curious to see the results: wanted vs. expected. I give it six months. Max. Or else. Later edit: Fuck this. The trouble with popular FB pages is that they're run by sexist douche-bags. Actually, I only have two in mind here but I'm pretty sure there are a lot more pages that fit the description. I was curious if a page featuring girl-power-y content could draw a similar following. But let's face it: no one on FB "likes" me and I don't have enough patience to update a page for months and months and maybe, just maybe, get about a dozen people to follow it. I mean, what's this little blog for? Besides, I'm really sick and tired of working for FB. I'm sure as hell not getting anything out of it. Thinking of quitting it again. After all, as Douglas Rushkoff well put it and as I've often told myself, "Facebook is not the Internet.")

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blu Cry




Tom Moon on "Blu Blu Blu" (unfortunately, I can't find the entire album):
The spirited title track is a tribute to Muddy Waters; Abrams got his start playing blues and R&B, and this is one of a long line of originals that celebrates (and strengthens) the link between gut-level blues and the visceral expressions of the jazz avant-garde.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Compressed Time


Trains on Tumblr: a selection
Sources: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)


Dilema's dossier on trains is out today. My text is on trains in cinema. I see it's behind the paywall, but that's okay because by now I kinda hate it and because I have smth better for anyone who might be interested in the history of trains in films: a LIST. In addition to posting stills and videos of trains and train stations in films on my Tumblr, I have also made a list because I realize no one is gonna sit around waiting for me to update the series once or twice a week (only seven updates so far). As I've said, and I really mean it, suggestions are welcome. And oh, yes: if a plain list sounds too boring, I've also made a YouTube playlist containing mostly relevant excerpts, but also a few train films in their entirety.

I'm also interested in reading smth (essays, books) about train trips as compressed time but I don't really know what... And what is waiting in a train station? Diluted time, time to kill, wasted time?

Friday, February 8, 2013

#TroyAndAbedBackFromSummer

Abed's "happy place" 
Community (season 4, episode 1: "History 101")

The new season premiere of Community deals with change. How very appropriate. Considering the big changes the show itself has gone through, it definitely has a different feel. But oh wow, am I glad it's back! Alongside Parks&Rec, Community is my "happy place."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Eternal Wandering

Europa (Lars von Trier, 1991)

Eternal wandering.

When every movie you see speaks to you.

Also: an Into-the-Wild escape plan sounds like a siren song right now.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Instant Coffee

(So interesting to see the original Twilight Zone featured on Cinesseur's blog.)

After a first failed attempt to watch the entire series a few years ago, I started watching it again on Sunday. I'm only three episodes into the series, but I'm in no hurry. I'm watching so many tv series and have so many others to either watch in their entirety or catch up on that I simply cannot marathon a classic right now. I'll just be a Sunday viewer. Two to four episodes each Sunday should be enough. On Saturdays I have scheduled anime series. But that's another post.

In addition to the first three episodes of The Twilight Zone, I have also re:watched the Mike Wallace interview with Rod Serling, just to remain, once again, in awe and completely baffled.



I cannot believe how easy we (we? I? is it just me?) can forget (or choose to ignore?) how much of the media content we consume is manipulated by advertisers. Watching this interview, one might think the beginnings of television were just some strange beginnings, when an advertiser ("a sponsor") could ask the writers to use "coffee" instead of "tea" because they had to sell their stupid instant coffee, and that stuff like this doesn't happen anymore because, well, that was 1959, this is 2013. Needless to say, stuff like this still happens, except: it's much, much worse and also, no one seems to talk about it anymore. Not like Rod Serling. Not people in the position of Rod Serling, people who are supposed to care about the quality of their content above all else.

(While I was doing research for my dissertation I was appalled by the increasingly effacing line between content and advertising that I noticed in the one women's magazine I was still buying at that time. I gotta admit that up until that point I hadn't realized or really thought of  the extent to which advertisers could influence the content of a magazine. I mean, poor old naive me thought the F word was avoided in these women's magazines simply because they didn't want to scare their readers away. Ha, how silly of me.)

I consume so many media products, and I like to believe I'm an active spectator (for the most part, anyway), yet sometimes I tend to forget this one crucial thing: advertising is evil. It's strangely refreshing to be reminded of the evils of advertising, the evils of television-as-business by a 1959 interview with a tv writer and producer who seems to be as honest as he can be. But if I really want to never forget that (most) media equals evil business, I should have the words of Patrick Le Lay somewhere where I can always see them:  "Ce que nous vendons à Coca-Cola, c'est du temps de cerveau humain disponible."

*

The Twilight Zone is brought to you tonight by:


(Isn't YouTube the greatest? The instant coffee, Sanka, is around the 2:40 mark, and if you're curious enough, you'll also find a couple of Sanka commercials from 1959.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Good things change a little to adjust to the times"

How I've missed Conor's pure heart.

From Conor's interview for Drowned In Sound:

The album Read Music/Speak Spanish dealt with a number of issues endemic to modern Western society. Why do you think it resonated so strongly among listeners, and are you surprised by how it continues to do so now?

I think it resonates with listeners because it is true. It comes from a true and honest place. I know we are not reinventing the wheel here. It is nothing that hasn't been said before and it will surely be said again but that is because the ideas we were/are singing about come from the same common struggles of all thoughtful, empathetic people living in a modern western capitalist society. The excess, the guilt, the fear, the pride, the idealism, the arguments, the convenience and sheer entertainment of it all, the knowing that while there might not be a better system out there, that does not and cannot excuse all the suffering that this system causes our fellow human beings. I'm not surprised that it still resonates today because the situation is only getting worse. Just look at the growing disparity between the rich and poor worldwide. The senseless never-ending wars all over the world to preserve this paradigm. And I guess that is why it has been so easy for us to fall back into the groove with the band and why we decided to make new songs. There is still a lot to say on the subject.

It was recorded in 2002, in under a week, I think? What are your memories of that time?


It was actually recorded in 2001. About a week after 9/11. It was such a strange turn of events because all the songs had been written prior to the attacks but then it happened and everyone was so freaked out. It seemed the worst time imaginable to be making an album which almost undoubtedly would be perceived as Anti-American. I really did some soul-searching at the time and decided that actually it was the most patriotic thing we could do. Because in my mind the best thing about being an American is the freedom to dissent and to force our government and society to correct course and improve ourselves. Our nation was born out of two of the greatest evils ever perpetrated on this earth, the genocide of the Native Americans and the slavery of the African Americans, but from that we have managed to evolve and become something much better and more humane. That evolution is still taking place. I just want to be a part of that.







Friday, January 18, 2013

Lonerism (4) (Waiting)

J'étais devenue différente, et il m'aurait fallu autour de moi un monde différent : lequel ? Que souhaitais-je au juste ? Je ne savais même pas l'imaginer. Cette passivité me désespérait. Il ne me restait qu'à attendre. Combien de temps ? trois ans, quatre ans ? c'est long quand a dix-huit ans. Et si je les passais en prison, ligotée, je me retrouverais à la sortie toujours aussi seule, sans amour, sans ferveur, sans rien. J'enseignerais la philosophie, en province : à quoi cela m'avancerait-il ? Écrire ? mes essais de Meyrignac ne valaient rien. Si je restais la même, en proie aux même routines, au même ennui, je ne progresserais jamais ; jamais je ne réussirais une oeuvre. Non, pas une lueur nulle part. Pour la première fois de mon existence, je pensais sincèrement qu'il valait mieux être mort que vivant.
- Simone de Beauvoir, Mémoires d'une jeune fille rangée

*

Nothing to do
Nowhere to go
I wanna be sedated


I am sedated.
I feel sedated.

This was in a VH1 promo playing just as I was reading the excerpt above. I'm not listening to music while reading anymore, though. This was just a 20-minute exception while I was waiting for a movie to start.

*
This movie:

We Don't Live Here Anymore
.

"An idle life cannot be pure."

Like a stake through my heart.

(What old movie is this quote from anyway? It sounds so familiar.)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reveeenge! (Notes on 'Django Unchained')

source: slashfilm.com

Oh, Django Tarantino, you big troublemaker.

There are so very few movies about slavery that I think people had too many expectations from this one. Criticizing Tarantino for not telling the story of slavery right is pretty pointless. This isn't the story of slavery. It's not even a story of slavery. It's merely the story of a slave, just as the title announces it.

Also pointless: criticizing the lack of historical accuracy. It's essential that we, the viewers, are aware of that lack of historical accuracy, and I certainly appreciate the larger context offered by some African-American critics (because the truth is, I barely know anything about the history of slavery in America). With Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino established that he doesn't give a fuck about historical accuracy. I understand how that can be frustrating for some, but I also understand how this historical inaccuracy is vital for his revenge plots.

The criticism of exceptionalism: completely valid. And yet: westerns are about one hero, about one exceptional man (sometimes about one exceptional woman). So in the end: do we agree with Spike Lee, that the mere choice of the genre is offensive, or do we agree that the genre doesn't allow the depiction of a mass revolt, of a mass liberation and therefore exceptionalism is acceptable in this particular case? I'm a little lost here.

It would have been hypocritical of Tarantino not to use the N-word. In this particular context, I think it's a non-problem. Its excessive use is bound to make people feel either offended or at least uncomfortable. It is ironic, though, that in this case, Tarantino sort of brings into discussion historical accuracy to justify the excessive use of the N-word: "Personally, I find [the criticism] ridiculous. Because it would be one thing if people were out there saying 'You use it much more excessively in this movie than it was used in 1858 in Mississippi.' Well, nobody's saying that. And if you're not saying that, you're simply saying I should be lying. I should be watering it down. I should be making it more easy to digest. No, I don't want it to be easy to digest. I want it to be a big, gigantic boulder, jagged pill, and you have no water." (source: The Root, via The Ed Show, via New Black Man) But yeah, I agree: he shouldn't make it easy to digest.

And he really doesn't make it easy to digest. In terms of violence, I knew exactly what to expect. I had read the leaked script, after all. And yet it still took me by surprise. With Tarantino, there's always this feeling that he enjoys violence, the spectacle of violence, a little too much. In this particular case, I don't think he should have toned it down, but it did make me reconsider the excessive violence towards women in Death Proof. I'm having serious second thoughts about that one. I guess I'll just have to re:watch it.

Should a white director even dare to make a film that has anything to do with Black history / life? Hell yeah. The problem isn't this. The problem is that there are too few movies, especially mainstream movies, made by Black directors, just as there are too few (mainstream) movies made by women. The problem isn't with Tarantino. The problem is with the system. If Tarantino has an original script about a slave and wants to shoot it, I don't see what the problem is (especially because he doesn't come across as the type of white male director who doesn't recognize his own privilege; later edit: okay, forget I said that). But if a studio buys a script about a slave / slavery and doesn't even consider hiring an African-American director, than yes, that really is a problem.

The mocking of the KKK was, as expected, absolutely hilarious.

I liked the dynamic between Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) and Candie (DiCaprio). In Stephen's death I read a criticism of the happy, sassy Black servant that Hollywood has accustomed us to. (I was actually surprised to find such an old stereotype in Lee Daniels's Paperboy, which goes to show that the director's skin color doesn't necessarily ensure a stereotype-free movie.)

Can you believe DiCaprio has now been in two westerns?

I think for the first time, the soundtrack of a Tarantino movie hasn't quite worked for me.

It is my humble and quite uninformed opinion that from the point of view of racial representations, Django Unchained has a lot more redemptive qualities than Lincoln.

The one thing (about which I have no doubts) that does bother me about Django Unchained is the representation of women. Or should I say: the underrepresentation of women? He's done such a good job until now, offering big parts to women, I don't understand why he would stop now.

Despite its problems, despite its shortcomings, the great thing about Django Unchained is that it generated so many discussions on racial representations. A few links, only three actually, to texts I've managed to read so far:

+ Black Audiences, White Stars, and 'Django Unchained' by Ishmael Reed
+ 'Django Unchained': A Postracial Epic? by Hillary Crosley
+ Quentin Tarantino creates an exceptional slave by Salamishah Tillet