Just back from
seeing Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane company. It was wonderful &
inspiring. One beautiful piece to Flannery O'Connor's Artificial
Nigger & a work-in-progress about patriotism.
This is what I
have been thinking abt lately:
was the huge movement against the Viet Nam war in part because
in the wake of Nuremberg, etc. there was a sense that no matter
what people were responsible for their actions and the actions
of their government. Nowadays it seems there is a feeling
that our gov't is in crazy war but its somehow not our personal
Nobody seems willing to risk anything.
for the thought. It sure was different then, but in all honesty
I don't know if I had even heard of Nuremberg at that point
in my life. I think for the young of the late 1960s and 1970s
it was just a totally different value system in a different
era. Haight-Ashbury, Bob Dylan's songs, the Watergate scandal,
the writing of Izzy Stone and Ralph Nader and Rachel Carson
and Paul Krasner and Norman Mailer, the Eastern religion vision
quests, the student protests, the music of Ginger Baker and
Eric Clapton, the speeches of Eugene McCarthy and Allard Lowenstein,
the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King,
the trial of the Chicago seven, the Woodstock and post-Woodstock
peace-love-freedom be-ins, LSD, DMT, and pot, the tie-dye
Volkswagen-driving hippies, the feminist movement ---those
are what I think made the Vietnam protests imaginable. Made
them possible. Even though I wasn't a hippie or yippie or
SDS or PLP member, those social upheavals and artistic breakthroughs
and revolutionary values profoundly, if subconsciously, influenced
me and everyone I knew in our high school, college, and later
years. They shaped every young person of the era in one way
or another. Some ran the other way and became Young Republicans,
but the deep, thoughtful ones learned valuable life-lessons:
to constantly ask why, to question authority, to distrust
political excuses and expediencies, to dream impossible dreams
of a culture founded on trust and love and care, not power
and profit and capitalism.
might say I was a kind of extreme test-case. In high school
I was the most stupid, out-of-it, apolitical person you could
ever imagine, but even I was transformed in that period--transformed
not by reading history or thinking about morals or the Holocaust
or Adolph Eichmann, but by hearing the music of Jimi Hendrix,
by seeing the Watts riots and the Kent State shooting, by
hearing the "flower power" ideals, visions, and
dreams of a new world that the hippies represented. No one
of a certain age could escape those influences. The art, the
music, the boho Zen, the street performances, the bizarro
films, the crazy adolescent dreams of the era taught me as
much as the political events did. Maybe more. They are what
led me to work in the campaign of George McGovern. To march
on Washington when Nixon got re-elected. To stand in Harvard
Square on rainy afternoons trying to get signatures on petitions.
They are what led me to stay up nights talking, talking, talking
with roommates and friends about what was wrong with the world
and with business values. A couple years later they led me
to a commune. And to a monastery after that. And to go to
grad. school after that. And to decide to become a professor
after that. All of those things went against the advice of
my parents and guidance counselors and all of the practical
people I know. Wild thoughts, crazy dreams, and absurdly "unrealistic"
ideals did it.
that era is gone. Things have changed. When I look around
today, I just don't see very much of that starry-eyed idealism
anywhere in the culture. What is the equivalent now? Where
is the craziness, the wildness, the passion, the daring? Where
is the questioning spirit? The eternally unsatisfied dream
of something beyond the present? Where is the fire-in-the-belly
conviction that there has to be a better way to do things
than the way the world is currently being run? Where is the
understanding that capitalism not only doesn't have all the
answers, but is a wrong turn, a detour off the cliff in the
road to utopia. Where is the sensibility that life should
be more about love and kindness than success? Oh, some of
it still exists. There are little pockets of it here and there
that have survived the 1960s and 1970s. There is the environmental
movement. And an interest in better food and work conditions.
And there are lots of local political groups trying to make
progress locally in school board meetings and city council
elections. There are even a few decent young artists, here
and there, though it's a very small number. That's all a legacy
of that period, directly or indirectly. And I'd like to think
I am one of the legacies of that period, one of the Peter
Pan refusals to "grow up," one of the little pockets
of resistance still working to disrupt the status quo or at
least make people ask troubling questions about it. I still
believe in those "unrealistic," "impractical"
values as much as I ever did. But how out of step I feel.
How few people feel this way today. I don't see it anywhere
in my students, or in most of them at least. There are a few
exceptions, thank God, one or two or three a semester maybe,
but most of them just want jobs. They want success. They want
to climb the corporate ladder. They want to get married and
live in a nice house. They want to learn how to do things
in the way that takes the least doing. Nothing necessarily
immoral in those goals, but they leave out most of what really
that's the difference as I see it. Learning a little history
is not enough. Reading a book is not enough. Hearing me rant
about any of this in my office hours is not enough. Sending
people to see Schindler's List is not enough. We
need a wholesale cultural transformation. The political side
of it is important, of course, but not the most important
part. We need smarter, more sensitive, more spiritual "leaders"
(what a contradictory concept), but more than that we need
a transformation in people's hearts and souls and visions
of possibility. It's easy to despair, given the way things
are, and some days I do despair; but the rest of the time
I have faith the spiritual revolution will take place sometime--but
don't ask me how or when. It may be a long time off, after
we are both long gone. Only God knows who or what will throw
the tiny pebble that will become the snowball that will turn
into the avalanche that will transform the world. I have some
ideas about that, but it's 12:30 AM and this is already too
long and rambling, so I'll stop.
I just watched
the documentary Overnight about Troy Duffy and was surprised
to see you in the back ground. Why was Troy at BU? Was this
something you had arranged? The documentary was pretty good.
I am tremendously
enjoying Cassavetes on Cassavetes. I just found an interesting
article comparing the works of Maurice Pialat and John Cassavetes.
I wished there were more Pialat DVDs available - especially
are you? Student? Teacher? Film lover? None of the above?
answer your question: As far as I can tell based on that visit,
Troy is an idiot. And his film is worse. He and his film were
inflicted on me due to my lack of advance knowledge about
either fact. We all make mistakes. However, I gather someone
was there to record mine. (May yours go unmemorialized.) No
one asked my permission to film or told me about the work
that resulted. Typical. I assume it is awful.
happens once in a while. I've been in a few films and plays,
some with and some without my knowledge. As illustrations, I made it into Carl Hancock Rux's "Talk" which played off-Broadway a couple years ago and I or my classes are discussed in a number of recent novels, under other names and identities of course. Such is the price of fame. Or infamy. I can't say I really give a damn.
I've been included in many many documentaries over the years, but I have to tell you I don't bother to watch them when they are released or broadcast on television. They are all, without exception, worthless--trivial, simplistic, silly wastes of time. And they almost never represent my important views about anything.
There are all sorts of compromises and short-cuts when someone appears in a documentary about film or entertainment, and what gets into the movie theater or on TV six or twelve months later is almost never what I myself would have intended if I were in charge of making the film or television show.
Let me give you an example or two: I was in an episode or two of a series PBS did on "The American Cinema"--the episodes devoted to sixties Hollywood and to indie film, but the films they wanted me to talk about were picked not by me but by the producer in charge of the episodes and were pretty much all the wrong ones. The wrong titles by the wrong directors. The producer was not interested in even entertaining my suggestions on what should be included. I tried to make suggestions, but she thought she knew better. She told me, first, that they were already clearing permissions for the clips about the stupid movies and, second, that they had already done interviews with other people talking about them and couldn't change the list just for me. So I had to talk about the movies on her list and ended up talking about junk. All in the service of making the documentary she wanted to make and the points she wanted made, all decided before she ever talked to me. And, mind you, this producer didn't even know very much about film, indie or otherwise. She was basing all of her conclusions on a few things she had read in a book or on the Internet written by middlebrow, mainstream writers.
I was also in a recent Turner Classic Movies/TNT Channel series on Independent film (I think it was called something like "The Edge of the Outside," isn't that clever?). There too, I was more or less told in advance what to talk about and what general points they were fishing for me to make. The producer or producer's assistant does an interview with you before you go on camera and tells you the general argumentative thrust of the series and what they want out of you in your interview. Such is the nature of television documentaries--at least in terms of film and entertainment. It's less about finding out what the "expert" knows and thinks than finding someone who can make the points that the director and producer have already decided fit into the goal of the series. You've seen thousands of these interviews, and they are all the same. The "expert" always confirms the general point that is being made in the film. There's no real depth or discussion of alternate views. (And, mark my words, if the expert didn't play the game according to these rules, he or she would be left on the cutting room floor. They don't want anything contradictory or complex. They can't handle it.) They are not about discovering anything, exploring the complexities of a subject, but about making sausage, fitting a set of ideas to a pre-existing simplistic thesis. (But I have to say: entertainment documentary doesn't have a monopoly on this, most of the PBS "Nova" episodes I've seen are just as stupid and narrow.)
For one more example of my involvement in another documentary film (there have been so many of them I've lost count) read my interview about Charles Kiselyak's documentary about Cassavetes. (Click here to go there.) It's as unreal as science fiction, but since the filmmaker absolutely controls what gets into it and what doesn't, there is no chance of getting a different point of view into the work.
The result is what Noam Chomsky calls "the institutional control of discourse." It's strict enough when it comes to politicians and corporations, but it's positively insane when it comes to movies and television shows and celebrities. At least in terms of politics, people assume that there are "two sides" to most issues, but if you're talking about the careers of Martin Scorsese or Alfred Hitchcock or Julia Roberts, the idea that there is a contrarian point of view is not even admitted as a hypothesis. It is heresy. The dopey people always agree with each other ("Julia Roberts is our greatest actress," "Sharon Stone is a genius," "Hitchcock was one of the great artists of cinema," and promulgate the dopey view, and no one with another point of view (and there aren't many of us anyway!) is given a chance to tell the truth, and if they were allowed to do an on-camera interview, they'd never make it into the movie or show anyway. They'd be edited out. That's why the films that result are so predictable and formulaic and boring. When was the last time you watched a documentary about Hitchcock that allowed anyone like me to argue that Hitchcock's work is exploitative and demeaning to the viewer? When was the last time that you watched a documentary about a Hollywood director, actor, or actress that argued that his or her work was a pile of trash? That Sharon Stone or Nick Cage had sold his soul and his career for money? Even if you said this on camera, they would never air it--and knowing that, anyone with a brain doesn't even bother to say it.
Well, more than you wanted to know about "my life in documentaries," I'm sure. But thanks for the kind words about the Cass on Cass book.
I am a great admirer of John's work, as an actor as well as
a filmmaker. I have purchased "Cassavetes on Cassavetes",
"The Adventure of Insecurity" and "American
Dreaming". These books have given me great insight into
his his philosophy and his unorthodox way of thinking, I have
often thought that it is the journey that counts and not necessarily
the destination. I am perplexed by the attitudes of those
who should be preserving John's work. the alternate version
of "Shadows" for instance should be seen by all
those who have been touched by the maverick. Anyway I own
all of John's films except for "Husbands" and I
am very keen to have it in my collection, is it at all possible
that you could send me a copy? I would gladly pay any costs
If you knew how many requests I received to send people screenplays,
tapes, transcripts, book manuscripts, et alia, you'd understand
why I simply can't do this. I'd spend my whole life duping,
xeroxing, writing puffs for this and that.
do not despair! Husbands was released four or five
years ago by Columbia and I've seen VHS copies on Ebay for
ten or twenty dollars approx. Check for a month and I'm sure
one will appear. But be forewarned that they all have about
10 minutes missing, no matter what the label says. Columbia
issued it this way. Even the UCLA "restored" print
has missing footage (at Gena's request). She told them she
found the vomiting scene and the badgerings of Leola Harlow
in bad taste. (Click here to hear the audio of twelve minutes that were cut at the end of the singing scene and the beginning of the men's room scene in Husbands.)
if someone asks me to help I'll be glad to issue the complete
film on DVD. But alas, no one is asking.
exchange between Donal Foreman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and
got your email address from Rob Nilsson after I read your
piece. I just wanted to say BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO!
It's a breath of fresh air to read it. Common sense is so
uncommon. The truth is always what everyone knows but no one
dares or knows enough to say.
of course everything you say about Irish film is triply true
this is just to say thank you. And keep going. It really matters
even if the results don't show for a thousand years. (It seems
like it take that long sometimes.) Keep making films and shouting
from the rooftops.
And please keep me informed about your work.
If you gave me permission, I'd post your piece on my web site.
Wow. It is great
to hear from you. I have been thinking about e-mailing you
for years, but I never expected you to e-mail me first!
First of all, regards
my "What's Missing from Irish Film" piece, you are
more than welcome to put it on your site -- I don't think
Rob will mind. I've attached a Word doc version of it if that's
any use. And you can put my e-mail address on with it if you
like. I think my writing has significantly developed since
I wrote it, however -- it's been over two years since I did
I don't know if
Rob told you much about me, but in case you're interested:
I've been making films since I was 12; it began as a way to
pass the time but it quickly became an overriding passion.
I don't think my dedication to film was cemented, however,
until I came across your wonderful "Path of the Artist"
articles when I was about 15. (Click
here to go to those articles.)
The idea that
film---and all kinds of art, of course---could actually change
you, that you could actually learn from both the creation
and experiencing of it--- Well, frankly, it revolutionised
the way I think, and for that I'll always be grateful to you.
Having said that,
I do have some problems and reservations about your work and
some of your ideas, which perhaps I could discuss with you
sometime---but at heart, when it gets down to the key issues
of the power and importance of art, I'm with you all the way.
Anyway, as regards
my filmmaking to date: I've made several comedies---largely
improvised, and created with my friends---some of which have
been quite successful; won awards, screened at festivals,
etc. These films were great learning experiences and I'm fond
of them personally but they're all essentially cartoon movies---not
Parallel to this,
I've made a dozen or so films which I guess you could call
documentaries---although not in the conventional sense, as
none of them feature narration or talking heads or any of
the other staples of the documentary "genre". They're
basically me filming life as it happens---just looking and
listening as sensitively as I can and letting things unfold
by themselves. Technically, some of these films are very flawed,
but I think they feature some of the greatest moments I've
Some of them consist
of me filming my friends (who are so used to me pointing a
camera they tend to forget about it); others just look at
nature (like one of my personal favourites, WSH: A FILM ABOUT
THE WIND); and then probably the strongest of all are those
that I shot in other countries. While in New York a while
ago, I shot UNDER: a single 2-minute shot of a bag lady on
a platform on the underground, which will be playing in the
upcoming Galway Film Fleadh. And my longest film to date is
CUBA, CHRISTMAS 2001, an hour long video sketchbook of the
people and places I encountered there.
While I love these
documentary films, and making them has been a revelation in
terms of seeing the beauty and brilliance and profundity of
ordinary life (usually so much more interesting and amazing
than the lame artifice that they pack most movies with), my
current ambition is to try to take what I've learnt from this
stuff and bring it to the making of dramatic fiction. I feel
in a way that the documentary films have been too easy for
me, not demanding enough; all they require is for me to look
and listen, which is certainly something, I know -- but in
a way it lets me off the hook because I don't have to watch
or engage with what's going on, or interact with the people
I'm filming; I get to hide behind my camera.
So, at the moment
I'm in pre-production for my first serious fiction film, MY
FRIEND'S HOUSE. If you are interested, I can send you the
script -- although of course I'll understand if you don't
have the time. I don't pretend it's anything amazing, but
I know it's a significant step forward for me.
As for my interest
in film as a viewer, my tastes tend to be as broad and obscure
as I can manage. Your recommendations have been a great help.
Cassavetes, Tarkovsky and Bresson are my personal heroes ("the
holy trinity")----but Dreyer, Ozu, Bela Tarr, Edward
Yang, Kiarostami, Visconti, Renoir, are all favourites as
well. And the list is always growing. I was recently in touch
with Andrew Bujalski and purchased FUNNY HA HA off him, which
I loved. And I bought some of Caveh Zahedi's work last year---and
had an interesting discussion with him about God, as I remember.
I also had the unexpected honour of meeting Tom Noonan when
I was in New York. I wandered into the Paradise Theatre seeing
if there was a play on, and found him lying on a bed with
his leg in a cast! I'm sure he doesn't remember me, but it
made my trip to meet him, however briefly.
I'm also crazy
about every other kind of art you can think of. Currently
trying to work my way through Shakespeare, for example ---
and I think I love modern dance even more than I love film.
I'll leave it at
that. Sorry this e-mail's been so long. Believe me, I could
say a lot more....
Hope to hear from
you soon and thanks for getting in touch,
PS: If I could
make one small quibble with the e-mail you sent me: you wrote
that everything I said about Irish film "is triply true
of American". Now, in terms of scale, that may be true---but
I'd just point out that the key difference is that the US
has a significant body of wonderful films to its name. Marginalised
and neglected though they might be, they do exist. Ireland,
on the other hand, has NONE. I've never seen an Irish film
which rivals the masterpieces of other countries. There have
been some good films, and the seeds of greatness have emerged
a few times---but rarely. I think that's the difference in
our film situation over here. Not that there's much point
complaining about it --- I know it's up to me, and whoever
else cares, to do something about it.
Donal, not only for the piece and permission to post it, but
even more for the kind words in your letter.
always good to hear that the site makes a difference. It may
come as a surprise to you to hear it but it is a bit of an
albatross for me. A black hole. It drains the blood out of
my veins and gives me just about nothing in return. In "For
Once Then Something," Robert Frost talks about dropping
a pebble into a well and listening for the splash. Well, my
own well seems to be so deep I seldom hear anything back.
Oh, I get a thousand emails a month, but nine out of ten are
asking me for a favor (will I read and comment on and write
a blurb for a screenplay or a film), and the rest are yelling
at me and telling me what an idiot I am for saying something
against their favorite filmmaker or for not including their
favorite film on one of my lists. I've also been getting criticized
by some of my colleagues (and bosses) at the university for
having the site at all since they apparently can't see any
good it does. They regard it strictly as a "vanity"
project. Like I was doing it for my health! Can you believe
that? And, to top it off, I end up being dumped on by Gena
Rowlands for not clearing things on it with her in advance,
as if she had the right to control everything written about
Cassavetes. But basta. You get the picture. I end up spending
thousands of dollars every year maintaining it and updating
it, and don't hear much in the way of a positive response.
the joke about the blonde? She was so dumb she slept with
the critic. Well, I'm the critic and, to put it in a nutshell,
I don't even get the blonde! : )
But the positive side is it gives me sympathy with being an
indie filmmaker. I know what it is to try to give people presents
they don't want! Presents they want to take back to the store
guess you can say Irish film is worse than American, but we
are really just quibbling over terms and values. My reply
would be that there are more hundreds of millions spent on
more "generic" "mechanical" "inhumane"
movies in a year in Hollywood than there have been in the
entire last century of Irish cinema; but who cares..... It's
not so hot in either place, I guess. The point is that mass
produced, factory created entertainment is not personal expression
no matter where it comes from.
I'll have to find a good place to post your piece. (Click
here to read it.) I think I'll also put something in the
mailbag section of the site with a notice calling attention
to its specialness. I'll give it some thought and promise
you a good placement.
laughing. Keep kicking against the pricks. Keep going. Keep
speaking the truth. And make that next film! As I tell every
indie: It really does matter.
Thanks for responding
so quickly, and apologies that I couldn't reply as promptly
in return. Planning the new film has been taking up all my
time the past week or two. It's all I think about, night and
day. I can't get to sleep for thought of it, and then when
I do, my dreams usually relate to it as well.
I'm sorry that
things are so discouraging for you at the moment. However,
I hope you do realise that you HAVE made a difference. Even
all the troublesome e-mails you get are evidence of that (although
I've no idea how you manage to deal with thousands of them---do
you actually read every one?): all those people looking for
a positive blurb off you wouldn't do so if they didn't respect
your work, and see you as someone sympathetic with films and
filmmakers that most ignore. And even the ones yelling at
you are proof that you've made an impact---so much so that
they actually had to write to you; they couldn't just dismiss
what you wrote.
I'm quite interested
in writing about cinema---although for me it is secondary
to my love of making films. This year I've been writing quite
a few things about Bela Tarr's SATAN'S TANGO. If you haven't
seen it, I'd highly recommend it. It was the single greatest
experience I've ever had in a cinema, really blew my mind.
about it has been a really engaging struggle. I think it's
the desire to articulate my thoughts and feelings about films
that drives me to write about them---although sometimes the
seeming impossibility of doing so can be extremely frustrating.
Even today, it happened---I went to see Bresson's PICKPOCKET
in the local arthouse cinema. It was amazing, although I think
I prefer his later stuff---L'ARGENT and LA DIABLE, PROBLEMENT
especially---but Bresson is just the ultimate for me. And
I bumped into someone I knew there, who didn't know what to
make of it. He asked me to explain what I thought was so great
about it, but I couldn't---I felt it was great, but I couldn't
say why. Which makes me then doubt the feeling....
Yeah, no point
playing the "my country's worse than your country"
game. I find it's dangerous to spend too much time complaining
about it anyway---which is why I ended that essay by saying
"we might as well admit it and get to work". There
are some people in Ireland who waste too much time moaning
about the state of things---and usually blaming it on funding,
or the influence of Hollywood, or some other external force---when
what they should really be doing is just getting out there
and making better films. Personally I feel the only thing
that can stop me from making a fantastic film is ME---whether
I have the talent or the heart or the God knows what to pull
it off. And of course, it's easier said than done---just like
it was easier to write that essay then it is to make this
film I'm struggling with at the moment! But there's no excuses---a
terrifying and liberating thought....
The scary thing
that becomes all too clear in a tiny country like Ireland
is how individuals can internalise the values of those mass-produced,
factory-created entertainments and start regurgitating them
independently. But I'm sure you see enough of that in the
I think one of
the things that encourages me, though, is the belief that
there's so much still to be done. I think you put it once
that "most of life has never made it into the movies"---what
a wonderful, inspiring thought---and one that seems especially
true in Ireland. It's a wide open world---time to go exploring...
I see that you've
posted my essay on your site. Thank you again. It means A
two things I wanted to ask you:
---The first is
a tough one to articulate but I'll make a stab at it. It's
to do with Shakespeare, primarily: I've always found it difficult
to reconcile his greatness as an artist with the fact that
he uses conventions and popular elements in his work, and
I've never heard anyone explain it satisfactorily either.
Is the brilliance of Shakespeare solely in the poetry of his
verse, with the plots and ghosts and witches and swordfights
merely serving to facilitate it?
the same about the films of Fred & Ginger, which I love.
But is their greatness solely in the dance? What about their
narratives, characters, jokes?
Apologies if this
sounds like a dumb question---I don't think I've put it exactly
how I meant---but if you had any insight on the subject, or
if you could just point me in the direction of a book or writer
that does, I'd really appreciate it.
---I think I read
you saying once that your original manuscript for CASS ON
CASS was twice as long as the published version? I was just
wondering, do you still have it? Have you considered selling
copies of that off your website? (Or your chapter on HUSBANDS
that I believe you had to cut out of THE FILMS OF JC?)
Thanks again for
taking the time,
Ray Carney replies:
The madness of art
A bit pressed for time, here, but you deserve a response,
1. In response to your comments on Bresson and Tarr you'll
get no argument from me. The greatest of the great. Along
with a couple dozen others. Just taught a course that spent
six or seven weeks on Bresson and loved him as much as always.
You're right about the late films. See my syllabi
listings. I prefer them too. Lancelot is the highest flight
Now to the other questions you ask at the end:
Shakespeare IS the greatest of artists and it is THE LANGUAGE
that makes him so. Not the plots, not the characters. The
language is all there is. The plays are, after all, just words.
The plot is our stupid construct. The plot is the jungle gym
he swings on. His trampoline to bounce off of. The characters
are just our shorthand name for the language.
That's the way all art is. It uses its own language to say
things. And that is what makes it interesting. it doesn't
just use the language and forms of life. You mention Bresson
at the start of your letter and that is what makes you like
Bresson and what is so hard to communicate to someone who
"doesn't get" his work. His films, Tarr's films,
Tarkovsky's films are not reducible to the plots and characters.
Bressons' films are the images, the sounds, the spaces between
the images, the silences between the sounds, the editing rhythms,
the details, the hesitations, the pauses. The plots and characters
are silly and trivial compared to those things. Think how
someone could tell you Bresson's A Man Escaped is
just a slow prison movie. Or Lancelot is just a slow
and humorless version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
In terms of plot and character that would be true. But they
would have left out the films! Everything that matters is
other things than plot and character. It's the images, the
sounds, the silences that are the movie. Not the plot.
But, and this is a critical point, appreciating Shakespeare's
language takes as much care and time and effort as appreciating
Bresson's images. It's not just "pretty" speech.
It's not just clever metaphors. It's not just flowery rhetoric.
The language is metaphysically revolutionary, imaginatively
transformative. Just as Bresson's images take time and effort
and knowledge to appreciate, Shakespeare's language takes
incredible diligence--and intelligence. That's why it may
just seem like big words to someone who doesn't put in the
time and effort, just as Bresson's work will just seem like
fancy editing to the same kind of person. If it helps, read
Henry James's Sacred Fount for a lesson in how complexly
language can function. James will show you how words are not
just representations of a pre-existing reality. Search my
site for references to it. I think I have a letter or two
where I mention it and briefly discuss it.
3. And Fred and Ginger "are" their steps in a similar
way and the steps are similarly astonishing. They are not
characters, people, humans. They are dissolved in steps. They
only exist as steps. They are their movements. Anything else
is Pickpocket as a heist movie. See Arlene Croce's
book on Astaire. She understands this and comes the closest
to saying something meaningful about him. But of course you
should see me in class showing clips if you want to really
have your mind blown! : ) Or clips of Paul Taylor's Esplanade
or Balanchine's Swan Lake.
4. And finally: Yes, the C on C book exists in a much longer
version. Brilliant, deep, exciting. Much much much deeper
and better than the published version. A deep dive into the
sources of art in the heart and the soul. But I get grief
from publishers about the damn length! If it were about Tony
Blair or George Bush, they'd jump at it, but it's JC for god
sake. Who cares?
Gotta work. The only salvation for my soul. The meaning of
life is not to think but to do. Not to be but to act. The
rest is the madness of art.
here to read Donal Foreman's essay
about the state of Irish Film. I highly recommend checking
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