Fragments of an In-Depth Analysis of The Author’s Video Collection
June 19, 2009 § 2 Comments
[The first few paragraphs are nearly unreadable, but from the words that survive, here and there, one gets an idea of the tone: cynical, and disaffected. What’s left is hardly worth reproducing. It’s sufficient that you keep in mind the low opinion this particular critic (the name is lost; some say it’s Aubin, others Mandelstein, still others an unknown critic) must have held of The Author.]
Once Upon a Time in the West
[–] a haunting score, the harmonica especially is evocative, the notes float out of Charles Bronson like a row of white sheets twisting in the wind […] The long cuts, Sergio Leone’s signature, are his longest. The movie unfolds in geologic time; it feels as if one has sat down to watch weeds grow in the hot Arizona sun. No doubt The Author kept this movie in his collection because he wanted to think of himself as a contemplative man, though most contemporary sources discredit that notion (all the more reason to cultivate it!) […] Finally, we cannot forget the tuberculosis-ridden railway director (by far the most important figure in our understanding of The Author), who dreams of reaching (with his railroad) the Pacific Ocean, even as he lays dying. In many ways the railway director is The Author, who was always focused on “The Water! The Water!”, though he must have known that his life would end crawling pathetically to a puddle (for all his delusions, his moments of clarity were remarkably prescient).
[–] indicative of his obsession with dreams. The original title of the novel the movie is based on, remember, is “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, but that isn’t [–] the synth of the music score evokes an android paradise [–] fascination with Brutalist architecture: a form that simultaneously reminds the viewer that he is human (by dwarfing him) and implies his kind has a higher calling (by paying him no attention).
[–] It is interesting that The Author’s generation was one of the first that could, beginning in their early adulthood, constantly relive seminal or affecting moments from their collective pasts: through old television shows on YouTube and other video-sharing websites, DVD collections, and, in the case of video games, through abandonware and repackaging. This is by no means an original observation: in his book “The Nostalgia [?Princes]”, Cromwell suggests that it is this easy availability of juvenile experience (coupled with an almost total lack of responsibility) [–] widespread, catastrophic food crises of the 20’s and 30’s and the [–] a globally recognised dominance and opulence that might never be seen again. [–] fundamentally different than returning to childhood books, because our understanding of books is fluid, carrying the assumption that we have intellectually grown in the interim (i.e. increased comprehension, increased focus, increased vocabulary, etc) [–] how does one need to grow to enjoy Super Mario? Or a television program or movie that he has always had on DVD or videocassette? [–] a transference of adolescence, from the video (or the video game) to the viewer.
Citizen Kane, Hamlet, Killer of Sheep
The lugubrious “classics”: how can one who thinks himself an intellectual avoid them? Whether or not he has ever seen or enjoyed these movies is anyone’s guess. Reading through his diaries and his journals, one doesn’t find them. They are, therefore, insignificant, except as wallpaper.
I find it disappointing, and perhaps even grotesque, that one who has so much reverence for dreams should have this movie. [Here the page is torn. It’s uncertain whether what follows is part of the discourse on the above movie, a different one, or a part of another related, but lost, manuscript.] a snail on the lid of a compost bin after a night of solid rain. The Author sees the snail and marvels at it: “What an ugly thing a snail is!” he thinks, “But how much compassion I seem to have for it… what is it that makes one enjoy snails but not other, similar creatures, such as earwigs or cockroaches? Why does the snail give me pleasure and the cockroach remove it, when it’s clear, really, that they’re both the same thing?” [–] but really the thought is of an order as low as possible, and simultaneously thought by everyone, all at the same time.