Monday, September 24, 2012

It is easy to mistake our life for the world

If in our moments of happiness, mastery, ecstasy, we say Yes to heaven and to earth, and all we need is misfortune, sickness, the decline of physical powers to start screaming No, this means that all our judgments can be refuted tomorrow and that it is easy to mistake our life for the world. It is not obvious, however, why weakness-whether of a particular person or of an entire historical era-should be privileged and why the old nihilist from Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape should be closer to the truth than he himself was when he was twenty years old.

- Czesław Miłosz

Thursday, September 20, 2012

[the minotaur at supper: spare the noritake and the spode] - D. A. Powell

the minotaur at supper: spare the noritake and the spode
from these ungular hands. goblet stems scattered at my hoofs

a spattering of color on my hide. remnants of one youth
another impaled on my horns: I must say grace over his thighs
for there may be no path back to him. the way is dim and twists

myself am halfboy. am beauty and the end of same: a hungry thing
hunts me also: through which passageway do my nostrils sense blood
what aperture brings me air salted with cries of the ancient corrida

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The tone of Bergman's "The Silence"

I reflect on what it was that set Bergman's The Silence apart from other films of its time, thirty years ago, and why so many people in so many countries wanted to see it. It was its tone. That is something that is very hard to put into words but can be clearly felt and is patent during the screening and long afterwards. It was the first Bergman film to be so uncompromisingly personal and uniform in its style, its mode of narration. It had taken seventeen years of work (he began in 1945 with Crisis, and The Silence comes from 1962) for him to grasp that a film's power comes from the unrelenting honesty of its maker, his courage in refusing to retreat by as much as one step. Not from its philosophical construction (The Seventh Seal, which I do not like), its original and beautiful record of dreams and overpowering nightmares (as in Wild Strawberries), its social elucidation of dramatic events (as in Summer with Monika, which I like a lot)–but from its delineation of feelings we all experience and understand, as we tremble incessantly between love and hate, between fear of death and a longing for rest, between envy and generosity, between a keen sense of humiliation and the joy of revenge…I know where the bright trace comes from in this dark film. From Bergman's profound belief in humanity… - Krzysztof Kieślowski

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shakespeare's paradoxical voice in the later sonnets

Blame of the woman has faded in view of the greater blame with which the speaker castigates himself. The self-lacerating intelligence in the later sonnets produces a voice so undeceived about reality (the truth) and himself (his perjured eye) that the reader admires the clarity of mind that can so anatomize sexual obsession while still in its grip, that can so acquiesce in humiliation while inspecting its own arousal, that can lie freely while acknowledging the truth. To represent such a voice in all its paradoxical incapacity and capacity is the victory of Shakespeare's technique. - Helen Vendler