Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Olympian calm of form in Tarkovsky’s "Mirror"

Tarkovsky always maintained that he used the laws of music as the film’s organising principle. He considered film to have much in common with a musical ordering of material, where emphasis was placed not on the logic, but on the form, of the flow of events. And form for him was ultimately linked to time - the duration and the passage of time in each shot. But he did not approach time as an abstract, philosophical concept; rather, it was an inner psychological reality and he believed that one of the aims of the film director was to create his unique sense of time in a film, which was independent of real time.

This Olympian calm of form is what prompted those of Tarkovsky’s colleagues who were expecting intense scenes between the protagonists to call the film dull; it is what turns the burning shed from a destructive accident into an epiphany, and why the grenade the military instructor throws himself on is a dummy… Tarkovsky admired Checkhov for removing the first page of his stories, in order to eradicate the ‘why’. He himself removes pages throughout the story, leaving us with fragments, whose meaning and motivation is not easily decipherable. We are left instead with a feeling for a particular mood, atmosphere or emotion – and a world of juxtapositions and correspondences, to which we must bring to bear our own sensibility. - Natasha Synessios

Watch it for free here, or without it periodically stalling for $3 here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

from “No Word, No Sign” by Aaron Kunin

There’s no word for you. There’s no word
for what you do to me. For what you do,
somehow, and you don’t know you do it,
to my mind with just your voice, so that

everything I once was sure of seems wrong;
for what you do to my way of seeing,
so that I start to doubt my own eyes if
what my eyes report isn’t just like what

I hear you say; and for what you do to
my voice to keep it from talking, to keep down
every word somewhere where I can’t remember
it: for this, there’s no word. To me

you’re like a machine without a purpose,
whose purpose is to cast doubt on every
idea that my mind is thinking, and
the end of every idea is you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

When religion is at its best

Religion is at its best when it becomes a countercultural force; when it has no power, only influence, no authority except that which it earns, no claim to people's attention other than by the way it creates values that cannot be found elsewhere. It is then that it loses its perennial tendency to corruption and becomes again what it once was - a startling new voice, redeeming us from our loneliness, framing our existence with meaning, and teaching us to remember what so much else persuades us to forget - that the possibilities of happiness are all around us. - Jonathan Sachs

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Darwin & Machiavelli On Reading

My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man with a mind more highly organized or better constituted than mine, would not, I suppose, have thus suffered; and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature. - Charles Darwin

When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed on the food that alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them. - Niccolò Machiavelli