Saturday, May 28, 2011

Masters of the Compendium

On February 17, 1998, the acclaimed filmmaker Cesario Flores was asked by a critic to name his favorite movie. He answered by naming We Won’t Go Home Again, a book divided into a series of photo essays followed by some tense journalistic prose of obvious relation, which seemed to at first confound and then infuriate the critic. “Every movie I make is about a lesbian relationship between a young girl and a woman in late middle age,” Flores added as a somewhat generous explanation.

The critic, Christopher Dennett, responded by letting the interview devolve into an argument. Dennett had become known for championing a very controversial French zombie film. Seeing how he could profit by trading in provocation, he later wrote “A Review of a Film That Doesn’t Exist” which earned him at first a letter of rejection but later further notoriety. With that in mind, Dennett decided to needle Flores about his constant conflicts with producers over their requests that he stick to a script rather just going off and shooting footage of all the people he met on location.

Flores tried to explain by referring to a dream he had shortly after completing work on his first feature. In the dream, Flores had to convince the actor Gabriel Byrne to appear as William Shakespeare in a movie about going to Bermuda to research The Tempest. Believing that this was a sign that he had been infected by out of control cinephilia, Flores decided to completely shift his way of working. The argument instigated by Dennett because he felt Flores was deliberating obfuscating eventually bloomed into a sham rivalry that persisted between the director and critic for many years.

Flores and Dennett never realized the formative experience they nearly shared in common. When Flores was a boy, his great uncle died and left a minor and insignificant fortune to his family. They proceeded to fight viciously amongst themselves over the inheritance until they had consumed both themselves and the fortune. Flores avoided being swallowed whole by the conflagration but it left a distinct imprint on his consciousness.

In his own childhood, Dennett watched his parents conflict with increasing frequency over family finances as they found each other less attractive and lovable (and we will ask which direction the causality runs without ever receiving a satisfactory answer). The divorce battle that ensued, a mess of money and machismo, traumatized young Dennett. He had to live with his mother’s sister when it became increasingly violent. Later he would describe this experience infrequently to close friends when the mood struck him. One friend, the actor and director Danny DeVito, based the film The War of the Roses on what Christopher Dennett told him late at night in dimly lit bars.

But this story was not true, or at least it was exaggerated. The divorce was not as much about a financial conflict as it was about a deep disagreement about how to live in the world.


This article’s sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (July 2010)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Mind of Alexandra Anixter

“The ignorant man works for his own gain, the wise man acts prolifically for obvious reasons, and the wise woman behaves above all as a seer. She sees the ignorant man’s work for what it really means and the wise man’s actions for what they represent to the world. She has constant doubts, as do her sisters, but the doubts are merely a mad distraction implanted by the twisted arts of work and action. Knowledge from sight remains with the woman while man’s feeble attempts at escaping inner despair fall away with every iteration. ”

Alexandra Anixter wrote the above paragraph in the first edition of The Book of Life. The very same people who had once embraced her researches chose to ostracize, persecute, and attack her for what she had written in a radical departure from her previous work. She engaged in heated debates with academicians of every field of inquiry in lecture halls and labs; at conferences that went out over networks; on elevators; in coffeeshops; within the shadows cast by clock towers. The police arrested her for assaulting Dmitri Yersin (a bureaucrat of some repute), though she vigorously denied initiating the altercation despite the reports of a few excitable eyewitnesses.

Next she published The Book of Time, in which she claimed she could transmigrate human consciousness into objects both animate and inanimate. While this claim received the bulk of the attention still remaining due to her, much more importantly she proposed a theory of time’s relation to the real and the unreal. In discussing the theory with her, I found that Alexandra seemed increasingly aggravated by the clumsy semiosis of our language. I feared that she had begun to develop a messianic complex. Not the least of my worries: that she might actually be able to lead us to the Promised Land. I did not feel I was ready to go.

As she found herself ever more isolated and unable to hold down a job or publish further work except through publishers too sleazy for her to bear, self-medication started in earnest. It pained me to watch her body and mind decay by poison. Unfortunately, I had my own reputation to consider. I felt deeply unsettled by my own selfishness and yet I justified my cold-hearted actions as deference to my own family. I hope that her next form will forgive me.

Alexandra was not fully aware at the time that all of what has been described in the preceding paragraphs took place entirely within the confines of her own mind. Yet twelve thousand Malaysians bore witness to her paranormal adventure as part of their government’s experiment with telepathy. A distinguished program of the Wawasan 2020 campaign, these seemingly innumerable individuals watched these events in real time, and so only they could fully appreciate Alexandra’s theory of real time as she described it in her second informal book of total awareness.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

: Power Police : Merry Musicians :

The whole police department was up in arms when orchestra entered
They didn’t know which weapons were instruments
or which genders were ready to be blasted
So they lit themselves on fire.
But the building couldn’t burn.
It had been covered in plasticine material
/usually reserved for old-stile aeroplanes
that are protecting rational thinking stage actors from getting in
,too much trouble,
when they make mistakes in front of the conductor.

He screams and he screams and he doesn’t use words
because it would be confusing and pointless.
That is the nature of the police exercise.
They want to marry musicians
and be felt around the world
not those who share power among the best of us.
Power isn’t publicly traded.
/that is why the orchestra has a problem.

Each musician has an instrument that has a cat or a bird inside
But the birds are ostriches
/they are not the best of us.
But I most certainly am.
Don’t ever forget when you’re ready.
Don’t ever forget it.
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