What is Hollywood, you ask, dear children? A quorum of whores babbling endlessly on about fucking while the bordello is razed for a penny arcade -- Paul Bern

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Let’s hazard this, at least: Beauty is something that increases freedom, spirit; that feeling of the pleasant sublime. A real refuge. It is of the Party of Eros. We know that Tarkovsky, for instance, is beautiful. Shimizu’s films, too. Is it a reproach to us, living in this Grande Bouffe of images, that their images were produced under conditions of extreme misery, and some of that misery is still etched in the film?

Glamour, a card carrying member of the Party of Thanatos, is a mode of aggression; it tries to hijack some of the expressive (let's say, superficial) qualities of beauty and deploy them ideologically, or in the service of force. Glamour is a sort of desecration-destruction – sometimes it withers the object or person away, like it did to Garbo, and sometimes violently explodes it -- makes it vanish.

The complex act of imaging the unseen classes on the Agit-Trains was revolutionary, but not in the expected way --  as soon as they were captured on film, they were doomed in their entrancement. What they cried out for next was cine-vodka! Down with funky Kino Pravda with its Tolstoyan scoldings and austerity and up with a glamourized, apple-cheeked, abstracted revolution of eroticism, a visit from some shiny future that worked. Fascism is also an aesthetic; making certain things emphatic, "enriched", and finally, again, this word “glamorous” -- and that takes a whole machine and a value system that is dedicated to Thanatos. And of course, there must be an audience sensitized to it, hungry for glamour. That gnawing hunger -- there is no easier way to bring out one's inner fascist.

Three Songs of Lenin, The Great Consoler, Bezhin Meadow, New Moscow — four  extraordinary films about the dangers and contradictions of materializing images. The suppression of the Soviet avant-garde was a fight about defining the means of exchange: images.

The poetic impulse is always to drive a beautiful and estranging wedge between knowledge and power -- which always tend to flow toward each other like doomed apparatchiks in love -- with that quality that Shklovsky calls ostranenie.  Approved systems of Art, like Socialist Realism, the seven headed hydra of Globalist Realism aka “Hollywood”, Advertising, or Television News, must confuse the two streams in a numbing familiarization, to increase tolerance for things that the mind & spirit revolts from. Enmeshment.

We are on a path to a great literalization: If I describe something – anything to you, perhaps make it strange & wondrous, let it catch a glint of something on its surface, an intimation, then I am (I hope) conveying something to you that is technically false, something as faraway from A FACT as is possible. But whatever strength it has as an image may reverberate in you, breed other images, it may send you on a vain journey of experience to recapture something of that reverberation.

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