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

Monday, September 20, 2010



Realism in the cinema depends less on the flaubertian or balzacian -- let's call it homely -- detail than in reference to an entire history of filmic representation. What is Real in the movies is always in strong erotic(?) relation to another image. Implicit in a strong image is the love for an earlier one. The way one can't experience Rossellini, for instance, without hypertexting to Chaplin. None of this is articulable explicitly -- it's never at the level of an "hommage", because such crude obviousness would shatter the dream-signification of the film. And this is no small part of what Barthes calls the Third or Obtuse Meaning in the cinema.


Moving parallelly into the structures of narrative, pleasure is consummated in the opportunity for the spectator to flex her vast knowledge of the codes and draw phantastic pleasure from the overlays. This is nothing new, really. Don Quixote depends on the same "subversive" tactic (a mocking familiarity with knightly tales) and a flux between the dirty reality and the Don's vast imaginative capacity to distort it. Post-Auteurism is a Quixotic operation in this way. We take an unexceptional factory film and we look between the cracks for ruptures, which give us pleasure.


And this also justifies a low or no-affect position -- "the ideology of cool" -- a conditionally suspended disbelief, towards the ontological status of the narrative. We are the sum of stories we believe about ourselves, but the modern subject can't ever be certain enough about their status to wholeheartedly endorse capital N narratives. The modern subject is paranoid & unconfident -- faced with a semiotic stew in private life where every object and image, like a politician on the stump is making some kind of private appeal to his identity -- the default position of the subject, awash in desire, is fending off affective response.

So Today's artist has to ritually genuflect to the paranoia, and assuage some of that anxiety before throwing the magic dust in people's faces. and letting them dream.

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