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

Sunday, February 6, 2011


“I can't speak for Thierry, but I do not love Zodiac because of its adherence to the meandering facts per se, but because of the use it made of that adherence and what it led to — a very different matter. And, for me, it fed an extraordinarily haunting meditation on time and human effort. Assayas himself is a great admirer of the Fincher film and of Che as well, and he in turn made a film whose own adherence to reality led to another haunting meditation on time, albeit from a wholly different, geopolitical angle. Of course these are just opinions, so I can not offer them as any kind of proof.”  
--- the doubly haunted Kent Jones, Marshal of the Order of the Realist Star.

Adherence to reality is a sticky subject. The aesthetic of RR-Realismus, amigos, is not only the written language, the sacramental runes of capitalism, it is the way the system is PRODUCED and perpetuates itself.  What Comrade Jones and the others are being haunted by is their blind allegiance to that system, which presents, like the evening news, film-facts but without the poetic structure of their construction. Assayas is an odd, troubling case – he knows his Debord, and he often tries to make the spectacle a subject, to find a new way of storytelling that works in-between, but you’d never know it by watching Carlos. A too naïve faith in the totalitarian spirit of imaging/representation (which all cinephiliacs suffer from) is ultimately grotesque and barbaric. There are some realities, let’s remember, that will not be so easily captured. 

Below, be pleased to find some guidelines for the practice of realism.

Axiom 1: There is no abstract, materialist, or sociopolitical reality to be faithful to. Neo-realism is Chaplin, a sublime and sharp cut of a type of elevated humanist sentimentalism, but not yet a religion.

Axiom 2: There IS a reality that exists in objects, people, money, mise en scene, etc which go into making a film, regardless of subject. That is what perhaps should be honored if we want to fetishize the reality of something or other. The cinema is always and eventually about dead people and lost things. Be haunted by that.

13a. If there is a reality “out there”, outside of cinema, then making a realist film, perhaps any film, about “it” (assuming it yields any secret at all outside of its percerptibility) immediately distorts it and falsifies it metaphysically by forcing it out of ambiguous superposition into the measurable, and the actionable. Quantum physicists call this the observer effect. To film something is to make a kitschy souvenir of Your Tourism in Reality, in the Historic, etc.

9c. Realism: the tawdry, vicious and uncomfortable, but with better angles and better seats. No joke: Eisenstein’s images of the storming of the Winter Palace were used as period photographs of the actual event, which no doubt paled in comparison. A mistake? Or an aesthetic efficiency?

5b. The more films or images that can be made, that is, the more representable the world becomes, the less world/ly. Mimesis, as far as I can tell, is a vast solipsist trap, and always has been.

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