“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
― Michel de Montaigne
Sometimes all that can be said is that nothing can heal a wound, nothing can unravel the complexities of a sickness of set of trials except the invisible language of time. To resist the violence of occupations, of linguistic inventions and ramparts of grammar and logic, the intersections of a subtle siege upon your manic illness, your inexplicable fearfulness of any sort of objectivity has made you recoil into a tower now set alight by the flares and cannonades of people’s interjections, extrapolations. Words are not merely violent, but are a totalizing aspect of society. The only escape is in words that are unrecognisable, indecipherable, that do nor burrow further into the interstitial arrangements below, but the spontaneousk, combustible elements of the sky. And thus it is only in accepting the absurdity within all social violence that you can arrive at new ideas of yourself, beyond interrogation and full of sensual proximity.
These trials are difficult of late. The trials of establishing a new semiotics, range of meanings, played in half-step, tripping over new suggestions from climate and environment. Phonemes, lips that utter softly, abruptly, the cracking and grammatical foe the man who suggests that the misinterpretation of “literally” in common usage would suggest a disintegration of language when merely it is the phonetics, the lulling trickling effect of the word that gives the word its effect and its whole substance. After all, the terms by which we pen in words are terms effectively created by those words we seek to capture; like children who have forgotten feral fire and wild detachment from the inner meaning of language we watch as the parent tongue elopes with sensual gravity towards tropic of cancer and Meditteranean promise.
No, linguistically we cannot abhorr sensual changes, alterations, juxtaposition of the sound with the definition, when the sound mirrors the feeling. Promise you won’t, tell us you’ll trust in our mysticism and the fluency of our mouths despite what has been written down. And it is thus, with bright white halo effect that Under the Skin opens, mystically fulfilling the other half of my unanswered bargain, as phonemes jar, hum, sound themselves out through the bright white clinical light of an abstract set of visuals, introducing the play of light upon dark, the hollowed out nature of the superficial aesthetic, the way in which the world evokes a kind of porcelain vulnerability in women, in birth, which is more artificial than we give creedence for.
The film itself, its symbolism, its strange portrait of a women who though dark and unsensual beneath, is playing a role of a women with aesthetic power, rich curvature and a mammalian presence; profoundly attractive in that apparent vulnerability. And yet, in Catherine Breillat’s Anatomy of Hell (2004), this vulnerability is actually deceptive, a veneer upon a depth that is soundless, unfathomably incomprehensible after being surrounded with myth, romance, and a notion of women as the gentle and corresponding part of two genders. In Breillat’s highly criticised film for which there seems so little obvious explanation, a remarkable protrayal of unsatisfiable lust is portrayed, the homosexual man who cares for a suicidal women exposed to her naked figure, tentative in appearance but full of layerings and caverns of a more mysterious kind.
If one were to be so clinical vis a vis sexuality it would be noted that the man has been designed for procreation as if his role were to have sexual encounter after encounter until one of the pregancies succeeded. After all, the bodies of mammals in general are fragile despite incredible strength as well. The monthly tribulations of women are enough to expose that there is insiduptable strength in the continuance of the woman’s facade. That love and passion may resists such instincts is a sign of unconscious desire for transcendence, a going no-place, a simple frugality that is equivalent to self-abortion of starvation. And so Breillat creates replusion, the man uneasy and replused by how the woman’s body undergoes such dramatic transformation that is unseen, witnessing her sexually as insects might the dew upon leaves; sticky, clammy and as incomprehensible a climate as one could imagine.
Sexually, physically, we are so different, and yet gender is so loose by comparison to sex or sexuality. Johannsen in Under the Skin is ethereal, almost incomprehending of the viscera that surrounds her, haunted by the dirt and cracked pavements that temporarily are her home. She is a being of light, looking to clothe companions in the sensual, vocal, accented bodies of these mammals, and yet she cannot comprehend decay. Looking at a man on a sea shore who has almost drowned trying to save a father she is unmoved, and simply ends his life perhaps in favour of silence, in favour of a static sameness, as she looks at herself in the mirror so frequently, so much needing the approval of people from their sensual ratehr than aesthetics depths.
She is a traveller, a tourist, and though she suffocates those that come near her with her vacant emptiness, there is also a meditative aspect to her, an understanding that contamination and decay are hurtful and she strays from this very far, recoiled after sex with a stranger, and aghast at the possibility that her dark and nameless self with the skin she wears has been polluted.
She is not only reminiscent of a tourist and a stranger from a far land, but also a child who has learned to protect itself, having had no other recourse. The world of her interior is dark but with an unmistakable serenity underling it, glimpsed visually in the opening sequence. But to look from her perspective is so tremendously important, as it seems so very plausible that we do not make ourselves known to our deepest level, that our cities and damp, littered streets make it seem as if our bodies are merely transient, expressionless, except in the night when we appear desperate, cloying, so sad in our egocentricity and desire for sexual liberation. Johanssen’s character is sensitive, responsive, and yet powerless, sublimated by her wonder and dismay at the hollow behaviour of humanity, or the eppearance of.
It is so clear that what appears in the interior has been eplored so little, has been dimmed by the way we see one another’s bodies, almost encouraging this antipathy, amoral glamour that reveals itself mammalian, breasts and tenderness inviting, and yet thinning us out, making us fall under again. All surface no feeling, as it goes, the film is an exploration of the way we currently look at textures, respond to one another in cities and in rural places. It seems to show just how thin and incomplete our emotional and spirtual landscape is, making it so difficult even for someone to perceive a yawning blackness behind the eyes of another, a sort of cruelty that cannot be perceived unless emotional relationships begin by real intimacy, through the intimacy of thought.
Intratextuality and inside humour; this defines the recently out of the woods director and songwriter Jim Jarmusch, far from his heritage in the blank city of New York in the seventies during its prolonged decline and disintegration, until somehow reeling from arts directors forays into Super 8 and the reel upon reel of footage shot in monochrome down where the electricity had been cut off, where Manuel de Landa spent hours recording the insectual movements of American cockroaches moving between chipped wood, the caverns of carpenter ants, and the cool, moist climate of dampwood termites. Somewhere inside this landscape of decay the new scientist and the new stripped down aesthetic directors that would craft such films as In the Soup with Steve Buscemi and Jarmusch’s own Night on Earth.
The ruminative forms, the ideas that trails and weave through Jarmusch’s career are almost indelible, sloping inwards like grooves made by a carpenter’s lathe and sliding always into something more pronounced in his earlier visions. Jarmusch may have made the error of all of those other directors who moved from virile, passionate art to pastiche. Something about being in the right place at the right moment, with very few ideas after all. Jarmusch the idolater, always seeking out new talent if only to cast upon it a theatrical silhouette, much like his cameo role in In the Soup, gives himself away this time. Always being quite able to craft the right situation and environment for certain performances to evoke themselves, Jarmusch has perhaps over time lost a certain centrality within his work to make signs of himself as a director disappear. He has always seemed, after all, never to be there, thus making his work in a way far more open and limitless.
Sound editing, the ethereal stitching within Dead Man, always gave Jarmusch a certain mystique, always far away yet always artistically useful, whereas Only Lovers Left Alive has all the signs of a promenade, an accumulation of all the facts of his earlier work. Recall the scene in Coffee and Cigarettes in which a musician carts in a small Tesla coil, a feedback system that produces ongoing electricity and the self consciousness of this in this latter film as Tom Hiddleston coyly seeks appraisal from his bookish partner Tilda Swinton. Portraits of scientists, literateurs, artists, adorn Hiddleston’s house in an abandoned suburb of Detroit, America, much like the mottled icons of Russian orthodoxy, amidst soft glowing wax candles. Hiddleston’s undying vampiric character gazes at these wistfully, self-consciously wondering what all of his acquaintance with these people has meant.
Inconceivably, the two lovers of this film, Swinton living in Tangiers, Morocco, and Hiddleston, of course, in Detroit, have met and acquainted themselves with all characters of renown in the three hundred years past, and yet have still this wistfulness, this empty self consciousness and vanity in their mutual ideas. They peruse themselves, admire one another, and equally stroll through their vast deserts of culture they have made for themselves. All we see of Tangiers is hard surface, all of Detroit is abandoned and grey, making little contact with the colour and vibrance of the former or the bustle and mystery of the latter, the many happenings which shape a very unusual yet versatile city. Jarmusch is director as colonist, iconographer, the man who is so intent upon his own ideas that he abandons the way a landscape could otherwise communicate. Even his perpetual refrain from having his characters express much of their own selves, a musician who has practiced for three hundred years who barely strums a guitar for more than a moment.
How strange. And how strange Swinton’s clinical perusal of novels, plays, poetry, how perfectly adolescent these ancients are in all of their timelessness. Unconsciously or not, Jarmusch has managed to be both a colonial director and a tourist, carving out small spaces within in large environments and making his ideas encircle them like cancerous cells breaking down all surrounding matter and making it homogenous. The protoganists are perfectly trivial in how they have made their mutual judgement upon society, and their appraisal of Christopher Marlowe’s genius, the unrecognized ingenuity of inventors and artists past, is so grudging and petty for a pair of timeless souls. But certainly most worrying is the Anglicization of it all, the imprint that is left. Like Defoe with Robinson Crusoe , Jarmusch has placed these characters at the centre of an apparently untamed and barbaric world and fixed them with colonial values. They must assert the singularity of Marlowe, adulate their icons with praise, they will never fall out of love for they are the only two that can understand one another.
Linearity and fundamentals, the long take no more with Jarmusch, but rather this yawning trailing movement which seems so mystifying, so creatively hypnotic, and Yet, Jarmusch seems only to be telling his audience that idols, figures of repute, and certain ideas carry more merit than others. Materialistic beyond measure, even instruments are cast in this brilliant light of adulation and appraisal, only the finest blood for these vampires, and it must coagulate just like the ideas of Jarmusch who has mired himself in this egocentric piece which serves only to narrow the vision of humanity, dull the excitement of the vampiric lust, the blood lust and the actual that exists. Jarmusch wants what he can’t have, he wants some kind of sterility in thought, clinical in nature, and gladly he has simply reached his cul de sac here, getting lost in previous ideas, hopefully to discard this self celebration, this romanticism of the classics which bears so little resemblance to his earlier visions of the uncanny, the eerie, and the long and drifting takes with which his audience were so familiar.
"You haven’t acclimitized to anything," she had written down. "It is as though you had never even been here before, as though despite all kinds of decay and ruin that befell you, you were always some place else. And that’s why I trust you, but can never have you."
As if acting upon cue, or as though simply knowing how to respond, he folded the note, placed it between the leaves of a book, and then on a shelf. The dream he’d just woken from was oblique, a lens from which only one slight ray of light could emerge. Isaac Newton and optics. The rare moment of a leaf allowing tiny droplets of light cascade through it. Somewhere up in the sky right now there was a dream of an opening or escape, some place from which he had just woken from where he dreamt dreams that were still and hummed like the voice of a river. Scintillating reflections upon surface but rather up high in the sky, with its altitude and decreased air density.
Gasps and recoiling from travelling upwards there were wet ropes seemingly from nowhere hugging the side of scaffolding, attached to girders, rusted workmen’s carriers and that old concrete wall travelling upwards until stratus and nimbostratus clouds became closer. That dream of living kilometers up in the sky seemed closer but the ropes began to stretch until the scaffolding broke away, leaving him clinging onto the stiff lip of an apartment more like one of those houses in suburbia, remote and alone. A clinical light could be seen from the buried windows, and a voice in the distance: Don’t trespass. This is my property. He avoided the old withered voice and began to look down though shocked by vertigo, hesitatingly touching with his hands the damp concrete, electric with his body’s static.
Sweat and moisture. The man looking through the thinning clouds in the air and saw the overwhelming sight of polyhedra shaped buildings within black modern frames, bursting with light, geodesic structures somehow surviving aside vast stretches of black ocean, washed up and cordoned from the sea. A rich, velvety black sea, host to nothing but deep reservoirs of unspent ancient time. The frightening landscape was also magnificently clean and geometrically perfect, geomancy, geodesy, and the total abandonment of accumulation and collection. It was as if the landscape had been created simply to flatter one principle; that of raw energy being turned toward geometric and singular purpose.@1 month ago with 1 note