Re: beauty to a world hell-bent on insanity

From: owen (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Feb 02 2006 - 20:55:04 PST

The title says something to me. A point in time when humankind had
reached the Crossroads.
It is beautiful and it is terrible. It is an end of innocence. It is
bigger than the individual. There is no turning back.
It is a meditation on something that would seem impossible to
meditate on. To me it is a lament. A call. And nothing.

I have found Peter Gessner's "Time of the Locust" a powerful,
beautiful and fierce anti war film.

What about titles? The names given works of art.


On Feb 2, 2006, at 1:27 PM, Madison Brookshire wrote:

> Dear Gregg,
> Thank you for your thoughtful response. CROSSROADS is a difficult
> film in this context, I agree. I too wonder to what extent this
> film in particular is informing me. For me, the question is several
> fold: am I learning anything? is this a valuable aesthetic
> experience? or is this a twisted tabloid: tragic imagery being
> turned into decoration (like, say 2-D Warhol or CNN)? Put simply:
> am I being rewarded by my experience of this footage assembled in
> this manner or am I being desensitized to something that I need to
> remain alert to and critical of?
> I have no easy answers in regards to CROSSROADS. I can, however,
> name a few things that I admire about this film. I admire the
> duration. If nothing else, this is 35 minutes reserved solely for
> the contemplation of this momentous... I wanted to say "event," but
> part of what the film educates the viewer to is a _history_, a
> pattern, a duration, so to speak. There is no voiceover to distract
> one from one's own musings on the subject. In fact, there is
> strikingly little in the of way directing one's response. So I also
> admire the bravery of using the footage without alteration. It is a
> document. Things get a little more complicated for me when the
> Terry Riley kicks in. But, then again, I have a complicated
> relationship to Terry Riley, anyway. Does the score trivialize the
> imagery? I would've preferred to have seen it all silent, but we
> silent film enthusiasts are few and far between.
> Also, there is a disorienting quality to the presentation of the
> imagery with so little context. For me, at least, it was unclear at
> first which images were filmed in slow motion. So you have a
> distorted view of distended time. And there IS something horrific
> in the beautiful terribleness of it. But for me the terror is not
> that I find it beautiful, but that the world is so often both at
> the same time. That things are irreducibly complicated and that it
> is impossible to maintain any position any idea without
> qualification, lest one is willing to be an ideologue or dogmatist.
> But as I said, CROSSROADS doesn't sit easily with me. For one, I
> detect a kind of acceptance in the film, a sort of c'est la vie
> quietism that I can't abide. No, it's not life, it's fucked up. And
> we need to stop it. But I appreciate the opportunity to come to
> that conclusion myself, during the film, both times that I've seen
> it. This is an experience that is available during CROSSROADS. I
> was presented with information (visual and emotional as distinct
> from verbal and intellectual) and came to my own opinions about it.
> For me, this is a very important political (and I don't use the
> word lightly) gesture. We are so battered by information directing
> our attention this way and that--look here so I can sucker punch
> you there--buy me, not him--on and on, that to see something
> willingly distancing itself from the 'join my team' tactics is
> refreshing. More than that, it's an oasis in a desert of ill-will.
> All that aside, AIRSHAFT is a film of an entirely different stripe.
> It is anti-war in that its subject matter is without war. Nothing
> is made in a vacuum, and this 1967 film made by highly political
> Ken especially not. Deep in the Vietnam War, amid all the other
> social unrest pervading the country during the late sixties, Ken
> has a few movies about the beauty of home, of family, of people
> caring for one another. Seen in context of films like NISSAN ARIANA
> WINDOW, AIRSHAFT represents an alternative to war, not just a
> railing against it. And after all, what good is criticism without
> alternatives? Furthermore, at the risk of repeating myself, I think
> it is instructive. It shows us how to look, how to appreciate that
> which is around us. It is neither escapist nor illusionistic. It
> doesn't exaggerate or aggrandize for entertainment or vanity. It
> simply says, let's pay attention to this. Let's see this. Let's
> feel what's available here, in this stuff. These images. This
> light. This screening. For Ken, "feeling is a heightened form of
> intelligence." Help people be in the world, and they won't need to
> go destroy another one. That's a little simplistic, but you get my
> drift, I hope.
> In essence, AIRSHAFT (I single this one out because it was shown in
> an explicitly anti-war context, but we could cite many other
> examples) is not just a criticism, it is a rejection. And instead
> of verbalizing its rejection, it embodies it. We can criticize, it
> certainly has its place and usefulness, but we can also live our
> opposition. The latter is perhaps the more difficult of the two.
> Finally, a word on the distinction between radical form and so-
> called radical content. The form of your film, including the way in
> which it is produced (funding, organization and division of labor,
> etc.), will affect the content, to put it lightly. A film that
> purports to be anti-establishment, yet which upholds every
> authoritarian tactic of the established cinema in fact enforces the
> establishment. Put simply, political films must be made
> politically. There is no cookie-cutter, manifesto-esque answer I
> can offer as to what this means, what it entails. Only that our
> protest, if we do desire to protest, must be total. We must embody
> the change we wish to engender. This is precisely why the non-
> violent resistance of the civil-rights movement remains so
> powerful, so promising. They actually did what they said! The
> content of their ideas were manifest in their activities. Let us be
> so bold.
> Madison
> On 2/2/06, gregg biermann <email suppressed> wrote:
> Madison,
> I remember being at a screening a few years ago of Bruce Conner's
> "Crossroads" and I happened to be sitting near Ricky Leacock. He
> seemed
> a bit agitated by the movie but I was impressed that he stayed through
> the entire thing. His quarrel with the movie was precisely with
> what it
> doesn't say or do about the content. He said that he thought the film
> was a failure-- for example because he wanted to know what
> happened to
> the people on the boats and the film never got around to letting him
> know. And after 35 minutes of watching these mushroom clouds you don't
> really know anything more about the facts of the atomic test (or
> Hiroshima for that matter) than you did before. Aside from the
> issue of
> objective facts it doesn't really lead us down a political road
> either.
> How many times can you think the thought: "it is so beautiful and so
> terrible that I think so"? You can think politics during this movie
> but
> eventually through radical form you get to a point where the movie
> seems
> to be stripped its potential for political interpretation or
> historical
> content. We might almost look at this atomic explosion from a not-
> human
> perspective. In that sense it might be almost ambivalent about human
> beings destroying themselves.
> GB
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.