Re: Obama/Weiland, plus replies to Freye and Cari

From: Fred Camper (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Sep 10 2008 - 09:05:38 PDT

Chuck Kleinhans wrote:

> Weiland made two quite directly "political" films that are immediately
> suggestive--

Well, in addition to those two, you mention "Rat Life and Diet in North
America," which opposed the US involvement in the Vietnam War, and the
film I think is Wieland's greatest, "La Rasion Avant La Passion," which
took its title from a statement by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau.

But in Wieland's work, as in avant-garde film in general, and despite
what I just wrote about "Rat Life," there are many elements in any
"political" film that highly complicate the "message," rendering it
ambiguous. I take this to be the case because I think that a central
aspect of experimental/avant-garde film at its best is the foregrounding
of the viewer as a locus of where the work happens. Rather than
addressing the audience as a group, experimental film appeals to the
viewer as an individual, to the point where different people are
encouraged to respond differently. This is itself a highly "political"
position, though one that actually opposes what has been largely
practiced as "communism," in that each of us is "configured" as an
individual, encouraged to think for her or him self, and even to come to
different and even opposing conclusions.

If I remember right, "Solidarity" has the single word "Solidarity"
printed over the image. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong.) This word
becomes a kind of anchor in relation to what might superficially seem
like offhanded camera movement. But these "offhanded" compositions
actually open up the space, in a way similar to the car footage in "La
Raison Avant La Passion," and the long-lasting "Solidarity" title
doesn't send the unambiguous message that we should all stand in
solidarity with the workers. It does not send the opposite message
either. It, the footage, and their relationship, stand in an ambivalent
relationship with each other. Certainly one function of both is to call
intention to the strike and to the idea of "solidarity." But one could
do that more "effectively" (in a superficial sense) with a talking head
and some rolling text, no? Instead, the word and the images get under
one's skin. The word lasts so long as to also suggest a bit of irony --
without becoming anything near completely ironic either.

In "La Raison Avant La Passion," the title is permutated in endless
anagrams printed over the image. In both films the titles become partly
ironic, yet not entirely so either. There is an undecided, impermanent,
"floating" quality to Wieland's work that produces a "hugeness" that
cannot be reduced to a one way or the other political statement.

None of this is going to help Obama, who in fact I do support against
the warmongers who would deny a woman's right to control her own body
and supported starting a war in violation of the international law
against wars of aggression that the US helped establish in the UN
charter and with the hangman's noose at Nuremburg. But Obama is already
being "Swift-Boated," attacked for his strengths such as trying to help
the poor in his youth, a different choice than made by McCain who chose
to spend his youth bombing civilians in another US war of aggression.
I'm not sure what will help Obama, but ambiguity sure won't in the face
of my nation's moron electorate.

To Freya, sorry, but I found your long post to me a tad obnoxious. "Be
the change you want to see in the world" is one of my favorite one
liners, and I was planning this reply to Chuck's post before I read
yours, and almost didn't make my reply as a result of yours. I realize
you were trying to be positive and helpful, but to me you were much more
condescending than I was in telling cari that she had made an ignorant
statement, which she had. Furthermore, you don't exactly do your
admiration of Gandhi's great statement any credit by bragging about your
"bigger dick" in another post the same day. I realize you were replying
with humor to someone obnoxious, but the only way to deal with a troll
is to ignore him, as you should have learned by now: "Please do not feed
the trolls." Anyway, I have limited time, and wading through endless
free-of-cinematic-content posts on FrameWorks is what discourages me
from reading the list at all. I have in fact seen "Satantango" three
times, and think it is a very great film, but just don't have time to
compose my thoughts in it here, especially not to the list as it exists
as present. I have an essay on another great Tarr film at

Finally, it seems to me that anything argued logically, and written in
standard English, is what cari means by "academic." This strikes me as
not only wrongheaded, but actually dangerous. It lets you run away from
the meaning of what you say, as she has tried to do. I prefer to
identify myself, and I do mean this as a "political" statement, as a
member of the "reality-based community." For further explanation, see

Fred Camper

Fred Camper

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