Re: Frampton, Brakhage, RE:VOIR

From: marilyn brakhage (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Feb 18 2010 - 18:40:25 PST

Well, yes and no. Clearly, the writing of Metaphors On Vision and
films of that era -- Anticipation of the Night, Window Water Baby
Moving, Dog Star Man -- have historical significance and were highly
influential (though Anticipation apparently met with quite a lot of
resistance and hostility initially). But I totally disagree (of
course) that the significance of his contribution ends there (and I
don't think I'm alone, either!). You don't need "to follow Brakhage's
evolution any farther" to complete WHAT thought? That he made an
aesthetic leap in 1957? He made a few more! And what exactly do you
mean, anyway, by "hypnagogic vision"? I don't think Anticipation of
the Night is the best example of that at all. I would say that "23rd
Psalm Branch" would be a much better example -- to name one. (For
those interested, read Brakhage's "Hypnagogically Seeing America" in
Brakhage Scrapbook.)

David, as you acknowledge that you are not a great Brakhage fan
anyway, I guess I'm really writing this for others more than for you
-- but the idea that one breakthrough that Stan made in 1957/58 at the
age of 24 to 25 years old, is the be-all and end-all is just very
sadly mistaken. As a matter of fact, Stan himself considered
Anticipation of the Night an aesthetic failure, primarily because of
what he said was its "flawed ending." And if the influence that one
film had on filmmakers around that time was really all that mattered,
I doubt he would be as famous and as widely sought after as he
is. . . . I know many younger filmmakers who have been very
influenced by much of his later work. He didn't just take up "the
question of vision," but explored many aspects of many different sorts
of "vision" -- and the nature of perception and human consciousness,
autobiography in film, the individual and the social, the relation
between picture and sound, and many other issues and forms -- and not
just in relation to "specific content or themes" (though many
interesting examples of that also).

The ideas you express about Brakhage's significance resting with that
specific era of his filmmaking has certainly been expressed before,
but I think it's primarily held by people who didn't keep up with all
of his later work, or became overwhelmed by it, or simply preferred
something else so haven't been paying attention. But for those who
have followed it (or have seen other parts of it) a lot of very
important work came later . . . and its a rich, rich treasure that is
there to be discovered by many more. And the value does not lie
simply in what other work was influenced -- avant-garde, commercial,
or whatever -- but in the individual response of each person who has a
great experience with a great work of art. . . . We all have our
favorites. If Anticipation of the Night is one of yours, that's
great. But for me (and many others) there are hugely important
Brakhage films that came in the decades to follow.


On 18-Feb-10, at 11:19 AM, Myron Ort wrote:

> yes.
> Myron Ort
> On Feb 18, 2010, at 10:58 AM, David Tetzlaff wrote:
>> Marilyn:
>> Thanks you for taking the time to rely. My opinions are just my
>> opinions, and any shock or outrage I express when others do not
>> share them is more theater than anything.
>> I obviously mis-spoke in referring to Brakhage's 'larger aesthetic
>> project,' as if he had only one. I must also admit that I am not a
>> Brahage devotee in any general and broad sense. So, chunks of the
>> Brakhage project(s) don't interest me much if at all. As a former
>> academic who still thinks a lot like a professor, I do think that
>> some aspects of Brakhage's work have more significance from a film
>> theory/history standpoint than others. It's not a question of
>> whether one film is better than another, or whether one is more
>> important in terms of understanding Brakhage as Brakhage, but of
>> it's importance to the development of film art and our ideas about
>> film art in general. And, I would argue (and I do not think I'm
>> alone) that the ideas in 'Metaphors' and the corresponding
>> stylistic leap in 'Anticipation' are the most significant
>> contributions Brakhage made to the way people think about and
>> practice filmmaking. And, no, I don't think you need to see
>> everything he did before that to get that transition, just a couple
>> key texts (which can be compared and contrasted with other
>> contemporary experimental pieces), nor do you need to follow
>> Brakhage's evolution any farther to complete the thought. Could
>> other works substitute from Anticipation as exemplars of
>> 'hypnogogic' cinema? I suppose, but not, I think as well. There's
>> something about screening a Brakhage film that has it's roots in
>> what Sitney called 'psychodrama', something like Shadow Garden or
>> Reflections in Black, something still partaking in familiar modes
>> of representation that doesn't look all that different from Deren,
>> Anger etc., and then, bam, here's Anticipation and it's just so
>> totally different. I may be wrong, but it also strikes me as to the
>> film that focuses most purely on the question of seeing the world
>> poetically. Later works still take up the question of vision very
>> powerfully, obviously, but in more specific ways relating to
>> specific content or themes. Again, in terms of trying to grab that
>> particular big thing Brakhage did, the purity of Anticipation seems
>> especially valuable. The camera eye wanders over a range of sights,
>> and is ultimately overwhelmed by the act of truly seeing anything
>> and everything...
>> I hope that's a better explanation of why IMHO Anticipation is so
>> particularly important.
>> And besides, it's just my favorite :-).
>> __________________________________________________________________
>> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

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