Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Film & Historical Ruptures

Two possible ways to enact the ending of an historical epoch (if not necessarily the 'end of history'):

1) Allegorize it on the level of metaphor and allusion, and realize it on the level of form;
2) Literalize it through a narrative, and recast it through a 'defamiliarized' (or allegorical) setting.

The former: Derek Jarman's The Last of England ('87), a ferocious, angry "poem" about the Thatcher years that I only barely began to apprehend; the latter: The Matrix, which I watched again last weekend (the Significant Other had never seen it--and I, having not seen its two sequels, will do so shortly). The common ground between both of these very different films is the fact that they want us to contemplate--in some way, shape, or form--the major negative developments, even the death, of Civilization, a death we have passed by but may not even realize. Where Jarman and his collaborators were reacting to cultural & economic strife, and hurling their avant-garde cine-poetry straight out at the world, at the viewers, at the State itself I presume, the Wachowskis were taking a sense of panic (a severe "paranoic fantasy," as Žižek
puts it) and folding it up, like origami with the Zeitgeist, into something new and only partly recognizable, suggesting that something was seriously not right with our (the Western, developed, technological) world. In some way we weren't free, and the film literalizes this bondage. As I finally look at the two sequels I'll be interested to see how they work out this issue--as it stands with the first film, we basically have the same premise and "critique" as in Fight Club, except with a different solution.


And now for a little errand-running on the Internet: everyone who reads this blog should keep an eye on
Digital Poetics just in case they don't already (I assume most already do)--I've really been enjoying Nick Rombes' last several substantial posts; furthermore, I find myself frequenting Marxist blogs (like this and this) as well as celebrity gossip sites (one favorite, and another). I wonder who else regularly visits both categories of blogs. Lenin + Lohan = good times. And I finally saw Brokeback Mountain over the weekend, contemplated writing something about it here, and still might, but ...

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