Tuesday, August 15, 2006
So one essay I'm reading (by Michael Eng) on Godard states that he's not a dialectician, because he's not interested in synthesis--he is (pace Deleuze) interested in conjunction, 'and ... and ... and ... and.' This much seems true of his mid-'70s work at the very least! Numéro deux and Ici et ailleurs hit home (providing a dizzying challenge) the idea of constant relationships, of the totality of reality really being the conflict of multiple realities ... colliding, washing atop each other, a palimpsest or a streetfight or a chess match or a binary. Godard films Palestinian fighters in 1970, speaking of their own potential deaths in the film in production, Until Victory. They would be killed a few months later. When Godard, with Miéville, went back to take this footage of the unfinished Until Victory, to make what became Ici et ailleurs, Miéville's voice on the soundtrack tells Godard that it was his responsibility to point out that they were speaking of their own deaths. To be a mere observer of history, to take a camera and stick it out there, will not always be sufficient (though sometimes, perhaps, it must be sufficient). Godard and his collaborators were trying to live up to the most difficult challenge of cinema, the challenge of trying to justify the production of their own work (the funding, the act of observation and commentary, the process of transference of images to viewers devoid of the production history that Godard & Co. underwent). A good time, aesthetic greatness--these often act as justifications for films, and maybe in certain times, or (I'd say) to certain extents they are justifications for films being made. (It's only because I loved the cinema so much that I finally realized that life could go on without it, or without fragments of it.) But to relentlessly foreground ethics in the face of this expensive and resource-consuming artform (like architecture)--how frustrating must it be for one's mind and morale!? How do you really justify simply filming people who are willing to die, going to die, for a cause--especially if it might be a just cause? How do you really justify filming people who are apathetic to all this? What kinds of filming, editing, and exhibiting can you be sure will be more productive than putting down the camera, taking up the rifle or initiating the household debate?