ambition and its object

Thursday, January 26, 2006

La Terre Abandonnée was released in french theatres yesterday. It's by my former classmate, and Benoit's friend, Vimukthi. I saw the giant poster in the metro, as well as receiving a rather self-congratulatory email from one of the assistants as the school. I laugh at the self-congratulation, given that this same school kicked Vimukthi out in his second year for trying to do something they'd never heard of before. Such a bunch of dimwits they were, and now, like the troupe of pigs in Animal Farm, these bloated swollen useless administrative types are snorting in approval. How could such people, so incapable of independant thought, be the arbiters of Beauty? But, before moving on, yes, must congratulate Vimukthi on his film, and his Camera D'Or. (I think I blogged about that already...)

It seems like everyone I know, from a cousin to an ex-lover, wants to make a film these days. And everytime I hear them speak, it's the same thing. "I want to make a film." "I think I'm working on a film but we're still planning" and never "Gosh... I have this really amazing thing I'm just dying to show you!"

I suppose it's the glamour aspect that gets everyone's pants wet, both in filmmaking and in writing. Most of the time, unfortunately, people who skip out on the true work, which is having a something to show and having a style to show it with, end up copying. Copying other films, copying stories, copying styles. Trust me, I've seen enough films by wannabe filmmakers to be convinced that the only punishment for them is to watch their own films, over and over again.

That also reminds me of the time I sat on a jury for student films. I had to subject myself to over two months worth of that bile before even organizing which films would be screened. Sometimes, we had to stop each other from kicking the television in. The worst thing, aside from people copying wholesale other films, is watching films on heavy subjects by people who haven't really lived enough to do the story justice. It's like when some sixteen year-old writes an essay on D.H. Lawrence to get into Princeton. What the fuck is that?

Which brings me to my last observation. I had to read Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises when I was in highschool. I got it. I mean, I got as much as I could get by reading, absorbing my teacher's lectures, and regurgitating what others had said before. But, I didn't really understand Brett, nor Jake, profoundly in my heart, nor why they were the way they were. I just vomited up some essay on emasculation and emotional retardation à la Hemingway. What an idiot I was. What an idiot my teacher was to make us read that and pretend we'd have a hope of understanding. I just finished reading it again, and now, with almost 15 years more of experience, I understand it. Not just academically. I understand it inside, and it is brutal.

Dave Hickey once wrote that Beauty is its own object. As its own object, Beauty is like nature. It looks not outwards with compassion, but its disinterested self cares not for our adoration. Beauty is like Brett, a great destroyer in its caprice. That Beauty is the thing that we know, not from what other's teach us about it, but we know it deeply. Like a soft grey finger that points straight. Knowing Beauty in art cannot be taught. Putting it into words is often the sole means of instruction offered by these teachers. And, Beauty decoded by cold words often loses its sense.

What Hickey doesn't say, though, is how sometimes this Beauty takes a long time to reach us because we must first be awake in our senses and mind to receive it. Beauty may not need to be taught by teachers and professors, to be learnt as a definition and then applied, but Beauty is often only truly understandable with time. After all, it is all too true that often we are surrounded by that something, yet we cannot place a name to it. If we are to encounter it again and again, from many different sides, we may start to have a clearer idea what that miasma might be. Might be. And dancing around that miasma, that is something to have an ambition about.