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Sunday, October 28, 2012


anselm kiefer

The planets must be in a learning arrangement for me the last few weeks. Yesterday, I watched that Bela Tarr film, Damnation. I didn't know it until I came into relation with others at the coffee shop wine-tasting; I was in something of a mild trance. Awe had overwhelmed me. I stepped in the door in a spell of Awe unaware it was a spell. I had walked out the door at home immediately after the end of the film. It put me in such a state of Awe from the first scene to last that I saw the entire film in a state of metaphorical breathlessness. I was in the presence of art, the real deal art, pure art, art without money its motivation. My need at the moment I thought I could over-ride. I needed to watch the film again, starting that moment. No. I wanted to see friends at the wine-tasting. Out the door I went. Drove to town, walked in the door and it was a huge, tightly packed crowd of the suburban middle-class. A few of my friends were close to the door, so I spoke with half a dozen or so, decided not to have any wine, to keep my last $5 of the month I'd been holding toward the wine-tasting. I didn't want to stay. It was like coming out of a great movie in a suburban shopping center in the daytime, driving onto an interstate to get home at 75mph with a pack of cars bumper-to-bumper, side-to-side like nascar. It was too much psychic energy for me to handle.

I was in my art mind of full appreciation, mind blown to smitherenes discovering an artist I didn't know of. It was like the time I discovered Zhang Yimou's films, Suzanne Bier's films, Kieslowski's films, vonTrier's films, Ole Bornedal's films, one at a time, thanks to netflix. It was like the first time I saw Robert Motherwell's Homage To The Spanish Republic in one of its many forms, the first time I saw a Rauschenberg face-to-face, a Warhol soup can, a Rothko, a Kline. I think it's called inspiration. It causes an in-breath. In-spire. Inspired, I gasp for air, breathe in. I sat inspired for two hours. I walked into a room of people talking over each other as fast as they can go. The door at my back pulled me like a big electro-magnet that picks up cars in junk yards. I tried to resist the pull. I wanted to stay. I drove to town. I skipped the show at Woodlawn for this. For what?  I left the city to get away from the white suburban middle-class and now they've moved into my world that was once the boonies and now is the exurbs, suffocatingly, lowering the water table alarmingly. They've taken over the coffee shop. They've taken over Air Bellows. The artists pay attention to them because they show money and like to have nice things.

I've heard myself defined as "strange" by the ruling class wannabes. They're the management class. They don't know how to do anything. I'm speaking in generalizations that are rule of thumb, and not necessarily accurate. I'm going by looks-like. And using the humor of exaggeration at will. There are exceptions to every rule. The exceptions prove the rule. But they sure do know how to give orders. As long as I've lived here, every time a group of local people get together to do something of a beneficial nature to the community, the white suburban middle class comes in and says, I know what you're doing better than you do. They take over, the local people (white working class) back away and let them do it better. But they don't do anything. They only tell other people what to do. Suddenly they don't have anybody to tell what to do, and that's the end of it. I and everyone who is from the mountains have seen this pattern so many times it can't be counted. They can't communicate with mountain people because nobody tells anybody of these mountains what to do without paying. Off the job, they don't take orders. You get somebody who can't talk without telling somebody else what to do, starting sentences, you-oughta, you-needta, you-better, you-should, you're-supposed-to, and put that person face-to-face with somebody don't nobody tell what to do---words exchanged in the same language but no communication.

I found I couldn't connect with even my friends in conversation. I was so in a zone of Awe that I wasn't even present. The electro-magnet of the night outside the door pulled me to it in my need to breathe. I wanted to get back to the house and see Bela Tarr's mastery again. No amount of empty chatter was good enough to keep me from it. I needed it like a junkie needs a fix. Had to have it. The moment it started I dove into the long, slow first scene that is haunting. It goes on and on with camera in a fixed position, it keeps on going until I wonder where this is going, then the camera very slowly moves to the right and gradually into the story. The man the story followed was not a star, was not a hero, was not even somebody who stood out from the others. He was a kind of everyman in that he was revealed through his increasingly debilitating hopelessness, people saying to him, "you'll come to a bad end." Intense feelings between the characters, complex feelings told visually with minimal talking. The older woman with stark Magyar features and white hair was like the seer of the story, the Greek chorus. She advised him to stay away from "that woman," the woman he was pursuing who was married and wanted nothing to do with him. I paused the film and took a picture of her with my camera.

I thought of keeping the film through the weekend and watching it a couple more times, but decided to send it in Saturday mail to have it at netflix as fast as possible so I can have the next one, The Turin Horse, in the mailbox as soon as possible. And then the next one. A Bela Tarr film festival at home next week. One of my friends I was talking with at the wine-tasting couldn't connect with me being over-whelmed with Awe by a movie about despair. Do I love despair? No. I love art. I have been equally overwhelmed by a work of art about feel-good. I had to say, "I'm not afraid of despair." Despair is a poison word in American vocabulary. It's not positive. Definitely not PC. Best handled with denial. Equal with I-don't-approve-of-violence is I-don't-wanna-hear-of-despair. Depression that evolves into despair has been swept under the rug of denial like everything else that's real, that has to do with authentic living, living one's life. There is a difference between living and posing. Bela Tarr's films are about living. It's the posing films that are made for boxoffice.

robert motherwell,
homage to the spanish republic 172

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