...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Distractions and Abstractions

My apologies for the delay. I admit that I have fallen down the snake hole that is the press coverage of this election. I broke my own rule from the previous post and let them snag me. The only thing I regret is how much energy it saps. What I don't regret is living during this insanity. It's actually kind of fun to watch journalists and media companies lose their minds. In the upcoming days, they will be feeding their hypnotised audience up to 20 state polls and 7 national polls per day! And you know what, they're all meaningless. Each poll is so flawed and the margin of error is so great that none of the pontificating is based on anything real. And I'd say this no matter who's "winning" in the polls. Actually no one's winning in the polls right now except the polling companies. But I promised I'd lay off of politics in this blog, thus ends this paragraph.

It's interesting to have witnessed the Yankees go from perennial world champ to perennial playoff team to second-rate team in four years. This is a good thing because the system is breaking down, to paraphrase G Carlin. Some things need to shatter and burn, melt away and vaporize, before something new can be born. I'd say 2011 will be the next year they can compete.

On Monday I forced myself to watch Tarkovsky's Mirror. One of my goals in this first year of my 30s was to go back to my difficult films. I wanted to re-view those movies that bother me or effect me oddly on a level that I do not understand. Mirror was the first one that came to mind.

I really like everything that I've seen of Andrei Tarkovsky's. I never recommend his films because that would be mean, or maybe I want people to take any of my future recommendations seriously. One could call his style deliberate......or one could point out that he makes 3-hour glacial meditations complete with long takes of muddy water and overgrown weeds. Mirror (only 108 minutes) is his one film that I've never made it through. In fact, I have fallen into a troubled dark sleep every time I've given it a spin. Four tries. Never made it past the 5 minute mark. So it was time to do it. And after 3 breaks for food and chores, I was successful.

It's strange how one minute the film looks very familiar then the next minute it's as if I'm watching for the first time. In my past tries, I must have watched some sequences in a half-sleep. One thing that was pleasantly welcomed was the intense erotic charge that Margarita Terekhova brings every time she's on screen. After all of the failed attempts to watch this movie and the heavy but jagged sleep that followed, my brain registers Terekhova as a goddess of the unconscious (Somnia, perhaps?). With her appearance comes a change in perception and the negation of lucidity. And that is really hot.

So what's the movie about? It's a series of dreams, memories, and meditations all woven together quietly to illustrate the mind of a man contemplating his life, his family, and women. But this is not the territory of the conscious, so the camera movements and the mise-en-scene is all dream-like. And I don't mean the usual cinematic depiction of dreams. Rather it's as if Tarkovsky got his 35mm camera into his brain and filmed through Hypnos's eye. There are repeated images of fire, water, and wind -- yes, wind. He made me believe I could see the wind. There are drapes and cloth hanging ghostlike, here and there, in both the memories and dreams. It's shot in B&W as well as color, along with old newsreel clips. Danger lurks in the background, but not fear. And all the while Terekhova holds the gaze, playing both the mother and the ex-wife.
While all of these images swirl and drift, the unseen man reads poetry written by another Tarkovsky (maybe Andrei's father?) and the end cinematic result is stream-of-the-unconscious. Here's my favorite piece:

Sometimes something happens,
and I stop dreaming
of the house and the pines
by the house of my childhood.

Then I grieve
and wait for the dream...

that will make me
a child again...

and I'll be happy again, knowing...

that all still lies ahead...

and nothing is impossible.

Good night.