Reverse-Engineering Persona

January 24, 2010

If you’ve ever had to write an essay about something seemingly meaningless, you probably know how this works. You pick a thought (the more unlikely the better), connect everything to it (the less obvious the connections the better), and make sure to overlook anything that goes against your “theory.” Does this projection of meaning onto chaos sound like what art critics do?

All is well until you start believing your own words. That is what happened to me, and I am open-sourcing some of them here, for the whole world to point and laugh and maybe even plagiarize. This story is about Bergman’s Persona and a certain Andalusian Dog, so if you haven’t seen those species yet, come back later.

Persona: the metafilm

An unwanted child, an insecure man, an arrogant genius, Ingmar Bergman directed what could very well be the most cryptic movie ever made. Persona is painted in two layers: a foreground that makes sense on a background that mystifies. The upper stratum is Alma’s story of self-acceptance, of coming to terms with her dark side. The backdrop is Bergman’s meditation on cinematography.

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Meaning by Surprise

August 2, 2009

I think people are color-blind in the morning. When I wake up and look out the window, I can’t tell if the sky is blue or gray. Likewise, I can’t tell which way this day is going to take me. And sometimes a bit of grogginess is all it takes for a thought to take me by surprise. Read the rest of this entry »

ingenting nej ingenting (and i love* you)

February 20, 2009

*wakeup wanttosleep
want nothing but
thedreamisdead longlivethedream
may be youll see her to day
so getup

bathroom disinfectant like putrid chestnuts
sit and shit and ponder the meaning of life
and forgodssakes keep your eyes closed when brushing your teeth
(thirld wolrld)

food minus taste
add mustard or ketchup or mayonnaise
not nonsweet sugar but
sweet sugarfree sweetener
and filteredwater with a distinct taste
the taste of chewinggum overchewed

free hugs sorries and thanks no thanks
her eyes smile
but she dreamsnot what youdream
(first world)

outofphase ambulance wails
twelvestrobes in fivedirections
smilingfaces on the website
of a mental hospital
cheerful noises
and a twentyfourseven funeral service

albino squirrels
pin ging stree tlights
walk inwhite stop inred
newspeak in the t station

noise repeat
blur repeat
depth of field decrease
in stay(up)
and pull the shades down

planes taking off at threeinthemorning
surroundsound fire alarms
sweaty feet under nylon sheets
the sound of ventilation is your lullaby

overload not sensory synesthetic
colors of france britain russia and the czech republic
despair brown. cells abcdeeing you
hope not from above from the underground
from the grave of beethoven

stomach rumbling like a badharddisk
to forgetsomeone is as easy as removefromcontactlist
the wood texture on this nonwood desk is p i x e l a t e d
(beculeţeledelamodemclipesc) thereforeIam

Quotes from “The Moon and Sixpence”

January 14, 2008

by William Somerset Maugham.

  • Only the poet or the saint can water an asphalt pavement in the confident anticipation that lilies will reward his labour.
  • Why should you think that beauty, which is the most precious thing in the world, lies like a stone on the beach for the careless passer-by to pick up idly? Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that he sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.
  • I don’t think of the past. The only thing that matters is the everlasting present.
  • Love is absorbing; it takes the lover out of himself; the most clear-sighted, though he may know, cannot realise that his love will cease; it gives body to what he knows is illusion, and, knowing it is nothing else, he loves it better than reality.
  • There is no cruelty greater than a woman’s to a man who loves her and whom she does not love […]
  • What a cruel practical joke old Nature played when she flung so many contradictory elements together, and left the man face to face with the perplexing callousness of the universe.
  • The world is hard and cruel. We are here none knows why, and we go none knows whither. We must be very humble. We must see the beauty of quietness. We must go through life so inconspicuously that Fate does not notice us. And let us seek the love of simple, ignorant people. Their ignorance is better than all our knowledge. Let us be silent, content in our little corner, meek and gentle like them. That is the wisdom of life.
  • A woman can forgive a man for the harm he does her, […] but she can never forgive him for the sacrifices he makes on her account.
  • Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common value, so that their sense is vague and uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown by them.
  • […] the chains she forged only aroused his instinct of destruction, as the plate-glass window makes your fingers itch for half a brick […]
  • As lovers, the difference between men and women is that women can love all day long, but men only at times.
  • Strickland was an odious man, but I still think he was a great one.

Notă: am citit cartea în Română şi am fost surprins să găsesc câteva cuvinte ale căror sens îl ştiam din Engleză (ar trebui să fie invers): deconcertat, sordid, vendetă, sardonic, a disua. O altă curiozitate este faptul că numele personajului Tough Bill a fost tradus ca Bill Ghioagă :roll:

In this white night fantasy

January 1, 2008

The room is completely quiet, except for the sounds of our calm breathing, your bare steps on the warm wooden floor, and the crackling of the fire under the mantelpiece. Time melts in this warmness. There is no TV to shout the seconds; no city around us to tantalize us with its fireworks. Only the velvet night, softly uncurling itself around us. The faint light wavers with our every move, as if the candles were playing a game of their own, teasing us.

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Requiem for a Dream

December 30, 2007

I decided I’ll watch the movie after seeing certain people obsessing over it. Out of everything that I’ve seen, this one is the most shocking. A movie about addiction, obsession and madness, it depicts the downward-spiraling lives of four characters symbolically connected to three seasons:

  • Summer (the dream; high hopes)
  • Fall (the downfall)
  • Winter (the requiem; hitting the bottom)

There is no Spring, no rebirth, no Phoenix of hope. But that is exactly the point of the movie; a happy ending would have ruined everything. I felt as if I were falling throughout the 102 minutes of it; and the end left me stranded; in shock. I will not watch anything else until this sinks in. Just like I don’t want to read anything “serious” for a while after this.

Aside from the flawless acting and the painfully powerful idea/message, this movie impresses with much more. The director uses unusual techniques for some of the tense moments, such as very short shots repeated over and over in only a few seconds, and lots of split screens. The soundtrack is, again, outstanding. The theme, Lux Aeterna (listen here), is a composition that will drag you back into the movie with surprising force. It is a reiteration of the plot in less than four minutes: starting slowly, reaching its first climax of hope and beatitude, falling, then rising again with a kind of desperate hope, then falling, quickly and definitely.

And finally, the web site is a work of art in itself. Before, you could say I hated flash; well, not anymore. But it makes sense only after you watch the movie.

Someday, I also want to read the novel the film is based on.