CINEMATIC BLABBER is a new series of posts that I am starting as of now (March 2017).
It is a monthly article about how my definition of the cinema and my experience of it as a viewer mutates over time and how my reflections upon this condition are subsequently changing me.
Why now is a very legitimate question: Indeed, I have been blogging non-stop since April 2012, posting daily photos of films that I have seen or I am planning on seeing with the hope that somehow, I will be able to remember everything. By everything I mean every name, every image, every feeling, every poster, every sensation, every tune, every gesture, every trivia, every information, everything about everything. I want to have the capacity of internalizing all that I have seen, and felt, felt, felt and create a permanent archive of what it means for me to be a viewer; an archive of the emotions that ran through me via films. Think of it as a meta-archive.
Rationally, I know that I cannot retain all the memory of the world, but what does the mind know about the start of a dream?
I wish that somehow, the order of my knowledge can mimic and even re-organize all the knowledge of the world that relates to film. I wish that by some magic, with the sheer force of my brain I can make and see connection between artworks that are invisible to the eyes of others. I wish that I could weave an endless network of connections between everything I have ever watched and that no information from this spiderweb will ever get lost or forgotten. I want to freeze the moving image in all its complexity in an effigy of stone and I want the effigy to be me, thus integrating myself wholly with a cosmos that is simultaneously in my grasp but also continuously beyond me.
Nevertheless, I recently had a series of startling experiences at the end of 2016 which left me bewildered. While on a movie marathon, going from one film noir to the other, comparing them to my endless IMDB to-watch list, to the DVDs I own, to what friends had recommended, to what is available out there in the public domain, I realized that there were some films which I simply could not remember ever having seen or not seen them.
The only thing that comes to my mind when thinking about this moment of perplexity is the famous verse from Emily Dickinson’s “I felt a funeral in my brain”: “And then a plank in reason, broke.”
I had a mini-existential crisis not knowing what to do since I felt that my entire project was undermined by this one second of confusion. It’s not that I was bemoaning the realization that there are more movies out there than time enough for me to absorb them, but the most elementary question of “Have I or have I not watched this?” eluded my grasp, something so basic that can be swiftly resolved by a mere Yes or a mere No became fleeting: Was I or was I not familiar with this obscure noir from the mid 40s? Was it really from the mid 40s? or was it late 40s? Is this the same actor who played the role of X in that other film Y? But he looks awfully like like A in that scene in G?
What I was once capable of structuring on the spot, extracting it out of a cerebral filing cabinet, sorting it out in an order of my choice, or in relation to other names and dates in the same drawer became a mush. It became a soup of fragmented data which, for at least a day, I struggled to discipline internally. It felt like a symbolic collapse worthy of an Istvan Szabo film and gone with it was I thought was a solid network resting on my shoulders, thinking that it somehow meant that my brain has reached its full capacity and was trying to tell me “no thank you, please delete some files”. Had I forgotten more than I assumed I had? Were there in fact more lapses in my inner world than I ever knew and there they are now, just now, starting to emerge and submerge me? How do I go about re-weaving the texture of my knowledge all over again once the first film-knowledge-eating bacteria has done its damage, once forgetfulness has started to seep through the cracks? I should have asked Edith Scob’s protagonist in Eyes Without Face, especially in the photomontage when the skin deterioration irreversibly begins. Fuck.
Stay tuned for the rest of this article in the next CINEMATIC BLABBER, to be published in the first week of April.