Wednesday January 3, 2018

The film Violet’s use of its screen fully absorbs me for a time with its studied arrangement of long takes and sparse soundtrack — often just stray bits of ambient background noise. The cold night air steadies me as I await the start of another difficult semester. Consciousness drifts off at a slow, serpentine crawl through a Belgian cul-de-sac. I relent and treat myself to Klaatu’s 3:47 EST, from which I pivot to a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.” Pulses of energy rise from my head, transmitting information heavenward.

Tuesday January 2, 2018

Houses, cars, restaurants: all are inhospitable and lined with icicles. Clad with love, though, one can despite it all still have it made. But lo and behold: what kind of fascism is it that parades the Rolling Stones in front of inert, stadium-sized masses in Hal Ashby’s 1983 rock-doc Let’s Spend the Night Together? The film is a cruel parody of rock’s once joyous, raucous, incendiary stirrings. No consciousness-expansion takes places there whatsoever. Arena-rock of that sort served in the fashion of an experimental prototype, a formalization of what has now become our permanent social relation. I admit moments of beauty, however, when the band slows down for “Beast of Burden.” If we try real hard, sings Mick a few songs later, we get what we need. Keith Richards, for his part, manages by way of drink and drugs a kind of sleepy-eyed authenticity in the film’s punked-up version of “Little T&A” — that, too, I admire. The film is ultimately about industrial workers doing what it takes to make it though their shifts as America becomes a bomb-dropping monstrosity. We witness this, for instance, in the haunting use of Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner” at the start of the film’s closing credits. Cinema enables and makes use of a variety of narrative models, meanwhile, in an unrelated 2013 Belgian film called Violet, producing fluctuations across several realities at once. Sonics and visuals reveal a multi-layered ontology: interiors and their external substitutes. Sound sculpted variously around a muted center, as in the song of that name by the band Deafheaven.  Consciousness inhabiting different sound-worlds and temporalities. Every reflection also a distortion. As Robert Anton Wilson reminds us, one should always juggle several. Never commit to just one.