Tuesday, August 09, 2005


There is a new video in the This Week’s This series: “Limits”. It’s a divergence from the usual form: an experiment in sound (music), action and editing.

“A cinema studded with dreams, which gives you the physical sensation of pure life… A certain agitation of objects, shapes and expressions that is interpreted by the convulsions and jerks of a reality which seems to destroy itself with irony, which makes the extremities of the mind cry out.” Artaud

(click on image)

Experimental film? It’s a genre little known by the viewing public of commercial cinema. It’s goals and intentions are far a field from the concerns of mere storytelling. I like to use examples from the visual arts to speak about theatre, or in this case cinema. It’s easier to speak about. Can we imagine a film in the style of cubism for example, or abstract expressionism, or pure abstraction? We thus get an idea of the aspirations of experimental film. There is a desire to approach the directness and immediacy of music, to be free from “the tyranny of the written word”.

Antonin Artaud: Almost 80 years ago he was already critical of the tendency of film to follow a literary form, that is, successful only to the extent that it must be supported by words. A big fan of Charlie Chaplin he wanted, like in his theatre, a cinema “where psychology itself is devoured by action”.

Think of our dreams, or a nightmare. Words hardly ever play a part and if they do, those words have weight…doubles…shadows which terrify!

“Dreams have more than their logic. They have their life where nothing but a sombre truth appears.”

And as in dreams, some paintings and most always music, from the void of our separateness a truly chaotic, anarchic journey is set in motion. From the interchange of forms, light, shadow and rhythm our bodies are confronted physically: bodies as vehicles. We are transmuted from what we were, to what we are becoming. It is cruel this crisis of the birth of feeling. It wells up inside of us, subjecting us to its power and unknowable mystery. Springing from the very source of our entrenchment to life and death we are touched, our souls quickened to its finest edge.

Amorino dormiente di Caravaggio

Perhaps this is why we don’t remember well our dreams. “Because they are the human skin of things. The derm of reality,” where we find the essential answer to the enigma of being. The veil is torn away and we stand face to face with our nothingness. And we wake up- and go and make the coffee!

Link to "Limits"

note: All the quotes are from Cinema and Reality (The Shell and the Clergyman)". Collected works, volume three, Antonin Artaud.


At 12:44 AM, Blogger Izabella said...

I love the way you write!

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Melinda said...

You're right -- I do like your blog! I bookmarked it.

At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Limits is an elegant mysterious essay. It allows one to meditate on the difference between abstract movement in an neutral environment and the glimpses of the industrial world always around us. Tom

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Jessica Slote said...

gary--your (our!) voice at its highest clarity in the meditation on anarchy (particularly the opening). However, I don't think we can, or should, "attack" people's dead constructs (I'm paraphrasing now without the benefit of the line in question in front of me)....

Highest honor on your extraordinary meditation on poetry. I agree with you here—language, image, poetry is the divine tool—with the power to inspire, enliven, give courage and dignity to human existence....that which humanity craves!

mary and i are performing at the new york 911 truth meetings at st marks church on sundays.... check out nytruth.org (i believe that's correct) upcoming is next sunday, the important date of the fourth anniversary of 911....

our text follows.....

in love, faith, clarity, and compassion!!!--jess

NEW YORK CITY!! 2005!!


“The Theatre”


What should we do?

What is the appropriate response?

Sodom destroyed by fire

Ur razed to the ground

Tyre completely destroyed by war

Babylon nothing was left but mounds and stones

Nineveh pillaged, burned, and razed to the ground. Nothing remained except certain tactics and weapons of war.


In ancient theatre, the main character was “the people” (otherwise known as the chorus). They often had the best lines.

The chorus—in the role of the community—discussing, advising, warning, dissenting and sometimes ultimately taking action against individuals in power who were leading them down a disastrous path….

The kingsmen (or powerful elements in society) and the chorus were the main roles. There were a few people who came out as individuals. (Often their actions decided everyone’s fate.)


The point of individuals in the theatre was to show how their actions affected everyone…to show the heavy price the community pays for irresponsibility on the part of their leaders

what the loss of responsibility by an individual can cause.

theatre grafitti

the wreckage of man’s repeated attempts to control the universe

is strewn along the sordid beaches of history

New Orleans levees break entire city submerged bodies floating in the waters

Heliopolis lost; nothing left standing but one single obelisk

Gomorrah destroyed by fire

Pompei destroyed by nature

Jerusalem city and temple destroyed, survivors sent away to serve as slaves

Tel El Amarna abandoned

Rome sacked repeatedly

Athens changed masters repeatedly, destroyed in war

In ancient theatre, murder or war were almost never shown--always took place off stage.

What a change. Today, most entertainment is the depiction of violence, terror, mayhem or an extremely evil individual, whose acts and the consequences are played out in detail for the public.

so that visceral response is an expected event to get used to --you know film, tv, games,

parallel of modern entertainment: terrorist event

are we being prepared for terrorist event?

(becoming so desensitized)?

Customs are first barbaric, then severe, next noble, later refined, and finally, dissolute and corrupt.

a numbing of the senses

preparation for the worst

dealing with the worst as everyday happenings

cruelty as the norm

nonfeeling as response

objective objectivity objectification of everything

game game

playing a game

life as a game

the nightly news

who scripts the news?

who scripts the war?

who scripts the murder?

who scripts the terror?

who scripted 911?

how much could have been avoided?
how much was known beforehand?
why were the skies not on high alert?
why were the airports so lax?
why are the flying schools so unregulated?

Why were the bin Ladens secretly flown in luxury out of the country the day after 911?

why was fema doing exercises in lower manhattan on that day?

why was security for the world trade towers given to the company headed by george w bush’s youngest brother marvin bush?

why did larry silverstein, the owner of the world trade towers, decide to “pull” world trade tower seven hours after the 911 attacks

demolition of a huge building takes at least two weeks to rig

how do leaders prepare a population for war?

remember the maine?

who burned the Reichstag?

who sees to the hoodwinking
what do you really want to know?
how much information can be ignored before there is a common and public scandal?

Don’t let republicanism or democracy fool you….

It’s a harnessing of human energy that creates change.

it comes with the package

the outcome is wrong!

Byzantia annihilated first by barbarians, then by crusaders

Dresden completely destroyed, fire from above

Berlin destroyed in war

Koeln destroyed in war

Paris enjoyed by fascist occupiers

Hiroshima, Nagasaki destroyed by fire from above

Beirut destroyed by warring factions

Monrovia sacked

Catal Huyak

Eridu covered with sand


Petra destroyed by earthquake

TIKRIT devastated in the Mongol invasion in the 14th century; subjected to intense aerial bombardment in 20003

JERICHO sacked and destroyed as a result of invasions, earthquakes and fire time and ago

HARARE half a million people left destitute and homeless after riot police systematically destroy communities and left them with no answer


Questions, Statements, Conjectures!!

What should we do???

What is the appropriate response????

The theatre 20005
We are living in a state of emergency


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