Friday, June 19, 2009

in the bed

On the one hand, it is unpleasant, to the stomach, the eye, and the general proprioceptive system, to see Paul Wolfowitz attach himself to the movement in Iran – or attach himself anywhere to anything. While, in God’s great kingdom, one must remember that a parasitic worm finds another parasitic worm beautiful, and all are the center of their own heaven – still, from the human point of view, they are disgusting. Ditto with the Wolfowitz. That the Washington Post gave him an op ed space to ooze on about what Obama should do is par for the Post’s course – it is ooze central for reaction. That the Washington Post has joined Fox news as must miss journalism is one of the lessons of the Bush era. Admittedly, it is a little more fun – as it is a little more stupid. Fox News at least smartly aims a crafted message at a certain cult captivated audience. The Post exists as a sort of high school year book for power players in D.C. and a way for the Graham family to keep pressure so as to make sure that testing, testing, testing – which is their bread and butter from the Kaplan Test company – is and will continue to be government policy. The rest is dribs and drabs from the libido of aging warmongers.

On the other hand, one shouldn’t be deceived. The neocons were going to foment the idea that Moussavi is just as bad as Ahmadinejad in preparation for Moussavi’s win. There’s abundant evidence for that – they were not hiding their moves. Instead, they think they have hit the trifecta, since they can pretend support a movement dedicated to making the Iranian government live up to Iran’s constitutional system – while, of course, having ardently advocated overthrowing that system for the past twenty years. Bombs not ballots was the method preferred. This is more hokem, and will only catch the gulls.

Alas, I’ve not been able to follow events in Iran for Newsfromthezona. Instead, I’ve watched my ear bleed, and delighted in Lockian tricks having to do with hearing loss. Since Wednesday night, when my middle ear and eardrum became a grinding mass of pain, my life has been dedicated to worshipping my left ear. Or rather, understanding its godlike power. Last night, as I was shakily standing before the sink, washing dishes, I realized that I was hearing the sound of the water from the faucet both before and behind me. If I turned my right ear to the faucet, the sound was clearly – faucet, water, sound of water. If I turned my left ear to the faucet, though, I saw – faucet, water – but I heard – water falling behind me.

So, I wasn’t exactly doby sound equipped to watch movies. But I did watch Phillipe Garrel’s Je n’entends plus le guitare. In ideal cinematic space, the film should be run opposite La mere et la putain. Eustache’s film is a moment in my inner life – thus, I can’t call it a “favorite” film. (We’ve been well taught to think in these seedy, miserable, mean marketizing terms – favorite film, list of ten best films, etc. We become complicit, thereby, in our own ephemeralization, our own planned obsolescence.)

Garrel’s film follows a character – Gerard - who is something like the negative of Eustache’s Alexandre – silent where Alexandre is garrulous, a narcissist of disarray where Alexandre takes great pride in putting on an impression. But both have that devouring egotism, which eventually begins to eat them up. Gerard’s inner engine runs on the soixante-huitard ideas which are realized in his relationship to Marianne. Garrel’s relation to Nico is, perhaps, a necessary reference point to really understand the film – that relationship connects a lot of filmic dots, here. Marianne – high strung, blond, a lover of highs – is certainly a Nico stand-in. With that demand to be loved, to be told that she is loved – she is continually asking Gerard to describe how much he loves her, having evidently failed to understand the King Lear rule: the one who can tell you exactly how much he loves you is the one who doesn’t. In a conversation near the end of the film between Marianne and Gerard’s wife, Aline, Marianne sums up what she thinks their lives were about – and it is a summation that would please Alexandre and, I admit, me:

“-Was he happy with you?
-… but that was another epoch. … One didn’t need perhaps to be happy. One didn’t want it in any case.
-What then?
- To be a hero? To change life?”

Of course, the obvious objection is that being a hero is a sloppy and sometimes bloody business. To which Marianne might object that not being a hero simply hides the death by making it part of the life style – death-in-life.

I don’t want to suggest that Garrel’s film comes near the violence and nerve of Eustache’s film. That was another epoch. Gerard is never opened the way Alexandre is. Leaud, in La Mere et la putain, was in the very bloom of his considerable beauty. With his fine hair and this narrow eyes and the way he could make his face light up, he was a seducer. Gerard, on the other hand, is played by Benoît Régent, who is the type of man who looks best in middle age. He has a trick of not responding, of delaying his response, that gives him a different kind of seductiveness – the woman upon whom he has fastened his desires can, in his silences (in which he seems to be genuinely searching), think that she finds herself. By the end of the film, however, he gets much cruder. Marianne’s death seems to loosen his tongue, but what he has been searching the silence trying to say is quite, well, trivial – the usual middle aged stuff. He might be more himself after the death of his greatest love, but it is a lesser self.

Now I’m going to look for my eardrum, which seems to have slipped out of my ear. Yikes!

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