Illuminations #7


Just noticed: a new film by Nathaniel Dorsky, The Return. And prose: Letters from Nathaniel III, with thanks to Jon Jost (previously: I, II).

Digressions on the photographic agony #5


London - Patrick Keiller, 1994, 35mm


Robinson once said that he believed that if he looked at the landscape hard enough, it would reveal to him the molecular basis of historical events, and in this way he hoped to see into the future.

--Robinson in Ruins, narration by Patrick Keiller, 2010.


Robinson in Ruins - Patrick Keiller, 2010, 35mm


I think the first long takes were probably rape fields; after Brize Norton there are those two shots of oil seed rape. What struck me is that they looked like a crowd of people, and they looked as if they were saying ‘no!’ There seemed to be something going on in this field, a combination of these interestingly structured plants, with the stalks moving in a very strange way, and the fact that when you get closer you see them slightly differently. I was very taken with this: it’s not so much a question of whether one wants to make a long take, it’s a question of whether you can bear to stop.

--Patrick Keiller, from the unedited transcript for this interview with Daniel Trilling, unpublished.


Robinson in Space - Patrick Keiller, 1997, 35mm


As a cinematographer, Robinson was interested in opium. He often liked to quote Walter Benjamin: 'the true creative overcoming of religious illumination certainly does not lie in narcotics. It resides in a profane illumination, a materialistic, anthropological inspiration...'

--Robinson in Ruins, narration by Patrick Keiller, 2010.


The Old Place - Jean-Luc Godard & Anne-Marie Miéville, 1999, video


Film offers a kind of permanence to subjectivity. On a bad day, or in a bad light, even the architecture of Gaudi might lose its immediate appeal, but in a film one's transitory experience of some ordinary, everyday detail as breathtaking, euphoric or disturbing a doorway, perhaps, or the angle between a fragment of brickwork and a pavement can be registered on photographic emulsion and relived every time the material is viewed. On the other hand, when actual extra-ordinary architecture is depicted in films it's often easy to conclude that something is missing, as if the camera has nothing sufficiently revelatory to add, and nothing to improve on a visit to the actual building.

--Patrick Keiller, 'Architectural Cinematography', This Is Not Architecture (Routledge, 2002), p. 43.


Realism(s) #15, or: this needle of the world


A huge thunderstorm
rolled around in coils all afternoon above
the roof-tops before it broke in flashes and sheeted down.
I stared at the lines of cement and glass
that walled up screams and wounds and limbs
including mine, which I have survived. Warily, looking
now up at the roof-tiles doing battle, now at the dry page,
I listened to the word
of a poet perish or change
into another voice we no longer hear. The oppressed
are oppressed and quiet, quietly the oppressors
talk on the phone, hatred is polite, and even I
believe I no longer know who is to blame.

Write, I tell myself, hate
those who sweetly lead into nothingness
the men and women who walk beside you
and believe they do not know. Write your name too
among those of the enemy. The storm
has passed away with all its bluster. Nature
is far too feeble to mimic battles. Poetry
changes nothing. Nothing is certain, but write.

--Franco Fortini, Translating Brecht, written 1957-62. Trans. Paul Lawton.


An aside, or: sounds familiar


In Nouvelle Vague or Puissance de la parole, he wrote maybe two or three lines, if that. He rarely reads entire books. He takes a few extracts, usually the best ones, but it's sometimes a bit random. He pecks at books like a hen in the garden.

--Luc Moullet on Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Luc selon Luc, 2005 (video).

I ask about the significance of the llama and the donkey in Film socialisme... 'The truth is that they were in the field next to the petrol station in Switzerland where we shot the sequence. Voilà. No mystery. I use what I find.'

--from a compellingly poorly conducted interview with JLG in The Guardian, 12/07/2011.

Godard wrote nothing: what good is writing when so many things have already been written? Such is his motto.

--Luc Moullet, The Cosmic Film, 2005.

No comment #4

Film socialisme - JLG, 2010, digital video


It reminds me of an old syllogism that I learned at school. Epaminondas is a liar; and all the Greeks are liars; therefore Epaminondas is Greek. It did not get us very far.


The logic of liberal media: need someone to interview Jean-Luc Godard about his new film? Send this guy.


Distance(s) #23

Cœur fidèle - Jean Epstein, 1923, 35mm

Landscape (for Manon) - Peter Hutton, 1987, 16mm


In water, crystals grow, beautiful as Venus, born as she was, full of the most secret graces, symmetries, and correspondences. Games of heaven; thus, worlds fall...

--Jean Epstein, 1928, via.