Ktismatics

6 October 2011

Melancholia by von Trier, 2011

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 9:46 am

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  1. Uncanny! I was just telling Kim, who also saw the movie, ”and what is that clock?” (in the first picture) I was also remembering that we never opened the ”Last Year in Marienbad” discussion, which is crucial here. I just found out, in my obsessive search, that the story of Melancholia came from Penelope Cruz’s suggestion to use the play ”Maids” by Jean Genet, which is reflected in the story about Justine and Claire.

    Give me your main thoughts about the movie first, then I will recapitulate the last week of musing and we can take it from there.

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    Comment by parody center — 6 October 2011 @ 10:39 am

  2. Initial observation: the sundial keeps time based on the movement of the sun’s shadow. This sundial casts two shadows: the sun’s and Melancholia’s, which is the anti-sun that has been hiding in the sun’s shadow. That garden with the sundial looks like Marienbad minus the statues, which I presume is why you bring it up here — see this image. The first half of the movie resonates stylistically and visually with Marienbad, though there’s not much I can think of immediately that links the stories together. I don’t know Genet’s Maids so I can’t comment.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 10:56 am

  3. This is the data I collected so far:

    (reference to second picture)
    Justine is Melancholia, Leo (the kid) is the Sun, and Claire is the Moon (mood shifts) What would that imply?

    Melancholia comes from the Scorpio constellation, and in astrology, Scorpio is the negative feminine sign. Melancholia, upon rising, eclipses Antares, the huge red star that is related in mythology to Mars due to its color. This would mean that Melancholia is feminine power eclipsing the male. Certainly the theme of patriarchy collapsing is prominent.

    Why exactly does Justine beat up Abraham the horse? Why is the horse named so, is that Abraham the prophet?

    There is something of a ”tidal wave” dynamic permeating everything about the film, from Wagner’s soundtrack, to the way the planet comes a bit closer, than further away, then closer again, until it finally hits. So something happens with time, and I am also thinking how is this related to the golf???

    The prologue, aside from being slowed-down, is also weirdly connected and disconnected to the rest of the film. Some images are obviously related to the ending, others seemingly so, but not really. Then others are versions of the ending, but not identical (we see Justine as Ophelia; later, she looks more like Venus staring at Melancholia)

    Obviously the ending is a catharsis. But it’s an anti-climactic one. What is the connection between Romanticism and ninihilism?

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    Comment by parody center — 6 October 2011 @ 10:59 am

    • The planet Melancholia & Justine’s depression does reflect a Saturnian temperament. However, Saturn was never mentioned. The kid was named Leo. The most obvious explanation is he was the son of an astronomer in the movie. They said in the movie that Melancholia was from the Scorpio constellation. The next morning when Justine was riding her horse Abraham and they stop near the bridge, she also tells that Melancholia has disappeared from Scorpio and the constellation of Taurus is missing. Though these small dialogues in the movie may carry importance but definitely not enough to combine them to refer to something in an astrological context. They are probably just used in the movie to support the cosmological effect, the back ground of the family in terms of astronomy or the troubled past of the members. There is nothing conclusive in it.

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      Comment by Not imp. — 8 December 2015 @ 6:02 am

  4. There’s likely also a connection with Sade’s eponymous masochistic heroine Justine…

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 11:03 am

  5. 4.There’s likely also a connection with Sade’s eponymous masochistic heroine Justine…

    That also interests me. I never read the book, but someone told me Justine’s drama is that she was naive, she didn’t understand the Law.

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    Comment by parody center — 6 October 2011 @ 11:05 am

  6. I’m concentrating on something else, but I’ll get back to this later. Briefly though, I think it’s a very good movie.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 11:10 am

  7. So the first half of the movie parallels the second half: Justine’s unhappiness destroys the wedding just as the planet destroys the earth. Money and planning, love and family, repression and exhortation, interpretation and good intentions — nothing is going to stop the inevitable catastrophe. From a mundane point of view, one person’s bad mood can easily counteract a whole room full of good cheer. Subjectively, depression seems to be more than a psychological state and more an awareness of the true state of the world. To see the world actually explode might prove emotionally and aesthetically satisfying to someone who’s told that it’s their own bad attitude that makes everything else look so bad. And if the world really were to come to an unavoidable end, would the depressed people be better able to face that end than the businessmen and scientists and hysterics? Given that everyone dies and the world eventually will cease, are the melancholics the only realists? Does nihilistic beauty constitute a kind of ejaculatory climax to a mood usually characterized by an inability to reach climax? Has the nihilistic climax hidden behind the sun all along? And is this dark climax more powerful and overwhelming than anything a happy but oblivious person can ever hope for? And so on.

    Is melancholia womanish, and do women create the apocalyptic climax of their melancholy, a climax that drowns men in impotence and suicide? It seemed, during the wedding, that the bride was happy enough until her sister warned her not to become unhappy. But it seemed to me that the women were more aware, more realistic — the bride and her mother, secondarily the sister, who seems more afraid of her husband’s anger at spoiling the party than of the bride’s depression. The men tried to cover over the sorrow that was already there, but only the women allowed the reality to touch their awareness. This too happens in the end where the optimistic and scientific and financially insulated brother-in-law, having finally exhausted all of his avoidance tactics, kills himself. The men, finally confronted with the inner and outer melancholy they’ve been evading all along, can only escape: leave the wedding, abandon the bride. The women are left to see it through to the end.

    A side note on the black horse. It wouldn’t cross the bridge, which was the way off the estate and into the rest of the world. I would have thought, given its refusal to escape, that this horse would have been female. But it’s Abraham, the archetypal patriarch. Maybe he’s a throwback to the original patriarchy, not dissipated by foolishness like the bride’s father, or sentimentality like the husband, or money like the brother-in-law. The horse knew the end was coming, it knew that it was futile to escape. In wanting to cross the bridge herself, in beating the recalcitrant horse, Justine must have been expressing her frustration at the inevitable and inescapable doom awaiting her. But Abraham was steadfast: he didn’t want to evade his fate, nor did he want to stay cooped up in the barn. He wanted to graze the field as the end came, just as Justine and the boy wanted to build and occupy their primitive-natural tepee rather than sipping wine on the veranda like civilized rich people.

    Do civilized rich people destroy the world? The story begins with bride and groom riding the chauffeured stretch limo along the winding road to the estate. The luxury car doesn’t fit this world; it collides with the world. The rich bride and groom eventually displace the driver, reinforcing the idea that this is a rich person’s folly for which the hired man cannot be held responsible. The estate, presumed to be completely isolated from the ordinary affairs of the world, becomes the site of the apocalypse. Is Melancholia representative of a world exploited and abandoned by the wealthy class, a world whose inevitable demise will not spare even the ones who brought it to its dire state and who have abandoned it for the Edenic golf course estates? Maybe.

    The movie most closely associated with this one for me is The Sacrifice by Tarkovsky. The setting, the mood, the cinematography, the end of the world — they’re all there. Tarkovsky’s movie involved a promised sacrifice in order to restore the world, and the deal seemed to have worked in the end. Abraham infamously agreed to sacrifice his son Isaac for the sake of the chosen people and the promised land. I don’t see any possibility of sacrificial deal-making in von Trier’s movie: Claire’s son Leo is going to die just like everyone else.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  8. How many cinematic vampires were in this movie? I count four.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  9. Does nihilistic beauty constitute a kind of ejaculatory climax to a mood usually characterized by an inability to reach climax?

    It is strange, a kind of a negative climax, or anti-climactic climax. In the beginning, with the car unable to enter the path, it is clearly said that penetration isn’t possible. But then Melancholia penetrates Earth – by a kind of an invagination (it incorporates the Earth into itself). Which is paralleled by Justine’s ”rape” of Tim, the advertising boy, in what looks like a crater inside the golf field. There is thus a kind of a ”vaginal penetration”, a sucking in, which ultimately constitutes successful intercourse. And then the movement is negative, in reverse: Melancholia sneaks up from behind.

    But Abraham was steadfast: he didn’t want to evade his fate, nor did he want to stay cooped up in the barn. He wanted to graze the field as the end came,

    I was already getting ready to accept a ”feminist” reading whereby Justine beats the horse in retribution for the violence perpetrated on her by the patriarch, but your reading seems more accurate, due to acknowledging an earlier, uncorrupted patriarchy; and indeed, Abraham doesn’t want to cross and indeed accepts his fate before any human does. Then he is liberated by Claire, and then he returns to graze in the fields peacefully as Leo observes. Maybe John’s spirit now resides in the horse – as if to tell Leo that he should guard the two women?

    The luxury car doesn’t fit this world; it collides with the world.

    Yes I do think it is implied that the rich exploited and fucked up the world to its sorry demise. But I’m having the Christian-Orthodox thought again that it isn’t PUNISHMENT on the world, but to the contrary, release. As Justine says: nobody will miss the world. This thought requires elaboration.

    I don’t see any possibility of sacrificial deal-making in von Trier’s movie: Claire’s son Leo is going to die just like everyone else.

    Yes there is no transcendence, but there is still release. That’s so extraordinary.

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    Comment by parody center — 6 October 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  10. 8.How many cinematic vampires were in this movie? I count four.

    Yes another interesting aspect: the vampires (capitalism=vampirism). Fright Night 3D deals with this explicitly. But also the connection with ”Liebestod” from Wagner, and the images from Justine’s advertising job, which are embalmed commodified corpses. It’s as though the vampires had to be put to rest by ending the world.

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    Comment by parody center — 6 October 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  11. Is melancholia womanish, and do women create the apocalyptic climax of their melancholy, a climax that drowns men in impotence and suicide?

    Ha finally someone admits it – THE WOMYN are not entirely innocent! I had the impression that John Hurt was being honest when he called Rampling a domineering bitch, never mind that this doesn’t really exchuse his satyric behavior. And then I think that Justine actually called on Melancholia – you see her basking in its light, as though mentally asking it to descend on Earth. This repeats the motif of ANTICHRIST that there can be no sexual relation between men and women.

    But it seems now with these new insights in mind that the final solution is not a matriarchate, but a return to that primordial patriarchate, in which men have a more protective function, maybe also due to acknowledging the women’s power.

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    Comment by parody center — 6 October 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  12. and why did you put that third image up, that image speaks to me but i don’t know why

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    Comment by parody center — 6 October 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  13. Goddamit now I find a French reviewer who says the horse is actually Karl Abraham, who famously studied biopolar psychosis!

    List of paintings appearing:

    Melancholia Albrecht Durer (this is where the clock comes from)

    Garden of Delights tryptich

    The Return of the Hunters (Breughel) in the prologue

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 October 2011 @ 5:37 pm

  14. Let’s say that von Trier is blaming women for the end of the world, among other things. How much is he ,purposely forcing viewers to decide between aesthetic and moral/political considerations when evaluating his movies? Is he fucking with the audience in the same way he presumably did at the Cannes press conference when he said he’s a Nazi, that he admired Speer, and so on? Or does he make films as an expression of his own unconscious fears, desires, resentments, and so on, even if what he shows us makes him look like a sick fuck? These are persistent questions that guys like von Trier keep forcing the audience to confront. If in this movie he was blaming woman for destroying the world, he does it with beauty and even subtlety here. I found the little speech that Justine makes — the world is evil, humans suck, etc. — to be heavy-handed and unnecessary. Generally I’d say that the men were not at all sympathetic in this movie — they were crass, overly rational, weak, decadent. Had they become this way because of their women, or had the women become depressed and hysterical because of their men? Like Antichrist, I think that both genders are portrayed as guilty. It was interesting that the Keifer Sutherland character is indicted for the same rationalistic managerial optimism that the Willem Dafoe character manifested in Antichrist. I think von Trier actually relates more to the women in both of these movies than to the men: emotion over reason, aesthetics over science, unhappiness over happiness.

    The third image? I just liked that little wire device that Leon invented to keep track of the size of the planet. It’s the low-tech version of his father John’s telescope. If we regard these devices as analogs to von Trier’s camera, then it’s like Leon’s wire thing is comparable to Justine’s magic cave made of sticks and the horse grazing in the fields. There’s a celebration of a more primal aesthetic here, a reluctance to go all CGI on our asses with the planet. Gotta go…

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 5:38 pm

  15. Karl Abraham? Maybe so — I’ll look into it, never heard of him before. I hadn’t realized that the photo for which Justine was supposed to create a “tag line” was zombies — my TV image was too small to see it clearly. I did wonder about the changes in artwork she made in the house after she left the wedding party. I also was trying to figure out what she had drawn on that flaming balloon they launched in the nighttime at the wedding party. I was going to add that to the screengrabs but I couldn’t find a compelling enough image. I thought though that it would look good preceding Leon’s wire frame around Melancholia. Those flaming balloons launched at the party do suggest that the rich partiers were responsible for launching Melancholia.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  16. He was born in Bremen, Germany. His parents were Nathan Abraham, a Jewish religion teacher (1842 – 1915) and his wife (and cousin) Ida (1847 – 1929).[2] His studies in medicine enabled him to take a position at the Burghölzli Swiss Mental Hospital, where Eugen Bleuler practiced. The setting of this hospital initially introduced him to the psychoanalysis of Carl Gustav Jung. In 1907, he had his first contact with Sigmund Freud, with whom he developed a lifetime relationship. Returning to Germany, he founded the Berliner Society of Psychoanalysis in 1910.[3] He was the president of the International Psychoanalytical Association from 1914 to 1918 and again in 1925.
    Karl Abraham collaborated with Freud on the understanding of manic-depressive illness, leading to Freud’s paper on ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ in 1917. He was the analyst of Melanie Klein during 1924-1925, and of a number of other British psychoanalysts, including Edward Glover, James Glover, and Alix Strachey. He was a mentor for an influential group of German analysts, including Karen Horney, Helene Deutsch, and Franz Alexander.
    Karl Abraham studied the role of infant sexuality in character development and mental illness and, like Freud, suggested that if psychosexual development is fixated at some point, mental disorders will likely emerge. He described the personality traits and psychopathology that result from the oral and anal stages of development (1921;1924a). In the oral stage of development, the first relationships children have with objects (caretakers) determine their subsequent relationship to reality. Oral satisfaction can result in self-assurance and optimism, whereas oral fixation can lead to pessimism and depression. Moreover, a person with an oral fixation will present a disinclination to take care of him/herself and will require others to look after him/her This may be expressed through extreme passivity (corresponding to the oral benign suckling substage) or through a highly active oral-sadistic behaviour (corresponding to the later sadistic biting substage) (1924a). In the anal stage, when the training in cleanliness starts too early, conflicts may result between a conscious attitude of obedience and an unconscious desire for resistance. This can lead to traits such as frugality, orderliness and obstinacy, as well as to obsessional neurosis as a result of anal fixation (Abraham,1921) . In addition, Abraham based his understanding of manic-depressive illness on the study of the painter Segantini: an actual event of loss is not itself sufficient to bring the psychological disturbance involved in melancholic depression. This disturbance is linked with disappointing incidents of early childhood; in the case of men always with the mother (Abraham, 1911). This concept of the prooedipal “bad” mother was a new development in contrast to Freud’s oedipal mother and paved the way for the theories of Melanie Klein (May-Tolzmann,1997). Another important contribution is his work “A short study of the Development of the Libido” (1924b), where he elaborated on Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia” (1917) and demonstrated the vicissitudes of normal and pathological object relations and reactions to object loss. Moreover, Abraham investigated child sexual trauma and, like Freud, proposed that sexual abuse was common among psychotic and neurotic patients. Furthermore, he argued (1907) that dementia praecox is associated with child sexual trauma, based on the relationship between hysteria and child sexual trauma demonstrated by Freud.
    Abraham (1920) also showed interest in cultural issues. He analyzed various myths suggesting their relation to dreams (1909) and wrote an interpretation of the spiritual activities of the monotheistic Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (1912).

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 October 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  17. (and you do see Justine feasting on the blackberry jam, licking her fingers, her relationship to food is just like the description above)

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 October 2011 @ 5:56 pm

  18. Maybe so, especially since his influential papers reference melancholia. If so, then why would Justine whip him? Because she thinks he doesn’t really understand her condition? Because he’s not helpful in getting her out of her melancholy, i.e. by taking her across the bridge? I’d be tempted to regard Abraham the horse as a red herring, but since von Trier probably saw an analyst for depression maybe not. He has his own issues about Jewishness — I understand that he thought his father was Jewish until he was told later in life that some other man had fathered him — so he would also have issues about Abraham as his own patriarch. I also read that Kirsten Dunst received inpatient treatment for depression, and not that long ago.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  19. Like Antichrist, I think that both genders are portrayed as guilty.

    Yes but you know there will be a tendency in the Lefty blawgosphere, especially amongst the feministas, to privilege the WERMIN and one-sidedly declare that all manhood should be eradicated from the world, for you see, only wimmin are able to save the world. While I think von Trier is being neither misogynistic, nor androcentric, but saying something about a new, previously unseen configuration, developing in the relationship between Claire and Justine and Leo. It is in this sense that I mentioned the sun-moon-melancholia configuration, visible in image 2, which strikes me as a kind of a new holy trinity.

    I just found that the Hunters painting is also heavily referenced in SOLARIS.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 October 2011 @ 6:03 pm

  20. Maybe so, especially since his influential papers reference melancholia. If so, then why would Justine whip him? Because she thinks he doesn’t really understand her condition? Because he’s not helpful in getting her out of her melancholy, i.e. by taking her across the bridge? I’d be tempted to regard Abraham the horse as a red herring, but since von Trier probably saw an analyst for depression maybe not. He has his own issues about Jewishness — I understand that he thought his father was Jewish until he was told later in life that some other man had fathered him — so he would also have issues about Abraham as his own patriarch. I also read that Kirsten Dunst received inpatient treatment for depression, and not that long ago.

    Yes after all everything is double, has a double shadow. But if the doubleness was the whole point, I would find that incredibly trite – just stating that you see, it’s impossible to ”pin down” the world, or establish the difference between the artist’s provocation and his genuinely-felt vision. I think this movie also produces something new, something all its own.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 October 2011 @ 6:09 pm

  21. and you know again I had that thought from last time… namely, even though this would seem to be – in every imaginable way – an anti-Hollywood kind of a film, completely immune to any kind of marketing, and bending and twisting every rule, turns out Zentropa pictures were thinking very carefully about the fact that we’re approaching 2012, and there’s a shitload of disaster theories related to that one. Surely the film would not be half as successful if it didn’t play into that trend.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 October 2011 @ 6:13 pm

  22. Right! I wondered where I’d seen the Hunters painting. But isn’t there also a Tarkovsky movie that actually LOOKS LIKE this Diurer painting? There’s some sort of medieval Jesus crucifixion scene, set in the wintertime in Europe, maybe on a hillside overlooking a frozen pond?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 6:13 pm

  23. Maybe a scene in Andrei Rublyev?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  24. It’s not Durer, it’s Breughel. I’m not sure where in Tarkovsky I saw it – didn’t see Tarkovsky in a long long time. Also I don’t recognize the connection – hunters returning to the village after a disappointing hunt, and of course the pastoral style. Maybe the impossibility of taming nature?

    Durer’s engraving MELANCHOLIA from the 14th century is so full of symbolisms there isn’t a single interpretation, but it depicts a genius frustrated because he cannot achieve perfection.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 October 2011 @ 6:20 pm

  25. The Breughel-like crucifixion scene is definitely in Andrei Rublev, but I can’t find a YouTube clip of it. Doesn’t really affect interpretation of Melancholia, but I’d like to see that scene again. Durer’s Melencolia plays a prominent role in The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown’s follow-up book from Da Vinci Code. It’s got a magic square up in the upper right corner, where every side and diagonal adds up to 34. Why 34? I don’t know, but since Jesus died at age 33 maybe it represents resurrection?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  26. It’s such an experience, the film. I was also thinking a lot about intensity, the intensity of passion. You don’t really get to it until the very last scene (although that part with the planet becoming bigger on Leo’s ”telescope” is also visceral). When the planet really approaches, and you begin to feel the vibrations (I’m sorry you didn’t see it in the theater, but you should), it’s amazing – the excitement and the terror. Even more so because in a Spielberg production, it would be the moment when God arrives and everything is saved. It is shot in a similar way, but the emotions are totally different.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 6 October 2011 @ 9:29 pm

  27. The wedding party was sort of funny. It started two hours late, then seemed to last a lifetime. People are married and divorced, promoted and fired. The wedding planner can’t even look at the bride by the end, says that she’s ruined his wedding. Why the golf course? Maybe to illustrate the trivialization of the ancient aristocracy through new money. The bride fucking the new employee in the sand trap was absurd, and then after awhile the husband packs his bags and leaves. A social disaster, though overall the guests remained amazingly patient and good-natured.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 6 October 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  28. Hallo Ktis/JD, just a shout saying thanks for your nice blog; it’s an enjoyable read, even though I’ve only just started to read back through it. (I did run back through all the film posts, though, and I’ve enjoyed your stills/comments very much…I hope they continue. I’m probably going to start a blog of my own along these lines before long.)

    Interesting that Karl Abraham was killed by a film; or at any rate, it seems the horrible fix he got into with Freud over the “consultation” and sanctioning of the film SECRETS OF A SOUL (the overt psychoanalytic publicity piece of the German Expressionist films…the only one I know of) took a toll on him. (Of course, I’m exaggerating; but the falling out was, I think, decisive and unresolved between them; one could imagine this being a terrible experience, being abandoned/spurned by the father/master.)

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    Comment by Scott Handley — 7 October 2011 @ 12:33 am

  29. (And I should add that SECRETS OF A SOUL is almost certainly one of my least favorite films of that scene; but the idea of a psychoanalysis infomercial [i]designed to be profitable[/i]….that is funny and interesting, and there are worse ways to spend 80 minutes.)

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    Comment by Scott Handley — 7 October 2011 @ 12:36 am

  30. Thanks Scott. As you’ve noticed, I don’t really write posts about movies; it’s all about the images and the commentary. Thanks for bringing up Secrets of a Soul, which I’d never heard of. So if that movie was trying to analyze German expressioinism, and if Melancholia too is expressionistic, then for von Trier’s heroine to beat Abraham does seem to suggest that psychoanalysis is not going to carry her across the bridge to a cure of her depression, that there will be no cathartic climactic cinematic release to be experienced by riding that particular horse. This would link back to Antichrist, where the husband is a therapist who is going to cure the wife with his techniques but who fails utterly. In Melancholia though, Abraham the analytic horse does not intervene: he says nothing to his patient; he refuses to take her where she wants him to go, even when she (transferentially) beats him with her frustrated demands. Maybe Abraham is a Lacanian horse, not offering interpretations, not acceding to the patient’s demands for relief of her symptoms, so that she can follow her melancholia as desire? Taking this Lacanian jouissance of symptom-as-desire to its fulfillment, though, is ultimately a release that is also a destruction of self and of one’s world. So I’m not sure whether von Trier is endorsing the horse’s Lacanian technique any more than he endorsed the husband’s more interventionist cognitive-behaviorism in Antichrist.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 7 October 2011 @ 7:37 am

  31. So maybe that’s why the brother-in-law ODs in the stable with the horses? The stable = the psychiatric clinic, and he kills his symptoms with pharmacotherapy. (This line of interpretation seems ripe for parody. At least von Trier didn’t have the other horse turn into Mr. Ed, give him a line like “How does that make you feel?”)

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    Comment by ktismatics — 7 October 2011 @ 8:43 am

  32. That is an astute observation – a Lacanian horse. He spoils the vision of the self-assured wermin, who have now become convinced that they’re better than the men, mainly because they can weep and FEEL more acutely, never mind that they’re going to blow up the planet along the way, and all the gay men as well. He certainly springs into frame as a kind of a dark blotch that just refuses to leave, no matter how badly the wimmin abuse him. But I keep thinking because the survivors are a mixed family, not the nuclear heterosexual one – two women and a precocious manchild – von Trier must be suggesting that a new community is to replace the dysfunctional, destructive patriarchalism, one in which perhaps the role of the man is more equal. And what a great horse that is (I love horses): cute and tranquil, with beautiful hair.

    I’ve been rewinding the scene where Claire heads ”to the village” in the cart. It’s hilarious the exaggerated, panicked tone of her voice, which sounds like going to the village now is the most natural thing in the world to do, since there are people there, and possibly shelter. Justine’s frigid reaction only makes it even more hilarious.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 7 October 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  33. You made a remark earlier about CGI, actually much of the movie is CGI, but because it was done by a sophistique Polish company, it doesn’t look as vulgar as American CGI. I especially love the Tarkovsky colors and the organic feel to much of the image, even though it is recorded and projected digitally in the cinemas.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 7 October 2011 @ 1:40 pm

  34. For Freud, and later for Ernest Jones (1949), Hamlet’s hesitation to
    act and revenge the death of his father at the hands of his uncle could
    be explained in terms of his repressed Oedipal desire for his mother.
    By killing Hamlet’s father and then marrying his mother, his uncle had
    fulfilled Hamlet’s own unconscious wish and therefore Hamlet was
    unable to kill him in turn. For Lacan, on the other hand, Hamlet is not
    a play about repressed Oedipal scenarios, but rather a drama of subjectivity
    and desire (1982). Hamlet is a tragedy of desire; the tragedy of a
    man who has lost the way of his desire as it is inextricably tied up with
    the desire of the Other. As Elizabeth Wright writes, Lacan uses Hamlet
    ‘as an allegory both of blocked desire and the act of mourning which
    unlocks it’ (1999: 77). In ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ (1917) Freud
    suggested that the work of mourning involved the gradual withdrawal
    of libido from a loved one who had died. This process takes place
    slowly and, in the meantime, ‘the existence of the lost object [person]

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 8 October 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  35. is psychically prolonged’ (1984d [1917]: 253) and the subject’s desire
    remains fixed on the lost object. Once the work of mourning is
    complete the subject is free to direct their desire elsewhere. According
    to Lacan, Hamlet was unable fully to mourn his dead father because his
    mother prematurely married his uncle and replaced the symbolic
    father. The mother, therefore, replaced the lost object with a new one
    before Hamlet could withdraw his desire and direct it elsewhere. As
    we saw in the previous chapter, the original lost object is the phallus
    and what Lacan is suggesting is that Hamlet is unable to mourn the loss
    of the phallus that will inaugurate the movement of his own desire. In
    this situation Freud suggested that mourning turns into melancholia.
    The crucial difference between mourning and melancholia is that in the
    act of ‘mourning it is the world which has become poor and empty; in
    melancholia it is the ego itself ’ (Freud 1984d [1917]: 254). In melancholia
    the act of mourning is narcissistically turned back upon the self
    and the subject identifies his/her own ego with the lost object.
    Melancholia, therefore, has the effect of blocking the natural process
    of mourning and freezing the subject in time.
    Lacan associates narcissism with the imaginary order (see Chapter
    1) and the mother/child dyad. The dilemma for Hamlet, argues Lacan,
    is how to separate himself from the demand of the (m)Other and
    realize his own desire. Lacan, therefore, interprets Hamlet’s notorious
    hesitation to act and revenge the death of his father as a manifestation
    of the desire of the Other. Hamlet simply cannot choose between his
    own desire and the desire of the Other. We need to be clear here
    though that it is not Hamlet’s desire for his mother that inhibits him,
    but his fixation within his mother’s desire. Hamlet is simply unable to
    differentiate his own desire from his mother’s desire. Hamlet confuses
    and distorts his own desire; he sees his desire not as constituted in
    relation to the Other but as the same as the Other.
    This confusion can also be seen through Hamlet’s relationship with
    Ophelia. Lacan reads Ophelia as the object of desire – the objet petit a,
    or object-cause of Hamlet’s desire. At the beginning of the play Hamlet
    is estranged from Ophelia. He distances himself from her, from the
    loved object, but in doing so he dissolves the imaginary relations
    between subject and object. By dissolving the boundary between
    subject and object Hamlet is unable to realize his own subjectivity. His
    whole being is consumed with the rejection of the object of desire and
    thus, paradoxically, he is trapped within the desire of the Other.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 8 October 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  36. Ophelia can only become the object of his desire once more when she
    is dead, that is to say, when she is once again unattainable. For Lacan,
    the tragedy of Hamlet is the tragedy of a subject who is suspended
    within the time of the Other. Hamlet always acts too early (as with the
    killing of Polonius) or too late (as with his failure to kill Claudius in
    the church or recognize his object of desire) until the final hour. It is
    only at the very end of the play, when Hamlet himself is mortally
    wounded, that he assumes his position as a subject.

    (from the ROutledge series CRITICAL THINKERS: LACAN)

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 8 October 2011 @ 3:54 pm

  37. Sadness does something to the way we see the world. In the experience of deep sadness, the world itself seems altered in some way: coloured by sadness, or disfigured by it. Rather than living inside us, as our normal passions do, our sadness seems to envelop everything: we live inside it, as if it were a cocoon or a prison. At such times we seem particularly aware of the world as a world, as a place where we have to live. This awareness can become artistic or political: artistic, when the world made strange by our own detachment and dissociation presents itself as an object of fascination; political when the difficulty of going on living in such a world begins to reveal its causes in the impersonal circumstances of our personal sorrows.

    – first paragraph of Cold World by Dominic Fox

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    Comment by ktismatics — 9 October 2011 @ 11:36 am

  38. The bridge to the village can no longer be crossed… The rich have created a gated world of castles and golf courses and catered dinners, keeping the villagers out except as hired drivers and caterers and maids. But in pushing the hoi polloi away, they have also barricaded themselves into their insularity. Taken to its accelerationist extreme, each individual bourgeois is an isolated planet of melancholy, a “body without organs” made of stone. Maybe the village can break up or soften the planet, letting them graze again on the soft and fertile soil from which they originally sprang. But it’s too late: they’re trapped inside themselves, hurtling toward isolated destruction.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 10 October 2011 @ 8:01 am

  39. DId you take a moment to analyze the vast emptiness of Comrade Fox’s prose, characteristic for his ”code inconnu” poetics

    ”the world itself seems altered in some way” – really, I thought depressed people saw the world just like we do!

    ”artistic…when the world presents itself as an object of fascination” – profound insight

    ”political…when the difficulty of going on living in such a world begins to reveal its causes in the impersonal circumstances of our personal sorrows.” – an even more profound thought, this about political being beyond the personal

    The prose is as empty as planet Melancholia, but delivered with such delightful Oxford pretentiousness that it sinks in like a glass of Chabli.

    As Claire said at one point, ”Remarkably irrelevant”

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 11 October 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  40. keeping the villagers out except as hired drivers and caterers and maids.

    You drew my attention to this social aspect, I’d forgotten about it but then realized the reason I forgot is that these characters are never there – pushed away, repressed, forgotten.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 11 October 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  41. Dominic recently wrote a post ridiculing Antichrist and characterizing von Trier as a pretentious apologist for stupidity. However, Melancholia perfectly exemplifies the thesis of Dominic’s book as expressed in that first paragraph. I wonder if he’ll treat us to a review of Melancholia. As you point out, von Trier does again express the impotence of science and rationality in the face of overwhelming affect, but that’s pretty much what Dominic’s opening paragraph says too.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 October 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  42. Von Trier isn’t an apologist for stupidity. He IS stupidity. A dumbed-down parody of his own ‘Scandinavian-ness’, or ‘Euro-moodiness’, without any of the wit of Woody Allen etc. Even his own depression is a cheap, lazy parody of itself. Working through his ‘ishoos’ by having yet another mother/whore figure tortured on our behalf, then giggling at the audience for treating it like an artistic statement.

    How the creep got away with it so long isn’t much of a mystery. It’s the age of the con-man clown, especially in ‘new Europe’. The UK will catch up when it elects Boris Johnson for Prime Minister. Like his fellow Euro-clowns (throw a dart at the map to find ’em leading countries, university depts, media institutions or ‘movements’), he covers up his fascoid corruption and lack of imagination with a grimace, teflon offensiveness or a prank. Before Boris takes over, we’ll just settle for bloggers, academics and columnists. There’s no shortage of wannabes waiting in the wings, or indeed fan/parasites keen to hitch a ride on their idiocy…

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 11 October 2011 @ 6:53 pm

  43. That this movie purportedly expresses von Trier’s own depression does seem like a publicity gimmick, establishing the director as an authentic practitioner of the ever-popular tortured artist effect. Von Trier’s backstory is as irrelevant as the reason for Justine’s melancholy in the movie. I see no reason to judge his movie — and it’s a very good movie — based on the authenticity of the director’s emotions, or indeed whether he enjoys the on-screen suffering of his leading ladies. Hitchcock allegedly was a bit of a perv in this regard, and Woody Allen obviously has his issues. It’s not like Charlotte Gainsbourg actually had her clitoris snipped off during the making of Antichrist, or that she must be in some sort of bondage relationship with von Trier for her to come back for more in Melancholia. Incidentally, have you actually seen Melancholia, W.? The men certainly don’t come out on top here.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 October 2011 @ 7:18 pm

  44. Also, the wedding party in the first half was pretty funny.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 October 2011 @ 7:47 pm

  45. I gave up on him about three movies ago. The sense of a put-on in disguise as profundity just got too wearing. Doubt I’ll ever bother with a Lynch movie again either.

    Yeah some of my favourite film-makers had/have some seriously fucked up gender attitudes (to the point of undisputed criminality), but none of ’em ever made a movie as bad as ‘Dancer In the Dark’. The 1st series of The Kingdom was good, and er…

    He’s certainly a squeaky wheel getting too much grease. He didn’t even make the best Dogme movie (that’s ‘Festen’). I get the impression that Americans take him much more seriously than the British for some reason.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 11 October 2011 @ 8:34 pm

  46. I never really paid much attention to von Trier until recently. Dancer in the Dark was goofy, and I made it only about halfway through Dogville before losing interest. Antichrist and Melancholia are similar in their apocalyptic expressionism. I’m sure I wouldn’t have the temperament to follow through on making this sort of movie without turning it into a joke, which is your reaction to vT’s stuff. There are moments when he really should restrain himself; e.g., in this movie Justine makes a little speech about how the world and the people on it are evil, which just isn’t necessary. But parts of the wedding are intentionally self-parodying, which helps relieve the self-importance. There’s a funny little scene where the wedding planner hides his face from Justine, tells her that she’s ruined his wedding.

    I was surprised that I liked (if that’s the right term for it) Antichrist, and the body horror makes it nearly unwatchable. Melancholia is better still, and not only because it’s less sadistic. I’ve not seen Festen — maybe I’ll give it a look. Presently I’m in the middle of watching Muriel by Resnais, and based on what I’ve seen so far I doubt it will inspire me to put up any screengrabs. Resnais made Marienbad, which is invoked in Melancholia, but I’m watching Muriel only because we picked it up almost randomly while browsing the DVDs at the library.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 October 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  47. Never really took to Resnais, apart from Night & Fog and Hiroshima Mon Amour. Couldn’t even get into Marienbad as a pretentious stoner student, when I was very ‘hip’ to French New wave stuff.

    Festen is pretty good though. Recommended if you haven’t seen it. If you dig Scandanavian blacker-than-black comedy, there’s always the brilliant Roy Andersson. Songs From The Second Floor and You The Living are two of the best films of the past decade, without any sense of the director mooning at you from behind the screen curtain, like LVT. Very apocalyptic and emotional, but all the more queasy because they’re so seductively humdrum about it (none of this grandstanding CGI shit).

    BTW Have you seen much Robert Bresson? Would be very interested to see posts on his films if you have. His subtle, sincere way with religious themes shows up LVT for what the smirking charlatan he is.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 12 October 2011 @ 12:13 am

  48. I would agree that lars’s work is often burdened by eurotrashy snobism but here as ktismatics justly notes the humor saves the day. despite these complaints however his incredible visual talent was always there and it was just a matter of time before he put out a masterpiece like melancholy

    Like

    Comment by parodium — 12 October 2011 @ 5:35 am

  49. And actually no i think that melancholia is the exact opposite of comrade fox’s death metal check out shaviro’s twitter on that one

    Like

    Comment by parodium — 12 October 2011 @ 5:41 am

  50. I’ll rewatch Marienbad one day, but I found it fascinating the first go-round. Robbe-Grillet’s nouveaux romans are strange — I wrote a fictional scene once where a character who is reading R-G summarizes the book as an architect describing a crime scene. Muriel has that quality as well, though it’s not written by R-G. The camera focuses repeatedly, voyeuristically, almost luridly on buildings and furniture as well as on people, their hidden belongings, their secret liaisons. It’s also got the time-out-of-joint construction like Marienbad and Hiroshima. Muriel is much quicker and more fragmented than Marienbad, constructed out of fast cuts more like a contemporary movie.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 October 2011 @ 7:37 am

  51. Dominic writes about death metal in his book, but he also addresses poetry by Coleridge and Hopkins and Eliot, Beckett’s plays — the melancholic’s world can be cold in a variety of ways, including Justine’s. Arguably Robbe-Grillet’s and Resnais’s worlds are also cold, but they’re not depressively so. In Muriel, for example, the characters repeatedly say that they are afraid. They’re not terrified like a noir victim; it’s more like existential angst, in which the continuities of the world and of one’s self no longer hold together. That feeling too can suck the warmth out of things.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 October 2011 @ 7:47 am

  52. First of all the melancholic’s world is not COLD – exactly the opposite, it is drowned in the warm tears of sorrow and passionate longing. And second, as Shaviro points out, there is a sense of release, a paliative reduction of suffering, and a reconciliation, in MELANCHOLIA, which is at odds with death metal’s enjoyment of nothingness. In other words, even though things are totally pessimistic and dark in MELANCHOLIA, you don’t come out of the theater feeling either pessimistic or dark. How exactly you come out – what exactly is the nature of this encounter between Romanticism and Nihilism – I am still reflecting on that one. But I am sure it gives, not transcendental hope, but an immanent kind of hope, while death metal is just fancy poseuring, like the hauntology that preceded it on the post-Continental fad market.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  53. I also want to watch Marienbad, shall we watch it next week around the same time and open a separate post. Then the Immoral Dances can join as well, I promised I would think about this film.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  54. Justine is cold, and the hysterics and control freaks and nostalgics who surround her want her to warm up, to be happy. Her fulfillment comes not through renouncing the cold world, but rather by passing through its portal. Again though this portal leads to death, as the cold world melts in white-hot heat. I know nothing of death metal so I can’t comment.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 October 2011 @ 7:38 pm

  55. As for Antichrist, you could accuse it of all those things – favoritizing stupidity, being misogynistic, or masochistic, … bla – but boy when that fox opens its mouth I’m like WHEEEEE that’s film-making. Total silence in the theater, everyone transfixed. I thought the ”externalized Unconscious” was very well captured in that post-Freudian forest, and I also think MELANCHOLIA is in ways a sequel to ANTICHRIST, because it deals with what happens AFTER the fall from Eden, after it is established that there is no intercourse between men and women. It’s like the Book of Apocalypse to Von Trier’s Book of Eden. Really beautiful and fascinating altogether.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  56. Justine is cold, and the hysterics and control freaks and nostalgics who surround her want her to warm up, to be happy.

    This just factually isn’t true, she is never shown as ”cold”, merely withdrawn. When people aren’t looking, she luxuriates in the emanations of Melancholia with a mysterious smiley on her beautiful aristocratic lips, indicating not coldness but profound and intense longing. But apart from that, melancholia as a concept has nothing to do with coldness in any way, it is not the same as frigidity. Comrade Fox’s own coldness, however, may very well be related…although I’m not really interested to find out how.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  57. You’re right, I concede on Justine being withdrawn but not cold — clearly I’ve been trying too hard to support a position I don’t even hold. But I don’t concede on that silly fox in Antichrist. Agree that Melancholia is a kind of sequel. I understand that LvT’s next is to be called The Nymphomaniac: maybe that’s what happens when the melancholic passes through apocalypse and enters the afterlife.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 October 2011 @ 7:50 pm

  58. the hysterics and control freaks and nostalgics

    THEY are the ones who are cold, strictly speaking, despite the masks of warmth they wear for society. Cold in the sense of being narcissistic blowhards. Which you clearly see when they all flee the scene while Justine is the only one who stoically endures the end of the world, even helping her sister on the way. So while Justine on the outside is a narcissist, she is in fact the only one ushering in some kind of contact.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 7:51 pm

  59. I’ve been trying too hard to support a position I don’t even hold.

    That’s interesting, WHY did you do that?

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 7:57 pm

  60. Yes, it’s true, this is the right reading. Would you agree with this: the narcissistic blowhards act as if Justine is cold, but it is a projection of their own coldness. Is this an accurate portrayal of depression — and clearly Justine is depressed, even morbidly so when she goes to visit her sister — from the inside as it were? Does the melancholic feel warm but withdrawn and misunderstood, surrounded by a cold world? I’ll leave that alone for now. However, by pursuing this line we’re getting closer again to Dominic’s territory: it’s not the melancholic who is cold, but rather the world, and especially the social world, that surrounds her. She withdraws, but actually it is the other people who have withdrawn first with their narcissisms and their projections.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 12 October 2011 @ 8:04 pm

  61. Why try out a position I don’t hold? To see if, by trying on another’s point of view, I can see some merit in it. And now, on further reflection, I do. The melancholic is a kind of canary in the coal mine. Other people see such a person as temperamentally dark and cold, but often she or he is shining a light on the darkness and coldness that surrounds her/him. The others don’t want to hear it or see it, pretend it’s not there, cover it over with false optimism. This is what we see in Melancholia: it’s Justine who sees the imminent disasters before anyone else, who accepts their reality.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 12 October 2011 @ 8:14 pm

  62. She withdraws, but actually it is the other people who have withdrawn first with their narcissisms and their projections.

    Yes, I think this is right on the money. And a classically psychoanalytical position – because of course, we can never be ”at peace” with the innate insanity of the world. Whether it rocks for Dominic, I have no idea, never read THE COLD WORLD.

    But the really interesting part is: what happens next?

    In what sense, exactly, does Justine provide us with a transformative experience?

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  63. To see if, by trying on another’s point of view, I can see some merit in it.

    Hm, it’s also true that there is a degree of self-indulgent masochism in melancholia, whereby the person tries to repair has damaged sense of self-merit by adopting not just the position of others, but the suffering of the whole world.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 8:20 pm

  64. That’s true enough too, and we see it in Justine. When the planet takes on its collision course, then her vision of the world, her own dark point of view, is finally validated. This is in part why she alone is able to face the apocalypse with eyes open.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 October 2011 @ 8:27 pm

  65. Two questions in relation to that:

    – she actually DOESN’T face the Apocalypse – she has her back turned on it, and advises the child to close his eyes; Claire looks / confronts (-????)

    – there is a strange overhead shot of Justine during the collision scene, did you notice? The only one in a series of straight angle shots. (???)

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  66. I remember that the boy closed his eyes, but didn’t remember the positions of the other two. I’d need a second viewing for some of these details.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 12 October 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  67. you can just cut to that scene, you don’t have to watch the whole thing. The last shot is from a distance, Justine is in the center with her back turned against the planet, the child is on the left and Claire on the right, side view.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 8:45 pm

  68. Speaking of W’s routinely crass criticisms, I was reminded of how many times I read on the internet, since the film came out, that it takes too much ”poetic license” since noone in the film bothers to check the television, see what’s going on with that planet. And then I realized that when Claire prints out the document detailing Melancholia’s path around the Earth, electricity goes out because Melancholia enters our atmosphere. The husband walks in and says that electricity will be back in a few days. So first of all the film DOESN’T take unwarranted poetic license in this regard, but more importantly, these zit suckers who complain about ”reality” are so annoying. If it was up to them, they would do the same thing that right-wing neolibbers are doing, i.e. destroying all culture in the name of ”facts and figures”. No better collaborationist on the planet than the vulgar Marxist activist.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 12 October 2011 @ 11:14 pm

  69. What is the connection between Romanticism and nihilism?

    When the primal insight was that of the relativity of meaning, the constant replacement of meaning by no-meaning, of art by junk and other art, of the world-soul by a couple of equations that describe the universe, then the world may not be our ally and we have to describe ourselves through negations, through figures of nothingness, of positive absence like death and loss and gaps, through resistance on a political scale.

    In retrospect this seems incredibly pathetic. That life and universe have no meaning and are a great nonsense is widely accepted by modern atheists, but it is also the only place where you get a good beefsteak, watch Monty Python movies, enjoy ‘Life After People’, playing with technology and hope for a comeback of the dinosaurs when humanity is extincted ( the latter was a kids question for Stephen Hawking ). Seems like the inevitable happened: pathos goes kitsch and will be superseded by humor and retaining some ‘sense of wonder’ about ordinary things.

    Like

    Comment by Kay — 12 October 2011 @ 11:26 pm

  70. we have to describe ourselves through negations, through figures of nothingness, of positive absence

    But isn’t that just what Christianity asks us to do – believe in a God that is absent yet present, an absolute nothingness yet absolute presence?

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 13 October 2011 @ 6:51 am

  71. One of the weirder features of Q. Meillassoux’s speculations (as I understand it) is that God once existed, at present God does not exist, but God might — or might not — come back into existence sometime in the future.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 13 October 2011 @ 9:54 am

  72. ‘hope for a comeback of the dinosaurs when humanity is extincted ‘

    Especially the pterodactyls, of course. I’m with Toni Bentley on that, because I ‘saw them flying’ too. To have found ‘human pterodactyls’ and made them move is not exaggerating what Balanchine and Graham did in dance. I hope you will look at my site, which John has linked. I had never seen that particular photo of Balanchine, who was clearly as elegant as possible, and what went on at NYCBallet in the 50s through the mid-80s was also ‘local within the cosmopolis’ to an extreme degree, such that this was another kind of sense of wonder. In my book, I contrast the extraordinary and the ordinary in terms of flowers, sophisticated orchids and simpler wildflowers, with the orchids ‘coming out ahead’. But that doesn’t mean I think that is true in some all-encompassing sense; I wrote it that way because only the ‘obviously innocent’ is usually favoured: There are lots of reasons for this, especially that a lot of ‘replacement of art by junk and other art’ usually does equate to foul-aired pretentiousnesses. I go back and forth between these sorts of metaphor-valuings, and did one post of just a couple of photos, with the ‘forget-me-nots’ shown along with a Jade Dragon Paphiopedilum. Which is to say, at certain grotesque ‘back-to-nature’ places, you’ll be told that it’s only the ‘innocent’ things that aren’t literally ‘guilty’. Sometimes sophisticated things are not pretentious.

    “Seems like the inevitable happened: pathos goes kitsch and will be superseded by humor and retaining some ‘sense of wonder’ about ordinary things”.

    Of course, you’re familiar enough with what I stand for to know that I’d like to take that literally and, in fact, do so (whether you do or not, since the inverted commas around “sense of wonder” could be read more than one way; I would see them only as inscribing the phrase as a cliche more than being ironic, which would be ordinary in the bad sense of ‘worn-out’.) I haven’t heard a number of things articulated before that are in your comment, but I singled this last one because I am interested as to why that would be inevitable. While it’s enough that all that ‘nonsense’ and ‘no meaning’ could be superseded, I wonder if it’s inevitable because there finally becomes only so many times one can say the beefsteak really is superb within a world which is described well-enough by a ‘couple of equations’. I don’t think it can be. And then it becomes important to forget the beefsteak and go on to other ‘nothing moments’ in order to be safe, and die without it mattering too much that it’s something of a big change. I think I can see how what you’re saying would really be inevitable, although there always appeared within that ‘primal insight’ as ‘relativity of meaning’ an absolutely foolproof safe whose combination lock could never be cracked. What cracks it is that there is then just ‘social justice’ for the ‘cultivated nothingness’, i.e., we must just start with the flattened-out all being treated as perfect equals on the loathed- and self-loathed vermin level.

    My tendency to overestimate has made me ask you to clarify, although it won’t be a morbid situation if you don’t. A sense of wonder is something I’ve never lost, although I was told in 1976 by someone who told me that most adults had lost their sense of wonder and that I myself was ‘ruined’. Well, I thought I was yesterday, but at the moment I don’t. What’s more, after telling me this, he showed me the photo of Satan which I still admire much more than his own slack, out-of-shape pallid and never-exercised body (which I couldn’t think of a thing to do with), and although that photo of Satan was so extraordinary I’ve had the pleasure of never forgetting it, his remarks about ‘loss of a sense of wonder’ were also heeded–hence I’ve never hierarchies of beauty, except when the keen moment demands that something be preferred. I’ve also asked because in many of your previous remarks you have been difficult about certain things like ‘green zones’ and ‘green belts’, and it did seem you sometimes were doing it ‘just for the sheer hell of it’, as someone not so long ago told someone else. Does that ring a bell? It is for these reason, and also for the fact that it is not put in literal poetic form that I would not say what Hannah did to her hundred-year-old father Nonno upon his final finished poem, c’est-a-dire, you might not want me to, and it wouldn’t be necessary. It’s a pleasure to think of it as I’ve already chosen even without given permission, not unlike the pleasure someone might get when she gets the old steps back into her body by someone who made them ‘on her’ many years ago, and is himself now ‘dead’. Thank you.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 13 October 2011 @ 10:56 am

  73. that all that ‘nonsense’ and ‘no meaning’

    That comment from Kay came from out of nowhere, so I don’t know how to place it; but MELANCHOLIA doesn’t simply present us with this kind of nihilism, where one would simply conclude that ‘life has no meaning’. Parallel to the meaninglessness, there is also the presence of an immense Romantic force, a Weltschmerz of Byronesque proportions, supported by a blasting ”Tristan und Isolde” Wagner soundtrack. And you don’t really get pessimism out of the film, or a brooding sense of doom; rather, you get this intense, passionate, though weirdly anti-climactic catharsis. It is this mingling of polar opposites, of Thanatos and Eros, that gives the film a profound sense of strangeness: there are two forces, represented by the shadows that the two planets cast, existing parallel to each other. The film’s referrents are more VERTIGO and MARNIE, and especially LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD, than anything overtly nihilistic like Beckett or for that matter the NO EXIT Sartre.

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    Comment by parody center — 13 October 2011 @ 1:10 pm

  74. 70.One of the weirder features of Q. Meillassoux’s speculations (as I understand it) is that God once existed, at present God does not exist, but God might — or might not — come back into existence sometime in the future.

    Well that sounds just like something you’d get after a total nervous crackdown.

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 13 October 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  75. But isn’t that just what Christianity asks us to do – believe in a God that is absent yet present, an absolute nothingness yet absolute presence?

    Yes, but it’s not about faith. On the contrary. The mechanist universe of Newton was a divine order. It was not about warm, cold, wet and hot matter anymore, about hyle vs pneuma with psyche ( the woman? ) in the middle. The universe became mathematics, not in some selected aspects, but overall, a mathematical object that could be made completely transparent for a sufficiently informed observer, for whom life and death are indistinguishable and time has no meaning ( see Brassier lately who might want to shock someone or provoke contradiction with the remark that we are already somehow dead. This is not news for the Laplacian demon who can compute the universe forth and back ).

    The rationality of the mathematician/engineer became an evil force, one which turned nature into a dead place and the guys who promoted the mechanist world view, despite being essentially atheists, were allied with God and his power.

    The romantic subject had to become autonomous for escape and proved its existence in the irreducibility and unpredictability of the creative act. This is of course unstable because once we recognize some pattern and match that pattern on someones work with success, it can be replicated and fed into the machine again. It becomes a form sheet and an algorithm and we who execute the algorithm and fill out the forms ( making prescribed choices ) are zombies, gears of the great machine, robots, slaves of the system, epigones, case stories of sociological and psychological theories or cynical gamblers who feed the culture industry for money. The Laplacian demon never interacts. He has no physical presence, but is a purely mathematical device. However if he could interact and attempted to convince me about anything he proved about the world, I would prove him wrong using my subjective power of contradiction. The negativity, the difference, that is now me. Everything else is a solution of some set of differential equations.

    Needless to say that this self-avoidance has turned out to be an extremely fertile drive for our culture and weakened the belief in authorities and power as a good force. The only selective forces that are left by the will for mutation and variation is the market place and the state law. Now since this has been identified as a pattern as well, we have to get rid of our individuality which is merely what capitalism demands of us. With the criticism of Capital we finally found that God = Cthulhu = Satan.

    There are possible ways out. For example Badiou’s mixture of Maoism ( the people! the people! … ) together with a difference game using set theory: whenever you give me a set I can give you in principle, due to Cantor, a bigger one. So my/our identity isn’t fixed, not even in principle. There is always some place for an event: I give you a bigger set, I add an axiom to your formal system that is independent of it. Since it is not computable within the formal system, my independence is also saved. Good to know how God conceptualized my/our freedom.

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    Comment by Kay — 13 October 2011 @ 11:18 pm

  76. Kay, I presume that you intent these remarks at least somewhat sarcastically. Science taken to its extreme becomes this mechanistic and eliminative diabolical machine, against which romanticism pits its powers of affect and subjectivity and creativity. When confronted with the replicant powers of mathematical simulation, this romantic creativity too becomes only a negative force of resistance against progress, or else the creativity engine for capitalism. Set theory seems like such an abstract escape vehicle, predicated on a posthuman situation that may be artificially conceived.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 12:03 am

  77. is of course unstable because once we recognize some pattern and match that pattern on someones work with success, it can be replicated and fed into the machine again.

    I firmly disagree with this – creativity is precisely what will always set us apart from machines. MELANCHOLIA is so full of cliches and references it’s unbelievable, and yet it produces something new by a process which cannot be mathematized in any useful way because it operates beyond logic.

    I would prove him wrong using my subjective power of contradiction.

    Like I said in the earlier comment, MELANCHOLIA is not about contradiction. The trope that is repeated is parallelism: two principles exist side by side and simultaneously, or in relationships that defy any linear logic.

    The only selective forces that are left by the will for mutation and variation is the market place and the state law.

    But isn’t the doom of the marketplace precisely that there IS NO MUTATION, or variation, only a spectral illusion of it produced by sameness (self-reproduction of Capital)? That seeming change is governed by totalitarianism.

    you give me a set I can give you in principle, due to Cantor, a bigger one.

    That sounds like one of those Deleuzian ”lines of flight” by way of mimicry, but the problem is there is the danger that in trying to mimic the system you actually become like the system

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    Comment by parody center — 14 October 2011 @ 12:03 am

  78. http://www.decodedscience.com/cantor-defeated-galileo-in-the-battle-of-infinite-numbers/3033

    It’s high time we realized some infinities are less equal than others.

    What does it matter if Kay is being ‘at least somewhat sarcastic’ though? I knew he was being sarcastic about the ‘green zone’ some months ago, although that was just being pedantic, because he wanted to refuse fealty to hot spots in Baghdad. But while you ‘can’t interact with the Laplacian demon’, the whole point is not to, isn’t it? If there is some possibility of ‘escape’, who would even object to using some of Badiou’s Maoism as a condiment, as long as it was in the ‘preventive therapy’ category, against Arpegian Maoism? At least it’s white male supremacist enough to get one through the period in which one gets used to the zeroism of book clubs and lesb’anist zeroes. In short, Kay’s writing is quite useful for the artist, and any argument with it is just petulance. Because there is enough permeablility in it to allow for much flux.

    Of course, some of it is incorrect if you take it literally, and some of it is too inflexible, because he might be also lying. One must always suspect this, but I am sure he cannot identify where I spotted this. Nor will I feel the need to inform him of such discovery. That would be much too Oedipal for my current tastes, since ‘my/our identity isn’t fixed’. It’s Oedipal enough that I make an opening statement. Satan knows well how to conceptualize my freedom, even if it’s ‘later’ than ‘God’s’, since we didn’t know about it until we critiqued capitalism, and I defer to the multicultural section to explain Chthulhu’s equal representation, although I have little reason to doubt it: I just don’t have the details, having misplaced them apparently, as once did one’s minor royal (although I think that, in her case, it was a mistake to say so.)

    The only technically passe thing in Kay’s otherwise exemplary article was what Brassier might shock with the ‘already dead’ angle. I knew this, so we presume an educator is also at work (since others might not have) and the use of the term ‘Brassier’ was vulgar in this case. The loathsomeness is “the remark that we are already somehow dead”, which is not at all useful in combination with the fact that he’s also said that ‘death can’t be experienced’. Okay, death can be ‘somehow experienced’, which I assume means ‘somewhat’. In any case, the deep desire to ‘make it with the Laplacian demon’ will no doubt turn a few heads, since it’s here described as ‘having no physical presence’. Therefore, we dream on that ‘Satan is different’, and, in my case, has given off more mating calls than has Cthulhu (I don’t know, he might be really good. I wonder if he interacts. I definitely don’t think familiarity always breeds contempt, though.)

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 9:34 am

  79. Backstory on Laplace’s demon courtesy of Wikipedia:

    We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.
    —Pierre Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

    This intellect is often referred to as Laplace’s demon (and sometimes Laplace’s Superman, after Hans Reichenbach). Laplace, himself, did not use the word “demon”, which was a later embellishment. As translated into English above, he simply referred to: “Une intelligence… Rien ne serait incertain pour elle, et l’avenir comme le passé, serait présent à ses yeux.”

    Arguments against Laplace’s demon. Due to its assumption of determinism, Laplace’s thought experiment is inherently incompatible with quantum mechanical theories, where chance is an essential part of the world’s unfolding. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, for example, states that exact measurements of positions and momentum may not be defined (and observed) together with more than a given precision.

    *****

    Meillassoux’s contention that God goes into and out of existence is an attempt to incorporate aleatoric uncertainty into metaphysics. And I’m not sure whether Brassier’s nihilism is presently as pronounced as it was in his book. Still, a romantic nihilism is certainly central to Melancholia: from the beginning the world is already doomed and so already dead, but the humans can still subjectively experience this “always-already” extinction as something finally beautiful.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 9:58 am

  80. In the film Laplace’s demon is embodied by the brother-in-law. He retraces the astronomers’ calculations, and so he is persuaded that the rogue planet is locked into a determined trajectory that will bypass the earth. But then the planet begins to act erratically, retreating for a time and then advancing again. The Laplacian finally has to acknowledge that the astronomers don’t know for certain where Melancholia is going. It is perhaps this irreducible uncertainty rather than the inevitability of collision that drives the Laplacian to suicide.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 10:09 am

  81. The Laplacian finally has to acknowledge that the astronomers don’t know for certain where Melancholia is going.

    Another routinely astute observation, THE BISCUITS ARE DELICIOUS THIS AFTERNOON. And the path of creativity, isn’t it, is also unpredictable – it comes and goes like the tide.

    I think the Laplacian suicides because he is confronted with his sadism, ie the way he always wanted to have everything under control, especially Claire. It is quite possible that he is more attracted to Justine, which is why he sneers at her all the time; surely because Justine refuses this control. Remember Claire is very hurt when she discovers that he’d been deliberately withholding the possibility of the calculation error in order to soothe her.

    Of course the issue of beautification is central. How can we be so evil and so frivolous and yet so beautiful. It’s a tremendous, tremendous issue.

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    Comment by parody center — 14 October 2011 @ 10:46 am

  82. The Course in Miracles says that the Holy Spirit knows everything Laplace did. The only thing I think we clearly know is that people really are being paid for saying the same thing in different fancinesses over and over, and basically doing nothing. Frankly, then starve the beast or just go ahead and feed the useless eaters, it makes little difference.

    “Meillassoux’s contention that God goes into and out of existence is an attempt to incorporate aleatoric uncertainty into metaphysics”

    Is he really trying to pass this off as something original? Anybody who thinks ‘God’ is man-made would have thought that. Absolutely fucking worthless.

    “And I’m not sure whether Brassier’s nihilism is presently as pronounced as it was in his book”.

    It’s always important to follow an important author’s evolution and his current state of mind, don’t you think? Unfortunately, it’s not clear that Brassier is very important. Sometimes he seems to be, sometimes he just seems the garden-variety Sammy Glick.

    “Still, a romantic nihilism is certainly central to Melancholia: from the beginning the world is already doomed and so already dead, but the humans can still subjectively experience this “always-already” extinction as something finally beautiful”.

    Of course, as you have worded it, THAT has to be beautiful or nothing is, and the humans wouldn’t experience it any more nor less than the rest of the world, because they had the even greater liability of wanting it to be sustainable. Unlike the lower animals, they don’t really see death as inevitable, which is why Duchamp’s epitaph is so profound: ‘Only other people die’. Why else do all the incredible suffering, wheelchaired, disfigured people I see on the street every day (not to mention if you go into a hospital) keep clinging on? Because they think losing consciousness would be worse than pain. Who knows? It might be. Have to wait and see.

    But while ‘Melancholia’ sounds to be very evocative and imaginative, it also is clearly not under that ‘sense of wonder about ordinary things’ that Kay alluded to (or specified) or the ‘sophisticated, cultivated urbane beauty’ that I tend to emphasize, but that doesn’t really ‘forget the forget-me-nots’ except about 99% of the time. What the thread has inadvertently exposed about ‘Melancholia’ is that it is a kind of putrefaction, not a ‘living-dead’ with an emphasis on the ‘balance while musing on the always-already or the living = dead, therefore ‘doomed’ and ‘death’ aren’t the same either; and the still you’ve shown that is based on ‘Marienbad’ from the film bears this out: It is an extremely ugly version of the original which you linked. This does not mean I know anything first-hand about this film, although it does mean that I never will, as I do not wish to see it. It does, however, come across very strongly that ‘pretentious apologist for stupidity’ might say some of it, but ‘IS stupidity’ could also have something, if only because the point of it is to cause further celebration of damage and putrescence. Look again at the colour still from ‘Melancholia’ and then the one of ‘Marienbad’. You can almost smell Lars von Trier’s things. So I think it’s more specifically ‘blatant ugliness’ he likes, but it’s like a compost heap or manure with expensive perfume poured all over it, but merely mixing in with the stink, instead of cleaning it up. Even the second image is visually hideous, if your still is at all representative. The third one is just one of those inexplicable kinds of images you see by walking in almost any art gallery out some 7 or 8 at a time (as I often do) and have to read the press release to find out ‘motive’, as it were.

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 10:50 am

  83. Melancholia isn’t far from Black Swan in its worldview, and it is a grandiose full-orchestration wall of sound. The image I linked from Marienbad was the first I came across, more a schematic or an architect’s miniature but adequately showing the influence on LvT’s set. I’ve requested Marienbad from the library and will be watching it again soon, much more subtle and restrained than von Trier’s bombast, eternal return rather than apocalypse.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 11:11 am

  84. Colin Wilson, in ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ (pretty sure that’s it, very long ago, but I’ve only read one) said that all death was suicide. To the animals, that just doesn’t come up as anything to contemplate. I recall a friend whose sister killed herself in 1980, and to this day, her birthday and her suicide day are celebrated by this rich person and his remaining family (except for one brother, who pulled himself out of this quagmire, married a girl against his parents’ will and became a well-known country-fiddle expert with his wife, and refused the mad psychiatric atmosphere of the rest of the family. In fact, the rest of them sound, including the one I knew well, to be in a sort of ‘Melancholia’ life-style, continuing their morbidity with AIDS and AA support groups, a mother who finally died after remaining just short of comatose for 5 years, and with ‘sacred rituals of bathing her’ enforced on the boyfriend of my former friend, who fell for it if he could get the money for tit implants, etc., and was also alcoholic). People call them from Rome and sing songs over the phone as if this girls 31-year-old suicide was still operative, as it were, and once I told him, after reading Jean Seberg’s biography, that, in the end, it seemed like these violent forms of self-caused deaths were ‘natural’ for THAT person. He said ‘I don’t want to see things that way’. Of course not, that way he didn’t have to give up this disgusting constant thought of what her corpse looked like some several summer days after he identified it. And this view, he says, ‘is the way I still feel closest to her’. I recall we were still in contact during the Tahiti period, and I even called him from there. It was the first time I’d heard his voice for some 12 years, and was also the last. He was himself in Maui, Hawaii, at the exact same time, so we still thought that was ‘cute’, although he wouldn’t return the first message I left. I recall so well the weird, whining sound in his voice. The malaise that affected all but the one brother (whom I only met once) and to some degree the father, would least this ex-friend to make extremely cruel jokes–and he did this from time to time long before he became ill.

    I should also include that that New Age text ‘A Course in Miracles’, written by Helen Shucman (who claims Christ really wrote it, and Oprah Winfrey bought all this hook, line and sinker when Marianne williamson went on her show to sell it) only claims the Holy Spirit knows a ‘kind of everything’, but naturally doesn’t include mathematics, because that is ‘man-made’ according to pure religion. But that’s why Kay’s rambling is sufficient, since Laplace = God = Satan = Cthulhu. And apparently now Meillassoux, who thinks he’s got something to say about a ‘God’ who could exist and not exist from time to time.

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 11:14 am

  85. One of the things I like least about so much of American “literary fiction” is its refusal to deal with any subject matter other than ordinary things. These things are not imbued with wonder but rather with tedium: ordinary conversations, ordinary pursuits, ordinary people (though of course well educated East coast ordinarians). This purported realism is supposed to show the author’s subtle aesthetic, but it’s as formulaic as any genre. Von Trier’s movie is about something. Often Robbe-Grillet isn’t really about anything, but he certainly imbues the ordinary with a strange sort of wonder that transports it out of ordinary perception.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 11:20 am

  86. Sympathize with that up to a point. The ‘sense of wonder’ about ‘ordinary things’ I find very much in American literary fiction, from Hawthorne to Faulkner and Hemingway to Mailer and others. The ‘sense of wonder’ about ‘ordinary things’ has to come, to some degree, from the perceiver, I’d say primarily. That’s why the sense of wonder can be applicable to either what is usually thought ordinary or to what is usually thought extraordinary. I like what R-G does, too, of course, but it has not been more influential on me (just sticking to writers) than what Didion has done. Hers is more straightforward, but she can also write about the Manson murders in such a way that you want to go to some of the actual sites and see where such things were, al least it affected me that way. Robbe-Grillet is, as has often been said, serialism, and is to cinema and novels what Boulez’s serialization is to music. There’s a ‘not-quite-satisfying’ aspect to this denatured kind of thing that is part of its purpose, but ultimately, what Kay said about ‘the inevitable’ may be true (taking it literally, that is, whether he meant it that way or not.) One does not want ‘no nourishment’ or ‘half-nourishment’ or ‘junk nourishment’ after awhile, no matter how ‘cool’ some of it is. ‘Marienbad’ is itself not enough not to make you need something else as well (incidentally, ‘Muriel’ indeed does not have this denatured quality to that ‘Marienbad’ degree, so you can see the R-G stamp on the latter, ‘Muriel’ is a kind of ‘weeping without tears’, wouldn’t you say? It’s devastatingly sad. I had some arguments with Christian and also the CPC troll some years ago about Resnais’s recent work, which I think extremely poor, but they were both very serious about this film ‘Coeurs’, now about 3 years old, with its serialism reduced to snowfalls in Paris, which are particularly sickening, because snow is one thing that is not associated with Paris in any characteristic way, even though it happens there.) And there are some Mailer novels, such as ‘The Deer Park’, and ‘The American Dream’ as well, that supply much of what R-G and others of that nouveau roman group, don’t, can’t and also don’t want to. Also, Hemingway’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ or Faulkner’s Snopes trilogy. Do not those, for all their mundane characteristics and concern with realism, induce ‘wonder’ quite easily, if only how Hemingway could bring Pilar’s rhapsodies about her days in Valencia, or how Faulkner could bring alive Mink Snopes’s one moment of happiness?

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 11:43 am

  87. These are ordinary things captured by extraordinary writers, whose books I like and admire a great deal. The only book of Mailer’s that I read was Ancient Evenings, which certainly was not an ordinary subject but which was excellent. I read some stories by Hawthorne recently, and he is very good. It’s funny that he feels obliged to impose his Puritan judgment on his characters, but it’s clear that their little sins are what draws him to them. In any event, Melancholia is not bombastic on the contemporary Hollywood blockbuster scale, but more like Wagner whose music is played again and again. The wedding feast isn’t just a slice of life; it’s half a lifetime rolled into one night. And then the second half is the end of the world, which is pretty extraordinary even without Industrial Light and Magic.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  88. I see LVT as a kind of ‘pop’ version of Michael Haneke. Himself pretty apocalyptic but with more subtlety, less theatrical about his own neuroses, more conscious of wider social realities. Like there’s two ideas of ‘Europe’ at play. I find LVT fans dislike Haneke as ‘cold’, but get excited about LVT’s gimmicks like talking animals, Brecht-cheese, peculiar choices of pop songs etc. The Piano Teacher has more direct emotional impact than Breaking the Waves, which has a kind of underground comic OTT-ness in its sadism.

    LVT’s misanthropy is very much a reaction against the 60s and ideas of personal liberation. He’s been quite open about this, like his spiritual cousin Houllebeq. Both of them have ‘mother issues’ that they channel in deeply resentful ways. And both have been subject to racial controversies they deliberately provoked. Haneke’s about making audiences uneasy, but without the reassurance of nervous giggles by clowning up his own persona.

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    Comment by W.Kasper — 14 October 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  89. I like Haneke’s movies, and that makes me uneasy.

    I can see the connection between von Trier and Houellebecq. H’s novels certainly have an adolescent bravado and goofiness to them, which vT apparently demonstrates in his interviews.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  90. “H’s novels certainly have an adolescent bravado and goofiness to them”

    Now, that really makes it convenient. I have read TWO novels by Houllebecq, and I am quite ashamed that I did (not the one, but the two). They are both written in an authoritative way, but ‘Platform’ is totally loathsome, and is basically the worst porno I have ever read, bar none. The characters fall in love, get married, and then start have heavily detalied group sex within a matter of months. Now, if that’s not a stupid plotline, I don’t know what is. The only thing that stays with me is that same outfit Nouvelles Frontieres that I made give me back my original Tahiti ticket in 2002 (when I didn’t have the money really), as is written about in Day of Cine-Musique. What then happened is that ‘dull’ trip in 2002 occurred, that was meant to replicate the gorgeous late-2001 one, and otherwise was distinguished only because I brought a piece of not-wonderful Waterford vase out and bought orchids at Secret Motel–because the roses were outrageously priced. The couple in Platform were Nouvelles Frontieres employees, they had ZERO personality, and when she’s killed in Thailand (after another ‘dream trip’), you’re in disbelief that you’re supposed to take her death as causing the husband grief, since they were just sex-objects looking for new toys. You’d think he was trying to imitate the end of Faulkner’s ‘The Wild Palms’, when Wilbourne decides ‘grief is better than nothing’, as he sits in prison after her failed abortion on his lover. Houllebecq even makes a point of even despoiling all the pristine locations, the white-sand beaches of Thailand (never been there, but my niece raves on about them), saying that ‘everything is touristy now’. Well, that’s part of the shit ethos that apocalypse-lovers are deeply into, because PLACE is still there. We’ve discussed before LvT’s loathing of place, naturally I wish to boycott every piece of shit he comes up with. It’s only people that don’t have any palate for places that thing that ‘there are really none left’. Such a FUCKING CROCK OF SHIT.

    Fuck, even the place I’m going to get my annual flu shot will have a goddam sense of place (just talked to them, although that’s not a ‘place’ to belabour. Some of the state assembly people offer free ones, you just call for an appointment, and they give you 15 minutes. Why not do that instead of some dumb Rite-Aid for $30 bucks you could spend on Calamari?

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  91. Also, there was some gratification in that, by the time I read the repulsive novel, Nouvelles Frontieres seemed to have gone out of business, and the 2nd trip (only 8 months later) had to be ordered directly from the airlines. They only refunded me in 2002 because I threatened legal action through an Amex program.

    What you said about Wagner was interesting, though, and the problem is that when people use a lot of Wagner in their films, they are usually also trying to proclaim ‘being-Wagnerian’, I can’t imagine von Trier wouldn’t want to. And it doesn’t work. You can’t do it, absolutely zilch, nada. You can hate Wagner, but you can’t SEE Wagner unless it’s just Wagner, not trying to be the ‘cinematic Wagner’. Is that what LvT is trying to do? D.W. Griffith’s ‘Birth of a Nation’ is racist, but it is not a piece of fakery, and, of course, the Ride of the Valkyries is ridiculous at the end with the KKK as heroes (although unquestionably a singular juxtaposition with wormy white-crackers being given the roles of virile Germanic types), that still doesn’t inform the whole movie except insofar as it actually does point up the smallness of the Ku Klux Klan. Furthermore, D.W. Griffith is so far in the distant past that some of it can’t be explained except by mores ‘of the time’ (including in the north), but also he knew all about story-telling, and wasn’t afraid to do it, with a truly grand sweep, as especially in most segments of ‘Intolerance’. LvT does come across as a brat, much like Jonathan Franzen used to. btw, forgot to respond to that post you did on that excerpt. I always think it’s interesting when people compare things like ‘weight’ when it’s different orders of reality, so different orders of weight. That comparison may be literarily all right–the thing about the ‘merest feather’ or what have you–but the ‘disappearance, death’, all that about our individual and collective lives that is supposed to disappear and ‘weigh less’ than that poor feather, actually make the feather’s weight to be comparable more to a ton than to this ‘trenchant loss of significance’. Of course, he’s a skilled writer, and is definitely working the p.r. circuits to get rid of his ‘brat reputation’, as I believe I mentioned, with his ‘uncool birdwatching’ hobby. I can’t make myself read Franzen, although even in excerpts he’s better than Houellebecq.

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 3:27 pm

  92. My experience is the same with Houellebecq: two novels, more than enough. Another writer that comes to mind like this, not pornographic but adolescent, is Murakami. He’s regarded highly, but for my tastes he’s writing stories about very ordinary shmoes who happen to have magical realism encounters randomly thrown in. Philip Dick’s characters too were adolescent, mostly along the stoner side of things, but he had some really clever ideas. Franzen has a sense of place, his characters interact in detailed ways with their locales, but at the same time as the jaded sophisticated Midwesterner he presents his Midwestern locales as virtually interchangeable. DF Wallace did the same thing: an Illinois boy who went to college in the East and who presented very specific places as kind of abstract post-locales. My experience of places is quite similar to theirs, having lived in enough places to see them as more similar than different, and so I don’t find these writers’ displacement off-putting. While the castle in Melancholia is distinctly European it’s surrounded by an 18-hole golf course to emphasize its having been made generic and global. Again, for me this is acceptable.

    It’s interesting to think about Muriel as unfolding in a specific place. It’s clearly French, set in a specific beach town on the north coast, but Resnais intentionally blurs the distinctiveness. He shows the walls and gate of the old part of the city, the goat farmer, and the old atelier as remnants of when this place was distinctive. But the war’s devastation combined with generically hideous postwar architecture are turning this place into any other place. That Muriel runs an antique store out of her apartment adds a blurring of time to this blurring of place we see in the town. It was interesting to me because the shops and the apartment buildings looked very much like many neighborhoods in the far south of France, and that’s nearly 50 years later. So for a foreigner there’s a distinctive Frenchness even if, for the French, the salt has lost its savor. I’ll be curious to see Marienbad again, because as I recall it unfolds in a very abstract place: European to be sure, but insulated from any national or local character.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  93. I have to withdraw my engagement with this last round of comments given that Immoral Dances is applying Colonel Chabert’s methodology of ranting about movies she has never seen, which is bout as interesting as tits on a boar, and then topping that with the absurdity of deeming ”Marienbad” visually more appealing (?) because of course all things 1960s must be better than new things. All this as an elaborate excuse not to ask John to share the downloaded file, probably for fear of electrocuting one’s ass in the process.

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    Comment by parody center — 14 October 2011 @ 5:46 pm

  94. What the thread has inadvertently exposed about ‘Melancholia’ is that it is a kind of putrefaction, not a ‘living-dead’ with an emphasis on the ‘balance while musing on the always-already or the living = dead,

    This tops Comrade Fox’s impromptu adumbrations by being aggressively irrevelvant (and inaccurate – but it couldn’t be accurate since the writer hasn’t seen the film)

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    Comment by parody center — 14 October 2011 @ 5:48 pm

  95. Yes I think we’re missing in these abstractions the humanity of the main characters, the languid aestheticism of even the most grandiose themes, and the emotional impact of the movie. In short, it reached out and touched me, though it didn’t electrocute my ass. Frankly, I don’t know how to send a video file via email.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  96. “Marienbad is a town in the Czech Republic (though it is not clear whether the film’s setting is meant to be Marienbad or somewhere else). Resnais filmed the scenes within several châteaux and their grounds, including the Nymphenburg Palace and Schleissheim Palace in Bavaria”.

    But that’s very obvious: Those chateaux are PLACE, even if they aren’t lived in like that in real life (and no place ever has quite like that, although attempts have been made). So I don’t think much of this wiki-writer who says:

    “He edited them to produce a disorienting space that does not make geographical sense.”

    Not really. It’s the time-warp that doesn’t make sense, if anything, and that’s mostly the ‘timelessness’ embodied by Delphine’s amnesia, which comes across as so artificial you’re supposed to even think of it as such (as some writers describing themselves in their texts and why some passage is thus and so, I do a lot of that and so do other writers.). If you have endless repetitions of ‘heavy baroque paintings, thick carpets down endless halls..’ whatever the translation of the Robbe-Grillet script, you’ve got geographical space even if it’s fictive. You don’t have to know if it’s France or Germany, although either of those or Italy come to mind because of those overtly sadistic formal gardens, a veritable coronet for some aristocrat or two. ‘Place’ doesn’t have be on the road map. And the way the ‘jaded midwesterners’ get very specific about ‘interchangeable place’ is still not anti-place. I can think of my birthplace in the South both ways: As a quaint and unusual thing with a rural character, or as a place now rather non-descript and barely worth describing, at least for me, but someone else could. DeLillo even does that with New York sometimes. Didion has done it with airports. Again, it is the perceiver who brings about a lot of it. I think ‘generalized place’ might be what I object to, and LvT is very good at that, famous for never coming to America (unless he has since Antichrist.) There are all kinds of ‘place’ that aren’t as strict as what I’ve sometimes wanted to do, which takes place into character. ‘Characterless places’ can also be ‘real places’, even if they’re unpleasant, and if they have lost their ‘characterful charm’, they should be said to have. That’s not the same as talking about places you haven’t been to, as Updike thought he could do in ‘Brazil’. It ended up having a lot of good passages in it, but is not especially impressive–comes across as primarily phallic in a weirdly overt way that you wouldn’t expect from Updike.

    I guess what I don’t like is ‘wrong place’, or ‘imagined real place’. Either do a fairy-tale setting like in ballet in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ or the peasants in ‘Giselle’, or a half-dream place that also has elements of real aristocratic Europe as in Marienbad, or don’t expect a lot of people not to notice that you’re being a slob. You know, I’ve written in a number of places about Nick’s annoying me with his extreme Shanghai ‘chauvinism’, because I think it goes into hyperbole–and I think it because it does. But maybe THAT place has to, because Shanghai is known right now for having this future orientation, even though there’s plenty of ‘old Shanghai’ around. I think he is primarily wrong that it’s so central as a metropolis (at least in this particular present), but even so, he is always talking about a PLACE. He’s in love with it. That seems to balance out some of his other cyber-talk. It’s possible that Shanghai feels like a combination of physical and digital at the same time, I’m just guessing. But, you know, even though R-G’s ‘La Maison de Rendezvous’ has a ‘noir Hong Kong’ atmosphere, that’s still a real place, just like there is so much ‘LA noir’ in Chandler that isn’t nearly the only LA people live in–but you can find it out there, there’s a real ‘LA noir’ sensation in a lot of real places. Anyway, some things like that. But I like what you pointed out about ‘Muriel’, and the whole environment in which she lives, in which everything disintegrates, is very touching, because she cannot make it. ‘Marienbad’s ending is as strange as anything else about it: It is as if, after all this, one would expect at least an ‘arty unhappy ending’, but you don’t get it. You get a wonderfully pretentious happy ending, maybe the best of its kind (if there is a such kind of thing.)

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  97. Well I have no intention of ever seeing the film, but can safely say LVT is by far the most overrated director of the 21st century, and that Kirsten Dunst and Keifer Sutherland are not only lousy actors, but have all the charisma used toe-plasters.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 14 October 2011 @ 6:20 pm

  98. So the verdict is in: the two people who watched the movie liked it, the two who didn’t — didn’t. On the marquee for tonight: Asphalt Jungle by John Huston.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  99. I have very localized experiences like the recently-described procession of odd women. This experience is important especially in its details, since I know no nothing of the larger abstract context in which it is embedded. Framed by the mountains, the procession is very strictly localized. And yet this event could have happened anywhere; there seems nothing specific about its geographical or cultural context. And yet it is very Boulder to see this sort of anomalous new-agey performance. The older sense of place is the wild West frontier, but that’s mostly up in the mountains even though where I live is built directly on top of an old mine. Then came the beatniks, this being an old hangout of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Then it became a hippie stoner ski bum outpost. All of these place identifiers are characterized by transience, by people who came here from somewhere else, a place characterized wave after wave by the impermanence of its populace. Now all of those place markers are smeared together as image, and the impermanence is indistinguishable from that of most other centers of affluence and education and youth. It’s a place selected on statistical grounds: scenery, weather, central location in the US, recreational opportunities, school system, demographic profile, etc. It’s beneath these aggregate markers indicating high quality of life, against the global backdrop, that strange details sometimes make themselves known. And in a way the generic nature of this place keeps the everyday events from becoming washed away in the local-color kitsch that so often coats stories about the southern US, or Italy, or Ireland, or even England in its historical posh cinematic image.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 6:48 pm

  100. “While the castle in Melancholia is distinctly European it’s surrounded by an 18-hole golf course to emphasize its having been made generic and global. Again, for me this is acceptable.”

    But isn’t this LvT one different in kind from all the others you and I have both discussed (and most know that ‘Muriel’ is Boulogne-sur-Mer, although that’s another issue, a matter of degree and there are probably stark comparisons between the U.S. and Europe–except that I am very often surprised…still, I’ll think in terms of ‘that’s what’s left’ sometimes. I almost panicked when my favourite cheap Cuban-Chinese was barricaded up the other night, closed like so many other local favourites. It was, after all, later than I thought, and they were just through for the day.

    I wondered if some of these Las Vegas gigantic resort casinos derived from Mediterranean palazzo (and this isn’t nearly the only one are what LvT sees as ‘au courant’. You can tell me. Because what you have described Boulder as having is much more characterful, although perhaps one can decide that Vegas has unique character even if vile. But these European-based things are now not even meant to be imaginative versions of European styles, but rather exact replicas (or almost) to bring a sense of grandiosity to big-spending tourists. Hotels, for example, done in various French and Italian styles some 40 or 50 years ago in LA or New York did not have that ‘Disney World/Orlando’ quality. There’s some of it here too, but Vegas has undergone a vast transformation in the last 10 years even. I don’t know if I’d say it was characterless, but it’s got to be one of the weirdest places on earth (I’ve only seen it at night from the air, it’s a jewel that way and that’s enough), and the motels for poor people who can’t make even a dime more in California are part of the huge population boom in Vegas, with these elaborate resorts screaming the other end of things. There was a NYTimes article about 5 years ago describing those ‘motels’, not even quite the word, where there are no sheets or towels even. There’s just something about that town about which the very concept is depressing. Yes, I guess I’d say that Vegas has moved toward the dominant leisure-mode style of ‘theme-parkism’ having moved out of the theme parks into the more mainstream vicinities, and I would think von Trier could easily go there without disturbing what he imagines ‘america is really like’, couldn’t he? Yes, that’s part of it, and the sameness too, including in Europe, else how could there by EuroDisney? I remember when I first heard about EuroDisney, I was in disbelief–possible almost anywhere else. It was as if the French were saying ‘Oh no, we really adored all those MacDonald’s and Burger Kings all along, we just wanted to be condescending French stereotypes.

    http://www.palazzo.com/

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  101. “So the verdict is in: the two people who watched the movie liked it, the two who didn’t — didn’t.”

    LOL – Obama should use a variation of that sentence for his 2012 campaign!

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 14 October 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  102. What you said about Wagner was interesting, though, and the problem is that when people use a lot of Wagner in their films, they are usually also trying to proclaim ‘being-Wagnerian’, I can’t imagine von Trier wouldn’t want to. And it doesn’t work. You can’t do it, absolutely zilch, nada. You can hate Wagner, but you can’t SEE Wagner unless it’s just Wagner, not trying to be the ‘cinematic Wagner’.

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    Comment by parody center — 14 October 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  103. http://www.palazzo.com/Las-Vegas-Amenities/Activities/Gondala-Rides/

    I don’t know, this seems as extreme as I’ve seen. Once on this page, I wasn’t sure for a second that they still meant Las Vegas. Maybe LvT does know how tacky this is, but he may really think this is ‘the American Real’, or at least has some of the look of what he wants to see when he ‘presents America’. . Who knows, maybe it is, what with the Tea Party holding the whole nation hostage, but he’d want to be portraying the biillionaires who imagine they’ve got aristocratic roots. It’s also worth pointing out that he’s the only director ever to make Catherine Deneuve look piggy, in ‘Dancer in the Dark’. That says it all, she was absolutely ridiculous in that, I think even had some dirt-smudges on her face. Hateful, fucked-up movie.

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  104. I just finished Asphalt Jungle — a good caper movie, though Rififi improved on it in just about every way. Jean Hagen was really touching as Doll, Sterling Hayden’s would-be girlfriend. And Marilyn Monroe is hot in a small role, a can’t-miss movie star.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 14 October 2011 @ 9:51 pm

  105. Saw Asphalt Jungle a long time ago, but I remember Monroe was at her best in that one and then later in ”Bus Station”. In all the other movies she was completely conforming to the Halliwud persona they invented for her, with that breathy little voice and tit posturing.

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    Comment by parody center — 14 October 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  106. That is the stupidest remark you’ve ever made, bar none. And it’s ‘Bus STOP’.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  107. Okay, you two win. Thank Anne for the photos, it was good work.

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 14 October 2011 @ 11:05 pm

  108. It was Bus Stop and Monroe was underrated as a great comic actor – that childishly-vulnerable-but-invincible thing most great comic actors have (but maybe her timing was down to slick editing?). She was a bit too ‘cartoony’ to really click as a noir moll.

    Asphalt’s good, but I remember watching it back to back with Kubrick’s The Killing and it felt too ponderous and 30s creaky in comparison (and Rififi IS awesome). Sterling Hayden was always pretty good, right up to the Godfather and Long Goodbye.

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    Comment by W.Kasper — 14 October 2011 @ 11:36 pm

  109. W in media school I would have given you a straight F for this piece of ”writing” – what is ”the childishly-vulnerable-but-invincible” thing that ”most great comic actors have”? And how was her timing down to slick editing?

    And what am I supposed to do with your impression that ”Asphalt’s good”, but because you were watching it back to back with ”The Killing”, especially since you don’t explain how and why it was ponderous and creaky in comparison to WHAT???

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    Comment by parody center — 15 October 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  110. 105.That is the stupidest remark you’ve ever made, bar none. And it’s ‘Bus STOP’.

    Oh EXCUSE ME for sacralizing this unforgettable American icon, whose curvatures could have prevented 9-11 were the poor thing still alive. What I really wanted to say is that the hick obviously had some raw talent or she wouldn’t have been able to even do the Bus STOP, but that this talent got drowned in her tits because well, that’s what the studio bosses wanted – a hick with good tits. But nothing surprises me anymore since you once even said that Kim Novak was an ”underrated actress”.

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    Comment by parody center — 15 October 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  111. And you’re right, in a way, for the bold acting of Miss Novak’s tits without a bra, indeed, was vastly underrated.

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    Comment by parody center — 15 October 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  112. SMC – this is a comments box. I’m not using the space to discuss the distinguishing characteristics of classic comedy performance. Nor will I storm in with an elaborate dissertation on the heist movie sub-genre. To do so on Mr. Doyle’s blog may be obnoxious – a word I recommend you check out in the dictionary some day.

    I’ll leave such scintillating insights to your own laughably ignorant attempts at ‘aesthetic theory’ (after you work out that the pace of movie scenes depend on – duh! – editing). Go knock yourself out at CPC. I expect it will have something to do with the relationship of penises to male backsides, and the usual resentments based on your continuing failure to understand feminism, queer theory, Marxism, or why people find you unfunny and repulsive.

    Here’s an aesthetic critique even you can understand: I like Marilyn Monroe because she had a nice ass. Will that do?

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 15 October 2011 @ 5:28 pm

  113. PS. “talent got drowned in her tits” is an interesting turn of phrase coming from yourself. Is this how you’ve defined yourself since infancy? The resentful anti-oedipal mirror stage you’re trapped in, like a laboratory gerbil?

    Or is it the title of a screenplay you submitted to Lars?

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    Comment by W.Kasper — 15 October 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  114. Now see, this is where comment moderation gets dicey. Is #109 a personal criticism (which I delete), or is it a psychoanalytic interpretation? Is there a difference between the two? To be clear, criticizing Marilyn personally is OK, not because she’s dead, but because she would never have been bothered to read what we have to say about her.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 15 October 2011 @ 6:18 pm

  115. Nah nothing personal, more a critique of a fundamentally flawed methodology.

    I’m sure Marilyn would at least have been a regular reader of Pere Lebrun, were she still with us. ; )

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    Comment by W.Kasper — 15 October 2011 @ 7:54 pm

  116. I’m not using the space to discuss the distinguishing characteristics of classic comedy performance.

    OH HOW KIND AND MODEST OF YOU. Instead you’re using this space to barf up everything with the justified self-loathing of your mediocrity as intellect, critic, writer, in fact as anything other than an employee of the Bastion of Depravity. BURP I say!

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    Comment by parody center — 15 October 2011 @ 11:26 pm

  117. Well I see the above comment didn’t get moderated (enough). Hypocrisy – or special treatment?

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    Comment by W.Kasper — 16 October 2011 @ 10:26 am

  118. Seems consistent to me. Critique of thinking, writing, etc. is fine. “Self-loathing” seems on a par with “laboratory gerbil” as an analytic intervention.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 16 October 2011 @ 10:42 am

  119. You’re right – I should have been more scientific. I meant to say laboratory rat.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 16 October 2011 @ 11:15 am

  120. Speaking of understanding Marxism, I went to the Dutch version of ”Occupy Wall Street”. 3000 people tweeted their presence, but half of that showed up, and when they did, it was underwhelming to say the least. Dozens of ILLUMINATI theorists and 9-11 truthies, some Zizek posters, and a holistic-New Agey organization ”Zeitgeist” advertising their activism.The activism is apparently about replacing the money exchange system with ”another” exchange system, but the organization doesn’t specify which, and this I think explains their miniscule success so far in limiting the power of Wall Street. However they sound somewhat better than the Illuminati theoreticians, for whom EVERYTHING is a conspiracy of the rich. Someone brought a ”V for Vendetta” mask, which reminded me of the 2006 blogging about this subject. Half the crowd was dressed in retro-hippie clothing and dancing stupidly in retro-fashion as though there was anything left of the 1960s collectivity spirit. Somewhere in the afternoon a group of youngsters appeared, the Facebook generation, and that was the only moment that gave it some value for me – the idea that not just farted-out vulgar Marxists think there’s something wrong with the world.

    Like

    Comment by parodium — 16 October 2011 @ 1:33 pm

  121. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/sunday-review/wall-street-protest-shows-power-of-place.html

    Superb Times article, I posted all of it at IDNYC. The way the protests have grown is quite thrilling, whether or not it’s confusing (how could it be otherwise?). I didn’t even know about the Washington Square gathering yesterday till just now, and that’s just a few blocks over. The best thing is that they weren’t thrown out of Zucotti the other day, because of the calls from officials and others. It’s almost like a reversal of the ‘let’s go on and get it out of the way’ that was especially noticeable at Waco in 1993. They did NOT have to do that, and Janet Reno’s endless regrets about the decision by her and Clinton to send in the FBI is what one expects to happen. In another sense, it seems that the recent talk about British police is a result of not having the same kind of ‘violent country’ that the U.S. has long been. Minor things are taken seriously there that wouldn’t be here (that’s a generalization that I’m basing partially on time spent in New York, Paris and London in the 70s, with New York far more fear-inducing, and Paris and London far, far less. You just didn’t feel that streets were unsafe, whereas even ‘good neighborhoods’ here, short of Park Avenue, often felt threatening otoh, I haven’t heard as much talk of ‘crime-ridden America’ as I did 20 years ago as a general fixed notion, always coming up, and indeed Giuliani did reduce a lot of that, and went way too far and absurdly sometimes as well.) I don’t see the protests on Times Square as being ‘symbolic’ in any important way like the Wall Street ones. That’s general and actually stupid. Times Square is commercial, but it’s still people of all kinds, not the monochrome of Downtown Financial District and Wall Street. There are, of course, offices for all the important banks, etc., in midtown as well as downtown, but there’s ‘fun stuff’ and ‘human stuff’ too. People may admire architectural treasures in DT Manhattan, but everybody loves Midtown: It symbolized fun in ‘Fun City’, Mayor John V. Lindsay’s old slogan. Although I don’t care if they protest Times Square either, since part of this whole package is kind of ‘basically just protest income inequality’, so you can really do anything you want, even protest the pasta I paid $14 for a couple of hours before at a friend’s restaurant.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 16 October 2011 @ 7:54 pm

  122. Yep – it really doesn’t understand Marxism (what exactly do ‘Illuminati’ theorists have to do with Marxism?). It also doesn’t understand film, art, other human beings – or indeed itself. If it did, it would realise the pathetic, self-negating ironies of using the word ‘vulgar’ pejoratively.

    But then, it’s never been particularly bright. Can we blame Tito for this?

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 16 October 2011 @ 7:56 pm

  123. New 26-foot-tall Marilyn sculpture in Chicago:

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 16 October 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  124. Interesting how incredibly bad it is, yet effective as a part of defining a piece of city–it hasn’t the quality of an ‘artist’s sculpture’, but rather as a kind relative of a ‘park sculpture’ usually reserved for war heroes–they’re all over Central Park, most little parks have at least one, and it’s never the sculptural artistry that’s at issue, rather just which distinguished person has been so honoured (you usually read the engraved descriptions of the achievements more than you study the statue as you would at a museum.). This one comes across as a sculpture of a suburban housewife dressing up like Marilyn, fantasizing. I heard about this recently, I think, but it doesn’t quite register.

    As per my post on Marilyn as deneuve’s favourite actress, it is also of some importance that her favourite Marilyn movie is ‘The Misfits’. ‘The Misfits’ is a great movie even if it’s not exactly a ‘good movie’. Norman Mailer’s purple prose in ‘Marilyn’ was never put to better use. Every film is detailed in a totally original way, including surprising things about Olivier and ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’. Primarily, there are the famous stories of ‘Some Like it Hot’, easily her best film for me.

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 16 October 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  125. A lot of huge sculptures have been installed in downtown Chicago over the years, beginning I guess with the Picasso outside City Hall. Why this one I wonder, since the scene to which the pose does homage took place in NYC? This same sculptor, Steward Johnson, previously had a giant American Gothic sculpture erected at this same site, so it’s not likely that the Marilyn will become a permanent fixture in Chi.

    I liked the Times write-up on the Occupy movement, emphasizing the importance of real people occupying physical places rather than just a flurry of twittering.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 16 October 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  126. I wondered if maybe “Seven Year Kitsch” might not make a good title for the sculpture. I googled the phrase: someone wrote a piece with that title on the Art Institute of Chicago website, discussing and pretty thoroughly renouncing the artistry of the Marilyn sculpture and the taste of those who decided to put it up in the city. The video shows that the face is quite crudely rendered, but the pedestrians in the square can’t even see it since she’s looking upward. All they can see is the ass. It’s scheduled to come down in the spring.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 16 October 2011 @ 10:47 pm

  127. That statue’s hideous, but so kitsch and tacky it’s kinda compelling. Reminds me of ‘novelty’ beer bottle holders I’ve seen in flea markets. It manages to make her look look like a 50 year old female impersonator, plastered with make-up to conceal the craggy butchness (is the statue wearing pants BTW? MM famously didn’t).

    But then I think the recent Martin Luther King one was a kitsch disgrace too. Reminds me of Han Solo when he got frozen for Jabba the Hut. It’s lit up like an 80s space epic too.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 17 October 2011 @ 1:15 am

  128. The pants are on, as can be seen on the video, and they don’t look detachable either. Maybe after its Chicago run the giant Marilyn will make an appearance in Las Vegas, where it would fit right in. The MLKJr is 30 feet tall, 4 feet taller than Marilyn, so I guess they’d look okay together on a date. Dude has got to loosen up a little though.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 October 2011 @ 7:08 am

  129. Yep – it really doesn’t understand Marxism (what exactly do ‘Illuminati’ theorists have to do with Marxism?)

    Whenever I visit such events, which admittedly isn’t often, Marxists strut together with the Illuminati conspirators – they’re apparently best pals – and the Marxists also seem to love the 911 truthers. But I got a clear sense from occupy that the youngsters, whose agenda it isn’t to bring down the ‘profit system’, rather to make the existing system more livable, are going to make some difference, not the Commie BORSCHT. Exactly as is written in the NY Times article that Immoral Dances linked.

    The Marilyn sculpture isn’t just merely kitsch, it’s also an attempt to create history out of its total absence, as though Halliwud movies were ”history”. Still I think it is a fitting monument to the voluptuous hick, whose essential tackiness is well-rendered by those exaggerated legs and the huge ass.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 17 October 2011 @ 9:12 am

  130. “The Marilyn sculpture isn’t just merely kitsch, it’s also an attempt to create history out of its total absence, as though Halliwud movies were ”history”. Still I think it is a fitting monument to the voluptuous hick, whose essential tackiness is well-rendered by those exaggerated legs and the huge ass.”

    This is a worthy companion to ‘Bus Station’, hick-howler of the month. Although I don’t know if that was funnier than “attempt to create history out of its total absence”. I still like the total prostration to Deneuve when her recent film came out, the discussion with the troll about ‘licking her toes’, only to find that that photo, which I chose carefully, even has a touch of Deneuve in the face.

    Marilyn Monroe was not a ‘hick’. That’s a word CPC has used quite a lot, for me and others, and it may well apply to the greatness of Serbian culture, of which almost no one is aware. On the other hand, surely compared to Marilyn, Madonna (who imitated Marilyn in the 80s with appalling failure, always looking pinched and ugly) and Kylie Minogue are ‘great artists’.

    In any case, there was no attempt to do anything but let this ‘sculptor’ put something in Chicago. I read some more about him and he’s not considered to be an artist by much of anyone. He’s from one of the great industrial families, and is a very wealthy man.

    The ‘sculpture’ is exactly like a mannequin of the sort that used to be seen in ladies’ dress shops all over the U.S., and probably elsewhere–or by now, some of the mannequins as the one in ‘The Blue Store’ porno shop on 8th Avenue here. The face is almost unbelievably bad, but the tight panties fitting on a very non-Marilyn ass are also obscene in their ‘smooth-space’ fetishism.

    John, I now see that I had thought about trying to get to Chicago and really explore it. The architecture is well-known to be distinguished and the skyline, when flying directly over it, is gorgeous. It’s the other really big-city skyline in the U.S. before the imitations sprouted everywhere, and then the Asians started doing their versions. But skyscrapers are an American invention. My experience with Chicago is unique among all cities, as I think I’ve mentioned. I’ve flown into it some 14 times, but have never been inside it. I’ve flown over the lake coming into the city, in a stop before going to New Orleans in 2005, have sat waiting at Midway Airport looking at the nighttime skyline many times when I used to have a stop there on ATA on the way to L.A. (my leather jacket was definitely remarked upon at Midway by some black dudes). My aunt from Iowa was shown it very painstakingly by an architectural scholar friend of hers; she loves it. My brother worked there for a summer when he was still in high school, living with one of my father’s WWII buddies.

    But I don’t see how. As I wrote on the new post, there is a place I’m going to try to write about now, which is in some ways even harder than New York for me, but it’s possible now to cut all those ‘umbilical cords’ and just fly with the new things. It is partially inspired by your comment, and mine which followed, about how ‘American place’ has changed over the last 40 or 50 years in a radical way. It won’t be like Didion’s ‘Where I Was From’, but it won’t be sentimental poems (or not just those, I may do some if I think they’re good.) This place is harder to write about (and may be impossible), because the literature was the one cultural form which was thoroughly developed, and it seems to have been covered. I will have to see if there’s anything else, but I’ll be writing more posts in the next few days, since I only figured this out yesterday. One thing I’ve definitely done was get Truman Capote out of me. I don’t think he wrote but two good pieces beyond a short story or two, and even someone who didn’t appreciate Illegal Dances would know that I went ahead with what he was afraid to do with Answered Prayers. He suffered from ‘socialite envy’. He did not ‘love’ Lee Radziwill, and she easily picked this up; he wanted to BE her. And he couldn’t, because he went from being a pretty young fairy very quickly into being an extreme NELL who only enjoyed the company of ‘au courant ladies’, as he called them. That reminds me of the sex-change landlady in Amistad Maupin’s ‘Tales of the City’ about San Francisco, and played in the series so well by Olympia Dukakis. I didn’t read it, but the first series (not the two sequel-series) was quite good in its limited way. She said she had the sex-change ‘because I wanted the friendship of women’. That remains a completely inscrutable statement to me, and is worth pondering. A boy at Juilliard who was always getting his feelings hurt in class did not seem especially ‘nellie’, but got his sex changed (all the way) in the late 80s or early 90s, changing his name from David B. to Sara Davis B. I expressed something quite crude to someone else who knew him–that he wanted to have a more explicit kind of sex with a man. But I don’t think he was even homosexual. This other Juilliard buddy said “Patrick, I don’t think he was thinking about getting fucked ‘better’, he just wanted to be a woman.” Yes, indeed, I had not thought of that on my own.

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    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 17 October 2011 @ 10:17 am

  131. There’s one passage in IDNYC in which I do refer to Marilyn and Mailer’s strangely beautiful and passionate book about her (which was badly received at the time.) That would relate to the ‘not wearing pants’. It’s in the ‘Stompanato Cine-Musique’ section of Book II, in which i write about how Mailer wrote that ‘Marilyn, like many an artist, would retain a smell’, so that it would recall recent amorous experience; this would be remarked upon, according to Mailer, by shopgirls on 57th Street or thereabouts, where she was iiving at the time. Last Thanksgiving, the New York Times published some of Marilyn’s extremely complex and sophisticated stuffing recipes that she’d worked out and written out by hand. I was surprised, but then she was always full of surprises, marrying Arthur Miller, and all the things she did in a short ‘lifetime of several lifetimes’.

    Before Marilyn was even as well-known as she’d be even by ‘Clash by Night’ or ‘Niagara’, she was at a party which was also attended by Liz Taylor, who was well-known by then. Mailer reports that Liz had been drinking, and said of Marilyn ‘GET THAT DYKE AWAY FROM ME!’ She had to have been quite an actress, it seems.

    Mailer wrote ‘fatherless child, Dickens would have loved you’.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 17 October 2011 @ 10:51 am

  132. I wonder where the ‘strange passion’ of Mailer comes from, must be she was the first time he got to hump high quality ass after all the nerd hags he dated in highschool.

    Madanna actually irritates me lately, especially with this V & I movie, which sounds like something you could have made if you had any real clout amongst British aristocracy. Also pictures appeared on the net that show the reality of ”taking care for your body” and where that leads up to. https://bigship.tv/News/topless-madonna-photo-leaked-photo-evidence

    At least though she was an intelligent lesb’an, while Marylin ended up a poster in Warszawa’s bedroom – I apologize in advance for the horrible image that this conjures.

    Kylie, though, remains a Godess.

    but the tight panties fitting on a very non-Marilyn ass are also obscene in their ‘smooth-space’ fetishism.

    now you’re finally talking some sense!

    Like

    Comment by parodium — 17 October 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  133. Does this mean that we can look forward to some Illegal Dances of Dixieland? Over the past thirty years or so Chicago has sprouted what amounts to a second downtown on the other side of the Chicago River from the Loop, linking it to the “Magnificent Mile” of Michigan Avenue high-rises stretching along the lakefront. I hardly know the place any more.

    Did you see that Lady Gaga gave Bill Clinton a “Marilyn moment” at his 65th birthday bash?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 October 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  134. No.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 17 October 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  135. I still like the total prostration to Deneuve when her recent film came out,

    And she damn well deserves it, it’s one of her best roles so far. Her body suffered more decrepitude than Madanna’s, but because she isn’t trying to look 17 years old, she still looks good. Ozon puts her in all kinds of iconic gay situations, such as hitch-hiking in the middle of nowhere to get into the truck of a handsome driver, straight off the pages of Tom of Finland, and yet even in that cliched sordid kind of a situation, she doesn’t come off cheap. She plays a kind of an all-out aristocratic slut who develops from ”ambitious feminist politician” to ”mother of the nation”, and she is simultaneously ferocious as an uber-wermin, and convincing as the ultimate seductress. There’s nothing like her, at least not on film.

    I am CERTAINLY not going to prostrate myself for Marilyn. I’m sure she had more to offer than just tits, but she had no class, so she could never really show it. And even though you say the face on that sculpture is badly done, it does capture well that tiny Judy Garland nose and full lips that characterize the kitschy art direction of the period. And that’s all great for a blow job, but great acting – please. I’m sure I already quoted this many times:

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 17 October 2011 @ 3:55 pm

  136. “As I wrote on the new post, there is a place I’m going to try to write about now, which is in some ways even harder than New York for me, but it’s possible now to cut all those ‘umbilical cords’ and just fly with the new things. It is partially inspired by your comment, and mine which followed, about how ‘American place’ has changed over the last 40 or 50 years in a radical way. It won’t be like Didion’s ‘Where I Was From’, but it won’t be sentimental poems (or not just those, I may do some if I think they’re good.) This place is harder to write about (and may be impossible), because the literature was the one cultural form which was thoroughly developed, and it seems to have been covered.”

    What other place is it then, if not sweet home Alabama? Paris?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 17 October 2011 @ 4:42 pm

  137. Now it it lectures us about ‘class’. Who says irony died after 9-11?

    I did have a poster of Madonna as 13-year old. It was useful to those of us attracted to – but a bit scared of – the gum-chewing ‘bad girls’ in class. However, I saw the error of my ways by the time I was 14 thoigh. Sean Penn and shitty disco are a bad combo. Watch Carlito’s Way for further proof. Kylie isn’t just a pop star for men who hate women (and themselves) – she’s actually a pop star for people who hate people.

    When it comes to the aesthetics of my ‘thing’, I tend to trust the (approving) judgement of those who know about these things, rather than web-stalkers who think said things exist to be downloaded from ipads. Fortunately, I’ve mainly shared beds with people who don’t treat sex as a matricidal suicide cult. But Dutch whores have never been my cup of tea.

    ‘Illegal Dances of Confederate Transferance’ sounds like a winner BTW.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 17 October 2011 @ 5:38 pm

  138. Amy Winehouse said that Kylie wasn’t an artist, but a pony; and she’s completely right – but she misunderstood the meta-camp in Kylie’s act. Kylie doesn’t do camp in order to suck up to gays, or be their mother; she does it because she’s profoundly queer herself – much moreso than Lady Gaga. Because she takes the stereotypes of fragile femininity to such camp extremes, her brand of feminism is much more powerful than Madonna’s corporate friendly ”girl power”. This became clear to me when in the midst of ”Les Follies”, she climbed on a 3 meter tall black guy sporting angel wings and flew across the stage. This is where the show became more than camp, going into the surreal / Jean Genet territory.

    John I was just reminded having said this that there are many interesting parallels between ”All the Lovers” and ”Melancholia” in that both combine Romanticism with Nihilism, witness the brilliant moment in the video when Kylie falls into the ”hole” created by the dancers and sees a white horse approaching.

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 18 October 2011 @ 12:03 am

  139. Apropos of W’s recent post at his place about the French-Algerian war, Muriel by Resnais, which we talked about earlier in this thread, deals with the war’s aftermath. The film was made just after the war ended. Delphine Seyrig’s stepson was a soldier in Algeria; her former lover claims to have run a cafe in Algiers for many years. The stepson says that he is engaged to Muriel, that he goes to visit her frequently, but that she is ill. It turns out that Muriel was an Algerian woman whom the stepson and his fellow soldiers tortured, raped, and killed during the war, and about whom the son-in-law carries a burden of guilt. There are no French Algerians depicted in the movie, nor is Algeria itself visited or discussed other than from the French military and expatriate points of view. The cultural displacement and fear in which the “Francais-Francais” characters are enveloped proves to be a haunting by the national complicity in Algeria. The stepson spends a lot of time in his workshop restoring bits of film that he and presumably other soldiers shot while in Algeria. At the end of the film he shoots a fellow war veteran who was also involved in Muriel’s murder.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 18 October 2011 @ 7:53 am

  140. Kylie’s just shit, and while note a grotesque as Gaga, profoundly unerotic and uncharismatic.

    But the Algerian war lurks behind a lot of French New Wave films. Unlike Vietnam, it was rarely confronted head on – Le Petit Soldat was famously banned, but so was Kubrick’s Paths of Glory for being less than adulatory to the French military. Chabrol – a kind of mid point between Bresson’s ascetic Catholicism and Hanecke’s harsh atheism – mentions it a lot. It’s like the original sin of the French bourgeoisie in a few of his crime films, like Le Boucher.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 18 October 2011 @ 11:29 am

  141. Fortunately, I’ve mainly shared beds with people who don’t treat sex as a matricidal suicide cult.

    It’s interesting how you formulate your little wasp stings from the premise of your absolute psychosexual integrity – you’re not only normal, you’re also nice, articulate, humane, righteous, etc and your only blemish is that you tend to drink a little and you got in trouble with the ‘system’ – but this is nothing bad, this is simply the kind of a misfortune that strikes
    good people, the morally pure crusaders against capitalism – essentially, you are perfect: handsome, intelligent, talented, and RIGHT.

    Le Colonel Sherbert also used to lecture me for not being ”natural” enough, and in a similarly annoying moralizing tone.

    It is precisely this Marxist humanism that Von Trier’s MELANCHOLIA ridicules so powerfully, and with such incredible artistry.

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 18 October 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  142. And – you still don’t understand Kylie. Kylie produces a near-perfect simulacrum of the kind of possessive and aggressive male heterosexual desire that defines negative patriarchy, but precisely because the simulacrum is so hollow (what you call ”no charisma”), her satire and her feminism are much more convincing than that of her counterparts. Witness this Agent Provocateur ad:

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 18 October 2011 @ 5:13 pm

  143. pc–I wanted to point out what a wonderful photographer’s eye you have. I just looked at the Occupy Amsterdam photos, and one can see, after carefully scrutinizing, that they are all outdoors technically, but every one of them looks like it’s indoors, stuffed to the gills and barely able to squeeze through.

    I can’t imagine watching any video you put up, though.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 18 October 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  144. The #Occupy took place on Beursplein, which is a small square in between two distinguished buildings, and it does give the impression of being indoors.

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 18 October 2011 @ 7:11 pm

  145. “Kylie produces a near-perfect simulacrum of the kind of possessive and aggressive male heterosexual desire that defines negative patriarchy, but precisely because the simulacrum is so hollow”

    Wow that’s so awfully deep. Are you applying the ‘cut-up’ method to a Steve Shaviro post from 2005?

    You think Melancholia’s actually about left-wing bloggers who dislike you. Lars feels your pain!

    It’s flattering how you project this idea of ‘perfection’ on to me though. I’d say there was sense of profound LACK in every last one of your desperate utterances. I could call it tragic – way too ugly to be melancholic.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 18 October 2011 @ 8:00 pm

  146. W, I won’t dignify that with an answer. Your blawg is so cleverly designed that it’s nearly impossible to load – I suppose you learned that one from MISTRESS as well, did you now. I did manage to find this in the Algerian comment boxes – the sound of real desperation coming from Doylie:

    ”Don’t worry, Anon: anyone who responds is the respondent I want, Anon.”

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 19 October 2011 @ 3:17 am

  147. Yes the second “Anon” does add a creepiness factor, doesn’t it? I added the “Don’t worry” phrase after writing the rest of the comment, and forgot I’d already addressed Anon by name. If it were my own blog I’d have edited the second Anon out after posting — a sloppy habit that doesn’t work when writing on someone else’s blog. But did you notice Anon’s courteous reply? Now that’s what I call a tea party!

    I’d have continued the discussion with W and Anon, but it would have shifted focus away from the subject of his post, which was foreign incursions. I was thinking more about whether having an army is ever a useful resource in a revolutionary democratic movement. How could the 99% ever seize control of the banks and the multinational corporations controlled by the 1%? In an anarchistic alternative there would be direct actions against the corporations, with national strikes and more widespread occupations and perhaps property destruction and lootings. The government would call out the police and the army to protect the property and the strikebreakers and to clear away the barricades. But if there were no strikebreakers then the military intervention would prove futile. Unanimous labor solidarity seems like science fiction in the US, but it’s not as far-fetched as mounting an alternative fighting force that could defeat the US military. I think I’ll go over to Pere Lebrun now to see if any further discussion ensued on that thread… No, it seems to have come to an end.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 19 October 2011 @ 6:39 am

  148. I just now realized the insidious political connotations with which “tea party” has been infused. From now on Ktismatics drinks and serves only coffee. In actual fact I drink about three coffees a day. I like iced tea, but hot tea? Maybe twice a month.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 19 October 2011 @ 7:38 am

  149. Returning circuitously to the original topic of this post, I take a cue from Parody Center’s redirect to Louis Proyect’s blog. Here’s an excerpt from Proyect’s review of a recent communism conference:

    Google “Jodi Dean” and “Communist Desire” and you’ll be able to read the talk she gave this morning. It is a kind of psychoanalysis of the left:

    If this left is rightly described as melancholic, and I agree with Brown that it is, then its melancholia derives from the real existing compromises and betrayals inextricable from its history, its accommodations with reality, whether of nationalist war, capitalist encirclement , or so-called market demands. Lacan teaches that, like Kant’s categorical imperative, super-ego refuses to accept reality as an explanation for failure. Impossible is no excuse—desire is always impossible to satisfy.

    My take on this is somewhat different than Professor Dean’s. My RX for combatting melancholia is victories, no matter how minor, against the bourgeoisie. To achieve such victories, it will require strategy and tactics that Malcolm X once described as “designed to get meaningful immediate results”. Such actions are surely aided by a solid analysis of the relationship of class forces that can only be derived by a study of bourgeois society such as the kind found in classical Marxism and not Frankfurt-inspired philosophizing, I am afraid.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 19 October 2011 @ 8:20 am

  150. “super-ego refuses to accept reality as an explanation for failure. Impossible is no excuse—desire is always impossible to satisfy.”

    Does that not make no sense whatever? How could failure be defined if not by reality? It’s as though she’s saying that ‘failure exists within something known vaguely or not as reality’ but that ‘it’s somehow more than reality’, and therefore ‘reality is responsible for failure’, which is, however, ‘greater’ than ‘reality’. It is one of the worst formulations of any kind I have ever read. And the rest of it is also horrible, and is probably Zizek-derived, with his ‘impossible actions’. ‘Impossible’ is, I’m afraid, as good an excuse as possible, and people are just talking shit who say otherwise. Even ‘desire is always impossible to satisfy’ refers only to frigid types–it’s as if there is no satisfaction at all unless there is permanent satisfaction. She sounds to me as if she just wants to sound militant, and it comes across as sounding like total phony bullshit parading as some sort of benevolent humaneness. ‘Failure of what?’ ‘Failure of reality?’ Did reality just keep on going without noticing that it had not included its own failure? Did reality, in fact, fail? If so, how are reality and failure not wedded?

    it obviously has to do with definitions that she has a gall expecting anybody to think in terms of, but ‘reality’ is the explanation for itself, which is everything there is, unless there is also a ‘separate unreality’. Didn’t Proyect say something about ‘security in tenure’ too. I definitely think what Jodi has written and said here is absolute garbage, fired on by the desire to ‘get with the OWS program which HAS A CHANCE, LO AND BEHOLD!’ Also Sprach The Tiny Communist. She certainly does know how to make Zizek look almost good. After all, it’s over 10 years since he’s actually gone on and on about his ‘imposible actions’ for Palestine. Useless dreck.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 19 October 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  151. Dean’s still plugging Z*z*k, the more ridiculous and offensive he gets. Still carping on about ‘totalities’ and ‘horizons’ and magic Hegel destinies. She was surprisingly ‘airhead-ish’ addressing a group, with waffle about how facebook gets in the way of the iron will of the vanguard party or something. Her idea for how a revolution would work was absurd. Made me wonder if her more coherent pieces were ghost-written.

    Like here, comments can continue in my comments box indefinitely if you wish. What’s creepy about an ‘anon’ anyway? When did it become the case that everyone was required to have their name next to every sentence, with a big picture of themselves next to it?

    SLC – maybe you can’t load the blog because you have difficulty reading long words, like ‘click here’, ‘comments’, ‘links’ etc. Evidently too wrapped up in your spurned longings for a stern mama to understand any insults too. Frustrating, but symptomatic.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 19 October 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  152. I wasn’t sure how committed you are to staying on-topic. I have no problem with someone being anonymous; it’s just that I repeated it twice in the same sentence. E.g., “Don’t worry, Jimmy: anyone who responds is the respondent I want, Jimmy.” It sounds like I’ve got a thing for Jimmy. By the way, I liked your “nobody understands me” lament in the Tintin thread. You got some love in response, so that’s good. I’ve never read any Tintin, though like you I read a lot of comics in my youth.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 19 October 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  153. SLC – maybe you can’t load the blog because you have difficulty reading long words

    Oh BLA BLA BLA. You stuffed it with so many video clips that it doesn’t load normally, that’s because you’re a [Edit].

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 19 October 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  154. How could failure be defined if not by reality?

    Superego refuses to accept reality, because superego prioritizes an ideal ethical norm. (You need to read some basic Freud in order to sort out that hazy 9-11 mess in your head)

    Dean’s maneuver is to insist that capitalism exploits so-called drives, which operate beyond any ethical imperative and are their own purpose – think for example of obsession, or compulsion – and she has a point there; if you look at the way mobile phones or blawg commenting works, they do have the quality of drive – they are highly addictive, compulsive behaviors – and they do not have a goal, ie they are their own purpose. However when she takes this thought further in order to reach out for some retro-Commie ethical imperative, a way to lock us out of the drives, to get us back to desiring, she flushes herself down the toilet together with that whole Marxian crowd…and they all end up in Siberia; because first of all the ”ethical imperative” of Communism is NOT only good, and second of all because her proposal is Romantic in the old-fashioned sense – she envisages an idealistic retro-nostalgic return to the era when Zizek had less love handles. While the first thing that strikes me with Occupy is that the occupiers are highly realistic about the need to improve democracy, not ”replace the profit system” with Jodi Dean’s neoZizekism *significantly coming in the deep autumn of Zizek’s career, possibly a desperate attempt to revive it.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 19 October 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  155. uch actions are surely aided by a solid analysis of the relationship of class forces that can only be derived by a study of bourgeois society such as the kind found in classical Marxism and not Frankfurt-inspired philosophizing, I

    Louis is also bonkers, ”classical Marxism” is not some ideal religion that we should follow it slavishly

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 19 October 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  156. Maybe I should ‘stuff it’ with long youtube clips of your [edit] [edit][edit] self. Letting you gibber your [edit] half-read Lacanisms in your creepy Leigh Bowery voice: “Me luff Kylie. Kylie iss good. Kim, Jodi & Aprege no like me. But me like Kim & not Aprege. Like Jodi’s bubbbies but me no like Communism. Me no understand. Head hurt. Me blame Marshall Tito. Me draw cock to be happy. But me still cry. Blabber blabber blabber.”

    John: If you edit this – it’s bias, you [edit edit edit…]!

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 19 October 2011 @ 5:54 pm

  157. I just looked up the meaning of “sod” and discovered that it’s short for “sodomite.” While some might regard this descriptor as both accurate and complimentary, in the present instance I’m doing a retroactive editorial deletion.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 19 October 2011 @ 6:34 pm

  158. Well, I’m glad you kept the important bits in there anyway.

    I used to assume it talked like Andy Kaufman as ‘Ladka’ (that childlike, needling tone in its “prose”). But I heard it sounds more like this guy:

    Now we know how it was educated!

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 19 October 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  159. I am fucking sick of this comment moderation, it’s so P.C. like the goddamn PARENTAL ADVISORY on the britney spears album.
    I’m fucking off this place, you can have your communist and your Republican all to yourself.

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 19 October 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  160. Aww – at least da Cookie Monstah had a sense of humour. “AHM-NAM-NAM-NAHM!”

    Maybe he didn’t appreciate his own death-drive enough – but he could still grasp political theories with more nous.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 19 October 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  161. Dejan, how big is it? I mean, your television? Does it take up the whole square footage of your apartment so you can watch The Spectacle like Lily Tomlin in ‘The Incredible Shrinking Woman?’ Your photos of the outdoors that all look like televisions are so tenderly moving.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 19 October 2011 @ 7:15 pm

  162. W the really creepy thing about you is not your filthy [PARENTAL ADVISORY]mouth, but the amount of destructive nihilism that oozes out of your every pore. You’re not fifty years old that you should already be legitimized to loathe the world with such total abandon.That’s the real problem here. You don’t like, love, care for anything, really, and everything ends up in a kind of a deconstructionist gutter. Now you’ve chosen to ”deconstruct me”, so that it appears I am a sum of my Oedipal issues and some other stuff you insinuated out of my random banter. It’s freaking scary how much you resemble your mistress, as though she moulded you before you were born.You ”critisize” a fetishistic-necrophilic late capitalism culture, but your very code, what you ARE, is needless deconstructionism, which you exercise with that other impostor of a loser. You have the makings of a real psychopath in this sense,the sort that went crazy because they didn’t have any creativity, or decided to blow up the world like the TAXI DRIVER because he became completely numb in his relentless nihilism.

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 19 October 2011 @ 8:06 pm

  163. American Stranger [PARENTAL ADVISORY] on Melancholia:

    http://queldesastre.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/fantastic-fest/

    Melancholia is almost as thin in terms of character and just as thematically extravagant — it juxtaposes a rich white woman’s clinical depression to Earth’s apocalyptic collision with a larger planet nam

    Justine is NOT a rich white woman (nor is her sister – she is just married to a rich white man), but she was so eager to score on her vulgar Marxist argument that the movie is for ”rich white people” that she overlooked this little ”plot point”

    SF usually uses the moment of The End to expand its scope to society as a whole (it’s only afterward that stories in this genre return to the personal), while Melancholia rather cheekily uses it as an opportunity to heighten an already heightened melodramaed ‘Melancholia’

    ‘”Rather cheekily” of course explains nothing – but she had to use the little sneer against her own enjoyment of the film, because well, von Trier just isn’t working class enough!

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 19 October 2011 @ 8:28 pm

  164. And I am fucking [PARENTAL ADVISORY] sick of the complaint about the ”thin character”.

    It’s pretty [PARENTAL ADVISORY] obvious that the subtle acting in MELANCHOLIA hints at enormous complexities and issues, but because it does that by insinuating, rather than SHOWING, the vulgar Marxist finds that this means ”it has no character”. And why should it be a [PARENTAL ADVISORY] surprise that a movie dealing in melancholia, in nothingness, chooses this strategy in place of the [PARENTAL ADVISORY] one from 1968, which is where American Stranger and Colonel Sherbert are stuck in development???

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 19 October 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  165. They’re all the same [PARENTAL ADVISORY] these goddamn ”radicals” , they think the same, they talk the same, and they get into these incestuous feuds with their own kind. Stalinist clubbing!

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 19 October 2011 @ 8:48 pm

  166. Who wrote in the [PARENTAL ADVISORY}’s? I had wondered if [PARENTAL ADVISORY] is sometimes sewed into pantygirdle.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 19 October 2011 @ 9:50 pm

  167. The advisories are the author’s anticipatory textual self-castrations.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 19 October 2011 @ 10:07 pm

  168. “COOOK-EEEE! AHM-NAM-NAM-NAHM-NAHM”

    Your getting soggy crumbs all over your napkin. Ask ‘Mistress’ to spank you so you learn some table manners, willya?

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 19 October 2011 @ 11:12 pm

  169. But yeah, you’re right about the “subtle acting”. Kirsten Dunst looks up. Sometimes sideways. In really emotional scenes, she even looks down. She had Grover and Big Bird in tears by the end of Spider-Man.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 19 October 2011 @ 11:16 pm

  170. 164.But yeah, you’re right about the “subtle acting”. Kirsten Dunst looks up. Sometimes sideways. In really emotional scenes, she even looks down. She had Grover and Big Bird in tears by the end of Spider-Man.

    BARF, another dose of pointless destructive nihilism followed by endless blog posts about your lament for your lost youth, and then a wyatting binge with the Impostor.

    Like

    Comment by parody center — 20 October 2011 @ 4:11 pm

  171. “Coook-eeeee!” would have been much more articulate.

    Anyway, you’ve just admitted you don’t actually read any of the blogs you endlessly whine about. You just pluck out random words (that you probably don’t understand) to use as ‘ammunition’. With the usual kvetch about those you ‘reach out to’, who respond by turning away in disgust.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 22 October 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  172. I just finished watching Marienbad. After watching the “making-of” short I take the DVD out of the player and come back to the computer. I find a new blog comment waiting in the inbox. I’m a bit disoriented: I can’t understand how the comment corresponds either to the post (which isn’t surprising) or to the thread. But I approve it anyway (with minor editing), thinking that maybe I’ll write a follow-up comment remarking on the discontinuity. I click onto the comment, and now I see the context: it’s on an earlier thread, and it does relate to the most recent comment that had been placed there two days ago. And now I’m thinking: Each post is a separate room in the hotel; in each room a separate conversation is going on, of which I pick up fragments as I pass by the open doors in the corridor…

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 22 October 2011 @ 4:52 pm

  173. Each post is a separate room in the hotel; in each room a separate conversation is going on, of which I pick up fragments as I pass by the open doors in the corridor…

    I think you’re enjoying being a host who doesn’t really have to get involved but can maintain a kind of a superior distance to the sordid proceedings, which nevertheless entertain and excite him. It’s not a bad position to be in.

    you don’t actually read any of the blogs you endlessly whine about

    That’s not true, I did read several of your scribbles on the 70s-80s-90s blogs. In almost every one your point is to show that nothing make sense, because either you’ve grown out of watching the movies you write about, or they’re capitalist manipulation, or a lost cause because all the good movies were made in the 70s. At no single point do you attempt to tell your own story, but you’re full of righteous anger at the fact that mainstream culture does so much plagiarism. Which sounds like one of those armchair revolutionaries who aren’t really prepared to burn themselves on the square for the Big Cause that they’re advertising. Then there is your Colonel Chabert-like privileging of the so-called ”humanistic” culture of the 1970s, and lament about the fact that nowadays, movies have NO CHARACTER and CHARACTER ACTING is dead. In other words, nostalgia. I’m not saying that everything you say there is without meaning or merit, but globally, the only message I have picked up so far is that I better kill myself because damn, nothing makes sense anymore and I don’t have a fucking time machine either so I can go back and watch BLAKE’S SEVEN, marveling at the way they melded good character acting with cheeky special effects. And it’s all negative, hopeless, dark and down.

    You should consider yourself lucky that our cognitive-positive host, who always has something nice to say, lets you slither around the premises, otherwise you’d dissolve in your own darkness. This is the toilet drain at the center of your personality that I was talking about the other day.

    Like

    Comment by Center of Parody — 22 October 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  174. Don’t let that movie fuck with your head!

    I reckon the Gaunt-faced Man was behind it all.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 22 October 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  175. Now I’m going to watch a football game, which should get my head straight again. The pamphlet accompanying the DVD notes that Resnais inserted an Alfred Hitchcock profile in a scene at about the 11:30 mark. Sure enough, there he is, stage right, standing in the shadows.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 22 October 2011 @ 5:55 pm

  176. http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/37777-solving-the-matchstick-game/

    That’s another link to understanding the Matchstick Game, I put the other one elsewhere.

    Like

    Comment by illegal dances of new york city — 22 October 2011 @ 9:12 pm

  177. Thanks for mentioning on your blog that this comment failed to show up. I found it in the spam, not sure why. The first Matchstick link I can’t find, but it’s on your Marienbad post.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 23 October 2011 @ 10:13 am

  178. Bleat blah blah Chabert blah blah David Lynch blah blah bleat Communists bleat blah blah Impostume blah blah bloody bleat – zzzzzzz.

    Too stupid to read anything that doesn’t reflect back the voices in its head. Thoroughly pwnd in a comments box earlier in the year, and never got over it (especially since it’s too stupid to ‘parody’ anything in return).

    The thing that longs to be fucked to death as an ‘artistic statement’, and gets hot at the sight of large amounts of people dying – it lectures us about optimism & nihilism. Far too repugnant to be welcomed as chutzpah.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 23 October 2011 @ 3:15 pm

  179. Returning to the image from Marienbad I originally linked in comment 2 and relinked here, and comparing it with the first image from Melancholia at the top of this post, the homage to Marienbad is evident in the setting but is more notably staged in the shadows. In the Melancholia, as previously noted, the objects all cast two shadows. In the Marienbad scene the humans cast shadows but the little trees do not. It turns out that the human shadows were painted onto the ground.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 23 October 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  180. and gets hot at the sight of large amounts of people dying

    What [PARENTAL ADVISORY] experience do YOU have with large amounts of people dying? I’m the one who lived in the vicinity of civil war, and even sat under bullets at some point. Such things are completely not something you can ”empathize” with on the television set, and all that humanistic banter is hypocritical like the indictment of Lars von Trier because he said that Europe is still Nazist.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 23 October 2011 @ 4:42 pm

  181. Doyle, did you already see Marienbad? I was waiting for you to see it so that I could rewatch it.

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    Comment by Center of Parody — 23 October 2011 @ 4:46 pm

  182. Yesterday at about this same time of day I wrote in a comment on this thread that I had just finished watching Marienbad. You even made a comment about my comment. I’m going to put up some screengrabs tomorrow morning.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 23 October 2011 @ 5:21 pm

  183. You sat under bullets?

    You seem more the type who’d sit ON them.

    Like

    Comment by W.Kasper — 23 October 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  184. I was hoping to see Melancholia on the big screen this week, now that it’s finally been released in the US, but the film is not showing at any theater in or near Boulder. Too artsy for this town I guess.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 15 November 2011 @ 10:28 am

  185. One thing that just stuck with me was when John asked Justine how many holes were on the golf course. She replied 18 and John acknowledged that yes there were 18. Then Claire is carrying Leo across the 19th hole. I haven’t been able to put it together…

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    Comment by Corliss — 18 April 2012 @ 8:07 pm

  186. I don’t remember the 19th hole, so I didn’t give it any thought while watching. Maybe it’s meant to suggest that there is something else even after the end, an afterlife of some kind?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 18 April 2012 @ 8:46 pm


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