His near stammering. With disconcerting promptness one word hid behind another. -- Maurice Blanchot, Le Dernier Homme Contact me: red3ad (at) yahoo (dot) com


Histoire(s) II 

"make sure you have exhausted
all that is communicated
by immobility and silence"
-- JLG, Histoire(s) du cinéma
(citing Robert Bresson)

"history of solitude / solitude of history"
-- JLG's Blanchotian chiasmus, as a refrain throughout

"the fact is that a film projector
is compelled to remember the camera
and the cinema is only an industry
of escapism
in the first place because it is the only setting
where memory is enslaved
usine de rêves
our thwarted ambitions
to be attentive to the trace
of the departed gods"


Histoire(s) I 

don't go showing all sides of things
keep a margin of the undefined

The Rules of the Game

Cries and Whispers

Broken Blossoms

Histor(ie)s of the cinema
chapter one (a)

histories of the cinema
with an s
all the histories that might have been
that there have been

Matter and Memory

all the histories
there might have been
-- JLG, Histoire(s) du cinéma


[a] story, stories, history, histories.. many, many histories become History: totality: "all the stories." Impossible. Deadlock. History[b]: a single encounter.

Cinema replaces our thought of the world.
- D'accord?

One reel [real] fills as the other is emptied.

Is a work of memory possible, I wonder, without succumbing -- at least in part -- to a sense of the elegiac?


Histoire(s) du cinéma 

Preliminary to any remarks I may make towards Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma, a few quotes from Jonathan Rosenbaum's article "Trailer for Godard’s
Histoire(s) du cinéma" may be useful:

"As 'unwatchable,' and as 'unlistenable' in many respects as Finnegans Wake is 'unreadable,' Histoire(s) du cinéma remains difficult if one insists on reading it as a linear argument rather than as densely textured poetry; in my experience, it is most rewarding when approached in a spirit of play and
innocence. [...]
...As Godard says in chapter 1b, 'The cinema, like Christianity, isn’t founded on historical truth. It gives us one account of the story and asks us to believe it.' To be sure, Histoire(s) du cinéma is neither cinema nor Christianity, but it asks for a similar act of faith." [End citation].

I’m not sure if the latter remark demands more from the potential viewer or from Godard, or the work, himself. In many cases, the two -- Godard and his work -- seem inseparable. More so in Histoire(s). Whether or not you allow that Godard is a filmmaker like no other, Histoire(s) is a Godard film -- more precisely, not film, but project -- like no other.

A Breakdown of the chapters:

Histoire(s) du cinéma

1a Toutes les histoires [All the histories]
52 minutes

1b Un Histoire seule [A sole history]
42 minutes

2a Seul le cinéma [Only the cinema]
26 minutes

2b Fatale beauté [Fatal Beauty]
28 minutes

3a Le Monnaie de l’absolu [Currency of the absolute]
26 minutes

3b Une vague nouvelle [The New Wave]
27 minutes

4a Le Contrôle de l’univers [Control of the universe]
27 minutes

4b Les Signes parmi nous [Signs among us]
34 minutes



Friday and Saturday, saw Godard's Histoire(s) du cinema -- the four parts / eight sections split over two nights. After a cumulative four and a half hours of rapid cuts, multiple layerings of voice, text, music and image, citations from Giotto to Bergson to Resnais, I felt saturated... Exhausted, not quite with a Blanchotian sense of museum-sickness, but... wrung-out? What is the phrase? I, we, my friend and I, the audience, the filmmaker, had gone beyond phrases. The problem is, essentially, of a totalizing medium that cannot, ever, deliver on its promise -- "all the films never made," as JLG laments.
I find it of interest that Godard locates the birth of cinema before its technical invention -- that it began with Baudelaire and Zola, with the gaze of Manet and Morisot; that it's a creation of the 19th century that was realized in the 20th. It is, in Godard's view, that the history of cinema is the history of the 20th century: that the history of the 20th century is the history of cinema.
"All the films never made."
"Not text. Not image. Movement--"
"and then what? -- And then what, then?"

The tone, wch I find present to some degree in all the later work, becomes almost entirely elegiac. I walked around afterward, lost in that tone, and this morning found myself simply wondering if it is possible to speak of memory without that sense. It may simply be a matter of aesthetics, or of temperament.
There may be more to say on this.


There's an astounding array of images, texts, and various citations in Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du cinema. Near the very end, I was quite pleasantly suprised to see the name HOLLIS FRAMPTON appear. Along with Michael Snow and Ernie Gehr, Frampton was one of a group of so-called "Structuralist" filmmakers working primarily in the 60s and 70s. I saw, I believe it was Poetic Justice, in 1989 or '90. Walking to work, thinking about it this morning, I have no firm memory... I know that it was a film of a written text; I'm pretty sure it wasn't being written, but rather single pages were shown. The turning of pages / cut from page to page enforced a real-time reading experience on the viewer, and images were evoked to the extent that I'm not entirely sure if an image of a tree, or of a window, were actually presented (I imagine them as being sited above the text) or if the suggestion was so strong that the image created in my mind has become attached to the memory of the film. JLG's work of history, memory, and suggestion, in turn sets up a ripple effect of memories and suggestions -- and, in this instance, of a work that operates entirely through suggestion.


shards : 


this indefinite oscillation
semblance of event

more of a series of points
relating to a circumference
or circumambulation


“the black debt”
wch is writing


Victor Burgin writes at length of the experiences of two scenes from two different films. At the end of Tsai Ming-Liang’s Vive l’amour, there’s an eleven-minute scene in which May, the female protagonist, walks through a park and sits on a bench, where she breaks down into tears. I recall the scene: it’s overcast, and the park is a muddy ruin, a bleak scene under construction. After the prolonged silences and accumulated tension of the film, it’s particularly wracking. May’s sobbing is choked back; she manages to recover and light a cigarette before succumbing yet again to an inspecific yet overpowering grief. Burgin then recounts a scene from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale in which a woman crosses a park and sits on a bench near a river. For him, the two scenes, in different contexts in radically movies, takem from different eras, sensibilities, and cultures, are impossibly intermingled; he can’t think of one without the other.

"When I look at one thing, I'm actually thinking of something else."
-- Eloge de l'amour

The ambulatory derivé of the Surrealists, the suddenness of the jump cut, notes Burgin elsewhere, has “completed its journey from poetry to prose.” The decomposition of narrative films is now normal.
Quoting Wittgenstein, he notes:
“It is as if one saw a screen with scattered colour patches and said: the way they are here, they are unintelligible; they only make sense when one completes them into a shape. — Whereas I want to say: Here is the whole.”

I haven’t seen A Canterbury Tale, but this sense of simultaneity, reference and concommission is familiar to me. May’s scene in the park becomes attached, in my mind, to a scene (“It’s like an image, but a distant one) in Jean-Luc Godard’s Notre Musique (yet another doubling unfolds here: in Godard’s film, the scene is repeated); also, a scene from Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives, and the setting of Marguerite Duras’ The Square. My memory moves from one to the other as I draw book, or a DVD, as the case may be, from the shelf, or as I walk through the park, or as I write.

When I attempted to return to Burgin’s text, intending to cite it here, I discovered that the book had been checked out of the library, and that I must reconstruct the passage from memory; the book I lack, perfectly enough, is called The Remembered Film.


reading notes: Jeanne Heuving / Rachel Blau du Plessis

difficulty, or
inability to hold

working against
available words

«the investigation of the book»

sense of character, dissolves
into morning grey

palimpsest — erases what came before

or fabricated

in this estate, l’amour fou

She envisions a white rectangle,
a telling of non-experience



and then
light patches

palimpsest — what might appear



It is like an image, but a distant one.
There are two people side by side.
I’m next to her.
I never saw her before.
I recognize myself.
But I have no memory of all that.
It must be far from here.
Or later on.

[She speaks with no sound].

from Notre Musique


“The whole of time, then, may be regarded in two different ways, as ‘the coexistence of sheets of the past,’ or as ‘the simultaneity of the peaks of the present.”


I am sitting on a bench, next to myself, whatever that means.
-- Robert Ashley


Counting Sheep is Best Left to Shepherds 

Starting trying to note the appearance of all one-hundred numbers in Peter Greenaway's Drowning by Numbers last night. They're often out of sequence, and some are spoken. Still, there are gaps. And most assuredly not a cure for sleeplessness.



Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse as existential horror: it's not a serial killer, a monster, or even Death that kills you [erases you] -- it's the awareness that one is alone. One's existence is really just a shadow of something else, vague, ill-defined: an alienation made more pronounced by work, the internet, a telephone, or an empty room -- when even the metaphor of shadow finally collapses, folding one into oneself, shape into shade, shadow into shadow, a scattering of light, a flicker, blur, smudge, trace.



I'm considering reading (or re-reading, as the case may be), all of Blanchot's fiction in chronological order, and I wonder -- to you, reading this -- do you ever do this, reading books in sequence? Most of us, it seems, go about things in a sort of patchwork fashion. I wouldn't want to start out reading Woolf with The Voyage Out, but neither would I want to begin with The Waves. (Her finest, I think). Perhaps Jacob's Room, though, or Mrs. Dalloway. To the Lighthouse followed by The Waves would work.
This notion of reading in chronological sequence, I suspect, really has something to do with time: the availability of time, process, and discipline. Wanting more time, I suspect, could well be at the root of it. We'll see.


Wednesday 1 March 2006 

Thought to start the month, spring-like, anew. Experienced my semi-frequent urge to go elsewhere: the inviting thought of a train trip and a new book.
Too late for the train anyway. I think about Blanchot's Aminadab, in a sense his first novel -- first available, at least, insofar as Thomas the Obscure was radically cut down and rewritten seven years later, and the original long out of print, and nver translated into English.
Later, on the bus, my newly purchased copy of Aminadab in my bag, I see someone with a well-thumbed, dog-eared book in hand. I have this ingrained sensibility to treat books as objects of respect, but often thinking as books as tools, I find this example of a worn and well-used, perhaps beloved book reassuring.


Tuesday March 1 1921 

I am not satisfied that this book is in a healthy way. Suppose one of my myriad changes of style is antipathetic to the material? -- or does my style remain fixed? To my mind it changes always. But no one notices. Nor can I give it a name myself. The truth is that I have an internal, automatic scale of values; which decides what I had better do with my time. It dictates ‘This half hour must be spent on Russian’ 'This must be given to Wordsworth.’ or ‘now I’d better darn my brown stockings.’ How I come by this code of values I dont know. Perhaps it is the legacy of puritan grandfathers. I suspect pleasure slightly. God knows. And the truth is also that writing, even here, needs screwing of the brain -- not so much as Russian, but then half the time I learn Russian I look into the fire & think what shall I write tomorrow. Mrs. Flanders is in the orchard. If I were at Rodmell I should have thought it all out walking on the flats.
-- Virginia Woolf, Diary

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