This week I somehow managed to make a 2 hour and 27 min sound edit for one section (there are 9 sections in total)—SEXUAL POLITICS—of Love Sounds, a 24 hour oral history/soundscape of love in cinema. It was grueling but endlessly satisfying. I love procedural work.
I sent the edit to my mother last night for feedback. Over Skype this afternoon we discussed how the immaterial trilogy, of which Love Sounds is the final installment, evolved conceptually, thematically, and immaterially—each installment using a new digital (and printed) approach and social media platform. I told my mother that from a young age (when my dream was to make installations, video work, and films) I always knew writing, writing “on the page,” was not enough; was a limiting, narrow, dated, and provincial use of form and content in the 21st century (singular forms in general seem problematic to me at this stage), which is so multi-media. That we had to “write” in more imaginative ways, using new forms.
My mother, who is the best reader and critic, responded by telling me that by only using audio from movies, by moving away from the retinal arts, by not just writing on the page, by relying only on active and radical (re)listening, by making the project 24 hours, by using sections as “chapters” in which to work through narratives and constructs above love, sex, gender, mourning, and death, I am in fact rewriting/renewing/reforming the epic novel—the book—where you imagine and think, without looking or seeing.
Yeah, I said. Why write a novel as an actual book, a book as an actual book, always using printed text? Or why think of texts in such literal ways. Why not write a novel about the world through sound? Using the “sounds” (texts) we’ve made. Why do we keep doing the same thing in the same ways when we can do something new and different. When there is already so much existing material to wade through, archive, and rework.
As Goethe put it, “Everything has been thought of before but the difficulty is to think of it again.”
My mom gave me a rule the other day about my upcoming one week vacation: not to do any work. To just rest, relax, and enjoy myself. This is very hard for me, but I am going to obey her. I like being told what to do sometimes. I especially like it when my mom tells me what to do because she never does, unsolicited. And maybe because she’s the only person I really trust.
The etymology of “obey” is:
late 13c., from Old French obeir “obey, be obedient, do one’s duty” (12c.), from Latin obedire, oboedire “obey, be subject, serve; pay attention to, give ear.”
One’s duty is also to listen (and not do one’s self-assigned duty sometimes).
The current project I am working on/not working on, after all, is about the ontology of listening; about “giving ear.”
In her entry from March 27, 2012, called “Radical Acts,” Masha Tupitsyn quotes James Baldwin as saying, “I was trying to make a connection between the books I was reading and the life I saw and the life I lived.”
Always this, in case you haven’t figured it out by now.
Feeling of the night. Of the week. Of the summer. Feeling that is not normally my feeling which makes the feeling even worse. I can still see the light for other people just not for myself. There is so much suffering all over the world right now, so much death. And here in New York, in America, with Eric Garner. Sometimes all I feel is precarity. Everything feels so vulnerable. Everyone. Everything could end at any second. Everything does.
"I know that something good is going to happen
I don’t when
But just saying it could even make it happen”
This belief used to be at the heart of everything for me. A friend and I talked about this last night on the phone. They said they could tell all these things were going to happen for me, to me. They said there were all these signs. They could see them, and they were for me. I used to see the signs too, and follow them. I still see the signs, and I still follow them, but they don’t lead anywhere or amount to anything. Anywhere new or different or destinal. They’re just there, unmagical in their magic. Or magic in their unmagicness. I’ve always said that Love Dog was an incantation. A love spell I cast for myself and others. Fortunata. Vision quest.
In a capitalist society, money is how we get our shit together. You can be a failure as a human being, but if you have money, if you make money, you haven’t failed. Capital conceals real failure in the same way that fame (consensus) hides mediocrity. A costume for spiritual poverty. Hence the whole project of celebrity, which forfeits the responsibility of living ethically. You answer to no one when you have the money to pay for unaccountability/irresponsibility. That’s really what wealth buys you. Fame exteriorizes to such an excessive degree that you are freed from looking inside (at yourself). The political mechanics become irrelevant. It’s making it versus how something is made.
Dana Ward in The Crisis of Infinite Worlds:
"When David said ‘Money is a negative Eucharist’ I can tell you that he wasn’t really guessing. When people say ‘You need to get serious about your life now’ they’re not fucking with you. In the end though all they mean by that is money."
Money is permission to fuck with but not be fucked with. Giving it but not taking it. It does away with the chain of causation and reciprocity.
"…I catch everything I read: I read an article on syphilis and am immediately convinced that I have it, I recognize the symptoms when I haven’t slept with anyone. I cling to the last gaze (in desire), the last encounter."
In an interview I read with Lynne Tillman last night, she ends by saying, “I wish to hell that I’d said no more to men in my 20s.” And that really struck me because I wonder all the time why so many of my female peers, friends, and colleagues say yes to men so much. Why they find it so easy to be with one man after another. Why they find it pleasurable. Acceptable. Repeatable. Seems like the first step is always to be less interested/enchanted/susceptible (by most men). To be less frequently interested. To not be interested. To be interested in a different way. In new ways. Even though we can’t always control what and why we desire what/who we desire, I feel like desire should have something to do with reality. Should go against some aspect of the reality of most male behavior, of routine sex, of stale desire. Of an exhausted gender tautology. Even if you have to suppress your desire for something or someone shitty, for something or someone better, that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes life and people do need to be taught lessons. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to learn. Sometimes doing shit on principle alone, goes a long way. Without an audience, the game dries up. The game is the player. Duh.
I started reading Masha Tupitsyn's book Love Dogtoday. The book is a deeply personal reckoning with her feelings for one person, and also a book about film, music, gender, feminism, politics and all the forces that influence the ways that we connect, think about connecting, or fail to…
The mediocre and untalented shall (and already are) inherit the earth. And the beautiful set of artistic dictums below rule out most of the people writing and making art today. Especially the part about the art of timing, which Twitter and Facebook have all but eliminated. Also too young too soon too fast too constant. Everyone thinks they should have everything immediately. Everything all the time. How boring for everyone else, only everyone acts like this is so interesting by “liking” things all day long and posting all day long. And no one ever goes away anymore, which everyone should know how to do if they want to come back, or if they want to be in a way that is worth being (I wrote about this in an essay about 90s film here). If they want to be writers. Because being a writer/thinker is also about shutting the fuck up sometimes and leaving alone and being left alone. But you would never know this in an age when being noisy and omnipresent has become the equivalent of being great and successful. I feel like even when people are smart (in the raw material sense) they don’t know what to do with their brains anymore; how to use them; what to use them for, what not to use them for (using is also about not using). How to tell things apart. This—discernment—is also a kind of intelligence, maybe the most important kind—knowing what to do with one’s thinking. What Bresson referred to as the right feeling for the right thing, “passionate for the appropriate.” Sparing by being spare. These days the result of different people’s thinking basically adds up to the same thing—stupidity, complicity, fraternity.
"I told M. Abrahamovic Petrovitch that I admired her longevity.
You are dangerously close to calling me ancient, she said
It’s not about age, I said. It’s just that so many careers flame out or end up mediocre and I’m left wondering why anyone bothered. But you’re different. You’re work is never bad.
Dear child, is that all? asked M. Abrahamovic Petrovitch. To achieve a lasting career one need only be dedicated to craft, avoid early success, ignore the things that people say about one’s output, and master the art of timing.
So it’s simple.
As simple as a flower. And that’s a complicated thing.”
This is for all the people (which is most people) who say they don’t care what someone does, what kind of person someone is—only what’s on the page, only what’s in view, only what gets said by the right people to the right people:
“I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.”
Which is to say:
"To think is not to contemplate, it’s to witness."
Etel Adnan wrote a book for the Documenta series called The Cost for Love We are Not Willing to Pay. The title might as well be a (exemplary) text itself. Derrida said a title is also a promise. A promise also the cost of something. Mourning the price for living. In Adnan’s case, the title is about the breaking of promises or a world (people) that refuses to make any promises to anyone. Love being the most important promise of all. Nietzsche thought this was a good thing because everyone breaks a promise. Promises are made to be broken. But I think you can work (the work of love, not just the love of work) every day not to break something. Someone. This is all a promise ever really is: vigilance. Holding vigil. Keeping vigil.
"But when this girl’s made up her mind
she’s made up her mind
made up her mind
no turning back
no wasting time
don’t we all want to be stars in love
stop playin’ with the one that you love
Empty bottles, where to go next
knowing what you truly missed
it’s too late, can’t rewind it
now you’re left with names to forget
tryin’ to heal from the pain
if only you could rewind it
would not have acted the same”
Masha Tupitsyn’s Love Dog (Penny-Ante Editions, 2013) is my new favorite taxonomy. The book reads like a reboot of Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse, but instead of Goethe, Tupitsyn uses the dense range of twentieth-century popular culture for part of its allegorical infrastructure, even addressing the reader outright: “This book is polyphonic. It should be read, listened to, and watched.”
To be able to read what someone is really saying, really feeling. Not feeling, not saying.
To not take things—people—at face value.
To hear what you’re really being told, take what you’re really being given, even when it’s difficult or not the form you want.
"I’ll fuck up your life" ("your cute life") is to sometimes make it better, a life. I’ll fuck up your fucked up life and make it better by fucking it up. I’ll fuck up your life is the gift you’re getting. Avital Ronell always says that a relation is not real unless you’re rattled, unraveled. Why should meeting each other be light, forgettable? Why should it pass for easy?
omg so today 1 of my favorite poets & people trisha low posted a link to something so INCREDIBLE !!! the text of the poem “love song” which i had otherwise never seen before & thought was unppublished. it appears in tom raworth’s infolio, a publication recently archived on jacket2 through the continued incredible efforts of danny snelson & his staff. much love to everybody for making my day!
Co-curating THIS color in film series at Wendy’s Subway in New York City. Will be starting with green on June 11 and ending with red this winter.
Curated by Kevin Cassem and Masha Tupitsyn
It’s A Green That’s Gone Like a Certain Time is Gone
On color Masha Tupitsyn writes:
"Color is also a memory. Of greens that aren’t made anymore. A green that’s gone like a certain time is gone. It’s a green that has everything to do with time and beginning and the way the world doesn’t look anymore. The way photographs of the world used to look. The way books used to look. The way people used to look. And feel. The world changed and the pictures changed. Or, as the Hungarian cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond put it about his sepia/gold cinematography in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, ‘It looked real at one time.’"
On June 11, Apitchatpong Weerasethakhul’s 2004 green masterpiece, Tropical Malady, will launch Wendy’s Subway “Color In film” series, curated by Kevin Cassem and Masha Tupitsyn. The series will feature a diverse range of color-themed films, moving through seasons—summer, fall, and winter—and colors—green, blue, gold, and red. In these selected films, color is used as theme, trope, and tone, creating an aesthetic and emotional diegesis. And making color its own cinematic genre.
Wednesday, June 11 - 7:30pm
Featuring Kate Bush, David Lynch as Rod Sterling, and Apitchatpong Weerasethakhul’s Tropical Malady (2004).
Friday, June 27 - 7:30pm
Featuring Agnes Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)
Friday, July 4 - 7:30pm
Robert Bresson’s L’argent (1983) and Lancelot du Lac (1974)