Here are my notes from Day 2 of the Moving Environments workshop in Munich. The same caveats apply as yesterday: they’re hastily typed up and reflect only my own interpretation of what transpired. If any of the participants would prefer not to have their ideas shared in this way, I will be happy to remove them upon request.
These are, needless to say, my own hastily drawn up notes (and I’m still a little jet-lagged from my arrival yesterday). Forgive the point form and abbreviation inconsistencies. Any errors are my own; any wonderful ideas are other people’s, unless specifically attributed to “ai.” Other initials refer to other speakers/participants. My tiredness toward the end of the day shows…
The latest issue of Precipitate: Journal of the New Environmental Imagination — which looks like an excellent issue — includes a review of Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” that reminds me how important it is to pay attention to the dialogical and heteroglossic texture of Malick’s films, and how easy it is to lose the path when one puts too much weight on a single line of text.
The artist of sublime faith (of the pantheistic, immanent kind) versus the artist of sublime cynicism. “Earth is heaven (and purgatory)” versus “Earth is evil.” With catastrophe and Kubrick’s 2001 lurking in the background of both…
I enjoyed Astra Taylor’s film Examined Life when I first saw it a couple of years ago, and, having just watched it again, I’m glad to see that it bears re-viewing.
As one might expect, some segments are more lasting than others. Slavoj Zizek wearing an orange safety vest talking about ecology at a London trash heap (above) is the most brilliantly conceived segment, and one gets to hear the full (and in its own way brilliant) incoherence of his position on the topic. “The true ecological attitude is to hate the world: less love, more hatred,” as he puts it in the full interview (available in the book-of-the-film, p. 180).
It’s probably inappropriate to review a book about four films when one has only seen one, and by far the shortest (it’s a music video), of the four. So this isn’t a review so much as an appreciation of Steven Shaviro’s Post-Cinematic Affect, along with some half-digested notes I made while reading it, but which I haven’t been able to synthesize into what would constitute a proper review. Due to time constraints (which will continue for a while), I’ll share them as is. (I would also recommend Chris Vitale’s response to the book.)
I’ve been a fan of Shaviro’s work since a web search for “Dhalgren” led me directly to Shaviro, who it turned out was a fan of the book by Samuel Delany that was formative in my early intellectual development. I was 13 at the time I read Dhalgren, and I hadn’t read anything quite like it until then (or much like it since). I had come across Shaviro’s writings earlier, but I’ve followed them more diligently — and been inspired by his writing on science fiction, films, music, politics and culture over the years (his Stranded in the Jungle provides a great snapshot of how widely his tastes range) — since chancing onto his site. His turn to Alfred North Whitehead in the book Without Criteria accompanied a move in my own thinking toward Whitehead’s process-relational understanding of the universe. Since then, Shaviro and I have found ourselves on the same side of the process-objects debates that have been staged here and on other blogs.
Post-Cinematic Affect is a short work. Much of it appeared as an extra-length article in Film-Philosophy, and most of the rest is readable here and there online, but I would urge you to buy the book to support Zero Books’ laudable effort to make philosophy affordable. Its shortness, however, and the small sampling of films it discusses, belies a depth of argumentation that generates rich insights on media, capitalism, affect, allure, celebrity culture, and much more. View full article »
If you haven’t seen the trailer for Terence Malick’s forthcoming film The Tree of Life, you’re just not a real cineaste, are you?
What’s better than burrowing analytically into the Heideggerian ecophilosophical themes of Malick’s films (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, The New World — before making any of them he was a Heideggerian philosopher)? Analyzing the trailers, of course, which is what Eric Kohn does in a shot-by-shot breakdown of its full 96-cuts-in-two-minutes length. Water, fire, nature, innocence, grace (sounds like a Tarkovsky film so far, or something Lars von Trier is about to twist inside out), baseball, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn (so much for Tarkovsky)…
I’m recovering from a hard drive crash that occurred late last week. The only significant part of Ecologies of the Moving Image that I’ve completely lost are some fairly substantial recent revisions and additions to Chapter Six. I can reconstruct other pieces from earlier saves and from revisions made on hard copy print-outs. The crash will slow me down, but I still expect to complete the book by the end of December. Here’s a progress report…
It’s not as good a film as I would have liked — there are too many talking heads, and director/interviewer Charles Ferguson (who remains conveniently invisible throughout) has an annoying tendency to look for “gotcha” moments, when his interview subjects hesitate and stumble in answering his questions, as if these provide the smoking gun that shows us they’re lying, squirming, deceitful cheaters. They probably are (some of them at least), so relying on these techniques isn’t really necessary and it makes too easy targets of them as individuals.
But Inside Job still manages to pack a lot of information into a cogent and easily understandable narrative. It is, in fact, probably the best two-hour summary of what happened to bring about the recent, and ongoing, economic crisis, and of who’s primarily responsible for it. The film points its finger at the deregulator economists and the type-A personalities on Wall Street who took advantage of the opportunities deregulation offered for making millions at the expense of the rest of us dupes, and at the revolving doors between government and capital that have corrupted democracy to the point where it’s bringing about its own downfall. (The first “it” being the corruption, the second being democracy.*)