Two board games that I'm currently interested in for their ideas of time and history:
Blood Royale is interesting for its trans-generational qualities (How does it feel to watch human generations come and go?) and Time Agent is interesting for its mechanisms and conception of time branching -- in Time Agent you send agents back in time to change history so that your "race" (in the present) is in the lead with the ultimate goal of undoing the invention of the time machine (so that your race has always been in the lead).
Mike Siggin's review of Time Agent.
Time Branching (think: temporal labyrinths):
Borges, 'The Garden of Forking Paths'
Roger Zelazny, 'The Game of Blood and Dust' (1975)
Urticator.net page on branching
Played a bit of All Roads by Jon Ingold.
Watched a bit of Jacques Rivette's magnificent Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974).
7 bis Rue du Nadir aux Pommes
Finished watching Jacques Rivette's 'Céline and Julie Go Boating' last night and twenty-four hours later I'm still thinking about it. There are so many things about this film to like. Céline and Julie's dialogue, their progressively becoming the double of each other, the comedy they find in the recurrence, the story within the story.
Kabinet's page on Jacques Rivette.
Jorn Barger's page of Jacques Rivette notes and links.
Bhikku writes concerning 'Going Boating':
From a compelling analysis of 'Céline and Julie Go Boating' on the Wellington Film Society's page:
Jacques Rivette page at frenchculture.org.
Will from Solublefish.tv writes:
(BTW: took delivery on an Airport Extreme and a new laser printer yesterday. The airport took all of 5 minutes to set up. Woo! Now we're really floating in space.)
The Club Havana Secret History of Cinema:
Boy I love these lists and hope that Club Havana (Chris Fujiwara and A. S. Hamrah) carry on and fill in the missing years as promised.
I've got a personal soft spot for 1973.
Woke up and realised -- with that special morning mind that has obviously been sorting things out while sleeping -- that the beginning (and for that matter the ending) of 'Céline and Julie Go Boating' is remarkably similar to the beginning of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Watched Victor Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive (1973).
Started to watch Jean Eustache's The Mother and the Whore (1973).
One thing leads to another but not every lead is promising. Research into the incredible films of Wojciech Has (Who has seen 1973's The Hourglass Sanatorium? Or better yet... who can help me find a copy?) leads to a user review (by firstname.lastname@example.org -- I'm only now beginning to appreciate the incredible usefulness of the Internet Movie Database -- in the past I was so put off by the ads I didn't spend much time there) of The Saragossa Manuscript and links between (1) Has's film and Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate (believe it or not!) and (2) Potocki's novel and two works of Bulwer-Lyttons, namely Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale and Ernest Maltravers.
Rotterdam, 9 March 2003
I've Never Been to Berlin
I've started work on the script for 'A Thousand Deaths: Sortie 3'.
Given the starting point for this new piece -- which could be summarised as regret on my death bed over the places I've never visited and the things I've never accomplished -- N. has suggested a number of references: Wim Wender's film over the death of Nicholas Ray, Lightning Over Water (1980) (which we watched together last year in Argentina) and Chekov's Three Sisters, (which I've never read).
FYI: link to a rather clumsy talk I gave on the 'Democracy of Self and the Democracy of Death' at Casco in Utrecht on the 11th of February 2001. Most of the discussion -- included in the transcript -- was on 'A Thousand Deaths: Sortie 1'.
I Have Never Read Proust
Watched Chantal Akerman's 'The Captive' (2000) this evening. Not having read volume 5 of 'À la recherche du temps perdu' it's impossible to judge how Akerman's film stands up as an interpretation of the former work. Does it make a difference if one knows one's Proust? Is this (like Raoul Ruiz's recent Time Regained) a film for Proustians? Even the little I've gathered since watching the film makes me think that an initiate will get much more out of it. Whatever the case -- I enjoyed it and am interested enough to watch it again.
(The question remains "Did he kill her?")
It seems funny to admit (it seems so terribly tangental) but while watching the movie I especially liked Akerman's choice of music -- which the credits later revealed as Rachmaninov's The Isle of the Dead (Opus 29).
Now I wonder if the director was familiar with the painting by Böcklin (painted not once but 5 different times!) which was the inspiration for Rachmaninov's tone poem? Surely she must have been. Could this then be the key to the last scene... (when the film finished N. and I actually scanned the last few frames a couple of times to see whether Ariane's body was lying under the blanket at the bottom of the boat. We decided not but now after looking closely at the painting...)
Detail of Arnold Böcklin's 'Isle of the Dead' (1880)
In The Future
If it's worthwhile doing once it's worthwhile doing again.
I remember once writing that "the future will look a lot like the past" (apart from the occasional singularity). What I meant by this was that future culture, ever starved for the 'new' would at some point begin openly 'mining' the past for its cultural logics -- extinct cultures that had once flourished and then passed away, but like mammoth or quagga genes, are still resuscitatable. The thinking behind this: as complex systems take a great deal of time (many lifetimes?) to develop if our needs require new complexities the only hope is resurrection.
Not only do I still believe this... I would like (starting now) to adopt a similar approach in this weblog. In other words (singularities aside) Alamut's future is going to look a lot like it's past.
It was precisely five years ago today, on the 10th of March 1998, that I made my first entry:
The idea five years ago was twofold: to keep a record of my attention (where it went and what it did) and to store that record and everything else in one site that I would develop for the rest of my life (rather than producing different sites for different projects).
Five years have now passed (and four anniversaries where I've reflected on what this project means) and at this point I think I've recorded enough of my attention and identified enough of the themes that interest me to support a second round of inquiry. So here is my new plan: I propose, for the next five years, in addition to recording my current attention, to read and elaborate upon the entries of the last five years on a day by day basis.
If it's worthwhile doing once it's worthwhile doing again.
What's the point of keeping a record if one doesn't pay attention to it?
Dmitry writes concerning Club Havana's Secret History of Cinema
I am interested.
An interview with Fujiwara (over Jacques Tourneur).
Fujiwara on Jacques Rivette's Va Savoir (which I've just ordered).
Fujiwara on the films of Joris Ivens (a Dutch documentarist whose work I should know but don't).
Kenny Liu sends me a snippet of text from a 'write up' that an everything2 user has done over a friend in Chicago (the emphasis in red is mine):
Thanks for sending me this. I like the idea -- that sufficiently documented life could provide us with the right feedback to allow us to non-judgementally observe ourselves and witness our repetitive nature, like in meditation.
At the moment I'm enamoured by a similar idea, Nietzsche's great notion (thought experiment) of eternal recurrence -- the thought that we repeat ourselves an infinite number of times, that everything we've done in our lives we've already done an infinite number of times and will continue do do an infinite number of times. I suppose this thought applies to your email and this reply... they have already occurred countlessly... and will recur countlessly again.
Not much freewill in Nietzsche's model (though of course there's always the chance that we will have a Groundhog Day) we can change things only because we have changed them before. (We become enlightened only because we are already enlightened.)
Link: Self Conscious Journalism (August 27, 1999).
Watched Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror last night.
Plan to watch (start over) Jean Eustache's The Mother and the Whore tonight.
Remakes and Restorations
One can imagine many reasons why an artist would remake one of their own pieces. The new work may be considered an improvement -- or a necessary update -- to an older, flawed, or no longer topical work, or it may be that artist's entire oeuvre is composed of nothing more than instances of a 'single idea' repeatedly manifested.
But what about re-do's in the name of the artist (after the artist is dead -- restorations of the artist's estate)?
Rotterdam, 14 March 2003
Finished Jean Eustache's The Mother and the Whore last night. Someone on the imdb called it the "talkiest film ever." I'd have to go along with that. It's the main quality of the film. That and its transitions. Oh and its use of music. I love the scenes where someone -- usually Alexandre -- puts a record on the record player and then listens to it. An entire song in real time! The music becomes the silence of the movie (the only time Alexandre or someone else is not talking).
N., who watched the first half of the film with me a couple of nights ago, had to laugh at the allusion to Sartre when Alexandre proclaimed to his friend that henceforth he'd spend his afternoons "not writing but reading" in the cafe (Les Deux Magots). Sure enough later in the film Sartre is spotted in the same cafe. (N. also wonders whether the contract between Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir has ever been published... I've looked for it but can't find it. If anyone knows of its online existence please let me know.)
Link: Writing in French Cafés.
Rogério is visiting New York:
Watched Robert Bresson's 1956 film 'Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut last night' (A Man Escaped or the Wind Bloweth Where it Listeth). I tried watching it a year or so ago and failed. I suppose I wasn't ready for it. Last night I was able to concentrate. Magnificent!
Adrian Gargett, A Profound Gaze at the Surface: The Films of Robert Bresson. From the Bright Lights Film Journal.
Everything recurs. Some things more
Spent the day at the Rijksakademie. Made studio visits to Nora Martirosyan, Lala Rascic, Nesrine Khodr, Sandro Setola and Kristof Kintera.
Stencil by Kristof Kintera
Spent the day at the Rijksakademie. Made studio visits to Noraset Vaisayakul, Iwan van 't Spijker, Danielle van Vree, Brenda Kamphuis and Erick Beltran.
Erick began our discussion with the notion of clandestine publishing (or the publishing of 'clandestine objects') bringing back memories of crypto-anarchy, stegonography (hiding a file in a photograph), super-distribution and jurisdictional swamps.
As an example of the clandestine object (and its desirability) Erick related the story of a book called Excaliber.
Woke up and watched a little bit of Leni Riefenstahl's The Triumph of the Will (borrowed yesterday from the Rijksacademie's library) before turning on the T.V. and realizing the war had started.
Two new and noteworthy CNN buzz-terms: "decapitation strike" and "embedded journalist".
Two Notes to My Second Ayahuasca Session
This Morning's Reflected Light
Rotterdam, 23 March 2003.
Ro-disc, the local DVD shop, has been getting in reasonably cheap Hong Kong editions of many of Kurosawa's films. Last Saturday I purchased a copy of Seven Samurai (1954) to check out the quality. It seemed okay (image-wise) based on a quick skip through its chapters so this afternoon I went back and picked up I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being (1955) and Throne of Blood (1957).
I watched Throne of Blood this evening. The verdict? An absolutely brilliant film marred by outrageously bad sub-titling. :-/ (So incredibly bad that I don't know if I should be charmed or disappointed -- and this without taking into account that the film is an adaptation of Shakespeare...)
Another list (organized by play).
Ubik, Audition, Jacob's Ladder
The ultimate identity crisis: Under what conditions does one experience ontological vertigo? The dizziness of being one experiences in 'becoming' a series of states in rapid succession... (Under what conditions does one become aware of the recurrence of ontological vertigo?) What are its critical factors? (What precipitates the experience as an event?)
Spent yesterday and today visiting the Rijksakademie.
Roman Wolgin, 25 March 2003.
Dustin Larson, 25 March 2003.
Lost Highway of the 70's
'Beyond the Fragile Geometry of Space' being the title of the book the protagonists are reading in Nicolas Roeg's 1973 reverse-causal film Don't Look Now. A book that didn't exist then and doesn't exist now -- but should some day.
Close. (Fragile Geometry: The Films, Philosophy and Misadventures of Nicolas Roeg by Joseph Lanza.)
I love watching films in an empty theater...
... so the Saturday matinee at Cinerama (to see Jonze and Kaufman's Adaptation.) where we almost had the entire theater to ourselves (two others arriving late and sitting somewhere behind us -- one leaving demonstratively about half way through...) was very pleasing.
Der Geist, der stets verneint.
The Metaphysicians Nightmare (a short story by Bertrand Russell).
The value added tax deadline arrives. Every year the same stressful story. Next year different?
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