Essay film after submission

I’ll be short, as I delayed this post for a while now. I wanted to share post-essay film impression, but that “post” extended itself util it became “a few weeks later”.

It was a journey, an experience, a challenge, which now seems to have been also a success. It is not a beautiful piece, but a meaningful one.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/obdg406iog29k6c/FILM%20FINAL%20COPY.mp4?dl=o 

Anti-Oedipus and nowadays activism

 

The globalization of the world gave birth to globalized problems, and thus, to activist movements such as the Zapatista, which broke through Mexico’s borders and reached to the whole world through the mediation of Internet and stands as  one of the originators of the practices, forms and ideals of alter-globalization, and no account of digital activism should ignore the (Hands 2011). The alter-, a counterpoint for anti- is a movement of the new Internet era, using digital media and communication through the World Wide Web.

As Ian Buchaman stresses in his article Is Anti-Oedipus a May ’68 book? The protests in France are not to be seen as singular but in the frame of previous events around the world such as the Vietnam war, the Algerian war or the Italian protests, this interconnection of events, protests and revolts have now become more and more visible through media, and mostly the internet.

The Zapatistas and their transnational support network have come to be emblematic – and indeed foundational – of a whole approach to network activism that has spread more widely across a whole spectrum of movements, campaigns, advocacy groups and individuals with shared affinities. (Hands 2011)

The Other Campaign was launched in July 2005 with the ‘Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle’, with the call to ‘humble and simple people like ourselves’ to ‘walk with us in something very great which is called Mexico and something greater which is called the world’. (Hands 2011)

Campaigns and movements such as The Other Campain which use the Internet to spread their messages, gain a louder voice than just a simple speaking tube, hence calling not only to a certain group of people but to the whole world. And even though the Internet is a part of globalization, is also a method of uniting human beings all around the globe, pursuing common goals and demanding similar things no matter of sex, religion, race, of financial status, which is similar to the event of May ’68 when workers, students, and high-class intellectuals protested side by side. The interlink, the common medium made it possible to acknowledge a common enemy, this being the first step, and maybe the most important in building a powerful movement.

The only problem is that most activism today is made of words, hashtags and likes or hearts. Taking into account the last political events around the world, I will consider the latest Romanian protests against the law of amnesty and pardon as an example. The protests as the ones from last year were broadly organized on Facebook through events, invitations, joins, and interested. My Facebook timeline rumbles of pros and cons, mostly cons, because of my own view, and what I chose to follow, but I get the feeling that the protests take place more on the Internet that in the streets, and people cry for their rights on their walls, but forget to put a stamp on their voting paper. It’s not that  I see this kind of activism futile by any means, as it allows an incredibly spread of news, information and it constitutes the perfect ground for real-time debates. Though what I do find bothering is a sense of “enoughness” and mind comfort, as if a like or a share is enough, when truly the online “protests” should be followed by actions.

Moreover, as Ian Buchaman highlights that Deleuze and Guattari: were as troubled by the actualities of May ’68 as they were excited by its possibilities and this ambivalence clearly shapes their theory of desire which tries to account for the contradictory currents of political thought and action that events like May ’68 bring into stark relief. Deleuze and Guattari were stirred by the possibility for change May ’68 seemed to betoken, namely the liberation of desire itself, but they were also highly skeptical of the doctrinal turn that accompanied it, which seemed to them to promise the incarceration of desire all over again. (Buchaman 1994:10) Protests, revolutions, activisms usually demand change, but not inner change. Change of government, of laws, of presidents, of doctrines and political regimes, which is demanding change from someone else, from the “powerful” ones, when the notion of power as Deleuze and Guattari stress is not as simple as being divided into power leaders, and follower, into powerful and powerless, but is a more complex concept based on contribution of every little single element, as every molecule participates in a functional organism. Revolutions challenge the simplistic division of power, by simply counterbalancing the parts.

the challenge of Marxism in the aftermath of May ’68 was not to supply the strategy to go with the theory, as Anderson demands, but to use theory to cleanse strategy of its fatal taint of impracticality. This is the challenge Anti-Oedipus answers and it does so by providing a genealogy of desire, showing how and when it came to be enchained. It is true that in the closing pages of Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari quite explicitly state that their work does not offer a model to follow; but then again, their thesis in a nutshell is that if we understand desire properly and distinguish it effectively from interest then the revolution is already made.  (Buchaman 2008:2)

As Deleuze and Guattari provide no “model to follow”, no map, no strategy, as actually most of the activism neglects to do, identify the core of the revolution: desire.


References:

Buchanan, I. (2007). ‘Is Anti-Oedipus a May ’68 Book?’,  Arab Journal for the Humanities, vol. 99, no. 25, pp. 225-243.

Buchanan, I. (2008). Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘Anti-Oedipus’. Bloomsbury Publishing

Hands, J. (2011), @ is for Activism: Dissent, Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture

 

Does my mobile bleed if I break it?

It is not an arbitrary decision to begin my post with a quote from Franz Kafka. I did not choose it because he is my favourite author (which he is), but because it applies so well to our reality; a reality that we might or might not be aware of.

I don’t know. I am not responsible. wait until you can enter the next office. you cannot see the CEO. first, you have to see all the other small and smaller directors and the directors‘ adjutants. we are aware, but you know, it’s difficult, we are doing all that we can, but please be a sensitive individual and understand that the situation does not allow us to do any more. be happy that there is still hope. the things might change, but for now, this is what it is. we do work for you, but we have to work for ourselves first, isn’t that a sensible thing to do? All Kafkaesque replies to simple and straightforward questions. I do wonder when, actually more precisely if, Franz Kafka will ever walk away from our lives? And even if he is as I stated one of my favourite authors, I would more than gladly wish him “farewell”.  But the western world so stubbornly reenacts Kafka’s novels and short stories, while the rest of the globe can’t escape Dante’s Inferno, that I started to wonder what distinguishes us from the beasts we are so scared of?

Knock-knock… knock-knock… no answer, no answer even when there is an answer.

Like the fictional character Joseph K., the danish director of the documentary film Blood in the Mobile, Frank Piasecki Poulsen, knocks at many doors asking the same question and mostly getting the same answer in different forms and with different smiles. In contrast to K., Frank is not seeking to unravel the mystery behind his own conviction, but to trace back a mineral which’s illegal sale sentenced to death hundreds of people on the other side of the globe. He starts knocking and then he starts traveling until he touches the heart of the monster. Until he dives down in dark and the pulsating soul by the hammers rhythm, of the Bisie’s mines in Congo where the conflict minerals contained by all our electronics are extracted from. As the fictional character, he does not get any direct answer from the mammoth company, the company from which he has been buying his phones. Nokia does not know.

Money makes the world go round. There is only so much time when you can gain money and you mustn’t loose it on worthless things like… lives, for example. What does a life represent when put front in front with a pile of money? Nothing. And the saddest truth is not that it happens, but that we all act like well-doers. As a rotten apple, which is still red and juicy on the outside, the western world, hides its worms, its sins, its crimes behind a sadistic benevolent and welcoming smile. “We do all that we can, but it takes time.” And it will continue to take time as long as there is still money to be gained.

If you have money, you eat. If you have no money, you are not hungry.

People die in Congo digging for Coltan, people die in China assembling iPhones, people die in America taking risky selfies. Is just the cycle of life, isn’t it?

Essay films?! Twelve of them?!

I love films. Cinema and all the rest. Weird films, films which aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, I will watch them gladly and there are chances to like them, but I have to admit that I had a few problems wrapping my mind around what an essay film is.

Descriptive, but not literal. Metaphoric, but not too cryptic. With a narrative line, but not a narrative story. Based on theory, but with an artistic effect. Experimental, but still understandable. Words, Image, Moving Image Sound, Music, Silence, Voice all combined in a powerful representation of theoretical ideas with a solid factional base. Half documentary, half art piece, with a bit of dada madness the essay film is not something we see on our TVs but is a genre in itself, and it has been out there for quite a while now.

BFI 12 best essay films:

  • essay films as a genre seem to take shape in the context of the WW2.
  1. À propos de Nice, Jean Vigo, 1930- as early as my beloved expressionist films, the difference is visible at a first sight. The realism specific to the french cinema, which Andre Bazin regarded as “the true” cinema due to the break of the cinema from the theatrical methods is present in the short fragment, depicting life on the Côte d’Azur. It does convey a sense relaxation, a festive feeling, a carnivalesque joy. The music sets the pace and is in total harmony with the vibrant images. It does have the specific awkwardness of old films, even though it is realistic in comparison to expressionist films, the movement is still somewhat either rushed or a bit theatrical, which gives diminish the naturalism. There is no language except for that of images and music. Being a part of the silent films era, the lack of words does not come as surprise.
  2. A Diary for Timothy, Humphrey Jennings, 1945
    – a story within a story, a double screen, which is an inventive way of transmitting the message and show the reaction of a public in the same time. It sets an educative tone, by addressing children in regards to the war an imminent danger. By having a narrator the narrative is better structured. The sounds are naturalistic, interposed with moments of silence wich enhance the atmosphere and at times even create suspense.
  3. Toute la mémoire du monde, Alain Resnais, 195- the iconic image of the library used in other essay films as well. The naturalism is diminished here, not because there is a painted background or the movement is exaggerated, but because of the shots, which work with the sound effects to create a feeling, following a book in its journey through the shelves. And this is exactly what it is, a journey, a sense of grandeur, but lacking luxurious features, the feeling of a long road in an overwhelming space under the gaze of the books.
  4.  The House is Black, Forough Farrokhzad, 1963- a film from far away. Poetry combined with shocking visuals of crippled people, and a pace wich gives the whole experience a sense of anxiety, the viewer ending by identifying himself with the little girl, in an attempt to cover his eyes from the reality and
  5. Letter to Jane: An Investigation About a StillJean-Luc Godard & Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972
    – the images are on a second plan. Even though the photograph is the topic of discussion, there is no movement, only the zooming in and out of the camera. This film is not about images is about words, and the lack of visual distraction is exactly what makes the viewer more attentive to the words, and the ideas they shape, the events they appeal.
  6.  F for Fake, Orson Welles, 1973

    – words, image, footage, narrative, montage, Picasso, this film has it all. It combines personal footage with others’ footage, with painting, and with storytelling. The repetitive images, the pace, Picasso’s black and white gaze gives the film an ambiguous feeling of uneasiness and curiosity.

  7. How to Live in the German Federal Republic, Harun Farocki, 1990 – a satire of the German Federal Republic, executed by an Eastern German director, just after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The style is austere, simple. A camera more or less in a fixed point, filming nothing more than exactly what is in front of it. It has an amateur feeling, which actually gives the impression of being a witness, an unseen witness to some everyday life scenes. The scenes have an absurdity, enhanced especially through the dialogue sequences. This, accompanied by the camera’s minimal moving shapes a feeling of anxiety, even claustrophobic.
  8. One Man’s War,  Edgardo Cozarinsky, 1982- a hard film to find. Images with no words, talking for themselves, a proof that visuals do have a voice and a “language”
  9. Sans soleil, Chris Marker, 1982- a dissonance between word and images. They both go parallel ways, but don’t seem to really ever encounter one another. This space between the 2 ways of conveying ideas and emotions is the space of the viewer, the link between the mediums is his choice, according to his own imagination, knowledge, and experiences. His mind can wander through the images and discourse, even appropriating parts which are spoken in the first person.
  10. Handsworth Songs, Black Audio Film Collective, 1986- it starts as a documentary, with raw footage, explained by the voiceover, which points out dates and events (the riots in Birmingham), but which then gains a poetic dimension, by asking some rhetorical questions, and enacting a dialogue which makes it seem as if the voice is directly addressing the viewer, engaging him/her in the film’s narrative. The camera movement is in slow motion allowing the viewer enough time to see the outcomes of the events.
  11. Los Angeles Plays Itself, Thom Andersen, 2003
    –  modern architecture vs gangsters. The film explains in a documentary way the relationship between L.A.’s modern architecture and its depiction in famous films. The modern houses become the settlements of the most infamous villains and are absorbed in the common conscience as being a characteristic of these type of characters. The film juxtaposes the vocal commentary with shots from films.
  12.  La Morte RougeVíctor Erice, 2006
    – still images transitioning between themselves.  The lack of moving regarding the images makes the viewer focus on the voiceover, which comes in harmony with the black and white photos and newspaper extracts. The narrator’s voice is monotone, thus contrasting to its actual discourse which is about fear.

 

Black Skin, White Mask, Fritz Fanon

  • Fanon is the purveyor of the transgressive and traditional truth.  He may yearn for the total transformation of Man and Society, but he speaks most effectively from the uncertain interstices of historical change: from the area of ambivalence between culture and class, from deep within the struggle of psychic representation and social reality.

Continue reading “Black Skin, White Mask, Fritz Fanon”

Essay film notes, part 3

Who?… Who am I?

You are a product. A product of your environment. A product of society. A product of religion. A product of some one’s desires. A product of your desires.  A product of experience. A product of some expectations. A product of what you have seen, of what you have read, of what you have heard, of what you have lived. You are a product of what you never saw, of what you never heard, of what you never read, of what you never lived. You are a product of what you will never live. Your world, my world, our world is a construct, a huge mechanism, a never resting factory. You are a part of it. You are a number between 7.8 billion other numbers, not a face, not a name. You might have drawn a lucky one. You might have been born in the right part of the globe. You might have been given the role of the buyer on this grandiose scene. It might not be the starring role, not even the secondary, but the scene is better than what hides behind the curtains. The tears, the grief, the pain, the exhaustion, the desperation are outshined by the spectacle. The lights, the comfort, the commodity, the luxury. Feelings are only seen when they are on the right side of the curtains, that is the only time they count. What’s behind them is only valuable as long as the show’s running, and only what keeps the show running matters. We have different worlds which only go along in some heads.

Buy. Buy more. Buy all. Buy what you need, along with what you think you need and what you never needed. You are what you buy. Spend money, and make more money just to spend more money on things you might already have. The more we need, the more they bleed.

Liver failure…kidney failure… pulmonary dysfunction… heart palpitations… b-b-b-brain failure. Irreversible damage. The buyers benefit the best possible medical care. Their health is in the hands of awards winning doctors and monitored by groundbreaking technology. The lowest your purchase power the unimportant you are. Not even cancer is the same for everyone. Your health is not a right, is an indulgence.

Made in China. Made in Bangladesh. Made in Indonesia. Made in Pakistan. Through the hands of the ones who fabric, assemble, take apart what you buy go by things you might have never had the chance to touch, yet they are the least powerful. No power. No rights. No freedom. No health. Their hands held your iPhone, their hands held millions of iPhones, yet, the “i” in iPhone is still for you and not for them. They create things they’ll never use, for people they’ll never meet, for money which will never be enough, living a life which you would never consider a life.

Essay film, notes part 2

What is your favourite colour? White. But white isn’t even a colour. You’re right, you cannot even see it anymore.

Time has lost his patience. We run around in circles, repeating the same mistakes over and over and over and over and over and over again. And over again. Until mistakes are not even seen as mistakes anymore. We use new slogans for old matters. We run from our past just to end up in the same spot. There is no greater truth than history, but we reinvent it, forgetting to reinvent ourselves as well in the process. We don’t see slavery anymore. Slavery has no place in our modern little bubble. With our eyes closed, we follow our dreams. White American dreams. Wealthy American dreams. Freedom is a ride in a convertible polished car, not a state of mind, not a state of being. We preach happiness, freedom, individuality in #nofilter filtered photos.

It’s time to be who you really are! To embrace your white soul and make it spark through your western condition. Ride! Travel! Run in the rain! Deam! Fall in love! Love! Hate! Suffer! Be true to yourself! Be happy! Find yourself. Go back to work. Real workers have no time for feelings. Real workers have no tears. Real workers have no right to live… or to die. The broken hearts love the deepest. Real hearts beat only in privileged chests. White hearts, white love, white mind, white life. True workers never stop being workers. True workers are workers first of all, and whatever they might be second.

All blood is red, but some is purer. Some minds are great, but some are greater. Some hearts beat in colours, some hearts beat right.

Tic-Tac. Tic-Tac. Tic-white-Tac.

There is one colour no one sees anymore. And this colour isn’t even a colour.


Link to link, after link, from link, hyperlink. Linking, being linked, unliked. Friend. Unfriend. Follow. Unfollow. Like. Unlike. Dislike. Heart it. Distribute it. Redistributed. Share. Double share. Reshare. Post. Edit. Delete. Repost. We are all linked, interlinked. We are all connected.

Error. No internet access. Network not find. Enable network access. Troubleshoot problems. No internet. No iPhones. No Macs. No laptops. No computers. To mobiles. No phones. No electricity. No current water. No water.

You were online 10 minutes ago, you are online now, you are always online. And you are not the only one. But not all of us were ever online. Our voices are as powerful as the number of our likes. OUR VOICE IS ANGRY IN CAPS LOCKS. Our voice is determined in bold. When we don’t want to see, to know anymore and any more, we unfollow. We change the channel. We close our eyes. We only see what we want. We only see what some want. What some show. Some see what we do not see. Some do not see what we see.

We built a new world, like little gods playing with our powers. We offered ourselves a clean slate and stained it all over again. We are trapped in our pursuit of power, in our money quest, in our own desire for attention.

A click is less than a glass of water. A like is less than a warm glance. A post is less than a helpful hand. But a voice is a voice nevertheless. Is it? When it’s not online. Is a voice crying in the desert still a voice if it does not reach the Internet? Does it have volume when it does not have any hypes?

Conscience corrupted. Viruses in our systems. Bugs in our minds. We are connected in our disconnection. We understand faster than any system and we react slower than Internet Explorer.

Film essay notes – group assignment

Me. The Others. You. Us. Them. Freedom. Power. Silence. Fear. Light. Fame. Shame. Difference. Indifference. Work. Travel. Slavery. Lux. Love. Charade. Laughter. Distance. Money. Noise. Black. Good. Evil. Scream. Need. Loyalty. History. Forgiveness. Emptiness. Happiness. Crave. Hunger. Joy. Lack. Futility. Desperation. Calm. Faith. Guns. Gods. Words. Adaptability. Cries. Blindness. Equality. Quality. Debauchery. Dirth. Meaning. Status. Class. Grief. Death. Pain. Birth. Rebirth. Identity. Courage. Lie. Sin. Loss. Loneliness. Crowds. Man. Life. Ideas. Ideals. Illusions. Miracles. Mirages. Memories. Sadness. Knowledge. Future. Unknown. Unspoken. Discontentment. Hope. Unseen. Insecurity. Arrogance. Nowness. Terror. Order. Pleasure. Dreams. Duality. Signification. Anthem. Signs. Paths. Scratches. Scars. Tears. Smiles. Colours. Wounds. Tyrants. Martyrs. Chaos. Children. Innocence. Ferocity. Strenght. Guilt. Passion.

The dog whose leash was longer than his life. We’re tracking meaning, search for identity, fear our limitations. We’ve globalized one’s thoughts. We’re seeing through a pile of different lenses, which are not our own. We don’t have an “own”. We understand difference but don’t accept it. We accept difference but do not understand it. We demand freedom but avoid it. We hear but not listen. We watch but do not see. We scream, forget, and move on. We love and press “enter”. We hate and click “delete”. We shine in our selfies, they die in our factories. She sells her soul, he buys commodity. Some grow apples, some make Apple. Some drown, some swim. Some play, others get played with. Some know the rules, some follow, some change the rules. Some get money, others get diseases. Some want to escape, a few succeed, others are deceived. We don’t see skin, only colours. We don’t wear masks, we own them.

Some scream, some cry, some fight, some sight, some watch, some change the channel.

Identity in the Globalizing World, Zygmunt Bauman

  • ‘identity’ has now become a prism through which other topical aspects of contemporary life are spotted, grasped and examined
  • Established issues of social analysis are being rehashed and refurbished to fit the discourse now rotating around the ‘identity’ axis. For instance, the discussion of justice and equality tends to be conducted in terms of ‘recognition’, culture is debated in terms of individual, group or categorial difference, creolization and hybridity, while the political process is ever more often theorized around the issues of human rights (that is, the right to a separate identity) and of ‘life polities’ (that is, identity construction, negotiation and assertion).

Continue reading “Identity in the Globalizing World, Zygmunt Bauman”