“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Here’s to the naked years, Takeo-chan!

If Douglas Sirk had worked in the Soviet Union, he would have made Slave of Love, the 1976 movie by Nikita Mikhalkov I saw last night. The movie depicts a film crew trying to make a melodrama starring the silent film star Olga Voznesenskaya in the South of Russia, on territory still held by the Whites. The camera man, Victor Pototsky, a handsome, Lermontovian dandy type with a car, obviously has a thing for the actress, who is publicly involved with her co-star on other films, a man named Maksakov. Maksakov is held up in Red Moscow, but expected to arrive momentarily – although he never does. During the course of the film we learn that the supposedly devil may care Pototsky is actually filming White atrocities.

Well. There is a small scene in the film in which Olga and Victor go walking through a park. The two are wearing Great Gatsy-ish clothing, and the light is falling at the right angle for sundrenched love love love, and they have gotten to that point in the age old ritual when Victor is about to explain himself – his wound in 1914, his war - when suddenly the sunlight dims, and a storm comes up. The storm is preceded by a blast of wind. In that blast, Victor tells Olga, “you want to live in the comfortable world you’ve been used to, but its no more. It’s been caught by the throat, in a deadly grip. … A new world is being born, and you are dying of an abominable boredom and ruin.” But Olga is distracted by the wind, which takes one of her veils and blows it away, and doesn’t hear him. As the wind calms down, we see Victor grimace – he knows he has said too much, and he knows he’s said it badly, stupidly, melodramatically - and then the camera pulls away to show Victor walking away, while Olga yells after him that he (dear enigmatic Victor) is only jealous of Maksakov, but shouldn’t be.

Speaking of ruin in a great wind to nobody seems to be an appropriate allegory for the last decade for those of us with ears to hear. If Olga had listened, of course, the events that unfold in the movie would have been different. And yet, perhaps not. For ourselves, for us American living in that national resort, the U.S.A., the wind blows elsewhere in the world at the moment, even if it has been unleashed by us. Meanwhile, what golden American days! What an amazing paradise of stuff and stuffing, and how cheap the most expensive things are! We can live as no human beings have ever dared to live, and we can unconsciously expend as much energy in a year as a whole peasant community would have expended in a year in 1800 – or 1900. The crazy geeks that are screaming as though they are in a great blast must simply seem delusional, and let’s admit it, they have a lousy record, always predicting ruin, and always things get better and better. Every ruin is a fixer up opportunity at zero percent down! But the geeks aren’t totally bats. There is something tedious, something artificial, something deadly about all of this embalming golden light, soothing us into thinking that we have only to perpetuate this sensation of drifting, that we only have to make sure that nothing disturbs it, that we have only to make sure not to look at what it is built on, in order for it to continue forever. Everything from the past cries out against this tendency.

This might seem like a downer speech to give to greet a little nouveau-né, but it is quite the contrary. Our far flung correspondent, Mr. T.'s ever golden wife, K., had a baby yesterday: Takeo-chan. What we are struggling to say, here, is that Takeo-chan, born in a peculiarly poisonous decade, will grow up in a better time, surely, one that will see the inevitable overthrow of the white magic and the zombie death drive that undergirds our massively sedated lives, one that will strip away the marbled fat and the toxins, apocalyptic jam on the highways, mental prison industries and universal yapping, throw it all away and be a little more naked. Or quite a bit more. Here’s to the naked years, Takeo-chan! And forgive those of us, Olgas all, who haven’t quite comprehended what our lives are all about.


Celia said...
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amie said...

For Takeo-chan, a poem:


Cell by cell, the baby made herself, the cells
Made cells. That is to say
The baby is made largely of milk. Lying in her father's arms,
the little seed eyes
Moving, trying to see, smiling for us
To see, she will make a household
To her need of these rooms - Sara, little seed,
Little violent, diligent seed. Come let us look at the world
Glittering:this seed will speak,
Max, words! There will be no other words in the world
But those our children speak. What will she make of a world
Do you suppose, Max, of which she is made.

-George Oppen

roger said...

Amie, I must send that to Mr. T in NYC. He will love it!

Alan said...

Takeo-chan no ryoshin ni ometedou-gozaimasu!