Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac

image.tmdb.org 2014-8-29 8 2 37I have finally finished watching Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, having years before watched horrified his early film Breaking the Waves. All that I can remember feeling then was nausea, much the same feeling I associate with his film Dogville. But this present film is more self-conscious, more stylized. It taunts the viewer with its shifting view points. I could almost imagine that Charlotte Gainsbourg spoke her own words in response to Seligman’s scripted lines.

In my search to understand what I had seen, better yet felt from his films, I discovered that his film genera is drama films that have real life characters dealing with dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudiced. religious intolerance, sexuality, poverty, class division, violence against woman and corruption. As would be writers, pick your theme if it hasn’t are ready picked you. In a grand art house way he has seemingly included all these themes into one movie.

By turns his main protagonist, the ultimate antihero, Joe, as played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, is put into conflict with herself, society and finally- man.

Her savior and guide into her past is Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), a stale pedantic whom actually levitates the story by way of his cultural allusions.

We sit down to watch the film, not at all knowing where we are being taken. Suspended belief is induced by the mesmerizing affect of the flash backs; we willingly allow the story to unfold because we find it beautiful. Switching forward, the most beautiful as well, the most horrifying scenes is the one in which the abandoned toddler awakens by the twisting lights of the snow plower cutting  a swath through the snow bound streets, the boy following the lights and then becoming attuned to the falling snow. Emotionally we are tied to this scene because also a similar story was played out in Trier’s film the Antichrist. This latter is a visual example, but on the level of story telling what is more beautiful than her father leading the child through the woods while telling her mythological tree stories, not just any stories but a story that runs through the whole film. Such beauty is usually reserved for films by Terrence Malick.

If the film seems too much, as in what it has decided not to leave out, that is the very quality that uplifts the film. Truth can be uglified only when we try to reduce it to something more conventional. A good example would be what happened to a Block Buster Video version heavily edited of Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant. Astonished, even appalled, would venture to say deeply displeased because I sat with a friend whom I had told about the amazement of this film and what we saw was something stripped of its cottontail beauty which was partly brought to life by its shocking value. At the time, in the early 90’s, the only other film that had a similar shock value was Tarantino‘s Reservoir Dogs. Both came out the same year; both brought movies to a new art house level: spawning the independent film movement (I have no way to back up that latter claim, it’s maybe a hyperbolic causality of my gross leaps to impress without actuality doing my homework)

To write more I would have to first provide a spoiler alert, only read forward if you have concluded the film.

The ending is what actually redeems this film from being sentimental, preventing us from harping back to the idea of it being merely for entertainment; granted we were entertained. But actually we  are witness to the culminating point where a Joe realizes whom she will be at the conclusion of her life; all this transpired through the telling her story along side Seligman whom peppers her story with insight; ultimately, the movie is a dialectic brought to a synthesis.

Which makes a demand on us viewers: we must read about his manifesto for a new cinematic movement which was called Dogme 95.

There is a quickening in Joe in that very last scene where she decides not to be ruled by her sexuality, making it a vow, her reason d’etre to be that one in a million whom succeed, that could only be endorse by a corresponding action.

His closing words, you whom have let a thousand men fuck you,

It is not to us to judge her actions, the movie itself is amoral . It will be Joe’s task to keep to her new coda. We sense another story evolving, now she is a murderer; to stop one thing we become something else.

Reading this crap I wrote, now hours old, well, it is what it is: a feeble attempt once again to aspire to write my thoughts. Not to be discourage though, write I will in spite of my too obvious flaws. What an art form to truly write, it is a good thing that us would be writer have this opportunity to shoot for something.

Which almost drives me to write more concerning my failure to convey what I wanted, to do so would require a re-write (which may or may not happen) Movie reviews are tough, no doubt as proven by my multiple attempts. In fact, reviews can seem easy on the surface, but how to really pull it off? That’s something I may never know.

 

False Alarm

I started writing some days ago on a story, stopped, started again. Too much distance now between what I wrote and how I now feel about the story. Cold-trailing it anyway, I sit and want to move the story more towards first person narration.

To really walk on bare feet towards what is in front of the person that is our guide.

It is really difficult to truly write a story because I have no story. I have this desire to write, to do what I read others do and I harbor this idea that what keeps me from doing likewise is simply not understanding my craft. I possess imagination but how to put it to work, how to make it do my bidding? There is the over-soul of who I am; no one is entitled to be as shallow as what it appears to mean by indication of my inability to imagine a story from A to Z. How is that some minds possess this marvelous capacity? Maybe falsely, more than likely I suffer from delusions of grandeur.

But I do have a story, it’s just in the wash of my brain, it lurks, it surfaces, I feel it swollen like a bruised lip. It’s like I am a woman whom must carry an embryo to term without knowing what I am carrying.

Is it rather too that it is this mind that wants to separate from the union, that finds solace in sitting zazen.

But it seems more a pack I have made with myself, and true to my word, it seems I must pursue this vainglorious path.

Writing is more meaningful when I am tied into the internet, it’s like when you are present, those few seating ringside, you keep me accountable to some higher order thinking, whereas left to my own devise I may beg, borrow and steal but with you present, I wont stand for anything less than exactitude.  What? This latter sentence is just one of those sentences that peter out; put your mouth to and it may come to life.

At this half-way point, I feel more assured of my future as a writer because in getting over my initial trepidation, this feeling too frighten to go on, I am now turned around and ready to look back at my new story title Dialog. To write one has to be motivated based on some form of pleasure; why else write if it is not pleasurable, no? Or do you write to avoid pain, the pain of living alone with whom you have become. We all solidify after a certain age. The question becomes how to break through.

To go forward as a writer you have to chuckle at what a mess you have made of pass attempts to write a story

Or pull out your hair in anguish.

Having just read the closing page 69 of my story Tocksin, I see clearly every rookie mistake: http://tocksin.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/page-69-tocksin-sally-is-washing-the-blood-from-joes-clothes-she-is-bent-over-a-wash-tub/

Do I fall on my sword, swear off ever writing, both options would probably spare future generations the infamy of having been exposed to bad writing. My writing is so very bad that its very badness is its only redeemable quality. I would not be so bold as to say I am unique but do believe I am of a type, that there are more people like me but just as well like you. Granted we are individual, but what it comes down to is variations on a theme.

Wouldn’t we all want someone to explain our predicament, to point at the vectors of our flaws. To put another way someone to explain who we are but not so much who but what in that what is the meaning of how we write; what does it say about who we are; what does it indicate? other than the obvious idiocy.

In some way because of my learning disabilities, or better yet in spite of them, I have evolved into a tattered human being. Here I sit and the keys have never seem so quiet as if they portend sound rather than ticking of letters. Writing to me is much like music, that coming from a person unmusically inclined. This departure from my point throws more wood to burn me at my self-imposed funeral stake. That is the point, having discovered no discernible talent that could help demonstrate my genius, I hit upon the idea of writing solely because it seemed doable. And also by way of extension, the next step for someone whom reads constantly. But not writing like you think, but writing to find out who I am. Some people writing is only a way to put down into words poems in their heads; whereas, for me- writing has been my life ring. There I was floundering on the sea of life (i.e overused metaphor), not knowing my place in the world and along comes a book put into my hand by my father Grapes of Wrath. I took off with the Joad family, identifying with their plight and later when I read black literature, the likes of  Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright, I found myself less alone.

But the kicker was when I read that impressionism was not limited to painting, that there were writers whom were considered writing in the impressionistic vein. One such writer was Ford Madox Ford whom I could not say how he demonstrates this supposed feat, but I took what I wanted from the statement and said to myself I could give an impression, that would be possible because I know I can’t write like Rembrandt paints but I could render an impression of the events that were surrounding me. I started out with a mechanical type writer believing that to be a writer one simply wrote. In the beginning it was mainly a catalog of my woes, a recording of my conflicts with others. Over time, I started believing I could write a story. Of course it begins with a boy and a girl and so on up till now I have circled back to cataloging my woes and  to the recording of my conflicts with myself and others.

To write you must serve one master

 

Or pull out your hair in anguish.

Some men spend their time sculpting their bodies, while others toil at building things; still others pine away with only a longing after some lost dream. To write is a pastime, a thing done to ease the inner turmoil produced by having thoughts of grandeur. Why grandeur; why not a more ennobling scope. Grandeur it is.

Leaning back and scratching my head swollen with muck, a tad bit tired, not really feeling it though I sit anyhow, damning myself for not having a lucid thought to write by and I question my own stamina for the game. I had a thought yesterday, that I must write five hundred pages so as to write myself clearer, not five hundred pages indiscriminately wrote but five hundred pages within the same subject matter. Five hundred pages towards writing myself free of the burden of living with thoughts that have haunted me, thoughts that need to be put to rest.

I cannot sit still and do nothing. I have always been ambitious. It’s like I am writing only because I am forcing myself to write; there is nothing natural about me writing. I have set before me this quest long ago having vowed to prove that I was not stupid. Being stupid and disruptive were the norm of my adolescents. Behavioral problems excluded me from being a student early on though part of me learned to read in the dark. I theorized that I read for thirty years before I actually understood what I had read. I remember thinking later in my life that the New Yorker had changed its format because in my youth I could not access the magazine, it somehow seemed arcane. That sounds crazy but to someone illiterate at the beginning of reading looking at that magazine would prove incomprehensible. Now, it is a magazine I am found of and nothing pleases me more than reading the New York Times.

If you have not figured it out, on the side I have begun another story. Story writing is my side job. It dose not pay the bills but it serves my higher purpose. This what I am doing now lets call it commentary. It helps me sort out my ideas by discernment; wherein, I can speak freely about the process of writing itself; a self-writing tutorial, or better yet an editorial. Also, it is for me it is a circle gathering; wherein, I speak and others are present.

Meditation is on the agenda for today; without the possibility of disconnecting from my thoughts, I truly believe I would perish. Love making is a form of meditation wherein the mind is not grasping after; wherein the body is fluid and is driven to arousal. I can pump into my woman for hours at a time, switching it up by changing positions though straight missionary proves itself superior every-time, especially when she really spreads her legs and I sink more deep, so deep I hit bottom, that place where it nudges its nose into something that holds it. Can’t stay here forever, so I turn her over, sideways, backwards and forward again and again.

It does not matter whether you are a good writer or a bad writer

What matters is that you write, or if you paint: boldly paint. By application art becomes us, we the collective work in unison.

If you write, must you read? I think so. Must you think about what you read, most favorably so, but thought is not enough, it just points the mind, but what stays is the residual affect, that feeling that lingers. Presently, a fuller picture of the writer Peter Matthiessen is taking shape; we read to know a person, no? One clue was stated early on multiple times, that he considered himself a fiction writer though he also wrote non-fiction; at first, I was puzzled by this markedly stated distinction, but now well into At Play in the Fields of the Lord. His prose brings to mind the free flowing form of Walt Whitman which one could easily say is less a poet and more a prose writer, nothing against poetry per sey but prose seems more akin to my way of expression and if poetry rings, let it resoundingly clang so as not to come off too cloying. With Matthiessen, one quickly feels a native kinship with animal and plant life as embodied by native people.

I wonder where he got that image of the lone Indian shooting his vainglorious arrow at the plane which acts as a catalyst for action for Lewis Moon, but more importantly, Matthiessen goes into an hallucinogenic trance and brings us up against the very fabric of Moon’s totality. Not many writers have I read, that have me moving so away from my chosen course. We think we have read everyone until once again we marvel at how unique writers package their ideas. I feel ready to abandon all other writers save this one, but that is not true because I read on many different levels. I just get a different kick from Tolkien whom I don’t have a chance in hell to ever mimic; I think I read him for the lore, the mythology. But with Matthiessen, I read to be liberated, to be baptized as a wayfarer.

Here I am, today ready to take a vow to never surrender this need to go further into what it means to be a writer. The wind is such an abiding force that we forget about it when it is absent but let it blow and see all that it can make happen. I like it as a force of nature, it abides too like the sun and moon; it factors itself into this complex equation. Writers are like the wind, we feel their absence after we have experienced their force of change. The ocean has had a strong south east wind, and when you stepped into the ocean you would be sweep along for some great distance down the beach and it would make you wonder at the affects of the wind and how each wave being pushed pushes another wave and so on until you have a magnified force.

The trick to writing is not to dispair

 

Laying down on our bed without taking off her panties she fell asleep with a playful expression on her face, mouth slightly open, and the heft of her labia protruding through the fabric like the praying hands of an apostle. I sank down slowly on the edge of the bed and contemplated her vestibule, her passage between the entrance and the interior, this chamber communicating with and opening into her deeper reaches. In all the time I have known this woman I has never seen her privates before when it were not being used, now in repose I quietly contemplates this narthex of her being, fastly becoming an entry place for worship. Tracing with my finger the ridge that furls back unto itself before collapsing into a hole.

Writing leads us but what we follow after leads us more, the above is a good example of me playing at writing, more for the effect than actually contextualizing a story. I write gratuitously, writing about sex for sex’s sake. Which only takes more off track. It’s like I am demanding something from me that me cannot or will not produce. To write we have to suspend disbelief, much like when we watch a film, wherein a good film will takes us out of our heads.

What gets in my way is this long road to get here each morning, a lot of living must occur before I can sit down and in between times my mind looses its grip on where I would prefer it to be. At this point, far removed from the idea of ever really writing a story again, at a place where the mind knows it limitations, I balk, wanting to believe otherwise, that if only I can get the right angle, the right viewpoint will I have something to really follow after.

In some way, I feel done writing about me because I am far too ashamed of the implications of being me. I am like a serial murder whom provides clues but never out right confesses, nor admits his crimes. When I write, the facts of my life I push to the edge of the view finder, obfuscation becomes me. It’s like I have learned to be elliptical out of some fading sense of loyalty to myself.

On the other hand, I am bored with my life and this pro bona writing. But I persevere because I feel something underlies all of us, some hidden gem needing to be revealed and how ever delusional that sounds, well, so be it.

What is my biggest confession; what am I most ashamed of? My fear of being seen as a coward. How to even approach this subject? It’s more like a cliff face, so seemingly unscalable. More of my time is preoccupied with neurotic notions.

IMG_4438

 

Beg off distractions

How to find solace in the moment that is being denied you by your mind that is casting everything you want into a maze. But not just any maze but one devised with doors that don’t open. There you stand at their threshold wandering which way to go.

You want to be able to move forward with a story but you will not put yourself where you need to be which is simply sitting down and writing. You tried this morning and could sustain your focus to produce a paragraph. But you had no real destination, no real place to take this new being you have elected to call Adam.

Inside the unfurling of an expanding cloud mass seeps the fading light of the sun now at a slant being cast over the horizon, this light becomes the uppermost thing that attracts the boy’s eyes now riveted to this one light that seems to him so purely white. He thinks how can something be so white. Then his mind looks askance at the heavens and he finds no answer which returns his mind to the solitary nature of that one expanding cloud that is the back drop of even more clouds though these other clouds are imbued with their own shade of white now turning darker as the sun drops precipitously away far around the rim of the earth now spinning the boy into twilight.

A story should begin with a boy because boys become men if they live long enough. It could just as well be a girl, but with the name Adam we would expect she is becoming. She is there lurking in the shadows but first we must feel the boy’s longings.

Can a boy long for a girl? Sure he feels that tightening of the groin but what makes him want a girl? A story is about answering questions. A story is also about silencing your ego, that part of you that rather be elsewhere; the ego always wants something else. It begs for distractions. It coos after everything but settles for nothing. Be silent you fool and lets follow this boy. Lets see with his eyes. Yes, we must silence the voice that wants to tell the writer’s story but that is distorted because that is the nature of memory. Better to start in the garden with the idea that with this Adam all things can begin. Around it surround your mind, excluding all else save for this journey that begins with a boy gazing after the sunset.

And hear softly the tinkling of cow bells. And the barking of a distant dog. Feel the sting of a mosquito and hear the slap of the palm. Legs running, extending themselves into a gallop. Heart pounding.