Archive for July, 2015

Bergman is a Bitch

July 31, 2015

Wow, I am so glad I never had to interview Ingmar Bergman.

Torsten Manns: This time we’ve agreed to discuss some general motifs, not one particular film, but motifs which recur in many of them.  Among other things, we’ve agreed on the child motif, sex, and censorship.  How about taking the child-motif first?  The fact is, we’ve one little film left; and that’s Daniel––a little scrap of a film from Stimulantia, 1966.

So I’ve arranged the child-motif in four types.  First, as a catalyst for subconscious phobias, the trauma and the archetypes––here The Hour of the Wolf is a good example: the little boy there goes straight back to the old man in the cupboard who appeared in that play, ‘the little folk.’

The second is the child as an object of violence: The Devil’s Wanton, where a baby is murdered, The Virgin Spring where the raped girl is herself almost a child, The Shame––this little dead girl found by Liv and also the dream of children, where it’s smashed to pieces––and even the boy in Frenzy who arrives too late at the beginning and is told off by Gunnar Bjornstrand (of all people)––he too is a little exposed fellow.

The third––in dreams of continuation, of togetherness, as the rescuer of relationships––a patent solution, one might say, not peculiar to yourself, but implicit in the whole of this The Joy-Eva-Journey Into Autumn complex, where the woman begs to have a child with Ulf Palme, and he says: ‘I don’t want to have some poor little chap somewhere I can’t reach.’  In The Silence it’s less clear; but there the boy is definitely a means of communication between the two women.  In So Close to Life, the motif is completely patent––it’s virtually a clinical film about children; about the three women’s attributes to childbirth.

Finally the fourth, the dwarf motif––we’ve pretty well exhausted that.  In The Rite, Hans speaks of his children, but no child is actually seen.  I should very much like to know what your attitude to children is, from every point of view.

Ingmar Bergman: My first reaction to all you’re saying is a dreadful feeling of oppression.  Not specially aimed at myself, but a feeling of powerlessness.  I can’t explain it.  A feeling that it’s all so dull, that it will get duller, and what I’ve made, suddenly, is all dull and uninteresting too.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t know why it is, but as I sit here listening to you I feel furious––don’t misunderstand this, Torsten.  I’ve nothing against you personally.  That’s just how it is.

When someone pulls out a thread like this and says: ‘Yes, well, surely it’s this way?  Aren’t things like this?  It’s like this and it’s like that,’ I feel completely paralyzed.  I can’t utter a word.  Well, it’s possible, things may be that way, I don’t know.  I’m not being cagey.  It’s simply with me things don’t work that way.

I can’t discuss any leitmotif running through my films.  Obviously I could hold a lecture on the humiliation motif––I even fancy we’ve gone through it rather thoroughly.  But all this about children… I’ve eight children myself, so I’ve had a certain amount of experience of children and react according to certain patterns, which have changed over the years.  But I don’t think it’s of any consequence, nor do I feel it has any place in this document.

(From Bergman on Bergman: Interviews with Ingmar Bergman by Stig Bjorkman, Torsten Manns and Jonas Sima)

A Tweet

July 30, 2015

I think the most difficult thing about studying phenomenology would be having to say “phenomenological” at least twenty times a day.

Dear Zadie Smith

July 26, 2015

Teach me your tichel ways.


Zadie Smith, Nick Laird== 2014 Museum Gala== American Museum of Natural History, NYC== November 20, 2014== ©Patrick McMullan== Photo - Clint Spaulding/ ==

As I Was Saying…

July 21, 2015

So right, I’ve been gone, and you’ve been positively starved of witticisms, non-governmental conspiracy theories, and pictures of young Brooke Shields smoking cigarettes.

Seriously, what was WITH this girl's mother?

Seriously, what was WITH this girl’s mother?

While I was away, I read four––count ’em!––books, none of which I was too crazy about, to be honest.  One of them was Vivian Gornick’s The Odd Woman and the City.   I haven’t read any reviews of the book yet, but I’m going out on a limb and guessing that my distaste for it is not exactly the majority opinion.  As you all know, I suffer from micrographia, a handwriting affliction that generally points to a neurotic personality.  It is the telltale sign of serial killers, depressives, and Nazi-esque obsessives.  Yay!  Gornick, it seems, has this same affliction, but she, while indeed being neurotic, is also unbearably smug, and so I’m left wondering… does this mean I’m doomed, neurotic AND smug?  What the…

“It was a cold, clear morning in March.  Having just finished interviewing a city official for a piece I was writing, I was sitting at the counter of a coffee shop across the street from City Hall, drinking coffee, eating a bagel, and writing down remembered snatches of the conversation I’d just had when a man sat down one stool away from me.  He wore dark pants and a tweed jacket, looked to be in his fifties, and I took him to be a middle-rank civil servant.  When I had finished eating, drinking, and writing, I stood up, and as I was gathering myself together, he said to me, ‘I hope you won’t mind, I haven’t been able to read a word you’re writing, but I’d like to tell you some things I know about you from your handwriting.’  Startled, I said, ‘Sure, go ahead.’  I took a better look at him then and saw that he wore a large Native American turquoise-and-silver ring and a string tie.  He leaned toward me and said slowly but intently, ‘You’re generous.  That is, you are inclined to be generous, but circumstances don’t allow you to be.  So you’re often not.  You’re assertive.  And a bit aggressive.  And that small script… you’re very literate, very intelligent.’  I stared at him for a fraction of a second. ‘Thanks,’ I said.  ‘That’s a fine flattering portrait you’ve drawn.’  He looked relieved that I wasn’t somehow offended.  Then I said, ‘Is my handwriting really so small?’  He nodded and said yes, it was, and small handwriting, he repeated, is the mark of the very intelligent.  Of course, he added (very softly), there are people who have much smaller handwriting, and they… ‘Are the mad or the brilliant,’ I said, finishing his sentence for him.  ‘Yes,’ he said, again softly, ‘they’re often very brilliant.’  I stood there, looking steadily, perhaps even gravely at him.  He smiled and said, ‘Oh, don’t worry, my handwriting is twice as large as yours.’  I did burst out laughing then, but the remark kept crawling around under my skin for the whole rest of the day.”

Oh right, I forgot: also aggressive, and possibly insane.


July 20, 2015

I’m back from my honeymoon and so. dead. tired. even though it’s only 8:30 in Venice (“Time for a drink!” says a funny friend of mine.)  I actually had a whole blog post written earlier and then accidentally deleted it and I don’t have nearly enough energy to rewrite it, so instead, here’s a physical rendering of the sound of my name as said by my husband!  Courtesy of the Hungarian Pavilian at the Venice Biennale.

Kinda looks like a tooth?

Kinda looks like a tooth?

Old Uzbek Words for Crying; Programming Note

July 1, 2015

In Old Uzbek, there are ONE HUNDRED words for crying!  Here are some:

Wanting to cry and not being able to

Being caused to sob by something

Loudly crying like thunder in the clouds

In gasps

Weeping inwardly or secretly

Ceaselessly in a high voice

In hiccups

While uttering the sound “hay hay”

I’ll be gone for a bit because I’m going on my HONEYMOON.  Peace out suckers!