We are a collective of writers with varied interests and concerns, bound together by our undertaking of the essai in its ancient form as an exercise of the self.
For that reason we focus our efforts on a broad range of topics spanning the creative, political, strange, and everyday endeavors of human life. We find no small object too banal for our meditations; no topic too fantastic for our methodical entertainment; no belief too obvious for our questioning.
Our editorial policy, such that is stands, mirrors the views and impulses of our writers. The content may change as quickly as our own restless natures; and in fact, we encourage it.
Divided into a Milton-channeling diptych–“Lost Paradise” and “Paradise”–Tabu sketches the colonialist unconscious in a switching of present to past tenses, in which the principal narrative is frequently under threat by subaltern insertions and subtexts …
We are left, as Freud would have put it, with a collective and wounded neurosis that disguises itself as a nostalgia “flee[ing] from a dissatisfying reality to a more pleasurable world of phantasy.”
“Deep in the redundant junk DNA of the blues, between the reptilian throwbacks and vegetable remnants, lurks the mutation that gives life to Blues Control.” (Nick Southgate. The Wire. July 2007. pp 41)
5. Oslo, August 31st — dir. Joachim Trier (Norway)
Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st manages to corral the sentiments of a 21st century generation of young adults in contention with the ressentiment that typified Kierkegaard’s description of the “present age”:
“…while a passionate age storms ahead setting up new things and tearing down old, raising and demolishing as it goes, a reflective and passionless age does exactly the contrary; it hinders and stifles all action; it levels. At its maximum the leveling process is a deathly silence in which one can hear one’s own heart beat, a silence which nothing can pierce, in which everything is engulfed, powerless to resist.”
Trier’s film beautifully conveys the “deathly silence” and empty moments that beset the existence of a young man who finds himself suddenly superfluous to everything surrounding him.
“The riff snaps back on itself again and again – Orcutt describes his rhythmic style as ‘hiccupping’ – while handcuffs of barbed notes bounce and scream around a tonal center, as if unable to escape its gravitational hold.” (Bill Orcutt quoted by David Keenan. The Wire. October 2011. pp 30)
In Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, the disappearance of the mechanism of cinema assumes the scale and nature of epic tragicomedy. No longer merely a plasmatic machine of the industrial age, cinema has become a system of beliefs and practices–a borderline religion of the image–that has permanently bled into the fabric of late capitalist societies.
Cinema has bled into the way we think, or speak, or perform with others. Regardless of whether Denis Lavant’s character (named “Monsieur Oscar,” who in turn acts as 10 or so different personae) really is an angel-like “life actor” who slips into and out of divinely fabricated situations with a predestined referentiality authored by some kind of higher directorial demiurge–or if he is just an old man (Carax himself, wandering in his pajamas, in search of the mystical theater that sits at the back of his mind) dreaming of the cinema as a kind of afterlife or heaven in which you’re reborn into different characters dreamt up by a network of already existent films–Lavant deftly, maniacally embodies the kind of behavioral “structuring structures” which cinema has permanently infected us with. We can’t help but desire to want our lives to be played with cinematic sublimation (even if it means dying on the screen in front of an unseen million). Genres shape the way we instinctively react to events and situations because cinema has developed a whole system of affect that we rather unconsciously employ to mediate our connection to a complex (and constantly complexifying) 21c life.
Bruce Willis returning to a fragment of his own memory. Bruce Willis pursuing this inexorable fragment of memory from his childhood, retroactively shaping its life and truth, conferring meaning onto it only once maturation has properly endured its course. Bruce Willis struggling to touch on the secret hidden beneath the fragment, to reveal some truth buried under an appearance that trembles violently, an appearance of the uncanny. Always to catastrophic effect.