Wednesday, March 28, 2007

the F-word

Monday 26 March

well. i can't remember the last time i went this long without posting.
as a result, this'll be a long one and i'll be paying for it (see below)



sorry if you have made the effort to touch base in the past couple of weeks and found nothing of newness.

life has been in a kind of frustrating suspension, resulting in the loss of any real sense of productive routine. the hiatus has been caused in great part by the gammy wrist, which has made writing a pain. literally.
i've tried writing by hand, but it's just not the same. there is a rhythm to the keyboards that allows me to keep up with myself. i've been busy with ikon creative planning and the typing that involves has been arduous enough to leave me thoroughly unenthusiastic to write for pleasure or sanity. i've started several posts and emails these past couple of weeks and given up within minutes.

add then, that despite having my own key and having had some help getting all my stuff moved in, i haven't been able to transform the studio from a god awful mess into a workable art making space due to not being able to comfortably hold, let alone lift, anything bigger or heavier than a small cup of tea in my right hand.
which is all very frustrating. patience may indeed be a virtue but it's also a pain in the arse. or indeed wrist.

but art making (or framing at least) has been done in the meantime - i have 5 variable prints (2 lino cut and 3 photo-intaglio) ready to show in the back room of common grounds during May along with jayne and keli's prints from our training down in the Seacourt Print Workshop.

still, here i am back at the keyboard and am prepared for the consequences. i am desperately in need of writing stuff off my chest, so despite the pain that will surely follow, today i am typing with both hands and no brace.



i am typing to the strains of wires by athlete. this track undoes me everytime.
makes me think of six feet under.
in the past few weeks i've watched the entire series from start to finish, which has been a powerful companion to ease the frustration of late.
i'd not seen any of season 5 and had not an iota of a clue what happened in the closing episodes. i promise will not spoil it for anyone in the same boat as the not-knowing only added to the overwhelming nature of the experience.

i can't recommend highly enough you scraping together the beans for this boxset. incredible. quite possibly the best television show ever. and those that know me will know that is like an act of treason for me to say that.
watching the final three episodes on Sunday and the subsequent come down in their aftermath entailed 4 and a half hours of tears. every line of these episodes was like a journey under the bullshit radar. nothing short of emotionally devastating. and so very worth it. truth does not always comfort but nearly always confronts. but it always feels real. rupturous.

a signature motif, (in addition to using the voices of the dead as symbolic projections of inner conflicts), is the depicting of what characters are actually feeling as opposed to what they are saying. Ruth screams her heart out at the kitchen table and then we are brought back to reality to find her sitting quiet, bland faced, mute. SFU is driven by psychological/emotional desire and fear, and the frustration of not knowing how to say what we need to adequately meet those desires or heal the fear. frequently we know before they do that these characters choices, decisions, and actions are misplaced or self destructive. they are often catching up with us. the universal sickness unto death is repression. of guilt, hurt, terror, need. when Nate says, we are all "time bombs" he is not only speaking of the precariousness of our mortality. we may indeed drop like a stone at any moment but we are all a trigger hair from breakdown or emotional explosion.

there is such a gulf between what we need to express and what we actually say. a dual language of the (un)spoken. to step back into the real world after journeying with the Fishers was like walking out of therapy. i need you is masked by i hate that i need you is masked by i don't need you is masked by i hate you is masked by... and so on. we are layers of meaning and feelings...

to explore the space within, to learn how to live in the present without repeating the past... which is in part to tell the difference between a reaction to the present and a reaction to hearing the past in the present - to hear what it is i am responding to - the living or the dead... it is like peeling back those masks one by one... to discover there are parts of the self which do not live in the present but are seemingly locked in a revolving door of moments long since gone but which drive the body and voice to not see things as they are. to blur and confuse the here and now with an unseen but ever present here and then.

SFU captured that experience like no other. someone tells you of your worth and the dead (literal or figurative - the internal dead) are standing at your side telling you the living are lying, that those you love will hurt you, that you're not worth a dime. and this multiplicity of voices in our heads drive us to a kind of distraction. to not know how to step forward. to unsettle the floorboards. to confuse our sense of stability or direction... grabbing at your ankles...
we all do the best we can. we try to be the best we can be. and sometimes that looks nothing short of failure. or heartache. or downright cruel narcissism. yet i cannot stop believing the heart of love is the colour of forgiveness. of self and others. with foregivness the voices of the dead recede...

this life is so fucking short. we get no chance to redo this. finding wholeness, direction, fulfillment seems often less like living in the present than a race against time...


Into See Me.

intimacy is the act of seeing inside another, of being seen on your inside. intimacy is a freeing, nourishing act. it is some kind of act of bravery that feels like shame to face that one has not yet learned how to tell when one is being handed nourishment laced with poison. or to not care. to only know how to take nourishment along with toxins. and in turn to not know how to give nourishment without losing the self in the process. to learn that love that comes from a place of self denial is not a healthy kind of love. that we cause destruction as we self destruct.
that not all masks are bad. some are meant to protect the self. that intimacy has to be earned as much as dared...

bravery that too often feels like shame is the realisation we get it so wrong so much of the time. to face we have fucked it up over and over and still somehow care for the self. the task: to not give into shame but learn how to do it all so much better because it's nothing less than we deserve.

some days care of the self feels like uncare of others. a learning path that sometimes seems like tripping over stones for miles uphill while hands grab at ankles and threaten to take us back down the mountainside.
but nothing can turn the progress made. no one can take back the path.

we're all gonna be found out. and yet to admit to the days that feel like falling backwards remains a shame tinged act, as if everyone else had it so sorted. everyday is a lesson that we are all in the dark. and a reminding that we all stumble toward freedom and light. some just wear more convincing masks than others...


Everything's Changing.

if it can be broken, it can be fixed.

we start by saying we don't have a clue how to get there. i want to keep stumbling. every step feels like a mile. but i'm trying. learning the art of creating boundaries. of learning what is a safe distance between my heart and others. of what nourishing self protection looks like. of the risk in trust. and perhaps the loudest lesson of late - that transformation is unsettling. some days, feeling good is potentially terror making. this is the inheritance i'm trying to get past. when you have stared manic elation in the face, joy comes with a warning label.

i spill over less these days... but as the highs get a little less high and the lows even out i can't help but feel a loss... my life is easier, i hurt less but i also care less... but sometimes calm and inner peace feels like a deadening of feeling... and some days i just want to put on the 'fonz and rock out til i can't stand up... to feel the blood and terror and euphoria coursing through my veins...self nourishment without toxins of the past is like drinking a virgin cocktail... i loved that hard liquor feeling... it's all i've known... i persistently avoided walking into a doctor's office to be given pills to stop the tumult... the talking cure is changing me instead... and getting to know a more stable, fulfilled version of oneself is a strange experience... there is a me i just don't recognise yet... we keep meeting and i have to reintroduce myself time and again...


Tuesday 27 March

currently reading - Naoko by keigo higashino. my first novel in months.

seen of late at QFT:

the good german: steven soderburgh does film noir. this had so much potential but i was disappointed. but my god the make up and costuming were fabulous. cate blanchett in B&W is stunning. but 2+2 just did not = 5.

notes on a scandal
- a riotous romp of delicious darkness. loved the book more but dame judy dench is sensational. am i the only person somewhat sympathetic to the character of barbara? sheba's home had me drooling with bobo interiors envy.

- loved this. taboo subject matter told with genuine humour. penelope cruz is nothing short of mouthwatering. almodovar films her like he could eat her - in a way only a gay man could - provocatively sexy and yet ungratuitous. a real tribute to the strength of women surviving the darkest experiences. wonderful stuff.

belfast film festival:

i went to the irish premiere of itty bitty titty committee - as very low budget independent films go this was pretty slickly done. but alas, the sometimes clunky script felt at times a little bit too naive, cliched and just wouldn't push the questions it provoked far enough for me to be satisfied. important themes were touched on but just didn't have that scalpel edge of real insight. was this a lesbian film made for feminists or a feminist film for lesbians? i still can't decide. but that said, this was in moments a genuinely funny film.
the main feature was preceded by hung, a short film by guinevere turner in which five gay women drink a potion that gives them each a penis for a day. interesting premise. great potential for some biting satire, non? alas, not really. funny for the first half but ultimately left me thinking that perhaps a straight female feminist writer/director would have made this far more provocative. i'm sorely tempted to draft an alternative script for the satisfaction of getting to all the questions i would have liked to have seen posed that weren't. it finished and i thought, "that's really all you could come up with?" the penis is far more than a sex organ. this would have you assume turner missed that essential part of feminism 101.

the double bill was followed by a Q&A session with producer lisa thrasher, and actors deak evgenikos and daniella sea. i left the event thinking the lesbian/feminist film making community needs to up its game. all in all this just isn't quite intelligent enough. the boundaries of feminism weren't really being pushed here...this was the kind of night that left me thinking, there's a phd somewhere in this. or a book. or a film. provocative on so many levels and left my mind racing like a freight train but i couldn't help but think it wasn't provocative in the way it intended to be. feminism is ripe for, and should embrace, deconstruction and these two films just did not deliver. the above mentioned panel were extremely likeable and the crowd were happy and in celebratory form, which spoke to the lack of films depicting lesbian characters, but this all felt like preaching a weak form of a nonetheless important message to the converted. i can't help but think we're passing a tipping point of simply celebrating diverse lives being depicted on screen. admittedly there is far to go. but, SFU was far more successful at really tackling a wealth of issues related to sexual orientation and indeed women's lives in general - admittedly they had 60 hours plus to do it in but there were mere moments in SFU that wiped the floor with this film - single lines speaking volumes, while openly depicting gay and lesbian lives without a hint of apology and as rich and textured as their straight counterparts. lacking a sense of solid self critique, these two films (perhaps unfairly or inaccurately) depicted a community afraid of stretching its audience to really think with anything close to complexity. hooray for an independent voluntary group of women making films, there needs to be far more of them, but in a post-ellen, tipping the velvet, L-Word, ER, queer as folk, SFU, brokeback mountain, (or indeed eastenders/coronation st) world, this work, or more specifically the writing, just didn't feel daring enough. audiences need characters far more expansively and richly drawn than this irrespective of gender or orientation.
that said, for a younger gay audience this'll probably be a cult movie for the years ahead and an entertaining introduction to some feminist issues. and that's no bad thing.


still, IBTC won best narrative feature at SouthXSouthwest Film Festival so what do i know? :0)
and it got me thinking and writing again... and alongside the all-female planning of ikon it's made for some challenging reflection and both re-awoke my inner provocateur and reminded me why the self critique scalpel should stay sharpened...


in addition to SFU in toto, i've been watching a fair few movies on DVD to keep myself from going stir crazy.

recent viewings include:
all about eve - a pure classic. a brilliant script.
planet of the apes - the original of course. get your filthy paws off me you damn dirty ape. this pleases me in the same way 12 angry men does. an intellectual/ethical concept communicated utterly convincing. shame the pictures on the dvd box give away the ending.
birth - nicole kidman. great concept. beautifully shot. but ultimately disappointing. unsatisfyingly vague where i think it intended to be mysteriously ambiguous.
the rapture - david duchovny sporting perhaps the worst mullet in movie history. that aside, surprisingly disturbing this one. not recommended for your church lenten film festival. unless you want to make the pastor blush. i understand roger ebert counted this in his 10 best movies of the year when it was released. not the best made film ever and the acting is not always great, but the subject matter is sincerely intended, daring and provocative. the commentary is funny and interesting in turns. fascinating to hear folks with jewish heritage discussing christian theology.
aimee & jaguar: set in berlin in the latter days of WWII. more great costuming and i liked this better than the good german, which also centred on a love affair that contains a secret. but still this left me kind of wanting, til i was reminded at the end that this was a true story. only then was i moved and somewhat guiltily at that.
a scanner darkly: i'm suspect i'm gonna be watching this again and again. complex, confusing and trippy. and i did find this weirdly moving. possibly the best acting keanu reeves has ever done. great extra features on the DVD. i thought the rotoscoping would make this feel like a cartoon but the actors are very much present behind the animation. robert downey jr is brilliantly crazy. and welcome back winona. i've no doubt philip k dick was an absurdly brilliant thinker and perhaps a prophet.
hidden - mon dieu! binoche and auteuil rock the cazbah. totally works on second viewing. and the bookshelf envy does not abate.

partially seen:
am half way through blade runner - was loving this but it was late and i could not keep my eyes open - can't wait to get back to it. i am ashamed i'm only seeing this movie now at the age of 33.
tideland - one of my favourites of '06. still to get round to rewatching the film itself. an evening's worth of
great extra features were a delight though.

ready and waiting for viewing. 2 unseen, 2 favourites... all touching on themes of inner darkness and varying degrees of insanity.
fitzcarraldo - i've been waiting to see this for at least 13 years. no idea what to expect. kind of nervous. love the song. will i love the film?
requiem - missed this at qft. very much looking forward to this. comes highly recommended.
the page turner - proof that French cinema can be better than sex and revenge is a dish served cold. deliciously dark. akin to a violin wire being wound to the point of breaking and holding you there before it snaps in climax.
american psycho - the violin wire breaks. a masterpiece of American cinema for those who can stomach the brutal depiction of modern man's repression unleashed into horrific psycho/sexual rage and violence.


Wednesday 28 March

Plans are now well underway for the next ikon monthly gathering at the blackbox - Xocolatl.
the next couple of weeks will be increasingly taken up with hard work but i get the feeling this is going to be a rich event if we don't flinch.

invite to follow in next post...


on the theme of feminism, one of my favourite op-ed journalists, zoe williams, offered this in today's guardian...,,2044251,00.html


1 comment:

  1. cary, really appreciate your reflections on SFU....been reading while listening to ulrich schnauss, which feels right somehow. watching SFU has devastated and delighted me, disturbed me, comforted me, provoked and irritated me, uncovered me, saddened me, strengthened me... pressing play has always been about entering liminal space and time for me...though this show seems less about 'play' than others...and yet it plays relentlessly with so many ideas and assumptions about living and dying. a rite of passage... but one that leaves you feeling a little out of orbit. (the ending is simply astonishing)
    so, out of orbit as we are, may our wonkey paths be well lived in the aftermath of being six feet under.