Nietzsche without the ‘z’

Having just finished Sue Prideaux’s impressive biography on Nietzsche, I am Dynamite, I planned to blog on aspects in the book. However the ‘z’ on my computer did not work, posing a problem of an existential order.

I was forced to text the word “Nietzsche” to my computer and copy it, which could be considered an existential solution, in that I used one other to supplant another other to enable my opinion on the same.

The truth is that my ‘z’ has been out of order for weeks now and that I just worked around that, given that the ‘z’ is generally a useless letter except in “oos” (the place they keep animals), being “lay” (inclined to doing nothing), famous directors (emeckis, Herog, etc.) and of course Nietzsche’s arathustra.

And so I feel compelled to focus on Nietsche’s final years of insanity when he just gibbered away. “Do I have a mouth for it? Shout I eat that? my mouth I say, I want to eat. What is that here? an ear. What is that here? a nose. What is that here? hands I do not love.” The key to all of this? No ”’s. Or as they say in Canada eds.

When In Doubt…Turn to Herzog

A couple of excerpts from a recent The New York Times interview with Werner Herzog:

Why are you inclined to interpret nature as being “monumentally indifferent”? I advise you to go outside on a clear night and look out into the universe. It seems utterly indifferent to what we are doing. Now we are taking a very close look at the sun with a space probe. Look at the utmost hostility of the hundreds of millions of atomic bombs going off at the same time in its interior. So my personal interpretation of nature comes from taking a quick look at the stars.

How do you derive meaning from life if life is indifferent? Life is not indifferent. The universe is indifferent. But just trying, itself, is something I should do.

Did you ever find out who shot you? I was shot at various times. You mean here in Los Angeles?

Yes. No, I wasn’t interested.

When you pulled Joaquin Phoenix from the car accident, did you know it was him? Yes, although he was upside down in this car, squished between airbags that had deployed and wildly trying to light a cigarette.

That could be an image from one of your films. I knew he must not light his cigarette, because there was gasoline dripping and he would have perished in a fireball. So I tried to be clearly commandeering to him and tell him not to. But I was worried that if you gave him a command, he would strike his lighter even harder. So I managed to snatch the cigarette lighter from his hand. Then it became completely clear that it was Joaquin. But I didn’t want to speak to him after. I saw he wanted to come over and thank me. I just drove off.

How do you see your relationship to Hollywood? I enjoy being marginally involved. Just a few days ago, I did some voice recording for a “Simpsons” episode, and I did it in such a wild way. So wild that the director and some people who sat with me in the room burst out laughing before I ended my line. I had to be relegated into the control room, because twice in a row they started laughing. I said, “Gentlemen, I have not even finished my line yet.” In a way, “The Simpsons” is a bold intellectual design.

Excerpted from New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/23/magazine/werner-herzog-interview.html?referringSource=articleShare

Werner Herzog’s “Even Dwarves Started Small”

Werner Herzog’s 1968 film Even Dwarves Started Small has a very specific and demanding vision dominated by extraordinarily long takes, the camera mercilessly watching as to what might unfold, be it a truck driving in an endless circle…Werner Herzog’s "Even Dwarves Started Small"Dwarves looking at pictures of nude girls…Werner Herzog’s "Even Dwarves Started Small"Or a chicken eating a dead mouse.Werner Herzog’s "Even Dwarves Started Small"Much is demanded of the audience, too much, throughout this drifting narrative in which dwarves yell and laugh maniacally as they wreck everything they can find.Werner Herzog’s "Even Dwarves Started Small"Says Herzog: “Film is out about our collective dreams and also our collective nightmares, something that cannot be extinguished from our minds.”Werner Herzog’s "Even Dwarves Started Small"

Nightmare indeed.

Ice Friday: Herzog’s “Kaspar Hauser”

Werner Herzog reflects on his 1977 film Kaspar Hauser:

I had a seven-minute-long sequence between Kaspar and an impoverished farmer in the countryside. The farmer in his despair had killed his last surviving cow. It was a very intense and beautiful scene, but somehow disrupted the flow of the story. It meant that the audience would have to take some time to get back into the story once the scene was over.
IMG_4898So I threw it out even though it was one of the two or three best sequences I had shot. I am not speaking here of the mechanics of the story. It fit in the story and it made a lot of sense when placed in context of the story of Kaspar being pushed into the world around him. But there was something about it that disrupted the flow of the film in terms of how I felt the audiences would receive it; they were detoured too far, and the return journey would have been too arduous. IMG_4900In such a case, as I work for the audience and for no one else, I had no problem throwing the scene out.*

(*From Herzog on Herzog, Interviews conducted by Paul Cronin.)

 

Me, Earl and the Dying Girl

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me, Earl and the Dying Girl is an awkward tale featuring an irritating high school senior who is compelled by his mother to spend time with a girl dying of cancer. 1288fe3341f2203c06c9ff64e559bb64The awkwardness is trite and purposeful, portraying the world of teenagers with some accuracy, and is wearing in the end. The exhausting atmosphere is best seen in the protagonist’s obsession with cinema, making countless references to art house films, featuring no less than three from Werner Herzog. MyBestFiend3As endearing as this element is intended, it falls flat, trying too hard, while pretending not to, and concluding with a shrug, despite a dramatic and emotional end.

The GIF: Realizing an Existential Nightmare

Existentialists tend to discourse on our sorry lot as humans in this life, caged between birth and death, trapped in this existence, the terror and nausea of realizing how lousy it all really is. alice trappedFriedrich Nietzsche referred to this terror as the greatest weight: What if this life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself.

starlightThe eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, a speck of dust!

Jean-Paul Sartre expounded on the horror in his play No ExitYou have stolen my face from me: you know it and I no longer do. beautiful faceLuckily, thanks to our evolved sensibilities and their application to technology, we can see the kernel of this philosophical gobbledygook captured in profound and eternal loops.

car crashcat's tailsexy-girl-gifThe GIF – or Graphic Interchange Format – is, as Albert Camus wrote, basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all. There is only absurdity and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.

gopro_bike_rideYes, life just as Nietzsche envisioned it. sex gifexistential

Werner Herzog: The Myth of the Man

20140905_072700“There are 50,000 spectators,” Werner Herzog explained to the rapt audience at BAM, the final image of his documentary The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Stein on display.Screenshot (293) “But we see only the man alone against the snow.”

In his interview at BAM’s Harvey Theater in Brooklyn on Thursday night, Herzog admitted to creating myths in his documentaries; he has often stated that “all filmmakers are liars”.

Herzog does not believe in documenting facts, offering data to support a thesis, but instead creates a nebulous thing from which a greater truth may be derived.

He uses whatever he has – everything from archival images of starving people gazing longingly at a sausage (Little Dieter Needs to Fly) to an albino alligator (Cave of Forgotten Dreams) – to make his film work; it doesn’t matter if the material is factually accurate. He has gone so far (in Lessons of Darkness) as to write down his ideas and attribute them to Blaise Pascal, just for effect:

The collapse of the stellar universe will occur - like creation - in grandiose splendor.

The collapse of the stellar universe will occur – like creation – in grandiose splendor.                – –  Werner Herzog

At the end of the talk, Herzog read from his book, Conquest of the Useless, a journal he kept while filming Fitzcarraldo:

fitz02I did not even feel my bleeding foot. There was no pain, no joy, no excitement, no relief, no happiness, no sound, not even a deep breath. All I grasped was a profound uselessness, or to be more precise, I had merely penetrated deeper into its mysterious realm.

Aspiring to the Enigmatic: Five Film Scenes

Advertisers want to give us answers, all of our confusion beaten into sell-able pulp.

Christian Dior sells the bag, not the question.

Christian Dior selling purses.

Movie trailers are the same.

Luhrman's "The Great Gatsby"

Baz Luhrman’s “The Great Gatsby”

All of it so simple and pornographically direct. Screenshot (208)The failure is in their intent, attempting to answer everything, give our lives a clear, cohesive narrative, when it is just the opposite.

Being John Malkovich

Spike Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich”

Real questions don’t do well under the spotlight; they wilt and are never clear. Sudden and enigmatic, they only offer a glimpse, making us stop and think, “Wait. What was that?”

5. Being There (1979, Hal Ashby) Chance watches cartoons in a limousine.Screenshot (262)4. The Thin Red Line (1998, Terrence Malick): American soldiers walk by a local in Guadalcanal.

Screenshot (277)3. Punch Drunk Love (2002, Paul Thomas Anderson): A car crashes in an empty street.Punch Drunk (3)2. The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols): True love is realized…and then what?the_graduate_ending_shot_elaine_and_benjamin_on_bus1. Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972, Werner Herzog): In the end, only monkeys are left for the revolution.600x1000px-LL-89d5a674_aguirre

Who is with me?

The Academy’s Most Popular Award

Hollywood’s Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is occasionally on the mark with their annual Best Picture – Casablanca (Curtiz, 1943), Midnight Cowboy (Schlesinger, 1969), Annie Hall (Allen, 1977) & No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007). no-country-for-old-menHowever these awards have more to do with Hollywood politics and marketing campaigns – such as Harvey Weinstein bullying on behalf of the dreadfully mediocre Shakespeare in Love (1998) – and much less to do with the art of film-making. shakeAs a consequence, the Best Pictures ends up consistently falling short. This isn’t just an issue with which film wins, but which are nominated and has been a problem right from the start of the Awards in 1927. The most apparent has been in the exclusion of most of the great foreign films in ages past, failing to nominate Passion of Joan of Arc (Dryer, 1928), M (Fritz Lang, 1931), La Regle de Jeu (Renoir, 1939), regle-du-jeu-05-gSeven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954), Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 1957), Breathless (Godard, 1960), Aguirre, Wrath of God (Herzog, 1973) and The Sacrifice (Tarkovsky, 1986) and City of God (Meirelles, 2003)…to mention only a fraction. cityofgodThe Academy is flawed at its core, responding to the topicality of the film – social movements above all – and less to the work itself. “Best Pictures” are often predicable and dull, lacking in both vision and inspiration…and this year is no different. Here’s my list of the Academy’s most glaring mistakes.

Not even nominated                  Winner (Soon to be Forgotten)

1933      Duck Soup (McCarey)              Calvalcade (Lloyd)GROUCHO MARX

1946      Gilda (Vidor)                                Best Years of Their Lives (Wyler)

1952      Singin’ in the Rain (Kelly)            Greatest Show on Earth (DeMille)

1958      Vertigo (Hitchcock)                      Gigi (Minnelli)

1968      2001: Space Odyssey (Kubrick)  Oliver! (Reed)2001_-a-space-odyssey-large-picture

1979      Manhattan (Allen)                        Kramer vs. Kramer (Benton)

1982      Blade Runner (Scott)                   Gandhi (Attenborough)

1989      Do the Right Thing (Lee)              Driving Miss Daisy (Beresford)Do the right thing

2003      Elephant (Van Sant)                     The Lord of the Rings (Jackson)

2013      The Master  (Anderson)               Argo (Affleck)themaster

That’s Show Biz.

Survival Guide: Time to Get Angry

You only have five days before the Mayan Day of Doom, and it’s time to get angry.  finchThe world is fraught with injustice, much of it self-imposed. What is wrong with us?! It is exhausting to consider. It’s so stupid! What have we done!? Arghh. You may also need try to bargain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair (“I will never eat Lucky Charms again if this world won’t end”) even if you know that none of it will work. luckyIt’s a process, one step at a time. There is a lot of angry music that might help get you in the mood, including Nine Inch Nail’s The Fragile and Rage Against the Machine’s The Battle for Los Angeles, but Sinead O’Connor’s The Lion and the Cobra captures this deep-seeded emotion most profoundly. You’re still spitting fire/ Makes no difference what you say/ You’re still a liar! sineadThere are far too many angry people-with-guns movies, and I am sick of those. Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, Wrath of God is a much better tonic. Aguirre is as angry as it gets, none other than the self-proclaimed wrath of god. aguirreYou should also read Dee Brown’s Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, a chronicle of the systematic destruction of the Native Indians in the western United States. It underlines the errors of our ways with depressing clarity. bury my heart After that, physical labor will do you good. Burn your anger off. And if it’s still boiling, get a punching bag and have at it. daffy