Friday, September 19, 2008


Call it the heightened sense of awareness brought on by... trauma, is it?

I moved to London 10 days ago and things have been a whirring combination of quite smooth and harried. My general temperament has been rather introspective (as behooves a move, I suppose). Moving to a foreign land is like work travel, where you may know a few people, but lose the daily routines which lend life structure. I've been quite reclusive and my bouts of nonpragmatism have all been very hermetic. I've been blowing through the back catalogue of Chris Kraus (Aliens and Anorexia and Torpor, thus far), a writer I adore -- who, though eloquent and painstakingly irreverent, does nothing to mollify this self-analysis. Instead, Kraus' critical prose invades my thoughts as she drifts from Berlin to New Zealand, Romania to the Hamptons. I find myself near tears at the purchase of candied peanuts on the South bank, in part some Kundera-esque revelry in Kitsch and because, on my second day of reading on a parkbench before the South Bank Center, killing time before yet another orientation seminar, I'm upwind from the mediocre cellist who plays for the tourists (daily, I've gleaned) and downwind from the candied peanut fellow. I love that smell, though I'd never purchased the things at any of their urban incarnations. This moment, between these two vendors, was perfect. I welled up. I took it too far by buying some, though. Half way through a mouthwash cup of them, I wanted to throw up.

But this is a film blog (can't you tell from all of the Kylie posts?!) and I must report on the newest Ozon offering (speaking of sugar coating). It's the only cinematic outing I've made so far. It did nothing to dissuade any of this intense interiority. You see, the eponymous Angel lives a life entirely in her head. The goings on around her are all filtered through the escapist fantasy any child reared above a grocery would invent. She writes hopelessly florid texts -- enough to make Charlotte Rampling squirm -- and becomes the Queen's favorite author. But she briskly drowns in her own denial of (real) world events.

It's a hopelessly wrong film; none of the embellishes Ozon heaps onto Angel ever truly amount to much, and though we're given glimpses at lovely "what could have been"s, were left with this bulbous costume drama and a completely uncompelling, disdainful lead. I saw the film at the ICA and, eating a sandwich on the grass of Mall park, in a state of vague homelessness offered me rather succinctly to the desperate fantasies of the film. I'm empathetic to the teeth and Angel speaks aloud a similar self-narrativization that ran through my head. But this pipsqueak who writes trivial literature ultimately drove me back to Chris Kraus (with anything but torpor).

This has been my vicious cycle, one which the mammoth Film Studies readers stacked beside me in bed will assuredly cure.

From Torpor:"Tenses situate events relative to their closeness or their distance from the speaker. Rules of grammer give the empty space of human speech some shape. The simple past We left. In more complex tenses, "have" and "had," the helping verbs, help to separate the speaker form the immediacy of events. We had left. Had forms a little step between what happened and the moment when you're telling it."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your description of the cellist and the peanut seller on the South Bank -- and your reaction to those sensations -- made me want to be in London now.

12:10 PM  

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