Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Film as a Subversive Art

I've just started reading a book I bought about a month ago entitled Film as a Subversive Art by Amos Vogel or, as I like to refer to it, The Bible by Amos Vogel. I'm a little pissed off that no one has ever mentioned this book to me and I had to find it on a shelf at a bookstore all on my own, but then, I'm pretty excited that I just found it all on my own. This is one of those discoveries you make once every two years or so, where you're sure it's going to have changed your entire life the moment you finish it. That is, unless you're a hopeless curmudgeon, unable to change. It's basically a compendium of movies sectioned out by themes pertaining to modern artistic movements. The only problem is that finding these damned things is a challenge in itself.

But here's a quote from Ionesco that's in the book that makes me pump my fist like a masturbating quarterback after winning the big game:

"I have never been able to understand the difference that is made between the comic and the tragic. As the comic is the intuition of the absurd, it seems to me more conducive to despair than the tragic. The comic offers no way out. I say 'conducive to despair,' but in reality it is beyond despair or hope... Humor makes us conscious with a free lucidity of the tragic or desultory condition of man... Laughter alone does not respect any taboo; the comic alone is capable of giving us the strength to bear the tragedy of existence."

7 comments:

Redphi5h said...

Freud might be said to have voiced a similar opinion--that the joke is a saving--or in other words, the difficulty associated with thinking about the specific details of a painful circumstance are distilled into the feeling of mirth. However, I don't think life could be said to be inherently tragic as your fellow seems to. And there is another type of comedy and laughter--one that springs from joy, or in other words, one that isn't an escape.

Out of interest, are you familiar with Deleuze's Cinema (2 vols.)?

David Wester said...

I've lately been thinking that all humor is somehow derived of the juxaposition between life and death, and we laugh when things get close to death but emerge living. Maybe the other way around too... this may be why I find abortion to be absolutely hysterical. I haven't really ironed out that theory though, so I'm sure I'm being far too reductive.

As to Deleuze's Cinema, no I am not but I am piqued. Tell me more.

Redphi5h said...

Well, I'm pro-choice, but I think abortion is sad--perhaps you find it so sad and horrifying you must replace thinking about it with mirth.

Deleuze was a philosopher of many ideas, but his books on cinema are essentially about how the technology of the image constitutes an experience, and what this capacity to create an experience says about the human experience itself, informed and some would say shaped, as it is, by ideology.

Are you familiar with Slavoj Zizek's 'Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock?)'? I'm not a fan of Lacan's structuralism insofar as it might have applications in real life, however, taken as a bit of fun, I think this book's a winner. Particularly the reading of Hitchcock's Rear Window.

zora said...
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zora said...

i can tell you that abortion is very very sad, but if you want and/or need to live okay with it, you better learn to laugh about it.

same goes for death, i think.
and just about everything else that is connected to being a human being.

David Wester said...

I don't feel abortion is an inherently sad act and, for that matter, that birth is inherently joyous. I think both things are neutral and the feelings one associates with them are entirely relative to the individual. But then, the insistence that babies are automatically a good thing confuses me more than just about anything in the world. I can see why people feel this way, but I disagree.

Oops, my misanthropy's showing.

zora said...

i certainly agree that not every birth is joyous, but i figure most circumstances that ultimately lead to an abortion are in some way un-happy (rape, illness, the lack of means to offer the unborn a good life, etc.). so i wonder if you could find a woman who does not connect her abortion to some kind of sadness.
but then, i'm aware that this doesn't proof anything...
and i don't think you should mistake realism for misanthropy.