Monday, June 14, 2010

Viewing Log #46: Collecting returns [5/17/10 - 6/13/10]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—What do I know?

Yesterday, a friend told me I ought to bring back the Viewing Log. As a result of this flattery, I do plan on it. But, as you can see, this is the second log in a row where I won't run down what, exactly, I watched. This time, however, it's both because I haven't been watching much and also because I haven't been keeping track. Been trying, with varying degrees of success, to simply enjoy watching things. Not everything's something to take note of; or, not everything's something.

To get naked on this dance floor: the whole blogging experience has turned into something I don't necessarily relish. Not because I make more money at my "real job" nor because I'm too tired to keep it up as a result of such work but just because I feel a door shut a while ago and now it's (the 'sphere is) a closed room full of loud voices talking about the most boring topics imaginable with not enough levity and not enough intelligence. Put otherwise, I stopped reading a lot of/on the 'net. For the most part. I still spend too much time "surfing," but I've begun to rediscover real paper-bound books in a serious way. For example, I've bought more books than movies (or movie stubs) this year and I've probably read about 85% of them. There is a backlog, despite my tendency to read five things at once, and I plan on bumping that number up—though it might go down if I stumble upon the right thrift store book section. This is not a novel idea: it plain feels better to not sit with this black box on my chest or my lap or the table and instead hold a book and a beer in the afternoon. My eyes love me more, my brain feels better, I get less angry at useless targets. You may have noticed that I still use twitter*, still tweet (and I've even started to use tumblr, to tumble), but I stopped following more than half the people I followed on twitter because, rather simply, it made sense for my life.**

Another part of the shift has been to writing things besides film criticism because, when it gets down to it, I am sick of all that. Not that I've outgrown it, but I don't get much from it either in terms of entertainment or in terms of edification, though posts like this one by Mubarak today are pretty great—but great because they're rare. I still plan on writing about movies from time to time (especially if somebody wants to pay me to do that), but I don't know anymore what, exactly, this purpose serves. Take, for example, that recent bit on Varda that I wrote. It was fine. I appreciate that people appreciated it (and by extension me). But I didn't get too-great a thrill writing it (in fact, it caused me more stress than pleasure, as can happen all too often), and I don't know if it helps people understand her any better; I just hope it was fun to read. That's all I really want to offer, when it comes down to it: some fun times with words. I don't really know anything. Or, I don't know anything you can't know. I just know how to string some words together in unusual ways. Generally speaking, I'm not in this mix to prove anything. In fact, I like being mostly ignorant of a lot of stuff. It's something like a maxim that these blind spots simply mean I've got more goodies ahead. And that's the only kind of life I want to lead: ready for what's next, and excited. Even if I settle into a family routine some day down the line I hope to meet every day ready for something new. It should be obvious one of the books I've bought in 2010 is Deleuze's Difference and Repetition. And that I dig it.

But enough about me me me. What about some movies. I still love the movies. We still love the movies! Don't we? For example, I'm stoked to see the above-cited Bluebeard at ybca this coming weekend (more here), and the second-to-newest Oliveira with that great title, Eccentricities of a blonde hair girl, the following weekend. And, as Brian has blogged (scroll to the bottom for a schedule, but read the whole thing, duh; I did), there's a bunch of Mizoguchi up at Viz Cinema that I'll try to take in one way or another. That's just to round out June. In July there's the Silent Fest (more coming) and a new PFA calendar and a bunch of those movies I loved at SFIFF coming to a SF theatre near you. I'm getting exciting just typing this. Expect more, but not too much more, soon.

* Danny urges me to quit twitter altogether, but, as I tumbled (shudder), I like the challenge of the medium. I may not make everybody laugh the way, say, Conan can, but I do enjoy that it's mostly a place for me to try out text-based jokes. I should add that this, too, is not a novel idea.

** Worth noting: I quit facebook and that's cleared a lot of mental space, lifted a lot off my brain. And, really, do you want most of your social interactions (over-) determined by some website? It doesn't feed you; it's not even a beautiful representation of your life; just an informational one; it's simply a device; a device for pain as much as pleasure (what doesn't straddle that, I hear you saying) and a device for more false flattery and more false avenues to debase legitimate communication. Again, not a novel idea.


  1. Been trying, with varying degrees of success, to simply enjoy watching things.

    This is, tragically, easier said than done, yes? "The Quest For Balance," is how I would describe the stage of cinephilia (as always, I call my condition this for want of a better word only) that I am in right now. We should compare notes sometime, perhaps!

  2. Yes, quite a good moniker. We should, I think, compare notes. Been a long time.

  3. This type of cinephillic fatigue is something we're all a bit susceptible to I think, Ry – I know I've been this same trough for too long anyway. And like you, I've turned to other modes of writing (reading anyway) to recuperate, and theory always seems to do the trick. Maybe we should do a reading group type activity at some point?

  4. Yes. I'm ashamed I favored a weekly LOST recap to Cavell. I should have my "smart card" revoked. As it happens, I started a writing group that meets every other week and we're reading _Pale Fire_ together bc most ppl are into writing poetry and I thought it'd be hilarious to make them read that book.

  5. Waves, right? As much as we'd like to dodge them...

    Know that there's one here who'll read up whatever you present, happily.

  6. Thanks, Ken. Indeed: time's a flux, life's a flux, rivers swell and ebb like any liquid.

  7. Dude, i am sorry. Really. I'm from Brazil, from a tiny city called Natal, and i read this blog whenever my G.Reader tells me there's something new up. Just so you know, i started watching lots of Resnais stuff just because of your insistent writing on his films. There, i said it =)

  8. Thanks, Tiago, for reading. Glad I've helped steer you to some stuff I dig. Don't apologize, though!