Wednesday, 8 May 2019

conversations with strangers (chapter two): a little sick inside

May 08, 2019 1 Comments
A film still from Jeune et Jolie (Young and Beautiful), dir. Francois Ozon, 2013
"I haven't thought much about it yet." I tell her, "The position I have on that spectrum... It's odd because, on one hand, I care about it, but it's an aspect of the West I can't identify with from an Eastern perspective. I think people should do whatever the fuck they want to, but it'll be harder in some places more than others, and that in certain parts of the world people don't even want to see themselves individually to the point of acting it out... they'd just rather conform to make their place in life easier than it is... Neither is good or bad in my eyes."
"So, do you not view yourself as an individual then? I'm not going to lie, but, well, you're a girl, so you should definitely know where you stand with this issue, but I guess that doesn't get addressed as much where you come from?" 
"Oh but I do see myself as an individual." I continue to explain drunkenly, "But I see myself as a tiny part within a bigger picture. I don't think individuality is an overrated concept... I just feel that sometimes overemphasizing it can lead to self-centered ignorance... To be fair, I have those moments too... but... I've been brought up to train myself to see beyond it..." 
"Are you alright then?" She asks me suddenly, "I can teach you a thing or two about unconventionality."
"I'm fine." I state coldly, "To be honest I'm just feeling a bit sick right now. I kinda just want to leave this place." 
"Sick in what sense? I can walk you home if you're not feeling well..." 
"It's not like that. Not physical at all." 
"Then explain to me what you mean."
"I feel sick... but in a more emotional sense. An anxious sense." 
"Then maybe you should slow down a bit."

 
 
Film stills from Chungking Express, dir. Wong Kar Wai, 1994

I don't believe in good or bad people. I don't believe in the personality of words thrown against you. I don't believe that people can take the judgments of others personally because people don't really see you for who you are. People don't really see what lies above the complications and contradictions, and people don't seem to be interested in wanting to know those hidden complexities that define you. People only see an image of you that they've created in their own heads or an image of yourself that you've imposed upon the world whether conscious or unconscious of that own projection... people only know you for what they seek and what they want. People only know you from a superficial framework of assumption and false deduction, and it can be terrifying to know that every single one of us has been and will constantly be an unwanted victim of black and white thinking. An unwanted victim of fixed perspective. An unwanted victim of "walking automatons" unwilling to break free from their own monstrosities and hypocrisies. An unwanted victim of alienation and constantly being misunderstood by the rest of the world. Sometimes, not knowing how to cope or deal with that facet of loneliness and undesired self-victimization. Sometimes, not knowing if you're losing yourself in overthinking, and losing yourself in trying to maintain humble, benevolent energy.

The thought of constant suffering. The thought of neverending mistakes. The thought of imposing pain upon yourself and others. It's the thought of the unbalanced sense of self. The sort of sense that makes you question whether or not you deserve the forgiveness of others, or whether or not the mistakes you make are a matter of seeking forgiveness in your own voice than through the words of other people. The worthlessness of meaningless and insincere apologies. The worthlessness of being dragged down by the past, and consuming yourself in guilt over people who never really cared for you in the first place. People who point their fingers to blame you for your vulnerable form of admittance and honesty... People who point their fingers in hopes to see you crash and fall by imposing a scapegoated titled upon you... People who are unaware of the destructiveness of their desire for normalcy and perfection... People who are baffled by those who confidently revel in their own faults and flaws... People wholly consumed by their ego to the point where they can't fathom accepting their innate imperfections, and how denying their own sense of flawed humanity is the worst form of unrealized self-destruction.

Film stills from Taxi Driver, dir. Martin Scorsese, 1976
Sometimes there's no time and place for apologies and forgiveness. Sometimes there's no place for conversations to happen when you lose something in yourself, or when someone has lost something over you. 

The latter case is difficult to accept. The latter case comes with the consequence of short term pain. The latter case is allowing yourself to drown in the reflection of your own sins, and allowing other people to temporarily define you through the monstrosity you choose to unveil to the world. A form of cleansing yourself from the past to move on from the burden of insecurities... to move on from the burden of hatred... to move on from the perpetual toxicity of self-victimization. The antagonizing state of laws of attraction gone wrong. The antagonizing state of trying to figure out when to pick yourself up, and how to pick yourself up safely. Deconstructing the illusion of sanity, and trying to land on both of your feet with a steady stance ready to face the chaotic state of the world and your existence - because nobody wants to hear the truth. Nobody wants to hear the truth as much as it can be the only weapon to set yourself free from chains that have been dragging you down to the past. Nobody wants to follow that instinct in the back of their hearts and minds consuming the subconscious thought that sometimes you need to take that extra step of courage. That sometimes you have to admit to yourself when you have wronged and robbed and stolen the light in yourself and other people. That sometimes it's okay to revel in your imperfections because you can only grow through suffering and pain to bring yourself back to the balanced sense of self. The idealized and realistic form of existence - a neutral form of awareness.

Loneliness is less physical than we've been brought up to believe. Loneliness can manifest beyond a point of isolation whether imposed or involuntary. You learn a lot from just being by yourself, only to realize how loneliness hits you the deepest when you're surrounded by so many people asking and taking, giving and receiving. Coming in and out of your life as if you belong to them, and they're in this entitled position to take hold of all your precious time and space. Take hold of every inch of your life as if you are nothing of autonomous value... devoid of freedom and individuality... pigeonholed to their own superficial standard of supposition... They are people who foolishly correlate isolation to loneliness... people who don't see value in what you can learn from being on your own rather than intervening and diving into the existence of others. Avoid those unwilling to respect your time and space. Avoid those who try to dictate your thoughts and beliefs. Avoid those who constantly define you through their own assumptions and the superficiality of physical illusions, because you are not in their best interest. You are not the people they truly want to know, and you are not the people they truly want to rescue. They are not friends, but unconscious enemies of the body and soul. Only you know what's best for yourself, and the more you learn to revel through an individualist framework the stronger you'll become as a person.     

A film still from Carmen, dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 1983

Monday, 29 April 2019

conversations with strangers (chapter one): are you a realist or romantic?

April 29, 2019 0 Comments
A film still from Fallen Angels, dir. Wong Kar Wai, 1995
"Not much of a romantic?" 
"Not really." I respond, "I'm more of a realist these days." 
"A realist in what sense?" 
"A realist that believes in consequence. A realist that believes everything is timing and place, that no one is born special, and that there isn't a damn thing in the world that screams it was meant to happen. That everything comes and goes and follows you back in a recycled narrative." 
"Damn." he sighed,  "So you're a jaded, realist... A jaded, dead-inside, realist..." 
"Consider yourself lucky."  
"But you seem like such a sweet girl." He continued, "Sweet, but jaded. You don't find that combination in a lot of women nowadays.'' 


The moment I met you I stopped believing in coincidences. The moment I met you I stopped believing in luck. I stopped believing in random matters of chance relying instead on the gut feeling of fate - the gut feeling of destiny. The gut feeling that somehow I had known you before in another time. That somehow I had known you before in another place. That somehow this was a second chance from God to relive a long forgotten past. A long-forgotten history of pain and loss. This tender suffering that shot through our hearts to be manifested upon a second reunion. A modern reincarnation of reckless, hopeless, and loving abandon pulling back and forth like a spinning wheel. Like a cyclic force that would only stop until the second, the third, or the fourth time to get it right. The last time to love you the way you deserved to be loved. The last time to hold you the way that poets would write in their sonnets, that artists would paint in their portraits of love, and that singers, and dancers, the free-spirited vagabonds and creatives would seek out to manifest upon the energies of the universe. The energy of loving creation and a trusted bond.

Before you, I never believed in love - or perhaps I did - but perhaps my perspective on love was based on timing and place. Perhaps my perspective on love was unfixed with a lack of pre-determined insight. Perhaps I was too much of a realist. A jaded cynic heavily fixated on the physical. Too entrenched in the concrete, sensory world, that I had never learned to let go of the impossibility of certain unexplained forces. That I had never learned to let go with only half the answers in mind, or to let go displaying a heavy heart tattooed on my sleeve. A heavy heart of permanence and performance. Yet, when I saw you for the very first time I was drawn towards you magnetically. Not even knowing your name, who you were, who you had been with, whatever demons from the past had taunted you, or whatever achievements the angels had guided you through, a rising feeling in my heart told me that I had to know you from somewhere. And if not, then it was that I wanted to know you for the greater good. I wanted to know you because my heart and mind wouldn't be able to stop pulsing and racing and beating itself upon circles over and over and over again unless I had spoken to you even for that slight second I had the naive courage to introduce myself to you. That slight second knowing that you could be someone special, someone spiritual, someone to elevate so as to see things clearly beyond the illusions of reality - the illusions of the physical.  



(image via pinterest)
I was tired of those who spoke for the sake of acquisition. Those who spoke on behalf of the ego. Those who spoke precisely to conceal their own complications and contradictions. Bodies that spoke separately from their souls. Bodies that spoke to exist passively in the shadowed bliss of ignorance. The shadowed yet inevitable bliss of cowardice and dishonesty. A shadowing force that despite you yourself expressing to me, I could sense was capable of faltering to an unspoken degree that I hadn't picked up on other people. There was the odd attraction that was falsely reciprocated. The odd attraction that didn't seem to give itself up by sticking onto every word, every thought, and every action I had expelled upon my own reality. A love to keep whether to hide or to expose. A love that gave me reasons to wake up in the morning. A love that gave me reasons to want to lose sleep. Love just to invite you for a chance to be treated the way I felt you deserved to. To carry you away from whatever care had been robbed from you in the past. Whatever shameful form that the devil himself had wished for you to drown unheard. It's a crazy thought wanting to care so much for someone you've only known for a fraction of time. It's a crazy thought to want to know you so much with forceful energy... sensing in the past that I was gonna fall for you. Sensing in the present that I have fallen for you, and not knowing how to pick myself up over these feelings.

Knowing that even in your externalized hesitance and resistance. Knowing full well what I couldn't control, that I still couldn't move on from feeling a small dose of love for you. Though you fought and fought, and I hurt and hurt over you, and we vaguely speak of each other, vaguely talk of each other, vaguely mention each other, that this sense of intuition and truth has a lot more to say than what we show to the world. That if you ever choose to come back to me with arms wide open. That if you ever choose to come back to me to seal a deal of closure. I'll invite you into my heart whatever outcome you seek. An outcome of rejection. An outcome of acceptance. I'm willing to be resilient about what you want. I'm willing to be courageous just to maintain a sense of civility between the both of us. And that perhaps, I'd rather linger in hurt and pain than feel nothing towards someone at all. That perhaps, I'd rather delude myself into thinking that there was a connection when it was never really there, rather than never knowing what it may mean to truly love and care for someone beyond yourself. Love used to seem like a weakness to me. Love used to seem like a calculated game of chase and pull. Love is just chemicals. Love is just nature and biology imposed upon the human experience. Yet love is a beautiful thing to experience. Love is a beautiful thing to feel.

(image via tumblr)
Whether romantic or familial. Whether unrequited or reciprocated. It's an unexplained force that gives us a reason to live and learn and fight. It's not that love is stupid, it's not that love is everything. Whether you love the idea of love or hate the idea of love, it's a human necessity. A desire that can bring us closer to a truth that can never be answered but only accepted and vaguely understood. Love is neither dangerous. Love is neither safe. The outcomes of love come from the mindset you choose to manifest from it. The outcomes of love are heavily dependent on how you think over what you think. It's a dangerous and hard game to play, but an experience worth the mystery and potential pain. How I wish love could be an easy game for everyone. How I wish we could be capable of understanding how something that feels so beautiful can be so difficult to perceive and accept. How something that feels so beautiful can sometimes make everything go wrong. Allow it for yourself, and see what can be created from it. 

Monday, 22 April 2019

admiring the artistry of harmony korine

April 22, 2019 0 Comments
(image found via pinterest)
The hype was fuelled in 1995. Aside from Bill Clinton's presidency, the OJ Simpson trials, James Bond's return to Hollywood, the world of independent film would be introduced to the cinematic prodigy Harmony Korine, who as a young teenager was discovered by photographer Larry Clark whilst skating in Washington Square Park. At this point, the auteur had just dropped out of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU) in hopes to make a living off of professional skateboarding. Following the footsteps of former, ambitious creatives, structured academia appeared limiting to his creative abilities. Clark acknowledging this sentiment and impressed by his visions of pushing the boundaries of cinema requested Korine pen a script to display his talent as an aspiring screenwriter and director. The result of this demand was a cult classic film about the dangers of promiscuity, AIDS, and grungy teenaged delinquents. The cult classic was named Kids. Through the release of Kids, Korine managed to grab the attention of prominent individuals within the industry. Praised by legendary film critic Roger Ebert, and directors like Gus Van Sant and Werner Herzog, it was clear that the young skater would be an auteur in the making; however, much like current hipster credentials lacking in social agency, influential praise would not be enough to please general audiences, most of whom were disgusted by the film's "shallow" depiction of 90s youth culture. Labeled as child pornography by outraged parents and mainstream media news outlets, the film was labeled a raunchy NC-17 by the MPAA. Contrary to adult efforts to limit the screening of the film, it had grossed $7 million dollars through the summer of 1995, encouraging CNN to place efforts in making clear that it's growing success with youth could be a 'poisonous attack' on teenaged social culture.

Following the rise of Kids, Korine was offered $1 million dollars of production budget to direct his first and own film Gummo (1997) - a movie depicting the mundanity and depravity of the lives of people living in Xenia, Ohio, a town within America left in the shambles of the aftermath of a tornado storm in the 1970s. Once again, the film was a visual portrayal of the extreme and obscure lifestyle of the hidden and unheard sociocultural minorities of youth culture within America. The film could be described and on many occasions has been described as an emblem of "white trash" cinema and culture. Which it is important to note, that the term "white trash" may lend itself to carrying the weight of negative connotations and that such common description and perception of what is definitive of Korine's work acts as a potential propagator of the extreme, binary criticism of loving or hating his filmography as an observer of art. In debuting as his first film, and his second cinematic project, the screening, and viewership of Gummo introduced the cinematic community to stylistic choices of filmmaking that essentially led to an acknowledgment of Korine as auteur filmmaker. Here was a director who created cinema with the autonomy of a novelist. Here was a director who created cinema with a highly-monitored and controlled execution of the personal vision. Yet here was a director whose fascination with the world was driven by a curiosity of the neglected aspects of society. Who were the people that nobody wanted to see? Who were the people that nobody wanted to listen to? Most importantly, what are the human behaviors that repulse the masses, and why are we willing to neglect and suppress an investigation of vice-ridden decadence. Thus, whilst his unconventional approach to filmmaking and the absurdity of the subject matter he depicted was offputting on a mainstream level, his cultic status was derivative of his controversial originality. Perhaps, it is not a matter of personal tastes or aesthetics, but a matter of the social symptom and influence of an auteur's filmography. 

VICELAND DOCUMENTARY ON THE CULTIC STATUS OF KIDS 


HARMONY KORINE INTERVIEW ON GUMMO (1997) 


Described as "the most hated man in art-house cinema", a "winning freak show ring leader", what are we to make of Harmony Korine and his notorious style of provocateur filmmaking? What are we to make of the regressive debauchery, as hipster credentials are supposedly an invalidation of his depiction of decline and degeneracy? Inevitably, his investigation of the polarizing nature of youth and adulthood, virtue and sin, appears to be discursively limited to hipster credentials or overbearing commentary from pretentious cinephiles and film studies academics, but it appears that his artistic liberty is suppressed by forces of both "high" and "low" art. It appears that his work has suffocated in being appreciated by what can be considered a "niche" to both casual moviegoers and hardcore film buffs alike, and I'd like to step aside and question: who is Harmony Korine as an auteur, and how can we better understand the binary state of the critical reception of his filmography throughout the last two decades? The common threat to his artistic liberty is that he drops the eccentricities or quits film-making all together, and while no one is forcing anyone to watch anything made by the auteur since when has it been okay to say the words "stop" or "no" in art? Love him or hate him, he seems the type to want to continue expressing his vision through a visual manifestation of his life experiences and a community of outcasts he assumingly identifies with or is enticed by. It's been two decades since his cinematic prime, and though his name is scarcely mentioned, Korine still manages to maintain his "niche" and dedicated fanbase of film enthusiasts, artistic outcasts, and all sorts of other people enticed by the madness and chaotic depiction of youth culture in his films. 

POLAROIDS FROM THE SET OF KIDS (1995)






POLAROIDS FROM THE SET OF GUMMO (1997)






Thursday, 28 March 2019

a little less to give each time we fall

March 28, 2019 0 Comments
A film sequence from Blue is the Warmest Colour, dir. Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013
When you looked me in the eyes all perplexed and puzzled, half engaged and enthused, you looked at me as if time could stop at any minute. And that if it were to slowly escape from the palm of our hands we'd spend the rest of our lives gazing at each other absorbing every inch of beauty and pain, love and loss, all the wisdom and misery we had built into each other back into the heavens to be forgotten. Back into the heavens to be saved from our sense of humanity, and back into the heavens to be protected from the realism that had dragged us down into the dust and mud. Down into some form of unrequited love masked as a friendship.

When you looked me in the eyes as a last resort, I loved you too much to even bother. I loved you too much to even care. I loved you too much that if losing myself in you meant indulging in the lunacy of fleeting emotions, I would have been willing to break apart the world just to feel a second of your love. And I would trap that single second of love to replay at the back of my heart and mind, and hold it there forever. Hold it there to preserve an infinite tenderness that I will always have for you. An infinite tenderness that defines how we all have a little less to give each time we fall. How we all have a little less to say each time we allow ourselves to love for another body and soul.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

second thoughts and final words

March 17, 2019 0 Comments
A film sequence from Buffalo 66, dir. Vincent Gallo, 1998
I wanted you to kiss me more. I wanted you to know that, but I never told you. I wanted you to take it a step further and to let me feel things that I had never felt before. Cold and unemotional, I wanted you so badly but I was too afraid to give it to you. I know that's the reason why you left me hanging dry and hopeless. I know that's the reason why you never bothered to reach out to me again a second time. I know that's the reason why you thought I was a waste of all those hours of your life. Too much to deal with for something you wanted so quickly. Too difficult, too silent, too unattainable. I know that's the reason why you thought me a paradoxical complication that you could never bother with a second time. A paradoxical complication that could have been simple and straight to the point if you had played your cards right.

(image found here)
I wish I could tell you not to worry so much when the truth was that there were no deeper thoughts in my heart and mind set in stone for you in the first place. That if you were scared I'd trap you into some numbing state of psychoanalytic vulnerability, that if I were to secure you into a numbing state of undesired responsibility... it would all be nonsensical fiction in your head. I wish I could tell you that there were no misunderstandings that could get in the way of the freedom that you crave - the occasional desire of thoughtless and romantic hedonism I sense you need and want so deeply. I wish I could tell you, but who am I to make you realize all these things when I myself am in a position of youthful uncertainty and naivete - a position of reactionary second thoughts that multiply by inevitable revelations I have been challenged to deal with these past few months on my own.
(image found here)
And come to think of it, I understood what you were trying to say to me. And come to think of it, maybe it's true that "sometimes you just need to get fucked" to get through a hard day. And come to think of it, maybe I never truly liked you enough anyway. And come to think of it, maybe it wasn't so wrong of me to refuse to give anything deeper than desire. Deeper than what you gave me. And what you gave me was nothing more but confusion laced into lust. And what you gave me was nothing more but a mind game to deal with from an imaginary distance. And what you gave me was another lesson to keep in heart and mind, that if you speak more than you listen, speak more than you do, that in the end "the rest is rust and stardust". You're something worth forgetting even if it's not what the heart and imagination asks for.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

what makes a woman

March 10, 2019 0 Comments
(image found here)
We are not delicate, fragile little things meant to be pampered and protected. We are not little, broken china dolls waiting to be fixed and mended. We are not clueless wanderers at midnight looking for a quick fix and helpless moments of intoxication. We are not the malleable kind of women you keep to mold and bend and shape and twist and distort. Most definitely not the kind of women to take the pointless form of whatever desire you wish for us to be, whatever dry assumption you think of us to be, or whatever complication you wish for us to deal with - an overbearing and burdensome extension of your own life that now becomes a part of mine. And I can help you deal with all the trauma and pain, and I can sit by your side to listen to you mindlessly doze away for hours, to sit in the awkwardness of silence for hours, and to gaze at you lovingly and softly and patiently and calmly, but we must have you know that we are not the kind of women to own and to be owned. We must have you know that we are not the kind of women to sit and weep over a potential lost cause. That we are not the kind of women to fall in love with words faster than actions.


We will not sit, we will not stand, we will not bow down in desperation. Instead of waiting behind to be loved, we move forward to be loved by focusing on our own betterment, our own dreams, and our own lives. We learn that to love can mean finding contentment in solitude. We learn that to love can mean accepting the absolute nature of our imperfections. We learn that to love and to be loved can act as segregated agencies beyond the cohesivity we tend to impose upon these languages of kindness. We learn that the unexplainable nature of desire, it's agonizing ambiguity, it's painstaking unpredictability, the way it borders between love and lust, while they are the things we choose to live for represent less than a fraction of the feminine experience. We learn to only give as much as you receive. We learn to only open up our hearts and minds to those who stick to their own words. We learn that affection isn't the only response to attention.


We learn that there's more to being a woman than neutrality and constant reciprocation, and that it's okay to hone our sense of intuition, and that's it's okay to be divisive, or reactionary, or sentimental,  or disagreeable. That it's okay to be the things least expected or most expected of us. That to not fit into a specific standard, and to embrace your inability to do so can make for an interesting character. That to choose to exist as a predictable force is just as acceptable as unconventionality. That to be anything and everything we want or choose to be is an ideal we should strive for, and that we should acknowledge the pointlessness of trying to be defined by the words and actions of others. That the extent of our value is not so much molded by the external but a deeper process of internalized reflection. That as women, we should learn to take advantage of our constant state of performativity rather than rejecting it. That as a woman, we should learn to be the ones to dictate our own sense of selves and our own place in life. That as a woman, what everyone else around you engages in should be their own business. That feminine intervention is less of necessity than we have been brought up to believe. That as a woman, we should learn to love ourselves before expecting to be loved by others.