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. 



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.