she liked. (a lot) (and as if liking was important).
her geek got fully piqued when i told her of the relational tables that GIS produces. she: go, go, go (near, and far and explore that distance).
of the glossary she made satellite objects.
i went, predictably to here. (it kind of returns it to drawing/contact, if Brexit wasn’t a thing).
— it’s a working title, and it is the continuation of my earlier post (and research) on absence, walking into the verge, small performances.
These happened on the day of my departure. They are planned differently (like me walking on my own across some of the fallen walnuts. My dad comes and offers assistance. I don’t refuse and a series of explorations on drawing/contact ensue:
There are a few routes that I would still like to explore for Part 3 of BoW. The investigations of edges, sides, spatial demarcations and what bodies move across has been there since the bridge and road crossings in Northern Greece, they got taken further in August and September with explorations of routes, bridges, side views when moving (see here), as well as the biggest series of work around verges/weeds (minimally here).
When I started drawing the concept maps for this project, I kept finding some questions about in/visibility and absence. I conceptually knew this to have been a recurrent theme, it seemed to belong here too — in its most simple form: what happens when nothing, no drawing/contact happens, but I hadn’t got a sense how/why.
One medium I have continued to struggle with has been that of 1:1 performances or even of devising solo ones. It seemed futile, insignificant, compared to the materials that I would come across and find and develop further from an initial find.
Last week I did however pick up the idea and it was a simple one: to walk into the verge, and then later: to purposefully walk towards a point (in this case, a single apple). These developed over a few days and became some investigations into gravity, movement, our initiation and observation of these (it is also a lot more, but let me see how I want to articulate that).
The ‘verge’ is one of the wild flower borders in my parents place. It continues from there to two apple trees and later a walnut tree (all in early October).
This is the FB post and commentary I wrote about it and which explores ‘absence’ at the heart of the project’; I am also including another post on failure, which is similarly relevant, given my concerns about smallness of the subject matter.
- sweet Rambour
he is already my substitute. i ask her first, she is not keen: i don’t think i can operate your phone camera. he, as usual, is as keen as i usually am. when we walk down, we walk underneath the walnut tree and as on the days before, we step on nuts, on cracked nuts and on empty mushy shells. i say what i would like to do. it sounds simple. it sounds again too little. i am tempted to apologise and then think better. he says: so you want test what happens when you step off the marked way. i nod and explain him the camera and what i would like him to do.
he does it (beautifully). and we acquire this sketch.
later, she asks: are there more walnuts. i say: what do you mean? of course there are. if you asked me if i specifically stepped on some i hadn’t stood on before, i can’t say (but perhaps i should).
2. just after, I write this on failure:
earlier, still, i write a note on failure. the failure is obvious. i speak of it on the second phone call. the first one was mainly my silence, after stuttering: it’s not good. then i am silent again.
the failure is simple, i try to bypass it, to make it non-consequential but it sits at the heart of things. it pounds with a steady beat. it was what invited me in. and now it just evades, i reach my hand out and it remains nothing. not a single thing.
i offer a reason, i don’t think he believes what i offer though he sees the consequences and hears ‘i don’t want to talk about this’ and ‘that is enough now’.
let me turn to the note. it is a line through the year, you can fill in the gaps (you will know a few of them).
The form that folded onwards and sought to become different, other, more, and different again. The final piece in the room contained precisely that: an instruction of a performance for one. Folding, opening, folding again.
He admired my enthusiasm. He mistook my accent and my determination.
In the grass there was everything I desired for this. Like that.
I say later: I don’t care.
last evening and this morning i catch late and early sun on a couple of rolls each.
— the verge romps ahead in late summer resolution towards its demise: the only plant growing in abundance is the bindweed and it helps topple thistles and nettles along with all else and creates the most intriguing sculptures (it is Daseri in miniature, no villagers displaced here).
i don’t find what i found all other walks but am again enthralled by the lure and beauty of that waist level viewfinder. part of me wants the world in that viewfinder forever. a bit like the wind last Sunday it separates the view and isolates (here: by distance, i can take the narrowest slices through).
the images become in this much more still and sculptural (it’s not what i have sought and still it is of course also in the ones from three years ago). i stick with it and it’s abundant along this route too. it is warm and while i considered the insects i did forget that stepping into verges to photograph tall and extensive nettle patches has a bodily effect. this morning i at some point jump in front of weekend cyclist with a loud ouch. the sunlight is pretty glorious and sculpts further. it is all a little too pretty and the film substrate will make it more so. but then: nettles and bindweed.
for months i have been circling around her. like an elastic band i stretch the connection and at points then jump right onto some of her pages.
i write a cryptic line in my summary and off i go again.
this morning i pack all three and search.
among other things i find:
as i continue swimming i bodythink through the cosmos. through the work the living and the dying are doing for each other at this moment in time and any other. i had realised earlier this summer that my dad is going to teach me something vital. and here in this process with Achim i realise the work that is being done by us around to facilitate the movements between here and there and what each receives in this. i think i rarely felt so tender amongst it all.
thisconnectionofeveryonewithlungs (juliana spahr)
it is the closing line of a longer thisconnection (men, women, roleplay, victims, essentialism)
she will be the bridge across and away from the site. form content that connects while standing apart.
in army of lovers, she and David Buuck investigate a plot of grassy wasteland between a few major roads.
i have precisely such a plot. a pontoon bridge leads to it. all sorts of insignificant incidents take place. some are fantasy. a good part happens on speed. someone falls into the water and eighty-seven pelicans take off while the sparrows argue over the best spot to pig watch each morning. he who opens the kiosk at will and hides in dark corners within sells me an ice cream for €2.50. i think he made the price up. next time i check and i know he did. but he settled on it, having committed to a sun-worn board with lots of expensive ice cream (all cost €2.50). it sits next to the instant cameras,€20 for 2. how did the film develop?
unrelatedly, i observe the verge. in mid-July on the abundant West Coast it is exuberant. i move along and record it. later i step into it and record some more. elsewhere in the village, the council spent money on controlling growth. it does so abundantly. i record eagerly and just wait for being approached by watchful neighbours (none so far).
I have an earlier short note also relating to Juliana Spahr here.
Gesa Helms — it made it quite clear what it is not (and the FB album format is in no way a better format for what I already had): it is not a single line narrative account. It was never meant to be that and it is curious how the format (that in itself took the gossip, the 1:1 social media interface serious) reduced it in terms of narration and authorship. I have a long account of various worries and concerns over what follows what post and how they relate to each other; of choosing one and taking a particular turn. — all that is really useful for what is comingEdit or delete this
Gesa Helms — it also pointed, and that is possibly the key substantial insight into the material, to an existing secret and existing omission: one relationship (towards F.) never got moved forward and rearticulated (with her) — but: I have moved it into the present, notably with a conversation last week over lunch, that was exciting to see what it would yield if I simply stretched my arm from here to there and let it slide along; I also never revisited and tested that one evening sequence that happened and which needed re-positioning. I did rework it but only ever in practice, entirely serious, I never took it as a play thing but it was dead earnest. So, there is a site, a stretch of road off Oxford Rd that needs a bit more re-appropriation. I will fly from Manchester in a few weeks time and I think, while I made sure I don’t need a flight that needs a stay, that I may stay for a night and revisit. I will take Kapil with me too and be curious as to what new thing this may create — taking it to Prespes with me seems entirely fitting.Edit or delete this
Write a reply…
Gesa Helms — the fall out, the one I never put anywhere and that I barely related to one or two people concerns our approach towards secrets. Her anger at my refusal to conduct matters in secret (which she in turn did ). That anger then manifested in the account I included in the line (and some more, that I didn’t include)… It is interesting how that non-resolution remains and is carried forward to face me, us, you at various turns (and I stumble over it yet again). tappel-di-tapp, once stepped across…Edit or delete this
Gesa Helms — it doesn’t ‘need’ reappropriation: it is resolved as event. And yet, there is something in it that intrigues me, intrigues my sense that it may yield another route/ perspective onto it and with having recorded some new audio for the work; I wonder if there is another visual/ another material in there…Edit or delete this
Gesa Helms this morning I get another email, this time personally addressed to me concerning the logistics of Prespes, it states my link doesn’t work. I don’t quite follow, as it works for me. I am so curious as to the logistics… I may get simply stuck with Saint Achilles for a week (but found the bathing spot within near walking distance… at least the one for the tourists). https://the———————–line.tumblr.com/Edit or delete this
this is the zine (now as a revised analogue/digital edition with hand-colouring) about the imposter. it acquired an imperceptible design flaw in the file and only revealed itself half-way through my introductory performance on Saturday.
today i played with pullprint to make it purposeful. i had layered and moved about the initial document as part of the construction in any case, so the extra layer is a useful commentary on my imposter’s perfectionism and how she reveals herself in public:
i talk at length about the line last night. he knows the work, he, like many of you, is in it. i talk about the reposting. the things the reposting is making clear to me. how it relates and how it alters what is central to the piece for me. i know that a photo essay will not be a sufficient form for it. that was already clear when E. and i finally spoke after half a year or more on Monday. it needs layering, looping and mingling. when i gesture about the state this work needs, i realise what else it is; how a conference paper on state and street violence is not sufficient for it; what else it is and how the list of participants for Prespes allayed some of my fear. how brazen it feels to bring violence and desire to walking arts. how it genders the walker, the walk, the city, the street.
— it doesn’t gender it, it only make apparent the deficiency of a whole number of accounts. it’s not like we are talking about a female principle. far from it.
towards the end he asks if the timeline stresses me. i: no, not all. i have a whole month to do this and there is little else that i need to do. this is fun.
the gesture i make is one that i recognise as my own, about myself. i get moved by it. literally. i may have to move it with it.
Gesa Helms i make the gesture of the line twice and pursue it further. it goes into different directions.
i watch it and i sense it.
nobody else watches and senses it.
i wonder what T watched and sensed when he saw me doing it yesterday.
did it happen?
did i perform?
what did it leave?
the sense sensation is strong. it persists, increases, ebbs away a little, returns. it is that which animates the gesture and continues, prolongs it.
i watch intently and wonder if it is of interest to anyone who watches. or, is it something that needs doing in order to be something.
what do you see?Edit or delete this
the / line
— following that secret (along with my headache, why is that a thing again, btw) from last night’s post, i retrace my steps that first time i walked along Oxford Rd. i remember how far the hotel was, how the road changed abruptly past the Aldi (or was it a Lidl) and I realised that I had misjudged the proximity of things. I arrive at the hotel and am shown to my room. I am shattered and while I briefly wonder what is in the bathroom. are they for me? I undress and lie down to a mid-afternoon nap. shortly after, there is a knock on the door, i open, the manager is apologetic. explains the room hasn’t been cleaned. shows me to another room while the cleaner tidies. she and i chat, about working in Germany and in England, then i return. there is new bed linen. i shudder a little, realise i can’t quite sleep now and get dressed. i leave the hotel and wander to Andy Warhol.
do i see the grasses then? i don’t think so. i think that only happened the next morning.
i slept in someone else’s bed that afternoon. i still feel the duvet cover on my skin. i remembered how i wondered how used it felt, then dismissed that thought as one of cheap hotel bed linen.
something happened later still, when it was dark. i may still write about that. or maybe not.
in any case: i think i will redo the hinge of the work and see what happens in the process. i will report.
it may become a new thing.
i read Benjamin’s Haschisch in Marseille (though in English). i want to be annoyed at it and subsume it under that bourgeois bloke who meanders, flaneurs along, unguarded and naive, seeing universality in all he does.
of course i am not.
i never read much of Benjamin beyond the Berlin childhood and Mechanical reproduction (i think my younger self never considered herself bourgeois, cultured enough to be illuminated into the arcades). there is so much in his that i recognise as a well-known modality of my own, sans l’haschisch, the receptive introspection and the meaning that shifts along, tumbles forwards, connects out while being thoroughly with oneself (at once in fragment and complete). then there is the recording, the protocol, the account.
— there is also something incredibly tender at play, there is a curious affective touching that goes on, almost in passing. (and i am thinking of that loud pose that Springgay and Truman strike with their call for affect, which drowns out the above, or perhaps also doesn’t quite know what do with that that they can’t categorise/ identify as white settler self and his others).
i had, this morning, when i dreamt up the modality for the meeting, also figured the relational forms that i am tracing, holding and letting go in the moving-with that i am doing. it is quite different too from any of the participatory stuff and aims at a social, it may just be boring social geography after all. it needs that social, both to understand the violence (close and far) but also to conceive of the tenderness, the longing. it needs a little trippyness too, i know where i get mine from, Benjamin clearly described his.
(work in progress)
Gesa Helms I download a new edition of Einbahnstrasse, and chuckle (a) at the age of modernism; and (b) at the datedness of my idea to use the separation between text and footnote as a line… of course in Benjamin’s time, the Feuilliton ran from page to page at the bottom of it (not like in my times as a supplement to worthy papers):
— And the textual diversity of One-Way Street ensures that the street resonates with the hubbub of many voices, with what Lionel Trilling once called the great “hum and buzz” of social interaction. Benjamin’s built environment, his “one-way street,” is a thoroughfare that requires not just mental agility but especially a kind of modern urban literacy.Edit or delete this
Edit or delete this
Edit or delete thisJOURNALS.SAGEPUB.COMThe Power of Distraction: Distraction, Tactility, and Habit in the Work of…
ETHESES.WHITEROSE.AC.UKPerforming as Mapping: An examination of the role of…
Gesa Helms tangentially, I find this and feel rather nostalgic: both for the Feld but even more so to that praxis that was critical geography around Berlin around the second half of the 2000s. hey there, Uli. https://s3.amazonaws.com/…/Stanek__best_chapter_only…Edit or delete this
— while reworking the line for a presentation in summer I am testing it out as a different format: a public facebook album, here:
— I am also suggesting to view via my timeline. If you are not friends with me, this will be easy, as there aren’t many public posts, if you are friends, you may have to scroll a little:
Wednesday morning I say what it is that I will be doing:
– a series of performance pieces/ drawings
– a couple of workshop/event things and
– some documentation of the above.
That is it.
The spatial praxis/ production of space/ site-thing will be part of it as building out and up from the encounters that constitute each. It will be utopian in its concrete practice. Nothing more, nothing less (I would love to call it Beziehungsweise Revolution/ relationally: revolution, but that title is already taken, unfortunately).
The documentation will be either in book or in moving image form.
Each segment/ section will address or: can address a particular question/ enquiry.
I am uncertain if the talks will be part of it or generally merely context. I think that is part of the wider question of what constitutes the site/ the work, i.e., really: if we talk an expanded field of drawing, do we need to have a sense of what is not part of it? what is absent? outside? and, why would that be useful. In that sense, I will have a consideration of distance/closeness in this too, and at that point it loops back into the overall thematic of drawing/contact.
The first four events in drawing/contact are intimate and in hindsight, retrospect. I am testing how these relate to the theme and what they do medium/discipline-wise. I am trying not to be too wilful with them, to let them hover for as long as they need to. In some ways, these take inspiration from the events around the line, and reworking the line for the workshop in July into a photo essay and presentation will be great. The drawing/contact encounters are different though as they transgress media/ reach. They are possibly less concerned with secrets and veracity but more curious about the contact, the stuff enacted, where and when it reaches, etc.
In this, then, the line, the Gap, and the wider corridor thematic are aufgehoben in the best dialectical sense: they are concluded and superseded into a qualitatively new question (I remember how for each time that aufheben needed translation I was stuck, as stuck as I am now as there is no equivalent in English).
secrets, along the private and the public.
– the person who keeps calling to say that they know where Katrin Konert’s body is buried. they then hang up.
– the judge who places the burden of naming undercover cops on the women they deceived into intimate relationships
– the initiation secrets of the Hermit Triad of O.T.O. (sex magic)
– the book that I leave with my dad, which talks of how nostalgia for 1945-55 worked in reverse: it became darker as it receded into the past, what was being left out from the narration, then and now.
with these, i turn to the notes when i started rewriting the line. it is less a rewriting that i did in autumn but a new iteration: so much new material assembled as i tried out if i wanted to write fiction. then the dying and leaving started in earnest and i only now loop back.
i do not want to revise the work but i want to edit it anew. to see if a stronger focus is beneficial for it. but also: how do these images, which are after all still, not moving, hold up next to a written narrative. if i push the the temporal unfolding entirely to the viewer, reader and no longer let it animate through my voice. the line around secrets is reworked when i post this to facebook, as public album, having practiced already with […]
i am such a slow worker with all these secrets. sometimes i worry that my life simply won’t be long enough for it all. in all this, we are firmly in surplus time, with both of them: it is fun, easy, joyful. we tell stories that are surplus and are having a good time with them. i love what i learned about the train station in Celle, of my mother’s routes through the biggest town she ever had a daily routine in. how on the next day she would fill in the gaps and connections between her teenage self, my teenage self and our contemporary selves right across the town, by foot and in the car. my dad was eager to learn about what we had seen and so i promised him to show him in summer, when i travel back from Macedonia.1 commentLikeShow More ReactionsCommentShare
Gesa Helms this is one of the strongest pieces that i wrote in autumn, it is rather different to anything in the line, it puts the fragmentation right into the text and connects a number of themes and relationships through the movement along Gt Wester Rd (and, hey, my notetaking processes hold, it seems: i find things again)
i sit invisibly in the dark window. the phone tracks my motions but not much else. i disappeared. again, never for long, each disappearance is an in-breath. yesterday and today i move back and forth. not quite rocking my upper body back and forth while sat on a chair, it bears resonance, witness. to other, i am doing chores, tracking apps and delivery routes.
earlier, i made my bed. i dress it in the new star-like dark blue grey cotton-weave. underneath: fluffy summer clouds. i crawl underneath and float, i can’t stop touching. it persists all night. i am sure i have found material form for her photos of me in cocoon. the night is warm, the space between my breasts collects sweat.
that night i kill. i am killed that night. i flee while moving downwards on material, structures that i do not understand. it doesn’t suffice: i am found. a large man with a wide red face and loud laughter. i wonder how the delicate structure still holds him. how can it. the structure is luminous and made for myself and yet, there is he and the other and they hunt. i swing my body up on the shelf above me and run, back through a field of high grass. someone, they, someone, different moves up behind. i reach the end and turn. this is my field i shout indignant. i have tended to it, it is not yet ready to unfold and i chase along. i realise it won’t suffice. it will not be enough.
i enter the room, he sits in front of me, a naked torso, his body turned away from me. i make the phone call. yes, i found him. it is him. michael. he turns around and i look into a mirror. but no mistake: i am michael. momentarily, the connection is interrupted. beeeep. beeeep. the familiar sound when she drives between one checkpoint and another. i briefly imagine her seeing the lights: on hilltops, bright and fortified, in the valleys, weaker, sparser, under siege.
the path is a trail along beech and oak trees. it is a familiar route: out from the village I lived in as a small child, northwards. we have been often but not in a long time. the path is windy, narrow, we are a few. we come upon a group, at the centre a young woman, her face turned towards us, them, the world. they pour a substance over her, her face unmoved. she dies of the substance that solidifies her face. she, beautiful. we shouldn’t have seen.
i leave early to keep talking. her voice is breathless as she tells me how the day before the Anschluss, the people were dusting off little flags with swastikas and how they screamed themselves hoarse at his sight that 12 March 1938. then her voice breaks. i know that sound through the speakerphone as well as she knows mine. i try to think: do i remember her face with tears. i do not. when i see her face is the one that laughs. and when you laugh, i laugh too. always. beeep. beeep. she wants to call back and i will be at the subway soon. my face is wet the rain strong, it mixes with my tears. einen dicken kuss, beszede.
i return home and remember that my dirty linen from now on colour-coordinates my library.
am i ugly.Edit or delete this
i went and saw a play last night. i open to write this post but then open messenger first and write a message. then i move back here.
i see so little live art. yet, if i want to do too i need to know it a little better.
besides a drone with a camera that was first watching the screen and then turned and projected us, the audience to the screen, it featured a loop pedal and a filing cabinet. they stuck their head into the filing cabinet, straddling their body atop and talking into the cabinet. i loved that. it was perfect.
the drone had a mother who told her early to smile, smile, smile. she got a new workplace, a breakdown, the watched rhinos as a protection scheme, then got a cat.
all the while, we would forget that her job was to carry bombs.
the themes repeated and the registers kept changing. i had seen their work before, it was largely angry work; this was angry too, and sly, and funny and seductive.
the drone wore a long silver dress, tried some sequined fine shoes for some part but was generally barefooted. i found myself keeping staring at her rather beautiful nipples (and delighted in the disobedience of not showing nipples in the UK).
— that shifting of body, narrative, register and object/subject was so well done. i really liked that. i had hoped for that and it was really good.
we had some good show before and after conversation too.
more of these things.
image 1: the obedient smiling daughter
image 2 and 3: she acquires a new work place, from the head inside the filing cabinet she too quickly, too painfully proceeds to whimpering on the floor, begging to quit work.
Edit or delete this
possibly unsurprisingly, i rather like this rather certain piece of writing doubt:
Esther Leslie’s beautiful essay on Fortini, Benjamin and Brecht is now available for everyone to read:
“Contradiction is life. Change is what is valued. Fixity of positions, certitude has no political, or living, efficacy. Dialogue is what matters – to be heard and to hear. Contradiction is in the world. Contradiction is in our minds. Contradiction is between us. That is political. Beginning again, because of all these contradictions, because contradicting is political, because the last effort did not work, did not find its audience, or found one but could not speak to it, only at it, or because there was a level of doubt that it was the right moment, and it remains doubtful that it was the right way. At least that question needs to be posed of what one does. Otherwise there is only assertion, versus belief, and all the sins of political activism from voluntarism to tailism to hectoring to the seeding of confusion to determinism to being stranded between theory and practice. We might call it being non-dogmatic. “
these are quite some images. they are about ten years old, from Japan (Tokyo?), when a Polish photographer scours the streets on his bike every night to find officer workers (all male) who fell asleep on the street. apparently common, apparently only transgressive (the sleep, the photo) for me, you, not them, not their fellow workers.
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10 hrs ·
i watched two films which were quite different about love. Europe, she loves and Take this Waltz.
Both work in the transitions. Both are harsh on romantic love. Take this Waltz is a little bit too much early morning light meets ditzy Michelle, and yet, I love the cuts, the lingering. It has one of the nicest scenes of desire in a cafe I have watched in a long time. And then this: Music kills the radio star on my favourite fairground attraction. Then the lights go on. It closes with her going there again, by herself, in the end. Europe, she loves ends with the woman from Seville driving towards France, the one from Thessaloniki going to Italy.
Europe, she loves in full length here:
<< both are flawed in different ways; Europe is too leery I find: both on the women’s bodies but also on the centre (a German filmmaker) watching the poor periphery; and, I really dislike Seth Rogen, the tweeness of their couple desires. Yet: keeping hold of the transitions. Take this Waltz has good lines to this effect: Margot talking about her niece as a newborn sometimes, possibly just stepping into the same inexplicable melancholy that she also falls into once in a while; her sister, drunkenly, much later calling her out on: lives just have gaps, that is just what is, but it doesn’t mean you should go about filling them.
Mubi has the habit of hitting play when I open the computer again, so I tend to head the closing credits from the night before early in the morning. I read on a little more and this is a nice write-up of what is good about Take this Waltz: it is ordinary about what we keep with ourselves when we move on, who we remain, what we seeks. https://mubi.com/…/take-this-waltz-then-move-on…
— this describes the opening scene, and we only discover right throughout at the end who the man is that walks by (but, we could have known: it is Seth who cooks in in her first home, not her).
Sarah Polley’s most pronounced statement in regard to this uncouthness is the scene at the beginning and ending of the film. Margot is cooking at a stove (echoes of her husband) in her new apartment and she sits down in front of it and stares about, while she wonders, thinks, regrets?—we don’t know—just as Daniel (the one she leaves her husband for)wanders in, unfocused, and stares out the kitchen window, though at the end she eventually goes and hugs him, from behind. How can we understand love, loss, need, and other feelings? The images of an actress silently displaying a mix of feelings is the statement, which might only be a catch-22 leading to the cliché, life is hard.
… Wiki writes about her regretting leaving Lou/Seth — she might, but what happens in the last 10 minutes is a time forward piece that moves her and Daniel into a place similar to where she and Lou were, and thus demarcates a lack/ a loss/ a need unfulfilled (that then gets called out by her sister in the scene I mention above).
this is the early scene that tells us that it is about ‘missing connections’, it is a sweet unpicking of one’s own curious anxiety of ‘inbetweens’; Daniel later tells her he may have the same, his conclusion is to move away a few days later:
Gesa Helms added a post to the album close/open.
[this is from two edited FB posts]
19 mins ·
— Mysterious Skin (2004, dir. Gregg Araki) was entirely different to what i thought it was going to be: i thought it was going to be queer teenage angst and a bit of road kill (i obviously went with the upbeat film poster).
there is some incredible stuff contained in it, and in the narration of things. it is on the surface strictly chronological: the events are dated; there are two narrative voices, each clearly distinct from the other.
i don’t quite know how: maybe my own events in front of the screen account for my utter disorientation (i started watching over dinner, then paused to talk with A, then resumed) but i had no clue that Neil and Brian were at the same event. i also did not realise how Brian came to sit in his house’s basement with a nosebleed.
it was only when Brian went to meet the girl in a neighbouring town from TV who had more than 20 alien abductions, that i realised that maybe all alien abductions were trauma phantasmagorias of people being sexually abused. — in her case it was surely the father looming in the background.
the way the story splits apart from the event, or even how the event is disjointed already is incredible. it sets up two of the known and distinct responses to severe sexual trauma: one, where the abuse is enframed in a groomed relationships that marks the child as special, the story is told of an 8-year old boy who tells himself that he pursued the coach, was in love (sexually), and lost, after that summer, the biggest love of his life. we see in memory only his memories of joy, laughter and curiosity. it is only when Brian seeks out the boy from his dreams of alien abduction and the missing five hours that summer night that we see a photo of the minor league team of that year and a deeply deeply unhappy and withdrawn Neil, whom we hadn’t seen in his own memory narrations at all.
— the violence that enters Brian and Neil’s lives is entirely differently articulated: Neil becomes a prostitute from age 15 onwards in small town Kansas in the mid-1980s, the physical abuse he obtains by some of this punters doesn’t register until his friends point to the bruises on his body, genitals. For Brian it is nosebleeds and blackouts, a father ashamed of his weak son and a barely functioning self that makes it into early adulthood.
it is Neil’s friend Eric, left devastated by Neil’s departure to NYC, who then meets and befriends Brian. Eric found one night, when returning the pot Neil had offered (along with some VHS porn if he wanted to jerk off), the audio tapes the coach had made of Neil and him and understands. He also points to the baseball shoes that the aliens in Brian’s drawings wear. Brian has no clue but persists and insists, becomes slowly of this world, and then meets on Christmas Eve Neil. Neil takes him to the house, shows him places and begins to tell the story. it is no longer a story of infatuation of the event when the game was called off due to rain, Brian’s mother and father didn’t pick him up ,but instead the coach took him to his house with Neil.
This is one of the most astoundingly told stories of childhood sexual abuse. It is in the splitting of event and narratives, of agency and of unknowing that is so incredibly well done.
As the two boys never meet until the last scene, the impact of that abuse on both unfolds along two distinct trajectories.
How these are brought together and held in the final scene is incredible. For once the youtube comments are astounding. I am not sure I can watch the closing scene again but I want to watch the beginning again: how Gregg Araki allows the event to rupture narration, integrity of self for the two young boys and us watching.
The film is incredible as to how dissociation works, how ruptures emerge in narrative and memory, how support structures move into place to facilitate living on, how the noise in the background is never quite right, how easy it is to miss the noise though as what else could there be. It is that which moves me in the film and which is wonderfully captured and retold, held, shown.
I will never look at stories of alien abduction in quite the same light.
There is something incredibly inspiring in this movie: in being able to work with such material and to do so so tenderly and unflinching at the same time.
Gesa Helms (Christmas Eve 1991) is the clip with the final scene. — one of the boys believes he was abducted by aliens, and then he makes a friend and it becomes of this world. The final camera and narration is stunning, i almost didn’t make it though.Edit or delete this
Gesa Helms that scene is amazing in terms of the relationship between these two young men who had not met in ten years; the knowing and the courage and the tenderness that plays out in that living room (while both of them had told themselves entirely different stories of that summer when they were 8) is so well done. and then there are carol singers at the front door of this strange house, they start to sing and the camera moves further and further up above that sofa lit with a single light source, where the one with a black hole instead of a heart comforts the alien abductee.Edit or delete this