For Your Consideration is a regular feature published on the first of each month (published on the preceding Saturday if the first is a Sunday) that lists some of my “picks of the month” in reading, music, moving pictures, and something random. These aren’t necessarily new or trendy picks, but they will be things that I hope you will find worth your time!
Third time’s the charm, right?
Read This: The Passion According to G. H., by Clarice Lispector
“But now I know that I must have a much greater courage: that of having another morality, so exempt that I myself do not understand it and that scares me.”
Probably my favourite of the Lispector books, Passion is an ambitious and singular book that works its way towards transcendence by working from within. Within its interior space, its seemingly miniscule framework, notions of time, space, mortality, and humanity are deformed and rearranged. Convention and aesthetics give way, language is stretched and distorted, as G. H. (along with Lispector) seeks a more suitable form. It is a search for a god, a spirtuality, but also a search for an aesthetics without aesthetics, and a humanity in the dirt, taking shape from within (the room, “humanization from the inside”, the hidden language within language). Perhaps most of all, it is a quest for the “unreachable present”, our individual paradises lost. This is a book in which the most enormous of quests are undertaken, taking place between a woman and a cockroach, in the space of a single room.
Listen to This: Excavation, by The Haxan Cloak
Excavation‘s cover art features a rope in a loop, an image that could well be a noose, a leash, or a proposition. It is an album of landscapes, carved from familiar features, and yet always setting up surprises, disappointments, interruptions. The constant disruptions serve to disorientate, but they also serve as a reference point, a echo of the world left behind. Perhaps the noose image is appropriate, then. It is an album of death, or perhaps more appropriately, an excavation of what remains after the event. It is thus also a promise, that in its dark reality of terrifying beauty, there is something to be excavated, something that remains after the end of the world, something that simply persists. This, then, is its proposition. It promises to navigate the twisted path between the living and the dead, to lead the way, if we take the rope in hand. It’s not pretty, but this essay on life and death—this leash, these human chains—succeeds primarily because it reveals the horror of our mortal coil.
Watch This: Play Time, directed by Jacques Tati
I suppose it’s always a good time to revisit Play Time. Sometimes I like to imagine that there is an almost Oulipian design behind it, a pursuit of that perfect constraint that enhances or even maximises one’s interaction with a chosen form. Shot in 70mm, so much is in focus all of the time that it might at first seem like an overload of visuals. Yet, there is a method in the cacophony, if you will, and the spectator learns to decipher the film’s visual language as the film progresses. Similarly, because Tati eschews dialogue for vibrant music and imaginatively designed sound effects, the spectator is obliged to adjust to a different mode of communication. Play Time is a film that forces one to take it on its own terms, to learn its distinctive rules as it places the typical language of film under pressure. This formal aspect supports (and is in turn supported by) its thematic concerns, for it is also a comedic study into the ways through which we communicate; the suffocating drabness and surprising possibilities of civilised society; and the curious connections that affirm us, are invisible to us, and, in so many—too many?—cases, fail to materialise.
Bonus of the Month: Genesis, by Sebastião Salgado
Being a fan, I’ve had my eye on Salgado’s project for a long, long time. I know nothing about it except that it’s taken years (work began in 2004, I believe) and that its main subject is nature. I’ve avoided articles and photographs. I don’t even know what the cover looks like. I’m going to let him surprise me, or not–either case will provide its own type of pleasure. The title seems to clearly be a biblical reference, yet the quest to see nature before the Fall seems all too easy, or perhaps too much of a deception. (Are these photos, then, simply ghost-images of that one genesis?) Maybe it is a search for another genesis, one that is still to be found in our world, one that takes place in the everyday, a beginning that has yet to end. Only one way to find out.