Howe’s 48-page essay is an odd beast, a memoir mixed with notes and queries on American poetry, with Marker as its presiding genius. Digressive, personal, indirect, ranging from Dickinson, Melville, and Whitman, to Vertov, Tarkovsky, and Barthes, Sorting Facts is, generically, perhaps closer to what Montaigne called an “essay” than it is to most contemporary iterations of the form. Readers looking for a more orthodox critical biography of the director will be better served by studies like Catherine Lupton’s Memories of the Future (2004) or Nora M. Alter’s Chris Marker (2006). But for those less interested in a broad, synthetic argument about Marker’s oeuvre and more interested in how writing might pay homage to the experience of watching his films and the fact of his loss, Howe’s essay will be a welcome contribution to a growing corpus of Markeriana. And yet, to say that Sorting Facts is “about” Marker is to do a disservice to the larger questions posed by the essayist and her subject. In the end, Howe’s investigation, like Marker’s, comes down to facts: what they are, how we mark them (or fail to mark them), and what it is in them that sustains or destroys.
There is a nice review of Susan Howe’s essay project Sorting Facts, or Nineteen Ways of Looking at Chris Marker over here. [via LARB]
For much of his life, Marker functioned as a foreign correspondent, a romantic leftist in the Malraux mode travelling the world from West Africa to Siberia. Most of his early films were personal travelogues—short features notable for their wry, poetic voiceover narration and serendipitous approach to foreign societies. “Modern adventure, Marker understands, is not updating lost paradises, but discovering new places,” observed Cahiers du Cinéma critic Andre S. Labarthe in 1961. “No longer the Indies, but Communist China, no longer the Amazon, but Cuba, no longer Palestine, but Israel.” Today one might call these places failed utopias—or, perhaps, in a more Markerian formulation, places haunted by their lost futures.
Hoberman on the work of Chris Marker. [via The New York Review of Books]
Rojak is a regular collection of assorted links as well as a bulletin summarising the week (or thereabouts) on this blog.
Chris Marker dies. [via The Telegraph]
Remembering Chris Marker. [via The New Yorker]
“You can’t go round and hold a gun to their head.” Chatting with Will Self about his latest novel, Umbrella. [via The Guardian]
New music from Atoms For Peace. [via Consequence of Sound]
Hear some music from the upcoming Animal Collective album, Centipede Hz. [via I Guess I’m Floating]
Sir David Attenborough and Björk will pair up for a documentary on music. [via Consequence of Sound]
This past week: