Blog: TSPDT2, Outside

Second week of the TSPDT list, note, I’m not viewing 1 film per day or per week etc., it’s as and when I have the time/feel like watching something. The ‘Why?’ is because contemporary cinema has truly gone to shit, and that is not an understatement. If one is to act rather crassly and base the merit of a film off what it brought in at the box office, one merely needs to look at the top 10 films for each year prior to say, 2000, to note that something went drastically wrong. During the process of folding date myth into contemporary narrative we lost the underlying structure of the past and are left with only the banal filler of the present, that is, nowadays cinema offers little more than something to pass the time as opposed to a piece of art wherein one walks a way at least slightly changed. Great cinema is Heraclitean, dull cinema is Parmenidean – very roughly speaking. That said, sitting through hours of silent film is a task unto itself, at least for my stim-addled, k-addicted brain, which has some odd connection to screens: We did not heed Fisher’s warnings with regards to social media’s perpetual micro-dopamine fixes.

Broken Blossoms was a surprisingly refreshing film, the attitudes towards race and women of course dated, yet not in the same way as Griffith’s magnum opus The Birth of a Nation, the attitudes towards Chinese culture in general here seem weel meaning, specifically in a – once again dated – foreign-quarters-esque manner. That said, Broken Blossoms set designs acts as a precursor to Edward Hopper’s atmospheric usage of light and to Hitchcock’s entire (arguably), that is, the notion of hidden lives is quite literally brought to the fore, that inescapable lust for knowledge of the interior is given to the viewer on platter, quite uncomfortably at times. Broken Blossoms seems like a key starting place for silent film. Gish’s ethereal feminity holds the viewer’s hand almost always here, through these dire streets and through the sculpting of positivity we’re allowed to believe that something pure might just survive here, this in itself brings to questions contemporary notions of feminity.

True Heart Susie was too ‘lovely’ for me.

The Phantom Carriage stills. Interesting techniques to be sure, yet once again it’s a key example of my perception being spoilt, such a film, which was framed impeccably, drives itself into the chasms of repetition…sadly. The past is fading a little, and the future often can’t keep up with itself, the future need to innovate itself.

The Kid and Nosferatu both are without comment, they’ve had enough. The Kid was my first Chaplin viewing, was grand.

and finally for this week Nanook of the North, a documentary I was surprised I’d never come across, I adore Alone in the Wilderness and thought nothing could ever come close to the Walden-lite musings of a creator and craftsmen adrift and alone, yet Nanook adds something beautiful to mix.

A cliche ‘to be sure’, but Nanook adds something raw, and very early on. Whether it’s the hum of 1920’s film, fish-flesh or the acknowledgment of death from the start Nanook doesn’t fully enter into the noble savage genre. There is still a divide between the filmmakers and the subjects of the film, there remains a cultural divide and it works subtle wonders in drawing out the specifics of another life. A scene wherein a walrus is hunted and quickly eaten raw on the beach (above) due to excessive hunger-pangs stands out, that which, even in the 20’s, holds the real of another culture.


I finally got around to looking at what Vast Abrupt have been up to and I have to say Reaching Beyond to the Other: On Communal Outside-Worship by Xenogoth is really, really good. In fact it’s been a while since something in the sphere has dealt with so much so fast and so well (my writing is lame today). I’ve noticed a lot of Vast Abrupt’s posts (maybe all?) are indexed at zero, whether or not this is a theoretical choice, wherein that which is posited at zero, prior, potentially a priori is that from which the post takes a trajectory, therein remains the unavoidable. The first ‘point’ that caught my interest:

“Whilst this broad definition is applicable to the narratives in much weird fiction, these tales explore the Outside through narrated ‘experience’ rather than objective academic analysis and they do so with an imaginative flare that has fascinated many.”

Academic analysis of the Outside often transforms the Outside into merely a component of a certain schema as opposed to a fluid experience, or a singular fluid experience from a certain perspective. The closest academic philosophy has come to a bridge between the two – for me – was Levinas’ Existence and Existents notably the phenomenology of the il y a (there is), that which wishes to be grasped from afar, yet at all times evades capture…in fact evades objective reasoning all together, that which teases humanity as being the “limitrophe of nothing”.

“To return to our Lovecraftian metaphor: if Land is an Outsider, having looked in the mirror and identified with the inhumanism of capital, Fisher is rather hoping to collectivise, organising an Acid Communist Cthulhu Cult of Outsider-worshippers. His focus on the aesthetic challenge is no doubt influenced by his subcultural affiliations. What are Goths if not Outside-worshippers who already live amongst us? However, even this subculture has been subsumed within capitalism — commodified, its vague political potentials have long been neutralised.”

No comment other than this paragraph stood out, a succinct articulation of the often hazy Land/Fisher connection, both working within the realm of ‘exit’ with such drastically different tools and techniques they act almost as two seperate species. Part 3 of Xenogath’s piece is a must read for anyone remotely interested in the concept of ‘exit’ à la Fisher/Land.

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