Chat / Movies /
I loved Godard’s La Chinoise in 1967, I loved it on DVD the other night. But Jan didn’t. She bailed, now I’m savoring it by myself: much as I had to savor it by myself in 1967. Oh, I had friends that also saw it then. My wife still saw some things with me, hadn’t closed to total zero by then. But was anybody on the same page with me? Was I right that I was on the same page as Goddard? (He wasn’t hearing what I was saying, didn’t know my art, didn’t then, probably hasn’t since; but) I saw I was hearing him! as he’d heard Dostoevsky … Malraux (Man’s Fate) … I wasn’t sure what my friends were seeing.
Now I see what someone wrote at Wikipedia, at IMDb.com … Yeah, that’s it! But who said so in 1967, when it needed to be said?
A year or two further on I went to see a Goddard film in Manhattan, at a matinee. The theater was enpty when I entered. Goddard and the world were abandoning each other. (Me too!) A half dozen guys then came in: big, burly, blue-jeaned … bearded, loud, aggressive … The actors recited revolutionary gibberish, these guys raised fists, said Right On! But it was so funny! the movie was not saying what the dialogue said! I laughed aloud. A split second later those guys laughed too. (Understand: I’d already been inventing Macroinformation for a few years by then!) For the next half of the movie, I laughed. A split second later, they laughed. It was a comedy! (I was controlling their reactions, like puppets! Then I held my laughter. I never heard another chuckle from those guys: Commmies, looking for propaganda, but getting good comic art: art in which those guys were the butt of the joke, as were the characters on screen. But those guys got up and rumbled out.) Once again, I was alone in the dark.
The rest of what I want to say I’ll add scrapbook style, a bit at a time:
Dig the above graphic: cast members stand by a pile of Mao’s Little Red Books:
1) It’s cheap color! Goddard is hysterical in his economies. He shoots in a room painted white and red, with blackboards … How many millions would Hollywood have spent to fail to get as good an effect?
The actors wear primary colors, basic complemetary colors: yellow, green …
But look at that pile of red books! hysterical.
2) What do the books reference? The wisdom of Mao? Defiance of the familiar commandments?
Do these Sorbonne copycats know how to read?
The Revolution is Pop art bullshit.
(Mao’s tiny little book reminds me of a book of JFK humor that was published in the late 1950s. My mother was responding to it: Ooo, the president has a sense of humor; I noted aloud, “It’s a thin volume.”)
Re-watching more I just came upon a favorite detail. One of these Maoists has authors’ names written on a blackboard. One by one, but not in order, skipping around the list, he erases … Dumas, Marlowe, Moliers, Sartre … He starts to erase Brecht, pauses, doesn’t. Gradually we notice, finally we have to notice: eventually “Brecht” is the only name remaining: and is in the center of the three column list, in the middle up and down! Brecht! Fabulous, and very funny. (a later entry below finds common ground between Brecht and Goddard.)
Every Other Goddard
Goddard was making four movies a year! Four! I loved movies, but I couldn’t keep up with them. (I couldn’t keep up with my marriage, with my graduate program, with my jazz … certainly not and movies too! especially not without any income, no place in the economy, except host to the parasites: university, military …) I never did catch up on them all: but I, and my friends (who were also Goddard fans) noticed: we loved some, did not like all. We senses a pattern: we’d like every other one! Except I liked 1, 3, 5; Anton liked 2, 4, 6 … (But of course we liked more than a few in common so it can’t have been strictly a case of liking every other one.
Regardless: La Chinoise and Weekend were among my favorites in 1967, and ever!
thanks cinematheque i phila
I tell you, one thing I love about Goddard: Hollywood like (but as a one-man Hollywood), he populates Armageddon with pretty girls! He loves women, he loves faces, whatever he thinks or feels about humans in general.
And me too!
There’s a scene I love where the pretty pouty-lipped blond, Ann Wiazemsky (Mrs. Goddard as a matter of fact) (she’s in both images here [at least had been till the first evaporated]) discusses terrorism with a former professor of hers while riding on a train: she wants to halt the universities, with bombs. Her ex-teacher discusses it with her as calmly as they might discuss “history” or “cooking.” There’s something automatically profound about seeing a dialogue on a moving train, landscape rushing by, visible through the window, a world of things flashing by without being perceived, noticed, digested.
Similarly effective in a way I would love to try to make the time to analyze macroinformationally is a scene where a guy and a girl in a cute little sports car determine to assassinate some visiting dignitary. The girl will go into the high rise, ask the guard something, then, while he fumbles with the directory, read the politician’s apartment number, up-side-down, from the manifest. She goes off into the high rise. The camera remains on the driver in the Porche. He backs up, pulls forward, maneuvers here and there in the building’s paved court. She comes back, gets in: she’s killed the guy: he opened the door, she pulled the trigger: except, uh oh, she screwed up: she should have read apt. 23; she killed the guy in apt. 32: confused reading upside down. She goes back to shoot the other guy in the other apartment! And we’ll watch the Porche pull forward, back, and around some more. Trains, cars … politics: wasted motino, wasted life: waste.
The Commies, the Anti-Commies, the Maoists are as wasteful as the capitalists, as the nationalists … as the anybody.
The Pop Art Revolution, in Simplistic color, is inane, bloodless, pouty-blond, kind of cute …
I love the scenes where these Commies make pronouncements and hand each other Mao’s Little Red Book. In one such the guy says, “It’s time to be logical”: and hands her the book! She hurls the book to the floor! In another scene a girl pulls row after row of little red book from the pristine white book shelves to the floor. Another girl had dropped the little red book to the pavement outside. … This is propaganda? This is comedy, profound.
Someone says, “It’s fiction but it brought me closer to reality.”
Anyone interested in understanding my statement above (with the Macroinformation link) would do well to study my information theory extensively: not easy to do since the fed destroyed my domains. I restore what I can as I can: without help! as always.
A main point: the data and the information are not the same thing, not in complex information.
The data is objecive, on the screen, the information is mental: it processes in your mind, not quite identical for any two beings.
Goddard reminds me of George Bernard Shaw, a great artist, a comedic genius who thought he was promoting pedestrian Marxism. See: their genius is natural, their didacicism is learned. Their unconscious minds are brilliant; their conscious minds, their intentions, are as foolish as those of the rest of us. (That’s what my Shaw paper of the mid ’60s said, that’s what I’m saying now: and if the society hadn’t ganged up to silence me, you could have heard it, learned it, seen it, then.
I starve, I suffer, I’m largely friendless, I have only fragments of resources, and then only by the special interference of a few, but I wouldn’t change my fate for anything.)
Come to think of it, the exact same thing is true of Brecht! A great artist, a great comedian, dramatist, poet, dirty joke teller: a Marxist of pedestrian stupidity.
(Speaking of moron Communists, what’s the story about Stalin and somebody? Stalin and X? X said to Stalin that Y had “a lot of brains.” “Yeah,” said Stalin, “but all of his brains are stupid.” Or, Stalin said it to X about Y.) (Was ever a bright hard working guy stupider than Stalin?) (When we’re all dead, of species stupidity, cultural stupidity, failures at art, science, religion, politics, it won’t matter much how smart or stupid anybody was. It won’t matter whether or not Jesus was God. or whether or not I had anything to convey from them.)
The Maoiss antagonism with the Communists reminds me to the time (at FLEX) when I was invited to debate the Labor Commitee in Columbia’s Hamilton Hall: thirty or so of them against one of me! My buddy Charlie, FLEX volunteer, actually made it two of me, except Charlie never said a word, to anyone, hat I ever heard, except me. Charlie explained to me that the Labor Committee gathered by the subway stop on Broadway and Cathedral Parkway to beat up the Communists as they emerged from their weekly meeting. To the Labor Committee the Communist Party was far far right wing!
To me, the Labor Committee was right wing: or left wing. To an anarchist all those wings are the same. They all want to coerce people.
I once said to Commie Lev, down on the Lower East Side, in the Old Reliable, “What I want isn’t that far removed from what you want. But you want to murder people to get it. The people who have inappropriate, non-convivial levels of property should give it up; not get knocked down and have it taken away.” Lev scoffed. “Of course we’d rather have them give it up,” he said. “But you don’ even ask them,” I said. “You just want to knock them down.”
(My current King Arthur novel presents Arthur as similarly stupid: a mistake the Christians in Fifth-century Britain don’t make.)
Note: my title references Sartor Resartus, Thomas Carlyle: the tailor re-tailored. Meaning, I’m redressing Goddard.
I hope you all know Man’s Fate: realize, when I taught that great novel at the New School (NY, 1971ish), I presented it as the premier model for understanding terrorism. The French led the world in the understanding of terrorism: at least a few French did, and very few others.
Goodbye to Language
2016 09 23 I started streaming Goodbye to Language having completely forgotten what it was, why I’d ordered it, that it was Goddard. Paused a couple of taimes, bailed a couple of times, but went back. This time I said to myself “It’s just like Goddard!” and I paused to research it. Sure enough. And it was just like the Goddard I’d seen at that festival at the New Yorker with all the loud Commies shaking their first, agreeing Right On! and walking out: laughing only when I prodded them by my own laughter: not quite 100% spontaneous since I was monitoring both me and Goddard and them. But now I couldn’t really stand it. I’ve deleted it.
At the festival the commies in the audience were agreeing with the text assigned as dialogue; while the macroinformation of the film emerged as a different information. The text was horseshit; the macro-i was real, profound. But not to me this time. Goodbye Goddard.