Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A bit has happened, not much, but I did want to record nonetheless, the events of the past few days. I have asked myself this many times over the past years of diarying, but today and yesterday and the day before, the questions for some reason seemed more demanding of an answer, but why exactly do I do this? The question, that scary one, of for whose benefit? That's the question that really bugs me because I am not sure if sometimes I am not doing things, recording them as a way of bragging about having done so, if it is a way to analyze the events, a way of looking back at them, a sort of therapy without the therapist, or if these aren't just cave paintings, a way of recording events for someone's eyes, mine most likely, of looking back at them and observing the difference (hopefully) between that past time and the imagined future one where I will be doing this rereading of diary entries.

The questions seemed more important, or less so, like it didn't matter, and I just need to go with what feels right and this does, and I felt this way, was inspired by viewing two documentaries by Ross McElwee. Yesterday, I watched his Bright Leaves, which was an amazingly personal history of tobacco, of film, of his family. It touches on everything, but only in how they relate to McElwee and it is amazingly beautiful still. If you make these intensely personal objects about your obsessions than amazingly, people, others find them so much more meaningful, can relate better. What amazed me most about the movie were his often very lyrical voiceovers. The questions he raised were really intelligent and intersected with questions I have been asking myself lately. There is also this hunting of the meaning of the old film Bright Leaf in the movie, so pomo, but so good - asking if even a Hollywood, studio film that you have a close relationship with for whatever reasons can serve as a sort of home movie, reminding you of family histories, past viewings, etc.

So impressed with that movie, I rented his most famous one today, Sherman's March, which in some ways is even more personal than Bright Leaves and much more focused on the question of documenting your life and he never addresses why it is that he does this, but other people, the people he is filming try probing him about that, one woman even pleading for him to turn the camera off saying that "This isn't art! This is life!" And shortly after this, he meditates on this subject and this quote that I am going to cite here is relevent to my own concerns of diarying, of this need to document my life in this medium and here about filmmaking he says:

It seems like I'm filming my life in order to have a life to film - like some primitive organism that somehow nourishes itself by devouring itself, growing as it diminishes.

I heard that and it hit something somewhere in me and I hit to hit pause, rewind the thing, and write that down. There are so many really poetic instances in both films. I am really impressed and wish that Videology had other films of his besides these two. But it is possible to say things by documenting your life, sometimes way more things, more meaningful things than fiction might ever be capable of.

I am in that mood again where everything is moving me. I know I just called A Dirty Shame the most inspiring (art-wise) movie I've seen in a long time, but that was until I saw these movies. They are so good in indescribable ways. They are certainly not nail biters in any way and at many points in the films, especially during the nearly three hour Sherman's March, there are points where my attention wavers, but the moments when I am rapt, those are such awesome moments.

I started an embarrasing self-help book with Niki yesterday about creating art, and you probably know the book I am talking about. Notice my reluctance to say the title, but it has me thinking, as its goal is, about what is art making and in what ways my life is creative and at first I was hesitant about including diarying in that definition of art making, but for the most part, when I let it, it is this daily ritual where I let loose and let my hands, my busy fingers create something out of stuff I am thinking about. Sometimes you just encounter things at the exact moment that you were supposed to and both of these movies crossed my path at exactly the right moment in time, when the issues raised by them were issues my mind was/is trying to deal with.

But yes, I am going to deal with my obsessions, write about them and it might seem pathetic, seem perhaps like I am seeking negative attention to quote what someone said recently (cough cough Matt). It's just about working over your interests, your obsessions, until you can reveal the allure of those things to others, the hidden beauty that you see. Cibo Matto and food. Hernan Bas and boyhood rituals. Andy and Marilyn and Liz and dollar bills. I don't know. PS - I really don't like most of my friends here in New York.

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