APRIL 2003


(Wednesday, 1 April 1998)

Cinema Themes: The "Femme" Fatale

(films from the land of Lola Lola and Humbert Humbert)

Josef von Sternberg's Der Blaue Engel (1930)

Jean-Luc Godard's A bout de souffle (1960)

Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962)

Luchino Visconti's Morte a Venezia (1971)

Louis Malle's Fatale (1992)

Takashi Miike's Audition (1999)

Other suggestions?


(Thursday, 2 April 1998)

Nabakov Studies

The Poerotic Novel: Nabokov's Lolita and Ada by Maurice Couturier.

The Function of the Phallus: Lolita and/as Children's Fiction by Vadim Linetski

A extensive bibliography on Nabokov's Lolita.


(Friday, 3 April 1998)

Ann Wodinski writes:

What about Louis Malle's Damage (1992)?

Thanks Ann, I've added it.


Elsewhere a real monster is found lurking beneath the war news.

CNN's coverage. BBC's coverage.

Colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni).


(Sunday, 5 April 1998)

"Surprising how simple a nuclear reactor actually is."

On My Way There

Two wishbones on the subway's floor.

"This moment is what André Breton would have called objective chance. It was one of Breton's great ideas that when it is a question of a man's passion, chance will create, in and of itself, the object of his fantasies."

(Robbe-Grillet in The Erotic Dream Machine: Interviews with Alain Robbe-Grillet on His Films) Breton auction. 11 December 1999: "At the bedside of Master Breton." 2 October 2000: "While on the topic of alienation does anyone have any idea how many people André Breton excommunicated from the Surrealist Movement during his lifetime?"


(Monday, 6 April 1998)

On My Way Back

This morning, still dark, a few minutes after leaving the ayahuasca space in Amsterdam.

Carefully Recorded Time

Finished reading Robbe-Grillet's cine-novel The Immortal One (1963) this evening. My God. A text describing no more than an hour and a half running time took me a full week to get through. I suppose it is one thing to read a film script and another to read a Robbe-Grillet film script...

Three Figures of Interest

La Femme Fatale. Le Couple Maudit. La Belle Captive.

A Famous Dutch Necronym

N. read somewhere that Vincent van Gogh, born March 30, 1853, was in fact the necronym of his stillborn brother, Vincent van Gogh, born a year earlier on March 30, 1852.


(Friday, 10 April 1998)

The war seems nearly over. Yesterday I spent the day doing nearly nothing -- I watched Claude Chabrol's Merci pour le Chocolat and Lars von Trier's Europa/Zentropa. Today I've spent the day doing nearly nothing as well -- reading bits and pieces from various books and sleeping.

Quote of the Day:

"I did not make the transition from the novel to film. I am not by nature a novelist nor even by profession, since I am an agricultural engineer specializing in diseases afflicting banana trees."

(Robbe-Grillet in The Erotic Dream Machine: Interviews with Alain Robbe-Grillet on His Films)


(Saturday, 11 April 1998)

The Uncanny

The Real and the Uncanny. Watched both John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate and Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice last night. While Frankenheimer is certainly no Tarkovsky in many respects his film is just as remarkable in its relation to the Real and the Uncanny as any of Tarkovsky's works -- one cannot watch The Manchurian Candidate without wondering at its (1) air of forewarning -- as a precursor to the assassinations of the 60's (John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy), and (2), Frankenheimer's own experience at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968.

Greil Marcus: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

People Weekly (May 16, 1988): Director John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate Plays to a Full House after 26 Years

(Re: Frankenheimer's alleged brush with Sirhan Sirhan. After his collapse, Otto, the postman who collects 'uncanny incidents' and meditates on eternal recurrence in Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice (a film of recurring collapses), asks the others: "What was that? What do you think?" and then proceeds to answer his own question, "It was only an evil angel passing by, who saw fit to touch me.")

The Real

RS: In Angélique, you define the real that art might imitate -- if it must -- as "the universe that our unconscious confronts and secretes at the same time... and not the false world of the everyday". Does that mean, therefore, that there can be no access to the real without imagination?

AR-G: Surely, without any doubt. In the conception of the real of contemporary philosophy and, in my opinion, of contemporary thought in general, the notion of the real is a human notion. It does not concern an animal, for example. The real is a phenomenon of consciousness, in keeping with the ideas of Husserl's phenomenology and in keeping also with all the experiments on the imaginary, of which surrealism is a particularly good example.

Speaking of Husserl, I recently found an extremely interesting text that I did not know, quoted by the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, where Husserl specifies that one cannot say that one has confronted the real as long as one cannot join to the realistic experience of the world all the possibilities that have not been in the world; a phenomenon says Husserl, is complete only if one has added to what it has been, everything it has not been, what it could be, even what it could not be. He calls this idea "free variation" -- a notion, it seems to me, that applies particularly well to works like my own. In essence, the imagination must be at the very basis of the constitution of the real.

(Robbe-Grillet in The Erotic Dream Machine: Interviews with Alain Robbe-Grillet on His Films)


(Sunday, 12 April 1998)

(Who said the war is over?)

The Infinite Rehearsal

Gino Moliterno: Zarathustra's Gift in Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice.

Good paper discussing Tarkovsky's reference to Nietzsche's ethical proposition -- ie. "How might we act in the face of eternal recurrence?"

Includes (in note #19) another surprising example of the 'return' in literature:

"Why, you keep thinking of our present earth! But our present earth may have been repeated a billion times. Why, it's become extinct, been frozen; cracked, broken to bits, disintegrated into its elements, again 'the water above the firmament', then again a comet, again a sun, again from the sun it becomes earth -- and the same sequence may have been repeated endlessly, and exactly the same to every detail, most unseemly and insufferably tedious..."

(Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Chpt. 12, Part 4.)

See also Petr Král: Tarkovsky, or the burning house.


(Monday, 13 April 1998)

Aftermath: Sunday, 6 April 2003.


Tuesday, 14 April 1998 (no entry)

Shock and Awe

Shock and awe at CNN's video showing Baghdad's ransacked National Museum.

"Iraq, among the earliest cradles of civilisation and home to the remains of such ancient Mesopotamian cities as Babylon, Ur and Nineveh, has one of the richest archaeological heritages in the world."

"The museum housed a major collection of antiquities, including a 4,000-year-old silver harp from Ur."


Watched about half of Peter Greenaway's Drowning by Numbers (1988) this evening. I remember watching this film when it first came out and disliking it. Well... I still don't like it. Even though it possesses a strong formal structure, games, and death (a few of my favorite things) -- its manner of farcical frivolity puts me off.

Information on some of Greenaway's more obscure films such as Making a Splash (1984), Fear of Drowning (1988), and Death in the Seine (1988).


(Friday, 24 April 1998)

Definition of Melodrama

Woke up wondering about this. And wondering whether what I mean when I say 'melodrama' is the same as what others mean. I looked it up. Here's what the experts say.

Here's my simplest definition: a melodrama is a story in which the character's feelings and emotions determine their actions. In other words, what's going on inside determines what will happen outside.

(Allison Anders)

Fictional work emphasizing emotional vicissitudes and tragic occurrences, traditionally presented in an overwrought manner. The plot usually concerns victimized or suffering protagonists and a mixture of difficulties among lovers, family, friends, or the community. The story typically encompasses both familiar and romantic themes. Narratives concentrating on a single family unit are described as Domestic Melodramas and depict relations between parents, offspring, siblings, and in-laws, relating how the family endures or dissolves through such emotions as love, jealousy, rivalry, and hatred.

(Phil Landon)

... a drama accompanied by music.

(Peter Brook, from Alex Burns, Film Melodrama and Sociological Propaganda)

Melodrama. When the subject is the object even when the subject is as completely unstructured as an inner monologue. I've been watching (and enjoying) Wender's Der Himmel über Berlin the last couple of days. And asking myself... this continuous inner monologue... is this not melodrama in its purest form?


(Sunday, 26 April 1998)

Currently watching Ritwik Ghatak's Calcutta melodrama 'The Cloud-Capped Star' (1960).

Currently reading Adam Phillip's study of escapology Houdini's Box: The Art of Escape.


(Tuesday, 28 April 1998)

News from Ground Zero. Following the recent war in Iraq it seems that the weblog has become, at least in the eyes of some of the 'professional media', a legitimate news provider. The Guardian Unlimited Website has link page on SARS (called a 'Weblog Special') with links to various weblogs 'embedded' in the areas hardest hit by the epidemic including It's a Zoo Out There (Singapore), Flying Chair (Hong Kong), and Peking Duck (Beijing -- owner left this weekend because of the hysteria).

March 2003

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