Connecting Dots in Between the Lines: On Gabriel Blackwell’s Madeleine E.


A masterfully collaged prose object, Gabriel Blackwell’s Madeleine E. (Outpost19) defies categorization, privileging fusion and hybridity while also openly displaying its parts: essayings on the mind, on identity, on falling, on death, on marriage; obsessively scrutinous, seemingly frame-by-frame analyses of a classic psychological thriller; self-reflexive reveries on writing and, especially, not writing; deconstructions of patriarchy in the form of control of and/or violence against women, whether physical, emotional, psychological, etc. Like Alfred Hitchcock, one of this book’s many subject-characters/character-subjects, Blackwell “leaves holes” in his art, that is, in Madeleine E., a text with hundreds of ellipses, a constellation of dots pocking pages, signaling absences, voids, pauses, where multiple possible readings, connections of dots, as it were, can take place.

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I’m not a great cinema-goer, but in the last few weeks I’ve been twice. Both times I saw a film with a one-word title, and that name was the surname of the central character. Both films were based on real people, real events, drawn from non-fiction books rather than fiction.

The first was Lincoln, of course. The second was Hitchcock. It is hard to think of two figures who were less alike. One was tall, thin, American and generally revered as something of a secular saint; the other was short, fat, British and generally known for bringing out the worst in people. And yet there is something iconic about both of them, something signified by the fact that they are instantly known by their surnames alone. Lincoln, of course, has been at the centre of many films over the years. Hitchcock, curiously, has been central to two films that have appeared in the last few months. The Girl, which starred Toby Jones as Hitchcock, was a TV movie about the making of The Birds; Hitchcock, in which Anthony Hopkins played Hitchcock, was about the making of his previous film, Psycho. Continue reading

A Sequence on Sequence, Pt. 1

Those notecards? My book, in sum. On each ruled side [not pictured], the first and last sentence of a piece of Critique of Pure Reason. On the other, unruly side, the title of the story in question. Why bother? Mostly for you, or rather, those of you out there who will perhaps read the book. (And thanks, by the way. Thanks even for reading this.)

Which is to say that order always has something to tell us. Viz. the Kuleshov effect, here explained by Alfred Hitchcock: Continue reading

Announcing the Summer 2011 Issue of Requited

Carl Baratta, "Driver Take Me to the River 3."

The Summer 2011 issue of Requited is now online. It features:

  • fiction by Josh Collins, Jess Upshaw Glass, Suzanne Scanlon, Ben Slotzky, and Simon A. Smith;
  • poetry by Kristy Bowen, Nicelle Davis, Eric Ellingson, Molly Gaudry, Monica Gomery, Rich Ives, Alyse Knorr, Kate Martin Rowe, and J. A. Tyler;
  • essays by Steve Katz, Mark Rappaport, and Viktor Shklovsky;
  • visual art by Carl Baratta and Alexis MacKenzie;
  • and videos by Anne Elizabeth Moore and Hyon Jung Kim.

Please check it out! And since the nonfiction section is my domain, allow me to say a few words about the pieces there.

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Brevity, Part 3: Long Takes Continued (well, they’re long)

While writing my previous post, I grew aware that I wasn’t mentioning any women filmmakers. So I’d like to add something addressing that (because of course one can find numerous examples). And along the way, I’ll also try to say more in general about the power—and limitations—of the long take.

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Brevity, Part 2: Long Takes

Some of us have been discussing long takes in movies, and John mentioned that he’d like seeing a list of films that consist primarily of the beautiful things. So here is a start at such a list. (And here is another one, which like this list embeds many YouTube clips, such as the magnificent opening shot Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958), the homage Robert Altman pays it in The Player (1992), and many others—including some overlap.)

But first: What’s the value in the long take?

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