As an artist limited by his circumstance in the warring, emaciated USSR throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Andrei Tarkovsky did well to establish himself as one of cinema’s greatest masters. In some sense, his works represent grand acts of imagination against the pressures of reality. Faced by an increasingly philistine world enveloped in the struggles of aggressive international politics and the constant threat of nuclear war, he felt it his duty as an artist to help reintroduce the poetic essence as a vital part of humanity. He imbued his cinema with an element of poetry that stuns the viewer both visually and emotionally, and with his vision as an artist he invented—as legendary Swedish film maker Ingmar Bergman said—a new language. It is no surprise that Tarkovsky’s father was a much-loved Russian poet with nine collections of poetry. As evidenced in his film Stalker, where one of his father’s poems is recited near the threshold of The Room (a place where one’s innermost desire is alleged to be granted upon entering), Tarkovsky used his father’s poetry as a source of inspiration for his cinema. You could say that he found poetry to be one of the highest forms of art, and wanted to instill the essence of it in his films. But what is the essence of poetry? Some might say it’s intangible, or that it simply doesn’t exist. Others might say that the essence of poetry is its unique presentation of ideas. Tarkovsky would likely say, however, that it is the art form’s ability to inspire a state of rational and irrational bliss through language. Continue reading
[By now it was late. The three stars were dimpling the sky. The baby raccoon was crying for its milk (I’d taken in an orphan the week before). But Jeremy and I weren’t finished yet discussing the movies we’d just watched.]
A D: You had a rather serious reaction to this one, Jeremy. Were you crying afterward?
Jeremy: Yes. Crying because I realized how much of my life I had wasted watching movies. What George Lucas did for his own franchise with the prequels, Malick did for all of cinema with The Tree of Life.
Snow: Kubrick style
Having just reread William Gass’s “The Pedersen Kid” yesterday morning, I decided to do a study of associations–what my brain does as I read, what I think of, what I take away–though right there I sally and this Heraclitus quote, used as an epigraph in W.S. Merwin’s The Lice, drips back into my consciousness:
All men are deceived by the appearances of things, even Homer himself, who was the wisest man in Greece; for he was deceived by boys catching lice: they said to him, “What we have caught and what we have killed we have left behind, but what has escaped us we bring with us.”
Is this nugget saying that which we can’t understand stays with us? Maybe. But more and more I take with me what is mysterious. The trove of Wallace Stevens poems that I’ve examined recently has somewhat sunk into me as what I write now leaks his influence. But really the conglomerate of Gass/Gaddis/Rilke/Stevens via John Madera has been instrumental in boosting the language quotient and destroying a quasi-plain style I took on after a few months with Lydia Davis. So lines or formations like, “She wouldn’t let him do what he wanted to do and this frustrated him,” become “There is a way you carry yourself, he said, quickly breaking off because evening drew on, evening and everything evening measures. Our pace, the space between canyons, this leaf living in the book on the chair.”