Been weary and afflicted by mishap of late, in no mood to do other than drink and smoke and fume. The following things have stuck in my mind:
1. Sending a letter to the New World, i found myself cackling “Amerika!” as i wrote on the envelope, for, i realised, i don’t believe that America actually exists. i don’t know where exactly the letter will go, but it’s certainly not going to Amerika. While this may seem ludicrous, when you stop to think about it there is actually no reason to suppose Amerika exists. The whole idea of some vast continent on the other side of the western seas, once full of Indians, who were slaughtered by a bunch of dagos and grifters, and then there was Clint Eastwood, and so-called “American football” – of course, it is possible, but i find it far more probable that someone just made it up. Certainly, a lot of time and money has been expended on this stupendous fiction, but that merely proves the extent of the deception. Someone has something to hide.
2. Saw some good films recently:
i) Anchorman 1 and 2. i previously felt some revulsion at Will Ferrell’s colossal head and tiny eyes, but i am now won over. His blind scene is excellent, as is his fatherly advice:
ii) Spike Lee’s Oldboy – actually, this was a shit film but as i was watching it kept remembering the superb Korean original, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. It was a strange experience, as i couldn’t fault the film’s technique, it just lacked any sense of purpose or clarity, and had an ugly, brutal feel, actually hard to watch whereas the equally violent original was hard to stop watching, and had a grace and fevered beauty to it. Whereas i could scene by scene explain why i feel Red Dragon is shit and Manhunter is The Shit, i can’t find much to specifically criticise in Lee’s remake. It just lacks depth and suggestion and the peculiar beauty of Park Chan-wook‘s original – so in the original, the bodyguard, Mr Han has a tiny part but bears a compact, intriguing character, with a felt strength of purpose and poise, i might even say a spiritual power; the female equivalent in Lee’s remake is somehow kitschy & perfunctory, utterly forgettable.
iii) Mad Max: Fury Road – so magnificently over the top, so well done, so Hardy. Tom Hardy has a Brando-esque inwardness, so even with his face masked (as in The Dark Knight Rises) his eyes communicate a watchful power and capacity for pain.
iv) Watchmen – the third time i’ve seen this, it gets better each time. A good dissection – as i saw it – of the progressive wish to destroy the world in order to remake it to the elite’s vision. Dr Manhattan as pure intellect unbalanced by spiritual depth; so his emotions are wild and frequently childish; lacking anything one could call humanity, his intellect and power are dangerously untethered. Ozymandias is the typical Ivory Tower leftist, smug, knowing, and in a sense ignorant and inhuman, in love with utopian projects and mass omlette-broken-eggs-violence. Night Owl 2 and Jupiter are fairly normal, capable of small scale violence but appalled by genocidal mania. Naturally, my hero is Rorschach, a true dark knight of insanity and violence, but utterly & commendably incapable of Ozymandias’ grandeur and grandiosity.
Rorschach is clearly the least pleasant, least humanitarian, least giggly left-wing of the characters, and also the only one to take an absolute stand against utopian mass murder. He has no love of humanity; he is, rather motivated by rage and a Swiftian savage indignation – but that in itself springs from an instinct that one should not kill the innocent; his disgust at humanity is born from a loyalty to what is noble in humanity. Ozymandias and Dr Manhattan, by contrast, seem to regard humanity as a mathematical problem, to be solved. It is fitting, in my view of things, that the unhinged right-wing vigilante is the only one to refuse to take a part in mass murder: “never compromise – not even in the face of Armageddon”. i feel that, of all the characters, he is the only one who would have nothing to be ashamed of, in the final account.
Alan Moore’s comic dates from 1986, when nuclear war seemed, i guess, more likely. The bad guy’s scheme – to destroy most of the human race by apparent alien attack, so that the West and USSR would join forces and thus avoid nuclear war – had perhaps some slight justification then, but still seems 99% ill-thought-out. Looking back from the film’s date, 2009, it is simply foolish, humanitarian concerns aside. As Dr Manhattan says, “I can change almost anything. But I can’t change human nature”. And it seems clear to me that hostilities would inevitably re-arise, because that is human nature.
Perhaps the difference between Rorschach and the utopian slaughterers, is one of focus – Rorschach’s focus is tight and narrow, to his immediate locality, to what crosses his path; the utopian progressives prefer to sit in the distance bought by wealth & ideal, and to dream up and dispense total solutions, disposing of billions of human lives with the practiced ease of the true leftist. Increasingly, i feel that goodness is only really possible in a Rorschachian immediacy, on a case-by-case basis; but our human reason and desire for totality leads us into visions of mathematical neatness, and the actual human is experienced as an irritant, to be erased. i would always place my trust in the local and the specific, and distrust the desire for comprehensive answers – just because there is a question, there need not be an answer, and often there is not – as if human civilisation has not accumulated a considerable number of attempted answers: dishonest, brutal, inhuman, eventually, one might say, Satanic.
3. A student today (The Wolf) asked if i feel closer to Hitler or Stalin. Well, i demurred, they both had a lot going for them but Stalin was the survivor. Living in Germany, i often feel that it is, in its way, as mythical as Amerika, and naturally less obnoxious and vile than England. i think that as bees organise a hive, so we naturally form a collective sense of ourselves, which becomes mythical and fabulous. It is, to borrow from Dr Manhattan, human nature, and we are drawn to inhabiting the unreal, the imaginative, that which gives meaning to the real, the physical. The Wolf sometimes remarks that i seem surprisingly happy and energetic – despite my occasional lethargies – and i tell him that i like talking to people, and learning from them, though i could also have said – i have a mask as surely as Rorschach, i have allegiances, and by these i survive – so, a photo i took in Munich in dusk last week: