[-empyre-] A Difficult (Alternate) Media Practice etc...

PierMartonGmail piermarton at gmail.com
Thu Nov 13 14:52:50 EST 2014

[I still mean to send two more texts, one about catharsis, the other about the violence of normalcy/centrality/language/culture]
Since I have spent a lot of years working in video-art, Johannes asks me to address “alternate media practice” & < subtlety and non-violent media take too much time> and <good news barely exists> .
Thank you for asking. 

Below are some of my answers.
I could also address “nothing” - maybe a bit intense yet in my view connected to “Absolute Terror.” My three weeks of intensive care have taught me much in that direction. I did write a text called "Beyond Belief" that says a lot about that place.

1. Alternate Media Practice
I never wanted to create more television, I always saw it as a very limited form of expression with too many formal and conceptual constraints.
I remember being refused a screening on Chicago’s PBS (Public Television in the US) because there were some ambiguous statements in one of my documentaries. They were scared that there could be misunderstandings in the viewers.
One such statement was that Jews very rich (said tongue in cheek in the piece).
They saw their responsibility not to confuse their audience, and I saw it as my responsibility to make the audience wonder what was really meant I wanted a more engaged audience, and to take risks, but of course I did not risk the lawsuits.

If everything has to be clear we encounter the danger that reality needs to make sense. There is a book titled "Making Sense of the Holocaust.” 
This is where poets, writers, artists and of composer/musicians excel: getting AWAY from our current indoctrination to comprehend and understand our world.
In that sense scientists are very healthy: they are aware how much we don’t know (the amazing small ratio to what is unknown).

In general my goal was to go “beyond media” - away from our screens, **a time-in** vs. the Time-Out (as the international entertainment magazine is called).

2. Time and Media
We have the sense that time has accelerated because we are overstimulated and distracted by an excess of data. In that sense, decantation - letting the sediments fall to the bottom - is one useful technique.
When we do less, we have figure out what is key - that’s what the disabled, sick people and very old folks teach us. What is non-essential fades away.
To be able to read novels again and not news articles. Staccato existence is gone: longer notes vs. half-notes. BTW a movie is supposed to be about the same duration as dreaming (about two hours or so). A time to process.
There is a lot in movie-making that has violent references: shooting, cutting, 
This is what I wrote about non-violent media a few years ago:
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Non-violent media (a first draft) by Pier Marton (Copyright Marton 2011)

1. Right from the start as the film shouts “What is reality?” viewers may ask themselves “What is going on?”
The topic is there to be questioned, not just accepted: a process that engages one’s critical thinking. 
Even if one becomes absorbed by the visuals and the sounds, the experience is closer to sitting on the edge of a razor blade than in the comfort of an armchair. 

2. As no short-cuts are present, the film may present life as a difficult process, never simplified.

3. At various times, the pacing allows the breath to be felt and one can sense one’s breathing.

4. The filmmaker is not afraid of boring the viewer and may at times take liberties to engage the viewer into some “non-typical” sights/sounds.

5. If one engages the audience, it is to give them the taste for the non-easy life through non-easy means.

6. Robert Bresson’s “The terrible habit of theater” can be extended to “The terrible habit of cinema.” 

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Kazuhiro Soda’s film appropriately titled “Peace” seemed very much a non-violent film. This is what I wrote about it:
"Are you familiar with Barthes’ “Degree Zero of Writing,” Lévinas’s philosophy of caress* or Ozu’s elliptical cinema? For the viewer of this astounding film these came to mind, but all that is required is the openness and patience that subtlety demands.
Mono No Aware, the Japanese concept often translated as “the awe of things,” seems to breathe throughout this film. If there is any non-violent form of filmmaking, this is it. The filmmaker, like a tightrope walker, works hard to avoid the temptation and easy entrapment of creating a meaning out of what he sees; people (and cats) are cared for by the camera, and his subjects never become objects. 
*”La caresse consiste à ne se saisir de rien, à solliciter ce qui s’échappe sans cesse de sa forme vers un avenir/Caress consists in getting hold of nothing and inviting what endlessly escapes through its form towards a future.”

I watched much of the emerging third-world cinema at the Paris Cinematheque as a teen-ager and watched much of Brazil’s Cinema Novo, Italian Neo-Realist Indian and African Cinema, It required patience as the narrative was slow. 
In that same sense today I do think that the challenge lies in slowness. To be slow is to care, not to be afraid of boredom as Cage would have said. I used to say the avant-garde was death, now I would add it is also to be slow.
Bresson, Tarkovsky, Antonioni, Tati, Dumont, Zhangke, Marker, Varda… those longer notes...
Subtlety takes work. Give into a book, a person, a situation… 

Two quotes about time and conclusions come to mind: 
Give time to time.  -  Cervantes (Se dará tiempo al tiempo…)
The passionate desire to conclude is one of humanity's most pernicious and sterile manias - Flaubert (La rage de vouloir conclure est une des manies les plus funestes et les plus stériles qui appartiennent à l’humanité.)

3. Good news
We get clobbered by the bad news that are there to sell the news medium (remember Richard Serra’s Television Delivers People, a 1973 video-art piece?). 
Ever thought of news addiction? We get hooked. What happened now, and now and now and now…
We generally don’t know what we need. My getting lost twice in the mountains this summer, once in a dangerous situation, may have been exactly what I needed. 
I learned something I would have never learned otherwise. I don’t wish anything bad to anyone but it is often the hardships that allow me to move forward.

What if reality were too complex to fit into bad and good news. Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neal Postman/Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander/Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky. 
News are soundbites and now tweets. Constructed to bring us back as a customer, a consumer of news.

There are other ways to learn about the world, where we are not railroaded, where we get lost and where, as in a Lévinas text **nothing gets resolved** but got to go a bit deeper. 
The difference between Schindler’s List and Shoah, or between Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi.
Nothing is pre-digested. The interaction is as raw as possible. That why I called my last public presentation “La Muerte Tiene Razón” (Death is Right).
Kafka wrote his famous letter:  “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”

Thank you,
P.S.: I am reading “On Complexity” by Edgar Morin - it seems to correspond to what I sense is missing to many conversations I have.

My e-mail signature this month of November (during my direct involvement with -empyre) will have a growing list of works that I found to be powerful - but I do question what “power” means.
"Chechen Lullaby" - Directed by Nino Kirtadze —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEmqHZAn8lQ (also on my website)
“Is Anyone Taking Any Notice?” by Don McCullin —> http://piermarton.info/don-mccullin/
"War Against War/Krieg dem Kriege/Guerre à la Guerre! War against War! Oorlog aan den Oorlog" by Ernst Friedrich (recent intro by Doug Kellner) - Various editions. Last one published in Sept. 2014 (available online).
"At the Mind’s Limit" by Jean Améry
“Shoah” -  Directed by Claude Lanzmann
And this quote: “. . . only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation be safely built.” - Bertrand Russell, 1923
PM_uoʇɹɐɯ_ɹǝıd —> http://piermarton.info
School Of No  Media —> http://schoolofnomedia.com/
About —> http://about.me/piermarton 
BrainBleed—> http://brainbleed.wordpress.com/
One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them. Virginia Woolf
The essence of normalcy is the refusal of reality. Ernst Becker
When something seems "the most obvious thing in the world," it means that any attempt to understand the world has been given up. Bertolt Brecht
An idea becomes false the moment one becomes satisfied by it. Alain
There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous. Hannah Arendt
When around you, you hear the word "Jew" pronounced, be on guard, they are speaking about you. Frantz Fanon
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet renounce controversy are people who want crops without ploughing the ground. Frederick Douglass
Silence is the authentic mode of speaking. Claude Lanzmann

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