The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 8, 2007


The difference between war and cinema

What's happening always suffers

The music in this film makes me all excited. Then nothing happens, or
rather nothing happens as exciting as the music. It's not that the music
disappoints - how could exciting music disappoint? - but what happens is
really different, nothing one might call exciting, unless one - I - was
excited by what's happening. The excited music assumes either I'll be
excited by what's happening or won't be excited by what's happening but
then the excited music will make me excited about what's happening. I
can't be excited about anything that's happening without exciting music.
Sometimes there's music that wants to be excited, or something is happen-
ing that's exciting and I expect the music to be excited but it isn't
excited, and what's happening might suffer as a result. In general, what's
happening of course always suffers. Sometimes what's happening makes the
music excited as well and I find myself listening to the excited music as
what's happening excites me and then I might wonder, what is it about this
music that might have made me excited had it been excited, and why do I
find it exciting now if it's not excited? What's happening can make music
excited, and music I think can't be excited without something happening
that makes it so. But the music in this film doesn't make me all excited.


What's happening always suffers

The battle in this place makes me all distraught. Then nothing happens, or
rather nothing happens as disastrous as the battle. It's not that the
battle disappoints - how could disastrous battle disappoint? - but what
happens is really different, nothing one might call disastrous, unless
one - I - was distraught by what's happening. The distraught battle as-
sumes either I'll be distraught by what's happening or won't be distraught
by what's happening but then the distraught battle will make me distraught
about what's happening. I can't be distraught about anything that's hap-
pening without disastrous battle. Sometimes there's battle that wants to
be distraught, or something is happening that's disastrous and I expect
the battle to be distraught but it isn't distraught, and what's happening
might suffer as a result. In general, what's happening of course always
suffers. Sometimes what's happening makes the battle distraught as well
and I find myself listening to the distraught battle as what's happening
excites me and then I might wonder, what is it about this battle that
might have made me distraught had it been distraught, and why do I find it
disastrous now if it's not distraught? What's happening can make battle
distraught, and battle I think can't be distraught without something
happening that makes it so. But the battle in this place doesn't make me
all distraught.


The difference between war and cinema

5,24c5,22 < The battle in this place makes me all distraught. Then nothing
happens, or < rather nothing happens as disastrous as the battle. It's not
that the < battle disappoints - how could disastrous battle disappoint? -
but what < happens is really different, nothing one might call disastrous,
unless < one - I - was distraught by what's happening. The distraught
battle as- < sumes either I'll be distraught by what's happening or won't
be distraught < by what's happening but then the distraught battle will
make me distraught < about what's happening. I can't be distraught about
anything that's hap- < pening without disastrous battle. Sometimes there's
battle that wants to < be distraught, or something is happening that's
disastrous and I expect < the battle to be distraught but it isn't
distraught, and what's happening < might suffer as a result. In general,
what's happening of course always < suffers. Sometimes what's happening
makes the battle distraught as well < and I find myself listening to the
distraught battle as what's happening < excites me and then I might
wonder, what is it about this battle that < might have made me distraught
had it been distraught, and why do I find it < disastrous now if it's not
distraught? What's happening can make battle < distraught, and battle I
think can't be distraught without something < happening that makes it so.
But the battle in this place doesn't make me < all distraught.

---
> The music in this film makes me all excited. Then nothing happens, or >
rather nothing happens as exciting as the music. It's not that the music >
disappoints - how could exciting music disappoint? - but what happens is >
really different, nothing one might call exciting, unless one - I - was >
excited by what's happening. The excited music assumes either I'll be >
excited by what's happening or won't be excited by what's happening but >
then the excited music will make me excited about what's happening. I >
can't be excited about anything that's happening without exciting music. >
Sometimes there's music that wants to be excited, or something is happen-
> ing that's exciting and I expect the music to be excited but it isn't >
excited, and what's happening might suffer as a result. In general, what's
> happening of course always suffers. Sometimes what's happening makes the
> music excited as well and I find myself listening to the excited music
as > what's happening excites me and then I might wonder, what is it about
this > music that might have made me excited had it been excited, and why
do I > find it exciting now if it's not excited? What's happening can make
music > excited, and music I think can't be excited without something
happening > that makes it so. But the music in this film doesn't make me
all excited.


---

If you know of any mentoring, tutoring, part-time teaching, or visiting 
artist positions, in the areas of new media, video, film, or English, 
please let me know. I'm currently teaching a filmmaking course at Brown, 
which will be coming to an end in May; my students are doing amazing work. 
I can get references, recommendation letters, and so forth. I wouldn't be 
asking on email lists, but I'm relatively out of the academic loop at this 
point.

Thanks greatly, Alan

Parable of the return


Having perfected the machine which allowed us to travel backwards in time,
we decided to visit the very origins of humankind, that savanna where
proto-hominids roamed, beginning their conquest of the flora and fauna of
the planet. We returned to a period before the great dispersion, before
the diasporic spread of humans fearful of themselves.

We brought clubs, knives, guns, explosives; we brought encapsulated germs
and plagues. Around eleven o'clock in the morning, we appeared on the
savanna. The hominids, tearing a sloth to pieces, were everywhere. They
carried clubs, hand axes, crude knives.

We knew the slaughter would kill us as well. We imagined the arrival of
other intelligent species who might know better, or who would also send
expeditions of destruction into their pasts. We were prepared for death,
an oddly retroactive form of suicide.

We began the slaughter; clubs and knives did not become us. We began
shooting and the hominids ran in all directions. We still survived.

We bombed their gathering places. We killed families indiscriminately. We
released smallpox, measles, plagues of all sorts. We machine-gunned men,
women, and children. We were harbingers of death. And yet we survived.

We checked our demographies; we were at the center of the holocaust We
were the holocaust. We knew one or two might escape; we were prepared for
that. The future, our present, would be transformed. Hominids would either
go extinct or become a minor species with an ecological niche in some
savanna backwater.

We discovered this: We changed evolution utterly. We changed it towards
ourselves, the most violent of the futures of the hominids. The ones that
escaped would live to slaughter others. It was slaughter that guided them
all along. It was slaughter that created us. For those that escaped,
wounded, life would be constant fury. We had set the script of revenge
into motion. We produced ourselves.

We knew then that attempts to change the past only produced it. We knew
then that there was no escape; life itself would wane as plants and
animals hurtled towards extinction. Our return had created our return; our
return from the botched journey produced at best a botched species. We had
only ourselves to blame; our ancestors, each and every one, were innocent,
following the path we had set for them.

We knew then that we followed the same path, that we were determined as
well, produced by the circularity of our return. We were at the birth of
the wounded, the birth of indiscriminate slaughter. We were at our own
birth as well. We understood that there was nothing to do, nothing to be
done, that death was always in the doing, that violence was mandated from
our own beginnings. We knew then that we would die soon, just as others
died, fellow travelers back in time, fellow architects of doom.


http://www.asondheim.org/moon.mp4

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