Monday, September 27, 2004


And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create blah blah
- Eliot
Have I mentioned how much I detest T.S. Eliot? Sick fuck. There is no time, ever. Of that much I am quite sure. Which brings me to point out that I am not reading your blog. I haven't time. Ok? I might have found a place to live, O joy. But the real point of this is not this or that, but to say I happened to be watching Martin Scorsese's My Voyage to Italy, which I'd never seen, not being a major fan of Marty's, and lo and behold, he has the most honest and upright appraisal of Roberto Rossellini there, a marvel, full of generous-sized clips from some of his very, very difficult to see films. A two-disc DVD worth finding, which I did, at the local Blockbuster, of all places, which usually has nothing.

Living in a town which never had much going on, and where most of which aforementioned nothingness is now rather flat, in my van, of an evening, I watch movies. I've been watching a fair amount of Zhang Yimou. To Live is up there with Roberto's best. Anyway, I'm watching this nice flick by Scorsese, who really does know from Italian film, and seeing so many of the moments of Rossellini's early work, and later stuff, which puts him so far ahead of every USian filmmaker who ever lived, I had to bother to pay attention, and sure enough, RR doesn't disappoint, but there, towards the end of the first of the two-disc set, he puts the past year of my biographical segment in perfect Albertian perspective:
"People today only know how to live in society, not in community. The soul of society is the law. The soul of community is love."
Scorsese quoted this, making my day, and of course I couldn't remember it, so I checked, and found it on this remarkable blog, justifying blogging's existence as far as I'm concerned.

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
T.S.: Yo:
take a memo:
blow me.
Which somehow provoked a search for something else from RR, which led to this review of Tag Gallagher's great bio of Rossellini. A good review, full of exactly what it is about Rossellini that puts him in a category beyond what we normally think of as directors, or art, or life, for that matter. If you wish to study what it means to be a source, as in, the origin, with all the paterfamilial baggage that comes with it, Rossellini is unavoidable, in ways that, say, Robert Bly is not.

Rossellini's art, though fully imaginative, fully "fantasy'", fully creative (and never simply "documentary") is of the here and now. "Neo-realism", as Gallagher argues at length, was not a style, not a movement, it was an attitude that belonged essentially to Rossellini, and him alone: the attitude that a new world can be made, or found, around us, that we make the world over through the force of our passion and conviction. "Art is a window, not a playhouse" (645), Gallagher concludes. And what this modest window lets us see, if we know how to look, respond and feel, is the truth of Rossellini's long-held conviction that "from a very humble position [anyone] can ... revise the whole conception of the universe."
The review also quotes Gallagher:
Art, Rossellini and [Leon Battista] Alberti claim, is a "science", a way of knowing things; it constructs a substitute world in order to reach the "real" through fantasy, that is, through our imagination, which may be mathematical, artistic, or whatever.
Rossellini portrayed Alberti in The Age of the Medici, one of the most acute films ever concocted. This is what our time is made of. Not James Joyce, not clever litterateurs. Because, you know,

"People today only know how to live in society, not in community. The soul of society is the law. The soul of community is love."
Ballsac says wot?
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
Sure. Why not. Live a little.


Blogger James said...

Well, thanks for the compliment. I loved My Voyage to Italy. You really should check out his earlier DVD, too (A Personal Journey Through American Movies, or something like that).

9/28/2004 12:03 AM  

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