Archive for April, 2005

Poking around Wittgenstein + Bruce Nauman

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

Some random observations
1) Examples of Wittgenstein’s influence on art in general as follow:
A) Both Bruce Nauman and Jasper Johns were profoundly influenced by Wittgenstein. Their works reflect the paradox that the connection between the proposition and reality is not found in the picture itself.
B) In a recent biography of Willem de Kooning, the author described de Kooning’s preference of Wittgenstein to Sartre. Bernett Newman read and studied Wittgenstein and probably influenced de Kooning who tended to learn by listening and paying attention to his peers.
C) Derek Jarman made a film called “Wittgenstein”. (Film fun trailer here on youtube )
D) The Artist Wittgenstein by Terry Eagleton (a report on a new paperback The Literary Wittgenstein, edited by John Gibson and Wolfgang Huemer) “Why are artists so fascinated by Ludwig Wittgenstein? ” wrote T. Eagleton, then he lists additional artists and writers who have incorporated Wittgenstein’s thoughts in their work. (Must read said Matt from Pas au-dela)

Sculpture by Bruce Nauman
Bruce Nauman

Wittgenstein along with Marcel Duchamp, and Samuel Beckett provided a more questioning and critical intellectual foundation for artists to pursue visual art as a tool to investigate the nature of reality through language games. (visual art is another kind of language that artists teach one another as well as accommodate new idioms and expressions).

2) Ludwig Wittgenstein was born on April 26, 1889 .
Taurus with moon in Pisces. (the same as James Mason and Audrey Hepburn). Moon in Pisces is otherworldy, intuitive, compassionate, private and impressionable. This trait explains why Wittgenstein gave up his family fortune in favor of more humble, austere lifestyle. He acted more like a mystic than a professional philosopher or an engineer.

3) He was Taurus OX- the deliberate Dictator The autocratic and dictatorial side of him showed up when Wittgenstein threatend Karl Popper, the famous poker incident involoving Karl Popper and Wittgenstein.

4) Wittgenstein and Zen Buddhism

5) Marjorie Perlof’s Wittgenstein Ladder, an Introduction..
“A philosopher,” he wrote in 1944, “is a man who has to cure many intellectual diseases in himself before he can arrive at the notions of common sense” (CV 44). And again, “My account will be hard to follow: because it says something new but still has egg-shells from the old view sticking to it” (CV 44). Perhaps it is this curious mix of mysticism and common-sense, of radical thought to which the “egg-shells” of one’s old views continue to “stick,” that has made Wittgenstein, who had no interest at all in the “poetry” of his own time, paradoxically a kind of patron saint for poets and artists. ”

6) One time Salon blogger dogma on Wittgenstein as a mystic.

Neon Sign by Bruce Nauman
Bruce Nauman 2
The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths

Here is a discussion on Wittgenstein’s influence on art. (Part of two questions posed by a blogger. Must be patient to sort this out.
Steve Reich’s Proverb was based on the text of Wittgenstein- “How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life!“. I have loved and listend to his music without knowing about this until now.

On Freud, Wittgenstein said, “It seems to me that my dreams are always an expression of my fears, not, as Freud thought, my wishes. I could build up an interpretation of dreams just cogent as Freud’s in terms of repressed fears.
“Freud’s work died with him. No one today can do psychoanalysis in the way he did. Now a book that really would interest me would be the one he wrote in collaboration with Breuer”. (Recollection of Wittgenstein, edited by Rhees p154) In footnote, he further stated – I have always believed – without knowing why that the real germ of psychoanalysis came from Breuer, not Freud. Of course Breuer’s seed-grain can only have been quite tiny.” Wittgenstein died of cancer in 1951, the unpopular view expressed by him came from his intuition and acute observation.

Lost in words….

The House of Wittgenstein here.

Twilight Samurai – Tanaka Min, Hiroyuki Sanada + King Lear

Monday, April 25th, 2005

Long, long ago, I wrote a paper called Japanese Farmhouses for my art history class. Seeing “Twilight Samurai” brought the memory back. My earlier post indicated my intention to see the film and I finally found the DVD with a different and unattractive cover.

Twilight Samurai

Twilight Samurai is narrated by Keiko Kishi who made a brief appeance at the end. Madame Kishi received Legion of Honor from the French government in 2002. (From here.) She worked with Ozu (Early Spring) , with Kon Ichikawa (Ototo, Makioka Sisters), with Sydney Pollack (Yakuza) and with Kobayashi (Kwaidan).

Hiroyuki Sanada is finished shooting the “White Countess”.
He did his best not to blow Tom Cruise away in “The Last Samurai”
(It still looked like Tom Cruise got blown away by many excellent Japanese cast).
Hiroyuki Sanada as the Fool in King Lear.

King Lear King Lear
The Fool with King Lear (Nigel Hawthorne)
Receiving the MBE for his work in King Lear with The Royal Shakespeare Company(from here.)
Hiroyuki Sanada, a martial art trained actor had a singing career and played Romeo and Hamlet when he took acting seriously.
Found this film (Tadon and Chikua) today, Hiroyuki Sanada with Yakusho Koji – looks like a comedy. I doubt that I will ever get to see this film.

  • Portrait of Tanaka Min Min Tanaka

    No this is not John Hurt playing a Japanese character, his name is Tanaka Min and you can catch him acting in “Twilight Samurai”.

    Tanaka Min is a butoh dancer who got recruited by Yoji Yamada to play against Hiroyuki Sanada who is the main character. Yoji picked him for his body and his face and of course he was looking for a dancer to play a character.
    He wanted to show a slow death. Min Tanaka lost many pounds to prepare for this role by eating only beans for his diet. (“The unbearable lightness of beans” put in effect as a workable diet regimentation.”)
    His name Min Tanaka can be shortend to mean Minka
    Here, the famous village Shirakawa
    (Film location is in Yamagata and I have not done the research).

  • (William Shakespeare was born on April 23 – the actual birthday is not known).
    We can move from King Lear to Macbeth.
    Check this old web art.
    La regina , mio signore , è morta (The Queen, my lord is dead).
    The best place to waste your glory – hypermacbeth by dlsan. (An Italian Shakepearean actor and web artist.)

    The Russian Hamlet, where I got introduced to Shostakovich – the greatest filmscore composed by a master.

    From Chocolate to Ecclair – Claire Denis is Excellent

    Thursday, April 21st, 2005

    “Our brains are full of literature – my brain is. But I think we also have a dream world, the brain is also full of image and songs and I think that making films for me is to get rid of explanation. … I think, you get explanation by getting rid of explanation. I am sure of that.” (from an interview by Jonathan Romney here. On music and Beau Travail from here.)

    Claire Denis

    Happy Birthday!
    Today is Claire‘s birthday. She was born on April 21, 1948 in Paris
    “A provocative director whose films offer richly textured, contemplative examinations of cross-cultural tensions and alienation, Claire Denis is one of French cinema’s most distinctive and humanistic storytellers. A prolific filmmaker who is more concerned with the drive of her characters rather than the plot that weaves them together, she has been dubbed by one critic as one of the only current French directors who “has been able to reconcile the lyricism of French cinema with the impulse to capture the often harsh face of contemporary France.”

    Claire is versatile and elusive, two interviews from senses of cinema, here she talks about her apprenticeship with Rivette, Eustache, Wender and here on L’Intrus.

    Ten minutes older:the Cello-with Jean Luc Nancy from here.

    Performing the narrative of seduction and a non-localized sexuality, from here.
    A review of Beau Travail, here with great photos of Michel Subor and Gregoire Colin

    Beau Travail
    Beau Travail

  • See full film Beau Travail .. (youtube)

  • “My films, sadly enough, are sometimes unbalanced,” says filmmaker Claire Denis as we sip tea at the Toronto International Film Festival. “They have a limp or one arm shorter or a big nose, but even in the editing room when we try to change that, normally it doesn’t work.”
    I nearly choke on my tea at this. Denis’ films are as graceful as they come. Bold and musical, warm and intelligent at the same time, they’re so subtle the flms often seemingly work on a subconscious level. Revisiting her movies invariably turns up something new, something placed carefully in the flow of the story by a sure hand, something that went previously unseen. A limp? A big nose? More like Fred Astaire. ”
    (Intruding Beauty from Errata Magazine.)

    News on Claire’s new documentary from Villagevoice reporting on Tribeca Film Festival
    “Towards Mathilde” – Claire Denis’s absorbing documentary on modern dance maven Mathilde Monnier is in many ways the apotheosis of the director’s career-long obsession with the human body. Chronicling the rehearsal process with an intimate (but never intrusive) eye, Denis revels in the elasticity of human skin and sinew while the grainy cinematography (by Agnès Godard and Hélène Louvard) imparts a pointillist abstraction to the bodies on display. The scenes in which Mathilde breaks loose to the music of PJ Harvey are boldly unselfconscious and inevitably recall the pop freak-out climax of Beau Travail. NG

    Claire is a Professor, here.

    We Love Our Leader – Leon Golub & Nancy Spero

    Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

    The Catholics got a new Pope and the citizens of the world got a new James Bond. HBO was circulating Sylvia on the network, we will see more of Daniel Craig who played Ted Hughes in the coming days.
    Poets had Ted and Sylvia . (Seamus Heany said that their union was mythopoetic. ) Unlike Ted & Sylvia who played monster and a victim, Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, as a great painting duo inspired us all with their brash style of protest through their work and shared with public their comraderie, love and respect they have for each other.

    Leon Golub Leon Golub
    See his
    We Love Our Leader and other paintings by Leon Golub.

    Nancy Spero Nancy Spero

    A tribute was paid to Leon Golub on April 17 at Cooper’s Union. (from here).
    “Golub’s outsized paintings bear searing and prophetic witness to a history of war and oppression, conflict and violence. In the iconography of the second half of the twentieth century art, his images of mercenaries, napalm victims, goons, and white squads create an implacable lexicon. Not withstanding the seriousness of Golub’s commitment to his politics in paint, his work was filled with pathos and a raunchy sense of humor and sexuality. Family, friends, colleagues, and students will miss his extraordinary knowledge and wit, his love of provocative discourse, and his generosity.”

    Something unexpected happened in the closing minutes of the memorial for Leon Golub in the Great Hall at Cooper Union last Sunday,(read more here.)

    An old interview of Leon and Nancy is here.

    Hitler’s birthday today.
    Two Hitler movies one imaginary and the other more historical, Max and Downfall.

    No Sun In Venice – Henry James and Leonardo

    Thursday, April 14th, 2005

    Here is a piece of music to accompany the photos of this page, No Sun In Venice by MJQ (Modern Jazz Quartet). More about the album. The brilliant music composed for the French movie “One Never Knows” became the masterpiece and the best album by MJQ.
    My trip to Italy coincided with the US Election 2000. I learned about the mess in Florida while in Venice from Italian newspapers and CNN at the hotel . On the eve of Election day, I developed a hive thinking about the dreadful possibility of a Bush Presidency. On the train from Venice to Florence the Americans we met discussed our worries.

    Today, April 15 is the birthday of Henry James and Leonardo da Vinci.
    “The Master” is a novel about Henry James written by Colm Toibin recommended by Caterina Fake quite recently and the timing is perfect.
    Michael Cunningham wrote, “In The Master, Colm Toibin takes us almost shockingly close to the soul of Henry James and by extension, to the mastery of art itself. It is a remarkable, utterly original book.”
    Here is an excerpt from the novel.
    “It was not true to say that Minny Temple haunted him in the years that followed; rather, he haunted her. He conjured up her precense everywhere, when he returned to his parents’ house, and later when he traveled in France and Italy. In the shadows of the great cathederals, he saw her emerge delicate and elegant and richly curious, ready to be stunned into silence by each work of art that she saw, and then trying to find words which might fit the moment, allow her new sensuous life to settle and deepen.
    Soon after she died he wrote a story, “Travelling Companions,” in which William, traveling in Italy from Germany, met her by chance in Milan Cathederal, having seen her first in front of Leonardo’s The Last Supper. He loved describing her white umbrella with a violet lining and the sense of intelligent pleasure in her movments, her glance and her voice. He could control her destiny now that she was dead, offer her the experiences she would have wanted, and provide drama for a life which had been so cruelly shortend. He wondered if this had happend to other writers who came before him, if Hawthorne or George Eliot had written to make the dead come back to life, had worked all day and all night, like a magician or an alchemist, defying fate and time and all the implacable elements of re-create a sacred life.”


    The Renaissance man by Adam Gopnik from the New Yorker. He wrote, Leonardo remains weird, matchlessly weird, and nothing to be done about it.

    Leonardo’s Resume (hilarious)

    Leonard spent his last years and died here at Le Clos Luce and see this page. This is a wonderful place to visit, following La Loire and visiting the famous castles nearby.

    Leonardo da Vinci Tarot is here.

    (All Photos of Venice and Florence are by Fung Lin Hall)

    Back to Ephemeral Cities

    Life is Elsewhere

    Monday, April 11th, 2005

    Life is Elsewhere Praha Man
    The above image is a photo collage of an outdoor art installation from a street near Malostranska station in Prague. The statue of Sigmund Freud hanging by one hand by David Cerny – Czech Sculptor.

    Milan Kundera who wrote “The Joke” was born on April’s Fool day. Here is a belated acknowledgemnt for this Parisian Czech writer. He now writes in French and lives in Paris, for which the Czech people have felt betrayed augmenting their sense of national/cultural insecurity.
    (Kafka is a German Jew who was bilingual but did not write in Czech. Though Kafka is intimately linked to Prague as no other writer, not even Rilke who was born in Prague). Then there is Havel but he became the figurehead Politician ( still admired and loved. )
    Kundera, in Life is Elsewhere, uses a quote from Rimbaud as his title.
    “Life is Elsewhere” is a celebrated sentence of Rimbaud. It is cited by Andre Breton at the conclusion of his Surrealist Manifesto. In May 1968, Paris Students scribbled it on the walls of the Sorbonne as their slogan. But the original title of my novel was ‘The Lyrical Age.” I changed it at the last moment when I saw anxiety on the faces of my publishers, who doubted anyone would buy a book with such an abstruse title.” (From Preface of the Novel Life is Elswhere).
    He wrote very fine essays in his “The Art of Novel”. A good interview on him, here.

    Gravity, Grace and the Unbearable Light Beans is a phrase I have
    used in my email headings in honor of Milan Kundera and javascript that my collaboraters have used.
    Fiona Tan fiona tan
    The above image by Fiona Tan, Indonesian born international artist.

    , next Life from the team of the Last life in the Universe, from Bangkok post here

  • Click to see large

    Paris Review Milan Kundera interview

  • Elsewhere……………..
    “Leading Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang teams up once more with Japanese cult actor Asano Tadanobu on another bizarre movie-making mission”
    “The movie, instead, represents a liberal attitude towards the way a film can be made, where the nationality of the director is not its sole cultural influence, while the marketing effort is engineered to catch the attention not of any particular nation but perhaps of the world.”
    The guest star Takashi Miike arrived at the arport in gangster character, for this scene, Doyle said of Miike that Last Life in the Universe is everything that Takashi Miike leaves out in his films.
    The cable network was showing Ichi the Killer a few days ago and I did not have the stomach to see his violent film. Sorry Takashi, but I liked your Katakuri Family film.

    On Matisse new biography, a review by Jeanette Winterson

    Letter to Jane (Jane Fonda who is mouthing academic feminist jargon while making round these days with her Christian conversion. It smells like a strategy to fight right wing Christian domination. Has she read Simone Weil? You don’t have to be a Christian to have a contact with Christ? On the other hand Jane has a Midas touch, or the force of Forrest Gump, who knows?)
    A book review by Ann Patchett, here.
    “Her decision to marry Ted Turner is not just confusing, but genuinely baffling. But then it would take a writer of Nabokov’s skill to make that guy seem charming on the page.
    I wish the book contained more discussion of her life as an actress, but aside from the time she spent working with Lee Strasberg, her career gets fewer pages than it deserves.
    Both Jane Fonda and her text are most alive when she’s dealing with Vietnam.”

    She was good to Jean Genet.
    Roger Vadim and the film I hope one day to see where Vadim used Art Blakey and Theloneous Monk and now the Korean remake.

    Marguerite Duras – The Rebel and the Order + E. Rohmer

    Monday, April 4th, 2005


    The above image is from here Great photos by Hélène Bamberger from this page, you see her study and a photo of happy Duras with Yann.
    Margruete Duras was born on April 4, 1914. Duras was an Aries/Tiger, the righteous daredevil.
    I have not seen the recent film, Cet Amour-La “Love’s Nudity” by Lars Iyer on Duras, here.

    Eric Rohmer was born on April 4, 1920.
    “This sense of the unknowable emphasizes Rohmer’s understanding of the world as profoundly complicated. People are called upon to make choices whose consequences they cannot know. They have to deal not only with their own desires but also those of others. Desire is never simple. It is mixed with fear—often the fear of making the wrong choice.”

    Thinking of Catholic Church these days? Here are some films to rent.
    Magdalene Sisters , the DVD disc contains an interesting documentay of the real life corrupt Irish Laundry hellhole for unlucky young Irish women.
    Amen by Costa-Gavras.
    “Statement”, Michael Caine delivers another great performance .
    “The Nun’s Story” by Fred Zimmerman. In this film Audrey Hepburn plays a character most like herself according to her boyfriend who lived with her.
    “La Religieuse” by Jacques Rivette, starring Anna Karina.

    “The Black Robe” and two films starring Gael García Bernal “Bad Education” and “Padre Amaro”.

    A Lesson in Breathing We Loved , We Still Love

    Friday, April 1st, 2005

    Robert Creeley
    The above image shows two books by Robert Creeley, the one pictured is Elsa’s Housebook which I bought on my first trip to Boston. Read and see two terrific photos from Elsa Dorfman.

    Found this poem “Creeley Led” by Crag Hill, here.

    (Bresson’s Movies is a poem many love and are now going around the blogosphere. Bresson sounds like a lesson in Breathing, who is Bresson? )

    Bresson’s Movies

    A movie of Robert
    Bresson’s showed a yacht,
    at evening on the Seine,
    all its lights on, watched

    by two young, seemingly
    poor people, on a bridge adjacent,
    the classic boy and girl
    of the story, any one

    one cares to tell. So
    years pass, of course, but
    I identified with the young,
    embittered Frenchman,

    knew his almost complacent
    anguish and the distance
    he felt from his girl.
    Yet another film

    of Bresson’s has the
    aging Lancelot with his
    awkward armor standing
    in a woods, of small trees,

    dazed, bleeding, both he
    and his horse are,
    trying to get back to
    the castle, itself of

    no great size. It
    moved me, that
    life was after all
    like that. You are

    in love. You stand
    in the woods, with
    a horse, bleeding.
    The story is true.

    “To Bresson, add Creeley (a Robert to a Robert, as shown by the witty enjambment of lines one and two). The poem puts the poet in the picture, and a binary lyric system prepares to close. But not yet, not quite.” (read from here)

    “We see, for instance, that collaboration has not been a sideline for the poet, but rather, that Creeley has consistently built many of his strongest poems out of relationships with visual artists.” (Read more here.)

    Still Life with Donald Saltan
    Collaborating with Gary Indiana and with Francesco Clemente , more here.

    “For any young readers out there start with his early book FOR LOVE and keep going. The work expands over a rich & full life.” (from Patti Smith site, a tribute by Ann Waldman).

    From Alan Sondheim, “He taught the value of the word and the spaces that fell through so that the poem disappeared.” (read more here. )

    Darren Hughes just posted on his blog the release of Bresson’s
    donkey film au hazard Balthazar from the Criterion Dvd Collection.