Friday, December 29, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

From Wim Wenders on Culture and the future of Europe

"What is Europe?"
"How is Europe?"
One has the impression that Europe is a wreck,
if you think back to the constitution disaster,
reflect on Europe's actual political influence
or on the lack of enthusiasm shown by its citizens
for "the European Cause" in recent times.
"The Europeans" have had it up to here with Europe...

On the other hand,
Europe is heaven on earth,
the promised land,
as soon as you look at it from the outside.
Over the last couple of months,
I have seen Europe from Chicago and New York,
from Tokyo and Rio,
from Australia,
from the heart of Africa, the Congo,
and, just last week, from Moscow.
I am telling you:
In each case, Europe appeared in a different light,
but always as paradise,as a dream of mankind,
as a stronghold of peace, prosperity and civilization.

Now you see it,
now you don't.

Those who have lived for a long time in Europe
seem weary of it.Those who are not there, who live somewhere else,
want to get here at any price and join us.

What is it then
that some HAVE,
yet no longer want,
and for which others YEARN so much?

I can just as well ask myself:
Why is it that I find Europe so "holy",
as soon as I see it from a distance,
and why does it appear so profane, humdrum, almost boring,
as soon as I am back?

When I was young,
I dreamed of a Europe without borders.
Now, I travel back and forth
without ever having to show my passport,
and I even get to use the same currency all over,
(even if it is pronounced differently everywhere),
but where has that big emotion gone?

Here in Berlin, I am German,
in the meantime with all my heart.
Yet, hardly do you set foot in America,
than you no longer say you are from Germany, France, Italy or wherever.
You come "from Europe," or you're about to return there.
For Americans, this epitomizes culture,history, style, "savoir vivre."
It's the only thing they feel strangely inferior about.
Even rather permanently.

And even when viewed from Asia, let alone other parts of the world,
Europe appears to be a bastion of human history,

dignity, and, yes, this word again: culture.

Europe has a soul, indeed.
No need to invent or create one for our continent.
It's there in plain sight.
It is not to be found in its politics or in its economy.
It is first and foremost embedded in its culture.

I am kicking open doors.
Two years ago, the President of the European Commission
stood here in Berlin and stated the matter quite clearly.
I quote from the end of his speech:

"Europe is not only about markets, it is also about values and culture.
And allow me a personal remark:
in the hierarchy of values, the cultural ones range above the economic ones.
If the economy is a necessity for our lives,
culture is really what makes our life worth living."

I could quote other sections of his memorable speech,
in fact I'd like to read it in its entirety,
so much he took the words out of my mouth.

But, I'm afraid,
reality looks quite different:
to the outside world, and especially to its citizens,
Europe continues to present itself first of all as an economic power,
insisting on using political and financial arguments
over cultural ones at any give time.

Europe is not taking advantage of its emotional potential!

Who loves his (or her) country on account of its politics or its economy?
No one!

Just next door, 100 metres from here,
you'll find one of the "showrooms" of the European Community.

There's one like that in every other European capital.
And what's on display there?
Lots of maps, brochures, mostly economic information, all sorts of statistics and stuff on the history of the European Union.
What a drag!
Who can possibly feel represented there? Who are these places trying to reach,

or boring to death?

We live in the age of the image.Today, no other realm of culture displays so much power
than that of the image.
Words, music, literature,
books, newspapers, rock'n roll, theatre...
nothing comes even close
to the authority of moving images, in cinema and television.

Why is it that today, not only in Europe,
but all over the world,
"going to the pictures"

is synonymous with
"seeing an American film"?!

Because the Americans realized long ago
what moves people most
and what gets them dreaming.
And they radically implemented that knowledge.
The whole "American Dream"
is really an invention of cinema,
and it is now being dreamed by the whole world.

I don't want to discredit this,
but merely ask the question,
"Who is dreaming the European Dream?"
Or better: How are we encouraged to dream it?

A concrete, current example just occurred to me:
In the next 2 months or so,
some 20, 30, or even 50 million Europeans
will watch one and the same film.
It started the other day: every channel up and down,
every programme and news show,

-and I've been surfing TV stations throughout Europe -
reported at large on a film premiere in London.
As you have probably guessed already, all the racket was about James Bond,
that knightly British gentleman,
who has been saving the world from disaster for the last forty years.
Do you recall that magnificent Scotsman, Sir
Sean Connery,
who used to embody this European hero?
Or that most elegant, cultivated Irishman,
Pierce Brosnan?

Now, over Christmas and through New Year's Eve probably,
millions of Europeans will all be watching, at the same time, somebody who looks more like a thug, and whose resemblance to Russian President Vladimir Putin
can scarcely be denied.
new Bond is supposedly quite ruthless
and not too particular when it comes to applying violence.
What is the message here?
What is this American production trying to tell us?

All right, I might be exaggerating,
but the heart of the matter remains pretty much true:
our own myths don't belong to us anymore.
Nothing forms our contemporary imagination so intensely,
so specifically
and permanently
as cinema.
But we are no longer in control.
It doesn't belong to us anymore.
Our very own and precious invention has slipped away from us.

European cinema-
and it exists, in spite of everything! -
is produced in almost 50 European countries,
yet in European theatres our own European stories
no longer play a significant role.

Those images of European cinema,
could help a whole new generation of Europeans to recognize themselves,
they could define what Europe is all about
in emotional, powerful and lasting terms.
These films could convey European thinking to the world.
We could communicate our most valuable asset,
our CULTURE, in a contagious way, could spread the word of the "Open Society,"
which was so urgently invoked here by George Soros, only yesterday,
our civilization of dialogue, peace, and humanity…
But we have let this weapon slip out of our hands.

I intentionally say WEAPON,
because images are the most powerful arms of this 21st century.

There will be no "European consciousness",
no emotions and no attachment felt towards our home continent,
in brief: no future European identity,
if we are unable to project, and to absorb,
our own myths,our own history,
and our own ideas and emotions!

Spain, for example, has no stronger and more influential ambassador
to the world than
Pedro Almodovar.
For Britain that would be
Ken Loach, Andrzej Wajda or Polanski for Poland.
Although he died some 13 years ago,
Federico Fellini continues to define the Italian soul…
And that is exactly what European cinema does - it shapes and forms our consciousness of ourselvesand of each other!
It creates a European belief,
a European will,
that very European "soul" that we're talking about here.

However, have a look around
at the place we actually give to our TREASURE,
what a poor role it actually plays in the cultural life of Europe.
Yes, look at how European politics
ontinue to dismally neglect
not only cinema, but culture in general.
Yet, this is the CEMENT,
the glue that bonds European EMOTIONS!

All these countries yearning for Europe,
including all the new and future member countries from Eastern Europe,

could on one hand have the opportunity to introduce themselves,
tell us about themselves,
win us over,
and on the other hand be welcomed and embraced

by the European CAUSE
and the European SOUL…… if only
we would provide more support for our mutual ambassadors,
if only Europe could be brought to believe in the power of images.

Mind you, a grave error is being made here.
Europe prefers to use political and economical arguments,
over emotional ones!
Next door, in the showroom,
the most boring maps are hanging on the walls,
while in our most important embassies,
in cinemas and on TV,
the superpower of imagery, America, is pulling people under its spell,
including our European citizens, of course.

These young people
now suffering from a "European withdrawal"
will one day turn against European policy makers with the harsh and bitter reproach:
Why did you allow
a whole generation to get bored of Europe?!
Why did you just babble on about politics,
instead of SHOWING us how much our magnificent home continent
could have meant to us!

Europe HAS a cultural history,
it HAS its own culture of life, of conflict, of dialogue,
yes, it HAS an amazing political culture.
George Soros calls it "The Open Society."
And because, as he explained, America had failed in recent times
to exemplify and demonstrate its moral and political values,
Europe represents an even more important MODEL for the world.

This model is invalid and weak
if it has no confidence in the power of its own imagery!
No one, esteemed Mr. Soros,
will be swept away, enthused and inspired by the OPEN SOCIETY,
as long as it remains an ABSTRACT IDEA.
Such a vision has to be attached to feelings,

to places, to memories.

These "European emotions" are right in front of our eyes,
you can almost grasp them,
the citizens of Europe are certainly yearning for them…
but politics is widely ignoring them.

The field of imagesis largely being left to others.

I hope that Europe is not too late in recognizing
which crucial battlefield is about to be abandoned

with little resistance.

This speech was delivered on November 18, 2006 during the conference "A Soul For Europe" in Berlin.Wim Wenders is one of Germany's foremost filmmakers. Having lived for many years in the USA, he has recently declared his intention to return to Germany and make films on the German reality today.Translation: John Bergeron

For a graphologist, the spacing on the page reflects the writer's attitude toward their own world and relationship to things in his or her own space. If the inputted data was correct Bernard has left lots of white space on the left side of the paper. Bernard fills up the rest of the page in a normal fashion. If this is true, then Bernard has a healthy relationship to the past and is ready to move on. The right side of the page represents the future and Bernard is ready and willing to get started living now and planning for the future. Bernard would like to leave the past behind and move on.

Bernard has a healthy imagination and displays a fair amount of trust. He lets new people into his circle of friends. He uses his imagination to understand new ideas, things, and people.

Bernard is sarcastic. This is a defense mechanism designed to protect his ego when he feels hurt. He pokes people harder than he gets poked. These sarcastic remarks can be very funny. They can also be harsh, bitter, and caustic at the same time.Bernard is a practical person whose goals are planned, practical, and down to earth. This is typical of people with normal healthy self-esteem. He needs to visualize the end of a project before he starts. he finds joy in anticipation and planning. Notice that I said he plans everything he is going to do, that doesn't necessarily mean things go as planned.

Bernard basically feels good about himself. He has a positive self-esteem which contributes to his success. He feels he has the ability to achieve anything he sets his mind to. However, he sets his goals using practicality-- not too "out of reach". He has enough self-confidence to leave a bad situation, yet, he will not take great risks, as they relate to his goals. A good esteem is one key to a happy life. Although there is room for improvement in theIn reference to Bernard's mental abilities, he has a very investigating and creating mind. He investigates projects rapidly because he is curious about many things. He gets involved in many projects that seem good at the beginning, but he soon must slow down and look at all the angles. He probably gets too many things going at once. When Bernard slows down, then he becomes more creative than before. Since it takes time to be creative, he must slow down to do it. He then decides what projects he has time to finish. Thus he finishes at a slower pace than when he started the project. He has the best of two kinds of minds. One is the quick investigating mind. The other is the creative mind. His mind thinks quick and rapidly in the investigative mode. He can learn quicker, investigate more, and think faster. Bernard can then switch into his low gear. When he is in the slower mode, he can be creative, remember longer and stack facts in a logical manner. He is more logical this way and can climb mental mountains with a much better grip.

Diplomacy is one of Bernard's best attributes. He has the ability to say what others want to hear. He can have tact with others. He has the ability to state things in such a way as to not offend someone else. Bernard can disagree without being disagreeable.Bernard is sensitive to criticism about his ideas and philosophies. He will sometimes worry what people will think if he tells them what he believes in. This doesn't mean he won't talk, or that he feels ashamed. It merely means he is sensitive to what others think, regarding his beliefs.

Bernard is moderately outgoing. His emotions are stirred by sympathy and heart rendering stories. In fact, he can be kind, friendly, affectionate and considerate of others. He has the ability to put himself into the other person's shoes.

Bernard will be somewhat moody, with highs and lows. Sometimes he will be happy, the next day he might be sad. He has the unique ability to get along equally well with what psychology calls introverts and extroverts. This is because he is in between. Psychology calls Bernard an ambivert. He understands the needs of both types. Although they get along, he will not tolerate anyone that is too "far out." He doesn't sway too far one way or the other. When convincing him to buy a product or an idea, a heart rendering story could mean a great deal to him. He puts himself in the same situation as the person in the story, yet he will not buy anything that seems overly impractical or illogical.

Bernard is an expressive person. He outwardly shows his emotions. He may even show traces of tears when hearing a sad story. Bernard is a "middle-of-the-roader," politically as well as logically. He weighs both sides of an issue, sits on the fence, and then will decide when he finally has to. He basically doesn't relate to any far out ideas and usually won't go to the extreme on any issue.

People that write their letters in an average height and average size are moderate in their ability to interact socially. According to the data input, Bernard doesn't write too large or too small, indicating a balanced ability to be social and interact with others.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

For the Severely Porno-Deprived

I'm finishing grading and a couple other things but in the next couple of days I'm getting on to the winter writing projects (as well as spring courses). Meanwhile, Christmas comes early: Dennis Cooper put up pages and pages of favorite porno fiction sent by his blog buddies, posted at a special page: "The Filthy." Not to everyone's taste. (Dude, if I have to read about one more teen-age boy ejaculating as he's strangled, I'm going back to Penthouse Forum.) Dennis' effort inspired me to get in touch with one of my favorite porn writers, R. J. March, and now we have a nice little literary correspondence going. So that's cool.

And here's a link to the very fine-looking exhibition on Walt Disney at the Grand Palais in Paris, coming down January 15, I think. Looks like it's traveling to Montreal. (Yes, I am still on the topic of the porno-deprived.)

"Title? What Title?"

Monday, December 18, 2006

The History Boys

The History Boys packs a lot into a small movie because of the density of Alan Bennett's wit, which isn't just verbal irony, though verbal itony is all over the place in the film. His real interest shows up in an exchange like this:

Dakin: Do you think Poland was taken by surprise, sir?
Irwin: Possibly. But I'm pretty sure they knew something was up.

Or words to that effect. This turns out to be maybe the funniest moment in a very funny movie. And you can't explain why without totally spoiling the joke. But more than any preaching any character does--and the screenplay mercifully cuts down on the preaching in the play--the exchange addresses the movie's interest in the embodiment of ideas in persons, and people's retreat from life into ideas, and sex and power, and very refreshingly wins over the viewer to a sensibly adult view of the possibilities of sex outside of conventional better judgments. It is three-dimensional in its dramatuc structure and dialogue, even if it's a little two-dimensional in its portrayal of the external world.

It's a pretty sentimental story, Goodbye Mr. Chips played out in a world in which the possibility of a friendly blow job is overtly acknowledged (as it must have been sometimes in the real world a real Mr. Chips would have lived in). One kind of strange, sentimental lapse is the apparent failure to distinguish between Irwin and Hector, as if to overlook their differences in order to underline their similarities, which don't need any emphasis. The film seems to play it from a schoolboy point of view, as if what mattered was that one is kind of cool and thus holds more power than the other, who's sympathetic but with the emphasis on the "pathetic." But this is just a version of a very old-fashioned view of love as suffering and self-denial. Once in a while, while you're watching History Boys, you actually long to encounter an adult character who is as blithe about having a wank as a real human being might be.

And it's awfully good ensemble acting. It'd be a bit odd if these boys don't turn out to be the next generation of Jude Laws and Clive Owens.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Almost done grading, working on a conference proposal, looking forward to working on the poem for Colby's show and some other writing during the break. When I spend a lot of timne alone, I always start thinking about this poem by Coleridge:


This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison
[Addressed to Charles Lamb of the India House, London]

Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Such beauties and such feelings, as had been
Most sweet to have remembrance, even when age
Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness! They, meanwhile,
Friends, whom I never more may meet again,
On springy heath, along the hilltop edge,
Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,
And only speckled by the mid-day sun;
Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
Flings arching like a bridge; —that branchless ash,
Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still,
Fann'd by the water-fall! and there my friends
Behold the dark green file of long lank weeds,
That all at once (a most fantastic sight!)
Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
Of the blue clay-stone.

Now my friends emerge
Beneath the wide wide Heaven—and view again
The many-steepled tract magnificent
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad,
My gentle-hearted Charles! For thou hast pined
And hunger'd after Nature, many a year,
In the great City pent, winning thy way
With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain
And strange calamity! Ah! slowly sink
Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun!
Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
Ye purple heath-flowers! richlier burn, ye clouds!
Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves!
And kindle, thou blue Ocean! So my friend,
Struck with deep joy, may stand, as I have stood,
Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round
On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem
Less gross than bodily; and of such hues
As veil the Almighty Spirit, when he makes
Spirits perceive his presence.

A delight
Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
Some broad and sunny leaf, and loved to see
The shadow of the leaf and stem above
Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut-tree
Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps
Those fronting elms, and now with blackest mass
Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
Through the late twilight: and though now the bat
Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
Yet still the solitary humble-bee
Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
That nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
'Tis well to be bereft of promised good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.
My gentle-hearted Charles! when the last rook
Beat its straight path along the dusky air
Homewards, I blessed it! deeming its black wing
(Now a dim speck, now vanishing in light)
Had cross'd the mighty Orb's dilated glory
While thou stood'st gazing; or, when all was still,
Flew creaking o'er thy head, and had a charm
For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom
No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.

(This poem is in the background of Songs, the last poem I did as a collaboration with Colby.)

Had a great note from R. J. March. I'd written to him to tell him I sent Dennis Cooper some praise of him to post on Dennis' blog on Porn Writing Day. He turns out to be a big DC fan, and thrilled to be brought to the Great One's notice. So it's always a good idea to let someone know you like their work; it's not like it's ever bad news.

Long phone call with Kelly and Phil on the dream education book. I'm working on a guide to proposing a course and on some ideas for teaching the "sociology" of the history of depth psychology, organizing study of anthropological perspectives on dreaming, the value of in-class dream workshops, and a few other topics.