Sunday night at the Metrograph

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I figured if I was in NYC the night of August 18 I would go to my neighborhood theater and see the Eileen Myles short film and selected longer film The Spook Who Sat by the Door.   I am a super film buff and I have not really indulged in this passion since I had kids. It always surprises me when I watch a (good) film and remember how much I love film.  And then I think, well I was a filmmaker for 8ish years.

The Spook who sat by the door is brave and prescient and funny.  It has a crazy backstory involving spys and being pulled from the theatrical release.  As a film, it does all the “wrong things”, abrupt cuts, too much dialog, some weird storyline twists (weird in that it does not fall into Aristotle’s typologies of entertainment).   These, elements, for me, made the film more amazing.

A few months ago I was thinking about what I considered and valued in art, versus those of my primary partner who is an unabashed aesthete.  For me, what touches me in art. or in representation in general, in art is some sort of vulnerability.  I value this most, opposed to some sort of notion of ‘beauty.’ I sometimes have a strange reaction to art, either books, or music, or film and complain that it is not ‘true’.  This is always a confusing reaction, since fiction is not supposed to be true – maybe truer than true, or a deeper truth, but the judging a creative product by the whether or not it is true – seems incorrect to me. Although this is exactly what I do.

What does this idea of truth of an artwork mean to me, what am I really trying to communicate. Perhaps it is this idea of vulnerability of experiencing the subjective experience of another being.  Art is one of the last domains of subjective experience. I create something that is subjective, and then it either speaks to my subjective experience (I like it) or I do not. My knowledge, personality, sensitivities all come into play in my subjective experience of another work of art.  And if it touches me, if it provides a connection between my interface and the interface of a remote autonomous being, than that feels like the truth.

All of this is to say, that if the Spook who sat by the door was a high concept Hollywood film (even an indie film workshopped in film school), it would not have the same impact for me. The way the film breaks from the ‘commodity’ film/the stylized film is part of the meaning of the the film, creates energy and power and makes the film true.