Our culture is marketing, this is what we do, and what is marketing? Trying to get people to do what you want them to. It’s what drives our consumer culture, it’s what drives our politics, it’s what drives our art. Music, movies, books, fine arts, it’s part of every research grant proposal. I don’t want to participate. I don’t want to tell you how to sell a screenplay or tell you how to write a hit, or tell you how to fit into the existing system. I want to tell you that I have a hope that there’s another way to be in this world, and that I believe with courage, vulnerability and honesty that the stuff we put into the world can serve a better purpose.
The way movies work now, and I’m talking about mainstream industry, the only goal is to get you to buy a product. The only goal. THE only goal. The ONLY goal. THE ONLY GOAL. And this intention creates the movies that we sit through, and the movies that we sit through create us. In government we’ve been reduced to the same game, through trickery, obfuscation, bullying, fear mongering. The goal of marketing a candidate is achieved. I don’t understand many things, I don’t know as much as I’d like about anything, but I’m a human being and I won’t be in competition for the right to be treated decently.
I won’t play that game. Nor should anybody have to. And in turn I will try not to use whatever access I have to the public sphere to sell things, including myself. The world is very scary now. It always has been. But something grotesque and specific to our time is blanketing us. We need to see that it is not reality, it is a choice we are making or allowing other people to make for us.
Patrick Dewitt, The Sisters Brothers
I wasn’t at all sure how I felt about this book for most of the time I was reading it. Then a day or so after finishing it, an offhand remark in a conversation might as well have fallen from Eli’s mouth, and I was suddenly caught up with an intense desire for the Sisters brothers. I want to know more about them. I want to be with them again. Why do the awful Berglunds get 600 pages and the Sisters get only half that?
I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance. And all music is.
The entrancement of film is that the reading protocols are invisible. You give yourself to a film, ideally, in a gigantic darkened auditorium: and it washes over you. It makes its own reality inevitable. And you don’t have to ever think about your efforts in reading or constructing it. You can’t slow or speed up that experience (I mean, now technically you can, but you don’t want to, you want to succumb). It masters you totally.
The seduction of a comic is secretly the exact opposite. People don’t think about it, but you learn to read a comic book. It’s a very complicated reading protocol. A very active one. It’s like you’re in a damp world and you have to keep striking matches to light it up. You’re constantly working to decide—do I read the words in the panel, do I read the word in the box at the top, do I look at the picture, do I skip ahead and look at where the pictures are going to go later on, do I do it fast, do I do it slow, do I read every word, do I mainly see it? What am I doing here? You’re always deciding how to make the narrative come alive. It’s actually a much more complicated form of reading than reading text! Because you’re making these switches from the visual to the verbal. So one is a completely globally active reading protocol, and the other is this sublime, passive dreamlike surrender. And I don’t think you can ever get from one to the other. They’re almost opposite ends of the aesthetic experience.