Sunday, June 11, 2006

beta meshes

In Les Blank's documentary on the torturous struggle between man and nature as captured in Herzog's filming of Fitzcaraldo, Herzog reduces the film's essence to a cast-off comment that the natives recognize in the man a kindred spirit, a white man that grasps that it's the everyday life that's the illusion; the realm of dreams is the only true world. (Or, if you're a rock critic, it's like Frank Kogan's assertion that "Elvis never stopped being a truck driver with dreams; the point is he dressed himself in the dreams, not the overalls.")
I've been spending time with this girl that I almost didn't realize I cared about. And then, as if waking up one day, it is the only reality. We awaken one morning to admit we've been in each other's dreams. Perhaps her greatest act is that she's even indulged me some basketball TV back at her house. I turn it on just in time to miss one of the last Spurs games of the season, catching only a post-game commentary from a player who I'm loathe to even mention: Kobe Bryant. He reiterates some wisdom that the inventor of the Triangle Offense, Tex Winter, once passed along to him:

"The game hinges on a trifle."

It's not big baskets, rebounds, blocked shots, defensive stops, but rather simple things like deflections, miscues, slipping, bad passes that alter the complexion of a game played between adults irreversibly. As we watch Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kobe, and Kenny "The Jet" Smith interact, she mentions that the announcers don't like Kenny. She can just tell by their body language. I myself would've never noticed it.
Having had one of those curious moments upon spotting a copy of Maya Deren's Meshes of an Afternoon at her house, to where I cannot recall possession or place for a confused instant, I return to it when I'm back at home. I forgot how much Deren's work inspires and terrifies me to this day, new realities and dimensions unfolding in nearly every frame. My mind cannot understand how she created these films in the forties. How does she replicate the logic of dreams in such a natural manner? Up into the seventies, filmmakers (mostly male) had trouble adequately portraying a fracturing conscience, multiple perspectives, the myriad of lives possible within one body, the dissolution of linear time altogether.

Perhaps it's like that passage of Anais Nin's A Spy in the House of Love that I referenced here, wherein absorbing the reflected light of the moon, a woman becomes open to the infinite possibilities of lovers, of commingled identitites, of multiple dimensions, all a-writhe inside her:
She became certain of myriad lives within herself. Her sense of time altered. She felt acutely and with grief, the shortness of life's physical span...but Sabina, activated by the moon-rays, felt germinating in her the power to extend time in the ramifications of a myriad lives and loves, to expand the journey to infinity.
In Deren's hands, such a dream effect appears effortless: real events recapitulate and mutate, the subconscious pulling at such small matters until they are distended, profound. What seems to be normal and everyday is suddenly plunged into the reality of disorienting, enigmatic, unanswerable dreams. (Forgot to mention that Nin herself appears in Deren's "Ritual in Transfigured Time.")

Quotidian objects toggle between identities: keys are knives, are books, are mirrors. The knife is for cutting a loaf of bread, is for murder, is for the reflection of light, is for the death of self in suicide, is but a dagger of the mind. The inner-eye of Deren continually arranges, deranges, and makes explicit such dreams, its wheels within wheels.
Researching more of Meshes, there is some contention that it may be more the work of first husband, filmmaker Alexander Hammid. And yet his documentary past (and the placcid cat birth caught on his film "The Private Life of a Cat") suggests otherwise. As the rhythms of dreams (and the movement of dancers) become more and more Deren's focus and domain in her other works, the overall feel of the film finally feels as hers, despite Stan Brakhage's assertions to the contrary.
It's agonizing watching the Spurs lose, even though I seem to be winning once the TV is off and we're entwined. Just a game, she reminds me. I want to watch the Maya Deren films with her and there's a recent edition of Divine Horsemen that neither one of us has seen, my mind wonders at watching it with her. I flash to her face watching the screen, then my own eyes...but there are more pressing matters to attend to in the present.

On the subway, I catch a glimpse of a girl through glass, a girl that I tried to date right when I first met my friend. At the time, their outward similarities were curiously parallel, and yet as this girl walks into the distance, to the vanishing point (no, there's no black cloak, no mirror face), I realize that in another reality, this would be the girl I watched basketball with instead, that I opened my heart to. My world just took a slightly different bounce. The gestures between two people stack up in one instance, withdraw in another. To think it all started with just an instant of her hand alighting on my chest. How that touch has amplified beyond such an innocuous beginning, how it bounces still, the reality always uncertain.