Monument #19 and Monument #20
Following a wrenching life-event, a friend sent me a small video clip of Robert Wyatt singing a version of a Chic song from his wheelchair. At last I am free … I can hardly see in front of me … His slow, stratospheric refrain looped in my mind, lilting, evaporating my unthinking fear of the unrecognisable, reminding me that anything new is also different, and I am a babe in the woods to it. And they are good woods.
In the opening sequence of Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast, Ray Winstone, in nothing but a pair of speedos, is standing on his deck, next to his pool in the Spanish sun. He’s sweaty and round and he’s talking on the phone. A barren hill rises, up behind him and at its top a large boulder has begun to fall. It gets closer and closer but he cannot hear it, he’s on the phone, all cockney lad this and cockney lad that. Finally, just as it looks like it is about to crush him, it rises up over his head and lands in the pool. For the next few scenes there’s this huge rock in the pool.
A subset of great opening sequences are those that involve the threat of losing the central character in the first scene. Following L’Avventura, there are those which give just some idea of what you are left with once the subject is crushed, and of the generative potential of this absence or desolation (zero point, nothing etc.). In the wake of a rupture, a metaphoric meteor strike, in our encounter with pure event, we are struck dumb and have a sense, if we can stand it, of all that is outside our field of discernment. The subject is swamped and naked, inexperienced, deleted in the desert, with love’s characteristic of becoming anew.
I have always valued events per se as things that break apart the fabric of things for a moment to allow something else to emerge. It is almost as if that is all that you can hope for, a moment of misrecognition or bewilderment that allows other possibilities to creep in. All change is like this I suppose.
The rock that sits inside the little shop building does so somewhat politely. It isn’t as if it smashed into the building, even though that could be the first impression, but perhaps is some sort of stored, even for sale, artefact of a cataclysmic, smashing event. In Badiou’s terms, only that which is indiscernible has the power to change thought, truth and being, and without it, the subject is destitute.
The soundtrack is ending up as figures going up and down the staircase at various speeds over and over again. I described them as Sisyphean ghosts so it is a nice connection to the rock. I am thinking of adding a screeching car but that might be overkill.