Kieślowski and hunger

There’s so much to talk about and so little time, and so little energy and ability in the brain to generate enough thoughts. It’s all so absurd, all our communication processes. I’m putting out my opinions about anything and everything with keywords enabling any person with Internet access to read them, if through chance, he or she happens upon them. It’s all so interesting and strange. So I’d better not waste time between all my dilly-dallying and navel-gazing. Must plow ahead! Into the stream of consciousness!

I saw a most extraordinary film yesterday called The Double Life of Véronique, directed by the late Polish master Krzysztof Kieślowski, a man whose name is brutally hard to spell, but he’s Polish, so what do you expect? This reminds me of a joke. Which reminds me of how Ashley and I discussed jokes together. But anyway: a Pole (so frequently the butt of such jokes) is taking an eye exam. The doctor, ophthalmologist, whatever, says, “Can you read this for me?”, pointing to the chart with the usual mess of letters, you know, E K A C Z H S Y etc. And the Pole says, “Read it? I know the guy!” So this is the joke I know about Polish names, and Krzysztof, from our perspective as Americans, certainly qualifies. (Of course, it’s really just their variant on Christopher, which as Wikipedia informs me, is from the Greek “Khristóphoros,” meaning Christ-bearer. See, if a Greek saw the name “Christopher,” maybe they‘d think it’s strangely spelled!)

In any case, the movie: from this great Polish director so concerned with coincidences, parallels, connections, etc. and the questions they bring up about our lives, we have this tale of two women, both played by the same actress, the beautiful Irène Jacob, who would later appear in Kieślowski’s Red (a movie that interestingly shares the motif of audio recordings). Weronika lives in Poland; Véronique lives in France. But (in addition to being physically identical) their lives line up and intersect in complicated ways; when Weronika dies from her heart problems while singing at a concert, Véronique feels a deep loss she’s unable to quite pin down.

Véronique explores the details of life

Double Life delves into those feelings we find ourselves unable to quite correlate to physical realities, like déjà vu, for example. When we know something’s happened, but we can’t say directly what, or to whom. The movie never gives away why these women live parallel lives, but it explores the beautiful (fearful?) symmetry of this alignment that leads one woman to her grave, while allowing the other to change her course and fall in love. And God, is it a technical and aesthetic delight, for the eyes and the ears: all these rich greens and occasional yellows and reds fill the air of the film, and Zbigniew Preisner’s score, for one thing, draws thematic lines between scenes (as the music of Weronika’s last performance pops up in Véronique’s life) and it’s so, oh, spiritual and elegant –  every aspect of the movie is driven toward this same conclusion, I think, that events happen in our lives that we can’t entirely understand but, at least, we can try to enjoy them. The Double Life of Véronique works as art on multiple levels, even if it’s a little perplexing while you watch it, as it amazes us formally and intellectually, and I highly recommend it. (And if that’s not enough, you get to see Jacob naked in two different lives. So much visual pleasure.)

What else to dive into in the brief remaining time I have at this library-? I’m about to start on Charles Burns’ Black Hole, a graphic novel whose genre appears to be “venereal fiction.” I will not lie: I love the word “venereal.” It comes from the Roman name for the goddess of love, Venus, but it’s most frequently heard in the (itself outdated) expression “venereal disease.” So venereal, I think, connotes something dirty, sexual, a little dark, and unpleasant. The icky fluids and discharges that we wouldn’t mind sterilizing away. And this, more or less, from the couple chapters I read while standing in Borders, is what Black Hole is about – after all, the title without context could refer equally well to an all-consuming cosmic presence or to human orifices – vaginal, anal, or otherwise. It reminds me of Onibaba, another movie I recommend, where the horror flows from the hungry hole, as omnivorous as Star Wars‘s Sarlacc or 1984‘s proverbial memory hole. Holes, clearly, are interesting things. As is Pac-Man, on whom I sometimes find myself fixated. So easy to draw, such a recognizable icon of, more or less, ’80s pop culture, and what does he do? Ashley and I were discussing this: he moves by eating. His mouth opens and closes, and that’s his form of ambulation. It also reminds me of this beloved pie chart.

The hilarity of statistical representations

I frequently marvel at human anatomy. At the human body in general. It’s not really as wondrous, I think, as some have made it out to be. It’s a bunch of systems, working in pretty good harmony. Things fuck up a lot, and when they do, it usually hurts. We eat, but if we don’t eat enough, or the right things, that also hurts. We get malnourished. Scurvy. Rickets. Beriberi. Various other dietary deficiencies. And once you start eating, you really never get to stop. And you know, every human being is a freak in one way or another, whether it’s one of a million physical abnormalities or one of the countless mental quirks you develop just by virtue of living a “normal” human life. And so, this process of consumption is just so remarkable: food goes in the mouth. Enzymes in the saliva break it down. Through peristalsis it travels down the throat. Into the stomach, where acids attack it from all angles. I am reminded of a fellow named Michel Lotito, who I first encountered in the Guinness Book of World Records. As I recall, he ate lots of glass, and an airplane engine (piece by piece). This reminds me of Watchmen‘s Dr. Manhattan noting that a living and dead body have the same amount of molecules. Well, glass and a sandwich probably do, too. Just some, uh, food for thought.

This computer is telling me I have to go. So I shall. More writing will be forthcoming in the near future. Down with Big Brother.

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Filed under Cinema, Health

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