Tag Archives: Gorbachev

New header image: Paradzhanov’s “Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors”

25 Nov

The new header image is a production still from the filming of Sergei Paradzhanov‘s Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors / Тіні забутих предків), 1965. This is one of my ten — or maybe even five — all-time favorite films. It’s a half Romeo and Juliet, half Wuthering Heights, full of eternal love, and cool stuff like frustrated desire, obsession and death.

The other pleasures this film offers is entirely ethnographic; Paradzhanov, a Soviet Armenian filmmaker from Tbilisi, Georgia, was completely enthralled with the material culture, music, languages, and human (especially male) beauty of the Caucasus and Anatolia. Elsewhere — probably when I’ve used pictures from his films as header images before — I’ve referred to him as an “our parts” pornographer. He really had a fetish for his cinematic object, and though we use “fetish”, usually, to describe something unhealthy, it might be better to just accept it as a point on the broader spectrum of object relations.

In Shadows… Paradzhanov moves from his home territory to the Ukrainian sub-ethnic group of the Hutsuls (Гуцулы/Гуцули), that live on the Ukrainian side of the Carpathian mountains in the far west of the country. (I’m sure his appreciation of male beauty was sated there as swell.) The Hutsuls have one of the most richest High Folk Civilizations of Europe: clothes, dance, music, handicrafts — they’re also the people that make those famous Ukrainian Easter eggs you might have heard tell of. In fact, Paradzhanov was kind of a prick when the film was being filmed: he would borrow heirloom items for the shoot from the local inhabitants and then never return them.

Shadows… may be my favorite Paradzhanov film. It’s his most cinematic film, meaning it has the most conventional visual and cinematic narrative — cinema comes from Greek kinema (κίνημα), which means movement. After Shadows…, which put him on the map cinematically, he turned to extreme long shots and extreme long takes of static tableaux; they’re beautiful, but sometimes they try even my patience.

For example, from Color of Pomegranates / Նռան գույնը / ბროწეულის ფერი / Цвет граната (1969):

…and The Legend of the Suram Fortress / ამბავი სურამის ციხისა (1985):

…and Aşık Kerib / აშიკ-ქერიბი (1988):

Color of Pomegranates in 1969 and The Legend of Suram Fortress in 1985What was he doing for twenty plus years? you ask. Well, he was arrested several times between 1973 and 1982, a period during which his previous films were prohibited, for “sexual crimes”, i.e. homosexuality, along with “rape and bribery” — probably trumped up charges. Only when censorship in the Soviet Union started to ease up during the Gorbachev years was Paradzhanov allowed to make films again.

The header photo is not a scene from Shadows… though. It’s a production still, a lovely photo of two Hutsul children watching the filming.

Here are the famous Easter eggs:

I’ll post a collection of cool Hutsul photos I came across in separate post.

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“Χριστός Ανέστη” — Christ Has Risen — and I’m so damn PROUD…

25 Jan

I swear to God those were the first words — the two most totemic in the Greek language — that instinctively leapt out of my mouth when a very loved cousin of mine in Athens answered her mobile today.

Anastasis_fresco_(Chora_Church)The Resurrection fresco in the church of the Chora in Constantinople (click)

I don’t know what will happen.  Tomorrow, me…and Greeks all over the world will wake up sober — or hungover — and have to figure out how this thing is actually going to work.

But one thing all of us need to understand is the power of language and discourse.  By “discourse” I mean the idea and interpretations that people give and ascribe to the phenomena in the world around them; that discourse is “poetic” and a process of “poiesis”— not poetic like Byron or Baudelaire — but poetic in the original Greek sense of “making” or “creating.”  What that means is that DISCOURSE: what people say about things, how people talk about and interpret reality, the opinions and analyses of that reality, are not an either accurate or inaccurate view of that reality but a code and a language that create that reality.  This is simple stuff.  Intro to Deconstruction.  Foucault 101.  And nowhere is it truer than in the “game of chicken” played in the arena of political economics.

So, like I said in GREEK ELECTIONS,” if a critical mass believes a hypothesis is true — or just possible — then it becomes true; then actions and gestures on the ground, and praxeis in the “real,” physical world will create that reality, poetically.  And if we continue to bolster — worse, think we deserve — the Troika’s Neo-Liberal discourse of exploitation, then it will continue.  If we support a discourse, if we believe that an alternative to that reality is possible, then it will emerge.  It only took some workers in a Gdańsk shipyard to say: “I’m not gonna pretend that I believe this shit anymore”; it only took a heroic Gorbachev to say: “This isn’t working”, for the most horrific political economic system that has ever been inflicted on humanity, and that seemed as eternal and as immoveable as Everest, to come crashing down like a house of cards from one day to the next.

This will work, if we let it.  They’ll feed us a language of fear, which if we swallow, will ruin us.  If we simply keep in mind: “That’s what you think — and want us to think — but we won’t,” change will come.

ALSO, we, as ROMANS, should be immensely proud that so many other left-leaning, anti-austerity parties from the rest of the European periphery: Spain, Portugal — and even from Prussia itself and other parts of Merkelstan — came to be part of these elections.  If it gives them only a tiny drop of optimism, if it makes them feel like: “Yes, we can say ‘No!’ too”, it will be a by far greater gift to them than anything else we supposedly gave the West in the past.

YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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