Citizen Kohen - chapter 5
So here I am, throwing out short films about nothing, botched together in a day or two, improvised on the spur of the moment without a second thought in a drunken cloud of couldn't give a damn confidence and clarity. And what do I get for it? Flown around the world from city to city, from five star hotel to luxury loft, all the free food I can eat and the free booze I can drink, not to mention busloads of teenage girls. I must be doing something right, not so?
Rewind to Rotterdam. Preparations for the premiere. A manifesto of sorts is assembled out of various sources. Incomprehensible to all those uninitiated into the obscure realm of obscurantist digital jargon. The critics love it and the document gleans the nonsensical under-underground short film an amount of overground media attention totally out of proportion to its merit. This is known as hype.
The film has been selected sight unseen for the prestigious festival by a festival director who is plied with bottle after bottle of expensive red during an exorbitantly priced Indonesian dinner. The producer is militantly obsequious, he shloughs and syphons with such alacrity you'd swear he swallowed vomit for fun. Coprophilia is a sexual perversion that is automatic in the film-maker's world; you always have your tongue up someone's arse in this "industry".
There's a talk-show after the second screening. The talk show moderator has only seen the last three minutes of the film. He starts the question and answer session with a question about… the last three minutes of the film. Then he "throws things open to the audience". Gets away with it. There's a Charlie Manson look-alike sitting in the front row, his forehead covered in ugly bruises and a thick, bulging brown scab. He asks the only pertinent question of the evening; "Why wasn't there any applause?" I like this guy.
Now we're at a Chinese restaurant. A huge group of hangers-on and desperate wanna-be's. I'm always so confused when people want to hang on to me. Don't they know where the real party is?
The next evening I'm in Sweden convincing the amply bosomed Camila to pay me my air fare all over again as I've spent all the cash on booze. She's flabbergasted and furious. Not to mention insulted that I didn't pitch up for the extremely important question and answer session with all those uptight Lutheran feminists. Fuck her. Fuck all these blonde Swedes with their obsessions about time and hygiene. I'm an under-underground film maker, not Noddy! She gives me the loot, hundreds of crisp krone! Yes! Wishes me luck with my "career". Film-making isn't a career you uptight cunt, it's a freeloader's paradise. My work ethic is: other people work, I've got the ethics!
Reading Timaeus' dialogue on the flight back to Brussels it occurs to me that everything I think up, which I assume to be original, has in fact already been thought of and better expressed by some Greek homosexual. I remember when that Danish aristocrat Lars had his tongue up my arse it felt rather good. Philosophy is clearly the discourse of choice for men who have problems with women.
Nobody with the possible exception of Marcel Duchamp has had a worse influence on the history and development of art than John Cage. Cage singlehandedly flipped us into a world where bad aesthetics, bad taste and incompetence are not only de rigeur, they're actually considered qualities worth striving for. How I hate all that scratchy music, it's truly obscene.
Disco wiped out experimental theatre in South Africa. Disco and tv.
Everything's changed in the past ten years. The largest faculty at Amsterdam University is Film and Television Science (sic). Hardly anyone studies literature or philosophy anymore. Nobody dreams of writing the great South African novel these days, they all want to make the great South African movie. I can see that I got into this game just in time, before the mid-nineties explosion of "independent" film-making and makers and journalists and festivals and fucking theoreticians. Luckily by now I'm a veteran with a c.v. as long as Snoop Doggy Dogg's dick…a list of tiles of films that nobody's ever seen but that's part of the mystique of under-underground movies, they're "legendary" because most of them don't exist outside of vhs work copies or sketches on paper. Fuck these movie vultures, failure has made a better drunk out of me!
I tried to read Plato today but Timaeus' misogynist dialogue makes no sense to me. No wonder women aren't interested in philosophy, it's all homosexual propaganda. But I would like to have read Plato into John Cage's ear with a foghorn: "all audible musical sound is given us for the sake of harmony, which has motions akin to the orbits in our soul, and which is not to be used to give irrational pleasure but as a heaven-sent ally in reducing to harmony and order any disharmony in the revolutions within us.
How right Wittgenstein was about the worthlessness of Mahler's music. Everything after Mahler is equally useless or worse. If Webern stands up to close scrutiny it's only because of his fastidious compression of means. The music's ghastly but always mercifully brief. Concision is a much neglected virtue these days. On to dinner with the producer and his post-modernist "friends". Yeah, we've all got friends when we foot the bill.
"When you compare Captain Beefheart to Zappa, what is Picasso's legacy?"
"The key word is matter."
"It's a towering personal achievement."
"Johan Cruijff preferred Picasso to Duchamp."
"So you're not a big fan of Duchamp?"
"A lot of misrepresentation if you ask me."
"Visual art has been very frustrated this century."
"Music is always abstract."
The producer gets the bill. That's what he's there for. I'm exhausted. I need an early night. It's all about hypocrisy in Holland. Materialism and copycat conceptualism.
Ten years later everybody wants to hold hands with Hitler.