Third time with Tarr (Turin Horse, Werckmeister Harmonies). Weirdly, this is where it all begins (3 July: not quite).
It begins with a window; an image which sticks with T till the end. Externalities lay slow siege to domestic shelter – endless industrial procedure (winches wires creaking carts shuffling chimneys belching) shaking your bones and those of your house like harmonic vibration, (everything on this rhythm now) screws jiggling loose and plaster cracking away. This is a different beast: more post-industrial limbo than the rustic desolation of TH or the credulous provincial desperation of WH. World of Goo, Eraserhead.
A world of war without the war – snooping from block to block, clandestine meetings loneliness, smuggling. The Cold War but also the telos of humanity dehumanising their own world (the ‘inhuman’, here, is not nature – bar the rain and those dogs, the level of which Karrer sinks to in his desperation like Kafka’s Josef K) but environments of human production – buildings, bars, industry – that have come out of the human, perhaps waiting to do so until today. Though the love triangle and the musings on youth and activity put D‘s analysis on a level of anthropic interconnection shared with the political WH and largely spurned (for interiority and essence) by TH, it is also as incisive as WH in demonstrating the fatal extent to which We in the 20th Century have poisoned the well. Agamben (Remnants of Auschwitz): “human beings are human insofar as they bear witness to the inhuman.”
Wouldn’t be Tarr without some knockout monologues: here the mother’s OT recital (she is the Anti-Nietzsche figure) and K’s tale of domestic suicide are career standout. Likewise with single images: the ragged nurse breastfeeding besides football on the tv; mother advancing through the fog and biblical rain with a vampiric umbrella and Stalker dogs circling; the utter waste of the ending; the party that will develop (disintegrate, as “stories are all stories of disintegration”) into the heliocentric drunkards in WH, the wind-up whirl of human animation. (“Perhaps it really is flying”)
Why are old photographs (daguerrotypes etc) so terrifying? Andrew Miller (Poetry, Photography, Ekphrasis): shift from C19th to 20th in terms of recognising the ‘pastness’ of dead subjects, in photos that “threaten us with the past by returning the past to the present in ways that deny us the safety of the present.” I think this extends beyond subjects to spaces: uncanny closeness but also the total experience of a world, since we know it only through such images? D‘s past is adrift and inaccessible (K reciprocates by pinning his hopes for another brighter world on his escapist lover [“One must return to beauty”]), but perhaps Tarr gets the same effect simply through the humming chiaroscuro, the percussive rain sheeting across the lens like grain on film.
Beckettian aporias (Is it worth speaking?), Endgame but, interestingly, Film: watching, snooping, close to the end.
Often reflect while watching my favourite films that they are dreamlike: participation but not revelation; internal logic that I can warily follow but not anticipate future terms; compulsion. Tarr’s beauty is both bleakly mimetic and symbolic and also neither, its own oneiric code.
This stuff has to have come from nightmares because it must be understood in relation to your own.