maya deren – the very eye of night (1958)

“The laws of macro- and microcosm are alike. Travel in the interior is as a voyage in outer space: we must in each case burst past the circumference of our surface – our here-space and now-time – and, cut loose from the anchorage of an absolute, fixed center, enter worlds where the relationship of parts is the sole gravity. When the sun sets, the stars become apparent; when our eyes close out the light to sleep, there rises in the night-eye the constellation by which sleep-walkers plot their incalculable accuracies. By day we move according to desire and decision; by night Noctambulo advances without moving, led by the twins Gemini (as the eyes are twins or as the I of night is twin to that of day). It is by the dark geometry of such celestial navigation that the day‘s erratic negotiations are corrected and reconciled into the total orbits of our lives.

The film is in the negative. The blackness of night erases all horizon and, released from the leveling pressure of this plane, the movements both of the dancers and of the camera become as four-dimensional and directional as those of birds in air or fish in water.”

– Maya Deren: Chamber Films, program notes for a presentation, 1960

maya deren Eye-of-Night_1
#Title: The Very Eye of Night
#Director: Maya Deren
#Year of Production: 1958
#Duration: 00:15:00
#Choregraphy: Antony Tudor, Metropolitan Opera Ballet School
#Dancers / Actors: Philp Salem, Rosemary Williams, Richard Englund, Richard Sandifer, Don Freisinger, Patricia Ferrier, Barbara Levin, Bud Bready, Genaro Gomez
#Camera: Maya Deren
#Editing: Maya Deren
#Foley Assistance: Harrison Starr
#Sound: Louis and Bebe Barron
#Music: Teiji Ito

 

sviatoslav richter plays liszt’s transcendental études

A selection of my favourites from Liszt’s Transcendental  series, recorded in Prague on June 10, 1956 and broadcast on Czech Radio.

Tracklisting with times:
00:00 – Étude No. 1 (Preludio)
00:58 – Étude No. 2 (untitled – Molto vivace)
02:52 – Étude No. 3 (Paysage)
08:29 – Étude No. 5 (Feux Follets)
12:03 – Étude No. 11 (Harmonies du Soir)

Heartbreaker Franz Liszt circa 1860 (Franz Hanfstaengl/Wikimedia)

Heartbreaker Franz Liszt circa 1860 (Franz Hanfstaengl/Wikimedia)

“On a snowy day in Berlin, two days after Christmas 1841, Franz Liszt strode out onto the stage at the Berliner Singakademie concert hall. He sat at his grand piano in profile, beads of sweat forming on his forehead. He was 30 years old, at the height of his ability, and he was about to unleash a mania—a mania not in the sense of “Beatlemania”, or any of the other relatively mild musical obsessions, but a mania viewed as a truly contagious, dangerous medical condition that would affect women in Germany, Italy, France, Austria, and elsewhere.

“Using his whole body—his undulating eyebrows, his wild arms, even his swaying hips—Liszt dove into Händel’s “Fugue in E minor” with vigor and unfettered confidence, keeping perfect tempo and playing entirely from memory. It was the start of the phenomenon later called “Lisztomania,” and the women in the audience went mad.”

Read THIS ARTICLE on the romantic power of music like Liszt’s…

two simones on banality and evil

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvellous, intoxicating.”
— Simone Weil

“In particular those who are condemned to stagnation are often pronounced happy on the pretext that happiness consists in being at rest. This notion we reject, for our perspective is that of existentialist ethics. Every subject plays his part as such specifically through exploits or projects that serve as a mode of transcendence; he achieves liberty only through a continual reaching out towards other liberties. There is no justification for present existence other than its expansion into an indefinitely open future. Every time transcendence falls back into immanence, stagnation, there is a degradation of existence into the ‘en-sois’ – the brutish life of subjection to given conditions – and of liberty into constraint and contingence. This downfall represents a moral fault if the subject consents to it; if it is inflicted upon him, it spells frustration and oppression. In both cases it is an absolute evil. Every individual concerned to justify his existence feels that his existence involves an undefined need to transcend himself, to engage in freely chosen projects.”
— Simone de Beauvoir

not chicken

(not chicken)

happy birthday, simone de beauvoir

When she does not find love, she may find poetry. Because she does not act, she observes, she feels, she records; a colour, a smile awakens profound echoes within her; her destiny is outside her, scattered in cities already built, on the faces of men already marked by life, she makes contact, she relishes with passion and yet in a manner more detached, more free, than that of a young man.

WALKABOUT tumblr_mb7ukzuYA71qe0eclo1_r4_500

Jenny Agutter in “Walkabout” (Nicolas Roeg, 1971)

Being poorly integrated in the universe of humanity and hardly able to adapt herself therein, she, like the child, is able to see it objectively; instead of being interested solely in her grasp on things, she looks for their significance; she catches their special outlines, their unexpected metamorphoses. She rarely feels a bold creativeness, and usually she lacks the technique of self-expression; but in her conversation, her letters, her literary essays, her sketches, she manifests an original sensitivity.

The young girl throws herself into things with ardour, because she is not yet deprived of her transcendence; and the fact that she accomplishes nothing, that she is nothing, will make her impulses only the more passionate. Empty and unlimited, she seeks from within her nothingness to attain All.

― Simone de Beauvoir,  from The Second Sex (first published in French as Le Deuxième Sexe in 1949)
If you’re interested in reading this hugely influential text, you can find it online HERE.