Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The 12 Steps of Godard
Godard can set you free. Oui, it's true. I've been tripping out on the mazes and head games and poignant transcendental beauty of that Godard set with Detective (with Julie Delpy, pictured at left) and Passion and so forth on it. Anyway, here's the 12 steps.
1. Realize that all the plots and story lines that crop up will never go the way they should, and you need to let go of that.
2. Realize that Godard is better understood by people outside of France. Because Godard needs subtitles. People mumble.
3. Make an unconscious decision to trust Godard's love for you, the viewer, for his actors, and for the cinema. Make an effort to connect with that love. Godard is best taken with a light heart... as are all French films! Lighten up, American capitalist!
4. As you release your common expectations of story and ending, look for the collapse of boundaries between signifiers, genres, etc. Intertextuality is Godard's thing, so people are always reading aloud, and the stuff they read comments on the mise-en-scene and on the film itself, and on filmmaking, but obliquely.
5. If you are still having trouble, try this: Imagine you are making a collage in art class -- cutting out pictures from magazines and placing them in odd ways. You cut out a model from Elle, put her in the middle of a steel mill photo from the 1800s and add a giant tomato from a cooking magazine. Surrealisme!
6. Now, make the connection between the autobiographical and the universal and see how everything connects, fractal-like, down to the smallest atoms and up to the solar system, and onwards in both directions-- always the same actions and interactions. The myths of the ancient Greeks are still being played out, but with couch potatoes and birth control, speed bumps and Ambien.
7. Now you are beginning to grasp the underlying unifying cosmic principle behind coincidence, synchronicity and intuition. So go back to your collage and now pretend you could make the collage paper into a movie screen - with music and sound and images, all to play with as you choose.
8. Instead of getting hung up on using one set of characters all the way through, realize the eternal exists right now in the present moment, so no set of characters is fixed.
9. Seeing cause and effect so clearly now, you merge into the present moment - by viewing Godard's film you become a part of it, the way a flower only comes truly into bloom when gazed at.
10. In the moment, you recognize all signifiers for what they are and are free to see around the edges of Godard's tricks.
11. Understanding then, his genius deadpan comedy, you too keep deadpan and merely nod and look askance.
12. Having been set free by Godard, you move out into the world to love all unconditionally and spread the healing balm of your serenity upon our wounded planet with your every move. Amen.