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Reflections on Film & Memory

“In a certain sense the past is far more real, or at any rate more stable, more resilient than the present. The present slips and vanishes like sand between the fingers, acquiring material weight, only in its recollection.”

– Russian film-maker, Andrei Tarkovsky

 

Earlier this year I went to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens and spent some time there trying to imagine what it was like to live in a time before the invention of film, or during a time while it was still evolving (as it still is).

It turns out that’s as difficult a trick as trying to remember what one’s experience was before acquiring language.

A zoetrope.

As I walked through the many exhibitions at the museum, I reflected on how the ubiquitous nature of film in modern culture has us forget how remarkable a trick film actually is:

When watching a film, our memory and connecting of individual images (proceeding rapidly before us) creates a perception (or illusion) of a coherent visual narrative and reality.

Mutoscopes still delighting today… at least for a handful of seconds.

When the child was a child,
it didn’t know that it was a child,
everything was soulful,
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.

– from Song of Childhood by Peter Handke

Memories of our past are similar to film in that they allow for an illusion to be created as well. This is the illusion of coherence and meaning, when in reality our memories of the past are subjectively stitched together by our consciousness according to the fears, desires, biases, worldviews, beliefs, and such. accumulated in one’s lifetime.

Memories are given what meaning we assign them, which is then firmed up into our own unique and personal story… for better or for worse.

This is true for all of us, except for those rare individuals who cannot create or recall memories. Their experience is closer to a film-goer who is only able to remember the most recent ten seconds of the film.

 

Individual frames… images… stitched together become a film.

Individual moments… experiences… stitched together become a life.

 

This is the remarkable trick of human consciousness.

A song Bono wrote about after first seeing his then-deceased mother in an early home movie.

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Crossing The Threshhold

All art is made in the moment;

And all that is made in the moment is art.

 

 

 

The secret to performance is no secret at all;

But instead what remains when there are no secrets remaining.

 

 

 

During my final year of graduate actor training at the University of Delaware’s former Professional Theatre Training Program, I took up brush and ink painting. During rehearsals, when not acting, I would quickly paint scenes from the production I was part of on cold-press watercolor paper no larger than a postcard.

Of the many hundreds of sketch-paintings I did, there were only two that painted themselves.

These two remain sacred to me, and reminders of the gateway before which I stood many times… never crossing the threshhold fully, though poking my head through unknowingly from time to time.

 

 

 

 

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Zen & The Art of Modern Marketing

How do you keep from interrupting others?

Stay in the moment.

How do you stay in the moment?

Stop asking such questions!

If you’d like to consider a new perspective on marketing and aren’t familiar with it yet, check out Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers by business and marketing expert Seth Godin.

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Love & Terror in the Age of Now

It’s okay to say “I don’t love ______.”

But it’s not okay to say “I love ______ but I’m not willing to do ______.”

Let’s stop saying things we don’t mean and start doing things that terrify us. Because the world desperately needs the unique and particular love that only you have to offer.

But, of course, whichever you choose is okay.

(dedicated to Ruth and Glen)

For those that think the path to making your true love manifest is too terrifyingly difficult, I recommend reading What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin, which I’ve never read. But why test all the beers when you know the brewery? (Just for fun, of course!)