22 août 2007

having thought concretely about certain things

via an old post at Dias Felizes, a Jean-Marie Straub quote translated into Portuguese, which I've translated back below:

"Não digo que seja necessário ter visto todos filmes da história do cinema. Mas é preciso ter visto pelo menos três ou quatro coisas importantes, e pelo menos tê-las visto bem. Aprendi algo ao refletir sobre um corpo de trabalho específico. Cultura não consiste em ter tudo mas em ter pensado concretamente sobre algumas coisas."

"I'm not saying that it's necessary to see all the films in the history of cinema. But it is necessary to have seen at least 3 or 4 important things, and at least have seen them well. I learned something upon reflecting about a body of specific work. Culture does not consist in having everything but in having thought concretely about certain things."

Not lost in translation too much, I think.

6 commentaires:

c a dit…

Not lost in translation at all, Dave.

But I think that, on the second phrase, it would be better "But is is necessary to have seen at least 3 or 4 important things..."

instead of "It is only necessary..."

It sounds stronger.

dave a dit…

totally right. It sounds stronger, and is also a more exact translation. Consider it corrected.

Daniel a dit…

I love this quote, I think I heard it from you in person. Still, as much as I would like to known 3-4 things so deeply as to be satisifid from all future pursuits, taken literally it sounds like a limited and somewhat sad specialization, however endlessly interesting those selected pursuits may be.

Andy Rector a dit…

What you've posted there comes from Costa's OU GIT, no? He's said it countless times...few take him up on it. Here's a variation, said 30 years ago: "It’s not important to know them all, but just to know a few well. You don't need to know all the museum when you go to a museum, but only a few paintings. In my case, in fact, for example, I know three paintings by Cezanne very well. It didn't do me any good at all to the museum all the time, but to reflect concretely on a limited amount of work. That’s culture, as they say. It does not consist of having it all, but in having reflected concretely on a few things. For that matter, in painting there’s another thing that I'm very familiar with, because in 1952 I spent some time in a church which has some work by Giotto. I returned there several times and that, I am sure, has also been a great influence on our work. In this sense our culture, or what they would like to call our “culture,” is precise, centered on two or three or four points." (From the Jumpcut interview, translated from the french) ---
David Ehrenstein relates that when he worked at one of the museums in NY as a security guard he once saw the Straubs: they went past everything, straight to the Cezannes. Manny Farber, in the interview that concludes NEGATIVE SPACE, relates his anger over how Straub and Huillet both walked by his paintings, as if the paintings were measles, I believe he said.

Andy Rector a dit…

daniel- you said Straub's idea might be "sad", and yet none of the Straubs films (the concrete result of their concrete concentration) can be characterized as sad. The exception is maybe UMILIATI (HUMILIATION - in english!) but even that one ends with a fists being made and a cock crowing (good morning!). Then there's Godard who's actually comes close to saying it's neccessary to see "all the films in the history of cinema" and his movies are very very sad. Luckily not only that.

dave a dit…

This quote, in a way, continues a debate Danny and I have been having about what's necessary to be seen. Not to speak for him, but Danny's impulses seem to lead toward a large, canonical body of knowledge - which makes sense, as a student of cinema. I lean toward Straub's point of view; as a filmmaker, I think it's better to have a few serious influences than a large body of references to draw on (though in my case finding those influences means gaining a huge body of knowledge almost by accident, seeing a lot in order to worship very little). The Rivette quote in my next post is, in this way, a continuation of the Straub one here.

I think it's interesting that Danny's comment asserts that specialization is sad. For what could be more hopeful than dedication to something specific?

As for the relative sadness of Godard and Huillet-Straub/Straub-Huillet, I do think it's connected. The Straubs maintain a revolutionary sense of possibility perhaps because they're not worn out by the failures of cinema's radical project(s); Godard's work is frequently obsessed with this failure, and its inevitability. Perhaps knowing the past too well condemns you to repeat it. [Related: is representation doomed to fail, or can the revolutionary moment be contained therein?] Perhaps Godard sees only the nonexistent spring, while Straub and Huillet choose to focus on the single swallow (una hirundo non facit ver).
This deserves a post of its own, at least.

As for the source, he says something similar in Où gît votre sourire enfoui?, but I'm not sure if it's this exactly. Cristina?