Thursday, 25 September 2008

Naming This Blog and the Anxiety of Influence

So, although I have a ton of more useful and more important stuff to do today, I thought I'd start a blog. Not because I feel that I have anything desperately important, original or insightful to contribute to the blogosphere, but because I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and thought now might be as good a time as any. I’m hoping to use this blog to chalk down random thoughts and opinions that I have that I think might be worth sharing for one reason or another. I suspect that usually these posts will be about films or filmmakers, but don't be surprised if entries pop up on art, literature, music, or anything else for that matter.

So, ignoring the pile of work I have on for today, I sat down to set up this here blog. It'll only take a few minutes, I foolishly think to myself. I have a killer title, after all: Reflections from a Kino-Eye, so I'm all good to go. Before I start though, I decide it might be worth just Googling my ‘perfect title’ to check it hasn't been used before…and it has. Twice. Right, never mind, I sigh, on to idea number two: Scribblings of a caméra-stylo. Only, of course, that's been taken too...

Frustrating, but how about this: I'll take something from Waking Life
how about 'Salsa Dancing with my Confusion'. It's perfect! No one will have thought of that!

But of course they had…

When I was at University, my good friend Timo Tolonen and I made a film entitled Is This a Question? Is This an Answer? which was, in part, about how everything has been done before (and, of course, we knew that even the idea of making a film about how everything had been done before had also been done before, such being the world that we live in).

In our postmodern world where everything is pastiche and bricolage, the idea of creating or writing (or hell, even thinking) anything which is truly original seems even more elusive and further from our grasps than ever before. To kill our idols and overcome our anxiety of influence is a task which I fear we will never be able to totally achieve, though of course we must try. I fear though, that perhaps the best we will ever manage is to put a new spin on an ageing concept, a new coat of paint on a hunk of rusting metal. But perhaps I’m being a little overly cynical and pessimistic here: great art is still being produced the world over, and this is something to be celebrated (and I hope indeed to celebrate it in future postings to this blog).

So, perhaps our anxiety of influence is unfounded. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if we’re telling a story or repeating an idea which someone has had or told before us. As long, of course, as we give it a new lease of life. And this idea, of shedding our fear and embracing a new lease of life brings me (perhaps a little tenuously) right back to where I came in. And so, I leave you with a passage of dialogue from Richard Linklater’s sadly forgotten, underrated and appallingly unavailable masterpiece, subUrbia, from which the title of this blog has been taken:

You know, like, like, I would always think, uh, you know, what if I make the wrong move? But maybe there isn’t any right move…I can do anything I want, as long as I don’t care about the result. Anything is possible. It is night on planet earth and I’m alive. And someday I'll be dead. Someday I'll just be bones in a box, but right now, I'm not. And anything is possible. And that's why I can go to New York with Sooze because each moment can just be what it is. There's no failure, there's no mistake. I just, I just go there and live there and what happens, happens. And so, right now I'm getting naked and I'm not afraid. You know? I don't, I don't need money, man. I don't, I don't even need, I don't even need a future. I, I could knock out all of my teeth with a hammer. So what? You know, I could poke my eyes out. I'd still be alive, you know? At least I'd know that I was doing something real for two or three seconds, you know? It's all about fear and I'm not afraid anymore, man. Fuck it! Fuck fear!

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