February 14, 2017 (Tuesday)

by Yule Heibel on February 13, 2018

It’s Valentine’s Day on a Tuesday-god-of-war-day. But so far nothing untoward (except a very loud “crack!” sound coming from somewhere in the house’s framing, early, while we were still drowsing in bed): the sun is out, everything is brilliantly and sharply lit, the snow is a picture of innocence.

I have pulled the blind down all the way to the sill. Otherwise, all that light would knife me without mercy.

Many things to think about: E. made it safe & sound to Auburn ME, where she and two coworkers are onsite at a client’s company till Friday. The colleagues fly out of Portland then, and I expect to pick her up at that airport.

Last night W. and I watched Adam Curtis’s strange and super enthralling film, HyperNormalisation. Not sure I can begin to describe it. We watched via YouTube and the quality was sometimes annoyingly bad (super pixelated, e.g.), which may have been due in part to the age of the TV clips Curtis used. It’s a visual collage overlaid by a fairly stern verbal treatise: it connects disparate events and things, and makes us see the relationship, whether it’s NYC in 1975 and Damascus in that same year, or the turn to fitness crazes (Jane Fonda) at the expense of (or as an expression of the now impossibility) of political action. It’s a description of how a financial class, intent simply on managing things, events, people, took over the reins from a political class (who willingly abdicated, colluded, profited). It left me thinking about the computer program Eliza as a precursor to Facebook, serving up narcissism-enforcing “likes,” a kind of self-sufficiency that not only creates bubbles but also obviates the need for change – or, shows the futility of attempting change. It’s the kind of film I wish were available as a Walter Benjamin text (or Brecht!), because I think that’s basically the method (collage, bricolage, juxtaposition). And to interrogate it, to really understand it, you’d need to deconstruct it further into its constituent parts, create multiple timelines and put all the disparate events on those lines. Actually, that would be the script, I suppose. I would definitely watch it again.

What I don’t want to watch again (rewatch) is BBC’s production of John Le Carré’s The Night Manager. So far we’ve watched three – or is it four? – episodes; there are six in total – but, unfaithful to the book here as in so many other ways, this is only Season 1. They’re just getting going. In the last episode we watched (it was either #3 or #4), we saw John Le Carré make a Hitchcockian cameo, how vain. But what also struck me was the homoerotic quality of Jonathan Pine (main protagonist, played by Tom Hiddleston) having sex with Jed (played by Elizabeth Debicki), who is Ricky Roper’s prize love possession (Roper, arch-villain, is played by Hugh Laurie). The actor who plays Pine is, in Camille Paglia’s sense, truly ephebian and androgynous – insofar as, despite being identifiably male and virile (he’s a hunk), he is also “feminine” in his passivity (which descends into outright masochism) and his depilated, smooth form. Everybody loves him, as Major Corkoran (another bad guy) and Jed point out: men and women drop to their knees before him, but he is, we suspect, a belle dame sans merci. (Of course it will all be heteronormatively righted by the end, but the director plays with it, I feel.) “Corky” (the Major) in turn actually is gay, and he’s the opposite of Pine in other ways: he’s the anti-Apollo (Pine is Apollonian, and he’s Athena, too: always ahead in his calculating brain), while “Corky” is Chthonian insofar as he’s short, stocky, his arms are almost comically short, and he loses control all the time (excessive drink), even though he wants control. Oh, the homoerotic aspect? Pine’s soft, exposed buttocks (but only these – he remains otherwise clothed) as he fucks Jed, standing up, against a wall.


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