We are, most of us, at this stage in life, a collection of fabricated images, endlessly reflecting off each other. Lunar in our desire to adorn ourselves with some glimmer of that light that makes others glow so brightly in our mind’s eye; mirror-like in our desire to imitate states as polar as the normal and the extraordinary. I can only talk in metaphors, is it because I fear absoluteness or because I have neither the words nor the honesty to acknowledge banality for what it is? (Also, why is it honest to look banality in the eye?)

But no, there is only structure, and circumstance. And all of this we work to tear, so the abstraction of personhood, receding farther and farther from the graspable realm, at last assumes its vapourous presence, floating indistinctly somewhere right above us. 

Personhood, as a longing to inhabit a body that sighs in recognition of itself in the company of others.
Personhood, as a longing to belong to yourself and to belong to all persons, nonparadoxically. 

Film as Weapon: A study of Mrinal Sen’s Calcutta 71

My first original post on our collective blog

Unhappy is the land without heroes!

“I wanted to interpret the restlessness, the turbulence of the period that is 1971 and what it is due to. I wanted to have a genesis. The anger has not suddenly fallen out of anywhere. It must have a beginning and an end. I wanted to try to find this genesis and in the process redefine our history. And in my mind this is extremely political. I found a continuing link in the film—a young man of 20, uncorrupted. He has lived this age of 20 for the last 1000 years or more. He has been passing through death and squalor and poverty. And for the past 1000 years or more he has bridged despair and frustration. For him the history of India is a continuous history not of synthesis but of poverty and exploitation…I took three or four stories of poverty: grinding, ruthless, unrelenting poverty, poverty that is not…

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Nha cretcheu, my love,
being together again will brighten our lives for at least thirty years.
I’ll come back to you strong and loving.
I wish I could offer you a hundred thousand cigarettes, a dozen fancy dresses, a car, that little lava house you always dreamed of, a threepenny bouquet.
But most of all, drink a bottle of good wine and think of me.
Here it’s nothing but work.
There are over a hundred of us now.
Two days ago, for my birthday, I thought about you for a long while.
Did my letter arrive safely?
Still nothing from you.
Some other time.
Every day, every minute, I learn beautiful new words for you and me alone made to fit us both, like fine silk pyjamas.
Wouldn’t you like that?
I can only send you one letter a month.
Still nothing from you.
Some other time.
I often get scared building these walls.
me with a pick and cement, you with your silence, a pit so deep, it swallows you up.
It hurts to see these horrors that I don’t want to see.
Your lovely hair slips through my fingers like dry grass.
Often, I feel weak and think I’m going to forget you.

English translation of Pedro Costa’s amalgamation of real letters from Cape Verdean emigrants to their families back home and Robert Desnos’ last letter sent to Youki before his death, as it appears in Casa de Lava (1994) and Colossal Youth (2006)