Monday, November 27, 2006

Being and Donkeyness...

What a treat we have in store for you today. It is not often that the Local sees fit to brush dust from the work of one of l’académie's lodestars, a.k.a. their chosen ones, or -- their term -- pan au chocolats. Dust is not an option. See, l’académie's autocrats keep those treasured sheaves of loose leaf locked in wall-mounted humidors, probably around Chamber 19. Could be 20. Again, we're a tad out-of-step with the daily. Anyway, they're hard-to-find, harder-to-read. But it bears repeating: We holding you down, son. Because they can't hold us down. What.

It is much to our chagrin that our bespectacled overseers rarely take notice that their most esteemed archivists have been not faithful worker drones, but rather dyed-in-the-wool M.N.V.L. members, secretly dismantling the (DonKay)Master's house from within. With words. Erm, vive le resistance, or something to that effect. Enough. We're honored to present to you an interview with Robert Bresson, director, writer, donkée at heart. Hee. Haw.

Most of your films are adaptations. Why did you create both story and script for 'Au Hasard Balthazar'?

I can answer the question simply. One day I saw very clearly a donkey as the center of a film, but the next day that image faded away. I had to wait a long time for it to return, but I always wanted to make this film. You may recall that in Dostoevsky's 'The Idiot', Prince Myshkin says he recovered his good spirits by seeing a donkey in the marketplace. Everything you say points to your belief that the human mind isn't enough. Our senses tell us more than our intelligence.

Isn't it ironic that you are known as an intellectual director? I have always thought you profoundly emotional.

Most of what is said about me is wrong and is repeated eternally. Once somebody said that I worked as an assistant director to René Clair, which is not true, and that I studied painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts — also not true — but this kind of error appears in nearly every account of my career. Of course, the worst mistakes concern my ideas and my way of working.

In those many beautiful shots in which Marie embraces the head of the donkey, were you thinking of the common figure that appears in Renaissance tapestries of the virgin and the unicorn?

No. The resemblance is accidental.

Every day you become more difficult for your audience. So, you only shrug! You're a hard man.

No, I am simply someone who likes exercise. You know that "ascetic" comes from the Greek word for practice of exercise. You know where the title of the film comes from? In the south in Les Baux there is an aristocratic family that pretends to be the descendants of the Magus Balthazar, and so on their crest they wrote "Au Hasard Balthazar." [Balthazar, by chance]. I found it by accident, and the whole story of Balthazar is his chance involvement in the lives of others, so I decided to use this title, which, besides, has a very beautiful rhyme.

Why did you include in 'Au Hasard Balthazar' that short scene with the action painter?

He sits on a clever donkey; I make him speak nonsense.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Only common practice...

Ask a DonKay what he thinks of 1430 and he might spit upon you, but the last thing he'd call us is "law-abiding." Roguish? Yes, guilty as charged. Agoraphobic? Certainly. Who is the current President of the State? The Prime Minister of the House? No idea. We were only just getting to know the last Grand Vizier of the Secretariat. But we've still a healthy respect for the political process, as evidenced by our trove of submissions from learned judges all through time. We've a 'til-now well-guarded literary infatuation with early 18th C. English law; in particular, with Chief Justice Holt, House of Lords. Submitted on vellum, 1703.

But in the principal case my brother says, we cannot judge of this matter, because it is a Parliamentary thing. O! By all means be very tender of that. Besides it is intricate, and there may be contrariety of opinions...

...To allow this action will make publick officers more careful to observe the constitution of cities and boroughs, and not to be so partial as they commonly are in all elections, which is indeed a great and growing mischief, and tends to the prejudice of peace of the nation...

This is a matter of property determinable before us. Was ever such a petition heard of in Parliament, as that a man was hindred of giving his vote, and praying them to give him remedy? The Parliament undoubtedly would say, take your remedy at law. It is not like the case of determining the right election between candidates.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Unite d'Habitacion...

Expat architect, part-time archivist Antony Benton-Wood was living the life you'd expect of a Corbusian devotee traipsing about Europe on the company dime, preparing "feasibility reports" for futuristic underground parking garages during the 1960's. Apartment blocks were sprouting furiously, as you no doubt remember. If you caught him at a good time, he'd tell you about his English father, his American mother, and his by-all-rights beautiful sister who lived, at last communication, in West Hollywood as an actress. If you caught him at the best times he'd tell you she's really one of those cigarette girls at The DelRay. It's a nightclub. We've been. Bottom line, 'tony's an honest dude, which when we come to think of it, might be what we Donkaynians prize most highly in our contributors. That, and the submission of all entries in periwinkle blue colored pencil.

I am leaving Porto, not for good, but for Madrid, and if everything works out I'll be in the Plaza de Toros Las Ventas by evening. Thomas is waiting for me, with the others, most likely at Sol. The plans will have to wait. I console myself by repeating the phrase, "It is well known by the locals that the curvature of the arch in Eiffel's cast-iron bridge over the Douro is hopelessly incorrect." (But do they know which one is his, not his student's?) Everything seems imprecise in this rain.

Already in Gaia. I began the morning quite nervous. The feeling built to a head in Pedro's Renault, on the way to Campanha. I choked on a cigarette, spitting up coffee onto the platform, just missing my pack. Now that I'm safely on the train to Lisboa, I breathe more freely. Strange because people are smoking. I can just make out the Atlantic through the gloom over the horizon. There's a huge sand bar. One hundred meters from crashing waves, someone should be out there, shadowboxing. Instead, it's a golf course. Now Espinho.

A small girl with a sack piled high and wide on her shoulders walks down the aisle. She looks at me with a flat grin, then turns away to find her seat. Where is she going? Why do I care? I won't speak to her. I don't speak to her. Another golf course by the sea. I've done this all before, just in reverse. But it seems different. I still shake when a train speeds by in the other direction; the whole train does.

The old man next to me brought food, presumably with which to torture me by eating, disgustingly. I am correct. I brought none. I have cigarettes though. Two packs of Ventil. A lighter. A book. Colored pencils. This notebook.

Portuguese days begin very late. Rarely is it ever bright before noon. As I write that, the sun breaks through the gray, and I can see lines of growth in the fields, neon greens under thick white, and one blue streak. I draw them on the opposite page. The old man next to me is sleeping with breadcrumbs in his beard. I steal one and use it to bleed the green into the blue.