NOTES FROM BOOKS
for Essay on Nostalgia
Mythologies (Haunch of Venison edition)
“…the ever-present and never-present past, and the always-there and always-absent present…”
German literary critic Walter Benjamin “embarked on a deeply personal project to exhume the past before it vanished.” – DO I WANT TO PROTECT THE PAST IN THIS CARAVAN? AM I AFRAID OF IT VANISHING FOREVER? IS THAT WHY I WANT MY OWN REPLICA?
“…the archive as a means of locating, naming and memorialising ourselves.” (Jacques Derrida)
“…while the archive bears upon our culture, so does the mental frame we bring to it change its form.” (Michel Foucault) – I’M PLACING THE CARAVAN WITHIN A NEW, REFRESHING CONTECT. FIRSTLY, I ‘DOCUMENT’ ITS USE IN WIND IN THE WILLOWS, BUT THEN GO BEYOND.
CABINETS OF CURIOSITIES
The very name, Cabinets of Curiosities, lends itself to the caravan. It is a ‘cabinet’ and one is ‘curious’ of its contents. A ‘memory theatre’? THEATRICAL??? (Look at the story of the ‘theatrical gypsy caravan’). In this case, it is a ‘wooden object’ (as are some elements from the Kunstkammer (cabinet of curiosity).
What is the FACT AND FICTION behind gyosy caravans? Are they, and their use/representation in Wind in the Willows, a bit of a myth? LOOK INTO THE HISTORY AND MEANING BEHIND GYPSY CARAVANS IN GENERAL.
“…the human view organises its field of perception and collects what it scatters into groups or connected formation, as Gestalt psychology has taught us.”
“Is it more important to the collector to remember and document the past, or lay in a stock for the future? Or is it always about both?”
“…(artists) tend to pay attention to the back pages (MY WIND IN THE WILLOWS COLLECTION) and margins, to what is absurd and neglected in collecting, saving and archiving. Their concern with the irregularities of collecting is the very thing that perpetuates the artistic reclamation of dubiousness underlying the assumed naturalness of collecting.”
PITT RIVERS MUSEUM, OXFORD
Modern Genre Theory (Duff):
Advertising Now and Propaganda (both ordered from Amazon)
THE ENCHANTED SCREEN
“Narrative informs all films. The question is, what kind of narrative and how? One of the best-kept secrets in the study of the cinema concerns the neglect of the influential role that the fairy-tale narrative has played in informing most of the films ever made – and continues to do so. Yet, very few scholars in cinema studies have acknowledged this role.”
For The Wind in the Willows as a fairy-tale adventure, quote the original video sleeve.
I want to make the film using the 12 stages of narrative (or the 31 stages, if there’s time).
I should look at leitmotivs in sound during the EDITING, and should just experiment with the VISUALS initially.
Notes on Man With a Movie Camera from the internet:
“The film was criticized for both the stagings and the stark experimentation, possibly as a result of its director's frequent assailing of fiction film as a new "opiate (drug) of the masses." – A BIT LIKE REALITY TV TODAY.
“…declared it their mission to abolish all non-documentary styles of film-making.” (referring to the ‘kinok’ filmmaking movement).
Notes on The Wind in the Willows from the internet:
“Above all, The Wind in the Willows makes a powerful contribution to the mythology of Edwardian England not only through its evocation of the turning seasons of the English countryside, from the riverbank in summer to the rolling open road, but also through its hints of an imminent class struggle from the inhabitants (stoats and weasels) of the Wild Wood.”
“They don't write books like The Wind in the Willows anymore.
Today's books for children are sly rhymes, action and social engineering. Wind belongs to an older, more innocent time when even accomplished men such as Kenneth Grahame, A. A. Milne and J. R. R. Tolkien invented stories for their children.
Stories which over the years became classics of literature.
Wind isn't a fairy tale so much as it's life told for those who will inherit it. Told by those who love the inheritors.
Even if you've read it before—especially if you've seen Disney's Bowlderized revision—read it again. Pause along the way to consider the world Grahmane portrays. This is England; this is childhood; this is life as we remember it, or wish it was.”
“…the artist tended to treat his or her works as sources of aesthetic revelation rather than as products for use and profit.”
– From the introduction, discussing artists during the move between religious and scientific belief.
The concept of modernism first appeared in the nineteenth century.
“…the subsequent three stanzas (referring to the later of Mallarme’s Self-Allegorical Sonnets) portray an empty room (caravan?) and, within it, a mirror (showing ‘going home’ and ‘coming back’ simultaneously?) in which is obscurely reflected what seems to be the image which motivates the poem’s beginning.”
Mallarme on the earlier version of the sonnet:
“…a nocturnal window open, with its two shutters fastened back (the caravan); a room with no one inside (the caravan), despite the stable air that the fastened shutters give, and in a night made of absence and interrogation, without furniture, except the plausible sketch of vague consoles, a frame, bellicose and dying, of a mirror hung at the back, with its reflections, stellar and incomprehensible, of the big Bear (Frank?), which alone connects this room abandoned by the world to the sky (the newly constructed roof?).”
Shall I create my own sonnet, using the ‘strict rhyme scheme’ or “the internal mirage of the words themselves”? “Classical poetry did not know rhyme.” – but this is a ‘modern lyric’, a later, western development of Greek and Latin sources.
Words are used as an excuse to use in order to form rhyme.
“For Mallarme the stars are language, at once music and image, echoing through poetic history.”
Shall I create a ‘punning monologue’ (much like in Mr. Frenhofer and the Minotaur)?
Shall I have a lot of repetitious language (wheels going round and round), in time with the music? Maybe a musical interlude (the ‘sad’ section/storage of the caravan) and then back to dialogue again? (Mr. Frenhofer and the Minotaur uses this technique).
Refer to pages 17 (onwards) for discussion on ‘Shot-Countershot’ technique.
Jung & Film
“…cinema offers both a means and a space to witness the psyche – almost literally in projection.”
…by engaging with films a version of active imagination is stimulated which can then engage the unconscious – potentially in as successful a fashion as our conscious attention to dream imagery and other fantasies.”
“The relationship between “belonging” and the outsider, conveyed through images of madness of primitive actions, is set within themes of resistance to hegemonic authorities, conformities and the theme concerning the necessity to leave and return “home”.”
“Hauke (Jung Hauke) notes the struggle to resist reducing movie narratives and imagery simply to influences from the director’s or writer’s childhood – an approach which has been ubiquitous (seeming to be everywhere) throughout the last century…”
“…cinema, unlike theatre, is a medium not of actors but of images, and in that sense is more closely linked to the transpersonal.”
John Beebe, looking at Bogdanovich, Cukor and Hitchcock. There is ‘meaning’ behind imagery, which is exactly the approach of portraying the caravan.
Compare ‘archetypes’ (the ‘original model’, like the caravan) to ‘stereotypes’ (a set idea about it that is usually wrong).
“…cinema (is a)… psychological art in which…we our allow ourselves to engage at a feeling level and release our own associative train of fantasies.”
Summarising cinema itself. What ‘associated fantasies’ of the general audience can I relate to the caravan? Are the 12 stages of narrative enough by which they can identify?
Should I ‘test’ some footage of the caravan with audiences before it is finished? It would be interested to question them and find out what they can relate its story to, and see if any ‘common ground’ can be found…
“Classical psychoanalysis…an awareness that we are all the time running an internal movie of associated images and sensations to which we pay scant attention. We can find meaning in this constant stream, but only if we allow our feeling and thinking to be in a more constant relation to these images, and, as importantly, we trust in their purposefulness.”
“…his (the author, Edward Bernays) aim was not to urge the buyer to demand the product now, but to transform the buyer’s very world, so that the product must appear to be desirable as if without and prod of salesmanship.”
Can I make the caravan ‘desirable’, even though I’m not trying to sell it directly? Am I trying to sell a way of life, trying to convince audiences’ that ‘this’ is ‘good’?
“What is the prevailing custom, and how might that be changed to make this thing or that (the caravan) appear to recommend itself to people?”
Am I justifying the desire to display the caravan, i.e. make a space for it in my living room?
Film me getting the space ready, and then seamlessly blend (transition) the caravan within that space. This should sell the idea of having such an item in a home, further justifying its restoration.
“The propagandist rules. The propagandized do whatever he would have them do, exactly as he tells them to, and without knowing it.”
“There is (consequently) a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.” (Bernays, p.39)
The Animated Bestiary
There is nothing ‘animalistic’ about the caravan. The characters associated with it are, on the face if it, animals – but really humans with animal masks. Therefore, with the context of The Wind in the Willows temporarily removed, it becomes, simply, a gypsy caravan, seemingly standing for what any other gypsy caravan would stand for. Reading it in this way is to be ‘literal-minded’, but is there scope for more layers to be teased from within?
“The use of animation can dilute the implications of meaning – after all, this is the artifice of drawings, puppets, objects, virtual simulacra, etc. – or it can amplify it – the illusionism providing exaggeration and fabricated emphasis, throwing the ideas and issues into relief.”
(‘Nostalgia’s not what it used to be: Disney, then and now’, p. 232-242)
“The animated form both represents a similarity to the ways in which literary narratives have been illustrated in children’s books, and the ways that a child starts to conceive some aspects of the real world before they have been socialised to specific kinds of order.”
This is in response to a viewer’s response to seeing Disney’s Cinderella after reading it a million times and being ‘amazed’ to see the characters ‘brought to life’. How can I apply this thinking to The Wind in the Willows? Is it the same? It wasn’t for me, since I had never read the book prior to seeing the film. What was my response to reading the book after seeing the film millions of times?
“The apple (in Snow White)…symbolises the tension between pleasure and pain, and is an object which determines the limits of permitted behaviour and modes of punishment.”
OTHER BOOKS TO READ:
Romani Culture and Gypsy Identity
By Thomas Alan Acton, Gary Mund