Sunday, September 16, 2007

Where I'm At

I'm lost and confused, but am also beginning to think that I'm getting a handle on this whole thesis thing. The whole idea is that cinema influenced modernist literature, but a lot of authors are claiming I have it backwards. Or some claim that the techniques of cinema evolved in a "parallel history" as modernist literature.

I think this notion is nonsense, and this is what comforts me. My adviser claims that I am entering a conversation and that I need to add my own view to this conversation. The conversation I am entering is about how modernist literature and techniques in cinema converged. In this manner, I have centered about two techniques that I am sure of, and one that I am a little shaky on.

Clearly slapstick plays heavily into literary modernism. Many authors, including Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, viewed Charlie Chaplin as a huge influence. Slapstick is an absurd way of highlighting social disorder and unrest in modern society. Chaplin new how to highlight the unease all too well. Modernist authors picked up on this.

The second is montage, which is argued about furiously. Many authors aren't sure where the montage appeared first--cinema of literature. Montage can be classified as the editing of two images together to define an artificial space or connection, which the viewer creates. To me, this almost certainly had to evolve out of cinema, though Ulysses and The Wasteland both employ montage, and do so before most films do.

Here's my thought on the montage issue--and it leads into my next technique. Montage is a natural evolution from the dynamic realism of cinema. Cinema created a new art that had no judgment in its image--the camera could only show what appeared. While pictures have the non-judgmental quality as well, the moving of a image created a hyper-realism that was uncomfortably close in its exterior genuineness . Artists had to create an artificial space interior emotion and montage, which creates a sense of interior emotion, was born. Whoever wins the horse race of who developed the montage, the roots are firmly grounded in cinema.

My last "technique" is not as much of a technique as it is a style, and it is demonstrated in Eliot, Joyce and Stein. It's called automatism, and it is a social anxiety of the trend of modernism in the society. Cinema had a perfect venue for showing automatism, demonstrating repetition, fashion, design and style in a moving, cinematic way. Literary artists had to replicate this style. McCabe says at this point the grammar was taken out of literature. Instead of a "and, then, but" cinema has a "then, then, then" quality of image showing. Literature replicated this quality in forms such as stream of consciousness. I'm also thinking of the Gerty McDowell Nausicaa section of Ulysses as a great example of this point. It's not a fully fleshed out idea though.

I think I have a good thesis though. The parallel history of the development of cinematic techniques is nonsense. Cinematic techniques clearly evolved from the moving image, which has a huge impact on the way people saw themselves. That's what I think I need to develop.

My distraction from my thesis over the weekend: Mets downturn, Yankees/Red Sox, Drinking too much at our Jack and Jill.


An old friend said...

sooo... I'm a little bored of all this thesis nonsense. I miss the days of you being the crazy cat man on this blog however a sentence peaked my interest. You "drank too much at our Jack and Jill", I am perplexed by this statement. Does this imply that one Brett Evan Lassoff is indeed engaged to be married?

Brett said...

I suppose that is indeed independent confirmation...

an old alpha sig friend said...

soo then congratulations are in order... Are you busy on Saturday evening?? A couple of your old friends are all getting together to say goodbye to Ryan L. as he is leaving for Miami and most likely never returning to New England. I want you to come as my guest. My e-mail is I can give you further info there. It will be a surprise for everyone if you show up.

Mattyd said...

Welcome back, Brett. Been gone a while. Hope the thesis goes well. More importantly, hope life has been good this past year.