My Gleanings

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Histoire(s) du Cinema -- Chapter 2(a)

This is a translation of the narrative of Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema Chapter 2(a) as published by Gallimard. It continues from my post
Chapter 2(a)
Only Cinema
Armand J Caulliez
Santiago Alvarez
When you want
history(s) of cinema
and of television
that can come
only from someone
of the New Wave
the New Wave
maybe the only generation
to find itself
in the middle at once of the century
and maybe of cinema
is the agenda of the 20th century
it is the agenda
of the 19th century
but which is resolved
in the 20th century
the luck that you had
was to come
early enough
to inherit a history
which was already rich
and complex
and tumultuous
to have taken enough time
to see enough films
to have formed a personal opinion
of what was important
or less important
in that history
to have developed that thread
You knew however that Griffith
he came before Rossellini
Renoir before Visconti
and the exact moment
of your appearance
in a history
already apt for retelling
yet to be apt retelling
which has been told
we can say
but never retold
but there was yet
enough know-how
and enough passion
to be able to say,
to know that one came
before something
and after something
the fact of being midpoint in the century
like that
constituted its own story
to know what
was to come after you
the only chance to make
not because there were too many films
there were very few of them
and less and less
there were very few of them
and less and less
the historian of letters would say
there was Homer Cervantes Joyce
once you said those three
they would include Faulkner of Flaubert
they are very few
I would say ten films
One has ten fingers
there are ten films
my idea
that I can express
is the only manner
of making
of retelling
of realizing
I have a story
as much as I am myself
that there was
I would not know that I have
a story
it was the only manner
myself, I owe it that
that side always guilty
or cursed
as Marguerite said
she said
that I was cursed
the only manner
if one can
ever retell
a story
or make a story
and this never happens
they has been no history
history of art
quite a little less
by the French
not by the others
Diderot Baudelaire
I put immediately afterwards
Baudelaire speaking of Edgar Poe
is similar to Malraux
speaking of Faulkner
is similar to Truffaut
speaking of Edgar Ulmer
or of Hawks
Only the French
have made
they doubted
that they were part of a history
they wanted to know
what history it was
theirs in the grandness
the grandness in theirs
an example
for me
the grand story
is the history of cinema
it is greater
than the others
because it is projected
because it is projected
In a Moscow prison
Jean-Victor Poncelet
officer of engineers
in Napoleon's army
without the help of any notes
the geometric lessons
that he had been taught in
Monge's courses
and Carnot's courses
of the Projective Properties
of Figures
published in 1822
establishes a general method
on the principle of projection
used by Desargues
to extend the properties of the circle
to cones
and applied by Pascal
in his demonstration
of the mystic hexagram
so it took
a French prisoner
who was going around in circles
in front of a Russian wall
for the mechanical
of the idea
and of the want
to project figures
on a screen
virtually took flight
with the invention
of film
For the child
who loves maps
and stamps
the universe
is the equal
of his wide-ranging passions
oh, how the world
is big
in the clarity of bulbs
in the eyes of remembrance
how the world is small
one morning, we go off
our minds
all aflame
our hearts heavy with rancor
and bitter desires
and we go
following the rhythm of the wave
lulling our endlessness
on the finiteness of the seas
joyous to flee
a disreputable homeland
for others
the horror
of their cradle
and some of them, astrologers
drowned in the eyes of a woman
the tyrannical Circe
of the treacherous perfumes
to not be turned into beasts
they find space and light
and white-hot skies intoxicating
the ice which bites at them
the suns which bronze them
slowly rubs away
the impress of the kisses
uncommon luck
where the goal keeps moving
and, being nowhere
maybe anywhere
where man
whose expectations never flag
to find rest
runs always like a madman
we want to travel
without steam and without sail
being done
to enliven the tedium our captivity
passing over our spirits
taut as a canvas
your remembrance
framed in the horizon
speak, what have you seen
we have seen stars and floods
we have seen sands also
and, in spite of a great many shocks
and disasters not foreseen
we have been bored often
as here
the glory of the sun on the violet sea
the glory of cities
in the setting sun
ignited in our hearts
an unquiet fervor
to plunge into the sky
of enticing reflection
the richest cities
the widest landscapes
never hold
the mysterious attraction
which chance
makes with clouds
and always
gives us worry
we have saluted
false idols
with radiant gems
elaborate palaces
whose fairy-tale pomp
will be for your bankers
a ruinous dream
garments which are for the eyes
an intoxication
whose teeth
and nails are painted
clever jugglers
whom the snake caresses
and then, and then again
there is the projection
so I say
that it is the great story
because it can be projected
the other stories can onlt be reduced
this short poem by Brecht
I carefully examine
my shot
it is not filmable
because TV reduces
or it projects you, you
but one loses awareness
because it projects
the spectator
the spectator of film was attracted
the spectator of television is repelled
but we can have
a memory
of that story
but it is the great story
in order not to forget
the cardinal point
we have seen everywhere
without having looked
from the highest to the lowest
on the fateful scale
the boring spectacle
of immortal sin
bitter knowledge
which we draw from the voyage
the world
monotonous and small
today, yesterday, tomorrow
makes us our image seen
an oasis of horror
in a desert of boredom
is it necessary to leave, to stay
if you can stay, stay
leave, if you must
oh death
old captain
it is time
let's weigh anchor
this country bores us
oh death
let's cast off
if the sky and the sea
are as black as ink
our hearts
as you know
are filled
with full of the rays of the sun

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