[The DVD also contains the award winning short film Even Gods.]
We want to make certain kinds of films. In order to stay focused and direct we’ve come up with a baker’s dozen of loosely connected thoughts that come together (or pull apart) to give a sense of what it is we’re about. This is, in the widest sense of the word, our manifesto.
If you know too well how to do something you’re less likely to fall into originality.
If self is a location, so is love:
Bearings taken, markings, cardinal points,
Options, obstinacies, dug heels and distance,
Here and there and now and then, a stance.
The animating force at the heart of everything Sontag wrote – the cultivation of aesthetic and intellectual experience – is not properly speaking an idea; it’s a stance, or an attitude. It is itself a way of moving.
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold on mold removal.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
…love…is a quest for truth. What kind of truth? you will ask. I mean truth in relation to something quite precise: what kind of world does one see when one experiences it from the point of view of two and not one?
We live in a society where a kind of Hegelian speculative identity of opposites exists. Certain features, attitudes and norms of life are no longer perceived as ideologically marked. They appear to be neutral, non-ideological, natural, commonsensical. We designate as ideology that which stands out from this background: extreme religious zeal or dedication to a particular political orientation. The Hegelian point here would be that is is precisely the neutralisation of some features into a spontaneously accepted background that marks out ideology at its most effective. This is the dialectical ‘coincidence of opposites’: the actualisation of a notion or an ideology at its purest coincides with, or , more precisely, appears as its opposite, as non-ideology. Mutatis mutandis, the same holds for violence. Social-symbolic violence at its purest appears as its opposite, as the spontaneity of the milieu in which we dwell, of the air we breathe.This is why the delicate liberal communist – frightened, caring, fighting violence – and the blind fundamentalist exploding in rage, are two sides of the same coin. While they fight subjective violence, liberal communists are the very agents of the structural violence which creates the conditions for the explosions of subjective violence. The same philanthropists who give millions for AIDS or education in tolerance have ruined the lives of thousands through financial speculation and thus created the conditions for the rise of the very intolerance that is being fought.
‘The last shall be first and the first last.’ Decolonization is the putting into practice of this sentence.
What we must eliminate are systems of representation that carry with them the kind of authority which…has been repressive because it doesn’t permit or make room for interventions on the part of those represented…The alternative would be a representational system that was participatory and collaborative, noncoercive, rather than imposed.
I’m much more interested in travelling across boundaries – in other words, travelling horizontally rather than hierarchically inside one culture.
Imagining the constellations did not of course change the stars, nor did it change the black emptiness that surrounds them. What it changed was the way people read the night sky.
One is taught to oppose the real to the imaginary, as though the first were always at hand and the second distant, far away. This opposition is false. Events are always to hand. But the coherence of these events – which is what one means by reality – is an imaginative construction. Reality always lies beyond – and this is as true for materialists as for idealists. For Plato, for Marx. Reality, however one interprets it, lies beyond a screen of clichés. Every culture produces such a screen, partly to facilitate its own practices (to establish habits) and partly to consolidate its own power. Reality is inimical to those with power.
Politics is the family at breakfast. Who is there and who is absent and why. Who misses whom when the coffee is poured into the waiting cups. Can you, for example, afford your breakfast? Where are your children who have gone forever from these their usual chairs? Whom do you long for this morning? What rhythm is it that pushes you to hurry toward pleasures life has promised you, or to a confrontation you wish you could win just this once? Where are the children of this mother who, in her slightly crooked spectacle, sits knitting a pullover of dark blue wool for the absent one who does not write regularly? Where is your gentle chatter, your splendid isolation, your lack of the need of the outside world for even a few moments? Where is your illusion laid bare by the newspaper lying on the cane chair at your side? What small act of forgiveness are you training yourself to perform today? What reproach do you wish to utter? And what reproach do you wish erased? Who threatens your wonderful mistakes, staying up to spoil your night? Who ruins your sweet inconsequential things with the awe of his authority and his driver and his servants and his happy bodyguards? Who imported this small, shiny teaspoon from Taiwan? What giant ships ploughed the seas to bring you some trivial piece of primitive gadgetry from Stockholm? How did the flower merchants make their millions and build their fine houses from selling the bouquets carried by mothers and sisters to the graveyards that are always damp: raindrops, flowers, and tears. You question why even the silence in the graveyards is wet. Politics is the number of coffee-cups on the table, it is the sudden presence of what you have forgotten, the memories you are afraid to look at too closely, though you look anyway. Staying away from politics is also politics. Politics is nothing and it is everything.
Let the writer’s status be recognised as both praise singer and social critic. Let’s say with Amu Djoleto:
What you expect me to sing, I will not,
What you do not expect me to croak, I will.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
…the true unspectacular intimacy that long work and true confidence in other people brings about.
As we cannot eliminate language all at once, we should at least leave nothing undone that might contribute to its falling into disrepute. To bore one hole after another into it, until what lurks behind it – be it something or nothing – begins to seeps through; I cannot imagine a higher goal for a writer today.
The Good Man is coming to the end of an enjoyable and engaging festival run, and will released in a number of territories later this year (more information soon). In the meantime, you can catch it this weekend at the Chicago Irish Film Festival.
The journey from set to screen is a long one, and Manifesto Films’ first feature, The Good Man, has been making its way, via a great run at Irish festivals, to international audiences, screening at Shanghai International Film Festival in June and Durban International Film Festival in July. The film is also beginning to gain some critical attention, check out the reviews in Variety and Mail & Guardian SA.
Phil has been signed up by UK agency Curtis Brown, who now represent him as writer and director. This is a big step for Manifesto, and we hope will help us as we move towards our next project, a feature based (very) loosely on Dante’s fourteenth century poem, Divina Commedia (currently in development).
After a very successful run at the Irish festivals, including sold out screenings at both the Cork Film Festival and the Dublin International Film Festival, The Good Man is currently on the international circuit. The film has been selected for the Shanghai International Film Festival and the Durban International Film Festival, two major festivals in world cinema. More details can be found at The Good Man film website, and the facebook page.