Tarkovsky Monument 2

Sketch for Ya Magu Govorit’, Berhijrah Series, Koboi Project, Niranjan Rajah. After Andrei Tarkovsky’s Zerkalo.

I sent my dear friend (and esteemed Micheal Chekhov educator) Hugo Moss a link to the previous ‘Tarkovsky Monument’ post in Messenger and his acute response has prompted this second post.

Hugo: … it’s a lovely piece … heartfelt and so moving – and we will certainly forgive you your enthusiasm-driven sweeping statement. If I were to make a criticism it is that you don’t actually make the case for the statement, since all the things you declare as the things you love about Tarkovsky don’t in themselves add up to “most important artist of the 20 century in any medium”. That’s not to say I don’t accept your opinion, but you don’t allow me the chance to agree with you …

Niranjan: Oh I see what you mean. In a way, that is the idea … I did not want to try to prove the unprovable …  it is hyperbole after all … but partly, I did not develop the arguments that I promised, or alluded to, due to haste and brevity … time and space … or lack there of!

Hugo: Yes but you state you’re going to ‘justify’ it …

Niranjan: Ah yes … I see that is indeed an overstatement … I will go back and remove that claim … I will change the post to say that I will ‘contextualize’ it. But now that you have asked me … I will try to make my justification and I will make another post (below in this post) of it!

The main criteria or justification for my belief is that film is the medium of the 20th Century. The other mediums – painting, sculpture, literature, theatre and the like are old and therefore had necessarily become decadent by the end of the 19th Century (by decadent I mean fully matured and ripened, redolent in idiom with well defined syntax and grammars). Film was new-born at the dawn of the 20th Century and youthful at mid-century, and  just beginning to mature in the 1960s. Any artist not practicing his art in the film medium misses, in my estimation, and by default, the right to be considered the greatest artist of this time and, according to Ingmar Bergman, himself a contender for the title, Andrei Tarkovsky is the ‘greatest’ artist in the film medium!

The second criteria stems from my belief about the nature of art. Art is – the search for universal truths or ‘truth’, and it is in terms of the deployment of the mechanics and aesthetics of cinema in the service of this inquiry, Andrei Tarkovsky couches his project. I suggest that in this quest, he has no betters in the film medium and only few peers in any medium of any time.

The third criteria stems from my belief about the purpose of art … While art is a search for the aforementioned ‘truth’, artists must pursue this search in a manner that provides succor for the human condition … In this regard, I believe Andrei’s films play an exemplary role. Indeed this is what is most important about the films of this great artist. Important enough, I suggest, to make him the greatest!

(edited version of a post made in AUGUST 2, 2017)







Hey QT Dont Fuck with Bruce Lee 1

I have loved Quentin Tarantino for his Reservoir Dogs and for Pulp Fiction and I have forgiven him for many a tedious and pretentious flic on the podium of these two groundbreaking works. More significantly, I have given him, and his celluloid surrogate Samuel L Jackson, licence to skate thin ice with regard to the ‘N word’. I gave this M_ _ _ _ _ R F _ _ _ _ _ R license on the basis that his oeuvre was A _ T; because rigid political correctness is tedious and damaging to culture, and even to the justice it purports to prompte; because I believed that Quentin’s ‘heart’ was in the right place on the questions of race in America; and most of all because ‘perhaps I did not get it yet’ but that ‘maybe I would on the next viewing’! Now, after viewing the jaded and reactionary Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (just once is all I could possibly bear!), I have clarity, and a correction to make – I was wrong! Quentin was wrong, QUENTIN IS WRONG! … Hey Academy of Motion Picture Arts … Dont give the C _ _ _ _ _ R an Oscar! It will only confirm your ensconcement in that quintessential, or should I say Quentinessential Americana of racism! … Kabali Da!

Image: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/tamil/movies/news/Rajinikanth-Kabali-meets-Bruce-Lee/articleshow/53961587.cms


Tarkovsky Monument 3

tarkovskyStill from archival segment of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Zerkalo.

Hugo: Well…that’s wonderful, Niranjan, now you do give us the chance to agree with you (or otherwise), and I’m pleased to fully embrace what you write about the nature and purpose of art in your Second and Third Criteria, and respect your renewed heartfelt claim for Tarkovsky. However I’d have to question a lot of what you write in the First Criteria, starting with your new sweeping statement (much harder to forgive) that all art mediums were decadent by the end of the 19th century.

So this is how Hugo Moss’ begins his reply to my justification for my claim that Andrei Tarkovsky was the greatest artist of the 20th Century, in any medium…. in Tarkovsky Monument and Tarkovsky Monument 2 I had cited and expanded on  Ingmar Bergman’s  statement that Andrei Tarkovsky was the greatest auteur in the film medium, “Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease. I felt encouraged and stimulated: someone was expressing what I had always wanted to say without knowing how. Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream”. I had taken Bergman’s judgment on Tarkovsky as the basis of my own and estimation of him in the world of film and augmented it with the controversial premise that film was the medium of the century and that therefore, and by definition Tarkovsky was well … the Greatest of all his contemporaries! Here is an extract from Hugos’s very seriously considered reply to my sweeping but, I believe, still defensible thesis!  Hugo continues …

Hugo: Even if I accept your unusual use of the word “decadent”, you’re still asking me to consider as “redolent” the work of folk who were producing some pretty extraordinary and groundbreaking stuff (as defined by your Second and Third Criteria), well into the 20th century, using several means of expression other than film. Then your sweep continues with an attempt at laying down the law: “Any artist not practicing his art in the film medium misses (…) the right to be considered the greatest artist of this time.” You’re certainly tidying up the floor nicely here, but it seems to me that in doing so your broom inadvertently knocks over quite a lot of important other stuff, no?

Hugo is right,  indeed, I am tidying up, but in my imagination and intent, it is with a benign broom … one that separates in order to aggrandize Tarkovsky without besmirching the great masters of the other, well … I stand by it … ‘redolent’ arts …. Yes, while I am willing to withdraw my apparently failed attempt at using ‘decadent’ in an objective rather than in a pejorative manner, I stand by my use of ‘redolent’ to characterize the maturity of the other arts  vis a vis film in the 20th Century….  (More on this in Tarkovsky Monument 4)

Hugo: Although I think I see what you’re getting at, I agree neither with the claim itself nor with the attempt at establishing such a litmus test for greatness. Academia spends a lot of its time in this sort of activity, but inevitably ends up making extraordinary over-simplifications about this very great, beautiful and complex world. What is being achieved by heaving Tarkovsky (or anyone else) onto a pedestal based on such a narrow idea? It seems to be to be a supremely Ahrimanic exercise, whereas I feel we artists should be seeking to keep things flowing. I love hearing/reading about your passion for Tarkovsky and others without having to place them on anything or even anywhere in particular. They continue to move through time as we all do. Your love for and the inspiration you’ve gained from artists like Tarkovsky are far more important to me than anything Mount Olympus can provide. No, let us leave these attempts at fixing things in stone to others and keep the flow going.

Again, Hugo is right, but like the good Stalker that he is, it is my dear friend who set the trap that led me deeper into the mire … by asking for the justification that I had instinctively eschewed in my first post on Tarkovsky … Indeed, while my idolatry of Tarkovsky’s greatness was Mazdan in intent, Ahriman may have been lurking within – hyperbole limits movement, and can not be elaborated upon without begetting more inertia! I acknowledged this to Hugo on Messenger thus “Statements or comparisons of the greatness of others are not useful … other than as subjective symbols of the self … perhaps!”

Hugo: Perhaps! and I perfectly empathize with the love/inspiration which fuels them.

Image: http://www.longpauses.com/