Saturday, April 15, 2023


updated, more than once. rilly.

"There is no easy path from the aesthetic experience to politics."
From the "Brooklyn Institute" to Jacobin
Oduor, previously. It's almost impressive.

And now I'm going to watch Tár, to see if my assumptions were off in any way at all.

There is no "path" from the aesthetic experience to politics; they're inseparable. Your preferences are shown in the record of your actions, not what you claim for them.

I'm a few minutes beyond the credits and it's absolute kitsch. She's blurbed as being an EGOT winner, along with Mel Brooks, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Whoopi Goldberg, and Andrew Lloyd Motherfucking Webber. It's not a film about art; it's a film about Aaahhrt. And it's just going to get worse. Brooks at least would get the joke. Jäger and everyone else, from the New Yorker and the NLR  is fucking blind.

But no. I was wrong. He's following Ruben Östlund, Force MajeureThe Square, and Triangle of Sadness. It's still shallow and reactionary—lazy, obvious, at least to... what, the old? the actually sophisticated? And Brody, Jäger et al. are still fucking blind.


This is perhaps why the moralistic commentary on Tár runs into an explanatory impasse; for it is not Lydia’s personal culpability but these impersonal forces that are the real subject of the film. 

The most obvious among them is the stratified sphere of classical music – in which the lower ranks can only improve their career prospects by cultivating informal relationships with those higher up the ladder.

He makes it so easy. From Lydia Tár to Avital Ronell, because in fact it's the other way around.

"The university belongs, like the church and the military, to the social institutions that are situated at a considerable distance from democracy and adhere to premodern power structures."
Mocking Gopnik's script, and Lydia’s personal culpability, from the start. 

He runs down the list of EGOT winners, cross-cut with shots of Blanchett at work, ending on "...Andrew Lloyd Webber, and of course... Mel Brooks."  The audience laughs and Blanchett looks up from the page, as if hearing the laughter.  It's not just the cheapness. That one leaves a bad taste.

This is the core issue: the film was made as parody, and being received as serious it's become kitsch. Or maybe Field can't make up his mind what kind of cheap moralist he wants to be. Either way I don't care.

Jäger: "Throughout, Field meticulously evokes the authentic world of the Bildungsbürgertum".
"Authentic" He sounds so American.
And I'd forgotten this.

This could all hinge on my snobbery against others'; never mind the Spaceballs vid. But I've never forgotten the description of Adolph Green's last night, written by his son, and this:
We argued the relative merits of classical composers (any suggestion that Tchaikovsky had a maudlin streak or that von Suppé might not have been the last word in profundity infuriated him).
I don't like Tchaikovsky, but through Strayhorn, there'd be no Ellington without him. My father hated Kerouac but loved Pynchon. He was right about both, but couldn't accept the relation. That more than anything is the beginning of my argument with modernism as ideology as opposed to modernity as fact.  Mel Brooks will outlast Andrew Lloyd Webber. Adolph Green knew he loved crap and minor art, and he didn't care. He worked with the maudlin and the sentimental and made something out of it. That's more than Field is capable of, or Östlund for that matter. And Sir Steve McQueen is a good filmmaker, but his politics is not the politics some think it is.

My father hated musicals but he could quote lines from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. My parents loved Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford. Gilford was an old friend of David Graeber's parents. My mother's last words were lyrics from Oklahoma. 

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