Thursday, October 07, 2004


That's right, Bob Dylan and other luminaries of the written word must wait another year to be bestowed an obscure prize by a country of no significance save for said prize… and their meatballs. The winner for literature this year is the crazed, sociophobic Austrian, Elfriede Jelinek, who wrote most notably, at least in this country, a little novel called "The Piano Teacher" which was made into a French film by Austrian director Michael Heneke. And it is my viewing of this film a few years ago that leads me to this circuitous connection.

Myself and a friend were waiting outside the Nuart theater in West Los Angeles for the opening of “The Piano Teacher.” We were lured by good press and cryptic marketing and the promise of bountiful hipster cache. We were a bit early, so we smoked cigarettes out front and ran with our exuberant impulses. We read aloud the copy on a movie poster for an upcoming Japanese pop movie that was called something like “The Fantastic Adventures of Micky.” Something like that. We were reading this title, I in French, her in Spanish, loudly, goofily cracking up at the double absurdity of the poster and our reading of it with our mauled foreign tongues, a bad transalation of a bad translation. I noticed this man outside with shocking long gray hair and a gray beard. He had wild, intense eyes and paced. Then we saw the movie. It was brilliant and brilliantly disturbing. We left dazed and sickened and effected in the way that only very good confrontational art and actual atrocity can do. We exited the theater to a gaggle of Rocky Horror fantatics waiting in line for their evening of fun. They hollered to us “Normals!” with disdain. I guess this is one of their cult rituals. Whatever.

We had to sit on the side of the theater, smoking, trying to understand, to reconcile what we had just seen. That night I looked up Haneke, the director, and saw a picture of him. It was the man from before the show, undoubtedly. A sudden rush of shame flooded my system. I felt he thought me and my friend ludicrous, brutish Americans, loud, obnoxious, pseudo intellectuals. He would have been right. And there’s my connection to today’s Nobel Prize winner for literature because crazy lady Jalinek wrote the novel on which the movie was based. For that I’m glad she won.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

no response to my cornel west comment, but I am persistent in my desire for contact with elusive atjness. oh yes, i am the tacky paper on your dignified shelves, good only for perhaps a moment of bonding between new housemates in their judgment of me long after my presence has left.

yeah, three cheers for neurotic, literary women folk.

you've been served.


3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, yes. The movie is perhaps, for me, the most memorable of all movies. The book is memorable too, but differently, in the sense of a desperate fever dream leaving me sick upon waking. Too sick to eat, or even breathe very much. Sociophobic, or something like that. The book made me feel crazy. The movie did too, but it was a slow, deep crazy, quietly violent and very honest. The book is violent and loud, and when I read it my head was crunched up by the narrator's voice, and I was all inside of her like food in her mouth, and I found myself grasping the chair I was sitting in as if I were about to fall out of it.

My daddy has a beard, and he paces outside of movie theaters, but he's not Haneke. Not at all.


5:10 PM  

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