BRUEGEL AND AUDEN FALL TO EARTH

The man who fell to earth 1

 

 

 

The man who fell to earth 2

“Somewhere in the sky, possibly directly
Where he was looking, was his home planet of Anthea.
A cold place, dying, but one for which he could still
Be homesick; a place where there were people whom
He loved, people whom he would not see again for a
Very long time…”

– from the novel “The Man Who Fell To Earth“, by Walter Tevis

Landscape with the fall of Icarus

“…In Breughel’s ‘Icarus’, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”

— an excerpt from the poem “Musee des Beaux Arts”, by W.H. Auden
(inspired by the painting “The Fall of Icarus” by Peter Bruegel)

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In 1975, when Screenwriter Paul Mayersberg and filmmaker Nicholas Roeg adapted Walter Tevis’ Science Fiction novel “The Man Who Fell To Earth” to the screen, they often deviated from the novel in order to bring out certain nuances to the characters.

There is one scene in particular, a small but beautiful little sequence that used both Auden’s poem and Bruegel’s painting to foreshadow the main character–an alien who has come to Earth in order to save his own planet from a devastating drought–and his noble but doomed attempt to design a spaceship that would be able to bring enough of Earth’s abundant water supply back to his own decimated world  and rejuvenate it back to health.

I wish I had a clip to tie everything together, but unfortunately you’ll have to see the film. For me, it’s definitely worth checking out.

DONALD CAMMELL’S FAVORITE FILMS

Donald Cammell, a little-known but brilliant filmmaker, achieved legendary cult status as the screenwriter and co-director (with Nicholas Roeg) of the film masterpiece “PERFORMANCE”, starring James Fox, Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg. While none of his other films ever equaled the same legendary status, each of them displayed the marks of a true visionary.

The son of poet and writer Charles Richard Cammell, he initially came to predominance as a remarkable portrait artist. He made a substantial living (and became a renowned character of the Swinging London Scene of the 1960’s) painting portraits of the top echelon of London Society. 

It was around this time that he became bored with painting and found a new obsession: the cinema. After having several screenplays of his made into very mediocre films, he vowed only to direct his own work. This led him on a lifelong whirlwind of up’s and down’s. Not unlike the career of one of his idols, Orson Welles, he spent the remainder of his life battling studios and producers, who always managed to take his films away from him and re-cut his unique vision into Swiss-cheese pulp.

Besides ¨Performance¨, his other films include¨The Demon Seed¨ (starring Julie Christie), ¨White of the Eye¨ (featuring David Keith and Cathy Moriarty), and ¨The Wild Side¨ (with Christopher Walken and Anne Heche). He also directed the ¨Pride (In the Name of Love)” video for U2.

In 1996, fed-up and suicidal, he shot himself in the head (not unlike the main character of his sole masterpiece, “Performance”). The world would never see another film of his that showcased his unique cinematic gifts.

Before his death, he submitted to SIGHT & SOUND magazine a list of his favorite films:

DONALD CAMMELL’S  FAVORITE FILMS:

“The Conformist” (1969 – Bernardo Bertolucci)
“Ivan The Terrible¨ (1942 – Sergei Eisenstein)
“Naked” (1993 – Mike Leigh)
“Dr. Strangelove” (1963 – Stanley Kubrick)
“Nouvelle Vague” (1990 – Jean-Luc Godard)
“Tokyo Decadance” (1991 – Ryu Murakami)
“Blade Runner” (1992 – Ridley Scott)
“Throne of Blood” (1952 – Akira Kurosawa)
“The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (1972 – Luis Bunuel)

fox-cammell-performance

THE MEANING BEHIND THE BLOG’S TITLE

ErikTheGreat

“Cryptomnesia” is a psychological term which describes a forgotten memory that returns without it being recognized as such. Usually based in the worlds of the creative and philosophical arts, the creator formulating a new work believes with all their heart that their creation is something wholly unique, when in fact the origin of their concept stems from something they’ve heard or read a long time ago.

Far from being a form of plagiarism, according to psychiatrist Theodore Flournoy “Cryptomnesia” forms out of “latent memories that come out, sometimes greatly disfigured by a subliminal work of imagination or reasoning, as so often happens in our ordinary dreams.”

Noted Psychiatrist Carl Jung became fascinated by this unconscious oddity. In his thesis “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena (1902)”, as well as his 1905 article, “Cryptomnesia“, Jung gave several examples of the phenomenon. In Friedrich Nietzsche’s seminal work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra“, for instance, Jung pointed out that the same principles were mentioned by Géza Dukes, Sándor Ferenczi and Wilhelm Stekel, as well as by Sigmund Freud in speaking of the originality of his inventions. Jung went on to state that “An author may be writing steadily to a preconceived plan, working out an argument or developing the line of a story, when he suddenly runs off at a tangent. If you ask him what prompted the digression, he will not be able to tell you. Nonetheless, he is excited by this new material; he genuinely feels that it is entirely fresh and apparently unknown to him before. Yet it can sometimes be proved convincingly that what he has written bears a striking similarity to the work of another author.”

Other examples stem from works by Robert Lewis Stevenson (“Treasure Island”); Lord Byron (in which his work “Manfred” bears a close resemblance to Goethe’s masterwork “Faust”); Helen Keller (“The Frost King”); even musician George Harrison, whose song “My Sweet Lord” is, in fact, the same melody of The Chiffon’s “He’s So Fine” (though he denied even in court that he never intentionally meant to “steal” the chords).

Jung, in his book “Man and His Symbols”, stated the following about Cryptomnesia: “The ability to reach a rich vein of such material [of the unconscious] and to translate it effectively into philosophy, literature, music or scientific discovery is one of the hallmarks of what is commonly called genius.”

So, for this particular blog–a collection of quotes, recollections, poems, photos… Mostly the works of others–this particular psychic anomaly has, for me, a special resonance to warrant the title.

A SMALL NOTE REGARDING OBSESSION

Mary Roach 1

“I am obsessed with my research when I’m working on something new, not by nature but serially: book by book and regardless of topic. All good research–whether for science or for a book–is a form of obsession. And obsession can be awkward… I like to think that I never completely disappear down the pike; I like to think that I still have a lot of miles to go before I am COMPLETELY consumed by a topic.”

– MARY ROACH, author of the books “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex”, “Stiff: The Curious Life of Cadavers, and “Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife”.

TWO DECLARATIONS ON THE LIFE AND BREATH OF CREATING

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William Wordsworth

 

 

 

“Sweet is the lore which nature brings;
‘Tis only our meddling intellect
That mis-shapes
The beauteous forms of things…”

– WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
(excerpt from his poem “The Table Turns”)

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“Having an artistic territory firmly staked out is very important. You achieve a synthesis by determining your stance in relation to these sign posts.”

– BRIAN ENO

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