“Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…
I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.
However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.” – Peter Rollins
“When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.”- G.K. Chesterton
“The suffering of God and the suffering of human subjectivity deprived of God must be analyzed as the recto and verso of the same event. There is a fundamental relationship between divine kenosis and the tendency of modern reason to posit a beyond which remains inaccessible. The Encyclopaedia makes this relation visible by presenting the Death of God at once as the Passion of the Son who “dies in the pain of negativity” and the human feeling that we can know nothing of God.” – Malabou, The Future of Hegel
“Thought that does not capitulate before wretched existence comes to nought before its criteria, truth becomes untruth, philosophy becomes folly. And yet philosophy cannot give up, lest idiocy triumph in actualized unreason … Folly is truth in the shape that human beings must accept whenever, amid the untrue, they do not give up truth. Even at the highest peaks art is semblance; but art receives the semblance … from nonsemblance … . No light falls on people and things in which transcendence would not appear. Indelible in resistance to the fungible world of exchange is the resistance of the eye that does not want the world’s colors to vanish. In semblance nonsemblance is promised.” – Theodor Adorno (Negative Dialectics, p 404–5)
Guest Post by Dana Gustafson
So, I finally got around to watching Melancholia, Lars Von Trier’s disaster movie. It only took me three days of fever-induced nausea to find the time to do so. Fair warning, I am sick as a dog, so not all of this might make much sense. I thought I’d take a different route here and compare Melancholia to the absolute best disaster movie of all time, Armageddon, which, when you boil it down, is the same exact movie. Sort of. I’ll break it down in ten categories for you.
1. Plot: Armageddon came out in 1998 (so you’ve had 15 years to see it, don’t complain about the plot being spoiled) and is a Michael Bay movie starring Bruce Willis (If you possibly think that a movie with Bruce Willis made by Michael Bay is going to have a plot, you probably thought the Passion of the Christ had a surprise ending). Anyway, a giant meteor is going to hit Earth. Bruce Willis says “oh hell no” and goes to blow it up. Melancholia has a similar plot, a giant hidden planet is going to hit Earth, and it does. Before you cry spoiler, we are shown the collision in the opening scene. Oops, there goes the suspense. Also, while the planet is heading our way, two sisters have a mental breakdown, with enough talking and emoting to make the French New Wave catalog look like a list of 1980’s action films. Winner: Armageddon.
2. Camera work: Michael Bay averages 1.5 seconds between cuts. Von Trier averages 3.7 hours between cuts, and insists on mostly handheld camera work, zooming in and out, because it’s more authentic or artsy or something to make us feel like we’re there with the actors instead of some artifical omniscent observer. Michael Bay will give you ADD. Von Trier will give you narcolepsy. Winner: Melancholia, because at least Von Trier doesn’t rely on post and editing to put together a film.
3. Director: Lars Von Trier is probably our generation’s Ingmar Bergman, except that his films are so gloomy they would make Bergman run out of the theater and shoot himself in the face. Europa is my favorite film of his, and he did give us the brilliantly disturbing yet incomprehensible Antichrist. He is one of the most unique directors working today, giving Paul Thomas Anderson a run for his money. Michael Bay is probably our generation’s most profitable director, despite possibly actually being the Antichrist. His craftmanship puts him in the running with Paul W S Anderson in terms of working directors. Winner: Melancholia.
4. Running Time and pacing: Armageddon, 2 hours 33 minutes, feels like 90 minutes. Melancholia, 2 hours 15 minutes, feels like roughly two weeks. Winner: Armageddon.
5. Paternal Suicide: Bruce Willis kills himself with a nuclear bomb to save humanity. Like a boss. Kiefer Sutherland kills himself with sleeping pills in a horse stable. Most un-boss-like. Really? Kiefer’s Jack Bauer would have built a space rocket out of golf clubs, duct tape, and propane tanks, flown to the alien planet, and yelled “Dammit” at it 437 times, which would have caused it to melt into Kool Whip, that delightful, low-calorie, and most importantly, non-world threatening topping treat. Winner: Armageddon.
6. Images of destruction: Armageddon’s NYC impact imagery is a little too close to reality. On the plus side, the Eiffel Tower is destroyed, leaving the French no place to fly the asteroid’s flag after they surrender to it without a fight. The asteroid looks like Satan’s Kidney Stone. Melancholia gives us a space-eye view and a ground-eye view of the impact, bookends at the beginning and end of the film. Animals just keel over or burst into flames, and weird magnetic lightening pops up from hair and fingers. The menacing planet looks like a shiny pretty marble. Winner: Tie.
7. Orchestral Score: Armageddon has Trevor Rabin, formerly of the band “Yes.” Melancholia has Wagner, of the band “Richard Wagner is Better Than A Guy Who Quit The Band Yes.” Winner: Melancholia.
8. Female Lead: Liv Tyler can act, you learn Elvish and see how well you do with it. But here, she’s just around for Ben Affleck to play with his animal crackers on her stomach. Kirsten Dunst puts in her best work ever, but, that only really means she acts better than she did in Interview with a Vampire or the Spider-Man trilogy. Congratulations? Winner: Melancholia.
9. Golf in Film: Bruce Willis fires off golf balls at hippie oil protesters from his drilling rig. Kiefer Sutherland owns a golf course, and tells us and the other characters this fact about 76 times through the course of the movie. Most of the film takes place at this golf course, which should be an obvious clue when figuring out how exciting this whole adventure is going to be. Also, apparently, the “19th hole” has some kind of “ooh I’m smart and noticed that there are is a 19th hole but there shouldn’t be because golf courses only have 18 holes, where’s my film snob prize” meaning. Winner: Armageddon.
10. Viewer abuse: Armageddon has more astrophysics flaws than Star Wars. Sure, NASA let Bay film a bunch of shuttle footage and let the actors wear real spacesuits, but in terms of insulting the viewer’s intelligence, man, this basically puts diapers on the viewer and lets us chew on the banisters. Armageddon is to scientific theory as what Gladiator is to historical accuracy. It’s that bad. Melancholia goes the opposite route, you either have to have a friend with a doctorate in religious theory to explain the movie to you or you need to watch the movie 794 times to “get it.” Winner: Tie.
So there you have it, my friends, I had to let the ramble out. It’s a tie, they’re the same movie. Out of 10 categories, it’s 4-4, with 2 categories a tie and therefore discarded. My main point is this: Between these two films, here’s the problem with movies today: we either get something studio-driven and dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, but is a fun movie, or we get something truly different and artistic, but we don’t know what the hell to do with it once we see it. And we throw our money towards the stupidity. Every time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Armageddon, but really it’s a very shiny pile of crap once you break it down. I didn’t enjoy watching Melancholia all that much, but it stuck with me and forced me to think about it. I’m not saying go watch every independent art movie and turn into a snobbish hipster about it, but I am saying that we need to be careful about throwing our money at every summer blockbuster just because the previews show a bunch of stuff exploding. Thanks for reading. Go watch a movie that no one you know has seen yet. End of rant.
The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Satisfaction and Certainty. By Peter Rollins. New York, NY: Howard Books, 2012, 208 pages.
Part 3 of The Idolatry of God concerns the Church, or what Rollins calls “the New Collective.” This community, rather than being a religious crack house, refuses to worship the Idol which would give us certainty and satisfaction. Instead, this community is marked by an attempt to look through the eyes of the Other in order to see ourselves. It is by embodying this act of love that we indirectly love God. The strategies of tribalism (consumption, vomiting, toleration, and agreement) are rejected in favor of liturgies that place ourselves (and our beliefs, practices and desires) into question. As Rollins has noted previously, this existential embrace of the Other cannot be an intellectual exercise. It is simply not enough to tell ourselves and others that we are…
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