Sunday, August 05, 2007

Chaos & Control Under Four Foot Tall

I’ve often felt that the mysteries of the universe can be summed up by the concepts put forth by John Guare in Six Degrees of Separation – the external tension between chaos and control, the meeting of the wealthiest and poorest parts of society, the dance of fakery and collateral of charm, the importance of knowing when to take paintings away from children before they are overdone, and the seductive importance of cats (and Cats).

Living in New York during the time the play was staged and the movie was filmed, it felt close to many realities of mine at the time, especially the one of being invited into many a finely appointed living room on the Upper East Side, including my semi-frequently referenced aunt. Being invited in as a court jester of sorts was never quite the same as acceptance, no matter how gushing the praise.

The tension between chaos and control has always been much stronger of a spiritual force in my life than those typically cited in mainstream religions such as sin and redemption or good and evil. Neither chaos nor control is inherently bad, in my book, and finding the proper balance between the two is the eternal art of healthy living in my book.

While it might seem no two films could be more radically unalike, I have just watched Werner Herzong’s notorious Even Dwarfs Started Small which pits institutional control and the chaos of justified rebellion into unforgettable imagery. Its politically incorrect title is far less disturbing that images that will send any SPCA supporter into a panic. I’ll never look at chickens and pigs the same way again, and the brief appearance of a monkey reveals how blandly pretentious Madonna’s crucifix pose in concert is by comparison.

Herzog’s recurring themes of human civilization clashing with the ferocious force of nature is evidenced here as well, though in this case its human nature that is the most ferocious. Comparisons to Women in Revolt, Freaks or early John Waters are inevitable, but this film got under my skin in a much deeper and more profound level.

Is this truly the best good bad film made or the worst good film of all time? I used to think that Lang and Fassbinder were my two favorite German directors, but Herzog’s enormous body of work compels me as I slowly work towards seeing every piece of his output.

If our lives are like a two-sided Kandinsky, then how long does it take before our impulses force us to turn it to show the other side. In the meantime, in silence I keep hearing high pitched voices cackling and giggling in German.

UPDATE: Man, oh, man. I should have known better than to have watched this just before bedtime. I had scream inducing dreams about being held hostage by Nazis and being force fed rats last night. I'm gonna watch Telly Tubbies or porn to help my sleep tonight.

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At 6:45 AM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Where can I see this cinematic wonder? Although I do not abide images of animal maybe I would not want to see this?

Thanks for the Kandinsky images...he's one of my favorite painters. :)

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

It is disturbing, and at times, oddly hilarious. I think one of the best comments from Herzog is that he feels he's more popular outside of Germany than at home because as a country that committed some of the worst atrocities of the 20th Century they now think they should only export things that are filled with sweetness and light.

Herzog dares to go into the darker areas of humanity without apology and, I hope, is ultimately guided by a higher good.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Control? What's control? Is there such a thing??

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

That damn Dwarf movie does that to me too. I worked with one of the guys who did the restoration on that film and he has never been the same since. Its the laughing that got him. Hours and hours of little person laughing drove him mad. I have to say the constant laughing in that film is the sountrack to the 7th level of hell.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger digibudi said...

Kandinsky and Klee, my favourite mad /maths artists! Do you know Hundertwasser? He's even better! :)

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Thanks for the suggestion on that artist. He's new to me.


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