The Limits of Control – A look.

Well, here we are again, Jim Jarmusch, and me, thinking about the realm of silence.  The only time that you get the absolute stillness of his films, is in a dead body.  And that is what he is looking for. 


Perhaps the only valid criticism of his film “The Limits of Control”, is that despite is reaching for the essence of life through it’s an assertion of it’s negation, is that he only managed to get some of the vibrancy of existence.  If you ever see a corpse, cold from the freezer, painted in gay colors of somebody you have known, then you will know what he is getting at.

What Jarmusch came to tell us is the line, “The one who thinks that he is better than the others, he should go to the cemetery, to see what life is: It is a pile of dirt”.  The easiest connection to this scene, when every time it is mentioned I remember the opposite, the singer in Television’s “Marquee Moon” who says, after visiting the graveyard:

Well, a Cadillac, it pulled out of the graveyard…
Pulled up to me, oh they said, “get in, get in.”
Then this Cadillac, it puttered back into that graveyard,
Me, I got out again.
I’m in the high point of my life,
I feel so impressive,
All this time with the Marquee Moon,
but I ain’t waitin’,

I remember
how the darkness doubled,
I recall
lightning struck itself,
I was listenin, listenin’
to the rain,
I was hearin’, hearin’,
something else……

—Hearing something else.

“Drugs?”  A diva once told me when I told her of this song.  Drugs. Yes, while the song is reminiscent of drugs, maybe there is something else, some silence, some stillness some consistency.  Silence, as spoken of by Batlthus.  Consistency, as spoken of as the basis of the Dao.  Hearing one thing, and it’s shadow too.  Seeing one thing, and dancing blue.

—The main point of this discussion being that indeed, Jarmusch is bringing something to life.  But, his main problem lies in his choice of music.  Dramatic and large, and overbearing at times, it’s meant to inspire the indie-drama of recent years, in it’s most blatant and syrupy form.  A form that was brought about by Radiohead and countless electronic pioneers who work distortion into lounge guitars, horns, with a quasi-bossa feel to them. The music was not bad, but it did not necessarily bring the film to life as it should have, as the flamenco dancer in the film does.

–Yet, what the movie does prove is that death and the underlying sensation of the meaningless and ridiculousness of society does exist, and yet, most journalists are afraid to touch it.  The reviewer from the NY Time’s didn’t mention it, viewers did, but the reviewers didn’t.  Showing that Jarmusch still has the ability to throw a black hood over them, and scare them into their defensive critical mode.

–It was during a search for a review that may was supposed to reconcile my consideration of this film, and how to interpret it’s direct assault on the absolutely typical conclusions made towards daily life, when I found that this ultimately satisfying, yet frustrating aspect of the film was completely ignored.  It is Jarmusch’s most brutal attack on the social ego, and the ego’s only defense was to ignore, or to pretend that the attack never existed.

–Which, is why the beauty of the internet is seen, to show at a moments notice, what I understood internally watching that film.  An exercise in self justification?  No – If time is spend in consideration of the direction of life there really is no more self justification, because what is being justifies transcends mere egotistical existence.  Frustration becomes fuel, bliss, a moments reward for the reaffirmation of a cosmic unity that penetrates all.

–Despite an addiction to information, there is still an intuition, a constancy, upon which it is built, and the longer one practices thinking, this mode becomes accessible.  With so many singular items of information available the forest is easier to see, as is the promise of the internet – shared intelligence.  My joy is, that despite the ways in which information is used badly, the ability of seers and listeners, and feelers to discuss their insight, to conclude that those feelings, intuitions, sensations, are, in the first place, more valuable than the information. 

This is where I feel joy, that people will only re-affirm their intuition.  That it will arise despite any technological uses, and that, now, that technology and information are more prevalent, it should encourage people to feel more.

“réalité est arbitraire! “La vida no vale nada!” says Jarmusch.

Memento mori, say the wise.

Remember your life, we all say, or wish to say, but sometimes, we don’t say it, as we should.  All those moments of alienation, of being separate from body and soul, or feeling nihilistic at the prospect of things which make humans happy.  Love, sex, life.  This is a feeling that exists, but it is a poison.  Jarmusch, in the end, makes one only hope that he is commenting on the poison, not attempting to be the poison of nihilism that is affecting everything right now.  Nihilism
towards capitalism, nihilism towards life, nihilism towards nature and faith, and science, too.

The problem, and the greatest risk of Jarmusch’s film is it’s association to this alienating nihilism.  Of an arbitrary reality, that is arbitrary to the point of madness.  Reality is not arbitrary, and their is consistence in the universe.  If you do not think so, merely watch….anything related to self-organization….as a
principle that hints to the fact that the sum, may be indeed greater than the whole of it’s parts.  Of course it is, that is life.  And the only way to approach it in it’s totality, is through an admission of a lack of control, or an admission, of history.  To divide the world not into arbitrary sections, but to treat is as one, undivided whole.  To see beyond the myth of incremental, developmental increase, to see the entire symphony of life, without separating it in terms that are merely self serving, or convenient.  This is challenge, where interpretation and acceptance, are arbitrary, and those are the terms of life.


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