Friday, September 18, 2009

Exploited, Forever

This essay by Joshua Clover in a recent issue of Film Quarterly, is a good example of the sort of thing I feel is important to critical writing--the ability to locate a work (a film, a novel, a record) within a broader context; specifically, the necessity to read a text within a web of definitive social realities. Especially germane here are Clover's comments on Soderberg's The Girlfriend Experience, which move effectively from the purely formal aspects of this film to its (and our) milieu:

Sasha’s and Chelsea’s affectless affect, the film’s thin
idea—these are matched by the relentless flatness of the
film’s style, from the acting to the HD videography, all cool
surfaces without heft. It’s like a long YouTube clip. Such banality
may itself be rhetorical, a way to try to understand the
emotional blankness of the new life made by immaterial
labor, the truth of which is not the nifty shit forthcoming in
the future, but the missing experience of now. It’s the world
that got flat; we’re just working in it. And this may be why the
immanent economic catastrophe, rifted with hysteria and
panic, is nonetheless the most charismatic figure in the film:
a social crisis and vast destruction, at least it’s a kind of
change, a kind of awakening from the blankness of sleep, an
awakening whose script might elude the ever-hovering technicians
. . . the slightest potential for futurity.

(article was originally cited at the blog Infinite Thought.)

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