Monday, 21 April 2008

Dreams and dirty laundry

Yesterday I went to see the Korean film 'I'm a cyborg but that's ok' at the ICA. By the same director, Chan-wook Park, that directed 'Old Boy'. A young woman believes she is a cyborg and is admitted to a mental hospital where she develops a relationship with a young man who can steal souls. The film is aesthetically pleasing, with subtle pastel colours, but has little plot. It's as if someone is transcribing a dream to film. The time line is confusing to Western minds, with flashbacks and forwards unclearly delineated. But some Asian languages do not have tenses for their verbs and I mused upon whether this is a factor that influences Asian film editing, in that it is not linear.
Jean-luc Godard was the first director, I believe, as part of the 'Nouvelle Vague' to employ jumpy editing in 'Au bout de souffle'. Studying for my degree in cinema at the Sorbonne-Pantheon, we spent hours studying Godard's films and I hate his wanky self-referential stuff. (Madonna is citing him as an influence for her recent film, probably why it's got such terrible reviews).
Dreams, glamour, drugs, water, diving, film and photography are all ruled by the planet Neptune in astrology. Christian Metz talks about film being a popular and seductive art form, the essence of glamour, due to films ability to capture the transitory and fragmentary nature of dreams and the unconscious. One of my favourite films is by Wim Wenders 'Until the end of the world' in which a machine is invented that can record your dreams. The protagonists in the film become obsessed and trapped in this circular reality in which they dream, record their dreams, watch their dream recording which in turn influences their future dreams. The manga film 'Paprika' also has a dream 'catching' machine.
I found 'I'm a cyborg' hard to relate to emotionally, hard to care about what happened to the main characters, but was interested that the two people in our discussion group that did connect to the film were, in fact, from Asian backgrounds. I ventured that perhaps there is a code or allusions within this film that us as Westerners cannot understand. When today we look at medieval paintings, we cannot interpret them as people did at the time, for the symbols and meanings, apart from the obvious ones, are largely lost to us. Seeing Mike Leigh and Ken Loach films in Paris, I realised that there were a whole host of references that the French could not pick up upon, despite their admiration for these directors.
That day the full moon was in Scorpio. Leaving the cinema, I got the urge for a 'truth and reconciliation' style confrontation. A few years ago, while undergoing a stimulating but devastingly abusive relationship, in my efforts to extricate myself, I slept with this man's best friend, J. Bad idea. Especially when the next morning he said he'd rather fuck my 10 year-old daughter. Stunned and hurt, I gasped, winded from shock "You can't say that to me". We were in Norfolk so in tears, as you can well imagine, I jumped into my car and drove back to London.
In London I spoke to mutual friends who said they also had seen this guy, J, behave inappropriately around children. J was a larger than life and charismatic character, like Henry VIII on crack, constantly causing trouble in his street.
Once he decided it would be a good idea to be able to visit his neighbour more easily and drilled a large hole through the fireplace straight into his neighbours living room. The neighbours' wife was particularly vexed. He also took the roof off his kitchen so that he could cook under the stars (a lovely idea but rather impractical in Britain). There were nightly projections of his films on to neighbouring blocks of flats. The front door was never locked, and J often wandered around partially nude, laughing loudly and booming outrageous comments. Eventually he burnt his own house down.
He also had a quite sensitive and creative side but this was gradually subsumed by 'water on the brain' in his words or more prosaically, mental illness.
I avoided him after that but heard sad stories of his breakdown, and subsequent stays, sometimes voluntary, often compulsory, in hospital. After the 7/7 bombings he left me a message to ask if I was alright, which touched me.
Hearing from mutual friends last night that he was very depressed and lonely, I went to see him for the first time in 4 years.
"I need to talk to you" I said.
We sat down. I was struck by how he had aged and his Guantanamo Bay orange pyjamas, apparently a memento from a local mental ward.
"You hurt me. Your remark about me and my child really hurt me. I've not come here to fight or criticize or judge, I just want to discuss this with you".
He looked shocked and said that I was making this incident up. I persisted, calmly, standing my ground
"No J you did say that, and you hurt me. I'd like you to apologize. I don't believe that you really wanted to have sex with my daughter (that big scarey word paedophile) but you need to be aware that your consciously outrageous behaviour and your lack of boundaries can hurt other people".
He made hot chocolate in a chipped cup. We sat while he talked about his time in mental hospitals, how sex meant nothing to him, how he'd been abused as a child by his parents' friends. He said he had sex with women whilst in mental hospital; wards are not separate for men and women. I have female friends who have been sectioned and who have had sex with male patients whom under normal circumstances they wouldn't have anything to do with. It's part of their illness and they are vulnerable.
He said he couldn't remember having sex with me, or being in Norfolk or making those remarks about my child. He also could not remember that I knew his brother, who I had met whilst travelling through Peru some time ago. He said the drugs they gave him, anti-psychotic drugs, wiped clean his memory. But he did remember, and we laughed together, how the erstwhile boyfriend (who styled himself as a fan of 'Free Love'), tried to prevent us from leaving for Norfolk by letting down the tyres of my van and calling the police in Hackney and Norfolk to say that I had been kidnapped by J. (I guess the free love stuff only applied to him not me.)
It seemed J's memory loss was rather selective.
At the end of this, however, it felt to me that we had come to some kind of peace and I shook his hand and took my leave.


  1. wow a bit like my dad this J,
    though my dad's no pedophile.
    Pisces is he?

  2. Yes he was...multiple Pisces. Before all of this happened I told him to be very careful, I was quite worried about him, I could see Uranus transiting all of his stuff in Pisces and opposing stuff in Virgo.
    True to form, he went mad afterwards and was sectioned.


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