Jean-Luc Godard showed me new possibilities of what life could look like

What beautiful things keep their grip on you? What texts refuse to let go of their control over your imagination? What images are so memorable that they became lampposts that light the way through an unforgiving world? What is art, in the words of an aphorism of Jean-Luc Godard, “reveals our most secret selves”? These are the questions I’ve been asking since reading the news of Godard’s death at his home in Rolle, Switzerland, by a legal assisted suicide.

I was devoured remembrancesAnd the obituaryAnd the Thoughtsand the streams of feelings that have flowed since his death, reflecting on my own interlocutors of experiencing the artist’s creative production and its impact on my life and work.

When I was a freshman at UCSD and eighteen-year-old Reaganette I saw the campus bar with a rainbow flag and told people I wasn’t going there because being gay was a sin. Six months later, I would talk to anyone who would give me the time of day, and slowly realize that my whole life up to that point had played inside a little ideological bubble, and that the whole world was available to me to take in. If I am willing to rebuild myself from scratch.

When I told my father about reading Friedrich Nietzsche, taking lessons on the history of culture, and devouring new ideas from great thinkers and innovators, my father would send me books like Hollywood Worldviews: Watch Movies Wisely and Discernment -With a comprehensive analysis on cinema’s deceptive use of meta-narrative to undermine the great project of salvation by our Lord and Savior through faith alone.

Undeterred, I signed up for any film classes I could take at the time. One of the classes was a class on French New Wave taught by Jean-Pierre Guerin, who worked with Godard while he was on the job. most political eraIn the aftermath of the May 1968 protests. My life changed forever.

A bunch of classmates and I were blasting into a huge joint and going to class in the basement studio of Mandeville Hall, the visual arts building, with an ornate stairway down the road. Guren—a majestic figure with his fish oil vitamins, European scarves, and endless stories of cops fighting in the streets with a movie camera—would give us a thoughtful smile and then put on three movies in a row.

It was one week Les carabinersAnd the Bande à partAnd the If Betty Sadat In one marathon session, suddenly I saw the possibility of capturing still images in a movie. I learned about the Algerian independence movement and understood it Ferris Bueller’s Day OffOne of my favorite films growing up, he stole one of his iconic sequences from a new French wave director.

The following week, the haunting melody of Lemmy Caution wandering the imaginary streets of the Fascist Alvaville was paired with Jean-Pierre Melville’s treatment of the French Resistance’s battle to survive in army of shadowsopened up the horizons of noir and science fiction for me as cinematic languages ​​that can make historical scenarios with real political stakes exciting.

Over the following years, I continued to take lessons with Gorin and other notables along with the friends I made through those seminars during my freshman year. Learning about Tsai Ming Liang, Stanley Kubrick, Chantal Ackermann, François Truffaut, Wong Kar-Way, Claire Denis, Pedro Almodovar, Jean Renoir, and many other architects in contemporary cinema guided me as my tendencies changed and as I politicized the events around me.

Eddie Constantine plays secret agent Lemmy Caution as Jean-Luc Godard Alphaville. (Athos movies)

They gave me a lens through which I could see the growing contradictions in my own life: going through the mental and physical pain and ecstasy of learning to be weird, discovering sex and romance and then having to hide them every time I went home for vacation or family visit. I never got to the point of opening up about suicidal thinking at the time, or obsessing about suicide the way Godard apparently did, Carry around a razor blade in his wallet. But as for many people with a history of familial homophobia, it has been a limiting force.

All of these images and experiences prepared me for my two-year time at university, during the fall of 2011, when the Occupy Wall Street movement rocked the country. Something happened inside of me between my trips to free meals at the Food and Watch Co-op Hedwig and Angry Inch At the LGBT Center. I realized that there is a lot of injustice in the world, and most importantly, that we can stand together to do something about it.

I took two buses and a wagon to get downtown to the first night of the occupation of San Diego, where a member of the International Socialist Organization greeted me with a free copy of Communist Manifesto And a sleeping bag. Later, I saw viral images of mass arrests, kettles, and pepper spray in Zuccotti Park and on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Recalling the images I had seen on screen, and feeling the need to do something more than just go to one protest, I joined a startup group on campus, the Public Education Alliance, which was fighting a proposed 81 percent increase in tuition fees at UCLA. I skipped rehearsals for the play in which I participated to participate in a slumber in front of our library on the day UC Davis students were pepper-sprayed in a line, and soon he was photographed spread all over the world. A week later, we woke up at six in the morning, and I was showing new guys how to break into a closed bookstore. We spent six months occupying that library, seizing our administrative complex, closing down the State Capitol, and trying to pass Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions The decision is through our student government, inviting students to come and paint walls, hang up signs, and claim our space.

The creative spark was alive in us – and we nurtured it by showing films in the library. We weren’t talking about track shots and close-ups; We were talking about Solidarity with students and staff on campus A lesson drilled into me by my teacher Corinne by Godard.

The campaign to reopen the library didn’t work, but it put me on the path to becoming an entrepreneur. The following year, I was invited to help organize part of a show at the University Art Gallery, a prestigious white cube for faculty, MFA students, and visiting artists to display works that were located next to the scrappier studios in Mandeville Hall. The new assistant curator heard about our profession in the library and, after several meetings, invited us to recreate the space in the gallery as an opening shot of her series of social practices.

We got invited and spent a month sleeping at the gallery, making supplies for anyone to decorate walls, host movie screenings, organize meetings, and open mics. By then I had moved into performance art and away from films, but I was still perusing Goren’s classroom to see what he was showing the new group of students.

Once I was lucky and walked in the right direction as it was beginning stray cloudTsai Ming-liang’s movie from 2005 can only be described as a musical porn movie with watermelon motifs. It almost didn’t make sense, but the images flooded me in and I felt the colors, shapes, and feelings of my reality shift and change again—the same feeling I had when I first watched Godard.

I’ve spent the past week working through all the tangled feelings that come with the death of anyone whose work can take the mud of his upbringing in a bourgeois home and mold it into a class-conscious, chaotic, ever-shifting, fluid consciousness. sex and gender.

Even seeing that he ended his life not because of illness but”exhaustion“Don’t make me lose hope in the possibility of life. As Tony Kushner, another great musician of the twentieth century, said via one of his characters in angels in america,

I do not know if death is not the bravest, but I recognize the habit; Life addiction. So we live the last hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, it’s the best I can do. this is not enough. It is very inappropriate. But you still bless me anyway. I want more out of life.

Godard may have been more addicted to cinema than alive, but Paid feel the same. It’s the drive that got me out of bed in the morning.

Sometimes it was hard — like when I went out to my parents a month after moving home and I actively ended up committing suicide, or when we were into something that felt like the end of the world in the spring of 2020, when I felt too dangerous to get out of the house and interact with others and didn’t I had no income and no idea how I would find any. In the first case, he anxiously read the words and devoured the paintings and pictures of David Voinarovich. In the end, it was watching Godard’s films that kept me alive at least as much as the political and personal relationships of those around me.

We live in times when we feel distant hope: there are no safety nets for most workers, a global pandemic declared and done by the ruling class, an accelerating climate catastrophe, violence against people trying to exercise bodily independence, and endless other crises. We also live in times of hope again: with strikes and protests, a heightened class consciousness, and a deepening understanding that building a better world is a lifelong commitment. Godard, more than most great artists, recognized that history is not linear, that culture and art are never enough, and that the making of the self and its relationships is a lifelong process that is not independent of history. He and his collaborators, fans, critics and critics have shown this to be true since opening sequence From panting They shot the hearts of movie lovers across generations.

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