Thursday, March 15, 2012

blue, lentils, Chantal Akerman

This typewriter has been sitting on a chair, this chair, in my dining room for about three weeks now.  It's not in the way, and the chair is a spare chair, so I don't have too much motivation to move it.  I do stand on it when I want to adjust the track lighting, but since the typewriter has been on the chair, I haven't found much need to adjust the track lighting.  I'm not totally depressed—I still bathe and socialize and cook—I'm just somewhat bored of things.  My room, for instance: waking up in there (here) is old hat.  It's the same old room.  Today I kidded around with Guy that I should paint it baby blue, like a paint job would do the trick.  That's what people in movies do.  They paint their terrible rooms because there is nothing else they can change in their despondent lives.  So my room stays the color it is, and the typewriter stays on the chair.

I should say that the typewriter does not work.  I brought it in for a service estimate, and the estimate was reasonable enough, but I couldn't justify spending $150 to get it serviced at the time.  I mean, I don't need a functional typewriter.  What would I do with it?  Write more letters?  All I do these days is write letters and watch movies.  When I found a depressing movie that is all about writing letters, I fell in love.  News From Home is one of Chantal Akerman's films that she made before she made her most famous film, Jeanne Dielmann, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.  Jean Dielmann is a single mother who turns tricks for extra money.  That's what that movie is about. 

I'm not sure what News From Home is about.  I could be reductive like I was with Jeanne Dielmann and say that it's about letters, but I wouldn't want to reduce News From Home because I love it so much and because it is already so reduced. I think it's about being depressed and far away from home and family.  The premise of the film is heartbreaking:  the narrator of the film (who is never pictured) stands behind the camera and watches life pass by in New York city.  The camera hardly ever moves.  It doesn't track action or ever flinch.  On top of the still shots, letters from the narrator's mother (who lives in Belgium) are read by someone—perhaps the mother, perhaps the narrator, we don't know.   In the shot above, we get to watch the Cadillac maneuver around the camera.  It's awesome.  So are lentils.

I made a huge pile of lentils the other day because I was in my pantry and I looked at my jar of lentils, and I said to myself, Fuck, I haven't made lentils in so long, so I made some lentils.  A ton of them.  If you read the last post about tearing out the rose bushes, you already know that I turned these same lentils into soup.  Something about lentils seems appropriate for how I am feeling lately.  Maybe it's because these lentils are brown and they look totally unappetizing?  Am I feeling brown and unappetizing?  Is life brown and unappetizing?  What's the answer?  Maybe it's that lentils are dull and boring, a dull and boring food, but that sounds like slander.  Lentils aren't necessarily dull and boring, although some foods are amazing foods for being dull and boring.  It's their dullness and their blandness that we love about them.  Who wants to eat flashy shit all the time?  Lentils don't flash.  Lentils are stable and I like that.  Lentils will be there when not much else is.  Lentils, food for the sad.    



Ari said...

Hey, Jono, I like lentils. They are big and beefy. The night of the men's fish fry reminds me of the accessibility of crisis and its antidote. They're on the shelf labeled "select while blindfolded."

LauraLee said...

Mmmm lentils. I like lentils and haven't made them in a long time either. They give me lots of energy. I feel like a superhero when I eat them. I think I'll make some hot and spicy. Also, I like the blue typewriter. It reminds me of the one I had when I was nine. I wrote a novel with it. It was two pages long and I was very disappointed to realize that I didn't know how to write a novel. It was about the discovery of a unicorn,(fyi).