My mind rushes and my thoughts collide. Then I fixate. My mind fixates on the only thing that it could fixate on. I try to purge the thoughts out of my head but it is pointless. I ask myself the same question that I have been asking for days but I know that the answer is never.
A cup of tea will do. So I flick on the kettle and the switch glows, illuminating the red plastic that surrounds it. I open the cupboard above the kettle and get out two white cups. The cups have a purple floral pattern printed on them. I think they are tulips. What am I doing? I only need the one. I put the spare back in the cupboard. I open the other cupboard. I pick up the tin with the tea bags in, grab one and place it in my cup. Next I pick out the sugar. I open a drawer, grab a spoon and scoop two spoonfuls into my cup. I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth. I wait and the kettle boils. The steam rises and the water bubbles; I’m in no rush so I let the water settle until it is completely still. It becomes still so I pour the water into my cup. I watch as the tea slowly permeates the water. I can see a brown swirl travelling around the cup. I turn my back on the cup and wait.
Milk with two sugars. I sit down. The seat opposite me is empty. I make sure to put a coaster on the table before I put my cup down. My thoughts start to collide again. Then I fixate. My thoughts persist but they have no presence. Then the same question arises. When are we going to be together? Never. I know the answer is never.
The first time I watched Spirited Away was during an A Level Film Studies class. Four to Five years on I decided to re-watch it. Considering the film is rated so highly amongst critics and ‘Greatest Ever Animated Film’ polls I couldn’t remember much about it except some of the odder characters. The creatures and spirits are some of the oddest, surreal and bizarre in an animated film I can remember. There are the soot workers, a momentary glimpse of a giant and obese radish spirit, two identical big headed grannies, a silent spirit monster and three green bouncing heads to name a few. Watching the film a second time the creativity was equally refreshing. There a scenes with a stinking, sludge spirit that transforms with the help of Chihiro (the protagonist), as well as another where paper birds attack Haku (Chihiro’s friend in the spirit world) in the form of a dog-like dragon. The film isn’t enchanting like a fairy tale is but it does captivate you and your imagination.
Spirited Away is a far cry from the sentimental and hopeful films that Disney produces. It is refreshing to see a children’s film that isn’t overbearingly emotional, but peaceful and quaint; it feels Japanese rather than American. The film was odd, bizarre and surreal, but it was oddly comforting. Animation can capture you like a live action film never could. Spirited Away thrives in its creativity but it doesn’t make it a classic or to be regarded as one of the greatest animated films ever, but it is a captivating film.
Everything is black. I cannot open my eyes. All I can see are masks of faces. They don’t have eyes and they don’t have mouths. They are trapped. They try to force but they can’t break past. Then there is a glimpse of calm. The darkness enshrouds. Their faces have no holes for eyes and no hole for a mouth. They have no nostrils; no holes to breathe. But the faces start again. They try to force and break past. Their mouths open and their laughs are brash and wild. Their laughs are unnatural. The joke is theirs and I will never get it.
We should all start to think of art being political. It surely is, isn’t it? Politics is how we organise ourselves. And art organises us. It perpetuates myths of society, and it imbues itself with the artist’s beliefs. It influences the way that we look at the world. An artist is a politician. It is impossible for a piece of art to not be political.
Artistic institutions are political. Do we have to pay to get in? Who owns the institution? Where is the institution located? Why do these artworks hang on the walls? Who chose them? Does that make them good? Do critics know what good art is?
What effect does the art have on me? How do I experience it?
It is not just art that is political, everything is. Language. Art. Television. Film. Theatre. Architecture. Tables. Seats. Trains. Sewers. Sinks. And doors. It all governs the way we live. It all effects the way we experience the world. Surely we should start thinking about art politically not spiritually. Everything is political and everything is art.
I can’t remember any intensely dramatic films I’ve watched from the past year.
The last two films I watched were Apocalypse Now and The Green Mile. I didn’t think either was dramatic. By dramatic I mean the intense type of drama that grips and alarms you like Edward Bond’s Olly’s Prison or Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Apocalypse Now had some great scenes but didn’t hold my gaze. There was no violent intensity or fierceness about it. The Green Mile was the same. It was sad, and deeply tragic, cruel in places but not truly dramatic.
Maybe it’s the immediacy of theatre that films lack. Films have action and they have silence but they just don’t seem to have any thrust, or any force, or any real drama.