Film Diary Pt. 1 by Matt Parr

I watched David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962). The way I experienced it was as like this beautiful meditation on fantasy and desire and the impotence of fantasy. Like Lawrence really wants to be an Arab but he fundamentally misunderstands what it means to be an Arab and at the end he's being sent back to England in tears (we see him cry though the rood screen of a sand-dirtied rolls Royce windshield) because he feels an equal sense of alienation from the reality of the English world and the reality of the Arab world, and was only at home in his fantasy. There's literally a part where he’s disguised as an Arab and gets caught by some Turks and they disrobe him and pinch his pale skin and go like wtf is wrong with you and tease him and beat him with sticks and like punish and degrade his white skin and there’s some good orientalism where like Alec Guinness is like (as Prince Feisal in brownface) “we used to have beautiful gardens and grand societies and now we have nothing” and like the fantasy of Lawrence is that he can infuse the ‘crumbling yet beautiful’ ‘Arab world’ with like his boy scout optimism and that can rejuvenate it but he is neither Arab enough nor English enough to do so e.g. The Arabs do not operate along the lines he has set out for them and instead do their own thing, and the British are too authoritarian (every British officer who doubts or mocks manic pixie dream Lawrence has their pants tucked into their knee-high boots which was I'm sure common uniform practice at the time but reads immediately like a Nazi silhouette. Prior to Lawrence donning Bedouin garb he wears his pants over his boots because he’s a free spirit) also there’s a really dope part where Alec Guinness is like “white people love the desert but Arabs are not into the desert they are into green trees and water there is straight up nothing in the desert.” Like Lawrence wants to be an Arab but the only vocabulary he has with which to understand anything is through domination, and like he has to conquer the desert to “be” an Arab (he brings two orphan Bedouin boys with him into the impenetrable desert and one of them gets swallowed up by quicksand, here Lawrence is taught that his vocabulary of interacting with the desert is wholly unlike the vocabulary of the peoples who he seeks to embolden/dominate. Whereas to an Arab being an Arab is about living in concert with the desert and there's also this map and the territory thing where Arabia exists both as like “Arabia” the place on the map and “Arabia” the community of Arabs, the collection of humans that makes up Arabia. Lawrence confuses the two a lot because his initial understanding of Arabia was through maps and through books etc, he believes Arabia is a place where these things are simply made manifest as opposed to the books and maps being a pale imitation of the “real thing.”

the most extreme moment of sexual degradation in the movie is the moment when Lawrence is reminded that he exists within the body in which he exists and that his disguise was completely useless, he cannot pass as his ideal self.

My Dad taught me that the fundamental language through which people interact is that of manipulation and abuse so as a kid I translated this understanding over to the other major paternal relationship I had which was my relationship with the Roman Catholic God which was also where I was introduced to the concept of willing things into existence and subsequently why I am troubled by a firm delusional belief that my Dad’s suicide was in part if not in its entirety the result of my all-consuming intrusive thoughts concerning his suicide that had begun a good deal prior to its occurrence and ended almost immediately afterward. At some point prior to my adolescence the process of prayer became a process of organizing all factors in question for maximum result: the specific wording of the request was very important, as was the perceived conventionality with which I delivered it. I delivered these requests internally, however, not out loud—there was no speech act here. I simultaneously believed that god could read my thoughts, when necessary, and also that there were certain parts of the sand dunes of my internal monologue that were sufficiently impenetrable to him, and that these places would be where I would hatch my plans to outwit him. it was regularly that I would be struck into periods of intense anxiety regarding that which dwell in this obfuscated brain space, and the understanding that god could obviously understand what was going on in there and that my delusion that he was less than omniscient was simply sending me spiraling down a hole ever further toward eternal punishment. Luckily, like all roman Catholics, we venerated the virgin Mary in a fashion that cantilevered over the precipice of idolatry. My Mom became obsessed with a popular postcard image of an Italian girl and her baby brother, the Madonnina, or the Madonna of the streets—any veiled European woman with dark hair can be the Virgin Mary (cf. the arrival of harried matriarchs of parochial dynasties to mass veiled, garbed like the spirit they wished to channel like masked pagans or costumed Otaku).

She saw herself in the teen Madonna and I saw myself in the rotund baby christ with blonde infant curls the likes of which my Mom kept somewhere alongside baby teeth for the purpose of, I imagine, cloning or witchcraft, which are the two reasons I can identify most with the practice of keeping the discarded body parts of another person because I have never experienced the brutally tragic growth of a child and, like Lawrence of Arabia, I do not understand unconditional love, interact with unconditional love like he does, like someone holding a confusing and frightening thing at arm’s length, and refuse to acknowledge that the love my family has for me is unconditional, and refuse to do anything to polish the panes of glass that separate us (cf. another Lawrence, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) Wherein David Bowie, a WWII pow, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, his captor, are physically inches apart from one another, deeply in love, yet emotionally thousands of miles apart, longing interrupted by belonging, or lack thereof, cf. also the Powell and Pressburger Joint Black Narcissus (1947), wherein a convent of English nuns in the Himalayas have their fantasies interrupted by their unbelonging—Here also is the shockingly beautiful constructed world of the fantasy, matte paintings and castles in miniature. The nuns are punished for being in the “wrong place” yet they’ve been indelibly altered by that place and now the “right place” is no longer the “right” place and the nuns have been “detached” from place like ocean dwellers who live their lives clinging to coral superstructures abruptly and rudely swept into the current, cf. Also Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures (1994) wherein our protagonists develop a mutually obsessive relationship that supersedes their “wrong-placedness” by bringing about the construction of a “right place” out of thin air entirely, a film that also ends in the death of a parent, albeit very directly

The anthropocentric place of the Virgin Mary and the communion of saints in the cosmology of Roman Catholicism allowed me to understand the celestial world as a very human and very flawed place which further allowed me to continue my practice of divine manipulation. this shift from a providence-centered to a will/anthropo-centered understanding of divine causality was most likely the root cause of my adult understanding that I somehow gave off vibes of such magnitude that my Dad killed himself, which were vibes of a different sort than those that attempted to rectify a “wrong-placedness” (“alien” vibes), but instead vibes that came to me only in the form of panic, anxiety, and nausea (“predator” vibes)—it could be argued, however, that I “inherited” these vibes from him, and that being troubled by his own internal struggle of alien vibes and predator vibes, manipulation and abuse, disease and paranoia, in a moment of weakness, my Dad resigned to the pain.

right at the beginning (post-overture) Lawrence, like a showoff, puts out a match by pinching the flame. a British comrade attempts to do the same.

“it damn well hurts” he exclaims, “what’s the trick?”

“the trick,” replies Lawrence, “is not minding that it hurts.”

Film Diary Pt. 2 by Matt Parr

Wet Stones by Eva Luna