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16mm Situated - Sloan James


MARCH 11, 2023

Image credit: Still from "Tired snail eyes look around on a jog home" — courtesy of Lucas Haynes


16mm Situated


    Staving off the lower back pain of a man muddling middle age. But that would mean death at... never mind. The dull and dim concoction of nicotine, Endone, Turkey 101 and THC doesn't quell too much. I thought I was through it. Through with spine serpents snaking and looping and hooping round the bottom of my back, hissing at every movement and threatening bites of venom. Just sink the fangs in already slithering queen of mediocrity. Maybe those days jogging mattresses up staircases for minimum wage are ghosting my future plans. Plans to stand up and walk from one room to another.


    We put off dinner because hanging paintings has taken all day. Where does the damn Rigney go now that he's away? Gone? in a different place. Another home. One I've never been to. But green pastures for his bare feet to roam. I miss him, I think smoking on the balcony at 5:22pm. He was never out here with me as I darted anyway. Darting all the time. In form of cigarette and also in and out of rooms. Hiding in bed with the doors closed because why not and what else? They slept early anyway, and my hours were different and there was no family once things changed and the boy moved away, the family son with the white moustache and love of pretty women. That boy, not the Rigney boy, lives with his Mother now. And another four legged and proud black feline walks these halls and scratches at the rugs.


    When they were all here, when the family was a family, not the Familythough that cult does have direct family ties to him, well, when the home was unbroken, I met Lucas. And I bought tickets quicker than an airport piss to see this feature about a snail. Not about a snail of course, I mean I dunno what it’s about but the title is something or rather snail. Jesivina and I will eat after. Something Vietnamese. She's been craving pho since returning from the land of its origin. And somehow, she’d been craving Viet food the whole time she was there. Never satiated, "the Viet in Melbourne is better" she said. It's like we'd been to two different countries. It’s a wonder what ten years can do. Her time was doted by communist flags, both in the north and south. What is it like there now? She wants to take me back, do it well, just the two of us. Last time I saw Lucas he was on the roof of his old apartment opposite mine and he javelined a two meter tall antenna into my backyard before taking a 35mm of me holding it up to the Gods like a trident. He'd moved out over a year ago, strangely enough when the family was disintegrating; some people can feel things through double brick walls. He filmed us from his window often. First week he was here he slung me a Dora the Explorer SD card double A batteried camera and a black t-shirt with bleached shit all over it. Loved him straight away. I'm here for him. Not for him, but for myself because of him. And anyway, I’m not ‘here’ yet, I’m sitting on the balcony writing this because these things start when they feel like they start, not when the curtains are parted physically, more like when my metaphysical curtains do, and I stick my head out of Plato’s cave peeking around for glimpses of reality. His vision is always with binoculars sitting on the edge of the entrance to the cave, dangling his legs over. His vision is extraordinary, but say it in the accent of Blinky Bill – extraoooordinaryHe doesn't speak like a koala at all. That’s not what I’m getting at. But that's the drawn out rasp of eucalypt extra-ordinariness, if that makes sense. The way Blinky Bill’s voice intonates when you’re a child - “extraooooordinary.” It feels like that kind of extraordinariness.


    The thing starts at 6:30. The other films I've no notions of apart from Maya Irving who Riggles got me to follow on Instagram. Not so much out of certainty of its or quality, but interest in method. Her full body and large sweeping physical motions on the canvas. I like her swiftness but there's something doggedly about instagramming sexuality as a means of roping in viewers, followers, attraction in general. Her art speaks for itself and speaks well and I'm not a God damn critic so fucking whatever. At the same time, don't buy into the rueful subjectivity of art - that's a fucking lie. Art above nearly all else is absolute objectivity. Nothing quakes the soul so dear as the right expression. And history only elaborates upon which is truly life intended. When your art is your soul, you better bare it all. And when something obstructs it, it's your job to tear it down. Her work is good. Better than good. But there's something a little too sellable about her body-painted tits that demean the art somehow through this medium. And for sure, sexuality and art are joined at the hip. The fuck in the ethereal before it's even grasped by the nimble dexterous fingers covered in the prison of skin. But something’s off, and I hope it changes. Maybe for myself than anyone else. And that's probably a good sign. Not a subjective one. There feels like there’s something there, I just feel blindsided and obstructed.


    It’s nearly time to leave. Maybe the film will change my understanding of her delivery. Maybe I'll glimpse something behind the enslavement of social media. That’s an overpopulated stinking cave isn’t it. Redolent of falsity and fake-isms. There’s just so much human failure in that dank sunless hell that it’s difficult to make out a God damn thing. The medium is a drag. And unfortunately, a necessary one in 2023 it seems. Poor Rigney didn't know what to do about it. It never felt right to him. Then neither did pricing his work. Selling his work. And especially enjoying his work. I struggle to recall a time he ever enjoyed anything he ever did. That man never stepped foot in a fucking cave.


    Ok, late. Classic. Uber is gonna be 7 minutes late. No. Tram. I scrap this down in the notes on my phone as I go. Trams are untrustworthy and gonna be 3 minutes and we are one minute from the stop. Sick in guts suddenly. One piece of Oven street sourdough in 48 hours. No. 50 little torn up ones. I dunno. I can’t remember. Kahn drives us in because we live together now. He sleeps in Rigney’s room and falls asleep on the couch in a similar fashion. I drink beer in the car and sicken myself more after 2 glasses of Nero di Troia and two Turkey 101s. That's all it takes to feel ill now? Pig. Well, it'll do what it does and I'll work through. Kahn interrupts and asks what I'm writing in the car, I say “a potential article or whatever,” he says, “sorry” then reneges and says, “wait I can interrupt whenever I want. I'm driving you,” and I tell him, “whatever you say, I'll write down.” Point is were late and I don't wanna miss the snail jogging film.


    I feel hectic. Jesivina slips me a Valium in the car and Kahn says he'll just drive us the whole way. I remind him it's ACMI at Fed Square and he says, “Fuck no”. He's on Oxy and Valiums and just had a beer and a joint plus some morning Endone which is probably kicking around. This is not always Sloan. The writing is segments segmented. This is not always Sloan but at the very same time it is. Late and drunk and taking whatever drugs are in the ether. Well goood times come and not often cheap and tomorrow is a day that comes off a thriving life or a life bewilderingly lonesome in expression. We wait for the tram at that Lygon Junction fuckin place. Hop onto the green tram log and seat. Sitted. Jesivina uses her puffer because she jogged 4 metres. I don't laugh, I just write it down. I don't wanna miss Lucas's film, I keep repeating. I guess that's why the Valium was a mid-lift reach around.


    You know, I woulda made it on time if being pre-wasted wasn't a necessity. At this point do I re-evaluate the writing, the personal, the artistic hedge fund of Sloan? That bastard always takes me by the collar and throws me into a dark room where there are no corniced cameras and no witnesses. Well, he's right and he's written. He is writing itself, in the holy format. The gospel of language, word, yabberdash frequency touching absurd like the beginning of a handjob with spit unfinished and yearned. That dick. He's a rat, I tell you. He's a rat even taking him to watch an 8 minute 16mm film at the pretention hall. Although, rude of me to say, I've seen some damn good qual shit there over the years. I take it back and at the same time put the words in my pocket, not throwing them on the road exactly. No, they jangle in the loose light blue jeans that I wear straight legged now, not taut like the Iggy Pop youths that birthed my temperament nearly as firmly as the pressure experienced when pressed hard out my mumma’s vulva. That fuzzy lil haven. Pizza Haven ain't got no haven like mumma’s pussy haven hole. We all know that yeah? It's just a pizza joint and it weren't no good for eating. Not like the other is either. At least by our typological western idiom. At least biologically yeah? Bar the French aristocracy and obviously the Bri'ish royals, heh? Yeah look, I'm in a space. A small one at that, on the tram and yelling into this digital note-paddy app via fingers nimble and acutely aware of the words they down press. But they are tangential and ranting. I always get stuck in weird incest analogies, but that’s fine. When I get excited I dip into the shock of words. The giddy fun and the fury of it. Gives me little ventricle giggles in my silly thumping heart. If I were being followed by a camera documenting the thing, I'd be a shy lil solemn fellow of 4 years old, I think. I'm not the brazen Americano. I'm the relatively polite gentile from Melbourne who usurps beliefs and squanders illicits and legals (now that I’ve got a medicinal mary card) where he can, holding hands with a head scarved lover on the tram.


    We've arrived. 6:50. God damn. The awkwardness doesn’t arrive at the same minute we do. In fact, we get to finger our tickets, not via email because I believe holding this ticket will mean something more than it does right now. Or, that right now the meaning of this ticket will traverse the dimensional longitude and latitude of future success. Lucas has eyes like I’ve seen only in one other head. No, like a few. A handful of lookers that don’t waver to the forthright apologetic dismal filling of hats on sidewalk, but of course nobody wears hats anymore. Think of that as though it were written by Miller. Anyway, no shame to being a hat filler. That’s not what I’m getting at exactly. It’s the other. The beguiling aura of those that are a great distance from a hat rack. Well, we get popcorn and the man checks that its vegan and I appreciate his argument with the young girl who said it had milk solids in it and then I appreciated his googling to confirm to her, Jesivina and myself that his memory was sound. “Two Peroni’s too”. Well, I shoulda thought that through more. But one each, we headed out of the cave which is physically like wondering into a cave but like most things is absolutely not what it seems, to watch the real polis on the screen. We missed the first film, Goldfish Lightbulb by Richard Munro. It was evident when the numbers counted down from five, that was when we got there and nestled in. It’s Maya’s film, Embodied Knowing. And it beckons right away. Her firm self, fragile as the neck of a swan hurtled into black and white imagery of her former self, expressing the real authentic being from cocoon. It hurts in some psychologically historical sense in the motion of full facticity analysis, though refreshingly not directed towards resolution and answer. Her sexuality is present indeed but as pure as clouds softening above in gentle movement eye frames and culpable blinking. And I mean pure as in human and flawed. Not as in the purity associated with divinity in white clouds and the holy lamb. Her black and white strokes like heaving resonances that redeem and require an explication from the Instagram medium that art is reliant on like a unanimous vaccination. What she does and how she reveals herself in work doesn’t measure on our little cyborg co-dependency organ. And those measurements I don’t even understand, still and yet. She becomes actually truly beautiful and there’s no real body to be engrossed in. There’s no obvious face there to want to seek inner eye looks towards and over fated to oppress. It avoids the look. There’s only her motion and the clever direction of Jordan James Kaye. The connected feature of something that captures light in its form like a predator, but the film isn’t predatory, it just has the ken eyes of a panther, but one you allow into your house. The psychotic gaze that picks up feeling and sensuousness. Smells the hormonal changes in sweat and counts the beating of eyelids. All love is inside these sequencing flicks. She makes me feel as though I have undergone trauma in a manner that my body hasn’t actually or knowingly been privy to. The empathy that arrows itself into my sternum and down my waist and legs is good and bloodlike. I feel the thudding inside my body. I liken this feeling to standing atop a great view with the fear of looking down, but straight across is manageable. The toward. The future gaze. The distant one. The acceptance. I quiver at her notions so aligned with her wrist and elbow and shoulder and neck and whole damn torso. It is real, or so I feel it to be. Damn that Instagram! What are you really doing for artists. Reducing them to depraved materialistically intended sponsored adds for free. A self becomes a flaming bush for the algorithm. Without this, and the wonderful direction and editing of Kaye I’d have no clue the reality of it. I’d be in the cave with the rest of the squids haphazardly applying finger judgement. All art is a tinder account. Swipe here and there. What humanity is graspable in this chunk of lithium slavery world interconnectivity? What world? I was wrong. And so happy, elated, that this is good. Good for me. Good to me. And I look to Jesivina and she crunches popcorn in her little brown jaw and nods at the beauty.



    Escape To New York was immerged peacefulness in its gratitude. Something about coming just out of the appreciation of an experiential privacy that was meaningfully and lovingly conveyed into the ignition of a city in a form nostalgic and yet new, made me slump into the chair some to get a better view from the front row. Callum Ross-Thompson has four separate frames on the one screen, instilling in me the chaos and quietude of extreme human pace though I was reduced to my own two stupid eyes and my one, or omniscient mind. Through altered changing dialogues with signage and walks I found myself in a spread-out navigation down what felt somehow like the most abundant and overbearing alleyway in existence. This delivery of a city felt not just wholesome but lifted out of its rut. Its trite mentality. Its gaping asshole of a sunshining dreamscape. Introduced I was to motion within, that didn’t Woody Allen me one bit and it very well could have. And I repeat. This is not critique, this is no critic writing. I relay what I feel to maybe nobody. But I make certain to recall feelings because you never know when you’ll need em again to expand upon and stretch out toward something like a former self but transcending to be newly situated. I am a living growing developing vessel. A hyphae of some human grimy form that longs for the will and experience of others to justify their place on this spinning queefing and melting dot. Or is it actually cooling down? Oh, lord? What trivialities you speak of amidst genuine expression. Rancid fool. But we don’t cool down there. The 4th film seeps into me like a depression. Dianna Barrie’s South Point. I feel 16 an in the presence of the dead, self loathing the world. But I know this isn’t the expression protruding from the screen up my sleeves and under my shirt to my lil stupid blood rivers sniffing for the sea, budda-budda, budda-budda, bup. I’m unsettled in a grapple. A headlock. The weathering of everything. And the lack of clean beauty, the a-typicality of scenery. The beach gives me shivers as though I weren’t prepped for winter this year and the shattering gusts nearly spike-hurt like pine needles between teeth. I settle in though, and eat more popcorn and I scribble on my arm because I have nothing now to write on since my phone harbours an obnoxious blue light that’d ‘fuck you’ the rest of the audience - All artists and directors, actors and solemn loving art lovers and maybe a few whodunnits and whys. What’s the difference? No work exists without the viewer. Take pride. As I scribble about the bleakness of the film the man next to me shifts a seat over. Is it because I look like madman? Etching ink onto my skin in the shadows of cinema? Fuckin’ pussy.

Again, I’m over the edge in juice. That aesthetic feeling, the one that is like being loved for just a moment, just a hiccough of absolute detotalised totality. More than enough. There was a gentleness from the maelstrom. A cleansing in the rapid of wind and beastly hate emanating from the empty space ahead and outward. The damn sea. Man, how can I certainize objectivity in art when I have so many hurdles to leap over myself. My subjectivity is interfering. My fear of the sea and drowning in a world like the sporadic and flickering one breathing down on me now. Dianna Barrie has nailed a genuine place. Not as in geographically, although, yes, of course, I mean in the human condition and its relation to geography. The element that creates the relationship is only always purely subjective. But let’s not be relativistic. I feel this having no knowledge of a thing. And my situation is hardened up by this delivery. A beautiful work of difficulty. And how beautiful is difficulty. And isn’t beauty all the more wonderous and harking in its song when it is so difficult to listen to? I am the brushing leaves the scratching twigs, the harpooning moon and the gasping night. No critique cunts. Just telling you what I feel. The messenger is in the untouchable spaces between of the everyday, shoot them instead.

    The following film, In and Out a Window, plays after an artist that bears some hagarded frame approaches the pulpit or whathaveyou. It’s not that his age is necessarily the distinguishing feature, but that his wording and explanation of his work, not disintegrating the audiences own liberated sensuality toward it, makes him ageful and sage. Before it starts I get the feeling that this may be over my head, maybe I won’t have the sensations that it desires to arouse, though, really, in his explanation it is clear the work desires nothing but to give itself over to us. The striking word was COVID, and to me that’s cheap. Although, I have written round and about it in some ways, and my book couldn’t stave it off, afterall, we were in it, and to deny the reality of one’s creativity within situation is so damn precious. Let it go. Be in the time. Sartre said in an interview in ’59, “If literature is not everything, it is worth nothing. This is what I mean by ‘commitment’. It wilts if it is reduced to innocence, or to songs. If a written sentence does not reverberate at every level of man and society, then it makes no sense. What is the literature of an epoch but the epoch appropriated by its literature? And that applies to all artforms, regardless of medium. And though maybe there is a twinge of anti-gratuitous artform ideology in that, what beds it is the acceptance of art being of one’s time. And we are responsible for that, we must, according to Sartre, in one of the ways I find myself so sympathetic towards him, be committed. Not initially to our craft, but our time first and foremost. The craft will come to us like a cat once we are comfortable enough being dramatically uncomfortable. We are lucky if it is a craft we have honed all our lives. Afterall, it becomes our only true vision of the world. I through words and song and others through 16mm. I let myself be taken into the room. And I let myself whither there with glimpses of human hope passing inconsequentially from time to time. And on my rib cage, after the capped fella next to me had shifted, long after, I write in the dark that, “I could stay here forever.” And in that, that I didn’t realise at the time, and that is the thing with writing as you live it, on tram, on skin at cinema, etc, you don’t have the luxury of reflection, well now I do and I’ve left what was immediate, that I could at least decipher from skin and on my phone as is, because I believe spontaneity and jazz is the pulse of art and so the pulse of the world too. I felt as though I could live looking through this window forever. Not in the way that it was docile and pleasing. Quite the opposite, although still some of that. But it was as though I had no choice and I had accepted fate like a black cotton bag over the head and dragged on knees into the desert. No kicking. Just breathing and sucking in the diminishing air of the black bag, wet with desperation, but also, holy with the formal nature of passing from this life to the next. The better next. Or, at least, the different next. Different is always better. Controlling what I have left to control with the execution underway is different to the imparted trojan horse of bourgeois contentment. And I’m in the center of self with this flashing window. Hang on, why do I recognise the yard? nevermind. How could this be ok if it were to last forever? I don’t get cabin fever or Stockholm Syndrome. I just feel it out. And I notice Jesivina wriggle and get uncomfortable. She is intaking it because she has veins that she knows of and is aware of and hot heating blood that she knows of. And her reaction is good but mine instills itself and submits itself to what feels like an eternity of not knowing what the fuck is happening but taking solace in the slightest alterations of visions, hence perception, and then it returns. Knowledge of the frame we look out and then a shift and then a comfortability with that and a seemingly knowingness and then whoop bang, just so slightly the frame shifted again. What is true and what isn’t. The director… who is the director again? He didn’t tell us what to feel and think. But he signposted and I wonder how much the effect would be similar if it weren’t referentiated and chained to the idea of the pandemic? I’m sure the human nature of prison and escapism and certainty and then doubt and hope and then failure far reaches beyond the years we spent locked up and longing for interaction. Even if, like me, you didn’t really fucking care much and enjoyed letting the days wilt like all the dead flowers in your home. It was still a thing. A real thing. And I saw people reduced to nothing but hope, and what could be more hopeless than that? Sick. I was enlivened by In and Out Window. And the foremost thing was the technique. I am no expert and I don’t claim to be or know anything at all beyond my perception. And I do try my best, especially now to rescind all preconceptions and subjectivities. But damn, the technique. You could tell that the time labored was significant to the delivery. Not just specific to this film, no way, but specific to a dedicated, a committed life. Not just arduous for the sake of it. Not arduous for the hope of it being good. Not arduous and labourious in order to mask the frailty of its vision and soul. But because it required it and demanded it. I leaned back into the chair further and filled the rib with ink and moved to the other before grabbing Jesivina’s arm and taking my pen to her skin.

    As I edit this piece now, I realise the director is Richard Tuohy. In 2016 I would by Super 8 film from him in Daylesford as I documented and wrote a book there with Kial Menadue. I remember his house and his disquieting manner until I’d returned enough and bought a few and my face became less intrusive to his space. I remember his studio out back and I remember looking him up and realising that he wasn’t just an odd recluse but a genius. I’m so happy that I was moved beyond anything else by his film. I’m doubtful he would remember me. All my work from that year is still squeezing itself out the birth canal. Maybe I just need a few hits of DMT or something.

    During the sixth feature, Inside Outside, I stretched my fingers into Jesivina’s and put aside the longing to scrawl and jot. As the transformations materialized on the screen and the body swelled with promise and the belly protruded heavy with lightness I squeezed my masculine hands over hers. My hand was in her lap, was by her thigh, resting against the plastic drink holder and in her lap again. I felt the condensed visions of creation beating from the pulse in her wrist that were buried deeply in her loins now fractured. Hanna Chetwin had been a softly collected figure at the podium when she spoke proudly about the journey she documented. It wasn’t merely a documentation of her pregnancy. It was rife with difficulty as much as it was wonderous in textured fragments of routine and change. It was as though there was no real looking in. There was an abundance of opacity, which harmonized into the feeling of knowing that there is life and light on the otherside, the inside, which we cannot see. The softened edges and glassy divots felt like what an outsider, myself in a crowd, or the hands nestled into the lap of another could all but hope to witness during nine month marathon that changed gears and speeds so fast you couldn’t make sense of the journey itself. Over before it was there. Only memories in the skin and a few flashes are what we are left with. But she took hers all the way to the opening of the metaphorical tunnel. The life in situation of waiting. And I felt as though I should break a sweat for guilt and for empathy. But I didn’t. Instead I tried to count the heartbeats of Jesivina. And the pen was far from my mind. The problematic emblem of living as though narrative takes precedence, no, the problem is not trusting the narrative as it unfolds, or swells, or blooms, or grows and thinks and feels and dreams with you. So much guilt I adopt through my distrust of the path paved as we take it. We have too much control now. People do. Inside outside took me inside someone else’s experience, to the point where you peering through the pane on a nightly walk home. The intimacy is not replica. And maybe I know this from my own experience. Where there was no joy in a kick and no elation with a heartbeat. My experience was impossible to detach from her work. Sufficiently anyway. But I felt warm and I felt the joy and worry. The concern and the courage. And I felt it all in a blur that moves too quickly and delivers full and will continue to move too quickly again and again and quicker and quicker. It all would have felt much less loving without Garsden’s accompanied sound. I don’t know these people. I said this. I only know Lucas. But it’s important to feel the harmony of collaboration, of unity. And I believe the film was maybe more about unity and time than anything else. And birth just so happens to be a consummation of that. The infatuation with one’s own body during such a time could so easily be preconceived as mundane and vulgar, maybe vain, not through materialistic and basic endowment of the celebration of one’s arrogant physicality. But vain in the manner of self-pride to which only the deceptive agent aligns themselves with in soulless and reproachable good faith. Well there were two souls in that body. Two full whole souls in that body. And to me, only a repulsive reductive materialistic force feeding of servile experience could spoil it. You know, the TV women with their TV pregnancies. The way they use birth like K-mart framed degree, hung in the spare room that nobody sleeps in because who’d want to, A) visit a house printed off the architecture factory farm conveyer-belt? And B) dare to dream nearby the soulless cretins that have no expression but through the hope of another, only breeding more and more desperation in an already near totally faded and deceived, authenticity deprived society. A sick place. And dead place. No, in this film and in the proximity gifted to us from Chetwin, we got grace and we got soul that was already in love with creation before leaving it all up to the next birth that’d hopefully figure something out that they didn’t have the guts to. And the combination of such revealed the transcending souls of three, maybe four should I grant Garsden a spot, and why not. But for certain, the soul of Mother, child, and film itself worked into me. And I made my presence known to Jesivina throughout. “I love you,” I tried to animate with my touch. “It’s OK,” I tried to animate with my touch. It’s still beautiful.

I always get a little electric shock when anything birth or baby related happens in our presence. I wish I could tap the center of my palm, of both palms, and bleed into a ceramic vessel until her agony lifted and I was more pale and more white and more of a fuller and brighter moon against the night of her skin.

    It’s nice to not be told what the art means. Because it never really fucking means that anyway. I realise this, or at least it sinks in when Sebastian Vaccaris takes the podium to give us a casual briefing of My Friend Richard. The yellow raincoat is a thing and I know he knows it’s a thing and that’s fine because I was gonna wear a trucker’s cap, straight leg jeans and some sort of zip up North Face looking jacket over a plain T to this thing in order to look like a production slut or one of those Elsternwick director saps. I’ve seen them on sets. They all wear this same fucking lame as phony-casual bullshit. I thought it’d be funny to go and look like that guy, but my sincerity got the better of me after the 101. It’s good to go from the depth of the belly of woman as sanctuary, to the absurdity of life and friendship in energetic black and white. A simple fawning in the playfulness but with real vision for aesthetic motion and connection. We laugh as Sebastian speaks and we laugh as the film begins and somehow the 8 minutes feels feature length without becoming tiresome. The humour is right on the tongue, a little tart and a little sour and sweet when you take a gulp and swallow. It lifted me up. It lifted Jesivina up. But she’s so hard to read, even for me. Especially in the dark. Was she even down during Inside Outside? Or was it just me being hypervigilant? The space though, the air, the cinema feels like the temperature has changed and there’s claps after each film and it’s deserved at each end, but this one, you could tell, resonated strong with everyone individually but brought us all together. Humour and cheek have a way of making us all feel like children again; a classroom gang ready to pelt the teacher with rubbers. There was maybe more space for relation. The balance was less inclined toward the experimental and more toward playful harmony. And it all sat well together. And I sat well in my chair. And I wrote on my belly. And the dude next to me stopped glancing over.

    When Lucas walked down the stairs and stood before the cinema he ran his hands through his hair. He spoke camply and his casualness made Sebastian seem like he was representing himself at the High Court. Lucas went from one end to the other in language and description. Again, giving us nothing. I already know his expressiveness doesn’t search for words. He finds them inefficient. And they are. When you are Lucas, they certainly are. Maybe for us all, they are. Jesivina laughed and I laughed and the excitement was different in its energy. My bias can’t be adequately dissuaded, this is true. And I accept that, and it’s important that I do. And he could’ve broken my heart by screening something mediocre, but there’s nothing he has ever touched or delved into that’s been near that fucking vicinity. Lisa is with him and someone else I don’t know. Lisa looks beautiful and I recall her fondly from when they were together and I’d occasionally wave at her from my balcony or yell out some sort of inept and sonically-strangled conversation. Lucas said he just hoped we would all like it, and he commended all his contemporaries and peers and was pleased to be in their presence. Despite his insane articulation and despite his total madness in moments, often long moments strung together, his kindness can’t help but clemently beam outta his face. Tired snail eyes look around on a jog home seizes me. Relatable are the tired snail eyes, not so relatable is the jog home, or so said on the surface. And if I were disassociated from the abstract phenomena of reality I would leave it there. But I’m jogging at night and there’s lamps and branches and there’s breathing and discomfort but there’s mainly perseverance. There’s mainly a pushing forward. Mainly a vicious pounding onwards through what isn’t just a run but what is through a myriad of things. Through love very likely. Through being a fucking thing wrapped up in skin. Through having to speak and move your feet and hands around every day. Through thinking thoughts that should just be fucking dreams so that they don’t presume awful outcomes and truths and hurdles to leap over again and again. And as we run we hit the tunnel and it’s wet and it feels like sweat but it feels like slosh and our feet are swamped in saturated difficulty up to the ankle and I am tired through the lens of my eyes that stiffen themselves and the images of everything perceived by the lonesome and alienated condemnation of subjectivity, into the goo of my grey wrinkly brain and I can see that motion is the only way through. And that he takes us there and out and things still dark and even still at home, as Lisa slips her sneakers off on the bed, breathing deeply and heavily, she is exhausted, from not the run, but from the running. And Lucas is there, throughout the running. And they are both running and I ran with them. And we all fucking ran away from something and towards something else. But we sat on the bed, and we got to take off our shoes. Until we have to fucking do it again. And the shakes take over. And the lights feel crude. And the noises snap and the sky recoils and the burdens get heavier and heavier until we just get stronger because we can’t do with them anything else. It is like Sisyphus, but instead of a boulder we have our experience, our memory, and our needs all carried and cradled, always being transported and with us everywhere we fucking go. We are running and bearing the load and the loads just increase and increase and increase and increase and increase and increase, man. They just increase and increase and increase, but the running at least has to stop.

    I was elated and exhausted. I didn’t jot a thing during Tired snail eyes look around on a jog home. I got it. At least I got what I got from it. It spoke to me because I was speaking to it. Not with my words and my language. Not at all linguistically. But with the other things that suspends us all here in this cinema and I don’t mean the building or the city or the earth or anything at all like that. Maybe it’s easier because I know Lucas’ language and am so blessed to. But all language is converted its most sincere and true through the aesthetic experience and 16mm just gives it that fucking thing, you know? like licking a battery and wanking with a fistful of fly-wire.

    Jesivina and I smoke and wait outside for him. The wind round Fed Square is a bit of a bitch. I peek round and see him caught up with AFW people talking AFW shit. She asks if we should just go. She’s hungry and there’s no Viet places open anymore. There’re drinks at the Arbory afterwards and in hearing that I wince, no, I more than wince. I say, “fuck off, fuck that fucking bag of a joint. The crap griping slagfair it is with it’s Melbournian piss stinking farting Flinders pride.” I don’t say so in as many words, but nearly so. Lucas comes out with Lisa and their friend and he’s surprised to us. I hug him and I tell him how much I enjoyed not just his film but all of them. The quality was beyond what I could have imagined had I so dumbly pre-imagined them. Really, it’s the best way to take in anything. It’s a damn special thing to not know the situation you are in and it be fueled by fires highly emotive. Structured liberation of experience that you can climb like a jungle gym using the muscles of your subconscious unperturbed by general facticity, but naturally significant because of it. We walk and Lucas gets distracted by a group of breakdancers and wanders off and Jesivina and I walk on to the bar. Classic. Rigney helped in some part of the design of the Arbory. From memory, it was just following orders and doing the monotonous labourings of the architect, and one would hope so because the place can fuck off, really. I do harbour resentment due to being told not to smoke a few years ago sitting at a table by the water away from the bar and it was much past the time of serving food. So, it was just pedantic bitchism. Real garbo shit. The authoritarian nature of the joint made my asshole clench in anger and I have a penchant for cracking it at stupid little worker cunts that reduce themselves to mindless rule abiders. They strike me like PE teachers becoming Co-ordinators at highschool, hall monitors, ticket inspectors on Blyth street where it’s fucking residential and they fine you $180 because they only know how to be a social burden having probably grown up feeling that way, and those cunts that jot you fines on trams and trains. They are all the same to me. The bad faith of all these waiters scrunches my heart into wet paper towel. It is less anger at them than anger towards how they perceive this giant cosmic romance we are all together a part of. Becoming nothing but a fucking socket for others intent is in direct opposition to the damn freedom I just felt in that screening. That people of these opposing natures share the planet is astounding. Let a smoker smoke drinking a drink if it’s not in the face of babies and bitch ass bridal party kooks.  Those fat giver uppers with the pussy pink sash that says, “I’m not unique, never have been, never will.” Live laugh pray fart diagonal across their heartless chests.  As I pray for the extradition of these people, we walk. And we go down the wrong way and an older dude has to climb up through the shrubbery to the Arbory and everyone else does too. I get a pint and Jesivina gets a Gimlet and I find myself near Lucas’s friend who I didn’t know. And we talk about the films obviously. I could have gone on about how I wanted to take a shit on the bar of the Arbory, but I don’t. She tells me South Point made her feel comforted. That was the one that made me feel quite the opposite. She said she’s from Anglesea and that the film made her feel something like home. I said I could see that, but that the whole time I felt shaken and feeble in it. I told her how interesting our different reactions were and tried to probe her some more to come to an adequate understanding of each other. It was a roughened human feeling and it felt good, and uncomfortable for me. I don’t think she understood that by saying it made me uncomfortable, I was expressing a was a positive sentiment. To conduct a feeling that really crawls in you parasitically, yet invitationly, is a damn feat. And I loved it for that. She shook her head and said she thought it was good. I sort of tried to explain my experience I bit more but quickly gave up. But whatever. The film and the films explained in themselves more than conversation could and extrapolating the ineffable qualities at that moment wasn’t the right time anyway.

    Jesivina and I leaned on the rail looking at the Yarra and I said, “fuck this shit, I’m having a cigarette.” I walked off to where there were no people, away from St Kilda Rd and rolled and lit one and smoked it comfortably. There was no one around and being a Tuesday I guess they didn’t have the Stasi on. When I got back we were planning to go, Lucas was probably busy with the whole mingling thing as much as he hates it and we hadn’t eaten yet. We decided Spice Mix was the right choice. Open till 2am and on Lygon on the way home just a few stops before Blyth. Lucas took a chair with us and near Sebastian and I interjected to praise Sebastian some and Jesivina wasn’t really buying him so much. Later she said he seemed a too arrogant for his work. I told her I grant artists a lot of leeway, I have a bad track record. I get it. And it does require a certain demeanor that can be forgiven, even necessary for certain work. And yet, our conversation with Lucas and just the way he carries himself and is so effortlessly charitable with his attention, his care, his humour, turned my opinion on its head. My leeway is probably out of guilt and I’m seeking alignment with some self-fostered psycho-analytical absolution. To be a great artist, a great film maker, you require no discernable ego. Lucas is proof of that. He sweetly speaks to us and he makes us laugh and makes me miss him, which I did already and do often. He looked pretty exhausted and simultaneously on edge, so I slipped him a couple of Jesivina’s Valiums which he was happy about. These events aren’t for him but they’re probably for nobody here. It’s hard to imagine Tuohy getting off on mingling at the Arbory. Lucas is better off inside film, filming film, planning film, not celebrating them. He doesn’t make anything for anyone else. And that’s why it’s so sincere to connect with. The flawed human portrayal of a lucid yet disturbed mind. An uneasy frequency to exist within. He tells us about his cum filled tissues that surround his bed and the filth he finds himself living in now and Jesivina gets giddy with his open depravity. Her vision always aroused, enjoys the absurdity of what others keep secret when it comes to our most base behaviours. She might be uncomfortable speaking about any number of things and she’ll go shy, but when someone speaks of their body and their desire and their cum and their blood, wet-dreams and fucking she blooms like a little sunflower. She’s a totem of freedom. We leave after not so long. Lucas has to do rounds. But the Vallies will aid him. There’s kisses and hugs and lots of love and he melts at the look of us together which melts me in turn and her too. Holding hands to the stop and smoking another cigarette. We tram to Spice Mix and talk. We order and drink beer in the restaurant until they hand us two the big plastic bags of curry which we’ll go home and eat in bed like slobs. We’ll watch a doco on MIA and we’ll have fuck with not too overly bloated bellies and we’ll sleep well and good with the feelings and intentions and intimacy of 7 stranger’s lives, 8 if we hadn’t missed the first film, floating around in our spicy sweet dreams. And she makes sure not to wash my notes off her arms. And I make sure not to wash mine off mine or my torso. Anyway, it’s in there. It’s in the head, the body, the thing. When expression is good it settles not just on the surface like oil. Its mixes in and tastes good. There’s more in this city than I get. I need to get more. Authenticity is around. And we all need it and we all need to know it’s out there. Even if you don’t get it. You gotta get it. In this authentic manner we only really truthfully relate to each other, we only stand a chance in this manner. We all fall apart if we are lucky, we are all apart already at our unluckiest. I see Lucas’ old place from the kitchen when I put the food away and pack it into the fridge. And even though the neighbor that took his house is often, well was often naked a lot of the time, I’d rather have him turn up unannounced with beer or wine or gin and an inflatable red suit anytime. I miss him banging on the door at 2am yelling out that he’d sprained his ankle leaping out of his friend’s apartment window because the police turned up to the party and he’d landed on the roof of a car, denting it as he panicked and bailed all the way home without his keys. He ran home. I miss throwing drugs across the way onto his balcony and man it was crazy when we stayed up all night going insane on Oxy and planning a break-in to a construction zone at 4am to climb a crane. Times are good when they get to continue. And that means they have to change. Because nothing good stays the same. Families and friends and hell, even Spice Mix burned down just a few months ago. But it’s better than ever now.

    Addendum: Imagine telling someone they should make a film about something. Imagine saying that to someone who makes films. I just thought of that now. At 1:31am Monday morning the week after. Fuckin, fuck those people. Those are the cunts that tell you to not smoke at the Arbory. Hey Lucas, you should make a film about weasels but they have no idea they aren’t weasels but one of them actually is a weasel.


Written by Sloan James


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