Author: Brendan

Figure traced in light

I’m so sad to learn that Dr. David Bordwell died at the end of February. Kristin Thompson’s posts to the blog they both maintained had made it clear that his health was in decline, but without knowing the specifics I admit to holding out some hope for his recovery. I didn’t know Bordwell personally myself, and was a relative latecomer to his work; Bordwell and Thompson have been held in high regard by scholars and lovers of film for decades. But even in these few years since I first read him, Bordwell’s work has come to mean a lot to me.

By all accounts Bordwell was as generous with his time, attention, and goodwill as he was with his writing and knowledge. I consider the aforementioned blog the gold standard for this medium, and whenever one of his books went out of print he’d just upload a copy to his site and offer it up for free. Bordwell didn’t write to critique or pass judgment on his subject matter. Instead, he clarified, contextualized, reverse-engineered, and recommended, all out of love for the work and in pursuit of sharing it with others.

I could read Bordwell’s writing forever, and it’s a sorrowful thing to know that I won’t see him post anything new again. But there are thousands of pages in his back catalog I can still look forward to reading and learning from. I think I’ll feel grateful that he left that work to this world for the rest of my life.

“88. Recite affirmations in front of a mirror each morning. A few possibilities: ‘I am a honed killing machine.’ ‘My street fighting ability is feared by all.’ ‘My adult son respects me.'”

Linked Onlist

Oh right! Another thing that has been slowly changing about the actual HTML markup of xorph dot com slash nfd is the “My Town” and “My Neighborhood” menus that appear at the bottom of any given archive page. The latter is a good old-fashioned friend blogroll; the former is the roll of links for friends who have nice internet sites that are not blogs. If you, like me, are avoiding tasks at the moment, you could do a lot worse than picking one of them to click on! You can even use this special magic link to do the picking for you.

Linked Nonlist

I have to imagine that both of you, my readers, consume my blog by way of a feed subscription. So you likely have no idea that I have a secret rule about what kinds of posts I allow myself to make and when. But I am the one who actually looks at the front page of this thing, so I have developed aesthetic preferences about it! Back in my micropost social media days, I got very used to the format of a-small-quote-excerpt-and-a-link, and I have carried that over to this blog. But the theming here renders those differently than regular posts—in a way that I like!—and I prefer to look at them interspersed between regular non-quote posts, not back-to-back.

Am I just writing this so I can get another of the quote-and-link posts out of my backlog? I guess we’ll never know.

“The diamonds seem to be pure geometry, the clubs simple machines (the king of clubs has a rather amusing nut-cracker), the hearts are (maybe) generative geometry, and the spades comparative geometry.”

“If you are intrigued by the idea of writing a sequel but you haven’t yet written the first thing, may I suggest pretending the first thing is already a sequel. It really greases the wheels for me.”

Lea Stans does very good work

Up here in Rogers Park, the northeasternmost neighborhood of Chicago, we used to have a beloved, ramshackle neighborhood movie theater that was casually shut down by its current ownership after over eleven decades of operation. Said ownership expressed a complete lack of interest in figuring out a way to keep it going, preferring to focus on being a Starbucks lover, but the same was not true of our neighbors. There was a real grassroots effort to make the business viable—things like people buying popcorn even if they didn’t have tickets, and sold-out Silent Film Society fundraiser screenings with live music. I was glad to attend some of those screenings, even if they didn’t end up changing the owner’s mind. Having the organist play for hours, uninterrupted and without a single note wrong, made my first time seeing Metropolis (1926) a transformative experience.

I got to watch Nosferatu (1922???) in the same way, which was borderline hallucinatory. It’s only by reading that linked Silentology entry that I came to realize the film could have played in that exact theater almost a century ago: same location, different world. I wonder if there will ever be blogs that persist in some form for a hundred years. I hope so.