ARTIST IN FOCUS: Trinh T. Minh-ha

In the context of the Courtisane festival 2023 (29 March – 2 April). Curated by Stoffel Debuysere.

“Patriarchy and hegemony. Not really two, not one either. My history, my story, is the history of the First World/Third World, dominant/oppressed, man/woman relationship.. When speaking about the Master, I am necessarily speaking about both Him and the West. Patriarchy and hegemony. From orthodox to progressive patriarchy, from direct colonization to indirect, subtly pervasive hegemony, things have been much refined, but the road is still long and the fight still goes on.”

“I do not intend to speak about; just speak nearby.” With these words, spoken in her debut film, Reassemblage (1982), Trinh T. Minh-ha describes the attitude she adopts throughout her oeuvre. An attitude characterized by an aversion to institutional authority and expertise, and instead grounded in embodied experience and self-reflection. A way of positioning herself in relation to the world that expresses itself in all aspects of her films: verbally, musically, visually. For example, in Reassemblage, the first of two films she made in West Africa, she exposes the transformations that inevitably take place when attempting to put the impossible experience of ‘what’ comprises Senegalese culture into cinematic form. That same urge to break down patterns of expectation and challenge the interpretive claims of authoritarian forms is also found in her writing. Her influential book Woman, Native, Other (1989, in French version: Femme, indigène, autre, Paris: B42, 2022 ), for instance, is primarily a questioning of the contradictory imperatives faced by the ‘I’, as a ‘Third World woman’, in creating and critiquing the role of creator and intellectual across literature, anthropology and the arts.

Born in Hanoi, Trinh T. Minh-ha emigrated to the US during the Vietnam War, where she studied music composition, ethnomusicology and French literature. Since the early 1980s, she has been problematising the forms of reductionism and essentialism that influence our self-image and worldview. By her own admission, her films are partly motivated by her experiences in former colonised Vietnam – experiences that she clearly recognised, shared and re-lived in Africa. These life experiences account for her decision to make films that point to the process of the construction of meaning, and to herself as an active element in that process. Her films are grounded in the question: why not approach a country, a people, a culture by starting with what comes with an image or with a name, like ‘Senegal’, but also ‘Vietnam’, ‘China’, or ‘Japan’? What exactly stands for, characterises and speaks to a cultural and political event? How does the medium of cinema allow one to show, tell and receive rather than merely represent? In other words, Trinh considers a given name or a recorded image not as finalities but as points of departure. In Shoot for the Contents (1991) and her latest film, What About China? (2022), she does not search for the ‘true’ face of China but probes beneath and with the surface of the country’s image – an image, determined by the media and other forms of information, that’s taken for granted in our daily relationship to the country.

The space in which Trinh T. Minh-ha works and creates is where she confronts and leaves behind the world of beaten paths and traffic regulations. She seeks the in-between spaces where established boundaries can be rearranged and shifted, including those of the ‘I’. In each of her films, rather than as a source, the ‘I’ is deployed as an open site where other manifestations of the ‘I’ can take up residence and incongruous elements can converge. In Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989), she approaches Vietnamese culture in all its multiplicity without endorsing the legitimized subjectivity of the ‘insider’. Rather than constructing a single homogeneous perspective or an ‘unmediated’ personal account, she portrays culture through popular memory and oral traditions, primarily concerning Vietnamese women, while simultaneously addressing the politics of interviewing and the politics of translation. “Crisscrossing more than one occupied territory at a time,” she writes, “she remains perforce inappropriate/d – both inside and outside her own social positionings… A trajectory across variable praxes of difference, her (un)location is necessarily the shifting and contextual interval between arrested boundaries.”

In contrast to the endless discourse about a virtual boundlessness in a globalised world, Trinh T. Minh-ha unveils and punctures the separations and demarcations that define our place in and relationship to the world. “Reality is delicate,” she says in Reassemblage, and it is that constant, wavering probing of reality, filled with a passion called wonder, averse to claims of authenticity, authority or neutrality, that shows from her work the power to break out of our compartmentalised world.

——

In the context of this focus on the work of Trinh T. Minh-ha, we invited musician, author and curator David Toop to reflect on the sound work in her films. The resulting publication, titled Breath, rhythm, silence, resonance: listening beyond seeing in the films of Trinh T. Minh­ha, is the first publication in the Echoes of Dissent series, devoted to the politics of the soundtrack. This series is part of the research project of the same name within KASK & Conservatorium School of Arts Ghent.

Thanks to An van. Dienderen, Christophe Piette (CINEMATEK), Angelika Ramlow (Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst), Colleen O’Shea (Women Make Movies)

This program will be followed by a complete retro­spective dedicated to the films of Trinh T. Minh­ha at CINEMATEK in Brussels (www.cinematek.be).

——

Reassemblage: From the Firelight to the Screen
Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, 1982, 16mm, 40′

Reassemblage is Trinh T. Minh-ha’s first 16mm film, made after a three-year stay (1977-80) in Senegal, where she taught music at the Institut National des Arts in Dakar. It was during this stay that she had become aware of the hegemony of anthropological discourse in any attempt, by both local outsiders and insiders, to identify and capture the observed culture. This film is a response to the urgency she felt to question the anthropological apparatus, its essentialising constructs and colonial ethos. This also implied a questioning of her own position as a “hybrid insider”, as someone who shares a certain experience of colonialism but at the same time is no less considered an outsider than any European. Above all, the film is a response to a desire to “not simply mean”; a desire not to approach Senegalese culture by wrapping it in reductive constructions of meaning. Trinh subverts the conventions of cinematic representation by playing with repetition, non-synchronous sound and unstable camerawork that disrupt temporal and spatial continuity and invite viewers/listeners to assume their own relationship to the world that appears on screen.

“My approach is one which avoids any sure­ness of signification. In most anthropological presentations, the establishing of connections between signs and the deciphering of cultural codes is flattened out by the voice of knowledge, the voice of factual truth. This is reflected, in films, in the omniscience of the cinematography and the editing as well as the commentary and/ or the “talking­head” strategy. The strategies of Reassemblage question the anthropological knowledge of the “other,” the way anthropol­ogists look at and present foreign cultures through media, here film… The critical work in Reassemblage […] is not simply aimed at the anthropologist, but also at the missionary, the Peace Corps volunteer, the tourist, and last but not least at myself as onlooker.”

Surname Viet Given Name Nam
Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, 1989, 16mm, 108′

“A Vietnamese woman making a film on Vietnamese women: What could sound more familiar and correct in today’s context of cultural diversity and liberal pluralism?” And yet, says Trinh T. Minh-ha, self-representation and representation is a responsibility one cannot afford to merely reject. In order to break away from that kind of authorized subjectivity, she chose for a number of itineraries that would allow her to show “the culture” without endorsing the insider’s authority. This was largely done by avoiding the so-called factual historical information that one easily gets in history books on Vietnam, and by working with the more slippery realms of oral tradition and popular memory: the songs, sayings, proverbs that expose women’s condition; the stories that people remember of the historical heroines of Vietnam; and the life stories of contemporary Vietnamese women. In parallel, Trinh T. Minh-ha also emphasises the politics of the interview by drawing on a series of interviews that had been conducted in Vietnam by another woman of the Vietnamese diaspora (Mai Thu Van), translated and published in French, re-translated into English by herself, and then re-enacted in the film. In this way, both the role of translation in film and the role of film as a form of translation are problematised.

“It’s not a return in a physical sense, but a return in the sense that I made my two previous films in Africa before making Surname Viet – a film in which I have finally been able to come to terms with Vietnam or with a national identity; a film focusing on Vietnamese women or on female identity and difference. That’s why it was extremely important for me not to approach it from a legitimized “insider’s” point of view, but rather from a number of spaces locating me somewhere between an insider and an outsider. Spaces manifested, for example, in the acknowledgment of the media­tor’s role; in the multiplicity of translation, of the “you” referred to by the interviewees, and of first­person narratives; and in the exposing of the politics of interviews involved.”

Shoot for the Contents
Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, 1991, 16mm, 102′

This film by Trinh T. Minh-ha, whose title partly refers to a Chinese guessing game, reflects on Mao’s famous statement: “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend.” It offers simultaneously an excursion into the maze of allegorical designations and narratives in China and a reflection on questions of power and change, politics and culture, as reflected by the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Contrary to conventional expectations of “authenticity”, Trinh T. Minh-ha offers to the viewer a wide range of what one can call “border people”, who are right at the edge of being an outsider and an insider to the culture. Testimonies of artists, philosophers and cultural workers are interwoven with female voices, Chinese popular songs and classical music, and sayings of Mao and Confucius. Video images emulate the gestures of calligraphy and contrast with film footage of rural China and stylized interviews. Like traditional Chinese opera, Trinh’s film unfolds through “bold omissions and minute depictions” to render “the real in the illusory and the illusory in the real.” Exploring color, rhythm and the changing relationship between ear and eye, this meditative documentary realizes on screen the shifts of interpretation in contemporary Chinese culture and politics.

“Every work I realized, has been realized to transform my own consciousness. If I went to Africa to dive into a culture that was mostly unknown to me then, I went to China mainly because I was curious as to how I could depart from what I knew of Her. The prejudices that the Vietnamese carry vis­-a-­vis the Chinese are certainly historical and political. The past domination of Vietnam by China and the antagonistic relationship nurtured between the two nations have been weighing so heavily on the Vietnamese psyche that very often Vietnamese identity would be defined in counteraction to everything thought to be Chinese. And yet it suffices to look a bit harder at the Vietnamese culture – at its music, to mention a most explicit example – to realize how much it has inherited from both China and India.”

What About China?
Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, CN, 2022, DCP, 135′

In her newest film, the sonically striking What About China?, Hi8 footage shot in rural China from 1993-1994 is reframed thirty years later: first against China’s contradicting representation, histories, and futures, and second through the process of conversion from video to digital, where the transformation of low-res images creates ghostly animations on a canvas of multi-generational change. Pulsing against the surface of this inquiry is a theory of harmonics that takes the Hakka Roundhouse – a circular multi-family dwelling connected by common areas in the center – as its nexus. Trinh finds in this architecture, in the materials she uses to compose her film, and in the footage converted from video to digital a network of passageways: between society and nature, self and other, landscape and innerscape. The viewer is invited to steep themselves in these harmonics, both material and metaphor, to find associative flights from the polyrhythmic interaction of ideas, instruments, songs, text, moving and still images. We journey through these haunted, infinite scales, guided by voiceover readings by Xiaolu Guo, Xiao Yue Shang, Yi Zhong, and Trinh herself. Each offers a different entryway into the film’s polyvocal network of thought. One asks: “What exactly is disappearing? And why?” (Kim-Anh Schreiber)

“The notion of “speaking nearby” put forth in
Reassemblage has been realized differently with each film of mine. It’s a challenge for me every time I put it into practice. How do you speak nearby? It is in What About China? where this practice of speaking in proximity, rather than merely speaking for and about, is most comprehensive. Being closely related to China – China is an ancestral culture of Vietnam, where I was born – does not qualify me to speak about Her. Of greater fascination is how the film is positioned in relation to China, or how the Self is extended through a relationship with the Other.”

A conversation with Trinh T. Minh-ha

How can we think and speak about the notion of “speaking nearby,” which is a fundamental guiding principle throughout Trinh T. Minh-ha’s work? How does it relate to gestures of respect, wonder, love? How does it translate into the art form called cinema, verbally, musically, visually? These questions are the starting point for an extended conversation with Trinh T. Minh-ha.

“To keep the relation of language to vision open, one would have to take the difference between them as the very line of departure for speech and writing, rather than as an unfor­tunate obstacle to be overcome. The interval, creatively maintained, allows words to set in motion dormant energies and to offer, with the impasse, a passage from one space (visual, musical, verbal, mental, physical) to another. To prevent the passage from closing itself off and to preserve the infinity of the task of speaking nearby, a number of conversations developed around specific books and films and are further assembled in an interrelational space of detour. Just as the form a film takes in the creating process can acutely materialize what it says in content, the way a film is talked about can, when circum­stances allow in the encounter between interviewer(s) and interviewee, be keenly tuned to the way it is made.”

In the context of the research project Echoes of Dissent (KASK & Conservatory School of Arts)

Interior view

by Claire Bartoli

An attempt to assemble critical pieces approaching cinema “from the standpoint of sound”. This article was originally published in the booklet of the sound recording of Jean-Luc Godard’s Nouvelle Vague (ECM, 1997). Translation by John M. King.

In a first period
– the old testament –
a human being
(a man)
is rescued from ruin
by another human being
(a woman).
In a second period
– the new testament –
a human being
(a woman)
(the same)
is rescued from ruin
by another human being
(another man).
But the woman discovers that the other man
is the same as the first
that the second is
(still as before)
the same as the first.
So this is a revelation.
And if man proclaimed the mystery,
it is woman who revealed the secret.

I’ve listened to Nouvelle Vague, yes, the film Nouvelle Vague. I’ve heard it. I can’t see it.
Despite my blindness I go often to the cinema. It gives me a lot of pleasure and intrigues me. Naturally, I go for films without a strong visual emphasis, those that contain many dialogues. Assisted by someone who describes a few scenes or décor elements, I use my imagination. I could see up to the age of twenty-three; I have also retained many visual memories and thanks to my imagination, the colours and images replenish the present stock of my “internal cinema”. The films populate the space within, producing bubbles of visual perception or coloured emotions. Listening to a film is a pleasure, but it also means an effort, concentration … Evoking precise memories to render the interior world as rich as possible, imagining and inventing to bridge the silent gaps. There are some film sequences I am convinced I have seen “with my own eyes”, so powerful and clear is the impression left on me by their scenes and colours.
So, just as in everyday life where all my gestures and movements require constant vigilance, cinema also demands intense concentration if I don’t want to lose my thread.

I listened to the soundtrack several times, on my own, without knowing anything else about the film, then I recorded on my tape-recorder (the notebook that never leaves my side) my first impressions. It was in summer, in a little village in the Ariège, in the middle of the Pyrenees. I don’t take my braille material with me on my travels. Back home, I made another copy of these notes, the first outline for my work. Then, much later, I became immersed in listening to the film once again and had one of my reader assistants record the dialogues published in the L‘Avant- Scène Cinéma (no. 396-397).
Again I noted pell-mell my feelings and thoughts on my little recorder. I appreciate this mode of writing, as it is capable of keeping up with the rapid flow of thought. For this reason my writing occasionally bears the features of the spoken idiom, as it does here now.

I made another copy of these words in braille, rereading the whole to sift out five main subjects, a bit like the chapters of a book.
To achieve this aim, I used a cutting technique. I snipped away at the braille page with my scissors, cutting out, subject by subject, little scraps of paper that I then put together again when I thought they matched. I play with the scissors, but unlike Jean-Luc Godard, hardly by choice. Not having a braille computer yet, I use only a braille typewriter which does not allow me to make any corrections. I systematically recopy the whole page.
After this to-ing and fro-ing between my tape-recorder and the write-up in braille, a friend came to help me check certain dialogue excerpts in L’Avant-Scène. She was somewhat horrified to see me among all these pieces of paper littered all over the office. At that stage I wasn’t at all sure I would ever escape from it all.
The next day, my mind clear, everything sorted itself out in the editing. No story, no chronological order, no events. I could not, as I could with other films, accurately depict in my mind’s eye what the sounds evoked, I could not visualise them. What remained was a melody, a musical mosaic. I had navigated to the rhythm of the thinker: overlapping outlines of thought, on the surface or deeper down, like the waves of the sea.
Jean-Luc Godard said: “… my film, if you listen to the soundtrack without the images, will turn out even better.” I’ve started playing this game.
I conceived the layout myself: my own thoughts occupy the whole width of the page; the indentations are a textual description of the sounds as I perceived them (in small capitals), with my interpretation of these sounds; and in italics are the fragments of the film dialogues.

THE SOUND

First sensation: I can’t tell what is going on. The sound fails to reveal the action, just a few décor and movement elements.
Tell-tale sounds: steps on the paving, the stairs, the chimes of the clock …
Birds singing, crunching of gravel under car wheels, a horse whinnying, barking, sweeping of leaves, birds in the tree tops. The voices outside do not have the same tonality as those inside.
The jet engines of a plane. The resonance and fading out of the voices.
Grinding sounds, machines, wheels turning, mechanical hammering at a factory.
Elsewhere, a boat engine, a diver, swimming, pleasure and distress in the water of the lake. Then, other sounds: the waves, the thunder, the gulls do not indicate a location but are like the elements of a musical score, words among other words.

And then, a feeling of being lost: some things are said and I cannot hear them completely.
Amidst this fragmentation, the superimposition of all those words. I endeavour to follow one particular voice rather than another but fail. Slipping away, it eludes me.
Anything else to listen to … Yes, the relief of a landscape, composed of elements in successive layers, where words and sounds obscure and bump into each other, fusing together.

It’s a story I wanted to tell …

THE MUSIC GOES BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE WORDS. I should know by now that they are not there for their own sake, as Jean-Luc Godard plays the game of rediscovering them. A BIRD SINGING, A DOG BARKING, THE ENGINE OF A CAR STARTING THAT IS IMMEDIATELY CAUGHT UP IN THE MU SIC. ITS VOLUME INCREASES, REJOINING THAT OF THE CAR.

No place, no time for me, another reality, the metamorphosis of the universe of sound.
Godard, with large cuts of the scissors, divides the material into fragments, producing sound miniatures, as pure elements.

THEN COMES THE RUMBLING OF THE STORM, FOLLOWED BY THE NOISE OF A VACUUM CLEANER, SWEEPING, AND A MAN’S VOICE – There wasn’t enough time to discover, like a lamp that has just been switched on, the chestnut-trees in bloom.

My attention sharpens in an attempt to discover the faintest drop of sound: a beating of wings, the chimes of the clock, some snatches of a song, the trickling of water, nuggets deposited with the gentle care of a goldsmith or an alchemist.

STEPS ON THE PAVING, inside a house, THE VOICE CONTINUES, also inside. IT SPEAKS OF FRAGILITY. And everything one hears renders it fragile: THE RUSHING OF THE WOMAN AND THE SERVANTS, THE RINGING OF THE TELEPHONE… – things of our times that fill life and yet hollow it out, rendering it empty, void.

If Godard adjusts the sounds with the subtlety of a composer, creating shadows and sparks by rubbing them together, I deem him to be a magician capable of producing a bird from a hat, the individual elements being contained in each other.

THE DISTANT SOUNDS OF A CAR HORN ARE ENGENDERED IN THE MUSIC ITSELF, THE LATTER IS AMPLIFIED; SPEED, TOOTING, SLAMMING OF BRAKES. The fusion of the two elements generates the intensity of a perturbing, tragic sonorous event.

Interlude, A SONG BY PATTI SMITH, A more reassuring rhythm and beat in the closed metallic cage of a car. The words stop dead: You’re injured? Still at the side of the road: A BIRD SINGING, CARS PASSING … But what has happened? An accident, maybe?

Godard, the magician, the ferryman from another reality.

BEES BUZZING, a little grain of sound announcing Richard Lennox’s arrival.

Godard dislodges the sounds of the world, fashions them, isolates them from the life peculiar to them: a bark, a strain of music, a few words by a writer, the ring of a bell, the sound of waves returns to them their peculiarity; playing their significant roles of intervention, rupture, tragedy and mystery they become events. The emotion is engendered by the very substance of the sound.

THE NOISE OF A PLANE COMES OVER ME. THE RINGING OF THE PHONE, THE SHRILL CRIES OF THE BIRDS.

Nouvelle Vague invents concrete music that does not hew to the beat, that toys with the irrational. Can’t we tell that we are made from the fabric of dreams?

The uneasy dialogue between the financiers awaiting Richard Lennox’s arrival is interrupted by A SONG, THE TOOTING OF A CAR HORN, imparting a musical note and substance to the danger of the situation.
WHEELS TURNING, GRINDING, MACHINES, METALLIC HAMMERING …

And then the words … Ebbing and flowing, confusion and clarity fade and return between the various planes of sound. Passing words from amplified, then obscured voices interrupting each other, stammering, echoing in the panorama of sound.

No doubt a factory, a building site … EXCHANGES BETWEEN INDUSTRIALISTS IN CLEAR VOICES. They are discussing concrete problems. Other voices, deafened, say: Love, Creation …

Godard loves words, but he does not burden them with a concept, he hollows them to fill them with something else. They touch each other, ring, bounce back again, shatter into little pieces of useless glass, composing a score of notes, juxtaposed or bundled into chords.

Women are in love and men are alone.
A woman cannot do much harm to a man …
Love and attachment… attaché from an embassy … movement … movie … cinema.

In an appointed disorder words assume poetic substance. Separation and reconstitution: certain words are sucked down towards the depths, covered up again, then swell, thread their way along the surface, weaving from wave to wave.

Dorothy Parker: I’ve already told you there’s a price to pay when you’re good and when you’re bad. ELENA’S VOICE SUDDENLY LOUD AT THAT MOMENT: A memory … By virtue of its contact and intensity, the word then seems to respond to and reverberate with what has just been said.
THEN THE VOICE BECOMES INDISTINCT: … is the sole paradise we cannot be driven out of.
Richard Lennox: … catches up with the wave receding and falling back into clear water … a hell we are condemned to in complete innocence.
A PHRASE FROM RAOUL, AT FIRST SONOROUS: What she then discovers … – THEN ROLLING TOWARDS THE HORIZON: … is that her lover has committed the unforgivable mistake of being incapable of existence. – THEN RESURGING TO THE FORE: Leaving melancholy. Here is a rhythm, a space, far and near joining in harmony: oh, yes, melancholy.

The voices trumpet, penetrate the air, ring out. Small insertions of a noise, some notes, the object resounds. These cuts in the sound mark the beat or bring things to a halt.

THE RINGING OF THE PHONE ABRUPTLY INTERRUPTS THE SONG BY PAOLO CONTE AND THE DIALOGUES. CHORDS ON THE PIANO, DIVIDED AND INTERRUPTED WORDS FROM RAOUL, WAR-WHOOPS AND BIRD CALLS. EVERYTHING INCREASES IN VOLUME AT THE SAME TIME, THE BIRDS, THE “INDIAN”‘S CRY, INTENSIFYING… Too many words, derisory words! A single bird call could put a stop to everything.

Words are no longer words, the sounds of the world are no longer the sounds of the world. A new polyphony, magic.

People will say … A BIRD CALL MIXES IN WITH THE VOICE: It was the time when there were rich and poor, fortresses to be taken, ladders to be climbed, desirable things that were forbidden to preserve their attraction. Chance was one of the party. Nostalgic meditation? Author’s comments? THE NOISES CONTINUE TO JOIN IN, THE VOICES OF EVERYDAY LIFE. THE STORM THREATENS, BREAKS … because the world breaks. Danger. Only the birds and the dog hear the voice of the heavens.

Fragmentation and dispersion by means of which Godard drags us into a quest for desperately desired reconciliation between the earth and the heavens.

It is quite right that I should hear now and then the earth gently groaning, sending up a ray of light to rend the surface.

The more sombre and grave voices, such as Richard Lennox’s, seem to contain a little of this light. Others, distinct, loud, those of the merchants, freeze with their own emptiness. Behind Lennox’s firm words explaining the economic situation the gardener sweeps untiringly: the union of opposites, the fleeting and permanent nature of the seasons, modern times, the collapse of the old world?
A pleasure for the ears. Words losing their privilege. Certain noises mask them completely (the plane, the car, the machine), music also obliterates them.
Amongst the apparent calm of the conversations, business lunches, contract negotiations: under-cover terror. All profundity hammered by a contemporary world devoid of love.
Nostalgia that I feel palpitating between the bandoneon and the violoncello, in the faint or grave voice of the gardener,

A garden is never finished… but if it is abandoned …,

or in the deep one of the man, or of other characters that are simultaneously “I” and all the others, in multiplicity. I hear that nostalgia in the call of the bird rending the screen of useless words, with the savage force of an older world, or in the lapping of the waves bringing the sands their burden of memory and a new beginning. Nostalgia like the myth of a lost paradise. I think of Mircea Eliade: The life of modern man teems with half-forgotten myths… with obsolete symbols…
Godard reminds me of everything passing between “I” and the other that I am, between the others that approach me and what, of them, crosses my path. His predilection for disruptions and contrasts, these powerful relations he inserts between the words; the voices, the words and the sounds reveal (in a highly sensitive manner) the complexity of a conscience composed of literary reminiscences, of social, moral or aesthetic prejudice. The mystery of love, of a woman, the solitude of a man find themselves degraded, erased, relegated to the backdrop of a torrent of commonplace concerns.

Nostalgia and the dance of “all those images”.

What are all those images, sometimes free, sometimes confined … a tremendous thought?

Draft for another reality: the earnestness of life and the imbricated dreams, ephemeral and permanent states, melancholy and imagination. Will this modern man, cut off from the energies of nature that he only sees as a pleasant décor, stem the current, will he rediscover contact with the universe around him?
Beyond the realm of words, the music, expressed as the inexpressible fluid enchantment, returns like a memory, never to abandon us. It is also fragmented, inserting itself into the score of sound. And yet I feel its permanence, in slow waves.

THE FLUID TO-ING AND FRO-ING OF THE BANDONEON ACCOMPANIES THE FIRST PHRASES OF THE FILM – It’s a story I wanted to tell … and still want to … – giving way in some gaps to THE CALL OF A BIRD, A DISTANT STORM …

Shadowy and gently caressing, the music advances, as if predetermined. It lunges forward with the spoken words, charging them with intensity:

More generally speaking, a memory is the only hell … – THE MUSIC STOPS – … we are condemned to in complete innocence.

In accompaniment, the music may rise up at the same time as a cry.

THE SERVANT’S CRY.

It becomes finely engrained in the mosaic of the spoken word, fuses with it, anticipates it, punctuates it, interferes with it:

WITH THE ORGAN: Oh, how far toil is, how far the angels.
Alternatively: Tell him that you will really love him.

It harmonizes with the echoes of the interior dialogue.

In the second part, THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN HIM AND HER. He replies in a very concrete and superficial manner; suddenly an older phrase – The presence you have chosen accords no farewell. BRISK TREMOR FROM A VIOLONCELLO.

ACCELERATED RHYTHM just before they take the boat out onto the lake … Danger… Elena falls into the water, THE MUSIC BECOMES FRENZIED, HARSH TONES, PANIC … the imagination has a completely free rein. IT WAXES SOFT AND CHARMING AGAIN WITH ELENA’S WORDS IN ITALIAN. It caresses, becoming tender and comforting, nursing the wound. This interior sound opens doors, frees the emotion the neutrally spoken words do not reveal. The agitation between the words.

In its incessant equilibration it welcomes the moving, fluid force; it is accompanied by the words of the time, of the tangled time and new beginnings:

They felt big, immobile, with the past and the present above them like identical waves.

It can disguise comprehension or give it the beat, like the percussion.

Every transaction is sane – MUSIC – S.A.I.N.T. – MUSIC.

THE WORDS

The slightest word that would tell us where we are, where we are going would be of incomparable value.

What are they? All those words at liberty, shot like arrows that will never fall to the ground, fleeing, irretrievable, escaping from books or enclosed within them?
I am almost drowning, confusion… welcome this gushing chant of words, words punctuated to the point of becoming magic formulas. The solitude of words.
Are they replying to each other? These little phrases cast like bottles into the sea. Bygone words, blue words, sailing in deep water.

The love that seeks itself:

It is neither time nor lassitude that must be feared in love; it is the impression of security, a state of inadvertence. One forgets that this charming being is transitory, one hardly enjoys it like a summer that will return, allowing so many beautiful days to be lost.

Love is more than love.

The memory of the world:

All of them, outlined against the backdrop of the lush green of summer and the royal glow of autumn and the ruins of winter before spring blooms again … it’s not as if they were defending the living against the dead with their enormous, monolithic weights and masses, but more like the dead against the living; nay, protecting the empty, pulverised remains, the innocuous dust and without any defence against the anxiety and inhumanity of the human race.

The words immediately echo each other:

Roger Lennox: I will remember … the voice of the interior monologue: A memory is the sole paradise we cannot be driven out of.
The Chairman: In any case, he can’t be any worse than the other one.
Raoul: But in that case there is a way to do it, and a way not to.

Little pebbles falling into the water disturb the surface, in ripples far and near.

Leaving melancholy …

Before we met, we were already unfaithful to each other.

The summer echoes itself in the gardener’s lyrical and grave words. Distant waves surfacing at another time of the film.

Summer is early this year and a little wild …

Like that pile of leaves burnt by the summer …

Perhaps it’s the famine that is ripening in this summer heat and almond fragrances.

Echoed notes resound in the heart of the other.

Lennox: The presence you have chosen accords no farewell.
Elena: Accords no farewell. -The regret…of having paid too high a price for a profit of some kind.
Lennox: Of some kind.

Here the words bounce upon the skin of an imaginary drum. A deaf, subterranean word submerged by the shouts of the merchants makes us wish we could hear better. A plethora of foaming, noisy, gentle or fallacious little phrases. A pro- fusion of puppet-like words.
In this chaotic polyphony I perceive the breathing of nature, springing forth in bird calls and whinnies. Which ear is meant for hearing the movement of the water? The silence of the words would be necessary.
Godard weaves a thread of continuity between the world’s memory and man’s.

All that grass there, is it within me? Is it grass when it is without me? And if no one gives it a name, what is grass when it is … nameless?

In this world built on the values of money and production I feel a constant fragility; the rumbling of the storm and the call of the bird pierce the screen of words.

Summer was early this year, everything came into flower at the same time, the white lilac, the cherry trees …

Here, even a fine summer evening made us feel our fragility.

To whom is the solitude of the word addressed? Roughly-hewn words, cast without any outcome or origin, like the objects of our day and age thrown away after hardly any use. Solitude in the uproar of the silence of the others.

You talk, you talk… How could you understand that there are others?
I say “me” but I could say a man, any man.

This man in possession of knowledge, in possession of progress exercises an influence on the whole world, and yet he is alone, lost, exiled in himself.

You haven’t understood anything about my silence.

But there is no silence: the sonorous landscape is teeming with a thousand sounds and words. Man’s silence is inside the sound; it is necessary to search for it in the slowness, the distance, the space that disturbs the word.
Roger Lennox’s words, their emotion, laboriously clear the way towards the outside.

How could you understand that there are others, others who exist, who think, who suffer, who live? You only think of yourself.

In this mass of auditory impressions, I divine the opacity of the secret.

We have been given the positive, it is our responsibility to create the negative.

A garden is never finished… but if it is abandoned …

The fervour:

The miracle of our empty hands …
love is more than love.

The spark of life:

It’s still winter but rather tender gleams lend the mist an iridescent quality, in the evening a grey cloud is fringed with fire, a sign of light, the discreet annunciation which will be forgotten in the rains and deceptions of March.

The light twinkles, eternal, once it has passed beyond the individual and time.

The words travel through a landscape in full relief and perspective. Godard mingles the dialogues with internal thought.

Your face…
He: What face?
She: I can’t see you.
He: Look at me …
And then, the other one in him:
There is never anything else in my being but all the words that will re- vive me…
The presence you have chosen accords no farewell.

Slight variations in intonation permit distinction between what is expressed and what is restrained.

She thinks: It’s us against all the others… I had to do what I did.
She says at the same time: You mustn’t worry for my sake.

The clarity and the obscurity of the secret. The man before in the depths of the heart of the man after. Does Godard want to lose us in the interior monologue by mixing all the times and the silences of the time, by spouting it from almost all the mouths of one who is in fact the other? Who is pursuing whom, to which fate?
Polyphony of voices interrupted by those of everyday life: a jumble of material concerns, a flashing of ephemeral thoughts. Incessant effervescence of thought. Everyone follows the trajectory of a little solitary planet. We are travelling between different levels of consciousness, perhaps.

IN THE DISTANCE, A TENDER ATTENDANT VOICE: Women are in love and men are alone.

A woman you love deprives you of other women and sometimes of love.

HARDLY AUDIBLE: … the extent to which you have been alone all your life you cannot imagine …

Jean-Luc Godard loves words. He jubilantly hunts them down in books, he shakes them about like a puppeteer, knotting and unknotting their thin invisible strings from one quotation to the next. A servant quotes Schiller:

Friends, what a pleasure to serve you. But what I do stems from a sincere disposition, thus I reap no credit and am deeply distressed. What may I do? I must learn to hate you, and, my heart full of loathing, to serve you, since this is my duty.

Her brother: Is it possible that one should say “women”, “children”, “boys” without having suspected that these words, for a long time, have not had any plural, but only an infinite number of singulars.

The permanent feeling there is another self. Everyone can be the commentator on what is happening to him.

He: They had the impression of having already experienced all that …

And everyone in turn contributes his thread of the warp to the weft produced by the meditation of Godard.

The gardener: One always learns something from the imbeciles lost in a drama.
D. Parker: Men organise the mystery and women find the secret.
Raoul: What women then discover is that their lover has committed the unforgivable mistake of being incapable of existence.

The mosaic of our existence, a fragment of all the others.

R. Lennox: Whatever I say, there is never anything else in my being but all the words that will revive me.

Raoul: She does not suspect the extent to which she is sometimes surrounded; even when she thinks she is alone with her lover there are many people there with them, her lovers former and future …

Abrupt cuts, haunting repetitions, incantations between the earth and the heavens.

SHE AND HE

She and he meet, and love travels like a question. To what extent do they meet each other?

What a miracle it is to be able to give what one doesn’t have …

Love does not possess, it’s the face of the shadow of the world of possession.
It rows across their voices,

HERS ROUGH AND GRAVE: HIS DEEP AND SOMBRE.

She and he reply to each other in the filigree of a tangled web surfacing and submerging… waves …

MELANCHOLIC MUSIC FROM THE BANDONEON. SOFT VOICES, MURMURING.
Intimate spaces are near at hand. His badly shaven face, his hands that she kisses …

My love, my love … it’s of little importance that I was born, you are becoming visible where I have disappeared.
THE DOG BARKS. Perhaps a link with the outside world? One is never alone with one’s love.
I will work as long as the day.
THE CLOCK STRIKES. The objects echo the words. MELANCHOLIC MUSIC MINGLED WITH THE WAVES AND BIRD CALLS.
He:
Amidst the promises of our love … before we met, we were already unfaithful to each other.
The “promises” and the “before”, inseparable, like the wave and the gull. Waves of things said and done with that will always return, and promises of love like the beating of wings.
HIS VOICE HAS BECOME DISTANT, vague. Elena’s words, deaf, hardly cross her lips:
Let us clasp in our hands, so to speak, this happiness now begun …
Her warm and mysterious voice closes the space between the hands touching each other. The gull flies towards the horizon … The love they devise for each other …
MURMURING.
Thank you for accepting …
He restores the distance. BUT THEN HIS VOICE VIBRATES A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY, becoming more sensual: Say no more.

I say to myself: one of the voices is his speech, the other his thought. And all lapse into music again.

THE BANDONEON CONTINUES, THEN STOPS.
Say no more.
WORDS, INSTRUMENTS, WAVES, THE CHIMES OF THE CLOCK, MURMURING…
For me it’s a dance, soft, drawn out, sorrowful, too. Retreating and returning, from one to the other.

A point on the horizon in the sound panorama, the dialogue proceeds at its own slower rhythm, like the ripening of a fruit…

She: The miracle of our empty hands…
He: My mother used to say to me: giving a hand to someone was always what I expected of joy.

The hands always reappear, testimonies to a bond of love, all charged with what their words will fail to say.

Let us take into our hands this happiness now begun …

The sensual presence of their love. The words do not fragment it, do not hollow it out. Hands extended to each other, given or not given.

On the lake: Give me your hand …

The one that is not taken, the one that brings death.

WHEELS TURNING, ELECTRIC SAW, METAL HAMMERING, undoubtedly a factory, a building site? IN THE IMBROGLIO OF THE BUSINESSMEN’S VOICES, POWERFUL, SELF-ASSURED, ROGER LENNOX’S VOICE, ALMOST DROWNED, seems out of gear, being genuine.
What are you up to here?
Arousing pity.

His profound words do not reach the surface of the discussions.
She alone hears them and REPLIES IN ITALIAN, only for his ears:

Five more minutes and we’ll be together again.

Amidst these illusions of exchanges, as revealed by the decoupage and the superimposition of the dialogues, she and he answer each other, in a thin, unobtrusive voice. Privileged moments in a labyrinth of solitary paths. She occasionally soft, a wave touching the deep ocean of his solitude. Almost at the same time she slips onto the sand of futile investments.

“Rimorso” regret …

He doesn’t just reply to her, he takes up her thought and interprets it. This is real listening.

… the feeling of having paid too high a price for a profit of some kind.

He continues:

of some kind – a heartfelt echo.

This man of silence, withdrawn into himself, replies to the others,

IN A HUMBLE, VACANT VOICE: I arouse pity.

With Elena, IN AN EMOTIONAL VOICE:
She:
It would be nice if you said something.
He: I know, but I always wonder what.
Their words are coupled with other vibrations: THE RUMBLING STORM, THE WHINNYING OF THE HORSE.

Two sides – two worlds in confrontation: the intimate and the everyday, the exterior and the interior, the severed moments of two individuals.

He, simple and humble: Your dirty money…
She, her voice stifled, colliding with his own. Firm, self-assured, business-like: It could be yours as well.

Then it is he who becomes implacable.
He answers everything with a blanket of words.

She: I think that love has made me blind… I can’t see you.
He: But look at me!
The man before is wrapped up in himself.

On the lake again. AMOROUS MELODY IN ELENA’S VOICE. DOUBLE, INTERLACED VOICE: I love you… it’s us against all the others.

The stories are revived.

With the same harshness he says:
Kiss me, as if she had said: Give me your hand.

Interplay of voices, of multiple persons, restrained, caressing. This cinema makes me hear the invisible, the connection, the border between what is neither one nor the other, what separates them and pulls them towards each other. I sense the imperceptible margin between the words and the persons, the indecipherable element, the transparent knot between the threads of their destinies.

DIVISION OR UNITY

The disassociation of the visual and the sound elements: each sound existing in its own right in a very indirect liaison with the image. Two impervious worlds? Not quite. Imperceptible links, beyond all logic. So I toy with the sounds, fractured and stuck together again, creating my own pictures. This is the artist’s present: allowing myself to leave an illusory reality to re-enter that of the imagination. What one sees is not what one hears, what one hears is not what one sees. I cannot divine a person’s physical appearance on the basis of a voice, but it provides me with a more interior, less regulated truth.

At first the unity seems to burst into pieces subject to the fragmentary and dispersive action of Godard. He fragments sounds and words, interrupts, contrasts, creates distances, superimposes. I immerge into this strange movement between the right and the wrong side of the words, into the incomplete phrases that never cease to elude. The outside world, everyday life, the superficial words cross the interior world, in splinters, fragments or deep waves.
A work of demolition, and the nostalgia, perhaps, of a lost unity. The words of an old domain regularly lap onto the shore.

Before we met …

A memory is the sole paradise …

It was the time when there were still rich and poor, fortresses to be taken …

A melancholic embrace, the energy of the fragmented words is broken by a moving slow pace, where the vagabond characters of this tangled time meet and pass each other by. The drawn-out interior dialogue, violently broken by the noises from the outside (machines, engines, the telephone, voices …), redistributed in the speech of one or the other, is a deep current that fades and is then reborn: a thread in the weft of an iridescent material. The unity of man fades with it, the unity of the world, and here the magic bond between them quivers. I feel the power and the originality of this film in the gentle touches of the chosen elements, the harmonious or dissonant encounters between the notes, the transparent threads between the things and the people, the caresses, touches and clashes.

Just as Jean-Luc Godard loves to divide, he also displays the power to reunite.

Memories… they return to become – inside us – blood, looks, gestures; when they no longer have names, no longer differ from ourselves, only then can it come about, at an extremely rare hour, from their midst, that …

I listen. A feeling of dispersion, of flight, oppresses me a little, then I taste this alchemical concoction. Its unity is recomposed for me by the emotion. Opposites are no longer opposites, as they beget each other like reflected reflections.

TIME

I listen. Neither time or space, but an intermingling of all time and all space. Words of the present, the past, thoughts of all times. The man after, the man before, no endings, only new beginnings. Little waves in a large sea, unfolding and subsiding: it’s the same water, but not the same wave. Godard juxtaposes moments, creating another time where past and future are contained in each moment.

Time seen via the image is a time out of sight. The individual and time are quite different. Light twinkles, eternal once it has passed the individual and time.

Losing my sight made me feel that the eye projects towards the outside. The ear takes us back into our interior world. Time is both inside us and outside us. That’s what Nouvelle Vague reminds me of in its interlacing of moments, memories, seeds for the future, where it is the interior being that re-assembles the scattered moments of life. Robert Pinget describes Monsieur Songe’s reflections: ... the minor events of his existence that have no connections between them or, better, incommensurate connections, or that occur all together or that he has already experienced and that recur relentlessly.
The individual that seeks or finds itself in itself does not experience continuous, progressive time, but fragmented, divided time. Lo and behold, there is no evening after day, no morning after night, but what exists is a splintered, fragmented line of slow or flashing moments, parallel or broken, without any outcome. The continuance is not that of the action with its first fruit and consequences. The factory scene occurs just after the meeting between Elena and Lennox.

INTERIOR, EXTERIOR SOUNDS, OF LEAVING AND RETURNING. Which time transpires between all these moments?

The time lags behind, assuming a different rhythm. It leaves the path of linear progression, opting for the escapades of brief eternities. Jean-Luc Godard hurls these little fragments of time up into the air, maybe to find out the sound they would make when falling. And yet it is not a game of chance, but the composition of a score, in flashes, showers of moments, in series, in multiplicity. In the movements of the stars, those of nature, there is no more regularity than in ourselves.

The society we have lived through may be considered to be defunct …
If it is recalled in future centuries, it will be thought of as a charming moment in man’s history, people will say …

He stops. The thought processes re- quire time to mature. Society has realised this and that’s why it spares no effort to glorify love. It’s a key to productivity.

Pauses and sighs in the score, but no gap. A profusion of memories that do not have the time to burst to the surface, of unsatiated desires … and the present pounds away at it all. In the foreground, men reduced to insects, devoured by utilitarian time, historical time. They live according to the rhythm of the fluctuations of the dollar rate; for them nothing exists outside that time.
But Godard resists this belief in the reality of this time, opening up the horizons of the “grand temps”.

Elena says, vehemently: It would be nice if you said something for a change.
I perceive the distances in the interior dialogue …
Much later, he says:
I have no need to say anything, I help her just the same, she recognises it, besides, sometimes she returns to the midst of the people … Sometimes she doesn’t …

Godard arranges the sound material, he gives it its rhythm. Neither a classic progression nor a traditional series of sounds that would reveal the length and the effects of an action. Incidentally, this explains why I cannot divine any part of the action or the image solely with the power of hearing. I find myself in a revolving time where events are resuscitated, like the lake scene.

The presence you have chosen accords no farewell … A memory is the sole paradise we cannot be driven
out of.

The voyager through this time constantly comes across the signs of the morrow.

The incongruous words of the chauffeur – Have you ever been stung by a dead bee? – assume the message of urgency and prediction: A woman cannot do much harm to a man, she can disturb him, annoy him or kill him, that’s all.

The past breaks through in the voice of one or the other, a distant wave from the same ocean.

Is it possible for us to believe that we have to catch up on what has happened before we are born?

A memory is the only hell we are condemned to in complete innocence.

In the passage of time a man mentions the summer of flowers, ripe fruit and almond fragrance … a wild summer. Untiringly he sweeps the leaves of the summer coming to an end. I hear him and associate him with the permanence of the waves. All of this story could germinate and ripen in that summer. The gardener unfolds the seasons, timeless words, almost a legend, an old round dance whose steps have been forgotten. The gardener returns to the subject of summer at the end of the film. Has a year passed or has the meaning of the dance been altered? The music is inscribed in the passage of time. Melancholic, it comes and goes, unable to keep silent, it unfurls and then retires. Creating movement and permanence.

These signs of light will be forgotten in the rain and the deceptions of March.

I hear the light. The music bears it, many other noises also contain it: the bird song, the wind, the water, the heart of the world. The heart of man.

***

A composer … a poet … Godard dices the sounds, the words, their echoes. A hollow world becomes populated with words seeking, eluding, finding each other.
Jostled along the paths of my listening, I am thrown off course. He identifies the opposite poles; acknowledges them in our reality but clashes them so violently that we pass beyond these polar tensions to rediscover unity.
He blends lucid analyses of behavioural patterns (his own and others’) with compassion, words of love, violence and the harshness of business and moralising talks; rough contours, unexpected landscapes…
As in a novel, Jean-Luc Godard borrows several idioms: that of a class, a professional group, common, anonymous and everyday language or that of a certain character. They combine to form the speech of the author, who strides through every one of them, observing his own visions.
A man lost in himself, lost for the others, women in love, men alone… Their shadows come together, come apart in a world of no certainties.
An intriguing roundabout of complex and composite beings, masks and silhouettes; their existence seems stronger in the shadow than in full light:

Distant, deafened voices express more about the essence than strong, clear ones.

and the shadow of a single poplar behind me is sufficient for me, in its mourning.

The gravitation of all these travelling beings: the being one welcomes in one- self, for reasons of love, the other within oneself, the voices of shadow and sea depths, all the marionettes of modernity, stirred by the slightest breath.
All those voices… I have developed a strong liking for them. Each one has its own colour, its own accent, its own consistency.
I ran after each of them, in every direction. I could not keep hold of all the strings of those kite-words slipping into space. With Jean-Luc Godard one must accept losing. He does not supply us with things in their entirety but merely embers and wisps of smoke.
The error was wanting to hear everything in order to understand everything. The path he proposes is rather to hear the “entirety”. All those pulverised voices compose another one for me now, one alone, a human voice, fragmented but alive, spinning tales, containing gyrating atoms of the same cell, planets of the same cosmos.

What are all those images, …
That tremendous thought…

Cinema, eye and ear, observer of an outside world, reaps little pieces of reality… this deconstruction, symphony and distillation … to release a new reality of images, his, mine, multiplying endlessly.
… The thought, powerful and migratory, stemming from a distant exterior, the thought yet to be born, explorer of the unthinkable.
The voices outside are ferrymen: voices of the frothing waves, a passing fancy or straw fire, cymbals and frosted mirrors, those inside: immersed, grave, wrapped in a cocoon of flesh, a subterranean fire… And my listening is intent on pursuing the movement of the mantree rooted in the depths and reaching up to the skies.
But the character cherished by Godard may be that new wave, the water abolishing the form to produce it anew. The door is open but no-one has the keys, neither the characters nor the author. He has deposited in a corner of my ear an area of mystery which delights me.
The film – once listened to, dreamt of, reinvented – leaves me with a little subversive taste of the invisible and the eternal.

Ear Below Eye

By Trinh T. Minh-ha

An attempt to assemble critical pieces approaching cinema “from the standpoint of sound”. This article was originally published in Ear 9:5/10:1 (Fall 1985); repr. as “Holes in the Sound Wall”, in Minh-ha, When the Moon Waxes Red, 1991, pp 201-206.

Your soundtrack is a disaster!
Why? I asked HIM who knows the rules of precedence. Who can evaluate with certainty what ranks above what ranks below in the art of ordering film sound. There are many not-to-do’s in the field and a small quarrel may bring about many a ruin.
(Silence. Surprised? Indignant?) … because . . . because of the silences … the …. the repetitions!
Don’t I know? Haven’t I learned through COMMON SENSE that nothing is more dreadful to the trained ear than sounding HOLES. Haven’t I noticed through the many films I saw that one of the golden rules of sound cinema is not to leave any empty section on the soundtrack; not even in moments where silence serves as dramatic sound? Above all, no hole. Please no hole. And should there be any, let’s block it up. With music. This, Henri Colpi rightly observed, is one of the cineastes’ cries of terror. Music makes such a successful marriage with the moving image that not using it so as to cover up silence, to combat audience disturbance; and to breathe into the shadows on the screen some of the life that photography has taken away from them seems like an irremediable error, an utter loss, a … di-sas-ter.
Good film music was formerly differentiated from bad film music by its “inaudibility.” It played in such a way as not to impinge on the viewing, and ear always came after eye in the creative process. Belonging to an area of secundary perception, it was more likely to escape critical evaluation, therefore to manipulate affection. In a sound film, there is always something to listen to: either continuous music from the beginning to the end, or sporadic music with sound effects (things crumpling, rustling, rubbing against each other, footsteps, machines running) and especially chatters, a surfeit of dialogues. With this constant train of sounds/OMNIPRESENCE, silence is avoided like a dis-ease/ABSENCE/DEATH.
Music should not disturb the representative continuity. Should not call attention to itself/detract from the images/ remind men and women of their mortality. BE DISCREET. Have a regular and cohesive structure that cements and gives shape to an otherwise incoherent amorphous film. Remove the sound (from it) and we would be confronting a profoundly disjunctive set of images. We might find ourselves yawning at moments of intense actions and laughing at death scenes. In other words, emotional UNDER-scoring is lacking. Filmmaker loses his-her power to transmit the message, filmviewers fail to interpret it. MUSIC IS THE OPIUM OF CINEMA. Music determines characters, expression, mood, atmosphere, transition, orientation, meaning. Music drowns out all life noises that accidentally break in on the created world/Reserved realm that has the force of neither life nor death, is neither one nor the other but ONLY an imaginary site where both remained unassumed, both are re-presented, SEEN or HEARD with enough distance to banish temporarily all fears, to divert temporarily the pangs of death from life/Music more often than not dictates how the viewer should respond to the images. Without the thousand and one anchorings achieved through sound, the film would disperse in numerously diverse directions, giving rise to ERRORS OF INTERPRETATION. Says Hanns Eisler, the magic function of music … consisted in appeasing the evil spirits unconsciously dreaded ….. The need was felt to spare the spectator the unpleasantness involved’ in seeing effigies of living, acting, and even speaking persons, who were at the same time silent. The fact that they are living and non-living at the same time is what constitutes their ghostly characters, and music was introduced … to exorcise fear or help the spectator absorb the shock. The soundless image is mortal (death has already occurred or will soon ensue): it drifts on to infinity, without ever taking root, hence its dreamlike reality – a dream within a dream. A dream that soon becomes a nightmare with deafness, muteness, and death scenes in it. A DREAM then, whose nightmarish potentials must be blocked by the insertion of a descriptive music that would make it resemble REALITY – on the one hand less of a dream because it is temporarily rid of its ghostlike features, on the other hand more of a dream because it grows unconscious of its unreality in its perfective efforts to imitate-duplicate reality. We surely don’t mind (if not enjoy) seeing violence and death on film (representation of death), but we hardly tolerate seeing them built in the very sound-image relationship that makes up the film (representation as death process). Acknowledge them as part of filmmaking.

SILENCES are holes in the sound wall/SOUNDS are bubbles on the surface of silence. Sound like silence is both opening and filling/concave and convex/life and death. Sound like silence may freeze or free the image. In many civilizations, definitions of music and silence are interchangeable. Music is life. But entering into LIFE is also entering into the DEATH process. Every day lived is a step closer to death and every sound sent OUT is a breaking IN on silence. Music goes on permanently and hearing it is like looking at a river which does not stop running when one turns away. The eye hears and the ear sees. Music is neither sound nor silence. It is contained in each and encompasses both, invisible and intangible by nature, it is especially effective in bringing forth the tangible and the visible. As the Hindus put it: “the great singer has erected worlds and the Universe is her-his song.” In the realization of a film soundtrack, clear distinctions have been made between speech (dialogue, voice-over, or oral testimony), noises (sound effects), and music. More often than not, these three elements are used as subservient INSTRUMENTS to promote an end instead of being dealt with as autonomous TOOLS for creativity. They are constructed as signifying units to help the spectator to assimilate the narrative. Thus, language is consumed exclusively as meaning, noises are reproduced mainly for their informative power, and music is tailored to fit the film’s action. There is, on the whole, no room for silence (environmental sounds from the movie-house). The need to fill in every blank space that would reveal the “unrealistic” nature of the image is usually greater than the impulse to break open/in and out the sound-image wall to unveil the void of representation. A certain repulsion for silence is widely shared among filmmakers. Many of us prefer to turn a deaf ear to the death bell – DEATH STROLLS BETWEEN IMAGES – and to make of Art a human aspiration for immortality, a product SEPARATED FROM LIFE, invented so as to postpone death to infinity. The stance is, naturally, highly paradoxical: to turn away from death, one must also turn away from life. Thus, even in experimental films where the conventional narrative structure is questioned, the audience often faces a soundtrack whose continuous, drug-like flow of music does not fail to compromise the subversiveness of the visuals by indulging the viewers in an “artificial paradise” from which they cannot depart without wanting immediately to return. Drift on uninterruptedly. From one paradise one inebriation one oblivion to another. Above all, no hole. Please no hole. And should there be any, let’s block it up. With music. While the images reach a high stage of deconstruction (or do they?), the sound is satisfied with tying some pop, rock tunes, reintroducing thereby in a forceful manner the mainstream devices ( of description, expression, association, identification) the images’ attempt at undermining. INTERNALIZED AESTHETIC CLAP-TRAP. The effect of music combined with film differs from that of film or music alone. One can easily annul the other when their relation is taken for granted, that is to say when their interaction is not thoroughly questioned. The myth of storytelling in music is still very alive in the film world. To challenge the monotonous universe of illustrative logic in which film music usually moves, it is therefore necessary to play an exacting game with all securely anchored audio-visual habits.

Silence: people having faith in each other. If the main motive of cinema is not expression nor communication, not telling a story nor illustrating an idea, then … the coast is clear(ed). Everything remains to be done in the field of film music. Everything seems possible and the constraints are above all a question of relationship. (Relationships that are determined by a specific situation – here, a sound film – but that also exceed it: they interweave beyond the limits set; relate one work to the other, film to life/death; expand layers of reading/listening; connect film, filmed subject, filmmaker, filmviewer, and context in which film can exist. One way of defining filmmaking is to say that it consists of entering into relations with things and people and making as many of these relations come into view/hearing as possible.) Whether noises are music or not, for example, depends en the hearer’s way of living: how one listens to them, absorbs, and recreates them. This no longer sounds new to our ear. Yet looking at the widespread practices of sound cinema, I cannot help asking: why use noises so consistently for their informative power? Why not explore at the same time their musical potentials? Move from that which is easily identifiable to that which is at the limit of being identifiable. Listen to them non-knowingly but alertly. Enjoy their materiality. SUSPEND the MEANING of sound, by multiplying their naturalist-realist role to the point where no single anchoring is possible, no message can be congealed, no analysis can be complete. Let it go; let it exceed all control, for an excess of intentions (conscious control) is always mortal. A sound that one does not recognize (because it is decomposed, recomposed, changed-cut, repeated, emphasized differently) provokes, among other reactions, a renewal of attention for the image whose (form and) content becomes the only point of reference left, and vice-versa. One may also want to use codes so as to displace more effectively their informative content. Intermittently give the illusion of real (synchronized) sound so as to reveal more keenly their illusive nqture. A soundtrack can lure the spectators into a definite mood and take an abrupt turn as soon as they enter into it, thereby keeping constantly open the space of their desire for the finished product. The same holds true for the use of voices and dialogues. Language exceeds meaning. I define it first and foremost as the music of a body and a people. The eternal chatter that escorts images is an oppressive device of fixed association. To bring out the plural, sliding relationship between ear and eye and to leave more room for the spectators to decide what they want to make out of a statement or a sequence of images, it is necessary to invent a whole range of strategies that would unsettle such fixedness. Here, silence and repetitions can play an important role. Cutting a sentence at different places, for example, assembling it with holes, repeating it in slightly different forms and in ever-changing verbal and visual contexts help to produce a constant shift and dislocation in meanings. Silences and repetitions are rejected as a failure of language when they are experienced as oblivious holes or as the utterance of the same thing twice or more. WE SHOULD NOT STAMMER, so goes the reasoning, or we only make our way successfully in life when we speak in a continuous articulate flow. True. After many years of confusions, of suppressed voice and INARTICULATE SOUNDS, holes, blanks, black-outs, jump-cuts, out-of-focus visions, I FINALLY SAY NO: yes, sounds are sounds and should above all be released as sounds. Everything is in the releasing There is no score to follow, no hidden dimension from the visuals to disclose, and endless thread to weave anew.

Terry Jennings, Piece for Cello and Saxophone

We’re proud to announce the release of Terry Jennings Piece for Cello and Saxophone, which was performed by Charles Curtis on March 26 at Courtisane Festival 2016. I first learned about the piece through Alan Licht’s famous Minimalist Music lists and then, after having worked with Charles Curtis on several occasions (for his renderings of Eliane Radigue’s music), was finally able to commission him to play it live at the festival. The piece, Recorded by Ludo Engels at the time, was finally released in July 2022 on Saltern records, run by Tashi Wada.

This is a text Charles wrote by way of introduction to the performance:

In La Monte Young’s re-imagining of Terry Jennings’ Piece for Cello and Saxophone, the most prominent change is the placing of the piece in a Just Intonation tuning. Even though Jennings conceived the piece in equal temperament, it’s notable that the chords are held in continuous sustained tones, that Jennings specifies these tones be held without vibrato, and that the melodic figures over the sustained cello tones repeat in very specific constellations. It is impossible for me to imagine this music being played – or heard – without a focus on the complex acoustical experience of sustained intervals, and thus the move to put these intervals into rational relationships seems near at hand.

At the same time the music reads, up to a point, as tonal, resolving and diverging and resolving again, moving gradually between E and A as formal centers, with various transit points in between as modulating fulcrums. I hear the chord progressions as chorale-like, but set forth in very slow motion. One is confronted then with a variable listening situation, in which one can dwell on the concrete, physical, purely acoustical richness of the Just Intonation structures; or one can switch over to a listening mode which addresses the chordal progressions, the quasi-functional relationships of the melody notes to the chords – suspensions, major/minor shifts, the like – and the accumulated associations with earlier music thus evoked. Some of the beauty of the piece may be in the polymorphous status of the listening experience.

Now that the piece exists in La Monte Young’s tuning, the style of performance has shifted to careful attention on the placement of the intervals. The melodic unfolding slows down naturally – and it is fair to guess that this would have pleased Jennings – as the performer constantly seeks to identify the combination tones, partials and slight beatings which act as orientation points. In Just Intonation, a note is not a simple mark or a neutral point in a scale, but rather an entryway into a severely defined virtual space. The location of the entryway can never be assumed, but must be sought, again and again, with each motion from frequency to frequency. This constantly-seeking and never-knowing lends the piece a special expressivity – even “musicality” – quite different from the assured, florid pattern-improvisation that Jennings himself might have employed.

Jennings provides extensive directions for the articulation of the melodic patterns, but his directions are ambiguous, at best. One of his directions states: “Since Directions 3 + 4 seem confusing why don’t you listen to the tape recording of the piece and may be change the directions accordingly.” Yet there is no known recording of the complete piece. In essence the directions lay out the melodic unfolding of a finite pitch set over changing sustained tones, explaining which groups to repeat and when to shift forward and no longer repeat earlier patterns. The piece moves forward by lingering upon a present pattern, with reference to earlier patterns or tones allowed under certain conditions, and new tones occurring as a signal to move on to the next set of patterns. Over time one has the sensation of a filling-in, a gradual completion of elements only hinted at in the beginning. The sense then would be that all elements remain, that as the piece moves forward none of the preceding music actually falls away, nothing is discarded, nothing is forgotten; the structure builds, and lingers.

Terry Jennings remains a shadowy figure, a fleeting presence in music history, leaving few material traces of his work; yet he was revered by those who knew him. His works too, especially the beautiful solo piano pieces such as Winter Trees and the Piano Piece published in La Monte Young’s An Anthology, are slight, bare, fragile moments in early Minimalism. Piece for Cello and Saxophone, by contrast, seems a more formally ambitious work. Even if they’re confusing, the lengthy directions may point to Jennings’ concern for a more legible and detailed music. In its present form, the piece is monumental, without, paradoxically, missing any of Jennings’ characteristic fragility and weightlessness. The tragedy and the promise of music is that it lives, and dies, again and again in the moment of its performance, fleeting and impermanent, but returning. This fact is rarely felt with greater poignancy than in Jennings’ music.

Sound Thinking

By Jonathan Rosenbaum

An attempt to assemble critical pieces approaching cinema “from the standpoint of sound”. This article was first published in Film Comment, September-October 1978, and was found on jonathanrosenbaum.net.

#1. The bias against sound thinking is so deeply ingrained that it shapes and invades the most casual parts of our speech. Whenever we ask “What movie did you see?”, or discuss film as a visual medium, or refer to viewers or spectators, we participate in a communal agreement to privilege one aspect of a film text by masking another, identifying the part as a whole. Some might argue that this bias is a carryover from the silent era; yet once we acknowledge that silence is as integral to sound as empty space is to image – not so much a neutral terrain as a variable to be defined and/or filled in relation to an infinite variety of contexts – we can’t really claim that the problem started with the “talkies.” Indeed, we can’t even allude to “talkies” without agreeing to privilege speech over silence, sound effects and music, thereby participating in a related form of suppression.

#2. The point is that none of the terms we use are innocent, and the ones we have for discussing sound still aren’t far removed from Neanderthal grunts. Consider the brutal inadequacy of “sound effects”: it would seem barbaric if we spoke of visual composition in Eisenstein or Renoir as “visual effects,” if only because we perceive composition as a complex of interrelated decisions. To reduce all the nonverbal and nonmusical sounds that we hear to the status of “effects” is to impoverish our sense of relationships in the world(s) that we inhabit. And the movies validating such terms are reflections of that impoverishment.

From this standpoint, the voluptuous, intricate uses of direct sound in Renoir’s La Nuit du Carrefour and the Straub-Huillet’s Moses and Aaron have moral and political consequences by proposing that we live in much richer, more symbiotic places than the insulated box frames conjured up by most movies.

In a persuasive ideological study of the dominant practices of sound editing and mixing (modes of production that filmgoers significantly know next to nothing about), Mary Ann Doane suggests that these practices should be examined in relation to “a certain structure of oppositions which split ‘knowledge’ within bourgeois ideology — oppositions between intellect and emotion, the intelligible and the sensible, reason and intuition.” Her plausible assumption is that “not only the techniques of sound track construction but the language of technicians and the discourses on technique symptomatic of particular ideological aims.”

#3. Correspondingly, in the uses of nonverbal sound most often singled out for attention within these dominant frames, such as the short gasps at the start of Kiss Me, Deadly, the Bernard Herrmann scores for Hitchcock, or the “heavy” Dolby vibrations of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, sound is praised when it’s aimed directly at the gut, bypassing the brain while contriving to persuade one that the images are “more”than they actually are: scarier, funnier, bolder, sadder, wiser, truer–literally, more meaningful. If such coercion was direct-–assuming that the patient survives.

#4. When we try to describe non-dominant methods of sound production, we generally run smack-dab against one or more daunting obstacles: a) the relative unavailability of most movies that use such methods, (b) lack of detailed technical information about them, (c) an inadequate vocabulary for describing them.

Occasionally, some of these obstacles can be overcome in relation to one another: see Lucy Fischer’s careful analysis of Dziga Vertov’s Enthusiasm, which coincided with the acquisition of the film by Anthology Film Archives. More often, they conspire to keep essential works outside the scope of film history proposed by most surveys — perhaps most notoriously in the cases of the first sound features of other Soviet directors (Barnett’s Okraina, Dovzhenko’s lvan, Kuleshov’s The Great Consoler, and Pudovkin’s Deserter — although in the case of the latter, we at least have Pudovkin’s descriptive essays).

A related problem crops up regarding the more official signposts of film history. In his recent economic studies of the establishment of sound in American cinema, Douglas Gomery has challenged the centrality of The Jazz Singer by drawing attention to the importance of the musical and vaudeville shorts of Warners and the sound newsreels of Fox, adding that most of the latter “are only now becoming available to researchers.”

#5. A common difficulty related to (c), above, is the primacy of the visual metaphor in our culture. This can make even some of the most valuable writing about sound an exercise in indirect sign language. Thus Noël Burch writes about “an extreme auditory “close-up”, while Claudia Gorbman (whose remarkable analysis of Jaubert’s Zéro de conduite score already seems like a model of its kind) notes elsewhere, in reference to the perceptibility of dialogue, that “‘Soft focus’ exists in many scenes of McCabe and Mrs. Miller; and sharp and ‘deep’ focus in films by Welles.”

In a context where so many levels and aspects of auditory definition are as yet unnamed, such short-cuts seem inevitable. and are likely to remain so. The evidence of my ears suggests that the ranges of dialogue perceptibility in McCabe and California Split deviate significantly from industrial norms in ways that more recent Altman movies do not; in order to demonstrate this in a verbal analysis, an arsenal of precise categories would be needed-most of which I don’t have. Visual adjectives like “foggy” or “blurry,” for all their temptations, might actually wind up clouding the issues, while a more flexible word like “indistinct” would only take us part of the way.

#6. Consequences of sound thinking (Exhibit A, liberal): André Bazin’s defense of Orson Welles’ Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil, which I had the job of translating a few years ago, shocked me at the time for what seemed to verge on a fascist argument in the midst of humanist discourse. Acknowledging, with his customary scrupulousness, that his moral interpretation differs from that of Welles, Bazin implies that Quinlan is justified in his framing of suspects, not only because “without him . . . the guilty would pass for innocent,” but also because of his innate superiority:

Quinlan is physically monstrous, but is he morally monstrous as well? The answer is yes and no. Yes, because he is guilty of committing a crime to defend himself; no, because from a higher moral standpoint, he is, at least in certain respects, above the honest, just, intelligent Vargas, who will always lack that sense of life which I shall call Shakespearean. These exceptional beings should not be judged by ordinary laws. They are both weaker and stronger than others. Weaker: “When I start ut to make a fool of myself, there’s little enough can stop me,” confesses the sailor Michael O’Hara at the start of The Lady from Shanghai. But also so much stronger because directly in touch with the true nature of things, or perhaps one should say, with God.

Much as Bazin’s taste for Welles’ low camera angles often seems to have an unstated affinity with the position of someone kneeling in church, this curious apologia for Quinlan’s swinishness has never convinced me.

What has any of this to do with sound? A lot. Phyllis Goldfarb has ably shown how the repeated “fragmentation of the relationship be tween a sound and its source” in Touch of Evil produces a series of visual and aural dislocations — a material counterpart, one might add, to the moral ambiguities that undeniably infuse the film. And one of the fascinations of the longer version of the movie that surfaced recently is its somewhat different sound-mix — including, for the first time, the off-screen sound of Sanchez (Victor Millan) being slugged by Quinlan during the latter’s interrogation of the former.

The point is that this single addition to the soundtrack — preceded by Quinlan saying, “Back in the old days we gave it to them like this,” and followed by a cry of pain from Sanchez — might have tipped the scales for Bazin against Quinlan, had he seen and heard this longer version. The ironic “footnote” that Sanchez proves to be guilty after all remains unchanged; the crucial issue here is Quinlan’s police methods. And the sound of a fist hitting a stomach while the camera focuses on Vargas (Charlton Heston) and Schwartz (Mort Mills) in another room is only one more instance of the moral difference that a sound can make.

#7. In a partial defense of sound bullying (as opposed to sound thinking) — which extends to such attractive examples as Chaplin’s theme songs, Val Lewton’s shock effects, Julia Solntseva’s stereophonic evocations of childhood in The Enchanted Desna, and Miklos Rosza’s Providence score – one could submit the thesis that conscious acts of analysis are much easier to provoke through sight than through sound, which appeals more to unconscious and collective impulses.

I’ve never had a chance to study the soundtrack of Jacques Tati’s PlayTime in stereo, but I’m already convinced that a level of aural density approaching the movie’s visual density would be indecipherable. Barring an exceptionally well-trained ear, I doubt that hearing can differentiate between simultaneous sounds as systematically as seeing can sort out simultaneous actions.

#8. Whether a filmmaker chooses to work with or against this inequality is an other matter. Robert Bresson argues that a sound always evokes an image (but never the reverse), and follows this principle by replacing images with sounds whenever he can — a practice especially apparent in his Lancelot du lac.

Related strategies can be found in Sternberg’s Anatahan, Antonioni’s L’Avventura, Ozu’s Her Only Son, Marguerite Duras’ India Song, La Nuit du Carrefour, Michael Snow’s Rameau’s Nephew…, Marcel Hanoun’s Une Simple Histoire, and Straub-Huillet’s films. All of these depend to some degree on qualities of visual sparseness — such as empty space, immobility, flatness, or darkness-in relation to the richness of their soundtracks.

What’s still needed is an erotics of sound that could accommodate sensation as well as thought — bringing the two together rather than separating them into the “structure of oppositions” described by Doane, which define the paramerers of our film experience. Such an erotics might include the tactile quality of the synchronized studio recording in Carl Dreyer’s Gertrud as well as the disembodied assemblage of dubbed noises in his Vampyr; the frenzied babble of certain Preston Sturges comedies (and of Straub-Huillet’s Othon);the witty off-screen injections of ping-pong and Mozart in Polanski’s What? and the direct sound subtly overlaid by piano patter in Jacques Rivette’s Celine and Julie Go Boating; the integrations of dialogue, music, and other sounds in Chikamatsu Monogatari, Love Me Tonight, Rivette’s La Réligieuse, and the Tavianis’ Padre, Padrone –– as well as the ambitious work of Jean Grémillon, which so far I’ve only managed to read about.

#9. Consequences of sound thinking (Exhibit B, radical): A friend who observed part of Elaine May’s editing of Mikey and Nicky — a film whose flagrant disregard of conventional continuity matches [2021 afterword: in the studio’s original release version, unauthorized by May] has upset many reviewers, incidentally distracting them from the controlled fury of the script – reports an interesting piece of information about May’s procedures. It appears that her first criterion in selecting takes was the quality of the sound recording and the line readings and all the ordinary rules of cutting were sacrificed to this bias.

If May had sacrificed sound quality for the sake of conventional editing, one doubts that anyone would have objected, or even noticed. (2017 footnote: The friend who observed this was Todd McCarthy, working as a May assistant, and the version I saw later turned out to be May’s rough cut, later replaced by her more conventionally edited final cut.) As Altman’s apparent retreat from aural explorations also implies, sound thinking — as opposed to sound bullying — isn’t likely to win any industry prizes.

#10. Renoir put it succinctly: “If we were living in the twelfth century, a period of lofty civilization, the practitioners of dubbing would be burnt in the market-place for heresy. Dubbing is equivalent to a belief in the duality of the soul.” The argument that dubbing is aesthetically defensible continues to rest upon a rejection of the signifier as a producer of aesthetic meaning.

Even without this caveat, the functions of dubbing in relation to the signified are sufficiently revealing to warrant a separate study. Four brief examples must suffice here, each in a different language: in the French-dubbed version of Sam Fuller’s Pickup on South Street, the Cold War Communist spy villains are transformed into drug traffickers; in the Spanish-dubbed version of John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, the gangster played by Louis Calhern is no longer Marilyn Monroe’s sugar daddy but her literal father; in the Italian Contempt, Georgia Moll no longer serves as translator in Jack Palance’s conversations, so that all her lines have been changed into utterances of her own; and in the American-dubbed Alphaville, the line “Le jour se lève” that accompanies the flickering on of fluorescent lights is replaced by “Sunrise” — replacing one film reference with another.

#11. Sunrise is almost invariably referred to as a silent picture; yet the soundtrack that appears on many prints — a music score with sound effects that is credited to Dr. Hugo Riesenfeld — has always seemed to me to be an essential part of its experience. Achieving at times a synthesis of aural layers that matches separate visual strains in the mise en scène or certain superimpositions, it often functions as an appreciation of Murnau’s multiple rhythms.

A more conventional accompaniment to the City Woman’s delirious evocations of urban excitement would entail a strict fadeout of the moody marsh music followed by a fade-in of the jazzy orchestra; superimposing the two creates a disquieting cacophony that beautifully captures the ambivalence of the moment. Another complex blend is effected when the mysterious raft with a bonfire and figures dancing around it passes behind the Couple’s rowboat on their night journey home, and the ecstatic swaying of the Wife to the raft’s music becomes part of the polyrhythmic poetry.

An appealing aspect of many early sound films is the way that sounds are played off against silence, setting off their special characteristics like precious stones: think of Blackmail, City Lights, M, and Thunderbolt. The same principles of this dialectic can be found in contemporary films ranging from Mr. Hulot’s Holiday to 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her to Portabella’s Vampir and Umbracle, each of which utilizes the equivalent of a blank canvas to frame some of its sound “objects.”

#12. Consequences of sound thinking (Exhibit C, conservative): Evidences of sound thinking in and about film are probably as plentiful today as they were in the late Twenties and early Thirties. Yet the lack of a common rallying point and the persistence of an inadequate vocabulary has tended to place most examples of this thinking into a kind of disorganized ghetto, perpetually stranded on the fringes of mainstream film thought.

To evoke a few residents of this ghetto here (and in the bibliography below) and sketch some of the conditions leading to their containment is only to scratch the surface of a basic dilemma. A related ambition has led to the planning of a season of two dozen sound features with the same title as this article, programmed by Carrie Rickey and myself for Carnegie Hall Cinema this fall — a weekly series of double-features chosen to illustrate diverse aspects of the subject rather than to construct a monolithic theory around it. At this stage of the proceedings, it seems to make more sense to broach issues than to attempt to settle them — which is what I’ve tried to do in this abbreviated survey.

Some Readings in Sound Thinking
* Brakhage, Stanley, “The Silent Sound Sense,” Film Culture No. 2l, Summer 1960, pp. 65-67
* Bresson, Robert, Notes on Cinematography, Urizen Books, 1977
* Burch, Noël, “On the Structural Use of Sound,” in Theory of Film Practice, Praeger, 1973, pp. 90-101.
* Cornwell, Regina, study of Michael Snow’s Rameau’s Nephew in Afterimage No. 7, 1978, London (forthcoming)
* Doane, Mary Ann, “Ideology and the Practices of Sound Editing and Mixing,” paper delivered at Milwaukee Conference on the Cinematic Apparatus, 1978 (forthcoming in conference proceedings)
* Eisenstein, Sergei, “A Statement on the Sound-Film” (co-signed by Pudovkin and Alexandrcv), in Film Form. Harvest Books 1949, pp. 257-260.
* Fischer, Lucy, “Beyond Freedom and Dignity” (on PlayTime), Sight and Sound, Autumn t976, pp.236-238
* Fischer, Lucy, “Enthusiasm: From Kino-Eye to Radio-Eye,” Film Quarterly, Winter 197 7 -7 8, printed with Peter Kubelka interview about restoration of film, pp.25-36.
* Goldfarb, Phyllis, “Orson Welles’s Use of Sound,” Take One ,Yol.3, No. 6, July-August 1971, pp. l0-14.
* Gomery, Douglas, “Problems in Film History: How Fox Innovated Sound,” Quarterly Review of Film Studies, August 1976, pp.3l5-330.
* Gomery, Douglas, “Toward a Materialistic History of the Cinema: An Economic Analysis of the Coming of Sound to the American Cinema.” paper delivered at the Milwaukee Conference on the Cinematic Apparatus, 1978 (forthcoming in conference proceedings).
* Gomery, Douglas, “Tri-Ergon, Tobis-Klangfilm, and the Coming of Sound,” Cinema Journal, Fall 1976, pp.5l-61.
* Gomery, Douglas, “Writing the History of the American Film Industry: Warner Brothers and Sound,” Screen, Spring 1976, pp. 40-53.
* Gorbman, Claudia, “Clair’s Sound Hierarchy and the Creation of Auditory Space,” 1976 Purdue Film Studies Annual, pp. ll3-123.
* Gorbman, Claudia, “Teaching the Soundtrack,” Quarterly Review of Film Studies, November 1976, pp. 446-452.
* Gorbman, Claudia, “Vigo/Jaubert,” Ciné-Tracts No. 2, Summer 1977, pp.65-80.
* Leyda, Jay, Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film, Macmillan, 1960.
* Pudovkin, V.I., “Asynchronism as a Principle of Sound Film,””Rhythmic Problems in My First Sound Film,” “Dual Rhythm of Sound and Image,” in Film Technique and Film Acting, Grove, 1960, pp. 183-202, 308-3l6.
* Rainer, Yvonne, script of Kristina Talking Pictures in Afterimage No. 7, 1978, London (forthcoming)
* Renoir, Jean, My Life and My Films, Atheneum, 1974.
* Rivette, Jacques, “Time Overflowing” (interview), in Rivette : Texts and Interviews, British Film Institute,1977, pp. 30-31.
* Rosenbaum, Jonathan, Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac,” Sight and Sound, Summer 1974, pp. 128-130.
* Rosenbaum, Jonathan, Sternberg’s Sayonara Gesture” (on Anatahan), Film Comment, January-February 1978, pp. 56-59.
* Roud, Richard, Straub, Cinema One (Viking), 1972.
* Snow, Michael, “Notes for Rameau’s Nephew,” October No. 4, Fall 1977, pp. 43-51.
* Walsh, Martin, ” Moses and Aaron: Straub and Huillet’s Schoenberg.” Jump Cut No. l2/13, 1976, printed with Straub/Huillet interview by Joel Rogers, pp.57-64

In French (with thanks to Bertrand Augst and Sandy Flitterman):
* Avron, Dominique, “Remarques sur Ie travail du son dans la production cinématographique standardisé,” in Cinéma: Théorie, Lectures (special issue of Revue d’Esthétique), Klincksieck, 1973, pp. 207 -266.
* Fano, Michel, interview in Cinéthique No. 2.
* Image et Son no. 215, March 1968 (special issue on sound).
* Marie, Michel, chapter on sound in Lectures du Film, Editions Albatros, 1976, pp. 198-211 (includes bibliography on sound).
* Marie, Michel, chapter on sound in Muriel: Histoire d’un récherche, Editions Galilée, 1974, pp. 61-122.
* Mitry, Jean, “Le Parole et le son” in Esthétique et Psychologie du Cinéma, Vol. 2, Editions Universitaires, 1965, pp. 87-l76.
* Morin, Edgar, Le Cinéma ou I’homme imaginaire, Editions de Minuit, 1956.
* Percheron Daniel, “Le son au cinéma dans ses rapports à I’image et à la diégse,” Ça/Cinéma No. 3, lanuary 1974.
* Straub, Jean-Marie and Danièle Huillet, interview in Cahiers du Cinéma No. 260-261, October 1975, printed in dossier on Moses and Aaron, pp. 5-84 (see also interview with Straub and Huiller on Othon in Cahiers du Cinéma No. 223, August-September 1970, pp. 48-57).