Post for Cabbage: Early cinema

March 28, 2007 at 11:13 am | Posted in Film | 8 Comments
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An excerpt from an essay by Alfred Döblin about the cinema – early cinema, as the text was written in 1909. Bibliographic details: Alfred Döblin: Das Theater der kleinen Leute. In: Das Theater. Volume 1, No. 8 (Decemver 1909), pp. 191-192. Cited from: Prolog vor dem Film: Nachdenken über ein neues Madium, 1909-1914. Edited and commented by Jörg Schweinitz. Leipzig: Reclam, 1992, pp. 153-155, here: p. 155.

Deutlich erhellt: der Kientopp ist ein vorzügliches Mittel gegen den Alkoholismus, schärfste Konkurrenz der Sechserdestillen; man achte, ob die Lebercirrhose und die Geburten epileptischer Kinder nicht in den nächsten zehn Jahren zurückgehen. Man nehme dem Volk und der Jugend nicht die Schundliteratur noch den Kientopp, sie brauchen die sehr blutige Kost ohne die breite Mehlpampe der volkstümlichen Literatur und die wässrigen Aufgüsse der Moral. Der Höhergebildete aber verläßt das Lokal, vor allem froh, dass das Kinema – schweigt.

An attempt at a translation:

Clearly illuminated: the cinema is an excellent remedy for alcoholism, the keenest competition of small distilleries; one should pay attention whether cirrhosis of the liver and the birth of epileptic children aren’t going to decrease over the next ten years. One should bereave the people and the youth of neither pulp fiction nor cinema, they need the very bloody fare without the common stodge of folklore literature and the dilute infusions of morality. The person of higher education, however, leaves the locale, above all glad that the cinema is – silent.

Kientopp is an early expression for small cinemas and came out of fashion with the introduction of bigger movie theatres that tried to imitate bourgeois theatre. Smoking and drinking was allowed, it was cheap and – to the horror of the self-proclaimed educators of society – men and women sat down together in the same darkened room.

A Sechserdestille isn’t exactly an illegal pub (I don’t think), but a small place where people went to get cheap and heavy booze.

You might know Alfred Döblin through his novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929). He wasn’t a naturalist, but is deemed the German equivalent of James Joyce. Nevertheless, and considering this piece above was written in 1909, it might be useful for your project. Schweinitz’s collection of early writings about film is a treasure trove really, but I don’t think translated into English. Maybe something similar exists, or the doyen of early cinema, Thomas Elsaesser has published something.

Maybe Jetsam has suggestions for improving my translation.

That’s how wars get started 30/40

March 28, 2007 at 6:48 am | Posted in Blogging, Bollywood, Friends, Teaching English, TEFL, Youtube | 10 Comments
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I’ve been a regular to the blogosphere since August 2006, and a regular blogger (one post per day, except when I am on vacation) for four months. This practice has fundamentally changed the boundaries of what I used to consider private and public. Things like using an IUD, for instance, I don’t think I would have wrote about on my first website, around 1998, over at tripod. (Btw, they used to call themselves “one of the leading personal publishing communities on the Web”, but have now hopped on the blog bus as well.) As I’ve probably written somewhere before, using a diary did never make much sense to me in the past – it just didn’t appeal to me to write something that isn’t addressed to someone. But who’s the address of blogging? Some individuals of course, both real life and blogosphere friends, although not immediately. Not in these same way as in writing (an email or letter) directly to them. The public? In a way. But with a difference. It’s as if blogging is also a way of getting reconciled with the world, with the things you’re doing, the problems you’re confronting. I suspect that this type of ‘public’ operates very much in a super-ego fashion – it would be worthwhile to examine this closer, but that’s actually not the topic I wanted to write about today.

Occasion for this intro is that I am going to use this blog today to write about a personal conflict I had with someone. This is definitely another step towards the blurring of the public and the private, or maybe even an attempt of making my concern heard by the super-ego that can accept or dismiss my request (following my half-baked theory above).

What is peculiar about this conflict is that, in our own minds, we both are right. It is an illustration of the great degree of subjectivity to which our perception of a situation is subjected. It explains why wars get started: both parties being trapped in their own little constructions of their world.


I’ve changed my mind meanwhile. I am not going to write about this on the blog, at least not in the detailed way that I wanted to. It might be better, if you think of the death threats that some female bloggers are receiving these days. I’ve wondered in the past how Lenina’s ‘BF’ might respond to her posts about him, or his friends, which are not always favourable, but maybe he doesn’t know the address. Anyhow, explicit communication about this might only make the situation worse, as the person might read this blog and get offended (not a blogger….).

Although it would be a story worthwhile sharing, featuring dissent arising from using diverging terminology from different disciplines, misunderstanding and mistrust originating from wrong assumptions about the workings of technology, a clash of gendered behaviour, and a mutual pushing the buttons of each other’s inferiority complexes (I don’t know exactly which buttons exactly I pushed, but I know which of mine were activated: Never say something to a TEFL person that would make it appear as though you thought TEFL folk weren’t proper academics. They already think they are not, and being a TEFL person alone gives most of them a sense of failure. Most of them have turned to teaching English because it was their last exit to a regular income. More about the inferior complexes of TEFL people to be found at the English droid’s page.)

A brief excerpt of the actualized gendered behaviour (also suggesting that the argument arose via email):

masculine: “You are wrong. That’s my view. And I don’t believe you. I am not going to respond to anything you write about this from now on.”
feminine: keeping up the the communication via email nonetheless, trying to substantiate that she was falsely accused, animating the other side to respond…

This example of masculine behaviour, btw, reminds me of the character of the patriarch played by Amitabh Bachchan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (already mentioned a couple of times on this blog). The patriarch rejects his adoptive son for marrying the wrong woman and declares him a persona non grata. Talking about him is no longer condoned. Numerous attempts are made (mainly by women or characters with feminine connotations) to animate him to rekindle the communication about and with the son. But all attempts are brutishly silenced by the patriarch:

“I’ve said it. That’s it. Bas.

I think this post should end on a positive note nonetheless. There’s nothing better for that than a sequence from a Bollywood movie. I’ll pick one from the end of KKKG, when everybody is reunited in wedding and happiness, and the patriarch appeased.

God, I love this movie. I’m not normally a fan of Hritik Roshan, but I just love his little tongue in cheek dance in the first part of this scene.

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