A Response to a Review And Some Thoughts About Love or Art

 This review would be more interesting and I would give it more value if it were about Nymphomaniac and not presuppositions on Lars Von Trier(I would also give it more time if it were written in a more entertaining manner).  I fail to see how one can conclude anything about any other human being through such a limited and manipulated prism as a singular film.  And what’s more, there are so many elements in a film that are out of the control of the director.  Do you believe Von Trier has some kind of mind control over Gainsbourg and she is merely a puppet on his hand?  She is giving a performance.  She is interpreting, not merely translating.  The same with everyone in the cast and crew.  The notion that a director or writer is the singular vision is completely flawed.

So I dismiss your premise that by examining Nymphomaniac we can know things about Von Trier, which allow us to make judgements on what he thinks about this or that.

Instead, focus on the film itself and what it has to say.  Much of the things you accuse Von Trier of thinking, can also be described as things that the film is saying about us as an audience.  Or western culture as a whole.  We must accept that a film is a film, and look at it as a film.  Not as the avatar of a therapy session, for which you are ill informed, and most likely poorly qualified.

I see this kind of thing often in criticism, as if simply talking about a piece of art is too boring for you, so you have to transform from critic to arm-chair therapist.  It is a hack move because what it is principled on is that in order to make this writing noticeable, you need to elevate someone behind the work into the form of a celebrity, and then go TMZ gossip on their motives and mindstate.

Insight is traded off for a position that will get the most webhits. 

This kind of thing has lowered the discourse.  The auteur theory allows us to see some things, but as a predominant critical movement of the general populace it is wildly destructive to our ability to perceive art fully.
True Detective was a great example of this.  A show that was powered by beautiful visuals and clever visual references, mixed with powerful performances by it’s two male leads.  But so great is our desire to have this art king that somehow the weakest component of the whole show, the writer, became the emblem of the show.  His voice overrode all others, and his take and his words were all people discussed.  People lacked the ability to discuss the visual metaphors and performance choices that made up the work as a whole–and instead devolved the work into it’s basic plot and theme elements.  This is a limiting way to see things.

This is all another example of why you cannot replace the art with the artist.  You can learn things in examining an artist, but it is a mistake to think that art has a one to one relationship with it’s artist.  Even if an artist were to try, art is not the artist.  It is the relationship of an audience to a wider experience that sits between them and the artist.  It is a separate thing.

It is like when you are in love, love is a separate thing from the person you love.  The person may change.  You may end up hating them.  But that love is still an experience that happened.  It exists separate from the evolving things of identity and person.  It lingers on.  And you as a person are defined going forward by your relationship to that love.  It is an experience that makes up your life.  Just like seeing a favorite piece of art, or a despised piece of art.



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