Jacques Rivette

I watched so many films, up late surviving some interminable rubbish on Channel Four and sometimes BBC2 … and I was sixteen or seventeen. This was when? 1982 or 1983 and I knew what I was looking for. It was a secret I’d heard about in certain music, snippets of Bowie and Chopin, and I’d seen in TV programs for as long as I could remember (The Herbs, a children’s programme), and in paintings such as Turner’s, Van Gogh’s and Seurat’s. Occasionally there had been films, although I couldn’t remember their names. It was mostly, I should point out, something I’d found in the suburban parks scattered around where I lived – a kind of gargoyle quality that left me dizzy like when I saw a couple of punks kissing in a Victorian pavilion with bits of its roof flapping off.
     It was a secret. Perhaps it would be unedifying to say more than that, but I think I should. The secret had a form like a taste does; and when it had gone there was a deadness, like tapping on a poorly made wall. There was an evening at a party, and I was standing with a group of people, slowly winding down from hoping I might meet someone really special that night and realising the chances are I very possibly never would … that I might meet someone who knew what I was talking about. I stopped looking for the secret. Something stopped in me, like a clock at a certain time (I dreamed that night of a clock stopping and someone unscrewing the hands and hiding them so I wouldn’t ever even know when it stopped).
     Then in 2007 Sarah showed me a film by Jaques Rivette: L’Amour Par Terre. There it was again, a secret. I wouldn’t even say ‘that’ secret; only a secret. I realised it was there, and in Godard’s Le Mépris. And in a writer I’d returned to, Frank O’Hara: Having a Coke With You. Of all the people I have read Frank O’Hara has most helped me work out what’s going on. If I’m anything, and this was pointed out to me by someone else, I’m very possibly a Personist (O’Hara’s kind of personism).
     So I’d like to leave this in memory of Jacques Rivette, who made the strangest films: Ode to Joy

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