What did Jerry Garcia and Luis Buenel have in common besides the obvious? (Bipedalism, opposable thumbs, requisite oxygen-breathing, et-cetera.)
The Saragossa Manuscript.
It was both men’s favorite movie.
When poliphilo mentioned it yesterday, I was seized with the irresistible urge to see it again, so I tracked it down to an obscure website that specializes in streaming cryptic Eastern European movies.
The movie is very, very strange.
Indescribable in some essential way.
Insofar as it’s about anything, it’s about stories. Not the content of those stories necessarily so much as the relentless way stories interlock and intertwine so that an unimportant incident in one person’s life becomes the climax of somebody else’s life.
The stories start out with a narrative you can track: Two soldiers in Spain on opposing sides of one of the Napoleonic Wars come upon an ancient book in a ruined building in the maybe-haunted, maybe-not mountains of the Sierra Morena.
The book is so fascinating that the soldiers set about reading it, forgetting they are on opposite sides of the conflict. The book narrates the misadventures of one Alfonse Van Worden, a member of the Walloon Guard, who’d attempted to traverse these very mountains on an urgent mission to Madrid, some 100 years before.
But every time Alfonse sets out, his journey is interrupted—reversed, one might say. By a pair of demon sisters, by a weird hermit, by a Kabbalist, by a gypsy, by others; and each of these characters has a story to tell, and the characters in their stories have a story to tell, so that by the time you get two-thirds of the way into the movie, you’ve lost all track of what story you’re in or who’s telling it, and you can only track where you are by the images that keep reappearing in the stories: a ruined building; a gallows with two corpses (who come alive in some of the stories); the strange landscape of the Sierra Morena, strewn with bones and rock formations that look like bones; and in the latter half of the movie, an odd little town like Ovieto (which, for various reasons, is the Spanish town I know best) with a church, and a market, and a bower where lovers meet.
Adding to the weirdness is the fact that while all this transpires in a fictional Spain, The Saragossa Manuscript is actually a Polish movie that was made in 1964, at the height of what for all intents and purposes was a Russian occupation.
I love The Saragossa Manuscript!
Watching it is about the closest I’ve ever come to the headspace of dropping acid although, of course, without the swirlies and attendant hallucinations one plays with when dropping acid.
It kinda coaligns with all my strange thoughts about reincarnative cycles, too.
That said, I’m not sure who I would recommend the movie to.
You have to be a certain type of person to appreciate it although I’d have a hard time defining who and what that type of person is.
I did taxes.
Lots and lots of taxes!
The routine is getting less tedious though I would really prefer the clients to be sitting there in front of me. I keep having to call them because this year, there are quite a few tax code changes related to Covid and Stage II of the Trump tax overhaul, and nobody ever submits the right documents or all the necessary information.
I don’t like making phone calls.
Also, Loraine and I tag-teamed on the first food delivery to the soon-to-be-widower neighbor.
Other neighbors keep calling me—I hate phone calls!—because I set up a neighborhood network that aims to help keep the soon-to-be-widower fed this week.
They have questions like, Should I make a tuna or macaroni casserole? And, Should I deliver the food at 4:30pm or five o’clock?
And I am thinking, Who the fuck cares? Just do it!
I organized the food thing because Community! Important!
But I'll be damned I’m gonna involve myself in insignificant organizational details.
I have a ton of remunerative work I have to complete today and no interest in completing any of it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I should be grateful I have remunerative work because lots of people don’t, yada, yada, yada (though that argument has always seemed a lot like the Eat everything on your plate! There are starving children in India!-arguments that bedeviled my earliest childhood.)
I just wish that apocryphal reclusive billionaire who culls LiveJournal and Dreamwidth obsessively in the hopes of discovering obscure, deserving artists would hurry up and find me! John Beresford Tipton! White courtesy telephone!