“In at least one scene that appears in the finished film, as Chaplin would unashamedly point out in later years, the fear on his face was not a pretense. Despite the risk, Chaplin went back into the cage day after day..By the time the sequence was completed he had made more than 200 takes with the lions”
Source: David Robinson: Chaplin - His Life and Art
I am guilty of too serious, too grave living, but never of shallow living. I have lived in the depths. My first tragedy sent me to the bottom of the sea; I live in a submarine, and hardly ever come to the surface. I love costumes, the foam of aesthetics, noblesse oblige, and poetic writers. At fifteen I wanted to be Joan of Arc, and later, Don Quixote. I never awakened from my familiarity with mirages, and I will end probably in an opium den. None of that is suitable for Harper’s Bazaar.
I am apparently gentle, unstable, and full of pretenses. I will die a poet killed by the nonpoets, will renounce no dream, resign myself to no ugliness, accept nothing of the world but the one I made myself. I wrote, lived, loved like Don Quixote, and on the day of my death I will say: ‘Excuse me, it was all a dream,’ and by that time I may have found one who will say: ‘Not at all, it was true, absolutely true.’
Anais Nin, excerpt from letter to Leo Lerman, 1946.
“Darling, you can’t let everything seem so dark blue. Oh, what can I do?”
—“Black Beauty,” Lana Del Rey
The summer I was 16 and cripplingly awkward, my father’s job moved our family from Toronto to the southern U.S. After spending my whole young life in Canada, I started my first day of 10th grade at George Walton High School in East Cobb County, Georgia, and the ensuing culture shock was about as harrowing as you can imagine for an already uneasy teenage girl.
The high school of nearly 2,700 students was primarily white and Baptist, complete with daily prayer around the flagpole, pancake breakfasts for Jesus, and a Friday Night Lights–style football obsession. On game days, fully suited football players brought roses to their assigned cheerleaders, while the girls, clad in their freshly pressed red-white-and-blue uniforms, provided players with baked goods and breakfast sandwiches from Chik-fil-A. The town was famed for a 56-foot-tall steel-sided chicken statue, and for being an early adopter of evolution is just a theory stickers for its science textbooks. In one memorable round of bullying, a few other students decided I was a weirdo and a freak and threw food at me in the cafeteria while gleefully chanting insults.
The only way to suffer through 18 months in the slo-mo sport-movie montage of southern teen culture was to fetishize Americana—protests in Marietta Square and peach pies cooling on windowsills, buttery Waffle House grits and chain-smoked Marlboro Reds with bottomless diner coffee, and the appealing façade of southern hospitality. It was a bright-side approach to darkness, a juvenile fascination with the great American road trip, with drug-fueled binges for the sake of poetry and art, with Hollywood glamour and revolution and the blinking lights of Vegas—a false frontier mentality that made America seem majestic rather than menacing. Deluding myself into survival, I found something to love where there was nothing. And decades later, I’ve found that Lana Del Rey that sounds exactly like that glorious pretense. Her songs, are in essence, nostalgia for an old lie.
Aku no Hana is a masterpiece in a medium that has difficulty recognizing artistic perfection unless that greatness exists along pre-established lines. You may have already heard of the show as the one with rotoscoped animation – the show that anime fans by and large decried for being ugly, boring, and too different – too unlike anime. After all, anime have always existed as escapist tales of either over-the-top or nearly meaningless consequence, populated by purposely designed caricatures; Aku no Hana is not that. There seems to be little room in public perception for the medium to evolve out from under the prejudices of the average anime viewer. It is a shame, then, that we must discuss Aku no Hana as a work all but completely ignored when it is easily the most important anime of the decade so far and one of the most important of all time – let alone one of the best.
We teach young girls shame. close your legs, cover yourself. We made them feel as though being born female they are already guilty of something. So girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire, women who silence themselves, who cannot say they truly think. They grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.