Art and settling accounts
I’d like to blog more on this site and share musings, like those that I think about when I run. These will be filed under the disautomatization category, as they come to me “offline” as I am thinking about reinventions of work — i.e., if time is saved through automatization, what can we do?
Yesterday I was thinking about Truffaut’s 400 coups:
François Truffaut’s first feature is also his most personal. Told from the point of view of Truffaut’s cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups) sensitively re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own childhood, unsentimentally portraying aloof parents, oppressive teachers, and petty crime. The film marked Truffaut’s passage from leading critic to trailblazing auteur of the French New Wave.
In it there are lines about how art should not be used to resolve personal issues. One of the lines is:
If you use art to settle accounts, it is no longer art.
The film shows just how much the child protagonist was neglected; showing that even with material comforts (enough food, shelter), a lack of love can be a handicap. I was thinking about how to this day, this continues to be a problem, maybe even moreso given digital distraction or parent’s need to adapt to changing workplaces.
But the line is ironic, because Truffaut does succeed in making art out of, for example, “oppressive teachers” and systemic injustices through his non-judgmental portrayal. What other kinds of work succeed through non-judgmental approaches?
But I was also thinking of all the unsuccessful examples of this genre, which is very hard to get right. It can turn into partyline condemnation of parents or self-pity. At the same time, as a genre, it can be cathartic. So how could writing prompts be designed to help such an exercise be generative and energizing? If we learn to help and heal ourselves, this can be a model of learning to learn together, of symmathesy, as it is a hero’s arc. For this reason, storytelling is an element in my textbook.
- Like in the fables of yesteryear, what are types of behaviors, considered apart from specific individuals who engage in them?
- Strengths vs. weaknesses
- Similarly, do certain actions and words contribute to collective strengths or do they bring out people’s weaknesses?
- Valuing values
- What should be valued? What harms those values?
- What motives do people have causing them to act the way that they do? (This requires empathy, so if considered seriously will bring transformative energy to the thought.)
- What do people say/do to what effect?
- Is a role played by fortune?
- How is power manifested? What is the outcome of partisanship and power?
As I ran further, I was thinking about scientist Jovan Cvijic’s autobiography where he writes about his own encounter with coming-of-age trials:
1881 was a year of moral and spiritual crisis. I found myself in the same flat as much older Uzica-natives, who were studying at the school of pedagogy and I heard and saw all kinds of things. That none of that stuck to me was thanks to characteristics that I got from my mother. In general, only a vague picture remains of ugly experiences and misfortunes in life (especially from later on, when there were even more of them), and because of that I do not believe that I could provoke even one of them; but there does remain a general impression of unpleasantness and unease. But of the good I remember every detail, because I developd them in my consciousness and made them deeper.
What of the children with no mothers? Or no parents, abusive parents? I wonder how I can think of the children, how I can help.
We learn by being healed. Any other ‘learning’ risks passing on oppression. I was thinking about this as I ran and how I truly exaggerated in work these past five years, at personal cost. But my motivation was to try to break through to share something that could help others find their way. Here’s to keeping on keeing on, in good faith.
Page generated 03P03. Updated 03Q03.