My sensibilities – cinematically speaking – seem to have been profoundly influenced by those 35 minutes of Brakhage when I was an 18-year-old. I’ve always loved films and the little moments within films that feel rough and filled with texture. I think I enjoy the blur in the middle of a flash pan more than the stasis at each end. I love the blurriness of the porn film that Travis watches in “Taxi Driver” – it’s somehow dirtier than if we’d been allowed to see clearly. I’m entranced by the interplay of film stocks, styles, and methods in “WR: Mysteries of the Organism.” And the final shot of “The Last Temptation of Christ” – with the film accidently running out in the camera and the shot being “ruined” by flickering light leaks – is the most extraordinary way of signifying Christ’s ascendency I can imagine.
“Deus Ex” has never been out of my mind even as its memory has faded to near nothingness. Nothing opened my mind to as many possibilities of what a movie could be. And I never forgot the name Brakhage even though it was nearly 15 years before I got another chance to see a Brakhage film. He became a figure in my mind akin to Zeus and Odysseus. He became a mythological figure to me of a lone artist seemingly living in a shack on the beach making little 8mm movies for an audience of one while living off of peanut butter and crackers and hitchhiking to town and panhandling for money whenever he needed to get his film developed. (Of course, I would eventually learn that most of this was a figment of my hippy loving imagination.)
And all of this mythologizing was the result of watching 35 minutes of blurry green and red splotches. Maybe that’s part of what Brakhage meant by “Eye Mythology.”
Finally, about 13 year ago I came across a mail order videotape rental company that offered something called “Dog Star Man” by Stan Brakhage. I jumped at the opportunity and paid something like $15.00 plus postage to have the tape in my possession for a full week. And, I wasn’t impressed. I don’t know if it was the crappy quality of the tape or that I just needed to first find a way to erase 15 years of building the guy’s work up into something in my mind that it wasn’t before I could appreciate it, but I found the movie incredibly boring. I did discover though that it goes very nicely – like so many other movies – as a visual accompaniment to Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.”