The marriage of sound and imagery in cinema intends to add something that is not verisimilitude, and it serves as a bullshit flag, which is to say, apology for the gap in the story between the viewers’ imaginary engagement and the other image called, reality, in which viewers are watching flickering lights. Why would a story-teller create such gaps in the viewers’ aesthetic continuum, since, after all, I know no greater bliss than following a good story. Immersion in a story feels as good to me as swimming laps. I like reading stories.
I had a dog–a German Shepherd I called, Gunther, after Gunther Grass. We were tight and he was tight with anyone I trusted, which was cool, since I only wanted to hang out with people I trust and strangers are sometimes astonishing examples of human energy. We were living for a while in an old country home in an idyllic country village called, Whitevale, a place I imagine is similar to Lowick, the town Elliott describes in Middlemarch.
Gunther and I walked everyday, he hunted birds and rodents on Venice Beach, then in the woods around Peekskill and then by Lake Simcoe in Barrie, Ontario. Gunther and I were in sync in that 6th sense way we humans are able to communicate with animals (and sometimes other people when we’re listening). One day, my housemate, Larry, told me he wanted a cat. I was dubious. When a puppy, Gunther had a row with a cat. Larry reminded me that cats, like people, are individuals. Anne voted for the cat. The kitten arrived (music cue). Gunther’s eyebrows stood like soldiers.
On my knees on the forgivingly deep, dark green carpeting in the big room with the dark rich cherry paneled walls and ceiling (made with unusually good joinery), below the lifesize print of a giraffe on the Velt that covered most of the North wall, Gunther, the kitten (trusting my judgment) and I had a straight conversation. Looking into Gunther’s attentive eyes, I said, “this is our cat, he lives here, don’t mess with him. Got it? He’s a brother.” Gunther looked once at the cat, then at me and I distinctly heard, “affirmative on that, trust me.” The two then walked out the front door to dominate the village and get into trouble with some stupid ducks my neighbor kept.
Composing is a persistent mistress. Anything by Debussy will work with media. When the media takes on the mood of the piece, it cuts differently as the editor tries to adjust complimentary rather than conflicting tempo and timbre. Visual editing is analogous but there are many similarities between video editing and composing music. I have a 16mm version of one of the better things I’ve done with film but not a digital copy. I now have to put something together.
Gunther was a single-minded dog in his desire. When we were living in Crompond, near Peekskill, Westchester County, Nw York, Gunther fell in love with a neighbor’s young and beautiful champion Collie. When the neighbor walked her across the snow covered commons between our houses one winter morning, Gunther stood by the window and sang his full-throated desire. Later that evening, Anne, Larry and I went to the city (NY) for a show, leaving Gunther in the house as usual but when we returned, Gunther, was outside. He’d pushed a window open on the second story, leaped out and mounted the Collie, while the neighbor walked her again that evening. There was nothing I could do to undo the problem except offer some sort of paternal responsibility but the neighbor planned on thoroughbreds and was inconsolable. Gunther injured his wrist.
Other than this impetuosity, Gunther was by any standard, perfect. When we lived in Venice and Barrie, children came by to “borrow” him for games of ball and tug of war. When he died, I dug a hole for Gunther’s earthly remains in Auge Tau Andersen’s backyard. (Auge is pronounced, oh wuh. I knew it was a symbolic ritual. In my grief, I couldn’t explain the sense of it to Auge.
Many years passed before I was willing to expose myself to this kind of vulnerability. I was living in a little house near the beach in Del Mar and I acquired a Pomeranian that grew and grew and grew and grew some more to be all of twenty-five strapping pounds, a bundle of reddish fur with a blond mane. When I had a similar conversation with Bear about another cat I admired, Bear rolled his upper lip above his nose, glared at me and snarled, “not on my watch, dude.” So we worked it out Bear’s way. I learned humility from Bear.