Monday, November 21, 2011

POTENTIAL EXPLANATION OF ABSENCE

I was recently contacted via twitter about a disappointment regarding the complete absence of any esotika activity since basically 2009, even after I announced the potentiality of a periodic web-journal back in July.

Due to the fact that I lack the same capacity I once had to be writing about the films that I wanted to talk about & think about with any regularity whatsoever, I thought the best solution would be to position myself as the sort of curator of a perhaps twice-yearly "journal of film," with each issue dedicated to a director or subject matter that was very much "esotika." The first issue was to be dedicated to Zulawski, due to my absolute obsession with him combined with the fact that there is very little (good) critical or exploratory writing on his work available. The fact that his films are finally being released in glorious editions from Mondo Vision is great, and I feel like all of his masterpieces are no longer (entirely) in the dark to most viewers.

Due to the fact that I'm ultimately selfish, I was intensely picky about the people I solicited to potentially write for the journal, and it took a while for me to come up with a list of people to email (and there is a huge sphere of film writing I'm ignorant of, and I'm sure even more so since I wrote the email). Once I had a decently sized list, I have to be honest that I had a less than spectacular response. I emailed 12 people. Only four people responded with any sort of enthusiasm whatsoever, and while 4 people plus me writing "longer" essays/"whatever"s would have admittedly been enough to fill a modest "journal of film," the project got side-swiped due to how busy my own life is, and how film as a whole has taken the background to other things. Even opening "submissions" on this blog didn't net me a single email.

By this point I'm used to the sort of obnoxious reality that, most of the time, if I want to be reading about something I'm interested in I have to be the one writing about it myself (this is the entire reason that the esotika project, on this blog, ever started). But seeing as I've recently moved across the country & still have no stable job or place to live, combined with all of my other projects (a lit magazine, a micro-press, blogging for a group blog, my own writing & visual art) & the fact that I'm enjoying the social life that an actual city has to offer for the first time, really doesn't leave me with the mental energy to expend on pulling it together.

I still have the same taste in film, and often really wish that I could get it together enough to make it happen, but with how much I already pour my energy into (everything I do I also do for free, which doesn't help me economically unfortunately) I just literally have no room left for this right now.

I do still write about film on the group blog I post at regularly (in fact, apparently I was invited to write there due to my activity over here), but clearly I'm much more heterogeneous in my attention to the arts now. Film is still a major part of my life, and it's influenced so much of what I do that it's not likely I'll ever abandon it entirely. I have vague outlines & notes for a book project on film that I'd like to write one day, much of which I could probably develop by working on the journal, but I really just can't handle taking on another huge undertaking totally independently now.

So, I apologize to everyone who still appreciates what I've done here and hopes that I'll come back to it soon. Maybe I will, maybe I won't, I really can't tell. Maybe esotika will eventually morph into a journal of film, maybe it'll even be a print journal, who knows. That'd be exciting to me, but of course that'd be an even larger undertaking.

Also, for what it's worth, here's the email I sent out to potential contributors to the Esotika Journal Project:


Hello,
I run the website Esotikafilm.com, which was started as, basically, an archive and resource of reviews & information on world-films that I insisted straddled the border between "sex, art, horror & experimentation." A more wide-spread term that seems to tread similar ground has popped up, "post-genre." As you can see from the website, Esotika Film has been virtually inactive since November of '08, and the blog (http://esotika.blogspot.com) has not been updated with original content since September of '09.

For about a year I have been toying with the idea of turning the website into a semiannual (or so) online journal of film, inspired by sites like Rouge.com.au. However, my intention is to remain true to the project's original ideas: I want to remain focused on what, on the current website, I refer to as "esotika films," which could easily be re-aligned as "post-genre" cinema, an expression that China MiƩville posits, via Kim Newman, as a "phrase for something which is clearly inflected in a horror way, and clearly emerges out of the generic tradition of horror, but is no longer reducible to it."

I am writing to you because I have encountered either your ideas or your writing on film, and I am specifically interested in soliciting you to write for the project. At the time I can offer no monetary compensation, as the website is of course non-profit, and I am more interested in expanding the realm of discussion and thought regarding often neglected films than I am in profiting from this venture.

The idea I have had is to maintain a consistency within each issue by offering a specific director or idea at the core of each release, in addition to offering less-specific discussions on the idea of something being "post-genre horror" in general, and how one can work with ideas of a 'genre' that positions itself as 'post-genre.' The idea of the post-genre will continue to be the theme of the entire project, while each issue will offer investigations into specific bodies of work.

It is my intention to have the first issue dedicated to Polish director Andrzej Zulawski. This decision comes out of my own, perhaps, obsession with his body as work, as well as with the idea that his oeuvre presents challenges to issues of normal film-making (specifically to ideas of genre) and thus stands as an excellent starting point for the larger project. There has also been a resurgence of interest in his work due to Mondo Vision's recent DVD releases and the dissemination of his films through online, bootlegged sources.

Future possibilities for issue-centers include, but are not limited to: Philippe Grandrieux, Frans Zwartjes & Dutch Experimental film, Paul Sharits, Jess Franco, The films of Kurt Kren & The Vienna Actionists, Thierry Kuntzel, Dore O & Ernie Gehr, Harry Kumel, Renato Polselli & Alberto Cavallone, Roger Watkins & narrative pornography, Jean Rollin, Hisayasu Sato & the shitteno, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Peter Tscherkassky & Dietmar Brehm, and so on.

If you would be interesting in contributing to the project at all, or even becoming a regular contributor (and I hope you are!), please let me know. I'd love to get the first issue live sometime in 2011 if possible. Also, if you know anyone you feel would be both qualified and interested in the project, please pass the information along to them! I'm looking to collect as much quality writing on a mostly obscure 'post-genre' of fantastic cinema.

Thank you,
M Kitchell

3 Comments:

Blogger Roger said...

Mike,

I also bemoan the fact (to the extent that I understand the practical reasons for it) that you have stopped posting, since your voice is pretty unique and knowledgeable compared to most on these films on the net. I discovered you in 2009 about the time you slowed down and was taken by the idea of "esotika" and "post-genre" films, clearly something "in the air" (as it were) and heavily influenced not only by digital advances but by increased access to the Euro-horror of the '70s and '80s on dvd and the gray-market BT sites.

That said, I understand (I think most of us do) that blogging takes time and energy and paid back with an unfortunate minimum of feedback (psychic or financial) and it is hard to keep fighting the good fight, especially when "real life projects" like books, social life and getting a job take precedence.

I would love to see you here more often, but I would also love to see real critical books/journals (if books will still exist in 5 years) on the rare and culty filmmakers you mention. Thanks for the check-in and I hope you find the time to complete the Zulawski work, and others.

Best, Roger L

www.mondo-cine.blogspot.com, another film-related blog that is now only occasionally updated

8:34 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hi Mike

Your writing on eurotika is the best I've encountered!
Your blog made me rediscover all those great films.
I really hope you start writing about film again!

Best regards
Peter

3:08 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

Excelent news -- Zulawski's first-ever American career retrospective is underway right now at BAM in Brooklyn, complete with new translations from Mondo Vision from forthcoming releases, and somehow prints of two early shorts for Polish television pre-Third Part of the Night. So interest, finally, seems to be awakening. I'm still hoping you do put together an esotika issue on him -- or really, on anything -- soon, and now seems to be the time. But yeah, too many projects, always the problem. Anyway, cheers.

1:20 PM  

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