Sight Unseen: Dumb and Dumber (3)

Dumb and Dumber (3)

(a movie made for and by white people)

a Sight Unseen Review


—this movie is obviously going to receive much attention from the indie lit community

—the only reason I can think of why Kenneth Goldsmith and Seth Abramson agreed to star in a déjà vu movie (that I haven’t seen) is that some people will do anything for attention and that they saw this an opportunity to advance their “poetics” to a much greater audience (as though that’s possible).

—The Michael Brown autopsy report banner that scrolled on and one throughout the entire movie, from cover to cover, seemed cruel and insensitive. But, obviously these movie makers (and I wonder if Seth and Kenneth were involved at some sort of Conceptual or Metamodern level?) were sticking 100% to their guns, idea and ideals: namely, that as far as Art goes, anything goes— no matter the sex and race of the makers, actors, etc)

—Most of this movie is Ad Hominem attacks. Recreations of and talking about Ad Hominem attacks. The lengthy monologues by Seth Abramson seemed, well, just too long, and often it was hard to follow the circuitous and overwrought muddling about. But there was a kind of eerie and voyeuristic delight in his bemoaning “a friend with a heart in the proper place.”

and here I quote:

In poetry, the surest way to avoid addressing an issue raised by a peer is to accuse them of crass commercialism and/or personal vanity–even though not a single endeavor that’s poetry-related pays enough to motivate anyone to do it for financial reasons, and even though all of us are equally guilty of a basic form of vanity just by choosing to be (and remain) poets in the first instance. It’s all no matter, though: the Internet gives us an opportunity to speak definitively on the private lives and unspoken thoughts of absolute strangers, and we fail to resist seizing that opportunity 99 times out of 100.

and, again:

he is trying as hard as he can to do what all of us fellow progressives wish him to do, but as he is doing it in his preferred but still entirely obscure way–the way that makes it most likely he will reach our shared goal of empathetic and politically actuated understanding, but also the way most likely to be misunderstood and misconstrued–he is screwed. “Screwed”  does not here mean that Goldsmith is the (or even a) victim; it simply means that he will receive public death threats that are applauded rather than condemned by his peers; he will be called vile names by people who not only have never met him but were not present at the reading of “The Body of Michael Brown” (and have not read the poem in print, either); he will–because this is how poetry communities habitually work–lose the opportunity to ever socialize, collaborate, or publish with the many hundreds of fellow poets who took exception to his poem. For if there’s one thing we know about ourselves as poets, it’s that we hold perpetual grudges against anyone who has even once contravened our own emotional truth, and that these perpetual grudges are definitionally professional as well as personal. It only takes one professional peer continuing to violently detest you for a comment you made (and did not intend at all unkindly) in a 2004 blog-post to realize that everything we say has real professional consequence

—-I absolutely do not understand the filmmakers’ decision to splice in Seth Abramson’s Youtube video “Strangers,” a poem purporting to be “comprised of 275 statements made by individuals the author has not met.”

—Outside of the theater the world went on, divided, in flux, tumultuous, the sun was shining, but I think rain was on the way. Inside the theater people at the showing were throwing tomatoes at the screen where the autopsy banner continued to scroll and scroll. P. E. Garcia sat in the back row, head in his hands, ants crawling all over his legs and thighs. And it looked like someone had poked him in both eyes.

And then the moment in the movie, accompanied to big fanfare music, when Ron Silliman stepped forward. And everyone was silent for moment. Or maybe that’s because he’d quickly taken all of all of his clothes and was standing there in strange naked defiance and wisdom. But when he spoke the following I did find myself nodding slightly in agreement (or was I simply tired??):

All of which makes me want to say, lighten up a little, folks. Take a deep breath. Some tone deaf poet is not your enemy any more than Charlie Hebdo was anybody’s enemy. The English Department is not your enemy. The police are not your enemy – tho it would sure help if they were demilitarized, properly trained and representative of the communities they “serve.” Now the CEO of Nestlé who argues that the idea of drinkable water as a human right is nonsense, he just might be worth looking at as a significant opponent. And as somebody who controls disproportionate amount of resources on this planet, it matters that he says that. But if you think your problem is that somebody put the contradictions of discourse into high contrast in a way that made you cringe, might I suggest that you have not noticed that your house is on fire.

—I dreamed that night after the showing that I was lying in a bunk bed in a sweltering house and P.E. was in the bunk above me. It’s a fucked-up world, he told me. And he seemed to have given up. But then a pretty Day of the Dead skeleton rushed in through the door: and her hair was purple, huge silver beads clanging around her neck.

She smiled at us. And then we were flying in a car that turned into a plane and then back into a car again. The road was twisted. The sky was free. We went past palaces and into jungle. Into the sea. And back out.

Where do we go from here, the skeleton kept whispering.

Where do we go from here ??


editor’s note: this post is part of our Sight Unseen series in which people review movies or other things they have NOT seen or read. Guidelines for submitting to Sight Unseen can be found here

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