' ' Cinema Romantico: Tending My Garden

Monday, July 23, 2018

Tending My Garden

Late last July, when the attempt at ACA’s repeal and replace was in its hellraising eleventh hour, my Beautiful, Perspicacious Girlfriend (now Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife) and I fled north from Chicago to Milwaukee. This had already been planned, but given the state of things this trip felt less like mere r&r than sanity saving. One of our stops was the Milwaukee Art Museum. Alas, the special exhibition we had specifically come to see was shut down to prop up a Foxconn soiree hosted by Scott Walker; it was a twist worthy of Lynch. Nevertheless, we were able to peruse the regular collection, including Pierre Bonnard’s View from the Artist’s Studio, wherein, the accompanying placard explained, as WWII’s European Theatre ground its grisly conclusion, Bonnard, from the vantage point of his studio in southeastern France, simply looked out the window and painted what he saw, not isolating himself from the globe’s turmoil but briefly finding solace in what was right in front of him.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that painting in relation to Voltaire and his garden, and I have been thinking a lot about Voltaire and his garden in relation to blogging. After all, the eponymous Candide of Voltaire’s legendary 1759 satire was moved, after deliberately experiencing society’s infinite ills, to see the routine cultivation of his garden as the only sane response to a world gone mad. In present-day America, however, you needn’t go out to find all the ills of the world. No, each atrocity is delivered straight to you, every week, every day, every hour, with every refresh of the page. Those atrocities extend to this blog’s nominal theme – that is, Hollywood, where the bill for an industry steeped in sexual and racial malpractice dating back to its infancy is finally, rightfully coming due. And even if I still love movies and find them to be of significant value, I wonder if carrying even a flimsy 4 oz. paper cone cup of water for Hollywood is wrong. Sometimes I think putting this blog on ice until Ashley Judd is put in charge of a major movie studio even if me doing so would not necessarily amount to much more than this blog blowing its own horn.

It is not, however, merely Hollywood itself that has made me evaluate my relationship to blogging; it is blogs too. I sometimes think about my Swedish blogging friend Jessica, proprietor of the Velvet Café, a site that has not posted in over three years. Granted, even when she was online, Jessica found time for many unplugged adventures, and I figure she has only been MIA as a means to be permanently adventuring offline which is hardly something I can fault. Still, her absence is evocative of a once thriving movie blogging community that has, like so much of the blogging platform itself, wilted. This unfortunate happening is tied to many reasons, and I am not blameless, sort of ceasing to regularly check in with my community members’ gardens as my life has become busier, merely taking the time I do have to focus on cultivating my own.

Reviews are this blogging garden’s principal crop, because I enjoy them as a means to really work through what I’ve seen, even if I also enjoy utilizing this platform, as most loyal frustrated followers can attest, to indulge my notably peculiar fancy with other postings about God-knows-what. But in the Rotten Tomatoes age, reviews function less as opportunities to truly consider a movie than as fodder for numerical worth, suggesting an emerging post-criticism age, or something, where Good/Bad trumps What/How. My former editor at a different site once confessed that movie reviews were not getting anywhere near the amount of pageviews they once did. This turn toward empty calorie clickbait often makes me wonder why I bother to keep up this blog.

I have sometimes wondered if I keep it up only as compulsion. Yet in taking more time away from Cinema Romantico in the last year, I have discovered that my eventual return never stems from grudging obligation, only honest desire. This might be an itty-bitty ad-free .org, but I take pride and find joy in it. This is my garden to tend, and I am free to tend it any way I damn please, which, considering the state of increasingly corporatized online writing, is worth something. As time only moves faster, as my life gets shorter even as it accrues more responsibility, and as the world, by the second, only grows crazier, I can still open up my blog interface and, like Bonnard at his easel (uh, kind of), write.

No comments: