Dear Mike (2006)

(this is an email to Mike Hoolboom from Mike Cartmell. He writes about “the project” meaning: Shipwreck Theory)

Dear Mike
I appreciate talking to you about this stuff. I think my life has been so narrowed for so long, with so much a fretful focus on this project (or on “THE PROJECT,” of which this project is some sort of important initial part), that I’ve hung rather an excessive burden on it. On top of which, I do have a tendency to believe my work is less than adequate as a matter of course, even though this is seldom confirmed. Any evidence, however remote, however much it requires to be tortured to be regarded as such, of this confirmation I am prone to pounce plump upon, and exploit it as my neurosis dictates. And yet you see that I’m not in bed with the covers pulled over. So…

In any case, I agree with you on the intra-polar distribution of quality. At some phantasmatic level, I would like to make something that somebody regarded as “the best film ever made,” but I do recognize the infantile nature of such a wish. Rather than indulging in that sort of thing, I’d prefer to have sufficient force of personality to simply relinquish any doubt, self-generated or emerging from the other, and forge intractably on. But I don’t.

Susan Howe once said something about difficulty, and the limitation it confers on the potential breadth of one’s potential audience. I can’t remember it well enough to quote it, but it had something to do with the fact that while the audience for work that’s difficult may be small, it’s not non-existent. Of course, she was talking about literature not cinema. I’m fairly sure I don’t try deliberately to be difficult, but I’m equally sure I don’t try not to be. Maybe that’s a mistake, or some form of arrogance. I feel compelled to put certain kinds of things, the kinds of things that occupy, besiege, enlarge, captivate, and fracture my piss-poor excuse for a life, together in hopes of coming (myself) to some sort of (better but not perfect) understanding of something, some issue or problem or set of issues or problems, or whatever it is that I’m on about. I admit that sometimes this may have the effect of tending toward what we’re calling the difficult, and may not be the thing that the viewer wants during his or her brief moment in front of the screen.

The impasse that I feel has arisen is that I can either continue or stop. I don’t think I can do it too much differently, at least not in the general sense.

I really need to get beyond the solitary tinkering endlessly withholding stage. I had (no doubt unreasonably) high hopes that some festival would show something, that that would somehow lead to something else, blah, blah, etc., etc., that I could somehow get back into the (or some kind of) loop, be less alienated, feel like I had a purpose, was part of something that had extension outside this room, etc., etc.

I don’t know.
I’ll plod on for now.

mc