Cloud and chimera

Pensées hybrides

Author: Marie Lienard-Yeterian (page 2 of 7)



The opening sequence: like the first paragraph in a short story, it provides clues and hints, it conjures coming themes, introduces the main protagonists, and establishes leading metaphors and tropes.

The church bell tower where some truth is told, some oracle is given:
“Everybody knows”
About Paco and Laura…

The clock mechanism proceeds relentlessly, setting other processes in motion: moving hands, ringing bell, flapping bird wings, fluttering thoughts and emotions.
A heavy and ominous atmosphere sets in
A foreboding of something to come: broken glass around the dial
The uttering and whispering of an unwelcome prophecy:
If you get too close to time, you can hurt yourself.

The scribbling on the wall, the scar of a lost passion.
What is intuited through the single initial,
What the marking indicates, points to, yet also silences.
What it stands for, what it fails to express
What it recalls, and still conceals.

The wedding ceremony in the room below: the marriage that could not take place years before: the fated and star-crossed lovers went their separate ways.

The re-apparition of the past and its unfinished business
The no-exit world of village life
And its attending array of passions and grievances, past and new.

The obsessive filming of every detail, in a quasi journalistic fashion.
The corridors and stairways, the doors—locked and unlocked
The upstairs rooms and the shared bedrooms: physical spaces mapping out psychological and emotional ones.
The building of a particular mood through the editing and the camera work
“A feat of compression” as Elia Kazan said about theatre: every detail matters, and leads to an outcome.
The comings and goings of family members
The unsaid and unsayable
The secrets and the taboos
The suspicions and the guilt
The resentment and jealousy

Irene, whose name means Peace, yet she brings recklessness and trouble
Whose daughter is she? Who is her father?
The biological/ the adoptive father who prevented the abortion.
Fatherhood: regained, and lost again.
The ending: a disquieting lack of closure
The stuff real life is made of
As everybody knows, indeed.

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

The Rider


“He galloped up … his heels in the horses’ s ribs and it dancing and swirling like the shape of its mane and tail…” (William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying)

The articulation of passion and identity and self—and the loss of it all. At first.

The nightmarish return of haunting images of success. And failure.
Some turning point: the accident or event through which change brutally and relentlessly storms in, damages and destroys—taking off masks, ripping confidence and arrogance open, wounding and hurting.
The daily routine now altered by the unavoidable scar. The visible one, and the invisible one.

Yet, Brady gets to live, unlike the horse he had befriended. Another casualty of life and its rugged surface.

The love and gentleness of the simple-minded sister Lilly who puts paper stars on her sibling’s body when he is sleeping.

The friendship with other cowboys: their aspirations, endurance and fear. The terror and horror of the rodeo experience. And its addictive thrill and thrust.

The beloved horse Gus sold off, and the crazy horse Apollo who gets tamed—momentarily.

The admired friend Lance abandoned by luck, stranded in a place of no return, remapping the boundaries of heroism, probing into the unchartered territory of the power of the soul.

Life compelling you to re-design your priorities, and accept a new perimeter for your wanderings. The scope of a new wisdom, perhaps. And the shape of some eternity.

The final choice: self-less love for the loved ones, instead of the self-centered pursuit of a deadly illusion.
Letting go of the “before” to allow for the delivery of some “after”—however uncertain and unknown.

Finding happiness in the knowledge that you still have life, and in the awareness that your ability to dream lives on—undamaged.

Marie Liénard-Yeterian

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot


“Sorrow is food swallowed too quickly, caught in the throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe” (Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing).

A form of contemplation, the quality of a gaze that strives to explore without damaging, to know without assessing. To see without becoming blind.

Gus Van Sant covering the territory of forgiveness and acceptance, tracking down despair, anatomizing courage.

The birth of a calling
The discovery of a hidden talent
The beauty of lasting beginnings

Empathy—and, more radically, compassion.
A form of mercy, too. For oneself, for others. For humanity in its irreducible scripts and achievements.

The American story of from ‘rags to riches’ revisited from the point of view of the body and the soul. The existential rise from despair, the understated heroism of fortitude and hope.

A variation of the American Dream, a declaration of will and purpose, and a requiem for posthumanism.

A form of prophetic insurgency, perhaps.

Marie Liénard-Yeterian




Teenage coming-of-age story the Twenty-First Century way…

Indulging in the magic that Spielberg’s works provide.

Like Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret, Ready Player One proposes some tribute to cinema

And the cultural work it provides.

An invitation NOT to play alone.


For the viewer who was a teenager in the 80’s, the enhanced visual pleasure of recognition: familiar references de-territorialized and re-contextualized in a virtual world—the only world when they can be found anyway, as they now belong to the world of memory only.


The legacy of enduring screen figures that have become new heroes and icons, King Kong leading the way for contemporary Aliens and Machines.

The thrill of the guessing game of a roman a clef :

How many references can you track down/identify/retrieve/appropriate?

Literalizing the trope of Back to the Future

The urban landscape as the SF version of Blade Runner?


The wonder of ET and AI combined with a topical and political agenda.

How do you live in a disenchanted world?

Withdrawing into an “oasis”

Conjuring an Illusion of power and agency into perfect shape and guise

Deploying your potential in which your ‘real’ life is now reduced to heaps of garbage or life in a cubicle (with a panopticon effect, a nod to Foucault maybe)

Fidelity centers and their new forms of enslavement.

The immature behavior of the CEO speaks to the current lack of world leadership, and an increasing regressive will for power : “Who has the biggest bomb?…”


Some kinship with the recent release Ghost in the Shell:

A fighting spirit and a rebellion

Resistance to the encroachment of big corporations

Reintroducing the collective dimension beyond the pervasive self-centeredness

Following the way set by the Atari Game Adventure where winning is not what matters, but playing is.


Attention to detail(s): the quarter that was going to be discarded is the access to a Second Life.

Look again: the curator is actually someone else

Review your hypothesis and assumptions

Revising eventually leads to the truth (and success in the contest)


The moral component of the fairy tale: “only the real world is real”

Shutting down the game two days a week: a plea to reinvest the places of humanity and explore its space anew—with or without the avatar(s)?


Reality: Augmented, repurposed.


Marie Liénard-Yeterian



From Louise Erdrich’s novel Future Home of the Living God:
“The deep orange-gold of the sun is pure nostalgia. An antique radiance already sheds itself upon this beautiful life we share. I grow heavy, rooted in my lawn chair. Everything I say and everything my parents say, the drift of friends, the tang of lemonade, the wine on their tongues, the cries of sleepy birds and the squirrels launching themselves…all of this is terminal. There will never be another August on earth, not like this one”

Blessed gifts of time:

Flow, change and mortality
An active physical and mental engagement with the world
A readiness to respond to circumstance
The awe and wonder of the child’s gaze indeed.

Walking in the rain, singing.
A glistening sidewalk. Rain dropping wetness and discomfort. An empty space. Walking and singing, non plussed by the storm, enjoying a newly-gained sense of freedom and the cleared-up space. Feeling of joy, like a child at play in the newly discovered snow. Seeing the place as familiar and yet experiencing it for the first time. Its texture, its surface, its urban beauty. Without the crowd, moveable or not. But with the feast.

Many years later, on the Brittany coast
Beautiful sunset. Generous nature.
The sky, the sea. A giant tea party in red.
Scuttling of the clouds. Scudding across the distance.
Scribbling on the beach. Tiny birds scurrying the surface of the sand. Calling out
To retrieve what was written and has been lost
To the tide coming in, to the occasional longer wave, to human erasure.
Every second bringing change
Experiential and empirical.
The urgency of time.

Drinking the instant like water.
Clinging to every moment:

Existe et meurs avant de mourir



Andrew Motion reviewing Andy Goldsworthy’s works in a piece titled “The Pencil of Nature” (The New York Review of Books Feb. 8, 2018, p. 17-18):

“They are also works that impressively extend the expression of themes that have obsessed Goldsworthy from the beginning of his career. At the same time they let us hear the silence produced by the deadlocked confrontation of equally weighed and weighed opposites, they allow the earth to have its say. Not just by giving close attention small and insignificant-seeming things such as thorns and leaves and nettles and petals, but by embracing the fact of their own transience while also reminding us that everything in nature involves a past and future, as well as the present in which we regard it”.

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For H.P. Lovecraft, the weird conveys « a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim. »

Uncanny whirls and winds
Snatching our lives with the roofs over our heads.
Estranging sounds and screams
Piercing the comfort of our sleep.
Trees collapsing and branches breaking
Cluttering the space of our dreams and horizons.
Uninvited guests to the table of our feasts.
Black wings beating ceaselessly on our thresholds
Weirdness paired up with the sublime
Awe-inspiring vistas
Turned into predatory shapes.
Rim of the universe
And other unfathomable borders.
Frontiers to be imagined.



“The planet: We just live on it” David Attenborough

Round shaped
From above and from beyond.
Flat to our feet
With gaps, and ups, and downs.
A life of its own
Whether we are aware or not
Whether we care or not.
It lives in spite of us
Bearing the brunt of our latest ways of ‘inhabiting’
Negotiating the cost of our invasive (technological) addictions.

“It is crucial to remember that digital ideologies are filled with myths: Not ‘everything’ is or will be digital. Digital files are not archival or permanent. Digital technology is ephemeral and vulnerable. And digital networking has very high ecological and political costs. Not only is digital not immaterial, it is complexly, contingently, and expensively material”
Johanna Drucker (from “An Interview with Johanna Drucker on Poetry” Revue Française d’Etudes Américaines 151 Winter 2017, p. 97).



The war experience and its dehumanizing impact on human life, mind, and soul
Like Dunkirk, but through the story of the Frontier and its genocidal history—individual and collective.

Following suit on a number of recent movies: an invitation to uphold Love over any other possible or tempting way of “being in the world”.

Realism with an epic scope.
Conjuring other Westerns, with some generic rewriting.
Narrating possibilities for wrong to turn around and do right
Pushing the borders of Manichean scripts
Exploring the frontiers of good encroaching on a legacy of evil.

Mercy and forgiveness
Sacrifice and surrender
Gothic haunting and punishment and retribution.
Emotions and the call of duty
The individual and the collective: how to map the contours of agency in such a territory?

The different protagonists of the Western myth:
The Federal government (faraway: how to send orders, how to establish and maintain a rule of law)
The Indian tribes (rivalries between them too)
The US army
The conquest of the land
The reservations
The trappers
The outlaws who appropriate the land returned to the Indians by the US government
The open spaces
The raggedness of the land
The constant sense of danger

With some unusual ones:
Women as activists, denouncing the inhuman treatment of the Indians
Julius Caesar as a source of inspiration for Captain Joseph Blocker, a devoted reader of his memoirs.

And an unusual closure:
The hero getting on a train. Moving back East (Chicago) and not heading into the Western sun.

Of note, the following touches and sketches:
Fear and anguish (the woman in hiding trying not to let out a single cry)
Terror and horror
Awareness and denial
Grief and mourning
Resilience and oblivion.
Amnesia and indifference?
Trauma and wound
Revenge and the vicious circle of violence
Treachery and trust
A bond created by the common sharing of loss and sorrow: the Indian family’s compassion for the woman who has lost her three children and husband.
The giving and accepting of the blouse: a form of healing.

The different soldiers emblematizing different postures toward war:
The young French soldier, unprepared and incongruous
The seasoned officer, hardened by the business of war, yet set in motion by the question of the West Point graduate: “how did you feel the first time you killed a man?”
The West Point star: engaged and committed; yet armed with (only) a bookish understanding of war.

US history: the former soldiers of the Confederacy side by side with former Union soldiers
The common cause of the genocide.
Henry and changing racial relationships,
Joseph’s admiration and loyalty: “I would choose you over and over again”.

Joseph’s kindness towards Rosalie Quaid as a way to redeem himself? To find some regeneration in upholding that one life he can cater to in remembrance of all the lives he took as part of his ‘job’?
Yet, the addictive urge to do violence: slicing the throat of the man instead of shooting him. A form of visceral savagery acquired over the years: can it ever be exorcized? The gaze of the child and woman changes everything. He becomes aware of his cruelty.

A man, a woman, a child: some nuclear family? Different broken pieces communing as some anamnesis of the legacy of the Frontier: the retired soldier, the widow, the Indian orphan.

A happy ending?
Can happiness be found beyond the painful memories, the emotional casualties and the respective losses (team mates and friends, family, parents and relatives)?

This Western closing in an unusual way indeed, the (formulaic) sun inferred from the suggested script rising above some space off stage.

A Poem by Mary Oliver

You can
die for it—
an idea, or the world.


What is the name
Of the deep breath I would take over and over
For all of us? Call it

whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter

Marie Lienard-Yeterian



“I am not interested in the theme of a story but in its meaning… all the elements in the story contribute to its meaning” Flannery O’Connor

Three protagonists on a stage:

A stage where some parable about Love is performed beyond the staging of a true story
Friendship and the disinterested gift of love
Cinema and the “labor of love”, in Martin Scorsese’s image
Passion in its many guises and roles,
Masks and metaphors.

The size and scope of our aspirations, and their possible collapse.

What creates a bond?
What’s in a pact? In a promise—given and fulfilled?
Sharing a vision
Loyalty to a person, loyalty to oneself.

Yet, the inevitable and ineluctable constraints and limitations of every person.

The secret around Tommy:
The mystery that each of us holds?
How to tell our story?
What do the facts of our life (birthplace, age, income) narrate about ourselves/about us?

No biographical data can pay tribute to what we are. Have. Make. Do.
And sometimes miss. Or achieve.

Possessiveness and loss
How to keep the right distance?
How to have compassion yet speak in truth?

Devotion to one’s trade and talent
“As actors, even a bad day on the set is better that a good day outside the set because we do what we love to do”
Commitment and engagement—-total and unflagging.

How to communicate one’s dream and desire?
A project turned on its head
A reminder of Scorsese’s journey with Taxi Driver.
The inevitable gap between the creator’s intention and the reception of the work.
As Greg tries to convey to Tommy, success it IS for the movie, even if it is NOT the kind of success intended by Tommy.
Letting go of one’s individual control, surrendering to the collective mythmaking.
The possible misunderstanding and the sense of possibility inherent to these very misunderstandings.

A hall of mirrors:
Greg and Tommy, David and James Franco
Actors and actresses playing their own roles

The twin-end of the movie:
-The divided screen sequence (a reminder of Franco’s ambitious adaptation of As I Lay Dying) juxtaposing the ‘reality’ of the factual background behind the script (the original movie The Room) and its screen adaptation (Franco’s staging and filming of it)

-After the end credits, a pause, and then an added sequence, like an afterthought:
Tommy with another Greg-like character
Repeating the pattern
A way for the film to broaden its scope
Some opening up of the particulars of the story covered by the script (revisiting the making of a now cult movie)

Referential play and visual games
An artist at work—with or without (the) disaster(s)

Marie Lienard-Yeterian

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