minute 17

Number 17. Watching number 17 I find myself in a conflict with my mind. I am supposed to let go, openly allow the minute to have an impact on the same. Instead I feel my mind rationally working against this take-over, working against the effect of getting lost in the film's irrationality.
I am mind-driven. Almost cramped. It tries to find organization in this piece. It, my mind. Some kind of structure. Some kind of deeper sense. Where is the connection? It begins questioning me: where is the metaphor, the symbolism? My mind is looking for a deeper meaning, a meaning that exceeds the pure fact of decay. We can not accept its apparent randomness.
Frankly, threatening, almost painful violins scratching accompany three scenes, one after another. The music is as disturbing as the images to be seen. It lacks any harmony, was not made to please ones hearing in any way. It is dramatic, reminding of sirenes, at the same time dangerous, again threatening. I almost feel the instruments hurting.
Only silhouettes can be seen. A group of men dancing a folk dance. They are played on slow motion, moving back and forth in a line, drums in some of their hands. My mind hits in. It calms my beating pulse down. I find myself rationally researching their outfits, typing in: dancing skirts vests high knees drums line.
Yes, they dance in a line. It is almost relieving as I find some structure, some intention, some purpose. An image pops up. That could be them. A group of greek dancers. Comfort arises. Could I solve their mystery? Greek folk dancers. Naming them brings my mind so much closer to some kind of categorization.
The next scene, there are three geishas sitting next to each other. One can only be seen a fraction of a second until she disappears in the haze of destruction. The other two play the shamisen. After a cut only one geisha is left in the image. She appears sad, looking down, turning away from something that again can not be seen. 
I named them geishas, drawing this conclusion after seeing some Asian women in kimonos with the typical make up. I found an identification, gave them a tag, my mind is pleased to have recognized a category to put upon them. But what can I truly say? In fact there are three or maybe even more women looking like geishas. They are ripped out of any context and again my mind, mechanically searching for organization, is left to assume. 
The image clears up in an absurd way. It becomes almost calm, no hectic movements of decayed film strips dominating the scene, no scratches, no blemishes, no bubbles, no shapes appearing like flowers. There is no dramatic or romantic interpretation to this. I can see the full screen, though wrapped in fog. A man pulls another out of water, drags him to the bank. This waterside seems to lead into a wood and awaiting darkness. I can see trees surrounding the screen. The men's interaction is an act of strength and a fight in itself. The man to be rescued seems to be heavy, an almost lifeless body, his limbs bouncing with the movements of the other dragging him, working against his weight.

It is a devastating scene. The first one which brings emotions to my mind. We, my mind and I, see a soldier holding on to his companion. Again, it is an assumption, an interpretation my mind needs in order to find comfort in the derangement of decontextualization.

During all of this I try to look behind the plain decay of the film material. It is no destruction, not made by men. It is the simple effect of time working on a piece of material, a film strip. No intention behind it, at least not at the time of decay. The intention given to it simply derives from a film maker putting together apparently random pieces of film trying to teach my mind a lesson. The lesson of letting go of all rules and systems I've put upon a piece of film so far. This decomposition objects my inner need for solution. I want to know the story behind each scene. Blending out the scratches, the blemishes, the bubbles, the flower like shapes, trying to see as much as possible, I fail to recognize the new unity of it. After all I fail to let go. My mind can't let go of the ideal of completeness, of intactness.

Marthe-Sopie Berkenheide