Wednesday, 26 March 2008


"Presence of mind and omnipresence of mimetic ability also characterize the empirical Chaplin. It is well known that he does not confine his mimetic arts strictly to the films which, since his youth, he produces only over great intervals of time and in an intensely and openly self-critical spirit. He acts incessantly, just like Kafka's trapeze artist, who sleeps in the baggage rack so as not to ease off training even for a moment. Any time spent with him is an uninterrupted performance. Once scarcely dares speak to him, not from awe of his fame--no one could set himself less apart, no one could be less pretentious than he--but rather from fear of disturbing the spell of the performance. It is as thought he, using mimetic behavior, caused purposeful, grown-up life to recede, and indeed the principle of reason itself, thereby placating it. But this endows his incarnate existence with an imaginary element beyond the official artforms. If Chaplin the private citizen lacks the features of the famous clown (as thought these features were under a taboo), he has all the more of the juggler about him. The Rastelli of mime, he plays with the countless balls of his pure possibility, and fixes its restless circling into a fabric that has little more in common with the causal world than Cloudcuckooland has with the gravitation of Newtonian physics. Incessant and spontaneous change: in Chaplin, this is the utopia of an existence that would be free of the burden of being-one's-self (60).

On experiencing Chaplin's imitation of him at an LA party in the 1940s, Adorno continues:

"All the laughter he brings about is so near to cruelty; solely in such proximity to cruelty does it find its legitimation and its element of the salvational" (60-61)

Theodor W. Adorno, "Chaplin Times Two," Trans. John MacKay. The Yale Journal of Criticism. 9.1 (1996) 57-61.



Here's a shit translation of the Lettriste International's attack on Chaplin: No More Flat Feet! (pre-Situ). It's better to slog thru the French, but I'm without my edition of the collected Potlatch here in Amherst at uncle's place. Will post it when I get back to Providence.


Interesting, I suppose. I'm really not too keen on it, to be honest; it just seems like ribald crankism. I'd be curious to see the French or a better translation.

This is, perhaps, their more interesting followup:


Arg - i thought the French would be in the collected Potlatch (published 1996 by Gallimard) but that only covers 1954-1957. This was 1952, so before Potlatch. It's true that they're not saying much in their critique other than: hey people don't pay attention to this clown anymore; his shit is stale. The follow-up gives it necessary context. I wonder where the French text would be online...

Anonymous said...

also some text based picket action , not unlike this act of heroism:

(i read about that here: props etcetc)

hamburg love for faceplant boys.