Love Will Tear Us Apart, Again: Tupitsyn Art Review

Love Will Tear Us Apart, Again: Tupitsyn Art Review

McKenzie Wark

McKenzie Wark explores the work of Masha Tupitsyn as a pathway into the conditions of life in the 21st Century, somewhere above (or below) the framework of mediated experience, even beyond the limits of what we often call “theory.” With Tupitsyn, Wark troubles the current stasis of representation that stultifies thought in this age of unrepentantly industrialized culture, not by turning us away from the spectacle, but by smashing right through it, picking up its pieces, and discovering new things in the wreckage.

The question is: can life, at this late stage of capitalism, be more than simply an economy, exchange, barrage, testimony, chronicle, compulsion of damage-making?

Masha Tupitsyn, All Ears

“I’m not proof of myself, myths are.” We are made of myths, among other things. They seem like they are personal, but myths are not really personal. They are pervasive, invasive. “The Wizard of Oz is on TV after I spend the entire day singing ‘If I only had a brain’ to myself.”  Myths are a technology, produced and circulated by other technologies.

Whether voiced in the first, second or third person, I take the stories that Masha Tupitsyn tells about her person to be selectively true. As in Chris Kraus, they are neither entirely confessional nor fictional. They are in part a personal mythology, but they are also accounts of the techniques via which the myth of the self gets made out of situations, using bits and pieces, faces and voices, clipped and mixed from the media of a time. Our hearts and brains are transplants, but no less ours for all that. It’s a question of what one makes of it.

There are two places that figure in her origin stories: New York City as a place of everyday life; and summering in Provincetown, which is the site of a kind of utopian experience, another city for another life. Later, there will be other places: London, Rome, Berlin, the California coast. “Your fantasy has always been to run away. To a faraway place, into a book and into love with just one person.” The lost utopian moment never quite returns. The gap between its memory and the possibilities of loving and thinking, here and now, animates a certain critical energy.

This Provincetown of memory is a place of oceanic freedom. Going to the movies, sometimes with her mother, sometimes alone. The resource that is cinema, for the young: “Everyone thinks desire is make believe when it comes to famous people and movies. In that case, you can go all the way. Go for it.” Young Masha rides her bike around everywhere, with a headphone sound track, cruising with a kind of tomboy autonomy. “I was being the kind of boy I wanted boys to be with me.” This Provincetown is a place of wonder and growth, of being and letting be. It’s a place of being understood but alone.

“Sometimes I rent old movies just to look at old New York.” For the New York of legend was already gone, even when Tupitsyn was young. It became something else. “New York was no longer the kind of place that signaled Danger. There was nothing to fear, except loss and boredom, and being stuck all day with a nostalgia that no one else bothers to feel.”

There is a story “Metablondes,” in Tupitsyn’s first book, Beauty Talk & Monsters (2007), where we meet the same androgynous child, here simply called M, and her fierce interiority, her aesthetic commitment: “M knew that everyday interaction, before you started writing it, was the only poetry.” Dark-haired M hangs out with her friend L, the blonde. When L is not kissing movie-star posters, she plays to M as a sort of surrogate boy. Until they start hanging out with two guys they meet at Kim’s Video Store.

One of the first things I did when I became a New Yorker was to get a Kim’s Video card. They had everything. This was still the era when, if you wanted to see a movie that wasn’t playing in the cinema, you went to the video store and rented it on video cassette. There’s a certain mythic perfection about learning that guys are assholes from Kim’s Video guys, the ones who rent you all those movies about guys being assholes.

The creepy Kim’s guys really go for L, for she is the blonde. “In Hollywood blonde hair often functions as a trope for beauty that isn’t really there.” L is not just blonde, but metablonde. L embodies a mythic trope in its default setting. “L was the legend that movies and books and guys construct about what would set them free, what they’d like to have, or at least get them going on that horse. L was the façade of desire. But really what would set them free is a woman who sets herself free. M’s mother, a feminist, said men really want that, but aren’t prepared to deal with it yet and don’t know how.”

Tupitsyn’s writing, across several books and the audio work Love Sounds, is not about those men. “I don’t want to be another female narrator of masculinity.” While she observes movie-star masculinity with precision, her writing is much more about that with which they are not prepared to deal, with what love and friendship is, or could become. Its about nano-scale gaps between the everyday and the utopian. “I want to tip everything over with a nudge.”

Tupistyn is on a quest for love. “Can women ever be seekers or only found (passive) objects? Is that the real tragedy? There has always been agency in my quest for love. I am looking, searching. And on the quest for love, I have learned everything else I know, pulling (sometimes dragging) it along with me. The quest is the making, the being, and at times, the breaking, of my character. The quest for love has also been a quest for truth, passion, knowledge, strength, understanding, integrity, resilience, vulnerability, peace.”

Tupitsyn carries on the quest through a change of scale, looking and listening for that which is intimate but not yet privatized. “A minimalist at heart, I thrive on gaps, elisions, reverberations, noir, economy, quiet, concentration, discursiveness. Things whittle down. The dialectic of saying and not saying. I write for one, not all. An intimate, not a crowd.”

The trick is to not stay too long in the interiority that the intimate usually pretends to create. “While most people struggle with a depression of the self, I think what I have, or have always had, is a feeling of Weltschmerz (world sadness or pain)…” Rather than read the feelings that afflict one as one’s alone, or a mere setback on the road to the happy ever-after, make of them a method: “Nursing a broken heart. About everyone.”

What were the technologies of the self in the late twentieth century? The ones that made metablondes like L and darker personalities like M? In Tupitsyn’s own account, they were the family, books and movies. Her parents, Margarita and Victor Tupitsyn, figure occasionally, playing the part of the lovers. There are two kinds of stories about lovers: one is about their merging and one about their diverging. There are few myths about sustainable and resilient love. It’s too hard even to talk about. Margarita says to Masha: “Harmony is a burden. Don’t you know that? People don’t want happiness. Happiness requires the kind of work that apathy, misery, and destruction don’t. Real happiness is radical.”

If I was inclined towards psychoanalysis, I would want to install a hidden text below the family romance. There’s Provincetown, and movies with mother; There’s New York, shopping for books at St Marks with father. It is as if the Tupitsyn character wants to be her father and have her mother’s love in his place. It is as if what she is searching for, in looking for love in a man, is her mother: “Wanting mother love is queerer than the standard girl wants her father and boy wants his mother. Nothing really gets challenged in that binary…. The feminine and the maternal in men is rarer than the phallic and the masculine in women, for women (both straight and queer) are taught to identify with sexism in order to access power.” Not the least reason that straight men, in this world, are a sweet disappointment.

But I don’t believe in that hermeneutic, and Tupitsyn is also a child of some other, more powerful technologies of the self. Jean Baudrillard: “The digital Narcissus replaces the triangular Oedipus.” Or as she writes about the movie ET (1982): “We barely see our parents. Things come down from space to love and parent us. There’s this sense that there is no society—only us and them. Us and whatever strong-arm this movie is about.” Tupitsyn is not from ET suburbia. She is a New Yorker. She writes as someone formed on the late age of books and movies, from when each was a form, not content. But she writes on that common experience from a slight angle of difference. “Who needs a mother and father in America when you have the media—the 21st century’s true parent.” And like all filial relations, its an ambivalent one.

Writers go to the movies and have actual parents like everybody else. But they also have other genealogies. Tupitsyn’s writing is unlikely kin of the late Kathy Acker. What she takes from Acker is unusual. Tupitsyn’s Acker is not about satire or ritual or transgression. For most Acker-related writers she was a kind of queer punk aunt, a vector out of the family romance. Tupitsyn was given her first Acker book as a gift from her father, at age fourteen. Perhaps that’s why her Acker is a romance writer, of impossible loves.

As with Acker, in Tupitsyn both reading and writing are survival strategies. Tupitsyn: “I use books as shields for all kinds of things. I use books as internal and external armor. I use them as can openers to open things that otherwise won’t open. In me and outside of me. Movies can sometimes do the same thing. I use movies like a coat hanger to break into the car door to my life.”

Tupitsyn’s writing on cinema is neither clinical nor sentimental. It neither pretends to have a critical distance from movies, nor wallows in its enveloping effects. Both approaches leave cinema intact, by either pushing it away from the self, or letting it swallow it up. In Tupitsyn, screens offer tools that work on the border between self and other, self and screen, screen and screen. Her writing is in this sense part of what one might call the post-cinematic. Cinema gets broken down here and repurposed for something other than itself. “Movies are starting points, like any subject of theme, to enter into the culture that’s inside of them. For me, film writing, as opposed to straight film criticism, is a way for an author to merges with not just the thing they write, but the film they’re looking at, so that writing becomes both cultural analysis and personal revelation.”

In the classics of film theory, the film itself is kept at a distance by the logic of the analysis, be it formalist or psychoanalytic. Tupitsyn’s writing on cinema is more like a camp reading, more at home with the notion that the viewer is already made-over in the cinema’s image, but looking from within for some wiggle-room, some uses to which to put this screen-dipped tip of the self. “I want to get all the movies over and done with… But the movies keep coming in. Keep stringing me along. And no dam is big enough. You have to do something with everything you’ve seen.” So use it—as a coat-hanger, as a can-opener.

“Like people, a lot of movies are not who they say they are.” Tupitsyn sizes movies up, as one would any stranger, any potential friend. Movies are not often reliable, but they are friendly: “movies are ultra-social creatures. The worst kind of extroverts.” Like lovers, they don’t know how to be happy with us. The very thing that holds our attention is usually the very reason we should break up with them. I love Tupitsyn’s brief, acerbic remarks on movies. They make me want to watch them all, all over again, the same way you might revisit the drama of the bad ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.

Here’s a selection:

“Hitchcock always employs the proverbial blonde to entrap. He switches her on like a porch light over and over again.”

“While watching the China Syndrome, I stumbled upon a realization: Michael Douglas didn’t always act like a pig onscreen. That took time.”

The Ice Storm is like boring wallpaper. It wants to say something but should be torn off instead.”

The Lovely Bones can be read as CGI pedophilia.”

Julia in Julia (2008) is everything we didn’t know about Gloria in Gloria (1980).”

American cinema of the seventies gets special attention. Now that our boredom with the “sixties generation” is complete, perhaps we could see the seventies as the start of something, rather than the end of something. “In the 70s, the chimera of progress began to disintegrate, resulting in the modality of scope, height, vista. Of soaring and falling.” The job now is to trace a line from that scope and height, that soaring and falling, but as a beginning, the beginning to the spectacle of disintegration of today.

On The Towering Inferno (1974): “Since the monstrosity of modernity is blinding like the sun—cause for both awe and alarm—it should not be faced head on. Mediation (a buffer) is required. And yet, at the same time, when one is confronted with the spectacle of a modernity that stupefies, one has to get a better look, which is why Astaire removes his sunglasses when he first sees the Tower… Modernity is a burning building we are all trapped inside of.”

On The Exorcist (1973): “Linda Blair did wonders for women and young girls. She showed them what happens to women who don’t play by the rules. Women should never be as messy as menstrual blood, Washington DC, or projectile vomit, and are generally much harder to clean.”

On Jaws (1975): “It’s a movie I love but also hate. A movie I’ve eviscerated. That I don’t trust… That I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid. A kid who summered on the Cape and had a thing about the ocean. And sharks…. A movie that reminds me of home, wherever that is. Of childhood, whenever that was.” It’s a rare 70s film that deals with gender in a way that is not entirely regressive, probably because instead of men and women, it has men and ocean. “Whenever I watched Jaws I thought it was a love story about the relationship between the wound and rage. Male, but part of me because it took up so much space. The story ends up in us, women, by association.” The heroine of the movie is the shark: “I get jealous of the centuries a shark has at its disposal—all that access to space and time and water and speed.”

The seventies are a bleak time in American cinema, in that it was a time when men didn’t even have to pretend any more. They could just act out the kind of mean raging-bull street misogyny that earlier eras of cinema had quarantined into the western or smoothed over with an elegant suit. But even so, there can be occasional flashes of something else: “Joe Dallesandro revolutionized the penis. Demystified it. Showed it in all its forms—soft and hard. Made it organic. No longer a weapon…. Ironically, it’s through the worship of Joe Dallasandro’s beauty in Paul Morrissey’s trilogy—Flesh, Trash, Heat—that the hierarchy of beauty, body, age, sex, gender, is dissolved. Joe is for everyone.”

While Tupitsyn is interested in film color, score and voice, the face of the star hold her attention. “The star is the anterior of cyberspace. Whatever they say gets blasted into the ether every which way. It’s a dangerous way to live.”  Stars burn out, but they no longer fade away. Here is where 21st century media starts to make itself felt in her work. Youtube enables a kind of comparative or associative watching that was not possible in the era of cinema, and was hard enough in the era of video. On Youtube you can see how faces change, and not just with age.

“I just can’t bring myself to watch Changeling or Wanted because looking at Angelina Jolie’s already-dead face is like looking at Damien Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull.” The screen invades the flesh. On the viewing side, the screen makes subjects, but on the producing side, it destroys them, wears them out. The screen is a death mask in every sense. The star is the one who is sacrificed, and it shows on its face.

The kind of movie face Tupitsyn is particularly interested in is the face that is a kind of pure screen, like an animal caught in the headlights, reflecting back the light with a kind of transfixed bewilderment. It’s the face not so much of the young actor as the young star, whose appearance is as something that is supposed to be rather than someone that is supposed to do. Its not a face seen for long. “Hollywood pushes for and instigates in its stars and in its screen faces what it does not want to see happen and that it punishes for when it does: the loss of the very thing it wants to capture and capitalize on. The a priori, which it sacrifices, and which must be, and inevitably is, sacrificed for things like craft and experience.”

Even late in this era of spectacle, there might still be moments when looking at that face is to look at moments that partially precede it. Even through the layers of artifice of lighting, make-up, narrative decoration, there’s that moment that is not entirely of the spectacle, but is rather the moment of its ingestion of the very thing that sustains it. A young John Cusack kissing, for example.

As Laura Mulvey famously showed, cinema is perfect for scopophiliacs, those who love to look, because the cinema does not really look back. Looking at the movies’ face is an encounter with a technology via which selves warm to the point of individuation, and calve off like icebergs, sliding off the screen Antarctic, into the sea. “I’ve gotten two things out of being a scopophiliac. I’ll make this personal and tell you what I thought of you. Or any man I’ve wanted for a long time. First I wanted you because I spent years looking at your face. Really looking at it, or what’s now popularly called, ‘zooming in.’ I was little and took to obsession easily. The thing that made me stop wanting you was the same thing that made me start. I looked until I saw your face emitting. Until what I didn’t like about you anymore showed up on your face, attaching all around it like scaffolding.”

This is the secret love-life of those raised inside walls made of screens, drawn toward and repelled by the face on the screen on the wall. What makes us, in part, is wall-screen-face systems, which orient us as nodes in social spaces. “Our feelings and emotions about our lives and our faces are in other people’s faces. Changing movie faces are our feelings and emotions about our feelings and emotions.”

Men look; women appear. It’s remarkable how little a half-century of second wave feminism changed the sacred structures of gendered desire in the Hollywood system. Tupitsyn has a few gambits for writing in and against that system. Sometimes it’s as a woman looking closely at the screened faces of men. She refuses to be taken in by the faces of certain famous screen men: De Niro, Pacino. She celebrates instead the youthful beauty of Cusack. Tupitsyn: “Is beauty when you can’t get used to what someone looks like?” Beauty, like love, is a barely possible situation.

The exploit is to use the asymmetry of cinema’s gendered gaze against itself. There are moments when the young male actor just does not quite know how to appear. For a woman attracted to men, there might be resources in those moments when young men appear on the screen without quite knowing how to. But the procedure cannot be reversed. “What truth are our faces allowed to show/tell today? If Hollywood and mass media are any indication, nothing is faked and enacted more these days than a face, especially a woman’s. A woman’s face is something she has to fake almost all of the time….” It is usually only the young male star whose beauty and potential lies in not quite knowing how to be.

Besides faces, Tupitsyn pays attention to voices, to the image of the voice. This is very different terrain. Women are supposed to be seen but not heard. What if we filter out what is to be seen and zoom-in to what Hollywood is actually saying? Perhaps we can cut into the Hollywood’s mythic system in a different way, and extract different resources from it. “The ear strays, luring the eye away from what it sees to what it doesn’t see. While the ear stretches and cranes its neck to hear, the visual is either there or it isn’t. And depending on which, we’re either interested or we aren’t. We see or we don’t see. What you see is what you get. Out of sight out of mind. Yes or no. The visual filters, cuts, leaves things out. Composes. Sets limits. Denies.” But sound is something else, a continuum of overlapping, sonic part-objects.

This brings us to Love Sounds (2014), designed to be a 24-hour sound installation work composed of movie voices, and divided up by types of what one might call dialog event. Tupitsyn sent me some excerpts from it, which I found it a powerful thing to listen to alone at home with the headphones on. There’s usually a good 80 minutes or more of movie around those bits of dialog, to dilute them, in the same way that people who take heroin mix it with water. Even though it is one of cinema’s grand obsessions, there is not a whole lot of love in the movies. They are a kind of via negativa of secular love, invocations of love via what it isn’t, marking it by its loss or anticipation.

Like the earlier LACONIA (2011) and Love Dog (2013), Love Sounds approaches the cinematic by remediating it, by processing it through another form. LACONIA started as tweets, Love Dog on Tumblr. The methods in both cases was to lay another temporality, an everyday time, on top of cinema, to put the writing out there in the world bit by bit, before collecting the material into books. Love Dog also has a multimedia feel, particularly when read in blog form. The reader could click on video that does more than illustrate the text. It is part of the text.

Love Sounds is a little different. Tupitsyn has gone the full otaku on this, building a database of audio clips covering the whole history of the talkies, organizing it by categories, such as Love, Sex, Fights, Heartbreak, Betrayal, and Death. It’s closer to what Hiroki Azuma would call a database than a narrative understanding of media. It’s a sort of forensic device for hearing what the whole mythic structure of the cinema era was, but breaking it down into its affective audible granules, and recomposing those granules by type rather than arranging them in narrative sequence. But it is not just a work about cinema. It also an instance of a post-cinematic form. Another media for another life.

There is probably some kind of “philia” for those who love to eavesdrop rather than watch, but it does not quite work the same way. You can watch one person, but usually what you hear is one person speaking to another. You see the person as object; you hear two people as relation. To isolate the voice is to zoom-in on relation, on airborne particles of affect via which bodies are already affecting each other, even prior to your bugging the scene.

And what passes has a strange, doubled aspect that Love Sounds highlights. On the one hand, the words, like everything in myth, are conventional. You have heard them all before. But the way those words are performed is something else. Even through the image of sound, its layers of artifice, the visceral and singular quality of the performance remains, even with these all-too recognizable voices. Of the way that the voice of Barbara Stanwyck is even more total and singular than her face. Now that the age of radio has passed, we lack a sense of the beauty of the voice in isolation. In this sense Love Sounds restores a lost pleasure.

Men look; women appear. But it is not quite the case that men speak; women listen. In Hollywood, sometimes the women give as good as they get: Lauren Bacall defending herself against Humphrey Bogart’s verbal violence in To Have and Have Not. Katherine Hepburn taking on Cary Grant Jimmy Stewart or Spencer Tracy all through the forties. In the voice, one can hear at one and the same time the possibility of disarmament, of love; but also all the wars, over who owns who, of who is whose property. To listen, rather than look, at cinema, is to hear the struggle over the script itself, over which words are meant to matter, and which are mere convention. It’s a struggle over whether love is real. It’s one continuous dialogue on whether love, like God, is dead, and who killed it.

The step away from the screen to the voice seems particularly helpful, now that screens are everywhere. The screen got both too big and too small. “Why does Hi-Definition make everything look like live TV? Blade Runner looks like Law & Order.” It destroys the fragile communion of the cinema era. In those days the screen had its place and time. Not any more: “…the screen has become total. Frameless and amoebic. Never off, always on, all over. Inside.” As Gabriele Pedulla argues, the black box of the movie house, or even the black box of the living room, is no longer the dominant situation for the rite of viewing.

At least here in the over-developed world, the screen breaks away from walls, from its time and place, and becomes ubiquitous. Its habits and conventions are no longer slightly outside of everyday life, but are immersed in it. “…we have learned to live through and from the camera, as though the camera and screen are subjectivity itself, and so our lives are only worth the show.” Every cellphone with a camera is a nano-scale myth and image technology.

Everyone is their own TV show. Tupitsyn writes across an era of transition, referring back to the tail end of the classic screen sight and sound regime for bearings in the everyday of post-cinema. “We’ve lost the valuable feeling of being away from things. Of being removed. Of hermitage. Of waiting. Of keeping things in before letting them out. Of when to and when not to…. With the hyper-valuation of the private, you are successful based on how public you manage to be. How public you are with your private.” The private exists now as a mode of address within the public. What is outside of that is nothing. “There is this unbearable loop of image. This horrible rub of spectacle and knowingness that erodes.”

But what is to be done? Even at the level of a practice of writing, or even just a practice of living everyday life. “In America, when you attack the culture industry, you are called cynical. But it should be the other way around.” Interestingly, Tupitsyn’s response to the false sincerity of the spectacle is not to double it with an ironic or cynical or hyperreal mode. She wants to mark and cut along the seams of the absence of the real. In a benighted age, the hardest thing is to be sincere without being taken for a fool. But I think in Tupistyn it’s not a question of the real belonging in the everyday and the false in the spectacle. What’s interesting is that the dividing line does not necessarily fall that way.

Nor is it a case of there being value in exposing the false, of bringing the false to light in service of the true. “Yes, the whole world is watching, only not in a way that makes it accountable or safe, for our watching has become part of the problem: how much we watch, how much we’ve seen, and how all this seeing and watching—witnessing—is competing with so much footage…turning everything and everyone into a spectacle of losses, victories, and empty threats.”

The spectacle of disintegration is false as a whole, but true enough in its odd moments. But there’s not much leverage in exposing injustices or deceits further, since nobody thinks exposure calls for action any more. “Justice is reduced to a vantage point.” Let’s not add too much to the ocean of images emanating from the iris of the screen, but there might be moments in the cracks of both cinema and everyday life that point to another way of life.

There’s an older generation of writers—of philosophers—who want to resurrect Saint Paul. They want to restore a dimension outside of the everyday that might orient it towards another horizon. Tupitsyn does something related, but not with Christian dogma. Rather, she uses the dogma of cinema, that great religion of the twentieth century. In its passing, it might yet yield fragments of the utopian moment. The name for those fragments in Tupitsyn is love, in which she is a true believer. Unlike Judith Butler she does not think love is something about which to be skeptical. Love is the real via which to know the unreality of life under late capitalism. Love is to be taken at its word, and its word made flesh. She over-identifies with love, and as Zizek has pointed out, an over-identification with a belief can be more challenging than any skepticism or criticism.

What if we took the dogma of love as voiced in cinema at its word? Love might mean here both romantic love but also friendship. Not fraternal friendship, foundation of the state. Something more like Epicurian friendship, in which men and women together can escape from the demands of the polity and cultivate their own form of life. Or something more like Sapphic love, which might have a sexual dimension, but is more a kind of intensity between women. Love for Tupitsyn is a kind of event that calls the everyday to account. “The situation is hopeless when it could be hopeful. This is modernity: We choose to fuck things up. We choose to suffer. We choose to live with lack. We choose isolation. We choose to be without.”

It’s sort of like Hegel in reverse. It’s not a matter of desiring the other’s desire. It’s rather about witnessing the other’s lack of it, which is also our own. It is not that love is a lack so much as that it is what is lacking. It’s an absence with uneven effects. “I want to walk around feeling heartbroken over this truth: that people—men and women—don’t choose love. For women this means something endlessly devastating, divisive and regressive. For men this means choosing to be with women that allow them to maintain gender stereotypes and sexist paradigms. For me it means that I have always chosen love, feminism and friendship with women over male approval, and this has not led to lasting love.”

Here she is close to Acker, for whom the impossibility of actualizing real love is what is to be witnessed, but not as some grand cosmic condition, but as an historical experience. This is what capitalism is in Tupitsyn: that which is inimical to love. “We also know that everything that currently runs the world, and gets heralded as good and great—important—is mostly really nothing. Really nothing.” This is the very definition of spectacle: the false that has become real, and which having become real, can only increase itself, as more of the same. “More and more seems to mean less and less.”

Curiously, labor hardly ever appears in Tupitsyn. “Life work and work as capital are two different things in a world like this.” Her writing is about life work. It’s about making something else, making lives, loves, an aesthetic practice of the everyday. It gestures towards utopian moments—Provincetown moments, cinematic moments—but also to the difficulties in building life worlds out of those moments.

Tupitsyn’s writing is a kind of practice of theory, a metonym for another way of life. It is not the high theory of the American graduate school, where “we use philosophy to answer philosophy instead of using it to answer the world.” It’s striking how even philosophy has become a branch of spectacle. Its adepts attempt to accumulate dead thought as capital. Their writings are like personal stock portfolios, showing off how much they have invested in Heidegger and how much in Badiou, whose value is of course never to be questioned, as that would ruin the bull market in such names and those authorized to trade in them. The challenge is rather: Live without dead thought!

Tupitsyn’s writing is more a détournement of high theory, a rerouting of it on some detours into everyday life. As with the rites and rituals of cinema as the modern faith, so too with its scriptures: Tupitsyn is a kind of heretic. Let dead theory bury dead theory with its gentrified hermeneutics of doubt. She doesn’t bring boredom but the sword. Or maybe it’s a can-opener, or a coat-hanger. For opening the old soup tins and pick-up trucks of cinema, for getting at the form of the content, for making some new myths.

Works Cited

Pera, Brian and Tupitsyn, Masha (ed), Life As We Show It: Writing on Film, City Lights, San Francisco, 2009

Tupitsyn, Masha, Beauty Talk and Monsters, Semiotext(e), Los Angeles, 2007

Tupitsyn, Masha, Laconia: 1,200 Tweets on Film, Zer0 Books, Winchester UK, 2011, based on the twitter feed

Tupitsyn, Masha, Love Dog, Penny Ante Press, Los Angeles, 2013, based on the blog Love Dog, at

Tupitsyn, Masha, Love Sounds, 2014 (video) at

Tupitsyn, Masha (ed) Love Sounds, Penny Ante Editions, Los Angeles 2015