Blind Shaft

by Richard Oxman

> “We live in disharmony with the universe, as if we were not part of it.” — Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado

> “You have not yet understood that the world of thought is done for…. All is nothing but disorder…. There is nothing but…antagonistic action.” — Soul-shattering character Raymond, from Blaise Cendrars Moravagine, the writing of which overlapped his Brazilian experiences

If Homeland Security schnooks can look into my records at the local library, why can’t I find out who donated Li Yang’s *Blind Shaft* to the Circulation Department there? I’ve always thought local libraries could provide a great public service by serving, in part, as a connecting link for like-minded individuals who might not otherwise ever meet.

I mean, couldn’t I at least leave *my* number to be let loose? Passed on.

And speaking of passing on, I don’t want to go to the Happy Hunting Ground, without urging you to see the DVD of 2003’s…film from China. Former documentarian Li Yang’s debut feature flick is a *must-see*. And after I cross the River Styx, I’m sure I’ll be requesting his early work along with the dying earth’s newest releases, if I don’t see them beforehand.

The backjacket of the DVD says that BS is a “bleak film noir set on a lawless frontier and an indictment of China’s disastrous Economic Miracle.” But it’s much more than that. It resonates into your daily life here in the Land of Milk and Honey, if you let it, addressing The Hate That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

Apparently, the director had to pay huge bribes to shoot much of his footage, and then risk life and limb, as they say, to make his way with the film crew…throughout days without end, hazardous circumstances to the very end.

Arguably worse conditions than what the penguins have to endure in *March of the Penguins*. And with a mostly non-professional cast to boot.

For me, the Mandarin-tongued BS is like a combo of *Brazil*’s 1984 stuffings (without the comedy) crammed into an un-Brazilian *City of God* trashcan (with time condensed). But that all has to do with my take on what the state of things are around the world, and the degree to which those films address our most fundamental loss. These analogies have zero to do with the style of filmmaking or the relatively minimalist spine of BS.

It has a *Godot*-like subtext in spite of its realistic trappings. A road movie of sorts with universal vibrations relevant for all who live in our “civilized” realm worldwide. Beckett sans the spare setting, sans the lack of concern with specific mundane realities, sans the comedy, sans the updated dialogue…. Actually, Samuel Beckett would have stopped writing altogether before he would have penned such a script. And it’s a blessing that he died before the horror he acknowledged reached the depths drained in Yang’s opus.

Some people tell me that if I’d only refrain from citing *connections* like the ones directly above (particularly with the language I use)…that perhaps I’d have more readers. *Have some at all* is more like it.

But I can’t do that in the midst of our Fall. All this Final Winter we’re experiencing, captured by Yang so well, calls for The Oblique, what’s beyond commercial writing parameters.

Ah, maybe as the world stops turning my salvation will come in the form of a phone call from a person with a Portuguese accent: “Hello, this is the person who donated *Blind Shaft* to the Los Gatos Public Library. I read your recent article, and….” is the turn to take, *following viewing*, if anyone wants to discuss the Yang film with Richard Oxman…who can’t stand reviewers who reveal too much plot, etc. prematurely, ejaculating details for the sake of showing off, offing the experience intended.