Monthly Archives: October 2013

X Quantities

broken theory

Perhaps the best theories reduce to mantra. And perhaps the best mantras reduce to subconscious.

I speak especially of Eisenstein or Mamet’s “juxtaposition of uninflected images” (a thought which remains my greatest theoretical influence to date). Even the above thought from Philip Glass – “first thought, best thought” – recently served as a beacon through a dark period. Are any of them true in the deepest sense?

Whenever I seek a definitive answer from a wise person, their answer is always the same: “It depends.”

Thus I present yet another theory above – learned from and kindly discarded, lest my work become the theory and not the practice.

Theory has its place, and I get a bizarre enjoyment out of an attempt to understand the fundamentals of mercurial things. But theory is a near scientific thinking about something that is ultimately rather intuitive. And if I’m being honest with myself, the most fulfilling times for me as a creative are those when I am not thinking of theory at all. Just doing.

Film theory also has value in the academic sense – to track and support the timeline of the art form, and to explain the resonance one might feel from an experience with a style. Therefore, I am not simply casting it aside as a contrarian (itself, a theory), but rather embracing the thoughts of rule #8 below: “Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.”


Incidentally, Rule 10 affirms it all: “We’re breaking all of the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for the X Quantities” – John Cage

More often than not, it is meaningful departure from theory that brings discovery, yet this can only occur when the mind is disciplined enough to engage theory in the first place. Another word for this is praxis which is basically the art of direction. Praxis is theory in practice and a director’s prime directive is “Action.”

At the very least, broken theory is a fission that promises an end to procrastination. And so I imagine I’m on the verge of a new productive phase.

Just don’t ask me to explain it right now.