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A Child’s Garden and the Serious Sea

Stan Brakhage

USA, 1991
40 minutes, col, silent

In poet Ronald Johnson’s great epic Ark, in the first book Foundations, the poem ‘Beam 29’ has this passage: ‘The seed is disseminated at the gated mosaic a hundred feet/ below, above/ long windrows of motion/ connecting dilated arches undergoing transamplification:/ ‘seen in the water so clear as christiall’/ (prairie tremblante)’ which breaks into musical notation that, ‘presto’, becomes a design of spatial tilts: This is where the film began, and I carried a xerox of the still unpublished ARC 50 through 66 all that trip with Marilyn and Anton around Vancouver Island. As I wrote him, ‘The pun ‘out on a limn’ kept ringing through my mind as I caught the hairs of side-light off ephemera of objects tangent to Marilyn’s childhood: She grew up in Victoria, and there I was in her childhood backyard…’: and then there was the Sea – not as a counter-balance but as hidden generator of it all, of the World to be discovered by the/any child…as poet Charles Olson has it: ‘Vast earth rejoices,/ deep swirling Okeanos steers all things through all things,/ everything issues from the one, the soul is led from drunkenness/ to dryness, the sleeper lights up from the dead,/ the man awake lights up from the sleeping.’ (Maximus, from ‘Dogtown – I’). – S.B.