Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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Time Travel Specialist


I’m working – and reaching out once again to a friend better qualified – on translating a fine story involving the encounter of Chris Marker and Thoma Vuille, awesome street artist and creator of M. CHAT. The story, “Chats percheurs – La rencontre entre Chris Marker et M. CHAT racontée par Louise Traon,” appears currently in French on’s Creative site, and is accompanied by a short documentary well worth watching, as the story is well worth reading. For now, let’s start with a mysterious quote from Marker. I’m not sure yet if it is an excerpt of a letter to M. Vuille or not, but I presume so.

First we must fill in some background. You may recall that in Sans Soleil, the date 4001 is introduced and has special signifcance:

That’s for a start. Now why this cut in time, this connection of memories? That’s just it, he can’t understand. He hasn’t come from another planet; he comes from our future, 4001: the time when the human brain has reached the era of full employment. Everything works to perfection, all that we allow to slumber, including memory. Logical consequence: total recall is memory anesthetized. After so many stories of men who had lost their memory, here is the story of one who has lost forgetting, and who—through some peculiarity of his nature—instead of drawing pride from the fact and scorning mankind of the past and its shadows, turned to it first with curiosity and then with compassion. In the world he comes from, to call forth a vision, to be moved by a portrait, to tremble at the sound of music, can only be signs of a long and painful pre-history. He wants to understand. He feels these infirmities of time like an injustice, and he reacts to that injustice like Ché Guevara, like the youth of the sixties, with indignation. He is a Third Worlder of time. The idea that unhappiness had existed in his planet’s past is as unbearable to him as to them the existence of poverty in their present.

Sans Soleil, trans. courtesy of

Fast forward to 2038, several years before the loss of forgetting and a lone Third Worlder of time, to the epistolary fragment quoted on arte’s page:

« daté du… 19 janvier 2038 à 4h14 du matin.

Pour un spécialiste des voyages dans le temps, c’est impressionnant. Ce serait d’ailleurs une bonne illustration du paradoxe temporel. Si je vous disais (puisqu’il y a de fortes chances que vous passiez un jour par cette date et cette heure) de veiller à ce qui s’y passera, ce serait une façon d’y attirer votre attention, et par conséquent c’est moi qui déclencherais dans le futur l’événement du présent… Encore un anneau de Moebius dont on ne sort pas. »

Chris Marker

The gist of this quote in English:

“dated … January 19th, 2038 at 4:14 a.m.”

“For a specialist in time travel, it’s impressive. This would be moreover a good illustration of temporal paradox. If I told you (because there’s a strong likelihood that you will pass through this date and this hour) to look out for what will happen then, this would be a means of drawing your attention to it, and consequently it is I who would unleash in the future the event of the present… Once again a Möbius strip without exit.”

Chris Marker

I hope to present you with the full story soon. À bientôt!

February 25, 2014  8:21 pm   No Comments

Bouquin Rare + Kashima Paradise


Here is a photograph, slightly (mis)treated, of a hard to find 1951 edition of Chris Marker’s The Forthright Spirit, published by Allan Wingate Ltd., London. A man came across this book at an antique book fair in Dublin ‘about 8 years ago.’ He has done his homework and is now cognizent of the rarity of the book. He wrote me an email expressing his desire to sell it. If anyone is interested, please let me know via the contact form. For me, I was content to play a bit in Photoshop with one of the various images he sent, as I love the embossing on the spine and wanted to attempt to bring that out more…

Another note: there are several new pages on the site. One of particular interest is Marker’s very personal summation of the film Kashima Paradise made by Bénie Deswarte and Yann Le Masson in 1973 in Kashima, Japan, for which Marker is credited as the writer and narrator.

February 18, 2014  6:15 pm   1 Comment

Entering Level Five

More on this film to come… I am watching it multiple times and seeing what my mind can find to put down in terms of thought, the play of concepts, runimation and the like. I am finally entering Level Five. is also celebrating, if you can call it that, a hosting move – up a level – and not without its ‘game over’ moments. If you have had difficulties reaching the site in recent days, that is why. Things did not go as smoothly as hoped, mostly due to climbing up the rather steep learning curve on the Linux command line, followed by some DNS disturbances in the force. Please, if you have any issues with the site, I would appreciate it if you notified me via the contact form. The site should be much faster in load time and overall performance now, as it is using a solid state drive and the latest LAMP technologies. I have also adjusted some typographic minutiae and added the ‘related posts’ feature you’ll see below, which I’m finding does a commendable job – an A+ algorithm, thanks to developer Adknowledge. The plugin serves to unearth some older material buried in the site’s archives and provide more labyrinthian reading paths, just as Borges would have it.

We will also have more to report soon on Dialector 6, Marker’s Apple II long unknown converse-with-computer project. (Perhaps it was his willingness to tackle that command line that paved the way for me, un- or semi-consciously). To wit, a friend and long-time correspondent has managed to reconstruct a version of the source code, via some ingenious screenscraping and reverse engineering. We hope with his blessing to make this available under a liberal license and let you play directly with Marker’s invention. DK, are your ears getting warm?

I’ll leave you with a quote I just rediscovered, as the result of a bad habit of buying books off Amazon late at night. I believe this quote, while not entirely unproblematic, holds some meaning for Chris Marker’s style of writing, bricolage and exploration of the caméra stylo aka ‘essay film’:

Properly written texts are like spiders’ webs: tight, concentric, transparent, well-spun and firm. They draw into themselves all the creatures of the air. Metaphors flitting hastily through them become their nourishing prey. Subject matter comes winging towards them. The soundness of a conception can be judged by whether it causes one quotation to summon another. Where thought has opened up one cell of reality, it should, without violence by the subject, penetrate the next. It proves its relation to the object as soon as other objects crystallize around it. In the light that it casts on its chosen substance, others begin to glow.
– T.W. Adorno, Minima Moralia, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott, 95

February 5, 2014  11:24 am   No Comments

The Third Cat

THE THIRD CAT from gorrr aka. Mosmax on Vimeo.

Dedicated to Guillaume-en-Egypte and thanks to Chris.Marker
Machinima by Max Moswitzer
3D Guillaume created by Exosius Woolley
Screening at Centre Pompidou on 2. November 2010, Estoril Film Festival on 9. November 2010.

Reference: "The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles and Trevor Howard. It is particularly remembered for its atmospheric cinematography, performances, and musical score, and it is considered one of the greatest films of all time. The screenplay was written by novelist Graham Greene, who subsequently published the novella of the same name (which he had originally written as a preparation for the screenplay). Anton Karas wrote and performed the score, which used only the zither; its title music “The Third Man Theme” topped the international music charts in 1950." { Wikipedia }

January 29, 2014  1:03 pm   No Comments

The Cat Wants His Grin Back / Les Chats ne sont plus perchés


Another offering at the temple of homages chez, courtesy Cinémathèque française. Full screen recommended.

July 29th, 2012. A man crosses the zone. A mysterious street painter with paws without claws, prints in the city, this passage in the offspring. So, let’s talk about Chris Marker.

A short documentary by Céline Balandard & Fabien Dapvril.

with the voice of Vincent Remoissenet.

Produced by Tepaklap.
Written by Céline Balandard.
Camera & Editing by Fabien Dapvril.

Translation by Khalil El Bazi & his father, Alison Wightman & Elodie Doudoux.
Special thanks to Laurent Bailly, Pauline Bouyer, Adrien Danielou, Angélique Démaret, François Duboux, Florian Du Pasquier, Bénédicte Favre, Vincent Hémar, Anthony Jade, Anaïs Meuzeret, Audrey Philippon, Ugo Zanutto.

© 2013

January 28, 2014  6:11 pm   No Comments

Nom de code: C711

A mysterious homage to Chris Marker, listed on the Cinémathèque française‘ tumblr site in the ‘Les Homages’ section, with these words:

A l’aube du 22ème siècle, un homme, C711, est surveillé de près par les agents du gouvernement. Il détient en effet des informations classées TOP SECRET. Il se fait suivre et les agents maitrisent la situation. Quand un violent séisme survient, C711 en profite pour disparaître. Un plan de capture est alors organisé pour ne pas le laisser s’échapper. Un journaliste reporter alors dépéché sur place a filmé l’opération pour nom de code: C711. Voici les images du reportage. Ce qu’est ensuite devenu C711 est classé TOP SECRET…

Film hommage à Chris Marker, mort récemment, ce film s’inscrit dans la logique du cycle de science-fiction expérimentale. Le travail de recherche sur la musique, ici encore très développée, appuit d’une manière très efficace l’atmosphère de ce film. Le travail graphique de l’image appuit une intention forte de voir la science-fiction d’une manière différente et accentue le côté oppressant et mystérieux de l’histoire. En espérant que vous serez sensible à ce film, que nous espérons accessible autant qu’il puisse.
At the dawn of the 22nd century, a man, C711, is closely monitored by government agents. He has indeed classified TOP SECRET information. He followed and agents have mastered the situation. When an earthquake occurs, C711 took the opportunity to disappear. A catch plan is then held to not let it escape. A then despatched a reporter on the spot filmed the operation codenamed: C711. Here are the pictures of the story. What later became C711 is classified TOP SECRET …

Film tribute to Chris Marker, died recently, this film is part of the logic of the experimental cycle of science fiction. The research on music, again highly developed appuit a very effective way the atmosphere of this film. The graphic work of the image appuit a strong intention to see science fiction in a different way and highlights the oppressive and mysterious side of the story. Hoping that you will be sensitive to this film, we hope to reach as much as he can.


Here is the opening statement from the Cinémathèque française:

La Cinémathèque française invite tous ceux qui le désirent, amis, correspondants à l’étranger, curieux et cinéphiles, à envoyer messages ou témoignages, films, photographies ou collages, pour rendre compte de l’importance que l’œuvre et la personnalité de Chris Marker revêtaient pour eux. Ce tumblr leur est ouvert.

The Cinémathèque française invites all those – friends here and abroad, films enthusiasts and cinephiles – who so wish to give their testomonial, in the form of texts, films, photographs or collages, on what the work and personality of Chris Marker have meant to them. This tumblr is open to you.

January 28, 2014  5:27 pm   No Comments