Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Owls at Noon


Last Updated on December 11, 2020 by bricoleur

Prelude: The Hollow Men
April 27–June 13, 2005
Museum of Modern Art
New York City

Owls at Noon
Owls at Noon – Chris Marker

“OWLS AT NOON, night birds in the day, things, objects, images that don’t belong, and yet are there. Leaflets, postcards, stamps, graffiti, forgotten photographs, frames stolen from the continuous and senseless flow of TV stuff (what I’d call the Duchamp syndrome: once I’ve spotted 1/50th of a second that escaped everybody, including its author, this 1/50th of a second is mine). Bringing into the light events and people who normally never access it. It’s from that raw material, the petty cash of history, that I try to extract a subjective journey through the 20th century. Everybody agrees that the founding moment of that era, its mint, was the First World War and that it was also the background on which T. S. Eliot wrote his beautiful and desperate poem ‘The Hollow Men.’ So the ‘Prelude’ to the journey will be a reflection upon that poem, mixed with some images gathered from the limboes of my memory.”
– Chris. Marker

“Wenn die Philosophie ihr Grau in Grau malt, dann ist eine Gestalt des Lebens alt geworden, und mit Grau in Grau läßt sie sich nicht verjüngen, sondern nur erkennen; die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug.”
– G.W.F. Hegel


  • But all the meditations of mankind,
    Yea, all the adamantine holds of truth
    By reason built, or passion, which itself
    Is highest reason in a soul sublime;
    The consecrated works of Bard and Sage,
    Sensuous or intellectual, wrought by men,
    Twin labourers and heirs of the same hopes;
    Where would they be? Oh! why hath not the Mind
    Some element to stamp her image on
    In nature somewhat nearer to her own?
    Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad
    Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail?
    – w.w. prelude book v “books”

  • Hegel trans.:

    When philosophy paints its gray on gray, then has a form of life grown old, and with gray on gray it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known; the Owl of Minerva first takes flight with twilight closing in.

  • This is the dead land
    This is cactus land
    Here the stone images
    Are raised, here they receive
    The supplication of a dead man’s hand
    Under the twinkle of a fading star.


    Not with a whim but with a banker…

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
metro laughing woman staring back
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