Thursday, June 27, 2013

Withdraw with Withnail

by Drew Martin
I understand that there are overwhelmed people who want to unplug and embrace a slower-paced world, but the trend to go on a social media fast for a fortnight or two and then flood the Internet with his or her experiences about what it is like to be unplugged is not only silly but something akin to binge drinking. I think the most valuable thing any artist has ever said is from Francis Bacon; that the purpose of art is to return one to life more violently. There is something in this for social media, which like art has its value not as a fantasy realm but as a place from which one's in-the-flesh friendships, and earthly experiences have more meaning. So sometimes instead of unplugging, finding the right place on the web, might prove to be more reflective than going on a retreat.

Last night I watched a movie from 1987 on Netflix that put me in such a place. It is the cult classic (which I had never seen before) Withnail and I, which takes place in 1969 London and is about two degenerate thespians who leave their Camden Town squalor for a holiday in the lake region, which turns out to be an utter fiasco. The movie is full of dirty dishes that spawn unrecognizable live matter, "I feel like a pig just shat in my head" hangovers, and a lot of mud. It is such a depressed movie that one can only feel relieved and joyful when it is over. I would like to rewatch it and catch all of the background image references, such as this set up with a rustic chicken painting on the wall, while a real chicken is before them, as they discuss how they should go about killing it.

Click here to watch a trailer for Withnail and I.