Saturday, May 29, 2010

By Viggo Mortensen

(on the occasion of receiving a star on Hollywood Boulevard, 26th march, 2010.)

Dennis Hopper has come to be considered by many a legendary and legendarily-eccentric director and actor in the movie business. In the short attention spans of most moviegoers and critics, he is someone who has seemed to regularly rise out of the ashes of self-inflicted chaos, surprising us with his originality and wit as an artist, and defying the odds by somehow staying alive physically and professionally. I think he would be the first to admit that this is not an entirely inaccurate perception of his career. In the public's cultural consciousness, increasingly dependent on celebrity-driven and disposable story-telling and performance, Dennis has seemed to vanish for long periods of time, as far as many people were concerned. Although he might also jokingly agree with that notion, to those who have known and valued him as an artist and as a man over the years, he has never vanished, never stopped asking questions, never stopped searching for and finding inspiration in work and life.

Dennis is my friend. We met while working on a movie called "The Indian Runner" some twenty years ago. Short-lived friendships are mostly the norm in the movie business - it seems to go with the transient, stop-start nature of our jobs, the travelling, and the physical separations involved. There are people you get to know very well during a brief, intense period of work, and often do not see again for years as your individual careers and lives meander in their various directions. If and when you do see each other again you often find that what originally connected you so strongly has mostly withered away somehow. That did not happen with Dennis and me, and it has not been the case with his many other friends. We have continued to share a mutual curiosity about not only movie story-telling, but also in regard to photography, painting, and a generally artistic way of living life -- that is, an interest in remaining consistently present and open to all kinds of inspiration. Aside from being a complete and fertile artist, Dennis has, most importantly, remained a constant source of ideas, inspiration, and humour for his friends and colleagues. This positive influence has manifested itself in his unceasing interest in people and their behaviour, in the unpredictability of life -- an openness that has often involved changing his mind and letting go of pre-conceived notions regarding art and morality in his life, and in the lives of others. Like any true artist, he has continually learned from, suffered over, and, as frequently as possible, laughed at his own mistakes and apparent dead-ends. He keeps himself honest, and he keeps those around him honest.

"Why do you say that?", "Where did that come from?", "Who did it first?", "Why does it matter?", "Maybe I'm wrong.", "I love you." -- these are some of the phrases likely to come out of his mouth at any time. His candour and essential modesty inspire fearlessness in others. As much as he deserves this star on Hollywood Boulevard and the many other professional honours he has received, it is this ability to instill a degree of fearlessness and wonder that sets him apart as an artist and as a friend.

Dennis Hopper was born in Dodge City, Kansas. Perhaps the finest and most honest poet that state has produced was William Stafford. In a 1971 interview he once said something that could have come straight from Dennis:

"I keep following this sort of hidden river of my life, you know, whatever the topic or impulse which comes, I follow it along trustingly. And I don't have any sense of its coming to a kind of crescendo, or of its petering out either. It is just going steadily along."

As regards being honest and inspiring fearlessness goes, among Stafford's 50 or 60 volumes of poetry can be found this short poem I would like to dedicate to Dennis in closing:

For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid
There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot--air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That's the world, and we all live there.
William Stafford

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

see you in another life, brother

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

ever after

Monday, May 03, 2010

I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab
which is typical
and not just of modern life

mud chambers up the trellis of my nerves
must lovers of Eros end up with Venus
muss es sein? es muss nicht sein, I tell you

how I hate disease, it’s like worrying
that comes true
and it simply must not be able to happen

in a world where you are possible
my love
nothing can go wrong for us, tell me

Frank O' Hara, Song
pic nan goldin

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Well she's kind of like an artist
Sittin' on the floor
Never finishes, she abandons
Never shows a soul

And she's kind of like a movie
Everyone rushes to see
And no one understands it
Sittin' in their seats

She opens her mouth to speak and
What comes out's a mystery
Thought about, not understood
She's achin' to be

Well she dances alone in nightclubs
Every other day of the week
People look right through her
Baby doll, check your cheek

And she's kind of like a poet
Who finds it hard to speak
Poems come so slowly
Like the colors down a sheet

She opens her mouth to speak and
What comes out's a mystery
Thought about, not understood
She's achin' to be

I've been achin' for a while now, friend
I've been achin' hard for years

Well she's kind of like an artist
Who uses paints no more
You never show me what you're doing
Never show a soul

Well, I saw one of your pictures
There was nothin' that I could see
If no one's on your canvas
Well, I'm achin' to be

She closes her mouth to speak and
Closes her eyes to see
Thought about an' only loved
She's achin' to be
Just like me

The Replacements, Achin' To Be
freja in the pic