The Poet of Light Passes

Somehow I missed the passing of Stan Brakhage on March 9th. He seems to have slipped away as quietly as his films often entered our lives…without sound. Or maybe the sound of his passing was overwhelmed by the war drums.

I think of Brakhage as a poet (rather than a painter) in light who put his body between the "flesh of the world" and his mind. Merleau-Ponty once said, "It is by lending his body to the world that the painter changes the world into paintings." Something similar may be said about Brakhage. He made film the embodiment of his subjective experience, memory, and perception; a body of work that looks slowly and carefully at the world (and in doing so demands "slow viewers"), cinematic lento, a characteristic that links him to other modern "poets" from Nietzsche to Tarkovsky. He left us nearly 400 films. Now is the time to savor them.

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