Letter from Stan Brakhage to Roger (6/11/1974)

June 11, 1974
Dear Roger,
I had just sat down to begin this letter to you when my lawyer called with the very sad information that he had met with the I.R.S. and that (despite our clear proofs of innocence) they are determined to continue with their criminal investigation of me. (You might pass this information on to Sally becauseshe had, in recent letter, asked me about it — i.e. how that meeting between I.R.S. and our lawyer went).
And now I don't know how coherent-a-letter I'll manage to write: I am
shaken. They obviously have no criminal case, so this must just be harrassment — which I suspected all along . . . (surprising how it is that what you already knew can disturb you the most once it is confirmed ).
I'm very grateful for your letter about "Lovemaking": more than
that, I think you've made greater sense of the social complex of this film than anyone else I know. Very FEW have written ANYthing abt it, either to me or in public print. Your letter is rare and a delight of perception. The work has been SEEN (at least as a beginning) for what -it is by someone/you ... and, I'm sure, some few others.
YES, the struggle was to avoid all that moralizing (which is, anyway, just another word for propaganda which is another word for bias — which has no more place in a work of art than as it arising naturally thru the personal experiences of the maker: I struggled to make a balance (and, yes,
with WIT — as you are among the few people to notice) within,.the or rather through, the possibilities of my living experience as viewer (as distinct from voyeur): the first section (in these terms of formal integrity of
the film) is the weakest. But then of course the film could never "solve the homosexual problem" (I've never been convinced there IS such a generalized "problem" except for social injustice; and that might more rightly be named after its perpetrators "a heterosexual problem"): I have always
tried, anyway, to avoid the aesthetic mistake of the great muralists of the American, especially So. American,'30s. Art, to me, demonstrates process and as such can enable or help anyone to change his or her sensitivity and ability, increase perception, alter thought patterns — but ONLY to the extent each viewer/hearer/reader chooses to do so INSPIRED by the art. If a maker becomes more pushy than that, that maker then imbalances his art and causes it, to that ex', ent, to cease to exist as such.
WHICH brings me to the fact that "Lovemaking" IS, in my opinion, much unbalanced (despite my efforts) and, as art, among my weaker works; but I continue to defend it the same way you did praise it in your letter — show me a better attempt at art which centers on sexual consideration. Those Japanese woodcuts are exaggerated! Those Chinese peaches (or the peppers of Weston) too evasive in their ephemerality. Who KNOWS what's in the basement of The Vatican? The Greeks tended to idealize everything out of human exis-tance. Only that Indian temple holds my respect MIGHTILY beyond my attempts I'm not meaning this as ego-centric as it sounds, because I feel I too have failed to do more, so far, than suggest some directions for possibilities of an art. Wit, as you noted, saves me from total defeat; but wit is a two-edged sword (evasions!) also. I'll keep trying. Your viewing, and honesty in writing about it, sustains me. One aspect we should get clear: the film
is named "Lovemaking” (as distinct say from those named "Sexual Meditations: and it was THIS quality I most thought to graph.
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