Asymmetries: notes on Escape from New York


1. Initial questions for Kurt Russell/Snake Plissken

snake i’m looking at you now on the plastic wrapping of the dvd. as a thing dvds are dying out—they’re not needed. only for their status as bearers of light were they ever retained. thin reef-like creatures, like batteries now transpired crawling with half-specs of mechanised flight snake from the right-hand side of the cover you’re staring back. you’ve got one eye. the distance between us seems prohibitive of knowing the fabric of things but the iris feels green like the world before feet. it’s a green to be heard not like the purple shroud behind your back, the city of fog mustering even in its veins—the people—which jugulate around the statue of liberty’s severed head, the future examined at the guillotine of images snake i would like to know—sincerely—how you lost that eye. but you’re busy. the cigarette seems less burning pacifier than road block splitting the lane, an emblem designated in the syntax from the people’s positive ransom of the space which keeps them its, like the yellow cab who later shall hurtle through the districts of ruin small and great as you look for your exit snake, from the city, with that eye that doesn’t open, doesn’t shut, doesn't quite let you see anything, through which—at this point snake—i finally think i’m beginning to

2. Post Escape/Return

john carpenter (the director of escape from new york) begins the commentary on the dvd stating he thinks america is in love with outlaws. it’s a love carpenter shares. it’s a love a bit like a city itself there’s a great array of distances with each distance a point in a light. reader let’s return to the apex of the page, like a point of the city at its highest, not its beginning—the belfry of st george’s, or that weird building like a tortoise by Picasso—and follow the faults with finger and eye as accomplices from rooftop to front door behind which the voice ruminates and shimmies like a struck bell. and from where? and then walk down into the underground to buy tickets—steaming like fresh coffee—for the now defunct railway - the steam your breath—to the domain of all chords no longer tenable as carpenter speaks, the footage become snake leaving the prison bus—this moment of fusing of inception with unawareness, the encounter of the afar not yet met like speech trailing from its own parameters. then kurt russell talks and says that both he and john agree that they disagree with the premise that ‘no man is an island’ reader i just heard your engine stall and it seems like we’re out here now on the water beyond manhattan island like the part of the cog which intersects, dependent on something of which we have little control. john speaks, kurt speaks but now you speak into the wind through which you seem only to have ever spilt. Reader—now i’m addressing yourself. not the person to the side who speaks from time and we’re back in the subway—buying coffees—and different people pronounce the births from the deaths. it’s voices in which all things seem to change as well as themselves. one announces that the next train will take us back into the theatre. immersion not akin to baptism, but when it seems that way—that we might fade into a still—i listen for the city’s speech. except i don't remember it at all

3. Asymmetries

the opening of escape from new york is a microscope applied to the intersection of geography with affect. focus light through that lens—aim it at the policeman in the jeep clad in black armour: this is the first character not of the rest of your days but of the rest of the moment into which we have crossed the unspoken bridge, sharing the passenger seat whilst you whistle forthrightly to the wheel’s mute tune. think of their squint. think of their feeling as a pang of uncertainty slides at the strings tonight it’s dark which new york without its power just permits. for the darkness of it has no symmetry, shape, angles. the camera rises—panning to the battlement of a high white wall—and the maths which taught you your ability to look for shape frees you when you fall headlong down into the water—vertigo like a parachute leaves your capillaries. two escapees paddle a raft in and out of the radius of the spotlight, hard and exacted like handcuff rings. it’s the combination of the vectors of the engine forming libraries or estates in which no one can breathe too loud or at too high a pitch—like the pitch of the dark—like the pitch of the current—the engine—all words uttered—all words hushed after a warning and an inadequate lapse of time the helicopter shoots its guns. governmental missiles—like eyes, hearts, governmental poems—are so straight to the point. there’s a directness that kills itself like a walkie-talkie clasped in a hand of hard leather relaying speech back into itself through which a pulse/voice merely washes out, a signal draining into sea

Joe Vaughan