#106: Caveh Zahedi
Filmmaker Caveh Zahedi drops in to tell us about A Course in Miracles, Andrei Roublev by Andrei Tarkovsky, The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, and more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Caveh Zahedi to come on Perfectly Imperfect & redistribute his good taste.
As some of you may recall, I noted in our 100th post that Betsey Brown’s Caveh Zahedi recommendation (which is a great introduction btw) was my favorite rec of the newsletter thus far, so we’re very pleased that the man himself was down to come on Perfectly Imperfect and share some of his favorite things with us. Caveh is a filmmaker best known for his experimental & personal films “I Am a Sex Addict” and “I Don't Hate Las Vegas Anymore”, and cult classic TV show “The Show About the Show”. However, Caveh needs our help, the future of “The Show About the Show” is hanging by the thread of a Kickstarter campaign that ends on September 12th. I promise that if you watch one episode of the hyper-meta & almost too real show you’ll be sold on Zahedi’s genius, so please check it out right away. Caveh has great taste and lucky for us, he’s here to tell us what he’s been into.
Without further ado
I discovered this book over 30 years ago when I was having trouble forgiving a friend for something which, in hindsight, wasn’t that big a deal. But my unforgiveness was killing me and making me into an unbearable person. It’s a channeled book, and claims to be channeled by the historical Jesus. I know that sounds kooky, but it is the single most life-changing book that I have ever read. It completely changed my way of thinking not only about forgiveness but also about reality and the meaning of life. I have never read a book with a voice this absolutely authoritative and egoless at the same time. It’s not for everyone, but I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
This is the book I have read more times than any other. I don’t think any other (human) writer has ever reached the spiritual heights that Blanchot achieved in this book. His work has been a beacon to me ever since I discovered it in college. Most of the people I’ve recommended this book to did NOT love it, but those that did became lifelong fanatics. It’s abstruse and almost every sentence is a mind-fuck, but I would argue that Blanchot is the greatest writer ever.
This is inarguably the most difficult (and formally radical) book ever written and most people can’t make heads or tails of it but if you just start reading and don’t stop and let the words wash over you, its strange poetry starts to speak to you. Joyce invented a new language of neologisms and portmanteau words that were puns in multiple languages at once. He went as far with the English language as anyone can go and he attains heights of poetry, subtlety, and complexity that have never been surpassed. I’ve been reading it for 40 years and have only just scratched its surface but it has been an immensely rewarding experience.
Tarkovsky is arguably the greatest filmmaker of all time and, for me, Andrei Roublev is his greatest film. Every single shot in this film is a masterpiece - every frame, every camera move, every chiaroscuro effect. It tells the story of one of Russia’s greatest religious icon painters, but in such a ramshackle way that it becomes an allegory of the creative process and what it means to be an artist. The film surprises at every turn – not a single moment is predictable. The final scene is one of the greatest endings in all of cinema, right up there with the end of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia and the end of Robert Bresson’s The Devil Probably.
The poetry of Wallace Stevens has been the single greatest help to me in living my life. He taught me to see the world “cleansed of its stiff and stubborn man-locked set.” He taught me to apprehend the deeper mystery that is Reality, and to quote Stevens, to see “how much of what he saw he never saw at all.” He taught me to understand that Reality is not a solid but, perhaps, “a shade that traverses a dust/a force that traverses a shade.” He taught me to be at peace in the world and I will forever be in his debt.
Donate to his Kickstarter to support his art & keep the show alive.
Check out his podcast, 365 Stories I Want To Tell You Before We Both Die.
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