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ONLINE ONLY: Conclusion to P. Adams Sitney's Eyes Upside Down

Conclusion: Perfect Exhilaration

Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight,

under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts an

occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a

perfect exhilaration.


—Emerson, Nature

Jonas Mekas, “As I Was Moving Ahead, Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty.” Stills made by Arunas Kulikauskas; reprinted courtesy of Jonas Mekas.

Most of the films discussed in the previous pages present us with peaks of perfect exhilaration, often extended passages in which the filmmaker succeeds in conveying his or her rapture with the moment of taking a shot, the ecstasy of camera or vehicular movement, or the perfection of a sequence of shots falling together in a figure of montage. Inevitably these peaks are shadowed by their deflations, sometimes to the point of despair. In “Experience,” Emerson writes of “the flux of moods,” or alternately of their succession or even “a train of moods like a string of beads,” and each colors or shows “only what lies in its focus.” The characteristic genre

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