This is a 2023 reissuing of the text first published in 1994, with a new introduction.
What is it?
It’s the text of a film by English director Derek Jarman. The film was released in 1993, and the text was first published in 1994. The text I read was published in 2023, with an introduction by Michael Charlesworth.
What’s it about?
The text is a mix of prose and poetry, describing Jarman’s inner life as he was dying of AIDS.
Reflections on mortality?
Kind of. The text is quite poetic, not particularly linear, and it’s short. You could easily read this in an hour. The film (which I haven’t seen) apparently features four voices (one of them Jarman himself), but the whole thing seems to be him.
It must be very moving—and perhaps angry?
It is moving, but Jarman doesn’t call out for pity, nor does he particularly rage against the dying of the light (literally—he was losing his eyesight). The text is spare, direct, poetic, beautiful. Still, it offers a relatively rare insight into the illness from the point of view of one dying from it. The reader certainly gets a sense of the bleakness, the isolation, the terrible loneliness: “The virus rages fierce … I have no friends now who are not dead or dying. Like a blue frost it caught them. At work, at the cinema, on marches and beaches. In churches on their knees, running, flying, silent or shouting protest.”
One. The text is short, and much of it probably needs to be heard as an accompaniment to the film (which I will seek out!). But the text is definitely worth finding and reading. It’s a valuable testament.