ISSN: 2241-6692

BLOG - Language games

Weird wavelengths

According to a popular dictionary, the word “weird,” an adjective equivalent in connotation to the “strange” or “unusual,” is akin to the “old English term for fate, or else for what was ‘worthy’ to come into existence” (Merriam-Webster 2011). As fate would have it, the very same word was brought to the fore and has been highly associated with contemporary Greek film production, from the moment a Guardian journalist introduced this tag. In this unusual founding document, Steve Rose relates the aesthetic values of this art-house films that were channeled in the international festival circuit, to the status quo of Greek politics and finance in the beginning of the second decade of the new Millennium: “The world's most messed-up country is making the world's most messed-up cinema” (Rose 2011). The world film industry and criticism has already assimilated the notion of “weird” as a generic term for an innovative artistic current. At the same time, the regulating tag of the “messing up” is still applied in favor of the standardization of a national identity, in a “common process where the structural and morphological traits of a national cinema conclude to the formation of a particular genre” (Poupou 2014: 47). However, we still find ourselves puzzled by the most striking trademark of this cinematic expression; the appearance of a new, hybrid spoken language in the diegetic world, which consists in word plays, metaphorical schemas, elliptical sentences, loanwords and made-up words etc., while the concept of role-playing is central in the narrative and the character development. Approaching this recent artistic practice through the scope of the notion of language games in the context of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy, we will try to speculate on how this playful approach to language criticizes its power as an established social practice and domineering structure, and how these films disband a master narrative that would be articulated as a totalizing cultural narrative schema by a national cinematic apparatus. Eventually, the cultural idiom that is formulated by this roster of young directors is neither national nor transnational (Papadimitriou 2011: 493), but it is rather self-reflective, as it speculates on the place of a piece of art in a globalized context, at this time juncture. ... More