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5 PersonalStateMeant 5 • Personal State Meant John Fles* T he last few weeks of the Scorpio trial have made certain things obvious to my mind. Whether we win or not, I have been warned that this theatre will be under constant surveillance; in other words, de facto censorship. I went thru this once, at the beginning of my career, at the University of Chicago re: the Bill Burroughs Case. I could not then and will not now accept anything less than what Karl Popper calls “The Open Society”. And tho I believe that’s coming, as the pressure rises the enemies of the open society gather force, mainly strengthening what in our time we finally have to accept as, at least, part police state. I can not continue to run this program under any kind of censorship nor will I play that other, more dangerous, game and go to jail. Within a period of two to three months Movies ’Round Midnight may (& I emphasize may) cease to exist. Not necessarily, for this is up to those who own the theatre, the Saturday night screenings but, rather, my own somewhat naïve attempt to bring you those films which, without any kind of qualification whatsoever, I thought best or most useful or funniest or most ironical or most pertinent for our time. Now these films will, for the most part, be forced underground and/or be squeezed into some more or less institutional setting, with, again, the politics which imply censorship. To what extent I will ally myself with either or both of these efforts, future strategy will tell. In the meantime there is some hope in the possibility of a newspaper which would tie the entire artistic community, from Pasadena to Venice West, together. Its purpose would be to alert all of us to dangers the society, in the concrete manifestation of police, judges, all the paraphernalia of modern day justice, imposes on the increasingly restless need for total freedom. (This growing need for complete artistic freedom is not unrelated to the best elements within the negro movement.) We must remember, in terms of our own responsibility, 41 * Previously unpublished; obvious typing and spelling mistakes have been corrected. The expressed need for “a newspaper which would tie the entire artistic community, from Pasadena to Venice West, together”, was met a year later with the appearance of the Los Angeles Free Press, whose first issue was dominated by the Scorpio Rising trial. that at the moment external law ends, the law, if such it may be called then, must come from inside. And those of us with any sense of history, see the only law coming from inside is love. Let us make no mistake: it is love itself, in all its manifestations, which the police state we find ourselves in, is engaged in destroying . * * * Written and read at the Cinema TH. on May 9, 1963, by John Fles ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES, 1945–1980 42 ...


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