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Jonas Mekas is a leading figure of 20th-century avant-garde film and one of the founders of the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan. Arriving in New York in 1949 after escaping a Nazi work camp in Hamburg, Mekas has worked as a writer, filmmaker and artist. In 2009, Mekas began a long and arduous court battle with his former dealer Harry Stendhal. As of this writing the litigation continues.

Writing Google bait means conquering the listicle in all of its glory and parsing through spreadsheet-data puke until your brain feels like a nickel slot machine. City rankings in particular—worst traffic, largest percentage of beautiful people, most likely to get you laid—capitalize on residents’ pride and our collective obsession with list making.

For many, the world has always been too much, but the impulse to pluck form, meaning, and understanding from the abyss has persisted with varying levels of belief in possibility and impossibility—both of perfection and imperfection and of subjectivity and objectivity—that makes knowledge at turns an instrument of power, a means to transformative change, and a fleeting game of dizzying fascination.

The compositional systems are built up through a series of hunches and dissatisfactions. If something feels familiar I obstruct part of it —or all of it—until it doesn’t anymore. The obstructions add to the buildup. They are as complex in physicality and pattern as the arrangement of images they obstruct. Paradoxically, they amplify what they make invisible.