Archive for February, 2012

Grendel & Veganism

February 29, 2012

In “The State Of Nature,” no one is a vegan.  But that’s not where we are.

 

 

1. GrenDel’s Time

Grendel defines himself in contrast to man, and man defines himself in contrast to Grendel.  This could actually be phrased in a few different ways.  As Grendel is told from Grendel’s point of view, I could say, “Grendel lets man define himself in contrast to Grendel based on how Grendel treats man.”  Etc.

Grendel, in some ways, is a stand-in for nature – pointless, meaningless, accidental, the logic of chance; destructive with the option of merciful, with death at the end.  So it could really be said “Nature lets man define himself in contrast to Nature.

There’s a bit in Grendel where he watches mankind build up civilization to a certain point.  But only a certain point.  So what about now?

2. 21st Century Time

Disregarding Beowulf wasting Grendel by ripping his arms off, man stands in a precarious spot to nature.  I know some people that you may have heard of either disagree or willfully don’t give a shit, but it’s true.  There’s trash all over the place, and sometimes you’re standing on it and sometimes you work inside of it.  And sometimes you eat it.

If we define ourselves in contrast to nature nowadays, then I’m not really sure what that says or means.  I live in New York City – my tap water comes out with a thick, cloudy, white, bubbly shroud in it that eventually dissipates.  But if I take the time to taste the water at any point, I’m pretty sure I taste chlorine.

Following that – it’s the view of liberals everywhere that we’re ruining the planet.  Given how my water is, and the fact that I grew up with the empirical knowledge that Puget Sound smells like a septic tank, I guess I agree.  So we’re all ruining the planet; like 98% of human beings on the planet are responsible (I’m sure far less than that know it).  What does that make us – really?

I don’t know.  I also don’t know what that makes nature.  I have no doubt that it makes nature a fan of the sneak attack.  My favorite people I’ve met on the whole planet so far are the ones where you think they’re stupid, naive, ignorant rednecks when really they’re intelligent, mindful, worldly metropolitan types (or vise versa).  It’s ultimately a sign of amazing variation, but in a way, their true strength is their sneak attack.  Let me believe one thing, slowly unveil the truth.  Nature’s similar – it’s sneak is that it’s a killer.  After we’re long gone, the Earth will still be here.

3. Yours & My Time

Mankind can define himself collectively (and sexistly, as I’ve now proven, man) but can an individual define himself individual when his fellow genus-species is fucking the place up for everyone (and everything)?  I don’t know, but sometimes I’d like to think so.  Sometimes it could make some kind of difference to stand up on some high-ish stand and say, “It’s all goin down anyway, but when it does, you can count me out!

Probably not.  But you could hypothesize that the planet is being ruined, and it’s by us, then that’s no time to let idealism fall.  You can still act to the best of your ability, by being mindful of how you act, how you think, what you consume, and all that great stuff.

Man is defined in contrast to nature.”  This doesn’t have to be true.  Man can be a part of nature.  Indeed, I think man is a part of nature.  Man actually likes to think that he’s apart, defined in contrast, by how special he is and how he stands out – superior intellect, which will soon bring his end.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

 

Fire Walk With Me Screening At 92y Tribeca

February 25, 2012

 

I had the fortune of attending the screening of Fire Walk With Me last night.  It was the first of a few, so the surprises were all fresh for everyone.  It was amazing to see a print, so warm and fuzzy.  The audience was so wonderful, I have so much gratitude.  The man from Time Out New York (or was it Moobie?) delivered a wonderful introduction, saying something to the tune of:

For those of you not familiar with the film, it starts out in a very familiar Twin Peaks note, and is funny and all…  Then it stops being funny.  About the point where Laura Palmer comes in, it stops being funny — at all.  And I have a feeling that if you find yourself laughing, then it might be out of some kind of defense mechanism.

I couldn’t agree more.  He really set the scene in a beautiful, beautiful way that I appreciate so so much.  I’d rather leave my feelings on the movie understated because I’d like to some day write some full manifesto on it.  But that’s for later.  I’ll just say that man, I cannot find the words to express how this movie makes me feeeeellllll.

The biggest surprises in store for all of us were a call to The Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) beforehand.  She was funny.  Then after the film, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) was in the house for a Q&A.

He was funny.  He was Bobby.  Here’s a picture.  Guess which one he is:

 

-for Friday February 24th, 2012

Freedummies

February 22, 2012

I was thinking about the nature vs. nurture argument regarding how people come to be who they are.  It doesn’t leave much room for freedom in the same way any deterministic argument would seem to reject it.  If I am free, what’s to stop me from killing you?  I got to thinking some about belief.

It’s possible that I can go to church at any time, but would I not be acting if you didn’t detect the doubt in my eyes?  I’ve wandered down a sidewalk on Broadway surrounded by yelling, sign-waving protestors for Occupy Wall Street and I felt bored and alienated.  Could I have grabbed a sign and yelled, “Not in my house!” and meant it with all my heart?  If you told me to get up and do the funky chicken and I was feeling charitable, would you not see the graceless hesitancy in my elbows?

It’s because I don’t believe it, because I think it’s a performance.  Or do I know it’s a performance.  Holden Caulfield holds everyone in contempt for being a phony.  Some people are incredibly transparent.  So what makes them transparent?  They’re probably doing what they want to do, even if they’re acting.  So what’s the red flag they’re waving that’s telling me they’re acting.  They want to do it; why don’t they want me to believe it?

If we’re free.

I want to be anyone and everyone, but I’ve had the unfortunate role assignment of being nobody.  But I want to be somebody, but I want to be somebody real.  Of course, nobody is somebody, but I mean, I’d like to have some real, substantive and sincere qualities that a massive amount of people could appreciate if such a number knew me and of my existence.  All qualities are ripe for my choosing, sure, anytime?, sure, and yet so many of them are fraudulent.  Like church, like believing in God, I could try it out, but I don’t really believe, and so eventually – even if I don’t want it to happen – the bottom is going to drop out because it’s hollow.  Lou Reed said it best when he said, “I’m set free to find a new illusion.”

I’m just wondering: where does my freedom to choose who I can be rub up so miserably against my fundamental belief that all is phony?  And when?  And how?  😦

Protected: A Professional

February 17, 2012

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Protected: Nude

February 15, 2012

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John Locke, The Character

February 10, 2012

I’m progressing into season 2 of Lost.  I don’t trust the writers / the network not to fuck this up.  But you, dear reader, may already know how bad Lost gets.  If anyone is actually reading and wants to comment and let me know if I should just stop watching, DO IT PLEASE.

Okay.

 

 

Lost is neither perfect, nor great.  It isn’t free of its limitations – probably because network TV, despite what folks of low standards say, sucks, and sucks by nature.  Be all this as it may, Lost is far from worthless.  This is a fact, but I’m not going to prove it.  I’m just going to talk about it’s highest light, the most interesting character in season 1 of Lost – John Locke.  If you disagree, it’s because I hate you.  You might as well keep reading, I’ve already got your hit point.

One of the ho-hum factors in Lost is that everyone’s backstory follows one theme.  ex: For Sawyer, it’s revenge; for Jack, it’s savioritis, daddy issues; for Kate, it’s that she’s the most innocent criminal ever (bleh), etc.  Whatever.  As an aside: I feel it’d be better if everyone’s themes were switched up all the time – that mirrors life better, plus it’s actually more interesting storytelling, in any instance, ever.  But it is what it is, and plenty of the backstories are actually really good despite this, and rich, and leave me begging for more.

And Locke has the most interesting backstory of all.  His theme in season 1 seems to be determinism, which is both a strength and a weakness.

Starting with why it’s a strength.  Everyone’s Island Persona is a little different from their Real World Persona, which is roundly a good thing narrative-wise.  But Locke is the most polar opposite – a sad-sack, gaming, crippled, aging man with no prospects or special features apart from what’s going on in his head – a confidence he’s too afraid to express.  But you don’t know that until awhile; you only know that he’s the King Of The Jungle in Island Persona.  I don’t know if this sounds good spelled out as I’ve just done, but executed on the screen, it’s up there with the best things Lost season 1 has going for it.

Determinism as a weakness is – what’s so interesting about determinism?  With narratives about free will vs. determinism, the answer is the problem.  Whichever is settled upon, the settling makes the piece boring; it breaks it, it makes the theme broke.  Locke’s historical dynamic makes him fascinating, but there’s something to the fact that he is determined that doesn’t always work (i.e. isn’t always well told).  Let me be clear – Locke is determined… or he acts like it, at least.  He has stupid rants about “destiny” (Terry O’Quinn does his best at acting them, but they’re horribly written), he believes both in past and present that everything happens for a reason.  He’s made up his mind.  This doesn’t have to be bad, but it’s often written retardedly, and the sad reason for this is that Lost has to be made for idiots (already went over this).

Island Persona Locke is the best because the Island Determinism is way weirder.  Why does he do what he does?  Because he believes he’s there for a reason, doing what he is doing for a reason – being led.  By the end of season 1, he’s a self-proclaimed “man of faith.”  But he’s not a church goer.  Like Kierkegaard, he’s probably likely to lambast institution.  An institution would co-mingle in the juices of Jack’s reason (Jack being “man of science” according to Locke).  No, Locke’s faith isn’t in God, it’s in “The Island.”  …Which might as well be God, and his action’s Kierkegaard’s Leap Of Faith.  The metaphor isn’t quite perfectly analog or clear-eyed.  And that’s why it’s one of the best things Lost season 1 offers.  It’s based solely on emotion and conviction, not reason.

In addition to determinism, Locke also believes in struggle. I do too, so that’s an point of attraction.  The Island is his determiner, the struggle is everywhere, and eventually becomes the hatch.  The hatch is an open metaphor in this way, and, again: that makes it beautiful.  But in this case, it’s beautiful for a specific reason.  Any piece of art that can successfully make an inanimate object into this living symbol or embodiment of meaning to someone – that’s very specific to them but not us (so religion / religious artifacts do not count) is beautiful.

This is because it’s relateable.  We all do it, everyday.  It’s the 21st century, where people die a little inside when they, say, lose their cell phones.  I’ll be damned if it’s over the body of the phone, the circuitry, or even the money they’ve put into it (unless they’ve loaded it with apps, or they’ve just paid a huge bill, or something).  The phone is their connection to other people.  It’s one of many, but right now, “cell phone” is so much the primary mode of community that “cell phone” seems like a misnomer (but no one’s come up with a new name yet).  So you lost your phone.  You can bottle it up stoically or talk about it, but the usual fact is that there’s a little regret, a little longing, wistful missing.  And then you hear people say, “OMG I’m so glad I’M not the kind of person that gets all bent out of shape if I lose my phone,” or, “Isn’t it ABSURD how society just flips out when they lose their cell phone??

I don’t want to be an apologist for the “iPod generation.”  They’re destroying the planet.  But I will say two things.  A) No, it’s not absurd.  Consider what it is that’s lost.  Just because it’s the newest method of community doesn’t mean it ought to be contrarian’d to death too fast.  B) Is it not the “iPod generation” that makes these comments more than anyone else?

 

 

Oh yeah, about Lost – let me tie this back around to the beginning.  I’m halfway into season 2.  It has some serious problems, and I don’t trust the writers / the network not to fuck this up worse than they are so far.  But you, dear reader, may already know how bad Lost gets.  If anyone is actually reading and wants to comment and let me know if I should just stop watching, DO IT PLEASE.

Lost, Season 1

February 9, 2012

 

1. How I Work With TV

It’s the same with just about every TV show that I feel like is worth seeing.  I miss its broadcast but have intentions to see it in some broad stroke at an undetermined future date.  To hunker down for as long as it takes and sweat it out to the end.  The ideal result is fulfillment, plus now I can know what all the hype is about.  I always hope to do it before somebody spoils the ending for me (e.g. all the characters that are alive at the beginning of the series are dead after the end of the series, understand?).

It’s obviously tougher when the show isn’t as good as I thought it was.  Specifically this problem arises when I’ve actually seen some of the show before.  In this case, it’s Lost – the second half of season 1, and the first bit of season 2.

I finished season 1.  I remembered it being so pleasantly layered, and the character development being so fantastically unique.  I’d call it one of a kind, but I don’t know the history of TV that well.  I should mention that I’m a fan of dual narratives.  I remember when I was young seeing an episode of the cartoon Gargoyles in a hotel one time (the only episode I ever saw).  There were two timelines on top of one another – one where the main Gargoyle and his Gargoyle girlfriend were friends, and another where they were enemies, one being hunted by the other.  I remember it was great, and there was a lot of pathos.  Some kinda irony, maybe (or whatever literary device) that would not have worked otherwise.  Enough of that.

 

 

2. How Lost, Season 1 Works

Lost isn’t great.  It’s not because I know it goes downhill (“know” = I’ve heard it does, but I don’t know how).  The problem with the season 1 is actually rather specific.  But for starters – what’s good.  I admire the ambition: how many doorways open and plots begin.  There’s a vague sense that the writers are making it up as they go (I’ve heard this is how it was; perhaps how it is with every TV series).  But beyond that, the ideas that they try and tap into are sometimes deep, and I appreciate that.  Broad, large, philosophical, complex narratives and characters are never bad for primetime network TV, and I know this for a fact because it’s incredibly rare for primetime network TV.

The problem.  Specific issues with the writing.  Everything suffers when the writers cram it all in and ram it all home.

For example: Jack.  Jack is the hero who must save everyone.  They try and ram this idea home constantly over the season, but it’s all a little doughy, a little undercooked.  And that’s why Jack’s character is awful, and he’s annoying, and if you disagree, it’s because you didn’t get passed how hot he is.  If you’re still reading, keep going.

Whenever the whole thing becomes beholden to a plot, it falls.  How does this make sense?  Read this for my opinion, as if it was worth a damn.  My good episodes versus my bad episodes: the good ones are just open, free, develop a character’s story with their deeds and foibles in flashbacks; just let it flow, just let it be.  Bad ones are oriented, directed, every flashback is 2 minutes long or 12 minutes too short, just quickly make a point (“Jack is the HERO, LOOK!!”).  For the archetype or school of philosophy that any character is supposed to embody, the writers should have read up just a little more.  This is specific though.

On a more broad scale, it over reaches, and it does it almost off the bat.  It’s going for deep, and the structure of the show (in season 1, at least) allows it to be that way if it can or if it wants to.  Sometimes it can’t – the 45 minute runtime just isn’t long enough.  And this is a travesty, because  almost all the stories are good deep down (between you and me: the stories I can’t stand by the end are Jack’s and Kate’s).

The space and time to wander around the identity of the characters is vital.  The all-too-common brevity only serves a few stories well, the rest seem ruthlessly, forcefully ground down to the bare minimum.

3. How TV Works

I have no idea how Lost developed and progressed.  Yeah, J.J. Abrams had some ideas and some input.  Unfortunately, he’s proven himself a dumbass (both before and after Lost), but maybe he was put in a corner and only allowed to pipe up when Star Trek or Star Wars need a reference.  Blah blah – what I’m saying is I don’t know how much control the creators and writers had versus the network.

When you try and start a series, you write a pilot.  When you write a pilot, you write a pilot.  No whole season, no whole series, and nobody wants to hear ideas for where your thing goes.  Quote me on this cautiously, there are exceptions to every rule, especially if your name is David Milch.  …And probably J.J. Abrams at this point, but I don’t– I can’t believe that J.J. thinks too far ahead.  Slam.  You have your pilot, and have your high concept idea – that’s how it starts, and that’s probably how Lost started.  It’s big in execution, particularly when stood next to the rest of the horseshit on primetime TV.  But in the beginning, it could be summed in a sentence just like the rest.

No one person has full control over a TV show.  Every plot is guided, every plot point is overseen, every character arc engineered, and almost every goddamn line of dialogue is probably changed at some point.  And it’s never to make it more poetic for the brilliance of viewers.  Never.  The opposite.  To make it more stupid.  For the stupidity.  Of idiots.

(by idiots, I’d like to add)

So – with any TV show – a whole story unfolds from a sentence.  I can’t condemn that; it’s the overall function; the gears turning.  It’s controlled and regulated and digested by a stupid machine.  A passionless, emotionless, redundant, derivative, unimaginative, unessential, metallic piece of steel, robotic shit is shat into the world.  And please believe me – because it’s already being taught to children in the right classes — the closer the TV show is to this description, the longer it will last.

So Lost.  How bad is it?  I speak for Season 1: it’s not that bad, because it’s not a cookie cutter show that is identical to what is described above.  But it resides in “the machine,” who wants Lost to be that description above.  And it seems like there are people working hard to try and keep it from being that.  More failures than successes.  Shrug; I have no doubt that everyone has a good time on it.

At the end of the day, I don’t think Lost dodged greatness.  I think it was pulled out of the way.  And hell, what do I know?  It could be very possible that this pulling is the reason why it saw the success that it did.

 

Deborah Harry At WiP Underground, I Guess: February 7th, 2012

February 8, 2012

 

The above picture is of Debbie Harry dying.  I know; just trust me; just click the photo and believe it.  The coroner reckons that she was incinerated.  He added that it was tragic… but deserved.  Then went home to his basement in Queens, after having a private, late-night psychoanalysis checkup in Park Slope.

The story goes:

Deborah was scheduled for some kind of performance or other in some small room that was below sea level at midnight – so, February 8th, actually.  It was guest-list only, or something, so it was free.  Or it was for the party I was with; I can speak for no one else.  There was dancing and that hottie Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs spinning some records way too loud.  I’d like to assume that the better songs were his, but a) that doesn’t bode well for main DJ Miss Guy, and b) there weren’t that many good songs anyway.  Here, don’t take my word for it — everything I’ve said has an alibi:

 

 

There was some hullabaloo, sexy dancers, I got double-team-cruised, let them down soft as I could, continued to get cruised, and waited patiently for the main event.

After some arteests made up a mannequin, and a Miss Guy video tried to play, Lady Deborah finally emerged.  She karaoke’d two (2, ii, II, dos) songs, that was actually one-and-a-half songs because the second song was a duet song with Miss Guy.  Then there was a flash to her right, and she vanished.  DNA tests confirmed that she died quickly and with relatively little pain.

I guess I got what I paid for.  The saddest part is that even in death, I can’t relate to her.  She’s “Back In The New York Groove,” but I never left.

 

–for Tuesday February 7th and morning Wednesday February 8th, 2012

Naked

February 3, 2012

 

1.  Cuba Si, Hollywood No

One night last weekend I went to couple places in Manhattan with a group of five.  I was the youngest.  The oldest was named Werner.  He was in his 70s, and he was a man of the world, but philosophy seemed to be his bread and butter.  He’d taught it, he had one of his own, he’d written – I admired it all.

At a party in the lobby of the Ace Hotel, while Cuba Gooding Jr. danced his way out the door in a style I’d never quite seen before, I asked Werner what he thought of philosophy in films.  He said it was neicht good and cited Mindwalk.  I knew what he was talking about, but tried to explain a kind of underlying presence of philosophy that I meant.  I used Kubrick as the easy example.  Maybe I meant richness of ideas, in opposition to films that have none (which, in my world, number far too high).

He said something about how when philosophy permeates art too deeply, it ruins the art.  He suggested that, in fact, it is art that informs philosophy – that’s how it is, and necessarily must be.  He said Nietzsche said it; I think he named others too who felt the same.  I’m scared — a) I don’t know whether to agree or disagree with art advancing all things, b) I have no cited sources, and c) I don’t really agree at all about the ruining effects of philosophy.

2.  So!

I happened to see Mike Leigh’s Naked recently.  I’m someone who, in a way or two, sees David Thewlis’s character Johnny as a hero.  Not because he’s a misogynist – he is one according to the rules of misogyny – but because he doesn’t adhere to many rules at all.

Not adhering to many rules at all is how and why it’s easy to see him as a mooch (in addition to misogynist, asshole, et al), and this is why I will now refer anyone to start reading this blog from the beginning.  Johnny-lite?  …And I gave up masturbation for 2012…  At any rate, he uses people, but it’s not like he isn’t giving back – everyone seems to learn something from him, or he leaves them something to take (arguably).  So doesn’t that just make him unwittingly generous?  It’s just the way the world works.  Most people are pissed when they realized they’ve learned something from someone they disagree with.  Especially when they weren’t asking for it.

But you can always learn something from someone you disagree with.  They say opposites attract – I don’t give a shit for how long; if you haven’t wrapped your organs around someone you have little in common with, then I beg you to get off your ass.  (in this proverbial picture, I would also like you to be attracted to them, or else I’d have worries for your self-esteem)

3.  Philosophy In Art

It’s more good than bad.  This is my opinion; there is no scientific method for this.  Maybe I could study up on formal logic?  I could prove anything.

The presence in the world of Films Without Ideas depresses me – I wouldn’t wish ’em on my worst enemy.  But are there actually films without ideas?  Is it a similar question to ask: are there films without art?  Ask George Lucas.  He just made Red Tails (starring Cuba Gooding Jr., ballet genius) and/but claims it will be his last “blockbuster.”  He’ll now go on to make smaller films that will only play in “arthouse theatres.”

Oh, so megaplexes don’t have art?  shrug  Often they don’t.  Who’s defining?  Well, George Lucas just implied it.  I know, I know, he’s a fucking idiot.  Maybe I go asking famous people I may or may not know?  For some reason, everyone seems to have the same ideal – God, I’d love to be great.  Like fuckin’… Kubrick!  Or Cassavettes!  Like Jimmy Stewart or Katherine Hepburn!  Like X, where X=don’t trust the person that doesn’t love X!  And yet, they shit shit into the world, making it shitty, diluting your / my / their / our culture.  Making it hard for good* things and easy for bad* things. (*weasel words).

Not hard to fix.

4.  PS: Johnny Johnny

What does it mean for Johnny to be a role model?  He’s far more admirable than, say, James Bond.  Bond never saved shit, or else there wouldn’t be further Bond movies (I’m a fan of the joke that Bond kills all the Bond Girls to make way for the next one).  They’re both misogynistic, but Bond only has some kind of tactical intelligence.  Does he actually know anything about ontology; ever utter profundities aloud?   I don’t even want to think about this anymore.