Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Wanking in a mirage"...

To the good gentleman who coolly dismissed my pet project as "wanking in a mirage," I'd like to say thank you for those perfect words. Pure genius. Wanking in a mirage is at the very core of what any creative type worth his or her salt aspires to. It's serious business conjuring these mirages and discovering their erotic charge for others to enjoy and evolve. A world without empowered and respected mirage wankers is a world where vision, art, and dreams are mere exploitable commodities. A flat, blind reality rooted in scalable economies and soulless abundance. Good luck with that!

("Dicken's Dream" by Robert W. Buss)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If you can read this, you're lucky...

Let's say there's been roughly 200,000 years of Homo sapiens. Then let's say that only around 1960 did we as a species begin to recognize children as full-fledged people. I'm talking in round numbers here, so don't hound me on the dates. And yes, a lot of other things began changing around this time too. Go ahead and factor those into this on your own. OK, so my point is that life radically changes once parents start looking at their children as little people rather than unformed non-adults. Once you get into the 60's a mass consciousness kicks in. New parents begin thinking long and hard about the family unit, thinking about how they were parented, and how their parents were parented, and making choices about how they will act as parents and so on. Childhood becomes a foundry of experience, intellect, and emotions. The definition of "family" is (temporarily) up for grabs.

So the lucky part: Not only are you alive in the time of this evolutionary development 198,000 years in the making, but, you are living at the precise moment where both types live side by side, the earlier generation (less conscious and/or transitionally conscious of child rearing) and the more recent (more conscious) one. This is rare. It's like Fred Flintstone having Homo erectus neighbors.

On a side note, I think the show Mad Men is interesting because it focuses on this very moment of species transformation. Don Draper is both a cave man and an enlightened being. He is our Lucy (in the sky with Brooks Brothers). Our missing link.

While we're selling soap flakes, Sarah says, and don't forget the fact that marketers were all over this new segment. They were in on this rebranding of childhood almost from the getgo. If parents Freud and Dr. Spock sprinkled magic dust over the spirit of youth, then Madison Avenue and Tinsel Town were there to quilt our diapers and make animals talk and dance for us pretty soon afterwards. I hate to go down this cynical path, but she makes a point.

("Tent Dwelling Hippie Family of Mystic Arts Commune Bray Family Reading Bedtime Stories " by John Olson)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Courtship of the Sun and the Moon¸.•..¸.•*¨¸.•*¨

Version groovy, set to Serge Gainsbourg's "No No Yes Yes"

("L'Éclipse du Soleil en Pleine Lune" by Georges Melies)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bagpipes for all...

Woke up yesterday needing to know if the Irish were full-fledged bagpipers, or if they only borrowed their neighboring Scots aerophones when they needed to make a solemn musical point. Turns out there are many distinct varieties of bagpipes all over Europe, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf. Indeed the Irish have their own, the Irish Uellian Pipes, a smaller rig often played sitting.

Still, when we think bagpipe, we are most likely thinking of the Great Highland Bagpipe of Scotland. Unless of course you are French, and you're predisposed to think of the Musette de Cour or the Boha of Gascony. Or perhaps you hail from Estonia, and when you think bagpipe you think Torupill. Then again, maybe you live in The Caucasus and you're fond of the Tulum. Tunis your hometown? Then you'll probably know someone who huffs into a Mizwad. Bohemia? Grab your Dudy. Balearic Islands? Strap on the Xeremia. Sicily? Likely you're blowing into a Zampogna (seen above).

There's no instrument that hypnotizes quite like a bagpipe. It's aggressive and oppressive in demanding our full, motionless attention. It conveys great sadness and great strength and it wants our total respect. While were on the topic, know someone named Piper or Pfeiffer or Duda or Gajdoš? It's fairly certain that their ancestors were known for blowing the skin-bag back in the day...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Place yourself in your most desired circumstances...

I was really drawn into Teshigahara's magnificent Woman in the Dunes last night. It's a true original: a sexy, claustrophobic, existential nightmare, that flows beautifully between abstraction and narrative, made by the aesthetically-gifted son of a master flower arranger.

I struggled a little bit to get through its two plus hours, in part because the movie is really about a kind of life fatigue that sets in when we succumb to routine. Digressing here, I've learned that the struggle to stay awake is (sometimes) an important aspect of cinema. Some of the most profound cinematic experiences are tied to overcoming difficulties or prejudices or energy issues that arise during the actual watching of a film. Once you've endured a difficult viewing, the lingering aftereffects, the payoff, the stuff that stays with you for days and years, the growing, can be enormous. Far greater than those other passing cinematic thrills that jolt your nerves and are soon forgotten.

To sum up Woman in the Dunes - A scholarly man searching for bugs near the ocean gets trapped in a deep sand pit with an attractive woman by the arrangement of some corrupt locals. The captives must dig out the sand every night or be denied water and other basic provisions by their captors. He rebels at first, then falls for the woman, and in the process of attempting to trap a crow, discovers a way to leach water from the sand. He resigns himself to his fate and refocuses his energies.

As in so many great books and films, a prison becomes a strange form of paradise. In the case of Woman in the Dunes, I was not as convinced of the sand pit's paradisiacal qualities as was our protagonist. Hard to say if this was the director's intention or not. A typical Western viewer will likely see that our bug collector's world has been reduced to a pile of sand and that an ocean's worth of other potentialities exist just outside his reach. But to our hero, redemption comes in the form of adapting to this tiny world. He finds meaning and pleasure in his new, vastly restricted, life.
As would we... It is human nature: we acclimate to our circumstances no matter how grim they may appear to an outsider.

For me, the film serves as a reverse allegory: A thorough investigation of a mad trap that serves to trigger a reminder of its opposite... The multitude of truly rewarding circumstances and realities our dreams, desires, and interests suggest to us. I posit that the wise human engages in an ongoing journey to find ways to immerse him or herself in optimal circumstances that meet their inner needs and stimulate growth to the greatest possible extent. To settle for less, to resign ourselves, is to give in to the illusions of powerlessness and practicality.

Of course it's a speculative game. You might think that you yearn to be an Austrian ski champion, and you might fight your whole life to climb your way into that world only to have the carpet pulled out from under you by what I'll call a "final flip": You stop half way down the Alps one sunny afternoon, raise your goggles, and realize you might have been just as happy shoveling sand in a pit in Japan. We're funny like that. Humans.

That said, I'm not going to let the slim possibility of there being a "final flip" get in the way of finding and achieving ideal circumstances. You don't cancel a trip to the beach because it might rain.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What punches?

funny animated gif

"If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread,
they can sure make something out of you."
- Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Undisclosed sources...

1) I do my best individually, but after studying what really drives CO2 creation, I'm left realizing that our industrial world is wired to produce it, and that my personal acts are ultimately meaningless.

2) ...society will eventually reflect the minds of its leaders, and if the leaders are implementing what the majority perceives as evil, the society will be evil as well, and people affected by a malevolent government will start acting like them.

3) We let a well-intentioned Irish rock star, a Jewish-American economist, and their Hollywood cohort become the voice and face of Africa.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wild Things Tame...

I'm very hard on films that attempt to conjure and play with our core beings, so I'm going to say no to Where the Wild Things Are. It was just too promising a set up and too soft a solution. For a movie about teeth it's awfully gummy. For a child's-eye-view, it's just too cute and cuddly a wildness we get here. Childhood is propelled by dark, morbid, thinly-veiled erotic fantasies, so if you're going to fetishize childhood, let's go all the way.

I credit Spike Jonze for the effort. It's an interesting film, but, ultimately, a tepid one. And no, the plottless-ness was not an issue for me. I find plot overrated and I applaud Mr. Jonze for allowing himself this freedom. There are some amazingly raw and wandering emotions up on screen, but they're just packaged wrong and fail to add up. One scene after another just skids along the surface in an A.D.D. frenzy of forced actions and missed opportunities. Furthermore, those monsters really bugged me. Those voices, aye yi yi! Strangely, I liked the ending, it's abruptness was effective. The mother and child scenes were really well done.

In short, wanted much much more from this...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The beauty of exercise and non-exercise...

Feeling a need to remind people who do lots of yoga and other regular rigorous exercise that there is a whole other brain/body space that exists when you don't exercise, and that it's not a bad place. When the arrows of attention aren't so focused on the body and the micro-management of personal space, the world can become a much more interesting and even enjoyably vast space. Let me be clear, I believe in regular, rigorous exercise as much as the next Californian, still I try to make room for other forms of health. Again, the balance thing...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Los Angeles Suggestion Box...

More prawns, less fawning...

(Peacock Mantis Shrimp, has the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Am I expanding or coming undone?

("Soaring in the Clouds" by Anton Senkou-Melnik)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Total dish...

(An actual plate that uses temperature sensitive ink, by Benjamin Mege)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Send my regards...

I'm no stickler for etiquette, I believe that people shouldn't cloak themselves in too many formal gestures. Save it for the movies. But there is one thing that truly turns my spats inside out - and that is passing along messages via a proxy. It's just so limp and half-hearted. Not to mention a passed buck to the messenger. I understand it's not an overt, malevolent act, but it is passive-aggressive as all hell. How can one expect to convey anything authentic or of value when the underlying message screams, "I couldn't be bothered to contact you in person..."? If one can't make a space to communicate directly and with sincerity to someone they know then it's probably best not to do it at all. Instead, one could spend that time asking why they're unable make a space to communicate directly and with sincerity. Of course they could also ask someone else to pass the message on to themselves, thus creating a feedback loop of epic proportions, which would be a very interesting outcome in all of this. Furthermore, one could argue that this post is a perfect example of the very behavior I'm taking to task. Then the Earth imploded.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

They put drugs in those drugs...

I had a cold yesterday, the old sore throat, hair hurting, muscle aches kind. So Sarah gave me some proper industrial strength cold medicine and put me to bed. It did the trick, the pains went and I slept for 11 hours. Awake now, the cold has greatly diminished, but I can still feel dancing pink elephants coursing through my veins. My thoughts feel as though they are being processed through an oriental carpet. My body hovers over the bed as I watch myself type this. My fingers are telephone poles slapping at garbage can lids.

They put drugs in everything in America, because they need us to buy things we simply wouldn't in our right minds. These drugs take the form of advertising copy and imagery, economic policy, fast food, and sexy packaging. In other words, I probably don't need a $9000 white Leica M8, but the drugs make me want one (that is, until it turns greasy-mitts gray after two day's use, then the drugs wear off.).

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Respecting our global roommates...

Ever since Spain gave full civil rights to gorillas, chimps, and orangutans last year, I've been thinking about how this trend might grow. At what point will we extend basic rights to all living creatures? I predict that animal law will be huge in the second half of the 21st C. That said, I would not want to defend a mosquito. In fact, I would argue for a specific clause in any declaration of animal rights that gave humans the right to lawfully splatter anything that sucks its blood and whines in its ear while it's trying to sleep.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Rushkoff clusterbombs Philadelphia w. ideas...

Whoa... This one has it all: The birth of media, the sad single arc of storytelling, doing it yourself, sustaining new art distribution paradigms, achieving a non-monetary shared play space, and so much more by the always enlightening and unabashedly nerdy Douglas Rushkoff. Stay with it, worth it. Thanks Nat.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What is this death?

We know so much about birth and carbon fiber and astrophysics and geothermal currents and quantum mechanics and croissant dough - and yet Death remains a question mark? An unmentionable? "The termination of the biological functions that define a living organism" - that's our definition? How in the name of modernity can this be? Are the metaphors of religion our best response to that which follows our last breath? Maybe it's good to have an absolute mystery that can't be solved by Google. Or maybe people should be studying this stuff. What if we knew definitively what happens to us when we go? How might things change?

("Dead Woman" by Reinhardt Sobye)