Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reconnect with your sources...

See an interesting comparison of flags of imaginary countries and organizations from Hergé's Tintin books here.

("Stack of Tintins" by John Gachot)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Superior environments...

Of course there are exquisite enclaves of natural beauty all over the globe. My feeling is that these places shouldn't be on tourist maps or clever websites that point you to them. They should not be touted in glossy magazines shilling "hot secret spots" so that they can parlay our eager eyes into more advertising revenue. Some things should remain hard to find. The quest is a large part of the reward.

OK, all that said, where in gods' green earth is this amazing place??!!
(Every rule has its exceptions...)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whose Heaven?

If there is an afterlife, what's preventing all of these annoying people from getting there and being just as annoying? What transformation will enable people with low spiritual mentality to really appreciate an afterlife? What if they just keep going, "Wow, this is amazing!!" while I'm trying to, like, bliss out on my own private heaven trip?

If (as Milton said) "Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity," then which key gets me into my room? Who's the golden architect who designed this mega-palace? Sounds a little tacky, and awfully crowded.

(untitled photo by William Eggleston)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Big Me (Little Me)...

I'm as restless as William Shatner in a windstorm.
I'm as jumpy as Henry Rollins on a string.
I am starry eyed and vaguely discontented, like a nightingale without a song to sing
O why should I have Gogol fever, when my moods are on a swing?

("I Can't Get Behind That!" by William Shatner and Henry Rollins)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why ask why?

Those who know, they don't let it show.
They just give you one long life and you go...

Friday, February 19, 2010

"A most pleasing chaos"...

No shocker here... Listening to music ranks pretty dang high on my joys-of-being-alive list. Remarkably, wonderfully, Sarah and I have very similar sonic tastes, although I am sure that we're often hearing different things while listening to the same piece of music. Everyone's filters and neural receptors take on different configurations. To that end, I'm always interested to hear about what she hears. Her powers of description are killer.

"A most pleasing chaos" is how she explained a particularly layered and frenetic song the other day. "It scratches an itch in my brain," she commented on another complex wall of African sounds. "Ah... lysergic acid, not hydrochloric acid," she announced as the meaning of "acid jazz" became suddenly apparent at a live performance last night.

How succinctly she sums up, in a handful of words, years and years of my own sloppy emotional relations with sound. On Miles Davis' "Black Satin" (one of my favorites) she weighed in with, "Insane, for sure, but a different, lesser kind of chaos." Inspired, and wanting to defend Miles, I tried one of my own, "Like the kind of chaos you find in a bathtub full of venomous snakes!" And there I go with my exaggerations...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

State of the Robot...

Many of you will be familiar with Big Dog, the DARPA-funded, all-terrain, prancing robot by Boston Dynamics that seems to have been invented for the soul purpose of giving me nightmares. If not, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with Big Dog's terrifying behavior before you enjoy this brilliant parody. Or, if winter's getting you down, try Big Dog a la Plage...

Big Dog is funny! Until he kills you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Aesthetic Pressure 2 - are your ears popping?

Another subtle and fascinating aspect of any creative work is the level of aesthetic pressure it exerts on your perception. How to explain... hmmm... let's take old Stanley Kubrick down from the shelf and dust him off a bit, shall we?

At some level, Kubrick's films are all about enveloping your perceptions in almost smothering amounts of what I'm calling "aesthetic" or sometimes "narrative pressure." It's a kind of barometric hypnosis that increases psychic pressure in our skulls.

Certain art is perceived as powerfully enhanced or perplexingly warped into non-reality. How? How does any illusion work? Something in its aesthetic makeup dazzles and derails our senses with atypical information. Once we're slightly off course, our perception tubes get bent, kinks form, more pressure builds, incoming reality is altered. Art is drugs.

For example, I'm thinking specifically of those walking-around-the-space-station scenes in 2001 where the ship's atmospheric sounds and Dave's space suit breathing and HAL's creepy monotone combine with wide-angle, handheld camerawork to create a high pressure system in one's senses - so much so in this case that it nearly causes our eyes bulge out of our heads as we watch.

So much of Kubrick's work "hums" out at us at vibrational frequencies that completely captivate our perceptions and hold them in a deeply pressurized and altered state of aesthetic arrest. Deeply curated moods that colonize our minds to the exclusion of all else.

By contrast, have a look at Duncan Jones' recent space film homage, Moon. The scenes where Sam Rockwell is just wandering around the ship are not at all aesthetically pressurized. He could be shuffling about in his kitchen reading a cereal box. It just looks and feels too familiar. Our senses are not being noticeably squeezed or warped by the artist's choices in delivering the scene. Stanley's bending lenses and audio mazes are not evident.

Which is fine. This too can be a calculated and highly effective creative choice: the un-enhanced. And just maybe in the case of Mr. Zowie Bowie's film, it works to bring an element of the mundane into a space (i.e. Space) that has been overly pressurized in so many of its fictional renderings. The most pressurized fictional vacuum ever.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Aesthetic Pressure 1 - the infinite zig zag of meaning...

At certain levels of consciousness we have a strange need to put frames around creative works so that they become complete universes in which every question has an answer, every action a purpose. The film industry is particularly susceptible to this need for enclosure and answers ("Maybe the audience doesn't exactly know why she jumps out the window, but we gotta know why she jumps out the window!" you can picture a producer demanding.)

I would be inclined to fight this tendency. In my experience, most things are ambiguous or only appear momentarily definite on account of a given perspective in time and space. Don't force answers. Some of the best art confronts you with the maddening eternity of answers seemingly grasped and then lost again to the ethers of the cosmos. As you piece a story or an impression together you think something is this and then it becomes that and then it's another thing and so on. Attempts to contain this natural zig zag is like trying to control the reflections in a hall of mirrors.

("Heart's filthy lesson" by Paul Gachot, courtesy of Augusta Quirk)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Truck driver's gear change...

A common device in popular music, the "truck driver's gear change" (or "Star Search modulation") is an abrupt modulation, usually to the key one or two semitones above, typically used to provide an "emotionally uplifting" finale. Hear examples at the end of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" as well as in R.E.M.'s "Stand". An extreme gymnastic variant of the truck driver's gear change can be heard throughout Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pesky reality...

Officially. The bees have made us crazy. Think before you beekeep. You know not what you invite into your life. Move a bee. The bee sting... Full moons and corporate mazes pale in comparison.

Evidence: The cat crawls urgently on our shoulders and whispers in our ears in mysterious cat tongues. Sarah hears bears (or is it mice?) attacking the hive in the night. Ten year-olds spray painting our fences in the alleyway. I keep finding streets in Venice that never existed before. Oh, and... there are bees in my brain and bee venom throbs in my veins. It goes on...

We have crossed into some very interesting territory peoples... And as happens with all temporary madnesses, a confession escapes and drops onto the floor...

What I seek and what i find... the discrepancy is infuriating. Heartbreaking. Disbelief. Can a life so dominated by dreaming and yearning be so excluded from action and realization? Somehow the calling to make music again... summoning the aural enzymes to melt the fat that has encompassed and buffered my recent experience into passive irrelevance.

Hark the Harold. Motion. The moving of notes. The moving of bodies. Saturated yogic ecstasies. Sonic Booms. It's all very hard to explain with all these bees buzzing and banging through the caverns of this corpus colosseum. But I know you know what I mean...

Can one embarrass oneself to the point of enlightenment?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Breaking News...

Actually, all I wanted to say is: Pesto is goood!

Thank you Swegbe. You crush basil like an afrobeat uprising in Lagos.

xo Pako

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Blooming awareness...

I was aware, but I wasn't aware that I was aware...

For example: I was always aware of some key differences in watching a movie in a theater and at home. But I wasn't aware how aware I was of this, that is I wasn't aware that I was harboring such a detailed explanation for this until a friend mentioned that he fell asleep watching a movie at home and then went to see it in the theater and was riveted. This comment triggered an "awareness bloom" in which my awareness transformed from a vague neural pattern to a concrete verbal declaration.

In this case I was making a firm distinction between the public nature of the movie theater versus the private nature of the home screening. Two completely different minds. A film's deep impact (i.e. the filmmaker's intention) is rooted in the presumption that it will play in a public place where there are rules and taboos (that just don't exist in the home). How the film dissolves these resistances is part of its magical power. Without these resistances, the film loses some magic, it becomes domesticated.

Unlike a flower, an awareness bloom rarely wilts and falls off the vine. It retracts into a semi-vague state once the declaration is nudged out of the beacon of our consciousness. It doesn't disappear though, it leaves a slightly raised clump in the soil of our minds, a braille mark that we can rediscover as our psychic fingers scan our psyches for information in the future.

(Illustration by the magnificent Lou Beach)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Birds and Bees...

Extra, extra! Tomorrow morning the entire colony of Africanized killer bees will be evicted from the walls of our home and relocated to a proper hive on the premises.

They've been in there almost a year just a few feet from our bed. If you put your ear on the wall you can hear all 200,000 of them maintaining their little bee economy. Don't they get tired of honey? (I'm sure there will be lots of it)

You may or may not know that we are already chicken keepers (ok, more like uncle and auntie chicken keepers since we just enjoy them). Our plan is to become beekeepers. Our beloved compound-mates (the true chicken keepers) have purchased the hive and we're all reading up on the art and science of beekeeping. The hive will be located just outside the window I look out of every morning. I'm excited to have this busy bee airport (WAX?) to consider in my waking moments from now on...

And if you're wondering, only five stings in a year, and that all happened at once to one person with a lawnmower and a distracted mind. In fact, they're very gentle and are more likely to land on your arm lick some salt and fly off for something sweeter.

Look for full coverage of the wall excavation and colony transfer on Hypnogogic Zoo tomorrow...

("Birds and Bees" by Paul Gachot)

Monday, February 01, 2010

The soul is not a billboard...

I walked down the dark Venitian alleyway sporting my sleek new Nano iPod. The music was good. Really good. I began to stride in step with the beat. The night was taking a new form. Rhythms attached themselves to the darkness. I began to swagger. I began to swiggle. I began to strut. By gods, I was practically dancing when all of a sudden, I was reminded of those unbearably annoying and shopworn Apple ads for the iPod. People dancing in silhouette against brightly colored backgrounds. You know what I mean...

Advertisers should never appropriate our private moments.

They may think they're being relatable or winning us over because they "get us"... The accolades from other mad men may roll in and the fat salaries may appear justified...

But you know and I know, it's beyond invasive, it's a rusty nail hammered into the center of a muscle cluster. Suffice to say, my private moment of motion was raped in an alley by the ghost of an insipid ad campaign. I was so derailed, I almost threw that shiny new iPod into a dirty yard full of barking boxer dogs. But I wouldn't let them get the better of me and this very nice little piece of technology. No...

Sarah points out that some people probably need the vibrant example of Apple's jolly dip-shit ads to act as a sort of proxy for the joy they will never experience in their own miserable lives (Probably because they're working so hard to get a job at Apple.) Contemplate that doomloop, will you?

I'm not embarrassed to tell you that I was dancing in the streets. I'm enraged to report that this primal human experience was made rotten by Apple's wormy marketers. Advertising may be the lesser of many evils in our world, but let's, for a moment, not use that fact to justify or even excuse the greedy commoditization of our private lives.