Friday, April 27, 2007


so i realize that i need to compress information in tidy ways, at least for some audiences. so, to ease your reading experience here, i've broken out "links" from "blogs." the links are to, obviously, places i like to go, things i like to read. there are also useful links for working in the classroom (i like some of the design sites for sharing elemental design concepts w/ students and colleagues . . . and me). i needn't have explained any of this, but it's something . . . something to move me to write, emergent [the limits of the field of emergence are in its actual expression]. i remember when we were back at USF, learning how to write html code. janice walker was always just beyond . . . she was very patient with me in my near total ignorance. i knew nothing, but i learned a little and put up what i see now as a pretty awful webpage. whatever. i'm still thinking about design and code, but for now, i'm okay w/ the templates, although i'm against them, in theory, as tools i want to be using. it's always a problem of time. and then i wonder, if i really spend eons working on my little films and blogs and websites, do i need to write that book? is this me rationalizing? because i can do that, rationalize it away. and someone is probably already writing the books i've been drafting in my mind, and, to some tiny extent, on pages. for now, i'm happy posting links and thinking about (maybe) what it means via this lyric, from beck's track "lazy flies" . . . "the skin of a robot vibrates w/ pleasure . . . " and i need to make that video for this song because the lyrics move perfectly with not 1 but 2 Werner Herzog films, Aguirre, Wrath of God, and Fitzcarraldo. thematically, there are scenes in these 2 films that simply vibrate w/ something . . . not exactly pleasure, although for both Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, their hopes register an affect that seems like transcendent joy, and, despair. related to the theme of attempting transcendece is Werner Herzog's documentary, Grizzly Man, about Timothy Treadwell . . . i'm moved by the film's content, to be sure, but i'm also troubled (not in disagreement, exactly . . . something . . .) by its heartbreaking reflective voiceover, which Christopher Orr reproduces (along w/ commentary) in his review: "Responding to Treadwell's 'sentimentalized view' of nature after the discovery of the dead fox, he [Herzog] declares, 'I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder.' (Whose soul is supposed to be in turmoil here?) Near the very end of the film, he confesses, 'And what haunts me is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature'" (orr). Orr finds Herzog's reading problematic: "Though his film is ostensibly about Timothy Treadwell, who spent thirteen summers living among wild grizzlies in Alaska before being killed and eaten by one of them in the fall of 2003, in the end it is also about Herzog himself--something that will come as no surprise to those familiar with his work. [. . . ] David Thomson writes that the German-born filmmaker 'is not the ideal documentarian. You feel he has made his mind up about so many things.' This is particularly true of Grizzly Man, which treats Treadwell not only as a subject but as a kind of friendly philosophical adversary. At its most revealing moments, the film takes the form of an argument, between Treadwell's heedless conviction and Herzog's rationalist cynicism, over the nature of nature and the nature of man'" (orr).

another film that explores our desires to transcend is the amazing decasia: the state of decay. you. must. see. it. when i saw it at Sundance a few years ago, the director, Bill Morrison, explained that he chose archival footage (all had to be in some stage of actual celluloid decay) which featured human beings attempting to transcend. so, it opens w/ whirling dervishes . . . there are nuns and children preparing to eat and pray . . . there are people trying to help others in mining & other forms of catastrophe . . . and more. but what's so striking is that these images morph in to and out of clarity, reflecting both in form and content the theme, the truth that we are always, despite our actions, however heroic or spiritual or ordinary, in decay. and while this could be overwhelmingly dark (it is dark), somehow, the film is hauntingly beautiful (thanks, in large part, to the score by Michael Gordon). the film does not aritculate via special effects; it is simply(?) decaying archival footage, edited and scored. there is a clip at the link, above. or here . . . watch.

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