Movie Madness

The recent nuclear catastrophe unfolding in Japan right now brings me back to the time of the Japanese ghosts crying out to me. This comes at a moment when I am releasing myself of grieving for another dear friend.

I recently watched an old sixties movie called Crack In The World, a film I’d seen as a very young child and then later as a college punk. A dying scientist tries to tap the molten interior of earth to create a source of energy and minerals for industrial purposes, under the guise of “helping humanity”. Instead, he initiates a rapidly spreading crack in the crust of the earth that threatens to split the planet in two.

It strikes me as prophetic how movies such as this one, or Godzilla, warned us decades ago of the dangers of striving for Atlantean power beyond our wisdom as a species to use. Do the scientists who are possessed by satanic rationalism, or the government figures that puppet dance the industrial aristocracy’s interests ever get the message?

Long presaged in our dreams and made manifest in a work of cinema to show us the intention of the unconscious in response to the mindless savagery of our owners. A behemoth from the depths or perhaps the earth-shaking birth of a second moon grant us a glimpse of the suffering yet to rise from the depths of our own ignorance.

It’s all a moot point now. The industrial age is coming to an end and there’s not enough uranium or money to keep the madness going any longer. As the whole farce decays into rust, the big question is how many more accidents, how much more contamination before the nuclear energy dead-end goes the way of the Betamax?

The movies were right. Add a dose of humor, the enthusiasm of a child, or heroic sacrifice on the side of life and we might survive ourselves long enough for the super-predator to let us live to die another day. Maybe the point of it all was not to succeed, but to get to the next rest stop by doing whatever it took to keep on holding on.

Disasters force us to look at ourselves honestly, require that we confront the shadows we have pretended live in others. As I burn a stick of incense and say a prayer of grace for my departed friend Yoshie Izumi, I also look my own gruesome shadow in the eye with compassion.

Thank the living spirit for my stupidity! There may yet be hope.

I’ve gone on about the Count before, and it’s no secret that I admire what that undead dude does for the sake of civilization. This time, I’m going to go way out there and let people know what I’m all about.

There’s this DVD that came out, known by the illustrious title of Every Other Day Is Halloween. Basically, the changeable and fantastically talented core of which Count Gore is but one manifestation—near as I can tell an ordinary human being known as Dick Dyszel—is admitting the passage of time in order to let his story be told.

The movie on this disc tells the story of how Mr. Dyszel found himself a central figure in a local broadcast station, playing several inspired characters, before the forces of mediacrity moved in and demanded tribute in the form of the bottom line.

Along the way, you see how Mr. Dyszel inspired people with his individual and honest outlook, as personified by the characters he played and the shows he hosted—Bozo the Clown, Captain 20, and Count Gore De Vol.

Certainly, there are other folks behind the scenes who contributed to this outburst of creative depiction on local programming. And the spirit of the seventies no doubt played a part in what locals in the Washington DC area remember fondly as “better times”.

Peak times to be sure, and total respect to the unsung efforts of those who get things done, but it always starts with an individual carrying a vision, or a talent, or a way of existing in space-time that shows us what we have lost.  How to adjust our course and return to ourselves.  The true genius constellates those talents and circumstances necessary for raising our consciousness.

So what experience do you get when you buy into this examination of an inspired man’s exploration of himself for the betterment of the community?  Quite a lot, actually.  Though, with any localized phenomenon, there are going to be experiences that only those who lived through it will get.

However!  Keep in mind that the treasures waiting to be discovered are in and of themselves examples of the finest art and of inestimable value to those who seek insight.  Surprises and secrets await those who quest with an open heart, who can hear what has gone before and dare to recreate what may yet be again.

The cover itself is an enigma easily dismissed as an attempt to downplay the contents—Count Gore presenting a can of steaming offal and garbage, while caricatures of other horror hosts float around the vapors with comical expressions. Horror hosts have often hidden behind a veil of humor in order to make their performance less threatening and more acceptable to societal antibodies.  This is activism at the base—always speak in the terms familiar with the audience you find yourself before on any given show.

Look more closely though, past the sadness that is self-depreciation and see the truth behind the images. One has only to know that in many fairy tales it is the worthless thing—the junk—that one finds the most important things of all.

If the hosts are masked in humor, one has only to know that we the audience are always the biggest joke of all.  In that realization there is humanity and redemption—the host always throws us the viewer back upon ourselves to realize the awesome horror and painful glory of being alive.

Opening the case, one cracks open a casket of horrors, yet also proclaims that they live! Passing beyond the threshold, one finds a Channel 20 Club card amongst the expected insert and disc. Yes, there is something of the child in all of us who desire to belong to wonders great and beautiful.  In the local DC area programming of Channel 20, such cards were a visible sign of divine power and a reassurance that magic was abundant.

That the coprorate centers of power regularly co-op such toys of civilized play to encourage “loyalty” to mechanized food outlets is proof of their inherent inventiveness.  Artists, entertainers, and magicians all know the way to reclaim such treats, for is not the card part of the trickery that conceals the true magic in the mind? Beyond a doubt, Captain 20 knew the card trick to remind us how such small things matter.

The disc itself contains the movie, and a veritable infectious fungal colony of extras.  Most of these will be of easiest value to those who remember. Yet pay attention and you will see how improvisational television programs work. How character and setting contribute to situation even in a fluid dynamic such as a studio for viewers.

Variety acts thrive on this sort of transformation—commercials, contests and cartoon blocks are mere forms to be molded and rearranged at will.  Green muppet mutants, friendly adults dispensing worthy advice from the heart, or showing manga style programs way before the mainstream caught on—these are the stuff of which legends are made manifest.  Do we not save the world as audience when we remember ourselves, or as performer when we remind others with our smoke and mirrors of the human spirit?

The movie itself contains a story of an intrepid entertainer’s journey from rough ore to final realization.  What strikes me most is how grounded and ordinary Mr. Dyszel appears. One can almost see the grandiose and unstoppable force of his shadow as personified by Count Gore De Vol lurking in the background.

Is that not the supreme mystery and absurd irony of our times?  That only in the nicest and most unassuming of men could a creative force arise to spark the flames of a thousand and one hearts?

When one is confronted with the simplicity and utter banality of a sock puppet wearing a chef’s hat speaking kitchen wisdom to us with the utmost sincerity, do we not believe?  It speaks volumes for the depths of our own souls, whether we respond with kindness and smiles or turn away in revulsion.

Pity those who see only the surface and not the invention of a lone soul progressing his art beyond a mere tool.  They are the unfortunates consigned to make programming decisions from a vast distance.

Another key point worth noting is how the story progresses into the horror host phenomenon.  This is where Mr. Dyszel fumble-foots into a trove of glittering gemstones and becomes part of a signifier for a deeply relevant art form’s transmutation.

Exiled from mainstream television, only to return and finally be banished again, Mr. Dyszel would seem too nice to survive such a crushing blow as the loss of all he held dear—the beloved figurehead of a local television station yanked from the stage, how contemptable!   Nevertheless, Mr. Dyszel continued his exploration and found in himself the ability to manifest studio in a backpack.

As a result, Count Gore spread his creative power into the Internet, and now no longer needs the station to transmit.  Vanquish the shadow, and he returns again in a new form requiring that we reckon with him once more.  We cannot escape ourselves!

The Internet allows everyone and anyone to be both host and audience, without the coercion and repression one finds in the structure of an impersonal system of power.  Such an environment is a natural breeding ground and salon for a revivification of what can only be termed a capsule of catharsis through the ceremonial experience of violation.

Mr. Dyszel’s successful exploration of the ideas within his passionate being speaks for itself.  To invent his own show regardless of the trauma and set himself firmly at the next foundation of where all culture will be transmitted in the future?

It is nothing less than stunning.

The movie ends with the closing of a former door and the opening of a new portal to worlds undreamed of.  It’s a whole new shared creative space.  One might say the monster not only survived, but lived to help spread the horror of a profound mystery to those who will come after us.

The horror host movement seems poised at the edge of a vast unmarked frontier.  What the practitioner-audience hybrid will make of it is hard to say—anything goes now.  There’s enough history now to form an idea of how things work out of countless trailblazed innovations.  The reactions of those who are themselves following personal visions as hosts are worth studying.

For example, I see in the easygoing testimony of Jerry Moore—who manifests as the outrageous Karlos Borloff—an affection for what Mr. Dyszel has accomplished.  He gained strength from the things he learned by experiencing himself at play with Count Gore on the tell-a-vision.

It’s enough to make me believe that the medium of late night horror shows not only has returned in a renewed form, but in a sense is better than ever before.  One has only to see the de-atomization of the community and the rapid sharing of ideas to see a strange solidarity emerging.

An ancient form of performance taking shape before our very eyes. Watch the movie and learn how profound changes in the world transform the way we experience ourselves as people. That we should owe our very life and soul to a vampire as channeled by a wandering artist of great destiny is truly a miracle of the age.

The key question is: “Did he meant to do that?”  Was it part of the act, this death-defying leap into the future? Before you can stop thinking again, the Count is before you, telling a horrible joke to bring it all back around again.

When I was a young boy, one of the places I loved to browse were stores with aquarium supplies.  They always had these cool knick-knacks you could put in your aquarium, from pirate treasure chests that bubbled to giant cliff sides with lots of hiding places for fish.

One time my folks bought me one half of a shipwreck set.  The set was of a sea galley in two pieces, presumably cracked in two because of a fire, an explosion, a pirate attack, or just hitting the rocks.  It could be any or even all of those!

I wanted the complete set, but my folks didn’t have enough money.  I went for the front half, with it’s detailed but fragile anchors and broken masts.  Assuming you set it up in an aquarium, a lifeboat flipped up when bubbles from an air hose collected underneath.  The figurehead was a gold, bare-breasted upper torso of a female figure.

I can remember the time as if it were yesterday.  The aquarium shop by the seaside, near the fish market.  The greedy unwrapping of my new toy, to be set in with my group of undersea toys and prizes.  Deep sea diving was a meditation I learned young.

Years passed, and the ship began to break apart and lose pieces of detail work.  One day I pulled the superstructure apart and broke the parts into smaller pieces.  That was the end of the toy.  But I kept one small piece—the figurehead, her breasts bare and her elbows pulled back as if she were thrusting forward into the waves.  She resided in The Box, waiting.

When I was a young man, my heart was broken and the life I thought I would live turned out to be a total failure.  Broken, lost, dazed; I wandered until the movie Titanic came out.  There on the temple screen of the last days of popular movie going, I connected with an experience that spoke to me of the failure of my life.

I grieved.

Down into the depths and broken in two, a mystery unknown stored within her submerged halls for all time.  Davy Jones triumphant, and I alone carried on to tell the tale if ever I regained some modicum of wit.

Yet the dreaming, yearning hope of what nothing remained moved me on.  Marking and remarking my tread with the scent of bitter tears until the voice of the unexplainable made itself known to me.

Failure is exploration, it said.

No longer a young man, I awoke, the gold of salvation on my hands and a numbing frost melting into my lips.  With the aching hunch of a starved prisoner I shrugged off rusted chains and stood up out of a cairn of stone suitable only for the dead.

A provident vision of a broken ship in two pieces from my youngest days, but the temptation is to turn away—imagining it childishness to desire what is so easily within one’s grasp now.  And a little fear, of losing again and of falling down back into the darkness.  To believe with one’s own eyes, yet to cringe away for uncertainty in one’s own worthiness.  Still longing, I convinced myself it is enough to see; this shall sustain me.

I had work to do, and with the talent of deep sea diving did what was meant to be done, rightly so.  These responsibilities I approached and accepted despite the lack of confidence, for if not I then who?  My ears might be inadequate, yet still I hear and listen.

Again, the vision, reduced price in a different place.  With signs from the intuition speaking loud and clear.  To shake off my last hesitation and accept is like lifting a mountain, moved.

This is my soul, my life, broken in pieces yet now whole and together as a secret treasure of the deep.  Where mysteries are found and solved.  Washed up on the shores of my being for me to behold and consider.

The Titanic is razed, and raised, rebuilt as miracles of inner healing take place.  My bruises are made clear; my dirty clothes wiped clean and my cuts sealed over with the softest of care.  What was unmendable has been renewed.

K and I meditate on this strange wonder.

Of course, as cool as the Robotech anime was for me back in the day, what has that got to do with the here and now (such as it is)?  Fear not intrepid reader, for I shall reveal more.

I mentioned that I had kept my die cast metal SDF-1 in part one.  I took it with me to college as a protective talisman.  During times of stress, it helped me to imagine I was the commander of the space defense fortress, fighting off the invading problems of my life.

The toy-as-talisman, or security blanket, encapsulated several reassuring images for me.  While being a military vessel it also contained the citizens of Macross Island, who had rebuilt their destroyed city within the ship.  They grew crops, manufactured goods, and engaged in trade with one another as the ship pursued its course back to earth.

There’s an element of Lost In Space inherent in the image, as well as a Noah’s Ark archetype at work.  The whole of humanity contained within a protective vehicle that manifests all their needs as it transports them to a new state of consciousness.

In the series, most of the population of earth gets destroyed during the final Zentraedi attack.  It’s the unlucky refugees who are isolated from their old life on earth who primarily survive to continue humanity in the new intergalactic world.  Bad as that recycled air and water must have been, it beats being atomized by reflex cannon bombardment from orbit!

Not exactly a wholesome or reassuring reality when you think about it.  The archetype still captures our imagination, however.  Battlestar Galactica used it’s titular spaceship as the flagship that rallies the survival of humanity in the fleet.  Starblazers used the Argo as the means by which the crew accomplishes their goal of restoring earth.  The Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey brings humanity in touch with the alien intelligence of the monolith at Jupiter.

The ship as the transport vehicle through the unknown or the unconscious (represented by the sea or space), carrying with it the experiment of humanity from one state of awareness to the other.  The whole package by default carries with it all that is needed.  As they say, wherever a human being goes they carry themselves with them!

You might say that these ships are all small imitations or intimations of the biggest ship of all, the earth.  These ship-tales echo our own world experience by bringing the grand affair into a more comprehensible field of form.

So while I’ve been making use of these popular tales, from Star Trek to Robotech, I’m getting the feeling that it’s time for me to consider what my own, personal, individualized form of the ship-tale is.

If this were an ocean based exploration I’d choose a submarine, something closer to Voyage To The Bottom Of the Sea or 20,000 Leagues Beneath The Sea.  One could make it an earth adventure, and then get something akin to At The Earth’s Core or The Last Dinosaur.  Outer space could mean the vast strangeness of Space: 1999 or long struggle and searching of Lost In Space.

Countless environments, phenomenon and consciousnesses waiting to be experienced and meditated upon.  All worthy and interesting explorations to me.

Trouble is, what will I pick?  Perhaps I will build something from the ground up, exploring what components the experience consists of through discovery.

Stay tuned!

061_the_new_literacyAll right, enough already!  The sexual tension between these two forms is driving me nuts.  Nobody buys this mutual dislike as anything but a prelude to getting a room and making babies.  Get on with it!

For a long time we had a bunch of privileged intellectuals manufacturing consent by dividing the peanut butter and the celery between LIT and RACY, also known as high and low literature.  The “stuff that matters” from the unwashed laundry of the masses who don’t count because they are the bewildered herd and must be told what to value.

Along comes the E in Ebook and all of a sudden Pbooks are revealed for what they are—form, not the actual consciousness that inspires culture.  The entire social control mechanism that maintains access to distribution to consciousness is laid bare.  People naturally begin to ask questions, particularly those in the bewildered herd who have never known expression before.

That delicious E is the hammer in the Apple ad.  Thor’s hammer, the bolt of the storm that is the Aquarian lightning age, connecting thought.  The contact that is the point of all literature both high and low, author and reader touching each other, both one and apart, oscillating in response.  AUM.

In that moment of explosion, she joins the LIT and the RACY into LITERACY, one of the more stunning discoveries of this medieval age of thinking.  Now paper (earth) can be thought (air) and vice versa.

This is an unavoidable revolution in consciousness occurring right before our eyes.  As this bolt of electricity strikes earth and ignites a firestorm in the forest of paper, a lot of people are going to have to flee for their lives as their comfortable burrows and nests burn to the ground.

Make no mistake; this is a painful thing for a lot of ordinary folks who depend on the old growth forest for their lives.  But understand those who welcome the change as well as those who cringe in the foliage.  Everybody, and I mean EVERY BODY on any side of the fence is in on this.  We all get to participate as the forest burns down around our ears.  Open your heart and listen to the things you haven’t heard.

I emphasize with the struggle; those about to be hurt by the flames could be me, or someone I care about.  I’m excited and terrified both—where do I run?  Where do you run?  Who is already cut off from the lake—wait, is this the dry season?  That cave a safe haven or a future oven filled with smoke?  What is right action?  Shock the monkey!

It is a time for fear.

The copyright-royalty model is outdated and inefficient.  It is primarily a system for putting access to the forms of consciousness into the hands of concentrated centers of impersonal power, justified by projecting an image of the properly compensated and approved artist for their labors.

Don’t delve too far into that model—for every lucky artist you’ll find thousands ripped off, their rights in the vault of some conceptual entity that doesn’t count as a moral agent.  The millions who don’t get to participate at all because only “artists” can do that stuff?  They get to pay to know what they think.

Alternate economic models and mechanisms of access have been out for years.  Novels were the death of real books, just as recordable audiotape was the death of records and libraries would destroy bookstores.  Those with privilege, who stand to lose the most by sharing, always cry bitterly when community insists that people raise their standard of living more humanely.  Specialists are going to have to share their space with more generalists.

Access to data is still affected by class.  The decline of fossil fuels and rare metals leads to a cage match between military contracts and consumer electronic manufacturers.  The iron rule of oligarchy always obtains.  But humans are naturally moral and strive for freedom.  The human condition is nature’s way of making us figure it out.

The Kindle and the iPad are already ancient history.  You think that’s what the kids are using?  I’ll let that one be a surprise.  Developers hate Apple.  Who is going to put Ebooks in the hands of starving villagers with a credit card?

The price for everything is inflated.  People want what they want now and they want to pay what they want to pay.  You going to tell the vast majority of mindless beasts how to think?  Good luck!  Prices will have to fall and the money to be made will shrink.  Subscriptions and proprietary ala Carte tollbooths are yesterday’s memories.  Get used to it, what you think is right doesn’t matter.

How are you going to control the exchange of thoughts?  No, seriously?  Actions can be directed with a truncheon or a lawsuit, but you going to tell people what to do with their thoughts?  Even brutal dictatorships let people think what they want as long as they obey.  Rust always trumps the iron rule in the end.

Nobody can predict the future.  If you think that’s what I’m doing you aren’t paying attention.  Invigorated by the conflagration, the forest will grow back.  The new life is always greater than the old.  The status quo is death; plenty of new species will migrate to fill the void.  That’s the scary thought—who will be the new neighbor?  Won’t you be my neighbor?

The playing field gained a new dimension as well as a new form.  This isn’t squeezing anything out; it’s rather that the old way of doing things is not going to dominate any more.  It will have to content itself with being a smaller fraction of a greater whole.

Yes, this means even the crap gets a say.  Or do you mean “the crap we don’t approve of”?  I say let the crap hounds have their say and show us what they got.  If they can’t ante up they’ll make for some fine fertilizer in the new forest.  Freedom of speech means the right to participate alongside the great names and have your turn to speak—look at any sportscaster program with call-ins.

All of us start at the Level Zero crap hound bottom.  Never forget we all begin in ignorance and grow according to many variables outside our conscious control.  It’s in all our interests to create ecosystems of variable creative exploration.  It’ll do both the wizards and the crap hounds some good.

Physical objects are totems to show allegiance.  Don’t underestimate that.  Also keep in mind that whatever is not nailed down is mine and whatever I can pry loose is not nailed down.  Thoughts want to be free, so let them be so!  Air always escapes a prison.  The point is to hook up people who have an affinity with your thoughts and gratify them with stuff they actually want.

Youth culture is already doing this.  They grow up with everything that ever was at their fingertips, creating their own wants and satisfying their own curiosity.  Literacy is exploding like a thunderbolt.  Get out of the way if you can’t lend a hand.

Doomsday fantasies of resentment can eat my shorts.  We’re already there.  The hum of the lightning age moves through an emerging electro-agrarianism that will bring both a shadow we’ve never encountered before and a worldwide literacy the likes of which cannot be conceived of.

Just wait until you see the child Pbook and Ebook make together.

The hybrid is the message of the savior of humanity, believe it!

056_avytarThis one’s for Liephus.

Preliminary Note:
I went to see this flick on a matinee and all I can say is dang!  $7.50, plus $3.50 “3D charge”?  That was 22 bucks for K and I.  Talk about fleecing the customer.  The theater was about 80% full, which isn’t bad for a Sunday afternoon and six weeks into the release.

As a result of the high prices, I saw very few people buying concessions—way to keep the theaters in business Hollywood!  K and I smuggled in a water bottle and crackers.  May both the theaters and Hollywood burn in the fires of Eblis Tech.

K knew this already, but I was very surprised to learn that you don’t necessarily get new 3D glasses when you see the movie.  We both got used pairs.  Luckily, K brought antiseptic wipes and we cleaned our allotted pair.  Sure hope the person before me didn’t have a cold or worse!

Okay, okay, recycling.  I get it.  But what if I wanted a souvenir?  What if I wanted to bring my pair back to another showing, in case the movie was so awesome I had to see it again?  I don’t care about the “3D charge” always being tacked on, but if I pay I want to keep the glasses.  Let me decide if I want to give them back for re-use.

They were obviously used too.  The lenses were scratched and blotchy around the edges.  But the worst indignity is that the glasses have anti-theft devices in the plastic, so you look like a moron if you try to remove them from the theater.  Dude, I’m renting somebody else’s glasses?

So at the end of the film I stomped mine into several pieces and kicked them across the floor.  Childish, I know.  But it ticked me off.  Way to make me feel positive about the 3D experience Hollywood!

Technical Analysis:
Okay, so the big selling point of the film is the visual effects.  What else has Hollywood got these days?  Certainly nothing remotely near a good yarn, that’s for sure.  I’d say my visual experience was a mixed bag.

When the 3D visuals work, they work beautifully.  The depth and disassociation of immersion are really something.  I believed I was seeing another world and I felt myself plunging in.

Unfortunately, one thing 3D does not do well is breaking the screen barrier.  When it happens, it throws you out of the movie and you have to start over.

For example, I’d be rushing through a forest with the main characters and then a fern frond or an insect would move too far out of frame and towards the audience in an awkward way, reminding me that this is just a movie with fancy tricks to distract you from looking too closely at the story.

Quite frankly if this is as good as it gets after 170 years of the technology (Stereoscopy was invented in 1840!) then these limits will never be surpassed.  Regardless of high definition or whatever super realistic photo-realism you throw at the audience. It’s an illusion of depth, not actual depth.

One must always remember that the main vehicle of immersion is the audience members themselves—we fill in the blanks psychologically and naturally.  But when the line is crossed the spell is broken.  I just didn’t feel this medium has been mastered enough to make a push for 3D being the savior of the movie industry.

It’s hard to judge the computer-generated effects, particularly the giant blue cat people.  Again, it’s a mixed bag.  The 3D effect masks a lot of problems that might be more glaring in a non-3D version.  I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the action of the characters and forget they were just advanced polygon conglomerations.  But during slower scenes the characters at times seemed off to me.

Mainly I found my eyes growing tired two-thirds of the way into the movie and I just stopped noticing the 3D effect because I didn’t care anymore.  About that time my eyes also started to water a lot, which made me chuckle.  I wonder if those next to me were wondering why I was crying when the “super evil no doubt about it he deserves to die” bad guy finally was killed!

My thought is that the 3D did best when the movie was in nature mode—the National Geographic style exposition scenes really stood out.  The computer graphics worked best when there was lots of action, but not so well when characters were hanging around talking.

The Meat And Potatoes:
It’s an average movie, made remarkable by the fact that:

  • The dying movie industry has been churning out mostly poor material for a while, and
  • It relies on the “event” gimmick of 3-D, reminiscent of carnival attraction psychology.

There’s precious little that’s new or groundbreaking in the movie.  The world of the humans is pretty much cribbed from the dark realism of the Alien/Aliens/Outland vein.  The world of the giant blue cat people is spectacular to behold, but we’re never allowed to immerse ourselves in it for long.  The movie has an agenda (save the planet) and nothing is going to get in its way.

I seriously expected Michael Jackson to step out of a trapdoor and stand in front of the huge bulldozer plowing down the magic trees.

Which is funny, because if this were a real science fiction film, it would focus on the “shock” of the premise—humans becoming aliens to infiltrate and weaken them in order to exploit their world.  What we get instead is fantasy, specifically the tried and true romance melodrama of the wounded hero who suffers indignity so he can inflict revenge on the source of his pain. It’s all about the sensationalism.

The criticisms of the film I’ve read focus on the characters and setting as if they were literally real.  Watching the film, I couldn’t help but think it’s a case of most people being unable to distinguish between psychic, non-real facts and non-psychic, real facts.

To say that this movie is Dances With Wolves meets The Battle For Endor, or another story of “white hunter saves noble savages” misses the point entirely.  It only scratches the surface.

I mean, there’s nothing plausible about this movie at all.  It all takes place in the unconscious on a symbolic level.  Any relation to the real world is only in the most superficial way.

You have human reason using the psychological constructs of cloned surrogates, mechanical exoskeletons and various forms of missile-firing VTOLs to invade the primordial unconscious.

The giant blue cat people aren’t people at all.  They’re superhuman beings that exist in the unconscious.  One has only to watch them walk through the neon glows of their environment populated by chimerical amalgamations of real animals and realize one is viewing numinous material.

In the unconscious all beings are by nature linked by the collective.  It is the cloned surrogates, the avatars that allow humans to become hybrids and cross over into the unconscious.

What’s most disappointing to me is that this movie doesn’t depict any raise in consciousness at all.  Ordinary people get to live back home on a “dead world” (the real world), while the big decisions get to be made by corporate and military officers, with scientists in the background as advisers as long as they say the right things.

But it’s all hopeless.  The unconscious always wins in the end and human reason is annihilated—sent back to earth as POWs while the giant blue cat people get to continue living in the paradise of unconsciousness.

The movie begins with the main character watching his twin brother incinerated—a scientist representing the highest form of reason and the main character’s own connection to humanity—and ends with him abandoning his real body for a regression into the unconsciousness of infantile existence.  It’s a bleak statement on the human condition that is safe, boring, and done to death by better movies with a fraction of this movie’s budget.

In a metaphorical sense the movie is not too far from the truth.  The designated carriers of our own worst qualities are pressing dangerously into unknown territories from which tremendous natural forces might be unleashed to tragic effect.

Environmental catastrophe is a real danger, as is our running out of hydrocarbons with which to fuel our unchecked advance into the farthest reaches of outer space—so we can avoid inner space.  But the movie never engages with these issues at all.

“Unobtainium” (the goal of the “bad guys”) is a good term—it doesn’t exist and it never existed.  The whole military industrial complex is headed for a brick wall and all of us will be paying the price in work not done on ourselves.

The magicians of aboriginal populations have been using avatars for millennia.  They at least have the good sense to come back and use what they have learned to help real people.  Nope, not this movie.  Our hero is on a one-way ticket to the faerie realms.

The people back home have no clue what just happened.  The soldiers, suits and scientists haven’t learned squat.  The fortunate few who have “gone native” and fight for the giant blue cat people all die.  The giant blue cat people are embittered by their experiences and now hostile.  The main character abandons his real life body for a supernatural one—just like when one becomes a vampire!

The modern savior as embodied by the hybrid is discarded.  Nobody wins.

But if you are looking for an action flick that sells a vision of the powerless rising up to defeat their oppressors—psst, hey kid, rent these plastic glasses and go in that tent.

The fatal flaw of this movie is that it gets in it’s own way.

When the story is allowed to just happen it’s fun and engaging.  But too often the 3D, the computer graphics, the main character’s narration, the sudden attacks of  slow-motion (which always kick you out of the action)  and the rush to tell three complex acts in three hours—all serve to remind us we are watching a movie.

There were several scenes that cried out to be left alone to develop longer.  Too often I found myself letting go, only to cut to a scene that was painfully tedious or unnecessary.

Scenes like the main character’s first experience of his avatar (the joy and freedom of a supernatural body), the exploration and losing of his way in the forest as day turns to an alien blacklight night (departure of the hero into the unconscious), and the dizzying heights of the journey to the nests of the banshees (letting go of one’s earth-bound limitations and transforming them into spirit).  Great stuff.

Then the movie would trip over itself with an out-of-the-blue scene, like Colonel McEvil making a speech to the generic evil mercenaries using Iraq war references. JUST IN CASE I DIDN’T CATCH THE MOVIE’S DRIFT.

Because you know, American movie audiences are stupid and need to be told everything. They can’t make associations using their imagination, why the very idea is ludicrous!

The movie never turns off the Exit signs on this ride; there’s always one around the next corner. Lest you grow alarmed that the Pirates of The Caribbean ride might eat the guests.

Well, after Titanic where can you go but down?

That’s what my friend h-bomb said. I believe she is correct. It’s time to kick this series to the curb and look for the new life that will feed us.

K and I have been watching the original series and made a horrific discovery. The old series is out of print. What is being sold now is the old series with the special effects and opening music revised. Basically, all the special effects shots have been replaced by modern CGI scenes in an attempt, I suppose, to inject new life in the series. Talk about revisionist history!

Dude, the crappy special effects were part of the charm. This is just stupid. Things like the colorization of black and white film, or the re-release of the Star Wars trilogy aren’t audience-driven explorations.

All the coprorate (like my new spelling?) owners have done is made Star Trek more irrelevant. Face facts suits, this golden goose has been throttled to death, you ain’t getting squat anymore, no matter how you re-imagine this stuff.

Well, okay. A livejournal acquaintance (Tweedle Me Deedles!) once did a post about how simplistic and ridiculous the old Star Trek was and I didn’t want to believe him. He’s right though. This stuff just doesn’t hold up anymore, did it ever? It’s headed right for the dustbin of history as a fad. Hek, I’m wondering if Science Fiction itself isn’t headed the same way these days.

Even the reboot wasn’t anything new or different, just more of the same. When you start adjusting the show to try and maintain the interest, the process has entered a recycling sandpit. Each effort thereafter is going to be worse off than the one before. How many people do you know are talking about Star Trek and how “fresh” it is? For goodness sakes, there’s a reason why ideas die and are reborn in new forms. Get on with it already!

The youth aren’t getting drawn in either, they’ve already got their awesome cool dude stuff to hit up for tasty culture goodness AND they can hit it on the old school front as well. There’s no “drawing in a new generation” anymore. The kids are born with it all now.

The bad moments of behavior in Star Trek just seem to get worse as I get older. The solutions to the problems in consciousness just irk me at times, the course of thinking that are pursued. Of course, as a kid I didn’t notice these things quite so much (it was a different collective consciousness at that time). But now, ugh. The flaws just stand out like sore festering zits.

The evil bureaucracy of Star Trek is there right at the beginning. Something that shouldn’t exist at all if this is a “hopeful vision of the future”. The much-vaunted solving of poverty-disease-crime seems to me not a matter of the system now but a result of warp drive energy (dependent upon rare dilithium crystals, oh the resource wars never end). The citizens of the federation enjoy increased standards of living because of the abundance of energy, not because they have rights.

The settler colonialism expressed in “The Apple” episode, made me laugh out loud. Yes, let’s force our way of thinking on the natives because our way is better. It’s somewhere around this time that references start being made to a Prime Directive. Maybe the Prime Directive was coming into being as a means of justification, not unlike the Just War Theory bogeyman is used to excuse violence.

Watching the evil Kirk from “The Enemy Within” attack yeoman Rand in her quarters, followed by the awful post-assault counseling that McCoy gives (with Kirk present and demanding she explain herself!), made me cringe. This is the kind of care that exists in the future? Pathetic. Hard to watch.

The cheap jokes at Spock’s expense—mostly based upon the science officer’s physical characteristics. I mean, okay it’s close friends busting balls for comedy relief. But it still strikes me as unfunny and a bit too much of showing the reptile brain.

Not that the intention of the series creator doesn’t exert an influence. And it should be remembered that the network suits were interfering daily with attempts at making a moral statement. If you consider the times in which this TV show appeared, to even suggest that the crew have a female black officer or a Russian weapons officer was a ballsy move.

There are times when Star Trek does begin to reveal a vision that transcends it’s mediocre reality in-play. When the crew members pursue more compassionate lines of inquiry (trying to understand the Horta in “Devil In The Dark”, or use the translator in “Metamorphosis”) the narrative holds together more strongly. This is true exploration.

The show is not important because of what it depicts, but what it evokes—an imagination of a better future. The seeds of a future society taking root in the present, which for us is now in the past.

I will always love the original series, as broken and simple-minded as it appears now. However, the time has come to re-examine the show, break it into bits and cast it into the flames. We can do better, and we will do better if we try.

A five decade journey that was worthwhile, but now it’s time to dock and see what we’ve learned. There’s more to life than charting gaseous anomalies.

There’s more to the maiden-mother-crone triumvirate of female experience.  There’s actually a fourth stage of existence, just as there are four phases of the moon.  You know, that new moon thing, the dark of the moon, the hidden moon, the unknown where all is night and nothingness.

I went on about Fear of Icky Girl Power a while back, which was an attempt to make sense of the senseless.  You know, trying to understand the unknowable.  I’m talking about not the conscious, or the subconscious or the unconscious—all matters that can be conceptualized and grasped on some level.  But then there’s not just the infinite, but as a friend of mine once remarked, “the infinitely infinite”.

In practical terms we’re discussing the mer-she.  That woman which is completely veiled by the shimmering scales of the unknown and unknowable.  The other three forms of woman are veiled to various degrees but show some human side or character (crescent waxing, full, crescent waning).  Not so the dark of the moon.

This is some serious bad girl stuff we’re talkin’.  Associated with just about every bad thing you might imagine a woman capable of, because that’s all you can do—try to make associations.  There’s good reason to be afraid; not saying you should be unafraid.  But easy to project onto this unknown part of half the population, remain in ignorance, run and hide or try to overcompensate by subjugating and demeaning.

But all you’ll be doing is working out complexes on the other three parts of experience—half fears and mirages of the unconscious acted out by your own shadow, tortured by the rumblings of your fantasies at the back of your mind, or making stupid mistakes because you don’t have the waking tools to focus on day to day external reality.  The unknown?  Who knows?

It’s a futile absurdity, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t obligated to try.  The bad girl pushes us into trouble, and that’s just what she’s a gunna do.  So what if you can only guess, get hoofin’ it, sucker.

Difficult, because the numinous will materialize the unexpected for you.  Hostile rip apart of face and scarred for life, nothing at all but your friends laughing at you and your story of it—whatever it was, or Hek you might just wake up in the living room missing your coccyx.  What you thought you saw is also likely to disappear at your approach or never be found as be encountered.

You see a lot of movies based on encounters with this inexplicable experience.  The Fog (mist full of vengeful zombies), The Thing (extra-terrestrial shapechanger), Prince of Darkness (hostile liquid with psychic powers), Killdozer (machine animating space energy), Nightmare at 37,000 feet (psychic, freezing slime), Bug (swarms of fiery mutant roaches), The Giant Spider Invasion (swarms of inter-dimensional spiders), Return Of The Living Dead (hazardous animating chemical), and so on.

The plots all tend to center around identifying and neutralizing hostile forces previously unknown to our experience.  Maintenance of order through heroic action.  There is something to be said about extraordinary agency for the preservation of the community.  Stories that reinforce ideals of survival are useful.  They do protect the collective psyche from possession by outside forces.

However, it can also serve to repress and stifle creative energies that might be better served towards adaptation.  If you want to tap into survival talk to a bad girl.  But if you want to see what’s been saving our collective butts seek out the biggest baddest girl of all.

I’m talking about the bad girl as supernal super-predator.

  • Absorptive (Devouring)
    Whatever you’ve got, she can take it and you as well
  • Controlling (Possessive)
    She assumes command of anything she touches
  • Infectious (Unrestrained)
    She goes everywhere and anywhere
  • Exponential (Overbearing)
    Her influence grows in size with time
  • Tenacious (Stubborn)
    She never takes no as an answer
  • Disruptive (Difficult)
    She inspires fear and confusion wherever she appears
  • Collective (Conniving)
    She is many, she is one

With qualities like that, she doesn’t need much else, does she?  She knocks over tyrannosaurus rexes for lunch money and invalidates the insurance policies of entire communities on good days.  On bad hair days she threatens all life on the planet!

The typical story throws in a hero (usually male) who discovers another quality of the ultra-bad girl:  Invented Weakness (Labeling).  The plot very often revolves around identifying and exploiting the way of thinking that will diss-empower (I play with words) this ultra-bad girl.

In some cases this just brings everything to a draw until the next sequel (In The Blob she gets frozen until next time).  In others there is a defeat but the knowledge that it could happen again is in the background.  Sometimes the attempt to stop the spread of the ultra-bad girl’s power only delays the inevitable and she returns even stronger (Return of the Living Dead has this kind of doomsday ending).

It could be that nature requires physical laws be followed and thus game-balance be maintained, but I can’t help but feel this is a human conceit.  It’s in our interest to believe in ourselves as being special if it maintains survival.

I prefer to dispel that characteristic as illusion and suggest a possible other characteristic:  Enjoys The Hunt (Capricious).  We are never out of truth, and does not the bad girl hold a mirror up to ourselves? Girls just wanna have fun.

I wouldn’t consider the realities of these movies fun for the participants, but are they not shared imaginary spaces of a certain form, in which we invite the ultra-bad girl to come and play?  To demonstrate to us her amazing power and give us insights into some of our deepest, most terrifying curiousities?

Who wants to be one of her victims?  Would anyone possibly want to watch as she destroys all our feeble attempts at understanding, turning us into corpses at her command so that we might slay our loved ones?

Or rather, is there not something in all of us who finds that exciting and invigorating?  She knows about life, and will teach us if we listen.  Because remember, she lives out there beyond the unknown reaches of what can be conceived.  Coming into our field of experience to scare the Hek out of us and inspire new ways of consciousness.  Bad girl just wants us to come out and play—wanna get crushed, crumbled and chomped?

So hey!  All you women out there:  Become the bad girl you already are.

Even if it’s just throwing mushrooms in the soup because everyone but you hates them and pretending it was an accident if they even notice.

The supernal super-predator ultra-bad girl knows secrets.  She’ll tell you one if you let yourself listen.

The End?

The more I explore and attempt a systematized analysis of the bad girl, the more I realize this is a vast subject matter that defies explanation. I’m on her turf now, and I’m simply going to have to abandon a wholly reasoned perspective (though I will still make attempts at some constellation points).

One could say my even treading here is invoking certain tropes that keep getting repeated. Yeah, I see a lot of bones in the shadowy alleyways and misty marsh corners of bad girl outer boundary sector two-point-two.  Yet, I’m waving my candle around because even nice guys need to be bad boys sometimes, and bad girls know most all of the cool stuff.

You opened the door and extended an invitation, right?  Let the bad girl come in so she can speak and act to assert her vitality.  You’ve got stuff to identify that she can point out.  Stuff that haunts you that you fight:  “I should be angry but…” or “I want to own a horse again but…” or “I need to weep but…”—but but BUT.

Time to recognize this stuff and draw it into your own life because the bad girl is carrying a rejected element in you, for you.  Get ready to chat, cause there’s stuff you can do to get your bad back.

Subversion is her friend
Take a summary of an art form’s schools of thought (for example, genre) and see how it can be infiltrated and corrupted.  We can look at Shojo (Japanese comics for girls) and Shonen (Japanese comics for boys) manga, for example.

Typically, Shojo is composed of daily life from the perspective of the female experience.  A major theme encountered in stories is that of love set against narratives of self-realization.

Usually the stories are set against a backdrop of romance, fantastical worlds, or a typical everyday life situation (living in company housing, for example)—all worthy and good interests for creative enjoyment. Particularly noteworthy is the prevalence of Sentai, or teams of superpowered girls working together.

Shonen tend to cater to what are considered young male experiences—goofball humor, themes of loyalty, and explicit naughtiness.  These take place along backdrops of technology, sports, and heroic adventure.  The role of females in these stories tend to be single, pretty girls.

A bad girl isn’t giving up any of her privileges, but she will transpose as she feels like it.  Put the guys in stories demanding emotional complexity and relational intrigue.  Let the gals into the stories of exploring the unknown and conquering obstacles.  Transposing of the sexes is a common plot device in manga, by the way.

Bad girls with a crew of handsome male robots and gigantic spaceships with cool space gadgetry.  Bad girls playing contact sports in all their brutal, high-stakes action and behind-the-bench struggles for what it takes to be a winner.  Bad girls hunting down werewolves in eighteenth century splendor and rescuing clueless but basically good-hearted guys who need to be protected so they can continue to be single and handsome.

That’s a good start.  But it doesn’t have to be merely mutual transposing; it can be a direct beam-in where the default assumption becomes both genders on the field and the working out of those complications.

Bad girls AND guy space adventurers.  Bad girls AND guy sports-playing—against each other as rivals at times.  Bad girls AND guy hunters in the night saving both standard Joes and good girls from monsters.  Mix it up, stir the stew, do what’s fun…and bad.

Admiration for her bad qualities
Recognize and honor the bad girl for the qualities you like.  Contemplate the things that draw you to want to be like her, and the things that remind you of her influence.  Remember, she’s everywhere—the bad girl has been keeping storytellers in business for a long time.

I think of Maleficent the evil sorceress in Sleeping Beauty.  A withering wit, a spooky castle that reflects her own ghastly outlook (yet functional!), a horde of evil beings at her command, and deadly magic.  Competent, dangerous, fashionable, dramatic, exciting, and complicated—weary at being the only bad girl in the kingdom yet still able to crack a joke.

It’s fun to think of how much havoc she causes on the simpletons in the story.  Who probably wrote it to make her look bad.  Remember that the movie begins with the opening of a book; History is written by the victors (or the hopeful who cling to the folly that she won’t turn up again like the proverbial bad penny).

There’s Pippi Longstocking, who goes where she wants to go, does what she wants to do, and refuses to compromise her freedom.  Super strong, endlessly inventive, unabashedly contrary, afraid of nothing, and always ready with a prank for anyone who takes their authority too seriously.

Oh, to be a close friend of hers like Annika and Tommy!  To disdain all the rules and have unalloyed fun—to accompany a girl so alive and unstoppable as to be a force of nature.

On a less fantastical note, I think of Foxfire and The Devil Wears Prada. In both of these movies the good girl brings herself into the field of the bad girl and forms a mentor relationship with her. In Foxfire, Maddy learns about friendship, loyalty, and courage from the wandering loner girl Legs. In The Devil Wears Prada Andrea endures hardship and challenge under Miranda’s unremitting demands, and emerges tougher and more resourceful than before.

It should be noted that in these two movies, Maddy and Andrea both voluntarily depart their bad girl mentor and strike it out on their own. I imagine they create and shape a power for themselves, strengthened by their experiences. And I also imagine the effect they’ve had on their mentors, for in teaching one learns the last few clues one needs to advance to the next level of awesome.

Telling her story because you can
My grand and wonderfully creative friend Hexe knows a thing or two about bad girls. This last holiday I gave her an Edward Gorey calendar based on various neglected murderesses.

All this past year she’s been taking the murderess of the month and making an artistic creation out of each entry, based on imagining what the murderess’ side of the story might have been.  You could say she’s been studying her subjects and drawing out of them the bad girl for everyone to see and contemplate.

That’s right, every month is bad girl month!

This is a form of invocation—putting yourself at the disposal of the bad girl and giving her a voice.  Bad girls need to recognize each other and realize how much they have in common. Like it or not folks, there are things they can only get from each other.

Pick a form—writing, painting, music; whatever.  Choose a subject.  A particular bad girl or theme associated with bad girls you find interesting.  Dedicate it to your own bad girl and just see what happens.

You got all that?  Because now its time to meet the biggest baddest girl of all.

Reading some practical applications to the Bechdel Test at girlsreadcomics, it occurred to me there is a powerful, transformative scene when you have two bad girls together.  This is where using exercises to recognize patterns is useful.  But there’s another technique—meditations and visualizations which coax out feelings of immersion through mirrored identification.  You gotta have two bad girls.

I’m thinking of that scene from The Fisher King, where Anne and Lydia have a conversation about identity.  The two women share a few drinks together while Anne does Lydia’s nails.  The conversation culminates in this exchange:

Anne: You’re not so invisible. You want a personality? Try this on for size: you can be a real bitch sometimes.
Lydia: (cracks a smile and laughs a little) Really…?
Anne: (smiles) Yeah!
Lydia: (laughs) Wow!
Anne: I know, I know – it feels great!

It’s a moment of eureka for Lydia.  That’s the crux of it—finding the clue which opens up possibilities one is unaccustomed to expressing in one’s self.  Other people can hold up mirrors to us and share ideas we might not be able to obtain ourselves.  Two women sitting together sharing a pastime is a form of legitimate meditation.  It releases the mind so that you can enter a free-flowing state—out of which insights can spark and hopefully start a fire of inspiration burning.

I’m also thinking of the character of Storm from The Uncanny X-Men comic book.  There was a long storyline where she underwent an identity crisis and her powers started to slip from control.  She had been the gentle, life-giving weather goddess for a long time.  Her childhood roots as a thief on the streets of Cairo had become blocked off emotionally and left largely to stagnation.

This personal repression made sense because it was during these early years she developed her claustrophobia after being buried alive under rubble.  She survived by temporarily repressing a trauma.  But now it was coming back and she was getting wilder.  Her powers were truly like a storm untamed.

At one point, in order to save the X-Men she had to challenge the leader of their current foes to a knife-fight for dominance.  The panel where she stares hard, challenging the Morlock leader Callisto to a death-duel, despite suffering from exhaustion due to a super-power induced plague, still burns in my mind.  She returns to her roots, plays dirty, and kills the leader to the shocked looks of her team members.

Later, she runs into a woman mercenary named Yukio during an adventure in Japan (a friend of her teammate Wolverine).  Wild and untamed, Yukio regularly risks her life on unscheduled adventures for the thrill of being alive.  She invites Storm to come along for a night on the town.

For several days they push the envelope of physical danger.  Living only in the moment, delighting in physical prowess (and allowing her powers to roam free of having to “control” them for the team), Storm rediscovers joy.  She laughs out loud as she breaks through her wise, patient “nice girl” personality and finds she enjoys the taste of it.

Storm completes her transformation by openly embracing her bad side and changing her costume from an ultra-feminine, revealing outfit with a cape to a butch, punk-rock leather outfit complete with mohawk.  Stunning.  Her friend Kitty breaks down in tears and runs away, an image of Storm as “nice girl” shattered forever.  But as Storm says herself, “This is who I am.  I won’t hide it any longer.”  She would become the undisputed leader of the X-Men shortly afterward.

(Incidentally, Kitty would embrace her bad girl eventually as well, but that would be later.  Coincidentally, in Japan as well with Yukio making another appearance.)

The bad girl lives inside you gals right this moment, or maybe more properly she exists whether or not you recognize her life in you.  She isn’t going to be satisfied with being relegated to backstage; she’s going to pee in your soup as it passes from the kitchen to your refined restaurant table if you don’t watch out.

The question isn’t “Are you a bad girl?”  The question is “How are you a bad girl?”  She lives.

The next question is, “How are you honoring her?”  She has a right to be felt in your personal life and your work.

By asking these questions and answering them, you are granting her the right to existence.  You draw up a place where the two of you can meet each other halfway.

Because when two bad girls get together, stuff gets done.

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