Experience

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You’re seated in a crowded movie theater. You, and every other person in that space has entered into an unwritten contract, agreeing to certain rules that guarantee a pleasant movie experience for everyone.  No talking, smoking, or alcohol consumption for starters. If a young child cries or misbehaves, adults remove the child from the theater. No shouting, ‘the butler did it!’ moments before the butler does it.

After opening the door to the theater lobby, the immediate whiff of buttery popcorn instantly abandons our common sense over health concerns, allowing most of us to consume whatever junk we want. After all, we’re at the movies. This is in the contract.

There is something more fundamental, and much more essential, to the unwritten contract than these simple applications. It is the willingness to abandon the expectation of complexity regarding the contents of the movie; plot, character reaction, the expert co-habitation of sound and image to heighten emotion. Since Hollywood movies are really the only movies that matter, abandoning hope for nuance when consistently hit with syrupy endings must also be contractually agreed upon.

Generally, we are content with this contract. It works. We need a place to not think about our lives, a cool, dark, relaxing place we can focus on the lives of people who aren’t real. Feel their unreal emotions, pain, and happiness. Laugh at their silly stupidity. To know, even for a short time, how wonderful it can be to be a criminal, or how cleansing it is to exact murderous revenge. We can trick ourselves into knowing what it must have been like living in the past, or what it might mean to live in the future, even though it’s impossible knowing those things. The word for all this is escapism. For two hours, all we ask is that no one ask a thing from us except to feed us crap and let our minds leave earth.

We leave the theater and step reluctantly into glaring sunlight. Our day-to-day existence is lit once again for us. We squint, perhaps using our hand to shield our eyes from its reality. We try to reflect on what we have just seen for comfort, to re-enter that artificial world once more. Maybe we talk among our acquaintances, to help keep the experience alive. But it’s no use. The brightness is overwhelming, and we simply go back home.

 

Infinite Space

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This world is littered with “artists” hell-bent on performance for its own sake, without the deep contemplation of what it means to be alive in our time. They’re more concerned with how their “art” is characterized and marketed than in examining the interplay of darkness and light haunting us all. It’s far too scary a place, so what normally is produced is nothing close to a reasonable facsimile of a particular artist’s truth.

Keyboardist and composer Mike Fleischman is a musician unafraid to go where he needs to give his audience the broadest picture of expression he can. His brilliant compositions weave the simple and complex until they’re interchangeable fragments of each other. Always full of surprises, he consistantly delivers sound you’ve never heard before, while reminding you that the joy of a beautiful melody (especially his) can be heightened when painted against a rough backdrop of noise.

Mike also creates entertaining collages, and stunning videos to compliment his songs. In fact, he uses video basically as moving collages, which aren’t predicated so much on storytelling, but in creating mood and ideas. I don’t know of anyone who does this kind of thing better. And the best thing about it all? He’s been my friend for a long time.

our sad age of information

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There’s a lot of great work happening in the animation field these days, as you will discover if you continue to read my blog. Many thanks to horror writer Matt Cardin for exposing me to Steve Cutts, who fuses Disney atmospherics with the horrors of modern life. It’s an arresting approach, one that evokes moments of comedy and dread. The mirror he forces us to look into reflects behavior too painful for many of us to fully digest, but is imperative to try if we are to understand the motivation driving our species, and the potential consequences awaiting us should we ignore the danger signs.

This film is called, ‘Are You Lost In The World Like Me?’ After watching, you realize there’s no other choice but to answer ‘yes.’

How To Make A Million Dollars

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Most of us have heard of ‘story arc’, but as Kurt Vonnegut shows, story arc is nothing more than a few simple lines representing pedestrian ideas that must be adhered to at the cost of creativity. And so it goes…

Riders On The Storm

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US writer Frank Bures, author of ‘Geography of Madness’ (2016), gives a glimpse in this video of what all this post-apocalyptic fiction, movie, and television entertainment since the turn of the century might be trying to tell us. It’s easy to always assume that the ‘end of times’ is just around the bend. It never occurs to us that it may have always been here.

Customer Disservice

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The easiest thing in the world to do is to blame others for your misfortune. Easier still is to blame inanimate objects for the treachery of not whisking you away in luxurious speed and comfort through the check out line at the bookstore.

I understood the nature of the small group of people congesting the aisle at the counter. Older, literate, opinionated, and right.  We all waited, in various stages of impatience, for the register computers to reboot, to join the rest of modern technology in making our lives better. Several of these characters had a difficult time accepting their plight, however, rambling on about life back then, and life now. You know, the good old days, when bread was a nickel and the milkman left milk on your porch and the doctor made house calls. Yep, life was sure real then. All you had to do was open a register, take actual money from a customer, and provide change if necessary. The process of human interaction was still in its purest form, with very few moving parts. Simplicity smoothly drove technology along. “It’s that loss of simplicity that’s doing the damage,” the bookstore employee said. “We’ve made life so fast it’s now become slower and more complicated than ever!”

Her categorical agreement wasn’t a surprise. After all, the customer is always right. If a customer vehemently complained that he or she ought to receive a free book for those blasted computers wasting his or her valuable time, their wish should be granted. How dare those evil scraps of plastic bog down a paying customer’s weekend! Why, we’ve created yet another variable of Frankenstein’s monster! What in God’s name have we become?

It didn’t take long for those computers to get this small segment of society rolling again. I plopped my magazine on the counter. Am I a member? Yes. Do I have my membership card? I do. I see your membership card is about to expire in three months. Would I like to renew for another year right now? Nice of you to press on like this, but no. Would I like to save an additional 20 percent today for opening up a store credit card? I would not.

A pamphlet was placed before me with thumbnail images of countless magazines. I knew some of them. Most were foreign to me. Would I like to skim through these, pick three magazines and received a special low rate on each? I most certainly the fuck wouldn’t. I stared out the window to my car, wondering if and when I’d see the inside of it again.

I gazed into the attentive eyes of the bookstore employee. “Remember the good old days when you could go into a bookstore and just buy a magazine without an interrogation?” The group looked at me in bewilderment, which I took as a compliment.

 

 

Be The Camera

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There’s no overestimating the influence William Burroughs has had on modern literature. Probably the greatest writer of the last half of the 20th Century, he has confounded as many readers as he has enlightened. Endowed with immeasurable freedom of expression, he’s a true trailblazer, an eerily perceptive renaissance artist, carving an unconventional path of wisdom for future societies.

After I read ‘Naked Lunch,’ his most renown work, I put the book down and asked myself, “What the hell am I going to write now?” It was as if everything of value a writer could express was snatched away forever, inevitably failing to remotely approach his brute honesty, creativity, and sarcastic truths. Much of his fiction is very difficult to read, but there is always something wonderful to glean with enough patience. His non-fiction is superb, as are his interviews. He’s got quite a presence on You Tube- what I’ve selected here is a great example of his humor and powerful ideas.