Friday, March 27, 2009

This Band Has Changed Your Life

For a second I thought Morrissey had drained all the talent out of the British Kingdom, but I have changed my mind. INVASION video introduced to me by Ed Um

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This film, however,... much more interesting. Directed by Ken Loach, who also directed The Wind that Shakes the Barley (depicting revolutionary struggle in Ireland), It's a Free World takes a Brechtian approach to the story of a British woman struggling to make her employment agency operate, whilst exploiting underemployed workers throughout Europe, engaging with illegal immigrants out of a conflicted greed and sense of charity.

The preview, falsely, renders this as a movie about a woman's struggle to control her work force, and all the hijinks involved. It deals to some extent with a lack of choices, a flattening of alternatives, and those who are exploited in the process.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Billy Crudup's Blue Wang

This film is fundamentally terrible:

I think those still beating the dead horse of postmodernism as a meaningful or culturally distinctive discourse tend to like this film with its incessantly ironic hypotheticals (what if Nixon was reelected? what if a catastrophe occurred on the scale of the Cold War?). These hypotheticals are however ironic without critique, there is no central vision organizing the various conflicts at work within this film, besides some generalized disgust with human nature by way of the character Rorschach.

The only thing that does seem to give the film some organizing purpose is its constant display of Dr. Manhattan's (actor Billy Crudup's) CGI enhanced blue penis. This was relatively surprising, but fits into the director who incessantly marvels, in 300, at the vitality and mettle of heterosexual masculinity. What I find a little surprising is that Dr. Manahattan's testicles were not also on display, possibly because their presence would reduce the visual impact of the wang. is offering a Dr. Manhattan inspired blue condom for film enthusiasts.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yerba maté

In an effort to curb the increasing effects of an anxiety disorder by decreasing my caffeine intake I have started substituting black and green teas for coffee, and in particular Yerba maté which ostensibly contains some caffeine, but additionally another stimulate which I find betters suits my needs for focus, and desire not to "tweak-out" after several cups.

Intially I avoided this tea altogether because after tasting the traditional communal gourd of maté, offered to me by my mother's Argentinian ex-boyfriend, I decided that the tea tasted significantly like boiled cigarette butts. Moreover, I love good coffee. The West coast transformed me into an unrepentant coffee snob to such an extent that diner coffee (which, previously, I downed like water) has a flavor of hot soil to me.

But I find maté preferable because it doesn't make me feel simultaneously exhausted and jittery as mugs of coffee tend to do. The only draw back, however, is that the stimulant appear last as long as a coffee might. Also, I've noticed with a little vanilla soy milk, or some honey the flavor can be sufficiently augmented.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Apex or Nadir of Posi-Core?

And then they're tackled by the Fruit of the Loom characters...

"By affirmative culture is meant that culture of the bourgeois epoch which lead in the course of its own development to the segregation from civilization of the mental and spiritual world as an independent realm of value that is also considered superior to civilization. Its decisive assertion of a universally obligatory, eternally better and more valuable world that must be unconditionally affirmed: a world essentially different from the factual world of the daily struggle for existence, yet realizable by every individual for himself 'from within;' without any transformation of the state of fact."
--Herbert Marcuse "On the Affirmative Concept of Culture."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Animals as Cultural Producers

I was recently forwarded this video

of a Lyre Bird, who has the capacity to imitate the sounds in its environment in order to attract a mate. With the incursion of civilization into their territories the lyre bird starts to imitate the sounds of documentary cameras that surround it, chainsaws, and even a car alarm. In effect, according to the voice-over (in the longer version), the lyre bird appears to be singing of its own doom.

In an oblique way, this reminds me of Wittgenstein's query:

"Why can't a dog simulate pain? Is he too honest? Could one teach a dog to simulate pain? Perhaps it is possible to teach him to howl on particular occasions as if he were in pain, even when he is not. But the surroundings which are necessary for this behaviour to be real simulation are missing."

It has been indicated that the capacity of mimicry, in a particular sense, is what makes the human precisely human. The now intellectually defunct Homi Bhabha describes "mimicry" in the colonial context as an attempt to "educate" the colonized into an imitative relationship to the colonist to serve "the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject of a difference that is almost the same, but not quite." This figured proximity between animal life and the "bare life" of humans (as opposed to real or political life) has been commented on by political theorist Giorgio Agamben who suggests that the very basis of the political requires a cut in life, the separation of mere existence from real life, or the human from the non-human. Thus particular lives (human or not) remain subject to the state, killed but not sacrificed.

Whatever we might think of the question of human to animal proximity, the domesticated animal tends to have a quasi-social relationship to the human--it is often integrated into a family structure, perhaps a hierarchy, and it substitutes certain functions of other humans might supply. For example, fronting for your band.

Two hardcore bands recently brought to my attention feature a parrot and two pitbulls producing vocals of sorts:



caninus Pictures, Images and Photos

grindcore act Caninus, recently completing a split with vegan gore-metal pioneers Cattle Decapitation.


After a cursory discussion of the education film and the still image film strip projections, accompanied by taped narration, with some graduate students we tried to come up with some formative "edutainment" films from our youth. We agreed on the film "Powers of 10" which begins at a picnic from which it magnifies outward (and backward) from the earth to the "edge" of the known, and then back in similar fashion, following the same line to the molecules and atoms in one of the picnicker's hands.

Someone in the group observed that the "edges of the known" represented in this way suggests a cultural construction of the boundaries of the spiritual, by way of a heuristic common sense/ideology.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Questions of the Digital Documentary

In Media Res is hosting a series of short curatorial statements and questions that arise with the emergence of the digital documentary. One in particular caught my attention which concerned the human as document in documentary studies. Discussing documentaries capturing the human bodies sliced into thin sections that are serially composed to an interesting effect Dan Leopold queries,

"This transformation of the human body into a set of quantified data (along with the aesthetic beauty of the abstracted images of each layer) suggests a need to re-examine the status of the document. An old question within documentary studies: at what point does an image, sequence, testimony, archival footage become documentary proper and cease to be simply a document – the raw, brut material that traces lived experience? This question arises anew in the face of the serializations, modifications, and simulations available to media producers through the digitalization of the document."

I recommend wasting some time at this site.