Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reverend... A7


---The last Facebook status of Reverend Omura Ozu – it is suspected that he died in a house fire, but neither his body, nor that of his wife or two children were ever recovered. Their whereabouts are unknown to this day--- 

We have lived to see the days of Christ’s words fulfilled: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.” Mark 13:12 Come, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daughter... A6

---A Letter won in auction by Jafar Pahil's estate, but stolen in transit and released online---

Mother,
I pity you, I really do. And I love you, I really do.

I pity you because you, for some reason, cannot see yet what stood before you. I envy your experience; your proximity to the things that have already come to pass in that place.

I am to be an Observer. I have chosen that side. Do not fear, do not be worried. There is redemption there.

I know that it was Williams that you believed in, and when he lost faith, so did you. But don’t you see? Just because he was the creator does not make him almighty? He was flawed and created the 6 with his own dna. Their search for liberation can also be ours. Though they were born under DESPAIR, they have worked to mine out redemption for themselves and their people. Can you not yet see the beauty?

I believe Thump is wrong. Well, he is right also, but mostly he is wrong. He was the first born, and so carries with him the most of Williams. That’s why H.P. loved him most, you see? We tend to fall in love with those who most exactly resemble our own reflection.

I am certain there is real progress being made there! Not here. Not in the hard world. We can go no further on this earth. The scholars are correct, this is evolution’s course. This is our way to ascension!

I plead with you, Oh mother, come back to us! Don’t let Williams’ fate be your own.

I swear to you, there is so much too see yet! Everyday it grows. Next month a whole new room will be opened! Can you believe it? The anticipation overwhelms me. My blood races. How erotic it all is! It’s so fulfilling, so encapsulating… it doesn’t feel the same way there --- that feeling I have on this side, that partial emptiness, an inward groaning --- it’s gone there. It vanishes! Didn’t you experience it?

I am going there now. I pray someday I’ll meet you again in that place. There are many mansions waiting for you, Mother, if only you’d care to look.

I have much hope for you yet,
Marta

Parenting... A5


FROM PAGE 1


To my son,

Because I don’t know if the truth is there or not.

Because I am not myself wise.

Because I don’t know what answer to give you.

Because I am aging rapidly.

Because I am finite.

I have worked zealously to provide for you a history of the events that began in America and spread throughout the known world. You will, sooner or later, intimately come to know of the need to choose between this earth and that one. You will have to choose between being human and being an Observer. Our people, our heritage, believe it is against God’s will to live out our breath as one of them. I want you to know, as best as can be understood, the linear sequence of events that have led us to this moment in God's time.

I have never gone in there. I have never been an Observer. One cannot be of both worlds, so I have chosen, for your sake, to stay in this realm, the realm we are born into, so that you can know how all things stand from this starting position.

I will never be an Observer. Your mother was never one.

After reading these proceeding pages of history, I grant you the freedom to choose as you so desire. 

 

Your loving Father,
Elijah

Danish Kings


Carl Dreyer's 1955 masterpiece Ordet is finally known to me. I've been wanting to experience this small Danish flick for a couple years now. It was rated the 3rd greatest spiritual film of all-time according to the folks at IMAGE. Before this outing, I was aware of Mr. Dreyer primarily for his silent classic, The Passion of Joan of Arc, which is undoubtedly the most compelling silent film I've ever witnessed.

So what of this flick?

The film is relentlessly driven by a love for its characters. I often wonder at the relationship between creator and character. For those who make torture flicks, I find myself pondering what they think of these poor fictional souls they ceaselessly tear apart. Do they hate them, their very form, or are they merely indifferent? In my simple brain, I think every creator should love his/her creation. Few films exude such a felt love as Ordet does.

Besides the ruminations of the plot itself and where it led me, I find myself transfixed by one throwaway line in the film. One of the core characters is a son who has apparently gone mad. He went to school to study theology, and (perhaps?) returned insane, convinced that he himself is Jesus of Nazareth. When asked what it was that turned his brother mad, Mikkel says, "Soren Kierkegaard".

Kierkegaard is thus shoved into the plot as the impetus that drives faith over religion. I read that the director Carl Dreyer was not particularly religious. This cannot be true, in that all his films deal with heavy spiritual themes. But perhaps Dreyer disdained affiliations with the church. So did Kierkegaard.

But I reckon both Kierkegaard and Dreyer were men of faith. Deep faith.


Bringing these two dead Danes into the present day is Mr. Lars Von Trier. Trier has said that Dreyer is his favorite director.

Von Trier infuriated me with his tribute to Tarkovsky at the end of his horrific (truly so) film AntiChrist. But he is also the director that once gave us Breaking the Waves, which holds within its bosom the most complete depiction adulation of grace I have ever encountered in art.


I think there are two types of people: those who seek out truth, and those who hide from it.

For those who seek out that truth, they experience it as "a terrifying good", or a "deadly light". It appears of these three Danes, the first two have focused on the good, while the third sees only the first death in its brilliance.


Mr. Von Trier's next film is called Melancholia. It's about the world being endangered by another planet. Death is coming. Notice how beautiful Trier's nihilistic films are... so pretty, so precious.

Check the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzD0U841LRM

Social Media... A4


During her ‘silent period’ Marilynn Cash spent six months in a Danish mental health institution for the criminally insane. Her psychologist, Dr. Bosch gave her a computer on March 1st. The computer stayed in Miss Cash’s possession for thirteen minutes. In that span of time she created an account on a social media website, and quickly wrote 28 messages.

The text has been translated from Danish into English and have been numbered for the reader’s convenience.

---------


1: To my dear daughter, Marta: stay warm.


2: Be at peace, if you can. Try not to be curious.


3: I don’t know what will happen to me now. I didn’t do it.


4: I have gone undone for so long.


5: I don’t have faith that I can be put back together again.


6: If I could see you now, if I could talk to you, I would say.


7: Never let go. The real kind. Things can still change.


8: I have no hope.


9: I have so much. Hope.

10: (unintelligible sequence of letters)

 
11: I would never lie to you.


12: (unintelligible)


13: Hope for no more progress, here or there, but especially there. 


14: We’ve come so far, but you have so much farther to go. 


15: Don’t forget about the past, but don’t look too closely at it either.


16: The answers to the secrets are too sunny.


17: Sun and light and brightness. I am scared.


18: I wished for all things. You must wish for less.


19: Help alleviate.


20: Go in, but not so far as I did.


21: And don’t help something you can’t understand. Which is everything.
 
22: The light is so bright. I am afraid. 


23: If I speak, that’s where the fear comes from.


24: Out of words comes forth creation.


25: Can you understand that?


26: (unintelligible)


27: (unintelligible)


28: (unintelligible) …Summer is coming… (unintelligible)


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Audio Portion... A3

--Segment from an audio interview with Jeremy Beaman, stolen from Jafar Pahil's personal collection by an unnamed source.


Mr. Pahil had gathered thousands of hours of audio, video and photographic material for a documentary he was planning on the life of H.P. Williams. He has since abandoned the project, but zealously keeps private his collection.

video

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scraps... A2

Pieces recovered from Mary Elizabeth Broadener's biographical manuscripts.


...room itself, in those first few months, should have been tremendously underwhelming...

...success of the whole endeavor could not have been, at that time, based upon the product itself. After all, what was there really to see? For all the preparation one had to go through just to enter the room with the appropriate equipment, it should have been a letdown...

...maddeningly small, this supposed 'new world'...

The stimulus for the visitor could not be the room itself, but the question posed... 

Those who supposed it was a fraud, could not see answer as to why Williams acted the way he did. It was his devotion to his creation that sold the movement. They came to watch him watch the room...

...everything else seemed inconsequential...

...begged the question...

Some even, and rightfully so, wondered how Williams could even be alive...

... manner in which he ran his life was gobsmackingly dumbfounding...

Williams' relatives spoke not only of his incredible weight loss, but were quick to describe the ways in which they perceived what appeared to them to be structural changes to his form...

Before Clive died, he described his brother... 

...with hair has fallen out and his eyes have both sunk into his skull and somehow gotten bigger at the same time. It's like his body knows that his eyes are the only important piece of his physical body... everything else recedes while his eyes grow stronger, bigger, and deeper."

Some believed that it was still all a fraud, using Williams' near omnipresence in the room as evidence for their argument instead of... 

...that he was somehow controlling 'the creation' with his mind somehow. The contents of the room would then, under such a theory, not be intelligent, but be... 

...while others towed a middle road, convinced that somehow these creatures/or/creature, "as it was in the beginning", were/was possessed by Williams... believing that free-will was possible, but that Williams, fearful, mad, and jealous, was unwilling to release his creation from his grasp... argument broke down when... Williams often chose to stay with the 'Monoliths' --- as they were called then, before they became the renown 6 Fathers --- rather than Thumpthump... 

...theories inevitably broke down...
 
It became apparent to the frequent inhabiters of the room, before Williams knew it himself, that he would never get around to building more rooms. It was sheer fortune that he created in that initial framework an exit door...

Of course, without having the ability to know his creator, Thumpthump was free to imagine his own philosophy of the door...

...mp's own desperate search led his imagination to be the true inspirer of worlds. The history is as much contingent on him and his work as it ever was on Williams himself.







Friday, June 24, 2011

Obligatory Post about Animal Souls

As it stands now, I can't stop the future, and neither can you. Contingent on this reality is the inevitable theatrical release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Have you seen the trailer?



The animal kingdom remains for me, as it has long stood, a quagmire of dumbfounding doubt, obsessive energy, and robust intrigue.

This post is indeed obligatory, for I have had no new revelation on the front of the fate of the animal's soul. To rest my mind in peace, I rest with my default position: death is not the end for our animal brethren. I stake my case on two principles:

  1. God is just, and the destruction of the animal soul based upon man's sin is not a just end for that creature, who was made to glorify God (and enjoy Him forever?).
  2. Christ says in the book of Revelation, "I make all things new" (Revelation 21:5). The fact that we will live out eternity on the new earth I think gives value to the prospect that Jesus' words can be taken literally. All things -- all creatures big and small, will be redeemed from the crutches of death's shattering impact. 
For now, I remain at this place, for it is the merriest of conceptions to embrace... and it makes it so much easier to look that sad neighbor dog in the eyes.

What stands out in this particular Ape-al Planet prequel is not the sense of humanity in the chimps (though that shot of the 'Caesar' overlooking the sleeping couple in bed is horrifically goosebump inducing), but rather, the lack of humanness in the homo-sapiens themselves. Is there anything to be said of this?

A friend of mine today brought to my attention the growing societal idea that gender should continue to be minimized until our collective culture sees no distinction between man and woman. Sure, the idea of a unigender society sounds laughable, but with a doctrinal webbing of postmodernism deeply embedded in our generation, anything is possible. That is to say, that whatever picks up steam will be momentarily victorious. Christianity is not a culture, and we followers of Christ have Jesus' words and the Scripture as a whole as our constitution. Remember Paul's words to the church in Galatia:
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! Galatians 1:8-9 NASB
Our bedrock remains forever the same. This is how we are able to see newer institutions like Mormonism as the lie that they are: different gospels entirely (something apart from grace).

But if we have the Bible, what does culture have as its foundation? Right now that answer is simple: tolerance. More than that, really; it's acceptance.

As a Christian, not only do we hold to Christ as our Redeemer and Savior who shows us into everlasting life, but we must also hold that we are living as God intended us to live. That statutes we value our those the Creator has formed us for. We use our processors as they were made for, we don't jerry-rig the motherboard to use for making straight lines of cocaine. No sir!

The point is the trailer for the new flick seemed to create a sensation that the Apes were more Man than the men in the movie. We don't see evil apes in the promo, but we do see a jackass human dude act all assy like. And just so you know, asses are fundamentally stupider animals than apes. And stubborn. Apes > Asses.

I have the distinct feeling that we'll all be rooting for the apes in the movie. We will root for the uprising against the evil human overlords.

And then the movie will end. Sooner or later I'll have to look at myself in the mirror, and be reminded of what I am.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Something of a Start... A1


For the past two months or so, a new tide of thought has continued to flush itself through my thought life: fiction:: not just any fiction::: fantasy. The strange aspect of the incessantly ungulating notion has been made greater in my mind by the sense that it is important.

Never in my life have I particularly been taken by the fantasy genre. Sure, I enjoy Lord of the Rings as much as the next guy, but I never understood Star Wars obsessions or felt like anything of the like warranted itself as anything more than mere escapism.

Something has changed. I'm not exactly sure why, or what prompted the change. But I can't seem to shake it.

Perhaps it is the notion of 'the road to awe'. What both atheists and many-a Christian appears to lack in this modern age, is a sense of awe. Sure, any of us can stare up at the cosmos and get a sense of how enormous the universe is, but that all tends to get happily compartmentalized in some pseudo-philosophical/sociological/neo-FreudianNeitzcheian moshpit reserved only for quick conversational comebacks when something vaguely profound is needed to fill a gape in the conversational space-time continuum.  It never quite hits home.

 Good fiction (and more severely so, good fantasy) causes the viewer to suspend-disbelief. Me, my atheist buddies, my buddhist gerbil, and the toothless dog from down the street can all simultaneously agree that for the sake of our entertainment, Hobits exist, eat way too many meals, tend to be self-absorbed little creatures (with the exception of the Samwise and Elijah Woods), can be saved from evil volcanic mountains of doom by giant eagles, and can impress old talking trees with their poetic calls to war. BUT bring up faith in God amidst an atheistic ear, and suddenly you've got to disprove the existence of a flying spaghetti monster before you can deal with the Good Lord Himself. Fiction evens the playing field.

Granted, that which falls into the 'Christian Genre' of fiction tends to be more the family friendly, Hallmarkish, mildly-propagandic faire. I'm not really interested in fiction as a vehicle to present Biblical morality. I'm interested in fiction's ability to expand our minds.

And I don't want to go it alone.

I've written in this blog before about the works of both Charles Williams and H.P. Lovecraft. Both dealt with men encountering awe-ful experiences. For Lovecraft, such missions unanimously ended in peril, for he saw the great mysteries of the universe as a "deadly light". For Williams, that mission came to a point as a "terrible good". Although fantasy evens the playing field, in that everyone happily suspends suspicion and skepticism along the way, it still ends in a revelation of one's worldview.

What I'd love to create is a place that moves from the very mundane, the very ordinary, and moves towards a place of ever expanding awe. In some respects, I think this could be done without any 'magical' elements. Looking down the barrel of our computer age alone could suffice. But in order for it to work it would need to grow in such a way (organic-like) that it would breed a society of canon creators.

Part of the problem with the comic book world in my humble opinion, is that the canon for these guys is pretty much nonexistent. The story-lines go against each other. Different writers compete for different versions of Batman, rather than add to a singular story structure. Lord of the Rings is beautiful in that Tolkien's canon is set --- but the problem is it remains closed forever as well. Tolkien was the alpha and omega of Middle Earth.

I've written 3 or 4 'opening chapter/thoughts' to various story ideas that could potentially be the start of a greater mythos. Today I was doodling around with a monologue, and decided to tape myself reading it under really bad lighting conditions! It isn't much on the entertaining side, but it was helping get the feel for a character idea.


video
Buddhism's first supposition is that life is suffering. What if there was a place you could go to get the anti-virus to that disease? Just like smallpox and measles, the cure for suffering is to be given the dose, the right quantity of it, so that your own anti-bodies could fight it off for good?

Postscript: because I'm slightly embarrassed to post such a low-res video, here's the link to my other ongoing, non-fictional youtube series I've been working on --- more entertaining, less sadnessing, much, much more caffeinated: http://www.youtube.com/user/thecaffeinatedkick#p/u/4/pbBHGt7YdBA

Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Dementia, Fink, and Grace

 Does psychology work? 

It's a funny game, really. I recognize that many, many people, many of my friends, some of my family, having benefited greatly from getting counseling. I recognize that we hold deep-seated desires, beliefs, and projections that are wholly illogical and often detrimental to our health. I recognize many things; all these things -- and still I wonder.

Grace is incalculably important to understand. The whole of Christianity swings on its fruit. A simple definition of grace would be 'something given unearned', yes? That seems to me to be a sufficient synonym. Unearned. Perhaps this is also why I have a vague dissatisfaction with the idea of gratuitous gift-giving for birthdays. It seems to say, 'You deserve a reward for continuing to exist -- for making it through another year'. Or maybe it doesn't. Maybe birthdays are an expression of grace, since it is no big thing to survive these days. Perhaps it is grace plus tradition. I don't know.

I've watched Barton Fink several times in life. Upon each viewing I found it unnervingly confounding, which of course made me appreciate it without nurturing any resonant affection for the flick. Today, I saw it with new eyes. The Hotel Earle is the place we go to create, to write the next great American novel, to conquer the unconquerable problem, to swim the impossible sea; to bring together every soul in the world under one roof.

But we, the creators of thought, must share the Hotel Earle with another breed of men. We are not alone, wallowing within our four walls to seek out inspiration so as to speak for the illusory common man. We are not alone.

You must see >> Mr. Barton Fink was a playwright -- apparently, a damn good one (or so the New York critiques believed). Someone shouts "Go West young man", and so Barton answers the call. He moves to Hollywood; to work in pictures. What happens to Barton in Hollywood? Well, a lot. After finishing the film today, in hopes of finding some attestation of my newfound belief of the meaning of the movie, I read Roger Ebert's 1991 review (here). Ebert would have us believe that the main metaphor for the film is that of the rise of Nazism as well as McCarthyism. As it reads now, Ebert appears quite sure of his interpretation. I am not positive of my own interpretation, but I pretty well believe that Mr. E is wrong on this one, as the film in my eyes has much more in common with the likes of Adaptation than The Front.

Follow me here >> Whilst picnicking with William Faulkner's doppelganger relatively early in the film, Fink releases a brisk monologic burst in which he posits that all great writing comes from a place of pain. Remember, Barton is living and working at the Hotel Earle. Charlie also lives there. Charlie does bad things. Exasperated during his last scene on screen, Charlie rings out:

You think I made your life hell? 
Take a look around this dump. 
You're just a tourist with a typewriter, Barton, 
I live here.

To be clear >> this dump, that's the life of the mind.

Another truth Charlie lets us in on gets us back to ruminating about grace. After a supposed hard day of selling door-to-door insurance, Charlie speaks of how it is cruel for people to make fun of his appearance. The idea here is that there's nothing Charlie can do about it. His appearance is inherited, so the criticism of appearance is unearned. Then some time later, when Barton blatantly tells Charlie that he's known as 'Madman Muntz', Charlie's response is a solemn, 'people are so cruel; if it isn't appearance, it's character.' Again the inference we can make is that Charlie also sees his personality as something inherited. Unearned.

Now >> much can be made of the last scene of the film. Barton sits on the beach with an unopened box beside him. A pretty lady sits in front of him looking beyond the sea's horizon directly simulating the picture from Barton's hotel room. The distinction between the life of the mind (the Hotel Earle) and the external world has become blurred. As for the box, I understand it to be a manifestation of Barton's creation, his work. The pretty lady turns to ask Barton about the box. She asks an odd question: 'Is it yours?' Barton's reply:


I don't know.

How could Barton not know?  >> If the box is his thoughts, compiled and composited together, than he should know with certainty that the box is his. But he doesn't because he acknowledges that it is its own unique entity. And whatever he gave to it was a giving out of that which he was given. From grace comes grace. Ashes to ashes, grace to grace.

I don't mean to assemble a deterministic worldview here, nor do I fancy taking liability out of the individual's grasp.


I mean to say only this >> we are not our own. We are not our own, and we are not alone.

Psychology is a funny game, no? If you think much about the topic, it's like trying to look up a cheat code for an impossible level on a videogame. For the life of you, you can't seem to figure out how to drop over that rolling barrel that donkey kong keeps hurling at you. With your own eyes you can't see the answer. And so you get someone else to show you the way. You trust that they know the answer, or at least can find the key.

I'm watching a cruise-liner leave the port here in Koper. It is a massive vessel. It is taller than the tallest building in the town. It dwarfs the city. It dwarfs everything around it. There's probably more folks on that boat than in all of Koper. But they're just tourists on a boat...



I live here.