Saturday, August 25, 2012

13 (non-literal) Log Flume Rides

Sometimes I don't understand stuff. Well, I guess maybe most of the time I don't understand what's going on... hmm... it's probably fair to say that at a very fundamental level, I don't understand much of anything.

So with that in mind, here's my list of stuff that makes me feel like I'm just floating along waiting for the next curve to throw me somewhere I couldn't quite visualize, but somehow knew had to come nevertheless. These are things that don't necessarily have twist endings or all together outlandish plots (though they may), but they somehow leave me feeling like everything was preordained this way, and yet, I had no idea that it was preordained quite like this.

Anyway, perhaps my list will make more sense than this intro... but then again, if my point is that I don't understand stuff, then why should I be very good at explaining that?


13 A Serious Man film 

A Serious Man prides itself on the activity of passivity. Our humble protagonist wins us over by his sheer confusion at every step of the game. Is God a master puppeteer, or is Professor Larry Gopnik somehow making decisions that twist into these strange consequences? Is life a series of non sequiturs, or is the tapestry just too complex to perceive?

12 Nolan's Batman Trilogy films
Batman and company may seem to be putting together a series of coherent action sequences, but overtime, there's a certain numbing effect that proceeds from his methodology. After awhile, I start feeling sloshed around. I don't know where I am or how I got here. Look intently, and you'll see that just like Nolan lays out for his dreams in "Inception", every scene in the Batman films starts in the middle and leaves before the end. We never see the entirety of a moment. We enter and leave somewhere in the middle. It takes the foundation out from under you. It make you swim. Down and down.

11 The Films of Terry Gilliam 

I don't feel like much needs to be said here. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 12 Monkeys. Brazil. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. But for my money, the log flumiest of the lot, and subsequently worst, is Tideland. Here, we get swept into a disturbing world that alternately makes no sense, and is no fun. Wonderland never followed Aristotle's rules of logic, but at least we had fun there. Tideland just makes me seasick -- to the point where my vomit is the liquid our log is floating on. On. And on.

10 Narwhals
Yes, we're talking about God's very own wacked-out creation. Alright, hear me out on this one... yes... hear me out... I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THEM! They're friggin' unicorns of the sea! Unicorns! But the thing is, we don't actually have unicorns in this world, but for whatever reason, God gave us narwhals. Whales with super long horns attached to their heads. That's like something Dr. Evil would have asked for in the middle ages. Instead of "sharks with friggin' laser beams attached to their heads," he be jabbering on about "whales with friggin' horns attaached to their heads." You see? You see the symmetry? You should.

9 Interview with a Vampire film

I appreciate this film on behalf of its seeming dullness. Recent adaptations of vampires has taken the age principle out of their character. Why does Edward not think like a learn-ed age-d man? Seeing Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt fall through the centuries like bowling pins as unnerving as it is refreshing. Time keeps us sane. Immortality dulls the senses in time.

8 Parting of the Sensory song by Modest Mouse 
A song that begins with a series of loose angry questions plummets into a whirlpool of cacophonic round of the line,
one day you will die and
 somehow something's going to steal your carbon
It's the whirlpool at the end of the world. But no one is ever quite too sure what's at the center of one of those monstrosities.

P.S. A few months ago I read an Edgar Allan Poe short story about a terrifyingly intense whirlpool in Norway. Since then, I've thought about them from time to time with a certain timidity had not had before. 

7 Shel Silverstein Poems
The thing is, so many of them are so darn quaint and small and simple, that you begin to be eaten up by them. For example, from "Every Thing On It"
If you rode a turtle
And I rode a snail
And we raced to the equator,
One of us would come in last
And one of us would come later

It won't happen all at once. But heed my warning, little by little, piece by piece, he'll devour you. You and everyone you love. Over and over.

6 The Scream painting

The fame of this work minimizes its bravura and stare factor. Nevertheless, I heretofore include this painting because it makes you feel wobbly not while you're looking at it, but some indeterminate time in the future. It's the same feeling one gets after jumping off the log flume, where you realize that during the course of a four minute ride, you've developed sea legs that aren't quite too keen on being reanimated to earthen life. And those people in the back; who are they? They just walk and walk and walk... always nearer, always.

5 The Crying of Lot 49 novel

This novel encapsulates the the ever expanding (and breaking) neurosis of the paranoia of conspiracy theorists. The novel follows a woman's exploration of a mysterious mail service that had gone underground somewhere in the course of history. This closet mail service resides as some sort of cultic principle of subversion to the government. But anyway... the novel's effect is found in its bizarre momentary reflections. For instance:

"It comes into your dreams, you know. Filthy machine. Did you ever see the one about Porky Pig and the anarchist?"

...while a headache began to flower behind her eyes...

He was a disk jockey who worked further along the Peninsula and suffered regular crises of conscience about his profession.

"The pin I'm wearing means I'm a member of the IA. That's Inamorati Anonymous. An inamorati is somebody in love. That's the worst addiction of all."

Day by day, Wendell is less himself and more generic.

Each couple on the floor danced whateer was in the fellow's head: tango, two-step, bossa nova, slop. But how long, Oedipa thought, could it go on before collisions became a serious hindrance? There would have to be collisions. The only alternative was some unthinkable order of music, many rhythms, all keys at once, a choreography in which each couple meshed easy, predestined.

If these various subject matters rattled on an wrapped into the core themes of the book, well then fine. But the hell of it is that the theme of the book is wrapped into these passing fancies. They are the absorbing force. More and more.

4 Who Framed Roger Rabbit? film

I weep bitterly when he murders those shoes.

3 Blood Meridian novel

The bloodiest thing I ever trudged through. The book spins and spins on what seems to be an illusory orbit just beyond our grasp. We follow, 'the kid', as he joins a band of marauders in the 1800s through Texas and Mexico (mainly). We are pulverized, page after page, by horrendous fashions of violence. And then we too are taken out. We, the readers exhumed of grace and dignity, are finally (perhaps mercifully) undone and undid. The novel, in my estimation, would be a dud if it did not include its last few breaths. Those are the crystallizing agents of a ride that should continue to haunt us, as sin and evil always tend to do on this earth.

2 Eyes Wide Shut film
The dreamy red, white, and blue cascade of colors throughout the film alone sets the viewer up for an enterprise in surreality. The events of one faithful (almost unfaithful) night of Dr. William Harford are not so strange that we can't imagine them happening. We can. But it's rather the awful sensation of, 'once this ride starts, we can't get off!' that drives this boat to madness. The film sneaks into the bloodstream the carnal knowledge that sex is transcendent in potency and power -- the point being: none of us have a clue what we're getting ourselves into when we engage in that play. You don't know what's around the bend, but your stomach is already dropping. Dropping and dropping.

1 Apocalypse Now film

Don't watch the Redux. It kills the ride. The film breathlessly tops the list because it would make the most badass Disney ride ever... and it would translate so very well. Actions on the edge of reality, such as war, spin our sense of self, dwarf our approximations of morality, and contort our inner child into something we can't grasp.

Apocalypse Now teaches us through its drift up the river, that we neither know who we are, or what we can become. The slippery slope of this log flume is that we are, as both species and individuals, ever-changing... but we really don't know what it is we're becoming.

Colonel Kurtz' monologue: I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror... Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies! I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn't know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it... I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God... the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us.

Be careful. It's ever so easy to slide down that ride and end up a monster.
Monster and monster.
And monster.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Novelization of the Thought

 The Institute for the Mentally Overcapacitated
led by leading practitioner Dr. Irina Rabashab

There's the usual roundtable. A definitive smorgasbord of sufferings. These creatures, these very desperate men and women, have come to a place where they want reprieve. They're willing to endure the screwdriver through the temple if it means salvation is again created in ignorance reborn. In many ways, as Dr. Rabashab has diagnosed, the first hurdle is that of pride. Although they all hate what they've become, what obvious obsession their lives have become infused and embodied within, they nevertheless feel that they are the Ones. They are the very singular specimens entrusted with the ultimate great truth that will somehow serve all. There is a great egocentrism in this perversion that must be broken before there can be progress. They must reach the angle of repose wherein there pride is busted by self-hate. Rabashab wished there was an easier method, but extreme cases call for extreme measures. First, you deal with the ego, than the desire for suicide, then the id, and then, after the last of the perverse actions based on carnal desire are flooded out, then and only then, can normalization take place.

Now however, the good doctor herself was beginning to unwind. Those vultures have talons, and they dig -- deep.

A rundown on the who's who at the Institute:

Devon Moreland: An ex-football player plagued from severe migraines and murderous/suicidal fantasies which surely have come from years of head trauma and concussions. He is as meek as a dove in conversation, but claims that at every moment there remains with him a dark presence that manifests for him and him alone, the most gruesome outcome to any situation. He hates to sleep, for in his dream-state he swears the dark one becomes "interspersed within me"; meaning, while his daydreams are focused on the potential gory outcomes of others, it is in sleep that his devilry turns inward, showcasing the myriad ways he could end himself. The dark one talks to him audibly in his sleep and promises that "our temporary separation of souls" will be no more once he offs himself. Devon does not like to talk about his problems, he'd much rather ask about others and speak of mild things, but if he is self-focused, he continually harps on how his name is but one letter separated from the word, "demon". He asks everyone, "That can't just be a coincidence, right? Not the way I am..." His only respite from the terrors comes to him in the form of coffee mugs. He derives a deep pleasure from collecting them. He buys them everyday (and not just for himself, he gives them to friends rather often --- but, strangely, he only gives out mugs he's already owned for some expanse of time), and enjoys placing them around his house. He is constantly reorganizing them.

Sinjay Singh: Mr. Singh worked as a freelance editor, mostly for tv, until two years ago when he suddenly quit work and broke up with his girlfriend. Apparently, he is quite independently wealthy, for he hasn't yet fallen into any sort of poverty. He has become wholly absorbed in a french film called, "Cache". He is convinced that there is some deep, untapped truth presented in the film, but admits that he can't quite comprehend it. He says it feels the same as when a word is on the tip of one's tongue, but yet, the word never comes. He spent a season of life watching nothing but the film over and over again, but now says he won't watch it anymore. He says it's too demanding and too shameful to revisit. He initially saw the film on dvd, but quickly made a closet full of vhs copies. He's working on some secret project regarding the film, but refuses to explain his plan.

Dr. Rebecca Torres: A neurosurgeon at Scripps Medical Hospital. Five months ago, in an attempt to remove a brain lesion, Dr. Torres swears that she saw a physical (ghost-like in form) substance rise up from the brain of the sleeping patient. She says (still being quite incredulous of herself), that she knew in that moment that what she saw was the physical property of the patient's thought. She is angry at herself for this quote-hallucination-endquote, but can't move beyond it. She says she now can't deny this ever growing compulsion to want to see such a sight again. This compulsion compels her to fantasize about the physical properties of intangible ideas. If someone speaks to her, she imagines both the thoughts of the person rising into space from the head, as well as the physical soundwaves protruding from their mouth. Last week she said she fantasized all night, and was unable to sleep, when she began to think about the physical properties of the concept of 'courtesy'. She has not told her colleagues or her husband about her fantasms, but remains evermore fearful that this 'new door' will overtake her, and leave her to be merely 'a spectator of life, rather than a player'.

Dolores Burden: Two years ago, Dolores cut off her hand. She stares at her other hand, wanting also to cut it off. Through exhaustive interviews and clinical counseling sessions, hundreds of theories as to why this desire is within her have come to the surface. Nothing sticks. Besides the decapitation disorder, Dolores appears perfectly rational, calm, and intelligent. She is 72 years old.

Frank and Scout Lang: Frank is a watch maker. His family store has been passed down for five generations. He says he loves the work. He says his father loved the work. Scout is a schoolteacher. They have a ten year old daughter and twin eight year old sons. Nine months ago Frank read aloud an article in the paper in bed to Scout regarding sub-atomic particles. Immediately, they both became enamored with the concept. Both are yearning to quit their jobs and focus on further sub-atomic exploration. Neither of them have any traditional education in that field. They were told by their pastor to get counseling on the subject before making such a life change. After three months of Christian counseling, they were recommended to the Institute. They see no problem in their sudden fascination with the molecular world and are only participating at the center to do 'good prudence to our church leaders'.

It's the mugs. That's the thing; those damnable coffee mugs. That's the one that's causing all the anguish in Dr. Rabashab's mind. If it weren't for the mugs, she'd be fine. Of all the things...

She had read many articles about how the doctors in her line of work all end up burning out or going mad themselves. And yet, she wonders, "Why is this the thing that's breaking me?"