Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Strange Walks In A Strange Land

I walked for an hour and a half in the cold to teach myself discipline. I don't think it worked but at least I can say I tried. I planned to get some Taco Bell for the journey but it, like the gates of heaven, was closed to me. I didn't have a discman or iPod with me on this walk, so I only had my thoughts for accompaniment. None of them were very productive. I contemplated kicking over signs, stealing signs and otherwise defacing signs, but I decided it went against my principles. No random acts of destruction for me. Just walking and thinking.

Walking for a long time in the cold isn't conducive to positive thinking. I came to the conclusion that my life has value insomuch as it is absurd, sometimes sublimely so. That I've recognized this absurdity gives me a certain confidence, albeit a confidence mixed with a healthy dose of self-loathing. I am content being a stranger in a strange land, though I wasted a lot of my youth feeling ill at ease because of it. There was no epiphany, just a slow dawning as I realized this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I recognize this land is strange, I recognize I'm a stranger in it. Awareness gives me the strength to navigate treacherous waters within me and without.

Saying I'm a stranger in a strange land doesn't mean I'm at large from society. In fact for most of my day, maybe in the end most of my life, I think in the same terms everyone else does. It is at night, usually, when my mind slips into a different framework. Solipsism is the belief that only one's self exists, or that only one's own existence can truly be verified. Before I ever knew this term I felt it. As a child I wondered how anyone else could truly have a consciousness, an inner life. I still can't truly grasp it. I can understand it objectively, but subjectively when I close my eyes the world and everyone in it is gone.

Writing is the only way these thoughts can remain real to me. They're real to me now, but in the morning I'm sure I'll be embarrassed by them. This is a snapshot of my current mental process, unfiltered and transient. I'm a wanderer by nature. Tonight this manifested itself physically, but most of the time I wander internally, following the paths my moods carve for me. I doubt everything but I've learned, paradoxically, that my very doubting nature gives me something I cannot doubt. I am a stranger in a strange land, and though the land changes the stranger remains the same.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Inspirational Words For A Cold Monday Morning

On this cold monday morning, amidst the dreary spectacle of melting snow and discarded gifts, as you struggle with your hangover and the ripples from yesterday's arguments, just hold what you care deeply about close to you and remember:

"Life is short and love is always over in the morning."

-- Sisters of Mercy, Temple of Love

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Syriana: A Review In The Spirit Of The Film


Oil! Assassinations! Boom! Clooney! Tehran! Beards! Farsi! Parties! The Middle East! Drowning! Fandango! Machinations! Oil! Zoink! Lawyers! Texas! Ugh! Arms dealers! Plummer! Sheets! Dunes! Egads! The Casbah! Damon! Mergers! Deserts! Migrant workers! Kaboom! Doctor from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine! Explosions! Torture! Sand! USA! Corruption! Justice Department! Sheik Yerbouti! Cute kids! Spanish villas! Okay! Emirs! Emus! Ha! Congress! Mosques! Hurt! Gangsta rap! Natural gas! CIA! Beirut! Veils! Death! Conspiracy! What! Lies! Set ups! The Chinese! Oil! Occidentals! Pakistanis! Meetings! Muslims! The Desert Fox! Oil! Kazakhstan! Borat! Princes! Hezbollah! Politics! Clooney! Terrorists! Allah! Geneva! $$$! Foosball! Suits! Pow! Clerics! Industry! Suicide bombers! Bollocks! Power! Aladdin! 9-11! Nazi gold! Boobs! Simon! Garfunkel! Controversy! Yeah! Paunch! Old men! Pliers! Fingernails! Ouch! Oil! Peet! Eazy-E! Arabs! Expletives! Clooney! Black gold! Sharif don't like it! Missiles! Akbar! Oil! Hot man-meat! Clooney! Spies! KGB! Oil! Washington! Persian Gulf! Dollar dollar bill y'all! What the hell is going on!?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Today's Forecast: Repetition! Repetition! Repetition!

This is the three r's
The three r's:
Repetition, repetition, repetition

- The Fall, "Repetition"

The Weather Network and McDonald's: working together to fuck my computer up. Behold the true face of the postmodern information age! Colourful and cold and beating you even at Solitaire. Why do I feel like a Big Mac all of a sudden?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Boy & His Dog: An Underground Bunker Full Of Delights

In the 1976 post-apocalyptic film A Boy and His Dog, the title characters spend the first half of the movie roaming through an irradiated desert wasteland, seeking food, entertainment and sex. The year is 2024 and humans either live in underground fallout shelters or ramshackle towns composed of the discarded refuse of the past. There is no rule of law and only a minimum barter economy. Wandering gangs serve deranged aspiring despots or use telepathic dogs to scour for women to rape. The enlightenment ideals of modern man--"liberty, fraternity, equality"--have been replaced by the somewhat more basic "food, shelter, breeding."

While satirical, the brazen and commonplace nature of rape, murder and telepathic dogs in the film creates one of the few truly shocking science-fiction worlds, totally alien from the viewer’s own conceptions of normalcy and morality. The perverse, underground recreation of 1950s heartland America which the story then moves to is even more outrageously subversive of the viewer’s normative values: the ruling committee uses a robotic farmer to kill the disobedient, and fertile males are lured down to have their sperm drained before being killed. The brainwashed and pathological denizens of this underground society, who inexplicably wear mime make-up, make the above-ground world seem relatively sane, and suddenly the human protagonist, a would-be rapist and thief, looks heroic in comparison.

Most science-fiction films try to create a sense of the alien through spectacular sets and effects. Take that other noted post-apocalyptic film, Waterworld for example. With its notoriously big budget, it had all the aesthetic trappings of something original: floating cities, post-modern pirates, underwater ruins. Yet A Boy and His Dog effortlessly trumps the blockbuster's efforts to immerse the viewer in a truly alien world by focusing on internal, not just external signs of difference. It doesn't rely on clichéd characters, predictable plot developments and bombastic action sequences: just a wise-cracking dog and a horny young man.

The protagonist of A Boy and His Dog doesn't fall in love with anyone, lead anyone to paradise or serve as a cartoonish superhero. What matters to him are the basic things in life: sex, food and the companionship only a telepathic dog can provide. In a world as harsh and unforgiving as the film depicts, this seems only natural. A Boy and His Dog is fascinating because it makes the societal norms, not just the aesthetic look, of the post-apocalyptic world vividly different. Immersing the viewer in not just one, but two utterly alien yet recognizable mutations of twentieth-century society, A Boy and His Dog succeeds in bringing a wholly unique vision of the future to life. Plus one of its main characters is a sarcastic telepathic dog: what else could you ask for?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Paper Airplane In The Eye Of Ennui

Dogma is not my meaning of life. What I want is permanent revolution, tearing down and building up, from dawn to nightfall. Our manifesto is a blank piece of paper to write on, draw on, stick things to and make origami out of. Our manifesto, fundamentally, is a paper airplane to be thrown in the eye of ennui. I write this naked, wrapped in a blanket and eating a cracker. That is the revolutionary garb, along with spiked helmets and goggles. Crumbs now cover my blanket, as they will soon cover the countryside. Dogs will feed on them and be given control of the armed forces.

All leaders will have mustaches and wear uniforms, but will be completely powerless. Hitting someone with a pie in the face will be declared socially acceptable. Mangos will be the fruit of choice and the drinking age will be reduced to the moment of conception. Every citizen will be invited to drop off a policy proposal, and one will be selected and implemented at random every six months. We will destroy ugly cities to create beautiful ruins. To discourage car use and thereby discourage oil consumption all parking lots will be converted into Autonomous Zones where makeshift hovels, tribal drumming, roaming dogs, performance art, potluck dinners and public nudity are encouraged. The world will then be declared a parking lot.

Multiculturalism will be replaced by culturemultiplism. All citizens will be able to accumulate points for worthy acts of charity and art, and can thereby legally obtain titles like Baron, Count, Khan, Grand Duke and Funkmaster. Anyone with a utopian scheme will be able to submit a proposal to the government, which if approved gives them ownership of a small island on which to conduct social experiments. If successful similar policies will be implemented on the mainland. "Our House" by Madness will be the national anthem. The Swiss will be forced to take a stand. Rallies and parades, for whatever reason, every day!

In conclusion: Élan vital, music, art, writing, romance, sublimation, lost cities, bazaars, summertime, automatic writing, interzones, odes, positive nihilism, pueblos, playing in the ruins, communal effervescence, palingenesis, terra incognito, honesty, victimless war and guns that shoot flowers.