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  • mono 5:46 am on April 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , joy, , Television, , , walmart   

    America 

    I am back in America. Trees stretch like paint gobs. The sky is as large as the Walmart that we end up at everyday (to feel stimuli, to be stimulated). You and me. We push the cart past tubs of DVDs, dog food, Milk Bones, baby clothes (bright pink, electric neon), Asian Food (Teriyaki Noodle), Jacked chips, Speedy Checkouts.

    We might park by the lake and take a photo to show others how far a lake can be or what clouds look like when we sit in a car and talk. We are in Michigan. I’ll stop at the Doggie Wash where we can wash the dogs ourselves, but when I enter, no one is there: two tubs, insert bills, spray hose, oatmeal bath. Call Joanne for details.

    The television shows Boston. The television says no one knows why or who or how many and we mourn. Some are dead. Some are limbless. I hear weeping.

    It rained last night, but when I stand in the dusk and walk Butoh steps across the lawn, I feel less wet than the grass tells me I should be.

    Our dog limps. She has stepped on too sharp snow. We have two dogs. One of our dogs was dropped off in Detroit, her kennel left abandoned there by Immigration, by a garage door like that whole place is one large warehouse. Our other dog was driven from Chicago, driven to a Days Inn (thirty hours away from us). I spent two days in the Days Inn and had continental breakfast (biscuits and gravy, cereal, a bagel) while the television spoke of Cuba, of tornadoes, of caution.

    Yes, I’m back in America and this is the wide sky I jump into as I push a cart from the electronic doors of Walmart, past the feed, past the gigantic automobiles and to the corral. I will listen to Scott Walker on the way home. The way home. I like the way that sounds. The way home. I could say that forever. 

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  • mono 7:09 am on February 26, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, , Curb Your Enthusiasm, Programs, Religulous, Sitcoms, Television   

    Larry Charles on “Cracking the Code” 

    Not all of us are as good at improvising as director/writer/comedian, Larry Charles (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Borat, Religulous). Maybe we can learn to develop that capacity for improvisation.

    In this short video, he briefly opens up the idea of “cracking the code” for a piece of art (in his case, film/TV). I admire his story of walking with Larry David and allowing the thoughts to kind of “bubble up,” – stream of consciousness. It seems that some of our greatest ideas can come not when we are sitting down at our desk, thinking hard, but when we are in route, on a walk, or alone in those “in-between” moments of life. This is not to say that planned “thinking sessions” may be productive and useful, but that we should (might want to) learn to develop the skill of thinking, even in those routine moments of life.

    In the coming weeks I will try to further flesh out this idea and apply it to a television program or film. Of course, I will share the results with you here.

    What is the “code” for the trajectory of our own life?
    Should we be merely studying “about” the code or “how to” create the code?
    Is this something that one should “study” or something that one should “live out?”

    Perplexed as always.

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  • mono 8:38 pm on September 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Media Ecology, , , Television, ,   

    Fame and Social Media: A Fragment 

    Emil CioranImage via Wikipedia Why are so many people, myself included, connecting to and engaging in online communities? Are “listening to the conversation” and “sharing,” the two main reasons that many of us participate in social media? Perhaps, it’s the spreading of “personal branding” that excites us, gives us the chance to personally manage and influence our online reputation. Or, is it something different? In an essay written in 1964 entitled, “Fame: Hopes and Horrors,” E.M. Cioran writes, “If each of us were to confess his most secret desire, the one that inspires all his plans, all his actions, he would say: ‘I want to be praised.’ No one will make such a confession, for it is less shameful to commit an abomination than to proclaim so pitiable and so humiliating a weakness, looming out of a feeling of solitude and insecurity from which both the fortunate and the rejected suffer with equal intensity (107).” Is Cioran’s way of thinking relevant to today’s flux of social networking sites?

    What is it about social networking sites that fuel our desire to engage, to discuss or to network with unknown others? Perhaps, for some, it is the lust for “information,” having to keep abreast of new technological developments and web applications. The rush of being the first person to blog about a new development or news story constantly flows through my Twitter feed. It is impossible to engage in a “real” conversation through the use of micromedia, all one can do is comment or summarize. However, beneath the visual interface of the application, how do we communicate through these tools and how do they serve to influence our sense of self? Before writing this article, I announced through Twitter that I was about to start this article. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time and it provided a sense of connectedness to some larger body of people. What was my purpose, though, in sending that Tweet? How strange to think about how “connected” we all are through the interface of these machines. Perhaps, “deep down” we can relate to Cioran. How wonderful it would have been, had someone thought to write back a short reply, praising my efforts or showing some interest toward the endeavor. No one did. There is a kind of self-pride that flows through the use of these sites, an inflated sense of who we think we are and who we want ourself to be. Nonetheless, having 5,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t have anything to do with any kind of “conversation,” only noise.

    The wish to be praised seems such a harmless one. The validation that occurs at a live performance or after a great speech fills the performer with a sense of validation and, perhaps, with the lust for more. Why do so many people want to be on TV, even as an extra in a non-speaking role? Is it because the work is easy? Is it because the pay is decent for the amount of work done? It seems that the world of TV gives one the chance to enter into a hyper-version of reality, a reality that feels more real than real. Why does it make people so happy to watch the misfortune of others through the interface of the screen?

    In a productive society, the will to be creative, the drive to create and shape things, brings happiness. The sharing of those things with others also brings happiness, but in what ways? Is it the pure giving of the creation to another, a pure selfless act? Or, is it the feeling of pride that one gets when one gives the object to the other person? In Japan, when someone gives a gift, it is common to say something like “This is a boring gift for you.” Although, in native Japanese, the expression doesn’t translate as harshly as when put into English, the meaning is basically the same. The gift is verbally degraded, although it is probably a very nice or thoughtful present. This degrading of oneself is common in this situation. The recipient of the gift should praise the gift and the gift-giver. One only needs to look at the glimmer in the eye of the giver to see the happiness that comes from giving and the happiness that comes from being praised.

    Is the way out of this flux, simply to turn off the computer and disconnect from the applications? Does this need to be praised surface in all other areas of our life? Is this our lot in life? If so…

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    • triptophren 2:24 am on December 18, 2008 Permalink

      The more i look at that picture the more it seems he is posing…

      The association you made is very interesting because i think it combines the surface reasons (the main two reasons), everybody will acknowledge with the psychological reasons Cioran has described.
      Because of the permanent hurry people are in, most of which is due to the times we live in (information age, blabla), few will lose any time to analyze the deeper reasons for their actions and even fewer will accept them for what they are.

      You say that: “The wish to be praised seems such a harmless one, but think about it from a broader point of view. How, let’s say, a famous dictator, will look like from this perspective? Or any famous writter of any sorts?
      As any of us are, they were probably interested about how many people red their books and what they thought about it.
      And this is where we are now. In a way it makes us more conscious of ourselves, more available.
      It can also mean that we are somewhat vulnerable.

  • mono 8:39 pm on April 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Dexter, Dexter Morgan, Masking, Michael C Hall, Season One, , Showtime, , , Television,   

    Dexter: The Humble Monster 

    The Showtime series “Dexter” paints a morbidly human and twisted portrait of a forensics sociopath, Dexter Morgan as he struggles to maintain the facade of social life while waxing his own kind of “private justice” through the elimination of those in need of a little “treatment”. This “private justice” also helps him quench his monstrous tendencies while giving him the satisfaction of his private cravings. That is to say, in this series, the character with whom we spend the most amount of time is a monster, a heartless precise killer caught in a balancing act between desire and restraint.

    I recently wrote about Carl R. Rogers, opened up his idea of “false faces” and the need for one to come to terms with one’s many “faces” in the process of becoming a person. Later that day I was floored by “Dexter” as this show in particular focuses on the social mask as the viewer experiences the interior/exterior life of a humble monster.

    I see three narratives running through this series. The first is the basic story: a blood pattern analyst, Dexter Morgan working and interacting while secretly completing his little nighttime “projects.” Also, sub-plots which involve the tracking of “The Ice Truck Killer,” his sister, girlfriend and co-workers and so on. The narrative running beneath this is the monologues we receive, the messages from his interior landscape, the reflections on not being able to feel, the awareness of alienation which serve as a blunt study on extreme social masking. Third, there is the interconnecting narrative, the connection point between the prior two, which is the distance between the monster and the social human. It is within this distance that sits between the first two narratives where the viewer spends a lot of time. We are fully aware of the pretending of which Dexter actively engages in, the role playing and repeated attempts to blend in. This distance is vital to his character and is hit upon in every episode I have seen thus far. He is, as he refers to himself, “A master of disguise.”

    Moreover, there is the character of “Harry,” Dexter’s father who taught him how to disguise himself and mentored him in the art of blending in. In one episode, Dexter refers to Harry as always being with him. The father-son bond between Harry and Dexter seem to be one of Dexter’s only feelings of true love. His relationship with his girlfriend at times comes to light for him as they partake in the games of everyday life, but still he wrestles with the gap between who he really is and who he knows he must be. Harry is the only person who truly knew Dexter and his cravings and Harry is, in my eyes, the only one that Dexter could truly love.

    While watching this show, the mind may become disoriented. The character Dexter that we follow and listen to takes us into the dark spots of the mind, the sterility of his surgical chambers reflect his true inner life. His emotionless involvement are all the more unsettling as are the few things that seem to give him real joy, especially his fascination and love for blood. To emphasize with this kind of character puts the viewer in a vulnerable position as it moves from Dexter as pretending to be warm and friendly to Dexter as coolly vicious and alien. The viewer waits as the episode begins to find out who Dexter’s next evil victim will be. All along, we may forget the perverse interiority of Dexter. At times, he is like the Gnostic alien, the confused being confronted with the strangeness of the alien landscape, on the periphery yet immersed in the waters of sociality.

    Dexter Season One is available for purchase through the US iTunes music store.

     
    • Mark 4:59 am on December 16, 2008 Permalink

      I think Harry’s Code has evolved into Dexters Code. Check out my blog! I’m a big Dexter fan!
      http://www.dexterscode.com

    • moosh 7:01 pm on December 24, 2008 Permalink

      Is there a bigger resolution for that picture?

  • mono 10:53 am on April 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adult Swim, Alex Winter, Cartoon Network, Dr. Who, Josh Gardner, Saul of the Molemen, , Television, Tim Burns, Tom Stern   

    Saul of the Molemen 

    Saul of the Molemen

    What seemed to me to be an intelligently innovative psycho-surreal science-fiction comedy, Adult Swim‘s “Saul of the Molemen,” is losing its Web presence (and TV presence as well?). I came across several episodes a while back which had been uploaded to Youtube, only to be quickly taken down due to a copyright claim. Heading over to the Adult Swim website did no good (and still doesn’t) as the only taste of “Saul of the Molemen” that we get is the “Original Pilot.”

    “Saul of the Molemen” features the creative visions of Tom Stern, Alex Winter and Tim Burns, while starring the “Gerhard Reinke” actor/writer Josh Gardner as Saul Malone. The first thing that captured my attention, other than the brilliant character of Saul was the set designs, which seem to be all created via green screen and, not to forget, the costume design of the “molemen” is brilliantly fake and provides for great comedic effect (the voices of the molemen apparently done by Alex Winter). Visually, everything about this show is brilliant and inventive bringing back the kind of world created in the old Dr. Who episodes. The few shows that I was able to track down on the Web were funny, bizarre and gorgeously designed. I think that Josh Gardner does a wonderful job in portraying the bumbling yet lovable hero, Saul Malone. Not to mention, for those of us who occasionally sport mustaches, he provides a great inspiration.

    Poking my head around the Adult Swim message boards finds talk of a canceled Season 2. The iTunes Music Store carries only a handful of Adult Swim shows and my search for Saul of the Molemen episodes online is proving futile, save the occasional Bittorrent download, which I do not partake in. If you read this and are aware of purchasable episodes of “Saul of the Molemen,” or come across news regarding the release of this series (purchasable online or DVD), please post a comment below or contact me directly (my email is in the sidebar).

    I would also like to note that Alex Winter and Tom Stern’s film “Freaked,” recently released a few years back on DVD, is also beautifully designed and features Winters as a mutated actor who gets caught in the wrong situation. The villain, Elijah C. Skuggs is memorable and very well acted (performance by Randy Quaid). Tom Stern also directed “The Andy Milonakis Show,” which I tend to enjoy every once-in-a-while, but tends to annoy me for some reason.

    In closing, again, my life yearns for “Saul of the Molemen,” season 1 and if someone from Adult Swim is reading this, please, pretty please, make the season available for those of us who enjoy immersing ourselves in schlocky science-fiction comedy.

     
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