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Let’s Study the Weird, Shall We?

Art by Matt Melanson

 

There is a new podcast in town, Weird Studies, hosted by Phil Ford and J.F. Martel –

As they describe it,

“Weird Studies” is a scholarly field that doesn’t and can’t exist.

The Weird is that which resists any settled explanation or frame of reference. It is the bulging file labelled “other/misc.” in our mental filing cabinet, full of supernatural entities, magical synchronicities, and occult rites. But it also appears when a work of art breaks in on our habits of perception and ordinary things become uncanny. ​The Weird is easiest to define as whatever lies on the further side of a line between what we can easily accept from our world and what we cannot. And it defines an attitude towards whatever lies on that side of the line: a willingness to remain suspended between explanations and abide in strangeness.”

In this episode the two connect the dots and discuss those connections and surrounding pathways into the origin of contemporary existential fear and how it manifests in recent works such as David Lynch and Mark Frosts’ ‘Twin Peaks – The Return’.

Along the way their map include signposts from Philip K. Dick, Norman Mailer, Stanley Kubrick, Carl Jung, William Burroughs, Guy Debord, H.P. Lovecraft and many others.

A fascinating and thought provoking look into the abyss, to synchronous expressions of art, and the implications for modern life as we live under the shadow of the mushroom cloud.

 

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The Portals of Beksinski

“I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams”

Zdzisław Beksiński

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In the medieval tradition, Beksinski seems to believe art to be a forewarning about the fragility of the flesh– whatever pleasures we know are doomed to perish– thus, his paintings manage to evoke at once the process of decay and the ongoing struggle for life. They hold within them a secret poetry, stained with blood and rust.”

― Guillermo del Toro

“Cinema, at its most elemental level, is a language beyond words.”*

* Todd Haynes

“I have no doubt that whatever kinds of movies you like, seeing ‘Wonderstruck’, you will not have seen anything like it before.

It intercuts a story of one little deaf girl in 1927 who travels into New York City searching for answers, with the story of a little boy who becomes deaf in 1977, fifty years later, also on a journey.

And so the question keeps getting posed every time you intercut from black and white to color, silent film to sound film, why are these two stories sharing one movie?

When you really are excited by, motivated by the richness and strangeness of popular culture that we all share – movies, music, you realize that everything that’s great has been gotten away with and that it has sort of snuck into the conventional languages that we come to expect and that’s when our minds get percolated.  That’s how we get pricked by a new experience.

And it’s also what reinvigorates the respective mediums involved.  Getting away with it I think is what culture is about.”

Todd Haynes

Send in the Owl

“[It’s] too easy to put symbols in service of narrative. The trick is putting narrative in service of symbols.”  –  J.F. Martel in a recent tweet regarding how to watch Twin Peaks

“Artists end up producing symbols, beacons that point to those vast regions of reality which psychoanalysts call the unconscious. In other words, art doesn’t belong to the conscious world. It belongs on the same plane as dreams, visions and synchronicity.”  J.F. Martel

“True works of art are powerful symbolic constructs, genuine oracles that can give society access to what’s going on below the threshold of collective consciousness.”  – JFM

“I learned that just beneath the surface there’s another world, and still different worlds as you dig deeper.”  David Lynch

“It makes me uncomfortable to talk about meanings and things. It’s better not to know so much about what things mean.”  DL

“Because the meaning, it’s a very personal thing, and the meaning for me is different than the meaning for somebody else.”  DL

 “When something’s abstract, the abstractions are hard to put into words unless you’re a poet.”  DL

 “Cinema is a language that can say abstractions. I love stories, but I love stories that hold abstractions–that can hold abstractions. And cinema can say these difficult-to-say-in-words things.”  DL

“I like things that go into hidden, mysterious places, places I want to explore that are very disturbing.”  DL

“In that disturbing thing, there is sometimes tremendous poetry and truth.”  DL

“As Henri Bergson says, if we could perceive reality directly, we wouldn’t need art.”  JFM

“The reason we need art is that the intellect is constantly reducing reality to a conceptual order that accounts only for an infinitely small portion of what is real.”  JFM

“If things get too specific, the dream stops. There are things that happen sometimes that open a door that lets you soar out and feel a bigger thing. Like when the mind gets involved in a mystery. It’s a thrilling feeling. When you talk about things, unless you’re a poet, a big thing becomes smaller.”  DL

I don’t know why people expect art to make sense when they accept the fact that life doesn’t make sense.”  DL

“Symbols are signs, but signs pointing us to the unknown, perhaps unknowable aspects of reality. They call us to the dark expanses that extend infinitely on every side of the small castellated island that is the human world.”  JFM

“Met on its own ground, the work of art as vector of symbols is an inexhaustible producer of meaning. Invariably, the work reveals more than its creator ever intended and more than any interpreter can fathom.” JFM

“True beauty is not pretty. It is a tear in the facade of the everyday, a sudden revelation of the forces seething beneath the surface of things.”  JFM

“The more unknowable the mystery, the more beautiful it is.”  DL

“I love mysteries. To fall into a mystery and its danger … everything becomes so intense in those moments. When most mysteries are solved, I feel tremendously let down.”  DL

“I want things to feel solved up to a point, but there’s got to be a certain percentage left over to keep the dream going. It’s like at the end of Chinatown: The guy says, ‘Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.’ You understand it, but you don’t understand it, and it keeps that mystery alive. That’s the most beautiful thing.”  DL

“When you sleep, you dont control your dream. I like to dive into a dream world that I’ve made, a world I chose and that I have complete control over.”  DL

“I would love to be in that state [of a waking dream] all day long, but you have to have some quiet. The world is getting louder every year, but to sit and dream is a beautiful thing.”  DL

“A lot of people assume I have very strange dreams, but I’ve only had one dream that affected a film. I don’t dream much at night. Most everything is daydreams.”   DL

“I like making films because I like to go into another world. I like to get lost into another world.”   DL

“My movies are film-paintings – moving portraits captured on celluloid. I’ll layer that with sound to create a unique mood — like if the Mona Lisa opened her mouth, and there would be a wind, and she’d turn back and smile. It would be strange and beautiful.”  DL

“In my mind it’s so much fun to have something that has clues and is mysterious – something that is understood intuitively rather than just being spoon fed to you. That’s the beauty of cinema, and it’s hardly ever even tried. These days, most films are pretty easily understood, and so people’s minds stop working.”  DL

 “Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see, one chance out between two worlds, fire walk with me.” – Twin Peaks

Help Star Recover from White Supremacist Attack

Help Star Recover from White Supremacist Attack (Star Peterson)

https://www.youcaring.com/fundraiser-widget.aspx?frid=903042

Please help our friend Star, who was run down by the white supremacist at the rally on August 12 in Charlottesville. She had to receive emergency surgery on both legs, and also sustained multiple spinal injuries.

Right now, Star is in intensive care but she is stable and expected to walk again and make a full recovery. However, she needs SIGNIFICANT financial support in order to regain a normal life after this horrific incident.

During her recovery, she won’t be able to do her normal job working with children due to the rods and pins in her leg. Besides medical expenses, Star will need money to help make rent. She doesn’t have a car and needs funds for transportation along with daily needs like food.

The next few months will be critical for Star’s health as she heals and undergoes physical and occupational therapy. Any level of support is welcome. All funds will go directly into Star’s bank account.

David Lynch: The Art Life

From the wonderful blog by Rhys Tranter comes this link to an interview with the producer of the new documentary about David Lynch. A must see for anyone interested in Lynch who in his own words provides some insight into his early history and creative process.

Jon Nguyen on a new documentary exploring the life and work of the American artist and filmmaker

via David Lynch and The Art Life — Rhys Tranter

The Cyclical Mysteries of the Unknown

“Cinema is the human dream, a way to understand how our trauma fits into this existential jigsaw. Perhaps the greatest way to wield cinema is as a synthesis to use stories of high personal drama to present them as a reflection of the issues that pervade all of humanity – a fusion of the personal with the universal. This is the
perfect encapsulation of the cinema of Denis Villeneuve.”

“[His] camera usage makes subjects seem inconsequential one way or another with the visual language putting them in a state of seclusion. The purpose is to show that through isolation comes helplessness and this is exactly the same notion that comes with mystery, being in the unknown. The visuals are an extension of the idea of what it is to be dwarfed by an engulfing force.”

“Why does [he] want to employ mystery in all of his movies? Because in the work of Denis Villeneuve we’re shown the fragility of the human mind when we lose sight of what we know because of our obsession for seeking the truth.”

“Villeneuve is able to exploit the drama of scenes through when and how he reveals information. We may return to a scene and see it from multiple perspectives only to realize that when we thought we had the answer, we were in fact solving the wrong mystery the whole time. We become just like [the] characters who too are looking for answers unaware that they’re not asking the right questions. Our judgment becomes clouded as soon as we become emotionally invested and Villeneuve presents us with a world that appears clear on its surface yet we soon learn our vision was always hindered by our own biases.”

“There’s a cyclical nature in the films of Denis Villeneuve. The answers to a character’s questions are often revealed to us right at the beginning of a story. Only at the end of the journey do we realize that we’ve come full-circle but its only by entering the unknown the our true selves fully emerge.”

                                                 – Lewis Bond

David Lynch – A glimpse into the uncanny

Lewis Bond’s video essay on David Lynch may offer some insight into this work, especially timely with the return of Twin Peaks to television.

“I believe in an unspoken ceremony that occurs when we watch movies. If an audience is to truly offer themselves to cinema, an acknowledgment must be made on
behalf of the observer to momentarily
sacrifice their psychological and emotional bonds so that they be manipulated and molded by the artist. The viewer must then accept that as art is incapable of capturing one’s own
subjective experience, it can never
fulfill all the questions of the individual. Art’s preoccupation with
secrecy can feast on the deepest parts
of you but its mysteries can also
energize something profound within.  I suppose cinema’s true affliction as well as its triumph is that its answers are often destined to remain unknown and nowhere is this more truthful than in the work of David Lynch.”

 “Lynch submits a series of breaches to what we accept is our reality in the hope that we recognize that what we perceive is only a fraction of what we see and it’s exactly why Lynch intentionally misguides our perceptions through offering plots that embrace a subconscious manner of storytelling. Our expectations so often go unfulfilled in his movies because he shows that we expect so much from life yet know so little.”

                                                   – Lewis Bond

 

The Artist as Prophet with Enrique Martinez Celaya

Dandelion Salad with Chris Hedges RT America on Apr 29, 2017 On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges discusses the role of the artist with Enrique Martinez Celaya. The sculptor, painter, physicist and philosopher’s work focuses on the struggle of individuals to navigate the inner and outer realms of darkness that negate our […]

via Chris Hedges: Artists As Prophets — Dandelion Salad

 

“Today [it] is very difficult to know what an artist is. I think there’s a tremendous confusion, the consciousness of an artist, what an artist is and [what is] his or her role…[is] you know very murky. And they’re murky because there’s a cynical condition in society as a whole that permeates the arts and the arts have found that the only way for the artist to have a…role that they can…sort of put themselves in is the role of the jester, of the role of the impresario – a big sort of successful artist with 20 assistants making it work or some sort of comedic entertainment figure…”

“We need artists more than ever to to be the conscience of the moment to reflect back to us in a mirror what this society and what this moment is so we can see it because we cannot see it because of these creations and fabrications and reality TV [which] makes it so difficult for us to see what we’re going through…”

                                                                                 Enrique Martinez Celaya

 

The Invisible (or The Power of Forbearance)
Enrique Martinez Celaya
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