Author Archive

Corroborating the presence of elders

“The plight of elderhood is one of the human echoes of the ecological dilemma.

If elderhood is an identity and swept up with all the other identity clamor of our time then what you’d go about doing is looking for people with that quote personality type or that kind of wrinkle.

I’m gonna suggest to you that elderhood is not a figment of personality. It’s not an aspect of identity. It has nothing to do with the particular qualities of individuals.

Elderhood is first, foremost, and will always be a cultural function and in that understanding an elder is a culture worker and as such not inherently inevitably or mandatorily an old person.

Having said that I’ll acknowledge something that it would appear to me to be a truism that while all elders tend to be older not all older people are elders and so there’s something that works in that arrangement.

This means elders themselves must be on the steep learning curve and they must be deep running students of their times and their responsiveness to their times is what qualifies them. So the word response ability really works here.

You know it’s not a sense of burden the way people usually use the word, the sense of responsibility means simply the capacity to respond maybe to distinguish that from react. Maybe react, we could use that word to describe certain responses you have that attempt to satisfy you or assuage you or reassure you, whereas the capacity to respond might have nothing to do with you trying to feel better about anything – it might have to do with your sense of a kind of moral political cultural spiritual obligation to fully inhabit the conditions of citizenship if you will. But your citizenry is not to a particular geopolitical identity. Your deep citizenship is a devotional one, not an affiliation one and in in that sense you know the work that you join yourself to is dictated by your times’ troubles, and that’s what you’re a citizen of – you’re a citizen of a troubled time not Canada or the United States, or any other you know freewheeling entity today.

So if that’s possible then it means that elders are not in the business of getting themselves recognized, they’re in the business of recognizing. So you could say in a time when elderhood has gone into terrible abeyance, which is certainly our time now, then it becomes the eldering responsibilities of elders to function at the level of recognizing incipient elderhood in their midst and proceeding accordingly by acknowledging it, recognizing it, corroborating it, living as if it’s true, authorizing it without ever trying to be included in it or to benefit directly from it. You follow what I’m saying, okay? It’s a radical reading of what it means to be an elder and it’s not a club you get to join. It’s the ending of all clubs in a time like ours that no elder in a time like this, if I may sound programmatic about it, no elder at a time like this would ever call themselves an elder ever okay? Why not? Because this is the responsibility of the people around them – to recognize elderhood in their midst, to corroborate it and everything I just said. And if it doesn’t happen, it’s because there’s no elders to do so and because the appetite for elderhood has gone missing in the way we talked earlier about if kids or young people are not exposed to it then their appetite for it begins to atrophy and they trade it in for self-reliance or for a kind of principled anxiety that masquerades as having a conscience but it’s more at the level of just a chronic free-floating anxiety where you care about everything but only enough to paralyze you or to animate you with extraordinary levels of kind of sulfuric anger, an incandescent rage that doesn’t know how to proceed. This kind of thing, which is a kind of narcissism frankly.

So this is an awful lot to say in response to a short question but if at the risk of sounding like I’m giving a a formula of how to pull this off. I would simply say in a time like ours now, it might be the fundamental responsibility of people who may yet come to inhabit the elder function, that they must do so minus acknowledgement, minus recognition. And the way they do it is by corroborating the presence of elders around them. So a very quick way of saying it,  it would come down to this – the greater elderhood skill now is the skill of having, of knowing how to have elders in your midst. It is not the skill of knowing how to be one.”

Stephen Jenkinson


Everything is alive and everything speaks

 

Sharon Blackie in conversation with David Abram

 

Dr. Abram’s work engages the ecological depths of the imagination, exploring the ways in which sensory perception, poetics, and wonder inform the relation between the human body and the breathing earth. His philosophical craft is profoundly informed by the European tradition of phenomenology (in particular, by the work of the French phenomenologist, Maurice Merleau-Ponty) and by his fieldwork with indigenous peoples in southeast Asia and North America.

Dr. Blackie’s unique approach to working with the mythic imagination, fairy tales and folklore highlights the insights these traditions can offer us into authentic and meaningful ways of being which are founded on a return to the native wisdom traditions of the West, and above all on cultivating deep and enduring relationships to the places we inhabit.


‘The boundary between our heart and the rest of world is just a convention, waiting to be transcended.’

 
 


Can you see?

 

Writing for Bright Wall / Dark Room (one of the premier film sites around today), Emmy Potter’s essay  – “Can You See?”: Navigating the Murky, Powerful Waters of the Female Psyche in Minority Report decolonizes what appears to be another formulaic Tom Cruise vehicle. Her insight turns the genre on its ear by focusing more on the female characters potential to subvert the traditional (read patriarchal) and corrupt (built on the dehumanization of women) systems of power.

Below are a couple of excerpts but the whole essay is worth a read.

“On its surface, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report is a dark, slick, sci-fi thriller centered on a man on the run (it’s the second film in his unofficial, early 2000s “Running Man Trilogy”). But Anderton’s destiny, and that of the other men in the film, hinges upon the abilities, memories, and empathy of women. More specifically, the gifted female precognitive at its center, Agatha. While the film explores such heady themes as free will versus predetermination, the ethical boundaries of technology, and fractured parent/child relationships (this is a Spielberg movie, after all), Minority Report also enters the murky waters of the female psyche. And once it goes there, all the men struggle to stay afloat.”

 

 

 

“Though disguised as a neo-noir, in many ways Minority Report is really a sci-fi allegory about how corrupt systems thrive through the subjugation of women, the exploitation and dismissal of their pain, and the underestimation of their emotions and abilities. The film shows that when women dare to express their emotions fully, they not only expose the flaws in the system, but threaten its destruction. Any woman who persists in asserting her own humanity is disastrous to men who have spent their entire lives denying it.”

 

 

 

 


Death at Work: The Mirror sees it all

“In his memoirs Nicolas Roeg (who passed away last week), who cast David Bowie as alien in The Man Who Fell To Earth, refers to the mirror as ‘the very essence of cinema’. He who searches for mirror scenes in films and series will be confronted with indestructible metaphors. David Bowie united them all.”

A video essay (click this link if the above embed is not working) by Maarten Slagboom and Menno Kooistra

Films: David Bowie – Blackstar (2016) The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) The Lady From Shanghai (1947) Eureka (1983) The Cabin In The Woods (2012) Performance (1970) Track 29 (1988) Bad Timing (1980) Don’t Look Now (1973) Walkabout (1971) Duck Soup (1933) American Psycho (2000) Frankie And Alice (2010) Happy Days (1974-1984) Eyes Wide Shut (1999) The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001) Pulp Fiction (1994) Taxi Driver (1976) La Haine (1995) The 25th Hour (2002) Raging Bull (1980) Under The Skin (2013) Op Afbetaling (1992) An American Werewolf In London (1981) Shaun of the Dead (2004) Twin Peaks (S02E08 & S02E22) Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Alice Through The Looking Glass (1988) Dead of Night (1945) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) Triangle (2009) Sucker Punch (2011) Orpheus (1950) Blood of a Poet (1932) The Fly (1986) Black Swan (2010) Nymphomaniac (2013) The Shining (1980) Carrie (1976) Over Canto (2011) Dracula (1931) The Mirror/Zerkalo (1975) David Bowie – Lazarus (2016) David Bowie – Look Back in Anger (1978) David Bowie – Loving the Alien (1984) David Bowie – Thursday’s Child (1999) David Bowie – Boys Keep Swinging (1978) David Bowie – Miracle Goodnight (1992) The Hunger (1980) David Bowie – Pierrot in Turquoise (1967)

Paintings: Narcissus by Caravagio (1594-1696) Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse (1903) and Narcissus by Gerard van Kuijl (1640)

Music: Jeff Russo – Dr. Katz (2016) Jeff Russo – The Waving Cat (2016) Jeff Russo – The Squadroom (2016) Chris Isaak – Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing (1995)

 

 


American Psychosis

“In a 2010 essay published on Adbusters, Hedges caught the eye of filmmaker Amanda Zackem, when he succinctly spelled out the problems with totalitarian capitalism and corporate power. Those ideas deeply resonated with Zackem and caused her to reach out to Hedges about bringing his essay into the cinematic realm in order to expose them to a larger audience.”

““American Psychosis” serves as a vital entry point to critically observing, thinking, and acting on the imbalances one sees in society. “I learned long ago that you can’t change anybody unless they want to change themselves. With this in mind, my intention when making this film was to encourage people to begin to think critically about the world we live in as opposed to just going through our daily motions. Most of us aren’t even aware of the oppressive, inequitable systems we are a part of, or if we are, we choose not to look, or not to talk about it, because it is uncomfortable. I want people to question the world we live in, the systems we’ve set up.”

“The United States is a very strange place when you really think about it. We celebrate freedom and yet we live in a nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have tons of money, but people go bankrupt and/or die because they can’t afford healthcare.  We have an abundance of food, much of which ends up in the trash, yet so many children and families are going hungry. Our education system is a mess. Teachers aren’t paid properly, nor do they have enough funding or resources to do their job. Our universities are putting our youth into massive debt.  Women are still not paid as much as men; the list goes on and on. And yet in the United States productivity has never been higher but average wages have been virtually stagnant since the 1970’s. Corporations pay hardly any taxes and hide their money abroad and our governmental system somehow allows this to continue?  All of this, as Chris highlights, is totally insane.”

“The humanities in the United States have been getting beaten down for a while now. The digital age has created impatience and dissolution of substance. We live in the land of fast paced, pop culture. Everything is created to sell to the consumer who at best has to somehow sift through layers of corporate manipulation in search of inner truth, or at worst doesn’t even recognize or question their actions in the world. Our current culture leaves no time for emotional processing or reflection, instead we simply move on to the next headline or viral video. We live in a culture of distraction.”

“The humanities reason for existence is to stimulate critical thought. Once critical thought is replaced by overt and subliminal consumer messaging there are no more humanities, and even more sadly, we begin to lose our own humanity.”

“If they have not yet been outright defunded or cast aside in place of more “productive” STEM initiatives, many pursuits of the humanities have themselves been co-opted by market forces. Pieces of art sell for many millions of dollars at auctions as they’re not valued for their cultural impact and aesthetic beauty, but rather, as an investment opportunity sure to yield high gains.”


To better understand our position as living beings in a living world

 

“An inspired collaboration between filmmakers Peter Mettler (The End of Time) and Emma Davie (I Am Breathing) and radical writer and philosopher David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous), Becoming Animal is an urgent and immersive audiovisual quest, forging a path into the places where humans and animals meet, where we pique our senses to witness the so-called natural world—which in turn witnesses us, prompting us to reflect on the very essence of what it means to inhabit our animal bodies.”

Excerpts from an interview with the filmmakers,

“David’s writing is very poetic and descriptive, but in the cinema it is the images and sounds that do most of the work.”

…we describe “nature” as something fundamentally apart from ourselves. This is a central paradox that we were always aware of and engaged with throughout the process of making Becoming Animal. Although the film is partially about our urge to exist beyond our limited notion of self and other – to claim a more expanded sense of being that connects us sensorially to everything – there is also an additional aspect that even to think this realization is to already be one step removed from the immediacy of experience. So the perennial question of how the mind both liberates and limits is also present, and film, with its endless hall of mirrors, can reflect this. We hope the film exists in a space in which the cumulative effect of David’s ideas, woven into a cinematic journey, will start to create new links in the minds of the audience, resonating with their own deep questions about these themes.”

“It is a paradox to make a film about our senses and the connection to our surroundings, while also addressing how these technologies have changed our relationships to our surroundings. But that is exactly what we wanted to embrace, so that as one watches the film there is an awareness of the mediated nature of the experience of cinema itself. This is why at times you will hear the rustling, breathing animal (Peter) that holds the camera as he makes his way through the brush, and why you see the crew, cameras, and David – our “guide” – intermittently throughout. This layer provides a way to better understand what we are all going through, whether as filmmakers, tourists, or as a cultural audience.”

“We hope that the film addresses in some way what we have been calling a crisis of perception, exemplified by the fact that while our culture possesses more tools and knowledge than ever before, our understanding and awareness of the world remains quite limited. It seems that, in looking into the root of our problems, it’s also important to address how we actually see.”

“Empathy, awareness and reciprocity are qualities we hope Becoming Animal may evoke, to better understand our position as living beings in a living world.”

The Village & The Forest

“While persons brought up within literate culture often speak about the natural world, indigenous, oral peoples sometimes speak directly to that world, acknowledging certain animals, plants, and even landforms as expressive subjects with whom they might find themselves in conversation.”

David Abram


Color is Imaginary. Space is Infinite. Everything appears to be in a Constant State of Flux*

*From Maurice Tuchman’s ‘The Spiritual in Art – Abstract Painting 1890-1985’ describing Frantisek Kupka’s translation of his visionary experiences into visual form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frantisek Kupka 1871-1957


Art and the Occult

 

Gary Lachman spoke recently at The Black Light Exhibition, an event sponsored by The Center for Contemporary Culture Barcelona.

Lachman, whose presentation begins at about the 5:30 mark in the above video, briefly covers a history of the relationship between art and the occult. He speaks for roughly 35 minutes tracing the roots of this phenomenon from paleolithic cave paintings to the varied works of William Blake to the secret Gnostic paintings of Hilma af Klint and to the expressions of contemporary artists such as the filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, which is then followed by a Q and A session.

This exhibition stood on the shoulders of another exhibition curated by Maurice Tuchman in the 1980’s in Los Angeles, ‘The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985’.

Tuchman in the introduction to the wonderful book published in conjunction with this event states,

“Abstract art remains misunderstood by the majority of the viewing public. Most people, in fact, consider it meaningless. Yet around 1910, when groups of artists moved away from representational art toward abstraction, preferring symbolic color to natural color, signs to perceived reality, ideas to direct observation, there was never an outright dismissal of meaning. Instead artists made an effort to draw upon deeper and more varied levels of meaning, the most pervasive of which was the spiritual.”

The cover of the accompanying publication for The Black Light Exhibition

From the CCCB site,

“Esoteric traditions can be traced back to the very origins of civilization, having served at different times to structure philosophical, linguistic, scientific or spiritual ideas. Despite their importance for the development of twentieth-century art, they tend to be ignored or disparaged these days due to the dominance of rationalistic thinking and the difficulty of talking about these subjects in clear, direct language.

In recent years, however, many artists have taken a renewed interest in subjects such as alchemy, secret societies, theosophy and anthroposophy, the esoteric strands in major religions, oriental philosophies, magic, psychedelia and drug-use, universal symbols and myths, the Fourth Way formulated by the Armenian mystic Georges Gurdjieff, etc., generating an interest in these fields that had not existed since the counterculture of the sixties and seventies.

According to the writer Enrique Juncosa, curator of this exhibition, this interest may be due to the fact that we are, once again, living in a restless and unsatisfied world, worried about new colonial wars, fundamentalist terrorism, serious ecological crisis and nationalist populism, just as in the sixties and seventies people feared an imminent and devastating nuclear catastrophe. Furthermore, much of today’s mainstream art is actually rather boring due to its complete lack of mystery and negation of any kind of poetization or interpretation of our experience of it.””

 

Photo by Asa Lunden

Photo from a 2013 Exhibition of works by the Swedish mystic Hilma af Klint who as Lachman describes in his presentation is probably the first Abstract artist, predating Wassily Kandinsky

 


The Resistance of Poets

[N]obody is willing to invest money in poetry. But film will continue existing thanks to the resistance of…poets. You can be sure that cinema history is made of films that recreate the inner world of their artist, and not the movies we see today and...

“[N]obody is willing to invest money in poetry. But film will continue existing thanks to the resistance of…poets. You can be sure that cinema history is made of films that recreate the inner world of their artist, and not the movies we see today and that I hope will not continue to please the public for much longer. Since the beginning, cinema has been in a difficult situation. To make movies, you need money. To write poetry, all you need is some paper and pencil. I bow to those directors who keep trying, with what they have, to make their own movies. We have seen that these films have a specific, personal rhythm.”

Andrei Tarkovsky

(From the wondrous site created and curated by Edwin Adrian Nieves  –   A-BitterSweet-Life.)

 


Dr Sharon Blackie interviews Stephen Jenkinson

“Today we have an Easter treat for you: a new episode of The Hedge School Podcast. In this episode, Hedge School founder Dr Sharon Blackie interviews teacher and creator of the Orphan Wisdom School, Stephen Jenkinson (https://orphanwisdom.com/). The conversation is focused on what it is to be an elder in today’s world…”

via The Hedge School Podcast: Stephen Jenkinson — The Hedge School blog

Reposting this podcast of a conversation between two people I greatly admire, this serves as a reminder that there is great and urgent work still to be done. Both Sharon Blackie and Stephen Jenkinson bring a unique perspective to what the western world lacks in terms of a mythological connection to the land as well as a truly mature human outlook on the predicament of the contemporary catastrophe we find ourselves in.

Here is an excerpt from Jenkinson’s forthcoming book, ‘Come of Age’

“It used to be that age was held in some esteem, considerable esteem even, as the concentration of life experience. Life experience and its many lessons were once the fundament of personal and cultural wisdom. It stands to reason, then, that with this many old people around we should be awash in the authentic, time-tested, grey wisdom that should emanate from them. And there should be cultural initiatives that expose the general population to this wisdom. And this should deepen this culture’s sanity and capacity for sustainable decision making. And that should make us all ancestors worth claiming by a future time, now that we’ve come to our elder-prompted senses and begun to proceed as if unborn future generations deserve to drink the distillate of our wisdom and our sustainable example. At the very least, the distillate of aged wisdom should balance the burden and the books, and old people should have worth as they once might have done, and the culture should break even on the deal. You’d think that this is an inevitable result of an aging population in a civilized place. We should be smarter, deeper, wiser. Especially wiser.

Well, here’s what is becoming glaringly obvious: there is nothing inherently ennobling about aging. Nothing. There’s no sign that anything lends old people steadiness or wisdom or magic from on high or from down below, just because they get old. If we don’t train young people and middle aged people in elder hood we will have no elderhood. There is no such training.

It isn’t any longer a matter of inviting elders, those of them left, back into the fold. They aren’t out there , waiting on our invitation. They aren’t out there. Elders are a sentinel species for humanness, and like other forms of life in our corner of the world they’ve mysteriously gone missing. Young people are, often involuntarily, looking for them, and they can’t find them. How about this: old people are looking for them too. The retreat centres attest to it. If you’re looking for signs of the end times, that alone might do.

I am making the case for elderhood, not for easy agedness. I’m doing so mostly by wondering what happened. Because something happened. Something happened to ancestors and elders and honour. There’s work to be done, and there’s an old wisdom to be learned where there used to be the wisdom of old, and you can’t fix what you don’t understand. That’s where we’re headed: to grievous wisdom. Let us see if we can bear the sound, the particular sound, of no hand clapping.

This is a plea and a plot for elders in training.”

‘Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble’ should be available beginning in July of 2018.

 


The Portals of Bresson


What Magnificent Creation Grows from your Head

The Worlds of

Albin Brunovsky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Strange and Beautiful

 

An intelligent Sci-Fi film adapted from an intelligent 1st book in a trilogy from a ‘New Weird Fiction‘ writer Jeff VanderMeer – Annihilation creates a world with echoes from  previous Sci-Fi cinematic masterpieces.

It is a film that asks to be experienced first before engaging in an ongoing interpretation. And like all good art it opens up the viewer to many different possible meanings and layers that will certainly require multiple viewings to absorb everything that is being presented.

 

 

Mysteriously disturbing, haunting, frightening at times,  yet exhilarating and ultimately profound, unfolding like a dream – it can be seen at once as a psychological, biological, existential, and metaphysical question of our existence on this planet along with other myriad life-forms. And ultimately it frames that question with regards to what is our place in this universe.

It deserves to be seen in a theater to experience the full force of its mastery. It won’t be around in theaters for long as the studio underestimated its appeal, so see it soon if you are in the U.S and Canada if you can.

 


No Gods No Masters A History of Anarchism

From Icarus Films

“The Russian Revolution. The Spanish Republic. The Paris Commune. The Ukrainian revolution. The Mexican Revolution. From the late 19th century until World War II, anarchists played a key role in these events and in social movements that would shape the world we live in.

Yet these contributions are largely forgotten. Anarchists were considered so dangerous that forces of the state slaughtered them by the thousands, while they were betrayed, arrested, and killed by their erstwhile revolutionary allies.

Anarchy is often used as a synonym for chaos and destruction – with anarchists seen as black-clad nihilists fomenting violence at peaceful protests. But NO GODS NO MASTERS reveals the far more complex history of a viable social system and the men and women who devoted themselves to making it a reality.

NO GODS NO MASTERS is a sympathetic history of a century of anarchist thought and practice, featuring leading historians and essayists, dramatic archival footage, and lively commentary that keeps the subject engaging. Divided into sections each based on key events, NO GODS NO MASTERS is a comprehensive yet accessible introduction to the multi-faceted global anarchist movement – once a mass force that sought not to seize political power, but to utterly destroy it.”

Part 1: The Passion for Destruction (1840–1906)

“This episode of NO GODS NO MASTERS shows how anarchism emerged from the horrendous social conditions facing workers at a time when industrialization was, paradoxically, providing better hygiene and social standards – for some. In an era in which the life expectancy of workers was 30 years—most of those spent in misery—it is no surprise that new approaches would arise.

Tracing the history of early anarchist thought from Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who declared that property is theft, to Mikhail Bakunin, who advocated violent revolution to destroy the state completely, THE PASSION FOR DESTRUCTION provides a look at both the theoretical and practical origins of the movement.

Anarchists played a role in the revolutionary Paris Commune of 1871, which was crushed with an unprecedented brutality that saw the deaths of as many as 20,000 people. It was the kind of response anarchists would soon face whenever they succeeded in wresting power from authority.

Anarchists issued a formal declaration of principals following their first international, held in St-Imier, Switzerland, in 1872, advocating free speech, free thought, equality for all, atheism, internationalism, and an end to political parties.

THE PASSION FOR DESTRUCTION follows the expansion of the anarchist movement from Europe to America, where it grew, fueled by disillusioned immigrants. Anarchists would spread their influence through general strikes – a form of action they developed – and collective action within the trade union movement, which was concerned with much more far-reaching change than working conditions. The film also offers an in-depth look at the Haymarket Affair, which saw four anarchists wrongfully hanged for a bomb that went off during a demonstration against police violence, and which would deeply influence anarchist activists such as Emma Goldman.

But even as anarchist-influenced revolts would spread through much of the world, the movement faced a sharp division between those advocating “propaganda of the deed” (bombings and other violent acts that would serve as a catalyst for revolution) and those who favoured the more incremental gains of syndicalism.”

 

Part 2: Land and Freedom (1907–1921)

“By the early 20th century, anarchists in France were a powerful enough constituency to draw the French president to an event. In England, they were considered so dangerous that when they occupied a London building, it took the full force of heavy artillery and 800 police officers (some under the eye of Winston Churchill) to dislodge them.

LAND AND FREEDOM looks at differing strains within the anarchist movement during the peak of its popularity – when it seemed, for a time, that the dream of anarchist revolution might come to pass. This was an era of social ferment and experimentation, including communal living, nudism and gender equality; educational reform designed to usher in the development of “the new man”; the resurgence of propaganda of the deed in the guise of violent robberies and shootouts with police; and the participation of anarchists in revolutions from Mexico to Russia.

Anarchism waned in Europe during the years leading up to WWI, but the 1910 Mexican Revolution took up the torch, and drew the support of anarchists and anti-authoritarians including the thinkers and activists Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, and Joe Hill of the International Workers of the World. But despite the early gains of the Zapatistas, they would be betrayed and slaughtered by their allies. Anarchists who participated in the 1917 Russian Revolution suffered the same fate. Happy to have their support in toppling the government, the communists then suppressed them with what Trotsky called “an iron broom.”

While it seemed that the dream of an anarchist revolution was within grasp, World War I would put an end to popular revolt, as young men went to the front. A movement that had once seemed poised to take over the world was now severely weakened.”

 

 

Part 3: In Memory of the Vanquished (1922–1945)

“This episode of NO GODS NO MASTERS opens with the United States during the Depression, and the galvanizing role of the conviction and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. It was a period during which anarchists were characterized as bomb-throwers, drunkards, and Bolsheviks. And in a country that saw trade unionism and any fight for workers’ rights as an existential threat, anarchists could not be tolerated. Indeed, the government and police sometimes teamed up with organized crime to fight them.

It’s not as though the propaganda was without basis: anarchists, including the strain of thought to which Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti belonged, had committed a series of bombings in the US. Indeed, to protest their arrest, the world’s first car bomb was detonated on Wall Street, killing 38 people. Communists saw the pair as martyrs, and fought for their release, in a calculated attempt to win over anarchist sympathizers.

IN MEMORY OF THE VANQUISHED traces the appropriation of anarchism by communists, and of anarchist symbolism by fascists in France, Italy, and Spain, and takes an in-depth look at the Spanish Revolution of 1936, which was heavily anarchist in Catalonia. Remarkable newsreel footage from Barcelona shows smoothly functioning life in a city run largely on anarchist principles, with collectively run arts organizations and companies, and without bureaucracies and bosses. But this too, would not last, as anarchists paradoxically entered the republican government in order to face Franco’s fascists. The anarchist militias would end up being absorbed into the republican troops.

With the defeat of the Spanish Republic, and squeezed between Stalinists, fascists, and capitalists, anarchists found themselves in disarray, with nowhere to turn politically as the Second World War loomed. The anarchist movement seemed doomed. But was it?

The three episodes of NO GODS NO MASTERS offer an in-depth historical perspective on the anarchist movement, but also make implicit links to the present. Anarchism arose in a period of inequality and social unrest. The words “war on terror” were first applied to the late 19th-century fight against anarchists. Despite the diversity of thought among anarchists, the popular perception has remained remarkably static from opponents on both left and right – seeing them largely as violent nihilists. NO GODS NO MASTERS goes a long way towards rectifying that view, and raises the question of whether anarchist thought could appeal to a new generation of activists too.”

 


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.

 


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


The Mysterious Was Always Around the Corner

A Short film about the life of Leonora Carrington

(A few examples of her work below)

 

 

 


 

 

 


“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