Friday, October 02, 2009

Significant Dances

I read the new Sirenia Digest over last night and this afternoon. A good issue, though, I think, by far the least "weird". "Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint" oddly enough reminded me of this recent, great Onion video about a "sexual arsonist" in Birmingham, Alabama, where, by another interesting coincidence, Caitlin used to live. Hmm.

"Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint" is obviously a less comical take on the subject, and returns to the recurrent theme in Sirenia of supernatural beings linked fundamentally to disasters or acts of violence.

The second story I liked even better. Called "Shipwrecks Above", it links the vampire myth with the myth of sirens. It explores a sense of entitlement felt by abusers that seems to be an important theme in Caitlin's work. I was reminded of recent discussions on The Howard Stern Show of MacKenzie Phillips' sexual relationship with her father and Robin Quivers', who had also been sexually abused by her father, describing the full access a father has to his daughter. That these guys are psychologically twisted into seeing opportunities with their kids--Howard Stern's been talking lately how he feels men who commit violence towards women are used to be being rewarded for efforts they make because it's the system they were taught by their parents, and they're frustrated when the women they desire don't bestow a reward corresponding to the labour they've put as collateral. Stern didn't put it this way, but to me this seems indicative of sociological damage inflicted by capitalism--the hardwired idea that a hard day's work is compensated by pay. It reminds me of how Michael Moore's been saying lately that capitalism is antithetical to democracy--its presumption of rights to responses to stimuli often conflict with the democratic ideal of everyone's equal right to happiness in society.

But back to "Shipwrecks Above"--again, it shows an abuser creating, through his abuse, another abuser, or creature like him. The aesthetic of this piece is particularly nice, just the use of words like "strigoi" and "Carpathian"* conjure the texture of Dracula and the mixture with the imagery of sea life creates a great sensual cocktail.

With breakfast to-day, I watched the second or third episode of Twin Peaks (depending on whether you count the pilot), the second one directed by David Lynch. His episodes are so much greater than the others, and they always leave me unenthusiastic to watch the next non-Lynch episode. To-day I was reflecting on how one of the things that set them apart is his talent for stepping back--audiences like to figure things out on their own. It's like Gavin Elster in Vertigo--the best way to manipulate people is to let them feel like they're manipulating themselves. So the episode begins with a static camera remaining all through the episode credits on the Horne family's dinner--no character is really given central focus, except a slight suggestion of Ben Horne's POV by putting him closest to the camera with a slight over-the-shoulder angle. So we're invited to make our own conclusions about Ben, Johnny, Sylvia and Audrey--a main character on the show, Audrey's incredibly never focused on in this scene. We stop thinking about what the episode is or is going to be, and we sort of glean this is a drab family ritual that Sylvia forces them to go through in some vain attempt at creating a real family dynamic. When Ben's brother Jerry bursts through the doors, we instinctively feel better at the injection of warmth that is his and Ben's relationship. And all this to help establish Ben, who's been positioned as a potential villain on the show at this point. This fits also with the tapestry of multifaceted humanity which is partially the essential nature of Twin Peaks.

Audrey's conversation with Donna at the RR is another highlight of subtle characterisation--Audrey putting her face close to Donna's when she tells her "Agent Cooper likes his coffee black" gives us superficial subtlety--Audrey and Donna giggle because they both know Audrey's telling Donna she likes Agent Cooper without explicitly saying it. It's a game of unintentionally revealed romantic motives that aren't truly unintentional--it lets Donna in, and in a way, let's "us" in, and we warm to the situation.

Then Audrey gets up and starts to dance. It's strange, and it puts Donna off--Donna's no longer allowed in, she doesn't quite understand what Audrey's up to, and Audrey knows this too. She's distancing herself from Donna after hinting at a darker relationship with her own father. This is Audrey the manipulator's defence mechanism, but also, I think, it's Audrey saying to Donna, "Hey, this girl you were laughing easily with a moment ago is actually far stranger than you can imagine."

My tweets from last night;

I don't know what anyone really wants.
Familiar faces peer across a bean.
Vegetables and legumes cruise the old haunts.
Somehow a brunette stripper made the scene.

*Apologies to anyone living in or near the Carpathian Mountains. Sorry, you're stuck with Dracula flavour.

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