Thursday, December 09, 2010

No Hay Banda

I see AICN has a piece on The Hobbit to-day, on how Orlando Bloom's closing in on a deal to appear in the Hobbit movies after Cate Blanchett's already been confirmed as playing Galadriel. The piece concludes, "the deals for fellow 'Rings' vets Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving have apparently yet to close."

Oh, you mean the people they actually need? Can someone tranq Peter Jackson, please? Has he merely relocated his compulsion to overeat? Please, Iluvatar, don't let this be the Lord of the Rings Holiday Special.

I went to see a counsellor at the community college to-day. Here are some things I drew in the waiting room;

My counsellor ended up being a nice Indian woman named Gopa who brought out two pages of my college career so far. The first page, all classes I took in the 90s, showed Cs, Ds, Fs, and one A. The second page, for the 00s, was a column of As, all English classes. So, I started thinking to myself, maybe I have changed. Maybe I can actually succeed academically. I thought about all the morons who've gotten good degrees. I need to take seven classes before I can transfer to a state university.

Of course, I haven't gone to school full time since 2000. Who knows how I'll do now. Well, generally when I get my hopes up about anything having to do with success in money or love they tend to be dashed eventually. On the other hand, terrible catastrophe has never really fallen on my head the way my parents' promised when I was younger. It's all been grey purgatory. Instead of discouraging me from trying, overall life has kind of given me an attitude of, "What else am I gonna do?" I'm not a Morrissey fan for nothing.

I printed out the newest Sirenia Digest and read half of it at Pokez downtown while I ate lunch yesterday and the other half to-day, also while having lunch. The new Digest is a sort of novella, "THE PRAYER OF NINETY CATS," told in second person, about a movie critic watching a film invented by Caitlin for the story. It's told half in the second person prose, and half in screenplay format. It's a story that picks up again Caitlin's apparent interest in lampooning sadistic, arrogant people in positions of power, and is also a story about the nature and value of illusion.

Being in second person creates a character in the narrator in an almost incidental way. Even if we're aware that the protagonist doesn't perceive the narrator's existence, a personality is implied by a narrator suggesting things to the reader/protagonist. Sort of like Lewis Carroll telling us to look at the picture of the Gryphon if we want to know what it looks like. The subject of the film within a story is Elizabeth Bathory, and her personality is oddly mirrored by the narrator's. Both seem as though they wish an authority was always implied in their words--at one point, the narrator tells us that a man in the theatre box office has a death's head tattoo, adding that he has a story if we wish to hear it, the mention of this in itself suggesting that we ought to be interested in the story the man has. Though, as I read this, I noticed the man serving me my burrito at Pokez yesterday had an arm covered with tattoos, and it occurred to me the various stories surrounding those tattoos were probably all very boring, as stories about tattoos generally are.

But the insistence by the narration that the man in the ticket booth does have an interesting story requires us, if we wish to continue reading while caring about what the narrator's saying, which is kind of key, to assume for the moment that what the narrator says is true, that the man does have an interesting story. The best way I could find to make this work as I was reading was to assume this was an example of an "unreliable narrator," so this narrator which was already a character by virtue of the mode developed even more of a personality. One could consider this sort of high-wire act prose and is, as that appellation would imply, impressive.

The narrator, early on, seems obliquely to refer to the Goddard quote, "Cinema is truth at 24 frames a second and every cut is a lie," by way of disagreeing with it, suggesting instead, as many who misunderstand Goddard do, that film is all illusion because the light and movement employed by the projector create the appearance of places, people, and things which aren't really there. This establishes the personality of the narrator as someone attempting to isolate his or herself in a position of authority through contrariness. Though, of course, when one considers that Goddard knew perfectly well how a film projector worked, that the nature of acting, set construction and design, and written scripts all created lies of their own, one can easily see he must not have meant to suggest that the projected image on a movie screen was literal truth in every way. Certainly Caitlin herself knows better, as I remember at one time she mentioned that her favourite Alfred Hitchcock movie was Rope, Hitchcock's experiment in creating a film with as few cuts as technology permitted at the time. What Goddard was talking about was how the audience interprets the moving image differently depending on whether a length of story is conveyed through cuts or a continuous shot. On some level, people accept the apparent reality of a continuous shot more than they do the situations suggested by cuts.

This portion of "THE PRAYER OF NINETY CATS" also seems to contain an allusion to Mulholland Drive, where Naomi Watts' and Laura Herring's characters visit a theatre where they're deeply struck by a woman singing Roy Orbison's "Crying" in Spanish before the woman collapses, revealing that she was lip syncing to a recording of the song. This coming at the end of a show apparently about emotional reactions manipulated by illusion. The scene itself demonstrates how Goddard was correct, as the continuous shots of the woman singing effectively convince us that she actually is singing, thereby creating that emotional response, before the fact that she's not singing is revealed by a cut. It appeared as though David Lynch actually had the woman singing and cut to the shot of her collapsing while the recording continued.

The climax of the story, dealing with a possible escape for Elizabeth Bathory from her terrible fate, also emphasises the value of dreams.

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