Since I’m ill and not doing much, trying to rest up for our trip to France, I have time to post a little more. So get ready for another exciting entry…
I recently received a blanket in the mail from my mother. I ordered it from Pendleton and she sent it to me:
Supposedly the imagery represents the Spirit Bear, symbol of protection and strength. To me the blanket symbolizes the Warmth Bear, protection from long-lingering winter. Anyway I like the bright colours.
In other news a miraculous hail storm filled our garden with ice the other night:
It fell for half an hour or so and blanketed everything. There are some more photos here.
Becky rented a fantastic movie recently: American Splendor. I know everyone has probably already seen it, but it was damned good. I hadn’t seen it all these years despite noticing it every time I went into the video store because I don’t tend to like “true” movies about “real” people. Especially the latest craze for movies about so-called geniuses.
Like Johnny Cash. A decent song-writer, great voice, not very creative, far from innovative, kind of a whacko, right? But now that he’s dead? He’s a genius! Really? Well, why weren’t you listening to him five, ten, twenty years ago? The man in black, my foot. Everybody has to claim to have always loved Johnny Cash now, because now that he’s dead, some media culture-makers have decided he’s important. Horseshit!
People need to think for themselves more than they do– that’s pure unadulterated fact. Make your own judgments about what you like and don’t like. Don’t rely on some magazine or newspaper or new movie to tell you how you ought to respond to an artist or work of art.
Movies about previously unknown geniuses and little known historical figures pretty much always suck ass. I think the writers think that becuase what they are writing about is “true” they don’t have to bother to make the script compelling. Frida, Iris, Walk the Line, Ray, Kinsey, Capote, and assorted others I can’t remember off the top of my head. I don’t mind movies about real people. When done well, they can be great. What I mind are two accompanying trends:
1) The lone genius problem. What is it with our culture and our obsession with individual genius? I think we know deep down that this concept is false, that all creativity is socially interdependent, so we need to reassure ourselves constantly that lone geniuses do exist and do deserve our admiration and worship. Otherwise why would Dan Brown deserve the millions of dollars he’s earned? We’re always looking for previously unknown lone geniuses so we can continue to believe this enchanting little lie that helps our particularly selfish version of capitalism fly in the face of the logical fact that nothing wonderful is created in a vaccuum.
2) The new genius sales trend. Everyone wants to write a book or make a film about a previously unexploited genius so that they can have their hand in the explosive sales-pie that inevitably follows discovery. I want to write the next “Frida”! Well I don’t. I want to pour acid on the celluloid of the next Frida before it gets to the cinemas. All we need is another film inspiring star-obsessed wanna-be cultural-elite loons to run out and buy Johnny Cash CDs and Frida Whatshername posters. If people would actually read books instead of just buying them, actually go to museums and view art instead of just seeing movies about the lives of artists, actually watch films and judge actors and actresses based on performance rather than tabloid judgmentalism and secret love-nest photography. Oh, what a world it would be!
American Splendor managed not to fall into the trap of the recent glut of untreated genius movies. It didn’t overblow its subject matter. The characters were interesting, story functional, acting solid. The filmmaking was great, with brilliant use of the real and fictionalised versions of this man, Harvey Pekar, and the important people in his life. Layers of post-modern representation enough to make Derrida and Hoegarden salivate. My favorite character was, predictably, Toby, whose discourse on Revenge of the Nerds was iconic. There was some good stuff in there, too, about the way that mainstream media will use and abuse random people when they are flavour of the month.
Which leads me neatly to something I find fascinating. Most people who didn’t like the film, such as these people commenting on the Internet Movie Database, criticise it for portraying “an uninspiring life led by a failure of a person” which pretty much makes my point for me.
Since when are stories only supposed to be about “great” people, “geniuses”, “heroes”? Personally I’m sick of spies and politicians. What’s wrong with a normal guy in Cleveland? His life isn’t ordinary to me: it’s nothing like my life. And since when is holding down a job your whole life and writing a beloved series of underground comic books on the side failure? I’d love to hear about the brilliant successes of the people who wrote that this guy’s story wasn’t worth telling. I guess most of us can’t compete with living a middle-class lifestyle in Pomona Beach or Palm Angeles. Fuck the working class loser in the midwest: I live in California. And why are so many people asking what they can “learn” from this guy? What does anyone learn from any film? What do you learn from a shitfest like Magnolia? Nothing. How to blame your father for everything, maybe. How to be a worthless California dick, definitely.
Are Americans so afraid of failure, so terrified of living an ordinary life, of having it proved to them that they are never going to be fabulously rich, or become a rock star over night, that they reject anything which suggests that ordinariness might be okay? Anything that threatens their fantasy of eventual wealth and fame? And maybe that’s why the culture is obsessed with lone geniuses. Maybe I, too, am an unrecognised genius. Maybe I will be the next “Frida”! Write the next “Big Fat Greek Wedding”! Be recognised! Succeed.
Weakness of mind – the reason our nation is being sold to the Corporations and the thought police are being marshalled by the Fourth Reich. Today deceived by fantasies of father-blame and future-fame. Tomorrow unsure how we ever got involved in a war with Iran.
And, incidentally, this star-worship trend is perhaps part of our current troubles with the Middle East and a lot of people in pretty much every other country in the world. The fact that our representations of ourselves almost always appeal to fantasy rather than reflect reality is one of the reasons the general poor in the world hate us so much. They see us all as self-obsessed, overweight, super rich, obnoxious, useless California fuckwads. I’d rather be represented by Harvey Pekar myself.