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The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be."
Jesus said, "Have you discovered, then, the beginning, that you look for the end? For where the beginning is, there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death."
In the beginning, it was as simple as an embrace that made me feel like home.
The Magnetic Fields - You Love to Fail
Exactly one year ago today, I began my blogging adventure to cover my experiences at cinemas in the Triangle inspired by one disappointing experience.
It could have been worse.
This led me to some of the more significant cinematic experiences of my life, and gave me an opportunity to flesh out and revisit what makes the medium of the moving image so incredibly potent for me. It doesn't happen in a vacuum - except that it does. The din of the theater is the vacuum, and the light from the projector parallels Day 1 of the Genesis creation myth.
Let there be light.
Movies are powerful because they speak to both sides of our brains, and stimulate both head and heart. At least, when the goods delivered do the hard work of making moves that show meaning to mankind.
But maybe it's all just supposed to be for fun? Sure, it's been fun.The show goes on, so it's fine. Sure. So. Here is something rather than nothing.
To help tell my tales, as is appropriate in all realms of communication, I'll be enlisting the help of one of my favorite bands, The Magnetic Fields.
The search for meaning in these light projections continues.
On that note, please join me in a moment of silence, from which both meaning and meaninglessness can come, and will, in the course of this post.
The Magnetic Fields - Silence is an actual track on their The Wayward Bus album.
In the din of the cinema I worship the silence interrupted only by revelation.*
Inside of outside reality I'm un-busily becoming what's explicitly meant to be shown, and taking it in, or rejecting it, as either other or my own.
In a Quaker Meeting, as in the movies, silence is broken by revelation. In the active calm of intentional reflection we find introspection beyond language. Like other Friends, and as a surprise to some of my own, I very much enjoy and appreciate the silence. Last Sunday I went to early meeting, which will have anywhere from 1-8 in attendance in contrast to the full meeting house of 200+ at 10am. Those meetings tend to be quieter. Is there less revelation, or more reverence for the silence?
It reminds me of how it is to go to the movies, and while it would be nice to have a full House, having a small, reverent few is sometimes preferable to the noise. Quakers are not the ones asking for your money.
Quakers are actually quite fascinating in the scope of Christianity. They have long rejected institutional dogmas including the integrity and infallibility of the hole-y Bible. Rather than preaching from a pulpit they count all in attendance as a worthy conduit for the Spirit.
I also found a Friend at Durham Friends Meeting who assured me the entire meeting would vouch for the authenticity of the marriage I performed if any questions should be raised about the veracity of my online ordination. We then chatted about The Gospel of Thomas, the crux of my break from Biblical Christianity.
When I was in the fifth grade a neighbor invited me over to watch a movie with her family. STIGMATA (1999, dir. Wainwright). Something must have stuck in my head about it, because I didn't have any conscious thought about The Gospel of Thomas post-film. I didn't seek it out or anything. Between that viewing and a later-life rewatching, around 2009 I'd gotten hold of Elaine Pagels' lecture on CD about the Gospel with a paperback copy. I still have that copy, beat all to hell and yet, after 1600 years of silence, here we have it.
Watching the film again a few years ago, I ruminated on art's ability to get into one's subconscious and influence the viewer through space and time. Like it all had meant something.
While I heartily enjoy feature films, short films, 16mm educational films, avant garde french films from the 1930's that are in the public domain, narrative and documentary films, experimental films, epics, genre films, classic hollywood films, yadda yadda, I must say there's a lot to be said for the formal ethos of a quality television series. There's so much more to play with, so many more reasons for the mind to wander and can be carried along at not so focused and fast of a pace.
Features are nice because it all has to be compacted into a short, set amount of time, and using narrative conventions time-tested to keep an audience engaged over that span of time. Short stories are easily adapted into films, novels less so. I think television series today are tending to that novel thirst for fully fleshed out stories.
For this reason, I'll be including both an account of my experiences in local cinemas as well as brief reviews of series I've been watching this summer.
Oh, how I yearn for depth.
Someday, when the power of peace is appreciated, maybe it will be time. There's so much more to be found by going deeper.
On that, you just have to trust me.
The Magnetic Fields - The Things We Did and Didn't Do
These pieces were especially helpful as aesthetically, philosophically, emotionally resonant palate cleansers.
Kelly Sears | Shadowbox Studio | July 3, 2019
This special screening of work by artist Kelly Sears, currently in the area completing a residency with Level Retreat, reminded me how nice it is when the craft of the moving image is simplified to a small number of committed parties who value the work of art over the glamour of the filmmaking venture. Simplicity can be so beautiful. I especially enjoyed The Drift ("They got sick from all the emptiness out there"); Pattern for Survival ("Don't pretend you have no fears"); and Applied Pressure.
Those Mischievous Girls | Presented by A/V Geeks
King's Raleigh | June 18, 2019
Let me first say again how much I love A/V Geeks screenings. Even if there is a dull moment, it doesn't last very long. More importantly, there are unique and rare experiences, itches scratched here like nowhere else in the Triangle cinema community.
Like the Mischievous Lads program before it, this program included an early work by director Caleb Deschanel (Lost Puppy). It's really wonderful to see where great artists get started.
The real meat here was in That's Stealing. Although few notes were made, this piece came back to me time and again as I questioned my own existence: am I a thief? Interloper? Opportunistic heathen?
No. I'm fucking not. I work hard, both on my own work and what I share with others, in material exchange and investments in friendship and care.
All My Tomorrows was also a fun exploration of how responsible I've been in my experiments with drug use over the years.
Hollywood in Bits and Pieces
Durham Cinematheque | May 17, 2019
While there were a lot of lovely pieces screened, including the wholly unique cue-dot reel, by far my favorite piece was an 8-minute version of The Wind (1928, dir. Sjöström) with Lillian Gish. I can't wait to watch the full film, though I have a feeling I might prefer the brevity of this unique piece screened at the inimical Durham Cinematheque.
I highly recommend trying out one of these screenings, and make sure you get there early to enjoy the Analog Museum.
Little Darlings (1980, dir. Maxwell)
Presented by Cinema Overdrive
Carolina Theatre of Durham | May 29, 2019
My God, I wish I had seen this film when I was a kid.
Our humble programmer made the comment that this film, in its dealings with the sexuality of 15 year old girls, just wouldn't get made today. And maybe he's right.
Nonetheless, this under-served community - independent, motivated young women with perfectly healthy and normal sexual awakenings - may need external representations of their conflicts to better understand the consequences of choices made in the heat of those conflicts.
Young women seeking out sexual and romantic experiences with older, more experienced men and the consequences.
Young women seeking more acceptable-seeming experiences with peers that demonstrate no care, compassion, or concern for their true vulnerabilities and the consequences.
Too late now. A little catharsis was as meaningful as any little death.
Skyscraper Souls (1932, dir. Selwyn)
Presented by MovieDiva
Carolina Theatre of Durham | June 5, 2019
While I can't claim to have seen nearly the number of MovieDiva screenings I would like to have attended as of late, I am so glad I caught this screening of Skyscraper Souls.
Because I agitate, like most people do, for something better - more exciting - more lucrative.
Because I yearn for the attention of people who seem so much higher than me.
In the end, like any foolish girl, I'm not so different from anyone including those I would judge to be selfish or inadequate in some way.
I'm certainly not immune to dismissing people as stupid in some cases, when really, I'm probably dumber than them in lots of ways that may or may not be obvious given the contents of my little blog here.
Stupid girl. Do you deliberately misread your audience, or yourself?
Hollow men. Headpiece filled with straw. Embittered cockpiece.
The Magnetic Fields - Chicken With Its Head Cut Off
Both of these films were fun overall fun and offered accessible illustrations of some of the deeper conflicts Western ideology and metaphysics.
Reason vs madness, fiction vs reality, good vs evil, and the battle for creativity. Is creativity reasonable or mad - and is it madness to embrace both? Are works of art works of fiction and therefore false, or do they speak to some deeper level of reality? Is the artist a force of good leading to catharsis, or harbingers of evil for the destruction implicit in their creative power?
This evening didn't proceed for long before Spooky Action hit me. Hello, Prince of Darkness. And boy, would it bear itself out.
Church - Tokyo store - Photo lab. Religion/ the bomb and metaphysics/light physics & materials
Really, it was a fine movie with some high concept configuring and plenty of body horror. Evidently Mr. Carpenter had recently taken a course in Quantum Mechanics and took a stab at bearing those concepts out with other attendant metaphysical tropes. Hard to deal with the implications of the fundamental nature of reality without throwing religion and science together. At this nexus lies a point of power over the collective embrace of objective reality and the role of the individual within that firmament.
Just know that reckoning with this material doesn't exclude the feature narrative for needing some romance. Oh, well.
What have we here? Culty reckonings with the insidiousness of the institutional artworld? Inextricability of artist and work, work and audience? Oh, heavens, we also get some Frances Bay. How nice for us. I wouldn't have reckoned Sam Neill for the womanizing type, but he played the part convincingly enough.
The Magnetic Fields - Courtesans
In the West there have been two predominant ways of "knowing" offered by their Greek origins, epistem (facts through reason) and gnosis (understanding through familiarity).
Being that I fall comfortably in the Gnostic preference, here are my understandings of the following titles that strove for depth, with varying levels of success:
What is there to know, except that everything ends, and no story is ever fully told? If you don't know yourself, you can't know anything.
Thoroughly mediocre. Overreliance on nostalgia. Regurgitation of Hitchcock via De Palma. Not impressed.
Good movie, bad acid.
The real meat here was in the Pre-Show programming.
It's my modus operandi to constantly mull over nuclear phenomena, including their quantum philosophical counterparts, historical instances, and how they might affect how consciousness works in our world. This is often aided by great works of cinema and television that seem to repetitively remind of its significance.
This happened quite a while ago but is worth mentioning anyway. The Local 506 in Chapel Hill hosted a screening of AKIRA with a live synth score. I've already written a little bit about Akira and how it radically challenges habits of Western metaphysics especially as it relates to the nature of matter and energy. As a bonus, this link will bring you to the best essay I've ever written, with a callback GOJIRA (1954) which recently screened at The Carolina Theatre of Durham's RETROEPICS AND ARTHOUSE film series. While I unfortunately missed that screening in lieu of a pending grant application, I was attending to the same monster.
This excellent documentary screened as part of Alamo Raleigh's FILM CLUB series, which has curated a quality program of classic and contemporary cinema so far. Being that it's a compilation of archival materials related to nuclearity in the US, it was a perfect precursor to my viewing of HBO's Chernobyl series. When I was actively studying visual art, I loved that collage allowed for the use of existing materials to create something new. This multimedia montage of cinema scratched my itch for cutting archival materials together and was helpful as I started back to work on one of my own projects.
When it comes to quantum irregularity, spacetime is equal to matter and energy by way of important balance through dynamic opposition. Consider me the dynamic opposition of this screening.
Most of the time (derp), I thoroughly enjoy Durham Cinematheque programming, but this tested my patience heartily. I'd rather watch Tom Whiteside's personal (aesthetically splendid) work than a sloppy, unrehearsed-feeling presentation, a meaningless date screen, 2+ hours of films only kind of sort of relevant to the theme of time, and $10 per person to boot. I brought two of my friends, and we all left with the same feelings. Too long, felt like an art school student's performance piece. It felt rude to ask for my money back. Could have been so much better. To add insult to injury, I couldn't help noticing that the Lumiere was probably screened straight from this extremely low-def YouTube video:
Ugh. My eyes.
I wish I could make the excellence of this series about my love for Stellan Skarsgaard after his many years working with Lars von Trier. He's a truly gifted artist and I've loved watching him in everything he's even done (Pirates of the Caribbean notwithstanding. Was that him? Ugh.) But it was also lovely to see Jared Harris after his performance in Mad Men, and Emily Watson (ahhh Breaking the Waves reunion) did an excellent job creating her not-historically-based character.
It's a good reminder that we continue to deal with knowledge we don't yet comprehend at a philosophical level, and even less so at an ethical level. Probably there is much more to understand about the development of nuclear energy and what it can tell us about life, reality, and consciousness, but we have not yet reached a critical mass of evolved, receptive, compassionate fields to have access to the knowledge that's on the table.
One thing I do know is that the power of great SFX makeup in cinema is crucial to this series, and carried the radiation poisoning to its deserved climax. It was remarkably disturbing. Another thing I loved learning was that the composer, Hildur Guðnadóttir, got field recordings at nuclear plants to create the score. Haunting and incredible. I loved this series.
It got much, much worse.
This German powerhouse blindsided me last year with its fascinating take on time travel and confluence of themes that all resonated deeply with my MO, aesthetic, philosophy, etc. etc. I think the best thing for the moving image to take on at this point is either the simplest of issues (love, compassion) or most complex of issues (evil, dark matter). This series has plenty of both, though it tends toward the Dark. A very Twin Peaks-esque vibe, if that's your thing.
Let's go into bed
Please put me to bed
Now that I've bored you to death I can share the reason for my absence.
I applied for a grant to finish my documentary. Here is the work sample.
Good Grief: The Forbidden Garden (work in progress)
The Magnetic Fields - Meaningless, from their 69 Love Songs album trifecta
I'm constantly struggling in the battle between meaning and meaninglessness. When things are going well, the vibe is good, patterns manifesting like little fractal miracles, feelings of radical joy pervade and it's much easier to see meaning winning out.
Other times, it seems like a childish or naive fantasy. The nihilists certainly thought so. I do too when I'm feeling ashamed and heartbroken.
From the conflict, I find the existentialists a bit more in line with my brand of melancholy. Even from the abyss, something can come out. Nihilism as a philosophy coincided intimately with a resurgence in occultism. Rather than give my soul to the darkness I opted for mysticism's more comprehensive and compassionate way. I found their practitioners seemed a bit less like emotionally unstable and immature bullies. Rationally speaking, I picked pantheism over nihilism because there is something rather than nothing, and it seems more creatively rich to find a way for everything to be true.
Creation is impossible without destruction.
Destructively speaking, nothing can also be rendered.
Things that were once meaningful can be relegated to the meaningless realm.
And in the end, it's all the same. The beginning is the end.
The knowledge of good and evil brings you back to light from the darkness, without and within.
In the meantime, I have way too much work to do. On my documentary, and on some YouTube content covering possibly the greatest story ever told.
But eventually, I'll get to run my mouth all about:
and more, including the upcoming:
Joe Bob Briggs at Alamo
Apocalypse Now: Final Cut
and lots of other great screenings coming up in August and September. Check the calendar!
For more fun:
Potential documentary interviewee, Todd Murphy.
And Here's a questionnaire to determine your left vs. right brain polarity: Polarity Questionnaire
Odd - True (L)
Odd - False (R)
Even - False (L)
Even - True (R)
To see how this polarization/laterality might affect you as a man or woman (especially right-handed men and women), here's a very interesting study exploring this dimorphism and how this might affect spiritual or religious experience and its relation to your own ego - The Sensed Presence Within Experimental Settings: Implications for the Male and Female Concept of Self
*Unless there are dim wits in the audience distracting me from my unresolvable task. Shut up, you selfish fucking assholes.