Monday, December 22, 2008

Disney, that sly devil.

Did you know that when Walt Disney was buying up swamp land in Florida he had to do it in secret? With front companies and fake businessmen? And his people were required to take indirect flights between California and Florida? They had to - like - change planes in Toledo?


Because Walt D. was worried that if the people in Florida got the skinny on the plan, the price of land would shoot up. And we was right, because when word got out, the prices went sky high.

But I just like the idea of business men in Mad Men suits jetting around the country on Pan Am and being all clandestine because they are on a secret Disney mission.

How much fun is that?

I bet that they were always on the lookout for guys from Warner Brothers.

The Alien Books

So I was looking at my books and I was thinking about how when the humanity dies out and the aliens come and start digging around, I hope that they find some of the good books and not just the crap. I got a little worried through because there is so much crap out there compared to how much there is that is truly great. I was lovingly caressing my copy of ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ and saying to it, “I hope that they find you.”

My hope as a writer is always to write one of those books that the aliens should find.

The reality is that the aliens are probably going to find a whole shit-load of Stephen King books (sad for us humanity) but we can HOPE that they find ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’.

I was thinking though, I hope they find ‘One Hundred Years’ and not ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ because – let’s face it – the latter is crap compared to the former.

And that got me thinking about other SPECIFIC things that I hope the aliens find.

For instance, I was wondering what work of Shakespeare’s I would hope the aliens find. The easy answer is HAMLET, but while HAMLET is fun and interesting, it is deeply flawed as a work and isn’t a masterpiece (if you disagree you’re probably in high school, Google: HAMLET, G.B. SHAW). Some people think that LEAR is a seminal work that is successful on every level.

I asked Violet, she has a theater degree after all, and she said two things:

1) She doesn’t think Lear works on every level and …
2) She says that A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM is the work of Shakespeare’s that she hopes the aliens find because is a play about the good in people and not just the bad. She said that it is a play with no real bad guy and that everyone ends up in love and what is better than that?

How can you not love a girl like that?

So anyway, I am considering putting MIDSUMMER on my list of things for the aliens. I’m not sure what else should go on the list because I’m not really certain how to define the list itself. People will make the standard suggestions: HUCK FINN, ULYSSES, PARADISE LOST, but I don’t know. I’m apt to distrust the standard suggestions. That’s part of why I like Violet’s reasoning for MIDSUMMER.

Anyway, I’m going to give it all some more thought. You should too. We will meet back here with our lists and then we will build ourselves a double-hulled time capsule and we will put a big blinking light on it so that the aliens will be sure to see it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Final Essay

Alas, this is the last assignment for my Film & Lit Class. I tried to expand on my Response Paper about Orwell and make it more about the way that the formula of fiction is used in Dystopian texts. Enjoy.

How to Tell a Dystopia: How Authors Make the Abstract into the Concrete.

Any dystopian story can be broken down to two basic elements and a simple equation. The elements are opposites – or ay least in opposition – and are also interrelated. Most simply, the elements are these: a controlling society, and a protagonist who is flawed in some fundamentally human of way. The equation is just as simple: controlling society + human protagonist = dystopian exploration of a contemporary society. Virtually every dystopian tale of any note or worth is explained away with this formula, from 1984 to Fahrenheit 451 this formula has been used without fail to tell the Dystopian tale. The reasons for this are not complicated: this formula is both simple and effective.

Simplicity of story is of particular importance in dystopian fiction. Traditionally these are stories of large ideas. The ideas themselves can be complicated and they often ask the reader to confront his or her own preconceived notions of class, social structure, equality, identity, etc. While calling into question everything that the reader believes, it is best to present a plot that is straightforward and engaging. Examples of this abound in all the best fictional dystopian stories. In Orwell’s 1984, Winston finds himself at odds with the totalitarian state. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the fireman Montag wants to read books instead of burn them, in Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Rick Deckard hunts down renegade cyborgs. These are simple and engaging plots that are used like a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree is just a tree until it decorated. It is simple and common, but (in this metaphor) the storyteller hangs large ideas like ornaments, strings it with incisive language, and at its pinnacle (the climax) the storyteller tops it all with some great and glowing revelation about the real world.

It is important to remember that there is no point in evaluating dystopian fiction without connecting it to contemporary society and issues the reader recognizes. That is to say, the story and society in which it plays out, must wrap around one another in a way that not only furthers the plot, but also furthers (or furthers subversion of) the ideology of that particular dystopia and it much connect back to the reader’s own world and worldview. This is quite a lot to ask of a plot and of a reader. By keeping the plot simple, the storyteller is able to lay down layer upon layer of deeper meaning without losing the audience. This multi-layered dystopian model of storytelling is exemplified in Orwell’s novel 1984. Orwell employs numerous devices (verbal, aesthetic, ideological, etc.) to induce the reader into a particular position relative to the society being described. In this way, Orwell is in fact doing two things simultaneously; he is rendering dual worlds concurrently. In the first world, Orwell is crafting the society in which Winston (his protagonist and everyman-hero) lives. This first world is (as required by the formula) deceptively simple and immediately engaging; the energy of all citizens is directed toward upholding (ideologically) and supporting (through physical labor) the reining government of Big Brother. In creating this first world (the world of the story), Orwell is using his powers as a writer. He renders a world that is grey and cold and dirty. The duality of Orwell’s writing becomes apparent though in the way that he is clearly seeking to evoke emotional reactions that can be linked to political realities. In the second world that Orwell builds (that of the reader), he is playing upon the reader’s preconceptions and, manipulating the reader in such a way that the emotional becomes tied to the social and political. This is the layering on of meaning, the decoration of the Christmas tree, so to speak.

On the very first page of his book, Orwell works to carefully craft a well-thought-out and fully realized dystopian society, but more than that, he immediately connects the visceral to the political. Ever aware of the importance of even the most subtle of language, the author uses the novel’s first sentence to give the reader his first lesson in the sociopolitical reality that is being creating. Orwell wrote, “It was a bright and cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (Orwell, 5). The pluralization of clock to clocks lends itself to the idea of a communalization of society. The reference is not to Winston’s specific clock, but to all of the clocks of society, striking at once, as if of a single mind and purpose. Additionally, by referencing time as thirteen, Orwell is able to force the reader into making a cognitive connection between military-time and the society in which Winston lives. This first sentence served Orwell’s dual purpose well in that it established Winston’s world, but also provides the reader with a template for how to think about the novel. By immediately connecting the cold April day with the communal clocks, Orwell has bound these two worlds together. In other words, communization (re: Communism) is cold and lonely. However, look at the simplicity of the sentence from the standpoint of plot alone; it is a simple statement. It is easy and engaging, it very well had to be because of the deeper layers of meaning.

Dick does something slightly different in the opening line of Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep but it is similar in purpose, if more complex in style, “A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard” (Dick 3). In this sentence Dick immediately lays out the tone of the novel in the way he describes something simple happening in a complex fashion. Essentially, he just explains how Deckard wakes up. Dick is correctly assuming that every reader will be familiar with alarm clocks and with being waken by them. He takes something as simple (though possibly steeped in deeper meaning) as waking up in the morning and complicates it with technology. By doing this Dick is immediately decorating the Christmas tree with an idea that will become central to the novel (and to the dystopia he creates), mainly that technology is affecting the society and the very existence of the human being. This idea is expanded upon in every page that follows and it is eventually given shape in the androids themselves. Dick is asking the question: if technology is affecting human existence, is it also affecting what it means to be human? Additionally, how does society adjust to this new meaning of ‘human’? In this way, Dick connects the simple to the complex and the singular to the collective, or rather, the individual to the society. Clearly Deckard lives in a dystopia where technology (in the form of an alarm clock/mood organ) is used by the society to control the individual (Deckard). Just as the dystopia in which Winston lives is controlled by the communalism of the clocks.
In some similar way, every dystopian story begins with a small commentary on some benign aspect of the society and how it controls the individual. This is the formula given shape. The society exerts control on the individual. It is then important that the individual (the protagonist) be fleshed out so that the reader can bond with them before they come into direct conflict with the society. That dystopian texts tend to focus on an every-man type character is important for reasons that Fredric Jameson points out in his critique of Thomas More’s Utopia, “The citizens of Utopia are grasped as a statistical population; there are no individuals any longer, let alone any existential ‘lived experience’.” (Jameson 39). Though he was examining the utopia texts, Jameson identifies that which is most important in the telling of dystopias, mainly, the human element. Jameson goes on to explain that in utopias, the individual is, “cast in the mode of a kind of anthropological otherness, which never tempts us for one minute to try to imagine ourselves in their place, to project the utopian individual with concrete existential density, even though we already know the details of his or her daily life.” (39)

Here Jameson is almost crying out for the kind of exploration of humanity that is central to dystopian stories. The informed reader is left to wonder, then, would 1984 be as seminal a work of dystopia if it were not for the doomed love story of Winston and Julia? Would Dick’s novel be nearly as effective in evaluating identity and race if it were not grounded in the reality of Deckard’s marriage (remember that Deckard is hunting the androids so that he can afford an artificial animal for his wife)? Here again is the narrative formula at work: controlling society + human protagonist = dystopian exploration of a contemporary society.

It is plainly apparent that Orwell is writing in response to the spread of Communism and his novel is diffusing abstract ideology into concrete reality. Big Brother does not tolerate Winston and Julia’s affair because it is a betrayal to the centrality of purpose and communalism of the society. By connecting the abstraction of Communism to the destruction of love, Orwell makes a statement about Stalinism that is clearer and more effective than if he had analyzed Marxist theory directly. Dick uses the same tactic in his exploration of society. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was published at the end of the turbulent 1960s and as such, it is somewhat more complex, though only because Dick was hanging more ornaments on his metaphoric Christmas tree. Looking toward the future, though firmly rooted in the issues of the day, Dick dealt with nuclear war, race, identity, and technology but connected them all to the day-to-day banality of earning money.

Both Orwell and Dick made use of the formula in their important works of dystopia for a reason, mainly that it is a simple and effective way to reduce large and abstract ideas to down to familiar realities. In his article, “Orwell on Literature and Society” J.P. O’Flinn asserts, “that the history of the past two hundred years represents the cumulative ability of the written word to sway men’s minds,” (609). No where is this more apparent than in the writings of Orwell and Dick.
It would be easy to categorize these two novels as bold works of simple fiction, but a more clear understanding of how the formula is used and why, has (hopefully been useful. It makes it undeniable that these novels are transcendent works of great purpose that used a formula of fiction to explore the social and political aspects of society in important and relevant ways.

Dick, Philip K.. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. New York: Random House, 1968.
Jameson, Fredric. "The Politics of Utopia". New Left Review Jan-Feb 2004: 35-54.
O'Flinn, J.P.. "Orwell on Literature and Society". College English March 1970: 603-612.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Signet Classic, 1950.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We're all Gonna Die.

This is the coolest/freakist thing I have heard about in a long time. Come this New Year's Eve, they are adding a second to the atomic clock. Why? Oh, no big deal, just because the fricken' Earth is slowling down.

Yeah. Apparently we do not rotate as fast as we once did.

Read it up:
Yeah, we are all gonna die.

Thanks for all the Memories.

Why does no one ever remember all of the good times that we had with the Hindenburg? All the champagne and dancing? Oh, wait …

... oh yeah, I remember now.

Disaster = Employment Opportunity

I just found the coolest fucking company! I am totally going to write a movie about a guy who works for these people. Basically – as I understand it from their website – they figure out how and why things got fucked up and then they tell you how to not fuck up that way again.

Check out the website:

How cool is that? If I was like an engineer or something, this would be my dream job.

One thing that is questionable though: I found this company because on a whim I typed into my browser:

My Baggage

So my girlfriend Violet was giving me shit the other day because I was in one of my moods wherein I complain about problems caused by my own behavior. And so I was saying that I should be DOING more with my life RIGHT NOW! And she said that I would probably get more done if I didn’t spend so much time online looking at backpacks.

That’s not a euphemism.

Basically I like to do this: I assemble fun backpacks-related phrases and then Google Image them. I Google things like ‘Super Awesome Backpacks’ or ‘Backpacks that will make me look skinny’ (I have out of control body issues like you would not believe, but we will get to that at a later date, I’m sure).

Anyway, Violet is a photographer, so when we travel about in the world, we usually do it with a camera, so I am quite often on the hunt for camera bags as well as just bags that make me look skinny.

(Violet is, BTW, very talented and I have no doubt that she will be doing it professionally one day. Alas, professional photography is kind of like writing in that there really is no career path, there is just what-worked-for-the-last-guy. But, like writing, you improve by doing and maybe the sucess is in the doing. Well, Violet is shooting stuff a couple of times a month, so if you need anything done, get her while you can still afford to. Her Flickr is linked on the right. Anyway …)

Now, just so that you know, I never buy any of these bags. I don’t have the cash to afford my tastes, but I am confident that one day I will find ‘The Perfect Bag’ and when that day comes, I will buy that fucker. I will buy the fuck out of it.

Here is one of my favorite bags at the moment:

I know that this one looks kind of dorky, but wait! It is a nice small, rugged pack. It seems like the kind of thing that you can mistreat without having to worry about it (god, I wish that I hiked or something. How much would I love to get mud on a bag like this?). BUT – wait for it – it has a removable camera insert. So it can be a backpack OR a camerabag. Plus, the insert goes in through the backside, so the gear is inaccessible while you are wearing it. Good for traveling (Violet always gets nervous on the subway or in the city with our current bag).

But I guess that all this had a point once … oh yeah.

The point is that Violet is probably right, I’m probably wasting my life with this terrible, terrible addiction.

(I like backpacks, what? On my computer, under FAVORITES, I save all the links to cool bags in a folder called ‘Bag Porn’. Violet suggested the name).

Weather sure is Somethin'

Below is the link to a website with some of the most startling and amazing photos of weather that I have ever seen. It will rock your socks off (Yeah, I guess I am the kind of person who says things like that).

For fun, I looked up the definition of 'weather' because I had never really thought about it before. This is from Merriam-Webster, which I trust:

Middle English weder, from Old English; akin to Old High German wetar weather, Old Church Slavic vetrŭ wind
before 12th century
1: the state of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm, clearness or cloudiness
2: state or vicissitude of life or fortune
3: disagreeable atmospheric conditions: as a: RAIN , STORM b: cold air with dampness

More Marketing Media.

These are super-cool pictures from some guy's Flickr. Here is what I know about him:
A Flickr photo-set by neilk_patel, though there is an interesting question to be had in whether or not be deserves any recognition, because these are clearly bits of marketing. Do I really need more marketing in my life? Do you? And should I give the guy credit because he posted it? Or should I just stop being a jerk and get over it? I guess I will do that.

Cool pictures Neilk!

Wait, Don't Freak Out Yet.

So apparently there are all kinds of animals that have fingerprints. So it is kind of unreasonable of me to get all freaked out by the ‘koalas bears have fingerprints’ thing.

Did everybody else know this? Was I alone out there? Out there in the vast and wide country of Not-knowing-Stuff?

Apparently so.

Koala Bears Have Finger Prints!

That's right folks:


I just heard about it on CashCab and it is freaking me out.
Here is a fun drawing of Downtown Los Angeles.

Here's the artist.

8 Rules for Ensuring Happiness and Survival in Los Angeles

8 Rules for Ensuring Happiness and Survival in Los Angeles
by james bezerra

First, there is no such place as Los Angeles.
Accepting that, the rules laid down herein will help you live there.

Rule #1: There is No Such Place as Los Angeles.
There are those who would have you believe that such a place exists. They will tell you that more than thirteen million people live in its metro area and that it has an economy roughly equal to that of Australia. They will insist that it occupies a specific physical space of nearly 400 square miles. These people will not tell you that it is an ever-shifting transient space bordered by fire, the Pacific Ocean and endless, rocky desert. They will not tell you that the Los Angeles Basin sinks one quarter of an inch every year. They will insist that Los Angeles is a city like any other. They also say that there is weather. These people are trying to sell you something. Do not believe them.
The population of Los Angeles is always one, but there are more than thirteen million Los Angeleses.

Rule #2: You Are Not a Tourist and Nothing Impresses You.
When you arrive in Los Angeles, it will be by way of frustration. You set out for the city with hopes and dreams, some zest, some zeal. By the time you arrive, your clothes are sweaty from the long flight/drive/ocean-crossing. You call your Mom/Grandmother/Lover with artificial, plastic happiness in your voice and say that everything is going great. An hour in the city and you are already an actor.
You stand outside the Target at Santa Monica and La Brea with your bags over your shoulder and all your insecurities clogging your throat. The Santa Monica Mountains are burning tonight, and you watch an orange ribbon of fire consume a mountain, leaving it as black as the sky.
You wander north because it feels right and a man who might be a bum - but is maybe just dirty and deranged - follows close behind you, whispering and swearing. At Hollywood and Highland you stand still in a crush of tourists and sneer. They bumble past you without looking at you. They clutch their trinkets tight. Their eyes are wide, all smacked out on dreams.
Tourists, you think, I am better than them, because I live here.

Rule #3: Everybody Is Better Than Everybody.
There seems to be a hierarchy. You get that impression because no one seems to be impressed by you. Perhaps you haven’t met the right people. You are renting a studio/room/bed and you realize that if you had just rented somewhere else, everyone would love you by now.
You consider getting a tattoo/changing your sexual orientation/going home.
You start occasionally fucking someone you know you will never love. His/Her name is Drew and you say, “There seems to be a hierarchy. I should get a BMW so that I can fit in.”
Drew takes you seriously and considers your idea, because in LA no one ever says an idea is stupid, “Then people would know that you have value as a person and you could be an asshole on the freeway.”
“They are such assholes,” you say.
“Everybody is such an asshole,” Drew says.

Rule #4 You Will Cause Your Own Disillusionment.
You take a job waiting tables/logging tape/doing porno in the Valley because it gives you time to write/go on auditions/work on your music. You move in with Drew for the cheap rent, but secretly you are crushing on Olivia at work. She has tats like a SuicideGirl and sharp, straight scars on her arms from when she was a cutter. She isn’t normally your type, but you start dressing like a Melrose Rockstar just to impress her.
Months go by, Drew can tell there is a problem, but you don’t care. You go to shows with Olivia and finally make out with her back by the bathrooms where the floor is slippery with piss. You go back to her place, it is filthy, but her three roommates are out. She kisses wet and long and with a lot of tongue and her skin is unlike anything you have ever felt. You run your hands down her calves, over her scars. You have never been this turned on. You go down on her for like an hour. She cums hard and you think you’re a god. The fucking is great. You come to understand why damage is so good.
Later, you get caught, because Drew’s cousin/life coach/same-sex ex works at Paramount/RCA/MoCA with Olivia’s cousin/life coach/same-sex ex. Drew screams/hits you/says you’re just like everybody else. You feel worse than you have ever felt before and you realize that you’re not the same person you were when you moved here. You are worse, and you don’t know why.

Rule# 5: Develop a Bitter/Cruel/Cannibalistic Humor
You make it big! At a club/restaurant/The Ivy you meet a producer/agent/director who immediately recognizes your genius. He/She/He-She looks at you like sunlight streams from your eyes. You realize all your dreams.
No you don’t. You’re being made fun of. This is the sort of bitter/cruel/cannibalistic humor you are developing. You have developed it like a callus and it is smothering your heart.

Rule #6 Los Angelinos Are Desperate For Love.
You go out with some friends you barely know/like/recognize as human. You go drinking on the 3rd Street Promenade and blow half your rent. You get all drunk and make out with a stranger who then throws up in the bushes around one of the dinosaur fountains. The two of you stumble down to the beach. You have a condom and when you are done screwing, you realize that a couple of bums have been watching you. You barely even care. You tell the stranger – who is Asian, you see now – about home and all the great friends you have there.
When the stranger ditches you, you call Drew on your cell phone and say that you are so sorry.
“Are you fucking drunk?” Drew asks, still angry.
“No no, nonono,” you say.
“Don’t call me again.”
“But I love you,” you say, dropping the neutron bomb of Los Angeles relationships. You have been here long enough to know that love becomes a different element south of the Grapevine and north of Camp Pendleton. The word has a different atomic weight. Its atoms become charged in some frenzied/frantic/desperate way. Electrons sizzle and find new orbits, free radicals find their homes, resonances become stable, and the atoms redistribute to some durable double-bonded happiness.
The word is a bombshell with a grin. It erases history because it so utterly obliterates it. It levels the playing field by destroying it. Love, in Los Angeles, renders truth meaningless.
“Do you mean it?” Drew asks.
“Yes,” you lie.

Rule #7: Learn to Make Believe.
You agree with everyone when they say that it is a cold day. You do not tell them what a cold day is like back home, because everyone has a back home where it is colder.
“This city,” you tell Drew when you get home, “is a fictional construct that we all have agreed to dream about.” You say things like ‘fictional construct’ now because you have gone back to school so that one day you will get promoted/teach/be able to support your new child.
You cradle the baby in your arms as he/she drifts slowly off to sleep and you say, “You are the only person I have ever met who is from here.”

Rule #8: Clichés (Like Broken Dreams) Are Great, and Encouraged.
You have lived here long enough that you think you like Los Angeles. You have shrugged your shoulders and decided that hot asphalt and cracked concrete is all that makes a city. You ignore the sad, desperate stretches of your existence and focus your memories down to the blissful/cinematic/ephemeral moments of completion/validation/happiness. You make yourself think that freeways are supposed to clog like this and that the air is brown everywhere.
You don’t notice as your life/hopes/dreams become as small as work and your apartment. And you don’t notice as Los Angeles shrinks to the size of your life.
You don’t notice anymore that you live in a place where the shattered slivers of glass bottles intermix in the gutters with the splinters of thirteen million broken dreams.
And you barely even notice anymore that Los Angeles doesn’t really exist, because, by now, you don’t either.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The BLANK Five Minutes of Film.

This is for my Film & Lit. Class.
The idea is to find an interesting germ of a paper topic in any random video clip.

No One is Bigger than The System.
The individual and the System.

Mankind is of a very peculiar mindset when it comes to large scale social systems. Modern culture seems to both love and fear, to idolize and simultaneously desire the system of its own making. We believe in both The System and in the individual. We believe in society and community while we maintaining the ideal that each and every member of society is a beautiful and unique snowflake.

In this brief clip, excerpt from the stand-up satire of Eddie Izzard, we see individuality come into direct conflict with the system. In this funny collision, we see that the system does not allow anyone to be bigger than the system itself. And while that is absolutely frustrating when we are in line at the DMV, it is absolutely essential in maintaining real equality, even if it is only the equality of universally poor customer service.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cool Artwork

I found this very cool page of art work. The one above is by Beppe Giacobbe

But check out the whole website: Morgan Gaynin.

This one is by Shannon Brady :

Monday, November 10, 2008

MOMA / Tate

Isn't this a neat picture? All glowing glass and urban shadow.

This is the Museum of Modern Art in NY. A super cool place, but it has an infuriatingly inefficiant lobby. Go figure.

But as bad-ass museums go, there is no cooler customer than the Tate Modern in London. Cool as a cucumber. This is the outside:

This is the inside (yeah, those silver tubes are slides!):

The Tate has a dimly lit Mark Rothko room upstairs and it is one of my favorite places in the world.

Here is a picture of it (I lifted the picture from I swiped the other pictures too. Thanks, suckers!).

... like a kid out in the rain ...

I know it makes me a girl, but I love these umbrellas. I wish I lived someplace where weather happens.

Occupational Happiness.

I found this interesting. The article linked below is just a little Yahoo jobs thing about which professions have the happiest people (overall).

That’s all.

No attempt at some witty quip. I’m not trying to be pithy.

I just found the article interesting.

The article.

Oh, but since we are on the subject of professions, here is a picture of the Village People:

Man, those guys look happy about their chosen professions. Yes they do. Very happy. Positively gay.

(And then I chuckle to myself while I sit in the dark alone. So alone.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Free Rice, go win some!

Everyone should be going to this website:

Basically you answer some questions, learn some things about the world AND win free rice for hungry people.

What's bad about that?

Nothing, that's what.

So don't be a bastard, go win some rice for some people whose lives are a hell of a lot harder than ours.

Go on ... I'll wait.

How lame am I?

Lately I have been doing this: late at night I have been obsessing over the new netbook that HP just put out. It is called the HP Mini Note 1000.

For a couple years now I have been entertaining the notion of getting one of those tiny laptops so that I could have it with me all of the time. I think this would be very good for my writing because as it is, I hardly do any writing at my desk at home. I do most of it in a spiral notebook and then have to type it up later.

The problem with this strategy is two-fold. It is not an efficient use of time and – some of you might be familiar with this – after a good stretch of writing, there is a cool down period like some people experience post-coital. So half of what I write, I never end up typing.

So anyway I have devoted too much of my time to researching various little laptops (called “netbooks” by the kind of people who like to make shit up).

Well, I really like this HP one. It has a 92% size keyboard. The laptop is basically built around the keyboard. That is actually a big deal. Go to the electronics department at your local Target, they have started carrying the ASUS EEE PC (this is a real netbook that I was drooling over for a while) put your hands on that thing and try to imagine typing a Great American Novel on that little bastard. Probably not, right?

Anyway, the point was, that at night I am often finding myself Google Imaging the HP Mini Note. They are the same pictures everyday, but I scroll through them anyway.

Where I start.

I am starting to feel ashamed of this. It is like porn to me now, only more lame. MORE LAME THAN INTERNET PORN. What the hell is that? I am still relatively young. I’m funny and even witty occasionally. I am an interesting person and I am at least as cool as you are, so why the hell am I spending my free time skulking around the internet google imaging a computer?

What the hell is wrong with me?

But then it gets worse.

Next I realize that once I have the damn thing, I will need a good bag to haul it around. Because what's the point of owning it if I don't have a good bag to carry it around in? So then I start Google Imaging things like

And so then I'm reading about laptop bags for waaaaaaay too long. But reading about bags makes me want to travel, so I start looking at websites about traveling, but not just traveling, how to travel light with just your tiny laptop. A couple of nights ago I was reading about the Zen of packing light. What the shit is that? I stopped myself and I was all, “Jamie, how did this happen to you?”

Anyway. I am doing this almost every night. I have a problem.

Funny. Glib. Funny again.

So I was reading one of those unforgivably self-important celebrity gossip blogs ( – this one is the worst of the bunch because it is called 'What Would Tyler Durden Do?' It feels like maybe this guy once had hopes of skewering celebrity culture, but now just whores for it. It is that time-honored Joan Rivers career path) … anyway, there was a blog entry title that I liked. It said this: EVERYONE IS OFFENDED BY EVERYTHING.

The blog was about Heidi Klum dressing up as Kali for Halloween. If that’s the kind of thing you want to see (it is not at all sexy), here it is: Regrettable.

But the point was, I just found that title funny. Glib, but funny.

Response Paper

This is for my Film & Lit. Class:

On Orwell: ideas, words, and pictures in motion

Of fundamental importance to any fictionalized telling of a dystopian tale, is the ability of the society to function on more than simply a surface level. The story and environment must wrap around one another in a way that not only furthers the plot, but furthers (or furthers subversion of) the ideology of a particular dystopia. This multi-layered dystopian model of storytelling is exemplified in George Orwell’s novel 1984 and it is grimly illuminated by the 1984 film adaptation of 1984.

Both the novel and then the film, employ numerous devices (verbal, aesthetic, ideological, etc.) to induce the reader/viewer into a particular position relative to the society being described. In this way, Orwell is in fact doing two things simultaneously; he is rendering dual worlds concurrently. In the first world, Orwell is crafting the society in which Winston (his protagonist, and - some would say - everyman-hero) lives. This first world is deceptively simple; the energy of all citizens is directed toward upholding (ideologically) and supporting (through physical labor) the reining government of Big Brother. In creating this first world (the world of the story), Orwell is using his powers as a writer. He renders a world that is grey and cold and dirty. The duality of Orwell’s writing becomes apparent though in the way that he is clearly seeking to evoke emotional reactions that can be linked to political realities. In this second world that Orwell builds (that of the reader), he is playing upon the reader’s preconceptions and, manipulating the reader in such a way that the emotional becomes tied to the social and political.

From the very first page of his book, Orwell works to carefully craft a well-thought-out and fully realized dystopian society, but more than that, he immediately connects the visceral to the political. Ever aware of the importance of even the most subtle of language, the author uses the novel’s first sentence to give the reader his first lesson in the sociopolitical reality that is being creating. Orwell wrote, “It was a bright and cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (Orwell, 5). The pluralization of clock to clocks lends itself to the idea of a communalization of society. The reference is not to Winston’s specific clock, but to all of the clocks of society, striking at once, as if of a single mind and purpose. Additionally, by referencing time as thirteen, Orwell is able to force the reader into making a cognitive connection between military-time and the society in which Winston lives. This first sentence served Orwell’s dual purpose well in that it established Winston’s world, but also provides the reader with a template for how to think about the novel. By immediately connecting the cold April day with the communal clocks, Orwell has bound these two worlds together. In other words, communization (re: Communism) is cold and lonely.

The 1984 film version of 1984 (directed by Michael Radford and staring John Hurt) uses a visual language of images and motifs to manipulate viewers, in this way, the film is participating in the same duality as the novel. Knowing that anyone who views the film version would be at least acquainted with the themes of the novel, Radford made very specific choices about how to visually present Winston’s world. Rather than presenting it as an efficient, futuristic, and fully industrialized society (of the type that Fritz Lang created in Metropolis) he chose to show the world as specifically lacking in technological progress. Every set and set-piece in the film looks weathered and old. The film portrays Winston’s world as one in which there has been no effort to modernize infrastructure. The film subtly asks it viewer to question this reality and by questioning, to subvert the authority in that world. Radford wants the viewer to wonder, why does the future look so old? By creating a 1984 that actually looks more like 1948, Radford is able to comment on the economy and social values of the totalitarian society; that a society which squashes individualism and creativity can not progress. Or that without a free-market economy, technology can not progress. In fact, the only progressive technology that exists in film which would separate it from 1948, is the telescreen, but even those are black and white and made to look dingy and aged, as if that period of technological progress ended some time ago.

By telling the ‘future’ world of 1984 with a visual language more suited to a World War II period piece, Radford gives shape and life to the era and the political climate in which Orwell was writing. Just as Orwell was extrapolating the evils of Communist ideology, Radford was extrapolating from technology and society as it existed in 1949 when the novel was first published. In this way, the visual style of the film is not just an idea encapsulated, but it is also homage to Orwell himself, because it is an Orwell might have imagined it.

In his article, “Orwell on Literature and Society” J.P. O’Flinn asserts, “that the history of the past two hundred years represents the cumulative ability of the written word to sway men’s minds,” (609). Of this idea, Orwell was most certainly aware. Many remember - and are quick to comment on the fact - that, in much of his literary fiction, Orwell was raging in protest against the evils of Soviet Communism. However, fewer seem to recall, that Soviet Communism itself was simply the (attempted) implementation of the Marxist ideals laid out in Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. That is to say, while Orwell was reacting to Communism, Communism itself was a reaction to imperialism and Capitalism.

However much they stand in opposition to one another, these various competing ideologies share a similar semantic component. The Communist Manifesto begins with a line as stark and foreboding as 1984, “A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of communism.” (Marx, 37). In this sentence (and in the ones that follow) Karl Marx and Frederick Engels represent Communism as a wily antagonist to the Capitalism that was making a slave of Europe in their time. Communism, to these men, offered a civilized answer at a de-civilized world.

Surely Orwell, at his typewriter in 1949, would have agreed that the specter of Communism was indeed haunting Europe. He might even have admired the language of the line, or recognized in it the duality of purpose.

In this way, Orwell and Radford could sit across a table from Marx and Engels and find agreement in that cumulative ability of the written word to sway the minds of men. Regardless of ideology, each was participating in that great dystopian project. Effective participation in that dystopian idea requires that language (or the language of images) be operating on many levels at once. That it engage the reader/viewer on both the surface emotional and deeper ideological levels; on both the visceral and political levels.

Orwell once explained, “All art is propaganda.” (O’Flinn, 608), in a similar way, one could say, all dystopias are both art and propaganda.

Works Cited.

Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engles. The Communist Manifesto. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2005.
O'Flinn, J.P.. "Orwell on Literature and Society". College English March 1970: 603-612.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Signet Classic, 1950.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Bread is Better Than Your Bread.

Violet rocks because she makes bread! She totally made the bread that we had with dinner. And while the above picture is not the bread that Violet made, I had to use this picture because Violet's bread was so good that the camera couldn't capture an image of it. It must be something weird about the way that light and awesomeness work.

Anyway, if you want some bread, hit up Violet, she makes it!

Cops Crack Clock Case

So this is awesome! A twenty-five year old clock heist has been solved! That’s right ladies and gentlemen, a clock heist. I am so going to write this movie. It is a frame story, about the contemporary investigators who are on an elaborate treasure hunt… NAY!, clock hunt, that’s the outer frame. The inner frame is the dashing, internationally known Israeli master-burglar who stole them in the first place.

Can you feel the awesomeness?

Car chases in Jerusalem! Foot chases in the Hollywood Hills! Exotic locals! Maybe I can work in Interpol! Not the band, the international crime-fighting justice league! Or … well, maybe the band too! We will have them on the soundtrack! It will be in the multi-million-dollar contract that I sign when I write this script!

Anyway …what am I talking about?

Read this awesome article before I buy up the rights!

Awesome article about clock theft.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Just like Fahrenheit 451!

toothpaste for dinner

Ha ha ha ha.

toothpaste for dinner

Those guys at Toothpaste for dinner are some funny bastards.

Funny Prop 8 Article.

Can you super-size that discrimination, please?

Dystopia Much?


Again, picture stolen from Violet. Even though I saw the thing on the sidewalk first.

In-Class Presentation

This is for my Film and Lit class:

Concerning the Fahrenheit 451 in-class presentation:

First I should say that I was lucky to have a good group. Everyone was very involved and I felt that there was a beneficial give-and-take going on. Jacob set up a message board and it proved to be a great way for all of us to keep in touch.

My specific contributions to the group included an article suggestion, a video, and a couple focusing emails.

The article I suggested is from the book “Ray Bradbury: a Critical Companion. I suggested Chapter 5, pages 53 – 62. That chapter deals directly with the plot, characters, and setting of the novel and offers perspective on the text. I thought it was a good all-purpose article.


For the presentation, I found an animation that does the entire novel in 17 minutes. I suggested possibly using it to show a new way of looking at any particular scene in the novel. I’m actually sad that we didn’t get to use it in our presentation.

Additionally, there were a couple of instances when I helped to focus the group down on point by offering specific suggestions. Again, my group was great, and we had a lot of good ideas out in the ether, and I think that I helped to organize those ideas. Last week I sent out an email suggesting to the group that we request class time to organize (thanks again for that time Dr. Wexler). I sent out a similar email the day before the presentation just to make sure that everyone was on the same page.

During the presentation I worked (as did everyone in our group, I think) to encourage a lively discussion. As needed, I took up positions contrary to my own in order to help that discussion along.

I am very happy with the Fahrenheit 451 group. I think all of its members should be pleased.

What a college degree is worth ...

Do you have a college degree? Do you like crying? If you answered YES you should read this article about how a degree actually benefits you.

On a lighter Note ...

I think this blog is a little too wordy at the moment, so here are some pictures I stole from Violet's Flickr:

This is the Koolhaas library in Seattle. It is like the future. The coolest building I have ever seen and I have seen a lot of buildings.

This is the International Fountain at Seattle Center, below the Space Needle. It was built for the 1962 World's Fair. It looks like Sputnik crashed. And then sprayed kids with water.

This is the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge. It eats VW Bugs.

Daily Lessons on Class

In my Film and Lit class we are about to read “The Communist Manifesto” and so to get us off on the right foot, we read the brief piece below:

And then what I said:

I really enjoyed this piece because in addition to being a thought provoking short piece of writing, it also uses narrative tools to show a progression of ideas over time. I think I can speak for all of us English majors when I say Hooray! It was nice to have something fun.

That being said, I’m not sure that I understood all of the ideas in play here, but some of them really struck a chord with me. The sentence, “It thus claims there is no need for revolution because, under capitalism, reform can make the unequal equal through opportunities” particularly got me thinking because isn’t that exactly what we are taught? That we can all move up if we work hard and just keep our nose to the grindstone? But the hard truth is that our capitalist system requires that there be an underclass. Without the large underclass of labor to work and then spend money, our entire system would break down. So even if one of us can claw our way to the top, we will just be standing on the backs of that labor class.

It really makes one wonder, is there any way to get ahead without getting ahead at the expense of others?

I’m excited to be getting into the Communist Manifesto because I’m intrigued by any ideas that seek to make the human experience better. And not just better, but more equitable. Though I’m sad, because I know how it always ends. The Communist experiment I mean.

Althusser, Martin, and How the World Works

This is for my film and lit class, it is a discussion of the way that various elements of society interact: economics, ideology, politics. That sounds like super fun, right?

So I understand all of the pieces that we have been talking about, but I am still struggling to comprehend the whole.

I understand Louis Althusser's Interpellation (a cop says: “Hey you!” and you say: “Yes Sir?” because you both participate in an ideological framework). I also understand Randy Martin's financialization of daily life (rather than freeing us, this finacialization has added an additional weight of labor to our off hours while we fret over pensions and mortgages). I also understand when Martin writes (and I think it is a big point) that over the past thirty or so years our society has seen a “normalization of risk embrace”.

I understand all of those things and I agree with them, however what I am not quite getting is how those things all connect together to form one seamless philosophy that explains our age.

Martin is able to eloquently connect the afore mentioned finacialization to Neocons and America’s new imperialism, but I am still having trouble believing those connections, maybe that’s why I’m not seeing the bigger picture. Martin writes, “Yet, while imperialism has returned full throated to the councils of international relations, finance is rarely seated at the table.” He goes on to explain that imperialism is usually viewed as a national or corporate interest, while the financial aspect is often ignored. I understand all of that.

So what is the larger idea? What am I missing?

Martin seems to indicate that our society got drunk on visions of the future, that we took on massive risk (debt) in order to better secure that future, but that a paradigm shift in geopolitics and finance essentially pulled the rug out from under us. Personally I don’t think that the new paradigm began with 9/11, but rather with the American response to it. So now we are a society whose future (or potential future) exists concurrently (and dependant on) our present. On top of that, as David Harvey pointed out, once our economic and cultural influence waned, we were left with nothing but our military might with which to address the world. Our government (being run not just by religious zealots, but also Neoconservatives with a very specific world view) acted in the only way that it thought appropriate and lashed out with what is generally called the new American Imperialism. We, all of us having been interpellated, went along because that is what the new American patriotism asked of us, not to mention we were all busy buying houses we couldn’t afford because we felt that a nice three bedroom McMansion was our new manifest destiny.

So maybe I do understand after all.

Or I’m just so wrong that I think I’m right.

Either way, it is all interesting food for thought.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My apologies

So I just realized that in my last two posts I kind of (but accidentally) made fun of both Japanese culture AND German accents.

Um .. sorry? I guess.

Anyway, since I seem to be on a World War II kick today, here is a picture of D-Day.

Fahrenheit 451 sounds silly.

In my film and Lit class we are reading and watching “Fahrenheit 451” and I thought that it was interesting that the actor playing our rebellious hero (in the super space-age-y 1966 film) has a German accent.

Here is a Youtube video (that someone spent way too much time putting together) with some snippets of the actor (Oskar Werner) talking. Not to offend, but I think that his accent is kind of funny and it makes me giggle. I’m not saying all German accents are ridiculous, but his kinda is.

Anyway … here’s what I said about it all:

Did anyone else find it interesting that in the film version of “Fahrenheit 451” they made Montag German?

At first I thought that it was a not so subtle allusion to Nazism and I thought it was kind of an insensitive choice, but then I spent some more time mulling it over. Since Montag actually rebels against the book burning (and since the director makes a point of showing us that they will be burning Mein Kampf as well) I started to think that maybe making Montag German was actually an attempt to redeem the Germany of its sins in World War II.

Either way, just by choosing to give Montag that accent, the film ties the character (and maybe the whole dystopian society) to the images of Nazi book burning that we are all familiar with.

To be fair, I looked up the movie and discovered that Oskar Werner (the actor playing Montag) was actually Austrian and that during the war he tried to avoid conscription, but when we couldn’t avoid it anymore, he signed up and then quickly deserted. So even if the director wasn’t making a connection between Nazism and the world of “Fahrenheit 451”, surely the connection exists in Werner’s performance.

Did anyone else feel that Montag’s accent alluded to Nazism and maybe redemption? Or am I just crazy?

MUR-DER! Kinda.

So apparently this woman in Japan was angry at her husband (for suddenly divorcing her) and she killed his AVATAR on the RPG that he was a part of!

You just know that this is a super awesomely crazy flaming piece of insanity of the sort that only the Japanese can come up with.

Anyway, just to calm your dystopian nerves, the women was not arrested for virtual murder, they snagged her for (basically) breaking into her husband’s computer.

Here is the article, enjoy:
Super Awesomely Crazy Flaming Piece of Insanity

Friday, October 17, 2008

I miss the West Wing.

As a fanatical West Wing fan, I’m not sure how I feel about this video, but I think that it is pretty funny (mostly because I like Martin Sheen), however I do think that whomever is responsible for these Paris-Hilton-for-fake-President spots has some really good ideas. Too bad that they are hidden behind Paris Hilton.

Anywhoo, enjoy:

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whatcha' talkin' 'bout David Harvey?

For my Film & Lit class we watched an interview with a Marxist Geographer, Dr. David Harvey. He looks like Santa Claus as a younger man and I would bet that he teaches a mean Geography class.

Well first of all, I think that this Dr. David Harvey is quite an impressive fellow. He is clearly intelligent and more than simply conversant in the topics being discussed. I kind of wish that CNN was more like this, where interesting and intelligent people get to discuss history and ideas, I think that we would all benefit from that.

It made me a little sad when I realized that this clip is from 2004, because I was hoping to hear the Marxist perspective on the current economic problems. Interestingly though, he did talk about the fact that America was in very precarious economic position (in 2004) because most of the actual production of goods was no longer taking place within the country, and that America’s financial and cultural influence was waning. In 2004 that simply would have seemed like an insightful observation, but hearing in now in 2008 made me cringe a little because it is so true.

But at least we still have R&D on our side, as Harvey pointed out. However then he pointed out that the Military Industrial complex is kind of driving that train, which again made me sad.

It was fun, however, to listen to the exposition about the “militarization” of American culture. I had forgotten how afraid all of us on the left were about the PATRIOT Act. And I hadn’t heard anyone talk about Neo-Cons in quite some time. It was like listening to an old mix tape.

Beyond that, I think that quite a lot can be done by the way that Harvey marries the science of geography with the more humane elements of Marxism. I have always felt that there are many good ideas in Marxism and it is refreshing to see someone talking about it without any sort of political agenda. Perhaps I find it refreshing because I have become accustomed to the “debasement of the media” that Harvey talked about.

I was, however, laughing out loud when he said that Americans should learn to accept that it is possible America is no longer as dominant as is it once was in world politics. David Harvey is not only smart and intelligent, but also funny.

Stopping Drunk Emails


GMail now offers 'drunk email protection'.

How many of us could have used this? Well ... whatever ... you just be a Quaker then. I could totally have used this a couple of times.

Read all about it.

And this totally ties into my dystopia class, because what does it mean when we have to invent technology to restrict our OWN behavior?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Clockwork Orange Stuff

In my Film and Lit class we are watching Clockwork Orange. This is a response I posted. We have only watched the first half of the film thus far (though I have seen it before).

I think Christian makes some really interesting points about the way that criminals and the authorities have a weird, symbiotic relationship. I once worked with a guy who had a hard upbringing with some gang affiliation and he told me that he felt the cops were just another gang, but better funded. While I don’t necessarily agree, I think that this really demonstrates the kind of relationship demonstrated in the movie. Alex proves to be intelligent in a Machiavellian way when he deals with his ‘droogs’, however he also demonstrates intelligence in the way that he interacts with the authorities. He says all the right things. Even when he is bloody in the interrogation room, he is trying to convince them that while he committed a crime, it is really the rest of his gang that is more responsible.

It is in fact Alex’s intelligence that I think makes the film most disturbing. He is someone who is smart in his way, but probably feels as though he is above other people. He clearly looks down on his parents and on adults and women and really, everybody. He seems always to be working some angle, even when he is in prison he works as an alter boy and volunteers for the procedure (which we will see on Thursday), because he thinks that it will get him sprung sooner.

As for organized chaos, I’m not sure that I believe that the chaos is organized, as much as it has been operationalized. The system has adapted to accept the violence and chaos rather than address the circumstances that produce it.

Friday, October 3, 2008


So I have the totally awesome tendency of eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. I am not ashamed of this.

Today I was catching up on some reading at a little coffee place called Bella Via. It has become my go-to homework coffee shop, even though it is located on that fake strip of out-door shops at the Valencia mall. That place used to piss me off because the whole street has been fabricated to look like a ‘downtown’, so that people can participate in that authentic community experience, while the actual downtown Newhall seems to just kind of quietly limp along. However, I have since gotten over myself. Whatever.

Anyway, I was having my coffee and reading and listening to these older-type guys talking about the bail out-plan and one of them (the youngest of the group) said, “There has never been a better time to already be poor.”

Totally, and sadly, true.

I was talking to my friend The Director today (he has even more debt that I do) and we agreed that we each take some small quantum of solace (ha!) in the fact that at least everyone else is going through the financial ringer too.

When we all end up in debtors’ prison I have dibs on the top bunk!

Shout Outs

Shout out to Violet! You - frankly - rock.

And to those third graders Sarah Palin was talking about!


For Dr. Wexler (or anyone else who wants to email me):

Monday, September 29, 2008

Perfect Little Story

If you're the kind of person who mocks Chicken Soup for the Soul (like me) but still likes to know that there are small and elegantly beautiful moments happening in the universe, read this very brief short story:

Brief Story

Dystopian Musical

Okay, I'm NOT saying that this movie is going to be good. Personally I don't usually like movies that make the future look like a Slipknot video, but what other movie will you ever see that has both Paris Hilton and Sarah Brightman?

As a Rocky Horror fan I'm always willing to give musical mayhem a chance.

Here’s the website if you care:


For my class I had to try and observe Dystopian elements in some every day situation. This is my report back:

I did not plan to spend an hour in the Post Office on Lyons Ave in Santa Clarita, but that is how it turned out, so I started taking notes while I was standing in a line that stretched almost to the door (Just a tip, avoid the Post Office on Lyons between 4 and 5).

Now the post office is kind of a gimme when looking for dystopian elements, because it has all of the qualities that a set designer would incorporate into 1984: The Musical!

There are many, many cameras. Some of them focused on the patrons and others focused on the employees.
There are walls lined with numbered metal boxes.
There are lines, which are not to be complained about.
There are authority figures in matching uniforms.
There are forms and forms and forms and forms.
And most importantly – and most dystopianly – there are very clearly systems at work that are hidden and mysterious.

The people I encountered in the United States Post Office were less interesting than the way that they interacted with it (though I was a couple people back from one of those six/seven year-old-girls who wanted to know why things were happening).
The Post Office is long with a counter running down the length. ON this counter can be found the various and specific forms that one would need to fill out before mailing a package. Like so much of what I observed there, this was a good idea that was poorly implemented. Most people – myself included – were unsure of which forms to fill out, so the forms were gathered up and studied nervously while people waited in line. Seldom were the forms being correctly filled out.
The people who worked at the counter (there were two at a counter built for at least three) seemed to know exactly what they were doing. They answered questions quickly and demonstrated a depth of knowledge on questions of Postal Service operations. However they demonstrated less depth of knowledge in human relations. The customers who arrived at the counter were fatigued from waiting in a long line and the employees behind the counter were quite often annoyed at the customers who did not fill the forms out correctly.
What most struck me about my interaction with the Postal Service employee (a man a little older than myself who seemed too fit considering what his job entailed) was that as I handed over my one envelope and three small packages (books wrapped in paper labels), he rattled off a well-practiced bit of script asked me if my packages contained any liquids or flammable materials. I was struck by how slightly afraid I was suddenly. “They’re books.” I said. I immediately realized that he had not asked that and in order to prove my innocence I offered up more information than I was required to.
That is what I think connected my experience most closely to the concepts of dystopia. While it is true that the forms and the lines were right out of Brazil, the way that I felt, came straight from Orwell.
I felt immediately as though I were being accused of something, though no accusation had been made. I felt instantly the need to prove that I was upstanding and following the rules. What was even more interesting was that the USPS employee was not even trying to accuse me, the accusation had been operationalized into his daily routine. Distrust – maybe rightly – had been built into the system.
What is more dystopian than that?

Monday, September 15, 2008

People Dream of Sarah Palin

So this does not really relate to my Film and Lit class on Dystopia (unless you have a particularly paranoid view of American politics), but it is still funny.

Apparently people have been dreaming about Sarah Palin nonstop since she magically captured the Republican vice presidential nomination.

It is true! Slate had a whole article about it:

Your dreams (and nightmares) about Sarah Palin

Howe and Rorty

Way down below is my response to these two bits of writing we had to read for my Dyspotian Film and Lit class. The writings concern Orwell's 1984:



And then I said ...

I think that Howe made some very interesting points that extended beyond just 1984. He mentions on the very first page that "man becomes a mere function of a process" and I think that this same argument could be made about capitalism. I have been out there in the 8 hours-a-day/40 hours-a-week rat race and I have found that it can be quite dehumanizing. However I do not think that is because some ultra-powerful entity designed the system that way, I think the system is just evoled to benefit itself.

I also think it is funny that Howe chose to quote Orwell as he explained that 1984 is not about the British Labor Party. Because that’s totally what I though of! (Insert sarcasm) Perhaps it is human nature to want to CONNECT to a great piece of writing like 1984 (we have all proved very good at finding connections), but if Orwell walked into class and heard us comparing post 9/11 America to the world that Winston lives in, I think he would be a little unhappy with us for missing the point. I recently read that in the 1950s Stalin had these huge and very luxurious apartment buildings built for members of the Party. What a great deal right? Uncle Joe loves us! But each apartment had a secret door that led to a secret stairwell and that is how the secret police would get into your apartment in the middle of the night if they needed to snatch you. THAT is a totalitarian state, not surveillance cameras on street corners.

Rorty seems to understand that and the quote Dr. Wexler used is perfect to drive that point home, “If we take care of freedom, truth will take care of itself”. Rorty really seems (to me) to be saying, “Everybody calm down and let’s look at this like grown ups.” He explored Orwell as writer (not as some sort of Nostradamus).

He also explored the characters in the book; he talked about how intellectuals could justify the terrible behavior of the state. I find that particularly interesting; the way that we convince ourselves to believe things. He really broke down the ideas in play and I found that more illuminating than the commentary what Howe was writing.

James Bezerra

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Very First Ever Blog Entry

Hello and welcome.

This is my first ever blog entry.

This blog is for my Film & Lit class at Cal State Northridge, but I may use it for other things from time to time.

For now, I just wanted to write a quick entry so that I can toy with the interface on this website. Look for more in the future. Or don't. It is an exercise in freedom.