Archive for October, 2008
Naruto avatars organized according to a strange classification system on the Pony blog.
Having just seen War Against the Weak, was reminded of the elaborate genealogies of the "defective" Juke and Kallikak families lovingly and meticulously put down by insane racist American scientists in the early 20th Century. Or maybe that's too much of a stretch.
Found serial art, at the very least.
Thanks to Petra for recommending this.
The doggerel and cavemen weirdly recall the post-apocalyptic middle passage of David Mitchell's book Cloud Atlas. People in the story actually talk kind of like that.
Saw an advance cut of a powerful documentary film directed by Justin Strawhand, War Against the Weak. Based on a book by Edwin Black, the subject is the Eugenics movement in the US and its spectactular apotheosis and ultimate discrediting in the Nazi Final Solution--or is it discredited? The arrogance, hatred and psychopathic certainty of early 20th Century American "scientists" and their enablers in government and philanthropy, documented in the film with exhaustive visual research and frightening graphics, just makes your blood boil. The flaw in the thinking of the Eugenicists never seems to occur to them: that weeding out disease traits in a small percentage of a healthy population has nothing to do with weeding out "racial" characteristics, since non-Aryans are the, um, majority of people on Earth. The easy conflation of inherited illnesses with racial profiling should have doomed the movement to the crackpot fringes but it was instead funded and institutionalized at the highest levels of society (e.g., the state picking candidates for compulsory sterilization among poor and immigrant populations) and persists today in such charming innovations of the era as IQ testing.
Hitler and his scientists followed the American Eugenic literature closely, as the film demonstrates in photos and correspondence, and we all know where that led. Or maybe not--certain details of Nazi science inherited from American studies may have escaped your attention, such as the weird obsession with twins that led to a "twins camp" and the exceptionally depraved experimentation there by the monster Dr. Joseph Mengele.
A fictionalized treatment of the Eugenics movement can be seen in Philip Noyce's film Rabbit-Proof Fence, which dealt with a government-sponsored "scientific" attempt to "breed out" aboriginals from the Australian continent, through the use of camps and exacting charts of who can sleep with whom. Details of that film's version of history have been questioned, but anyone who sees War Against the Weak will recognize the trope of the Edwardian gentleman giving photographic lantern shows to ladies' groups, explaining the elimination of a people with an air of clinical detachment.
The visual style of War Against the Weak breaks out of the Ken Burns slow-pan-across-a-tabletop with innovative computer graphics, dramatic re-enactments, and frank, non-exploitative, Errol Morris-like interviews with current members of society's "weak" who lead productive lives, or struggle to do so. The filmgoer is left to draw the conclusion that they might not have gotten the chance in the days of Oliver Wendell Holmes' Supreme Court opinion in Buck vs Bell, which famously condemned a woman to be sterilized with the pronouncement that "three generations of imbeciles are enough."
People have been asking what my home music studio looks like. Here it is:
Just kidding, this is a producer named Luomo's studio, found the pic on the Native Instruments website. Gear porn.
From Joyce Carol Oates' intro* to a collection of H. P. Lovecraft stories:
Readers of genre fiction, unlike readers of what we presume to call "literary fiction," assume a tacit contract between themselves and the writer: they understand that they will be manipulated, but the question is how? and when? and with what skill? and to what purpose? However plot-ridden, fantastical or absurd, populated by whatever pseudo-characters, genre fiction is always resolved, while literary fiction makes no such promises; there is no contract between reader and writer for, in theory at least, each work of literary fiction is original, and, in essence, "about" its own language; anything can happen, or, upon occasion, nothing. Genre fiction is addictive, literary fiction, unfortunately, is not.
You could substitute music, movies, or web art for fiction in the above passage. The idea of a contract between producer and consumer and the artiste who violates the contract may have universal application.
*The original link for this quote was http://www.usfca.edu/fac-staff/southerr/lovecraft.html but it's broken now. Thanks, USFCA!
Update: through the magic power of the Internet the Library at USFCA sent me a working link. Much appreciation to Randy Souther.
Update, 2012: The link to the Lovecraft essay is dead again. In fact it appears that quote is no longer posted by USFCA. Have emailed to find out about this.
Another 2012 update: Haven't heard back from USFCA. The quote above also appears in a NY Review of Books essay by Oates. Am not sure how that differs from the book introduction I originally read and linked to - did Oates recycle the essay? It has other passages I recall from the intro, such as this one:
There is a melancholy, operatic grandeur in Lovecraft’s most passionate work, like “The Outsider” and “At the Mountains of Madness”; a curious elegiac poetry of unspeakable loss, of adolescent despair, and an existential loneliness so pervasive that it lingers in the reader’s memory, like a dream, long after the rudiments of Lovecraftian plot have faded.
Ah, here is another confirmation that the "genre fiction is addictive" paragraph occurred somewhere besides the NY Review - this is the book I was referring to:
On the same shelf I found the HarperCollins trade paperback of Tales of H. P. Lovecraft, selected and edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Though the text has shockingly narrow margins, I have to recommend it if for no other reason than Oates' introduction. Oates, like most rabid HPL fans, first read the author at age 13. (Does this mean that the Golden Age of HPL is 13?) 'Genre fiction is addictive,' she states in the intro. 'Literary fiction, unfortunately, is not.' Apparently it was HPL who addicted her.
"How are things going, career-wise?" Sarah asked.
"I'm between reputations," Cecil replied, trying to sound casual.
"Go To Work" [5.4 MB .mp3]
The "guitar riff" is kind of catchy, although this is still squarely in defaults territory (for the moment--I have some ideas for alternate mixes). The slightly eldritch granularized vocal sample talks about "going to work."
Update: Made a few changes--the hihats aren't quite so robotic now.
"Beame Weapon" [5.4 MB .mp3]
Sinebeats and sidbeats. Adding an "e" to the ends of words really classes them up, I thinke.