Guess who finally watched Liquid Sky? No, not her, she died years ago. It was me actually. As will soon be seen in great detail.
A quick warning from the off, Liquid Sky is an unusual film with some unusual themes and ideas. So there are going to be big swears (like c-bombs and everything), hard drugs, grubby new-wave synth music, a dash of necrophilia, aliens that feed off of the pleasure secretions of the human brain, androgyny and neon lighting-lots of neon lighting-from here on out. It will be worth it, but if that stuff doesn’t sound like your bag then I’d jump ship now. Why not try a taster with the opening minutes from the film? If you don’t like it you can read something else. I won’t mind. The rest of you, see you in five minutes.
INTRO TO LIQUID SKY
A number of recent studies appear to suggest a correlation between class and ethical laxity, or to, put it another way, rich people are bad. Now that’s a touch of deliberate bombast based on what for many, myself included, is a healthy, instinctual mistrust of wealth and authority. And for healthy, sane , fully functioning individuals such as us these results will come as no surprise. However, some less well-balanced humans argue that it is an absurd generalisation to claim that all rich, powerful people are liars and murderers so let’s point out right from the off that correlation does not imply causality. Indeed the authors of one studies highlight the fact that “upper and lower class individuals do not necessarily differ in terms of their capacity for unethical behaviour, but rather in terms of their default tendencies toward it” (The Grauniad). Never the less the same authors do claim that self-interest may be a “more fundamental motive among society’s elite” and selfishness “a shared cultural norm“. Continue reading
Asmodeus by Alan Moore
In part 3 we delved into the mechanics of comic book continuity and touched upon some of the philosophical implications of such fictional universes as well as drawing attention to some analogous theories from modern physics relating to the idea of the multiverse. Come on, you remember. It was fun wasn’t it? In this part I want to explore further the notion that fictions have some sort of autonomy. We begin first by considering Alan Moore’s concept of “idea-space”. In an interview with Arthur magazine Moore explained that the impetus for his concept of ‘idea-space’ stemmed from trying to understand the nature of consciousness and where our ideas come from:
the best model that I can come up with for consciousness is consciousness as a form of space…Most of us never come out of our living room. We’ve got our individual little private space in our head–just like we’ve got a house as a private physical space. But most of us never go outdoors. We stay within our own identity. However: people who are creative, or people who are questing spirits of some sort or other, have to go deeper. I mean, most people don’t really need new ideas as part of their daily round, depending upon what their job is or what kind of people they are. The same ideas that they had yesterday will probably do just as well today. If you’re a creator, or scientist, or any sort of creator, then you have to look deeper. You have to travel further, to find ideas that no one’s come across before. Rarer ideas.
Moore naturally wonders if such a space would be inhabited; would it contain its own unique ‘flora and fauna’? In Comics are Magic Part 2 it was seen that Moore makes no distinction between art and magic. Both involve accessing, exploring and navigating this ‘idea-space’. As such the demons , angels and other entities encountered by the artist-magician can be understood as living ideas. Or as Moore said in an interview for Blather in 2000: “entities are a kind of compound idea, at least as far as I see them”. Continue reading
David Cronenberg’s new movie A Dangerous Method is out now. I haven’t seen it yet, this isn’t a review. But thinking about the film led me, naturally, to thinking about sex in Cronenberg’s movies. Specifically, about how Cronenberg’s films offer up images of posthuman sexualities, of erotic experiences beyond the bounds of what human bodies are normally considered capable of. So this post is about Cronenberg’s new flesh. The erotic flesh. The philosophy of which is illustrated in the speech in the video below. Fair warning though: although this audio-visual tour through posthuman sexuality will be stimulating and enlightening, you probably don’t want to be reading this post at work or in front of your Granny. Unless she’s very adventurous.
In Comics are Magic Part 1 we discussed some strange coincidences and comic book predictions. In this part I want to discuss the use of comics to deliberately manifest such coincidences and changes in reality. First of all it might help to consider the intuitive capabilities of comics creators, starting with Jack Kirby. Kirby is arguably the most influential comics artist of all time, especially in terms of superhero comics. Chris Knowles, author of the excellent Our Gods Wear Spandex, has written frequently about Kirby over at his blog Secret Sun. Knowles says, “Kirby was a man who one co-worker described as being “hermetically sealed in his own imagination.” I’d counter that only by saying that I believe that Kirby instead was in deep communion with the Collective Unconscious. Kirby even claimed that his characters existed inside his head and he merely projected their stories onto paper.” Knowles suggests that
Stand-up comedy, eh? What’s the bloody point of it? As friends, lovers and people I met once while drunk can tell you that is a question I can talk at interminable length about. So, um, that’s what I’m going to do here. But don’t worry because it will be interspersed with videos of people being funny. Deep breath, everyone. Here we go. Continue reading
Well, this is a find. Knocking about online in the uncommisioned pilot episode of Julia Davis and Jessica Hynes sit-com Lizzie and Sarah (video at the bottom of the post if you just want to scroll down!). Starring and written by Hynes and Davis, the cast is rounded out by reliable comic talents like Mark Heap (Brass Eye, Big Train) and the actor Kevin Eldon (pretty much every great comedy series of the last twenty years. Also, Hyperdrive).
Here’s the official BBC synopsis:
Lizzie and Sarah are two fiftysomething suburban housewives, perpetually mistreated and ignored by unloving, selfish husbands. The highlight of their otherwise dull lives is their role in an amateur dramatic society, The Borking Players. In the aftermath of a tragic accident which causes the death of a popular local teenager, emotions run high, and following a dismal birthday lunch for Sarah, the two friends embark on a spur-of-the-moment shopping trip. As the day unfolds, they find a way to wreak their revenge.
As Richard Metzger quite rightly points out over at Dangerous Minds (which led me to the video, thanks DM!), “Although there is nothing untrue in the above synopsis, don’t think for a second that you know what this piece is about…” This is a dark, dark show. Hilarious certainly, but bleak. And bleakly hilarious is a rare and pleasing juxtaposition. Continue reading
Of course, I should be doing some proper work. But I started thinking about Jon Brion. Brion (born December 11, 1963) is “an American rock and pop multi-instrumentalist,singer, songwriter, composer and record producer” (much like the splenetic and rumbustious musical savant Craig Jeffery). I’m not massively au fait with his solo work but I am familiar with his soundtrack work as it forms part of several of what I consider (often loudly and at length) some of the best films ever made. So this is really just an excuse to post some videos of highlights from those Jon Brion soundtracks.
I might get round to writing longer pieces on these films in the future but in the meantime its worth saying that although we each have our own reality-filters so the merits or otherwise of these films lies in the eyes of the beholder, while I understand that, if you don’t like these films then it would be remiss of me not to seriously consider either snubbing you forever or smothering you with a pillow to put you out of your tasteless idiotic misery. If you haven’t seen these films then go now and find them. Stop conversing with friends and loved ones, or whatever it is you do, and find these movies. It’ll be worth it. Continue reading
So now then, after the last post became a general hurrah for Robert Anton Wilson (no bad thing necessarily) I’ve finally got round to writing about his links with comic books. Only that hasn’t been as simple as it seemed either. Fortunately it seems to have resulted in an interesting little bit of cultural archaeology.
Some context: I’ve written briefly about Wilson and his cohorts as ‘scientist-shamans’ and how that ties into a vision of the posthuman I call the Cosmic Body, and how we can also discern the Cosmic Body in superhero comics. One of the questions I was asked when I delivered my paper on this (available here) was how much the depictions of cosmic superheroes like Dr Strange and Adam Warlock in early seventies Marvel comics constituted a way of ‘piggy-backing’ on the subversive cachet of the comix underground, which of course prided itself on its open depictions of drug use, sex and violence in a way that the Comics Code would never allow for superhero comics.
Underground comix are not my specialty by any means. Other than the usual suspects like Crumb and Spiegelman and British variants like Viz, and a broad-strokes idea of the movement and its relationship with mainstream comics, its not a history that I’m wholly familiar with.
What does this have to do with Wilson? In thinking and reading and googling this post I was surprised to find very little interest in RAW”s work and comics. Moore and Morrison have certainly both name-dropped him (and Moore delivered a poetic eulogy for him at an event in 2007-video included at the end of this post), but I couldn’t turn up anything specific in terms of direct referencing. (For instance, I wonder if Alan Moore enjoyed the idea that ‘V’ was also the Roman numeral for 5, a number to which a great deal of significance is attached in RAW’s work and Discordianism, of which RAW was a pope of course. Continue reading
Just found this site (TubeGnosis) and thought it was worth sharing with the world. Great site with documentaries and films on and from all the usual suspects, Burroughs, RAW, Crowley, Jodorowsky and on and on. Weeks worth of viewing here.
I’m particularly excited to see the 1972 documentary about R. D. Laing Asylum:
In 1971, filmmaker Peter Robinson and a small crew entered a world of anarchic madness and healing compassion unlike any other. The resulting film, Asylum, records their seven week stay in radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing’s controversial Archway Community — a London row-house where the inmates literally run the asylum. Laing’s conviction that schizophrenics can only heal their shattered “self” where they’re free and yet are held responsible for their actions, challenged patients, doctors and, in Asylum’s incredible document, the filmmakers, to live communally and peacefully.
A documentary treasure built from truthful moments of astonishing tension and grace, Asylum takes on a gripping narrative strength usually only seen in fiction. Hailed as “beautifully done” by The Village Voice at the time of its 1972 release, Asylum has since become “a model of cinema verité.” (The New York Times)
“[Asylum] The only thing we have in film that shows what we think works for – well, for people who feel that society is destroying them.” – R. D. Laing
Plenty more besides that one. Going to be a busy week.
Tube Gnosis: Mind Expanding Documentaries and Movies.