META-NOMAD

Blog: TSPDT4

Now comes the sudden realization that I’ve actually watched quite a few films from where we left off last week, which brings me to a key point: This list of 1000 films is inclusive of a film for a variety of reasons, it’s a cross-referenced list which includes multiple other rankings and ratings etc. so it’s the best of the best, and the most influential of the most influential. So what does that really mean? Well, as you saw with the first film on the list, it means that films are included for the very fact they invented a technique, or improved upon a technicality…not necessarily because they’re considered good. That’s not to say I’m going to just start smashing through these at the rate of 3 a day etc., no, only that…many are not worth commenting on. They are so of their time that it is now nigh impossible, if not simply a tiresome act to draw from them something of unique merit. Or, in short: There’s only so much Keaton and Chaplin one can watch before they begin to dissolve into a slapstick-mess, some funnier, some technically better etc.  I am however, now taking a quick glance at the list, only a few films from exiting what I’d call cinema’s teething period. From 1927 onwards there’s enough of a foundation in technique, sound, material, etc. for a film to have at least some criteria to begin a trajectory from. The problem herein is the fact that I have an extremely saturated mind when it comes to media and film, and thus much of what is technically incredible about these early films is for me akin to the background panels of cartoons, there only for need of a background. With all that said and done:

The Last Laugh (1924), honestly…I remember very little from this other than that it was a clear Hitchcock inspiration, I’m not going to attempt to drag water from a black and white stone.

The same applies to Seven Chances (1925), so apologies to any film students who’ve scrawled out 10000 words on either of these, but admittedly they’re alike to say Avatar, of-their-time and middle ground of their directors corpus, that which they wont be remembered for…

However, Battleship Potemkin (1925) is very good, and in only the space of 1 year Eisenstein moves leaps and bounds beyonds the visuals of Strike, it’s as if he had that moment which every artist aspires to find, wherein they recognize their own style amidst the relics, rubble and remnants of a thousand artistic memories and inspirations. That which once before was a little off or not as extreme has now been tuned into the most specific frequency.

Eisenstein’s clear use of a pot of boiling water about to boil over may seem obvious, yet interspersed with cuts of animals and animalistic ritual, chaotic collectives and artillery guns, there’s something temporal about the rippling of the water, the irreversible nature of a revolt, an inherent destruction and the radical disillusionment of the present time, for these men nothing else matters except the survival of the here and now. In fact, the entire film is shot and cut in such a way as to destroy the past, to allow the anonymity of particulars to guide the scene. For there is a porthole within the ship and the other side is obviously where the food is stored, behind this small window, yet all we – and the sailors – are allowed to see is the extending hand brandishing your meagre portion, this anonymous window of supply, it is that which brings the anger aboard. There’s another peculiar scene wherein the sailors debate the quality of some meat they are to fed, two hanging joints of a cow are assessed and found to have some form of worm or larvae infecting them, and so the captain analyizes them and simply states: “It’s good meat. End of discussion.” The beauty of the silent film rings true here, for it would take an incredible actor to deliver that line with much gravitas, yet written in simple black and white we understand, simply, that this man’s authority is final and that is the end of the discussion, quite literally.

The Odessa Steps scene is worth watching even when take by itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JecXKK2rmCc

Maybe I’m watching Chaplin ‘wrong’ but The Gold Rush (1925) – which is ranked 63rd on this list – I found to be unsurprising, and actually quite tiresome at times. I will almost always do a quick check for historical merit of these films…in case there’s a subtlety I’ve missed, yet to no avail, this is how it comes…perhaps dear Chaplin, you are just not for me, or perhaps the even bleaker statement would be: Perhaps dear Chaplin, you and your optimism have no place in 21st century, it is not that you’re not allowed in, no, only that the puzzle piece you created then fits not the piece we need now.

The General (1926) is your usual Keaton narrative so I shall not bother extrapolating. One thing I will quickly comment on however is Keaton’s performance, the man is not an actor nor a thespian, but a real performer, he makes it clear from merely his persona that his wish is for you to be entertained, an admirable trait. This, alongside his intense, albeit semi-insane stunts have thus far pushed Keaton far ahead of Chaplin for me. There’s something I don’t quite like about Chaplin, I hope I work it out…if I’m honest, at the moment it is because he reminds me so much of a ‘nice guy’, a liberal entertainer who wants not to entertain but to please.

More than likely will return to Faust (1926) as I’ve yet to read it (shame on me) and I don’t want to do it a disservice.

And finally Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927) is a must for anyone interested in German history, or the history of cities.

 

 

Blog: Organic Economics and TSPDT3

Serres & Nakamoto: Organic Economics

Connections between both Michel Serres’ ‘theorization’ of organisms as a series of interlocking boxes and Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of a decentralized blockchain-based economy (Bitcoin)

It is not a unique black box, but a series of interlocking boxes; and this series is the organism, the body. Each level of information functions as an unconscious for the global level bordering it…What remains unknown and unconscious is, at the chain’s furthermost limit, the din of energy transformations: this must be so, for the din is by definition stripped of all meaning, like a set of pure signals or aleatory movements. – Michel Serres, The Origin of Language

The solution we propose [To the double-spending problem] begins with a timestamp server. A timestamp server works by taking a hash of a block of items to be timestamped and widely publishing the hash, such as in a newspaper or Usenet post [2-5]. The timestamp proves that the data must have existed at the time, obviously, in order to get into the hash. Each timestamp includes the previous timestamp inits hash, forming a chain, with each additional timestamp reinforcing the ones before it. – Nakamoto, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System

Serres here writing in 1982 – 26 years prior to Nakamoto’s publication – notices the inherent capabilities and integration of a ‘blockchain’ (or in Serres’ example interlocking boxes) system within consciousness and notably communication. If we are to very roughly fuse both visions, that a single ‘block’ from Nakamoto’s economic system, makes as much sense as a single box from Serres’ series, both are pieces of information disconnected from the whole which makes sense of them. Much alike Serres’ series wherein that which remains at the chain’s furthermost limit is unknown and unconscious, what remains at the furthermost limit of Nakamoto’s blockchain is the distant memory of a proven transaction.

What is there Serres’ conception of an organism e.g. a system, from the blockchain: A globalized, ever-growing, decentralized ledger. Both systematically receiving, exchanging and storing information. However, here’s the part that really interests me:

Serres’ organism as systems retrieve information, but ultimately decipher the signal from the noise (as noted with ‘tiny perceptions’), that is, organisms actively deduce from the chaos of the interlocking boxes that which they need, yet at all times all those boxes and links are needed. I don’t need to feel the weight of my arm, texture and temperature of the can before and whilst I take a sip, yet they are there and always will be. “Organization, per se, as system and homeorhesis, functions precisely as a converter of time.” So it is from this “bouquet of times” we pick our signals.

So what of Nakamoto’s system, which in the same way as Serres’ is related to time, that is as Nick Land states:

“…the claim being made, but the claim being made here is that the blockchain is Post-Spacetime and that means that we are not Post-Kantian. We are not Post-Kantian because the Kantian Transcendental Aesthetic is not disrupted by Einstein spacetime, instead, it is the draft it is the blueprint, it is the precursor for the spacetime of the blockchain which has now been instantiated by the Bitcoin technology. So we have now artificial absolute time for the first time ever in human history.”

A goliath claim to be sure, yet what of its possibility. For if artificial absolute time is a reality and any form of Post-Kantian time is now impossible, this means that Serres’ “bouquet of times” or ‘bouquet of succession’ or successive experiences etc. become locked in, they become interlocked truths which cannot be altered, but can be looked back upon, in and of. One could (when the technology gets to this stage…it’s close) travel down the infinitesimal succession of times and perceptions they previously missed. So Serres’ unconscious is entirely deconstructed, his system of “mobile material points distributed in space and governed by a law” becomes a horrific, or emancipatory (in terms of economics) reality, and that “law” is cryptographically locked moments in time, cryptographic truths decentralized and available to all.

So in short: The utilization of the ‘blockchain’ (Bitcoin protocol/blockchain technology) as an extension of the ‘natural’ organic system, itself a series of interlocking boxes; either an abstract connection between the organic and mechanic via capital, or a material connection via acknowledgment/perception of ‘purchase/consuming’.

Note: The fact they both immensely dislike centralization was the thing that caused me to notice their connection.

TSPDT3

HÄXAN (1922), I could write about this film for a little too long to be quite honest, in fact a re-watch to analyize any single aspect of the film wouldn’t go a miss. This film is the epitome of ‘ahead of its time’. So much so, one wonders whether or not Haxan is some strange found object, as if film was transported back in time and is used in place of a skull during a satanic ritual.

This film embodies superstition, the documentary format is throw into scripture…ancient, forgotten, esoteric, myth comes alive and takes no human prisoners, rooms and lives are awash with literal, viral madness. Nunneries follow insanity, and the Nuns the devil. ‘The Devil Takes Many Forms’ in a general motto to hold onto throughout the film, whether it be gold pieces strewn over the floor, demonic pigs on their hind legs, witch-trials, torture, hate, suspicion, paranoia and more enters into a hellish stew of burning theo-historical documentary madness…from 1922. On a practical note, the cinematography isn’t necessarily sublime, but it is merticulous, everything framed, the costume design and ‘special effects’ (for what those words are worth in 1922) are all on par with that one would see 50 even 60 years later, it feels as if the film is both a debt and sacrifice to an unknown ancient being.

Keaton’s Our Hospitality (1923) isn’t my humour, I mean the 21st century’s cynicism and rorny have ruined my innocence for slapstick comedy, thus a lot of Keaton’s antics seem simply immature now.

Keaton’s Sherlock Jr (1924) is fantastic, the running length helps I must admit, 40 minutes of cut-to-the-chase humour works well, his control of flow is superb and I get this feeling that in comparison to Chaplin he’s not as artsy fartsy…the stunts also are grand.

Listen, I’m not some Rotten Tomatoes rate-everything-pre-1950-highly schmuck, thus, Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris is dull, I mean really dull, at no point did I give a shit about any high society antics, which seemed to exist in a feedback loop, perhaps that was the point, I don’t know, I’m none the wiser.

I can’t find a good enough version of Greed (1924). Also want to read McTeague prior to viewing.

Strike (1925), my first Eisenstein, and boy was I blown away. It’s blindingly obvious to me now which techniques filmmakers owe Eisenstein for. Precisely for the fact his use of montage and quick cuts are/is so well done it becomes near impossible to believe anyone else except this director could have invented such a technique. It’s glaring how this could very easily effect a down-and-out worker, or group of workers, how such a viral and infectious strain of perfectly paced cinema could crawl into the heart of a group and grow outwards, the fuel of utopian dreams. Eisenstein clearly marks the movement from objective reality, towards the forece of the subjective vision, Eisenstein’s utilization or proto-utilization/invention of montage as a means to sway how the viewer views the film is a technique heavily debated (André Bazin), yet without these early political subjective perspectives would Lynch exist, would a film be able to dig its claws as deep. Without Eisenstein’s political montage Lynch’s maggots would cease to exist.

Blog: TSPDT2, Outside

Second week of the TSPDT list, note, I’m not viewing 1 film per day or per week etc., it’s as and when I have the time/feel like watching something. The ‘Why?’ is because contemporary cinema has truly gone to shit, and that is not an understatement. If one is to act rather crassly and base the merit of a film off what it brought in at the box office, one merely needs to look at the top 10 films for each year prior to say, 2000, to note that something went drastically wrong. During the process of folding date myth into contemporary narrative we lost the underlying structure of the past and are left with only the banal filler of the present, that is, nowadays cinema offers little more than something to pass the time as opposed to a piece of art wherein one walks a way at least slightly changed. Great cinema is Heraclitean, dull cinema is Parmenidean – very roughly speaking. That said, sitting through hours of silent film is a task unto itself, at least for my stim-addled, k-addicted brain, which has some odd connection to screens: We did not heed Fisher’s warnings with regards to social media’s perpetual micro-dopamine fixes.

Broken Blossoms was a surprisingly refreshing film, the attitudes towards race and women of course dated, yet not in the same way as Griffith’s magnum opus The Birth of a Nation, the attitudes towards Chinese culture in general here seem weel meaning, specifically in a – once again dated – foreign-quarters-esque manner. That said, Broken Blossoms set designs acts as a precursor to Edward Hopper’s atmospheric usage of light and to Hitchcock’s entire (arguably), that is, the notion of hidden lives is quite literally brought to the fore, that inescapable lust for knowledge of the interior is given to the viewer on platter, quite uncomfortably at times. Broken Blossoms seems like a key starting place for silent film. Gish’s ethereal feminity holds the viewer’s hand almost always here, through these dire streets and through the sculpting of positivity we’re allowed to believe that something pure might just survive here, this in itself brings to questions contemporary notions of feminity.

True Heart Susie was too ‘lovely’ for me.

The Phantom Carriage stills. Interesting techniques to be sure, yet once again it’s a key example of my perception being spoilt, such a film, which was framed impeccably, drives itself into the chasms of repetition…sadly. The past is fading a little, and the future often can’t keep up with itself, the future need to innovate itself.

The Kid and Nosferatu both are without comment, they’ve had enough. The Kid was my first Chaplin viewing, was grand.

and finally for this week Nanook of the North, a documentary I was surprised I’d never come across, I adore Alone in the Wilderness and thought nothing could ever come close to the Walden-lite musings of a creator and craftsmen adrift and alone, yet Nanook adds something beautiful to mix.

A cliche ‘to be sure’, but Nanook adds something raw, and very early on. Whether it’s the hum of 1920’s film, fish-flesh or the acknowledgment of death from the start Nanook doesn’t fully enter into the noble savage genre. There is still a divide between the filmmakers and the subjects of the film, there remains a cultural divide and it works subtle wonders in drawing out the specifics of another life. A scene wherein a walrus is hunted and quickly eaten raw on the beach (above) due to excessive hunger-pangs stands out, that which, even in the 20’s, holds the real of another culture.

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I finally got around to looking at what Vast Abrupt have been up to and I have to say Reaching Beyond to the Other: On Communal Outside-Worship by Xenogoth is really, really good. In fact it’s been a while since something in the sphere has dealt with so much so fast and so well (my writing is lame today). I’ve noticed a lot of Vast Abrupt’s posts (maybe all?) are indexed at zero, whether or not this is a theoretical choice, wherein that which is posited at zero, prior, potentially a priori is that from which the post takes a trajectory, therein remains the unavoidable. The first ‘point’ that caught my interest:

“Whilst this broad definition is applicable to the narratives in much weird fiction, these tales explore the Outside through narrated ‘experience’ rather than objective academic analysis and they do so with an imaginative flare that has fascinated many.”

Academic analysis of the Outside often transforms the Outside into merely a component of a certain schema as opposed to a fluid experience, or a singular fluid experience from a certain perspective. The closest academic philosophy has come to a bridge between the two – for me – was Levinas’ Existence and Existents notably the phenomenology of the il y a (there is), that which wishes to be grasped from afar, yet at all times evades capture…in fact evades objective reasoning all together, that which teases humanity as being the “limitrophe of nothing”.

“To return to our Lovecraftian metaphor: if Land is an Outsider, having looked in the mirror and identified with the inhumanism of capital, Fisher is rather hoping to collectivise, organising an Acid Communist Cthulhu Cult of Outsider-worshippers. His focus on the aesthetic challenge is no doubt influenced by his subcultural affiliations. What are Goths if not Outside-worshippers who already live amongst us? However, even this subculture has been subsumed within capitalism — commodified, its vague political potentials have long been neutralised.”

No comment other than this paragraph stood out, a succinct articulation of the often hazy Land/Fisher connection, both working within the realm of ‘exit’ with such drastically different tools and techniques they act almost as two seperate species. Part 3 of Xenogath’s piece is a must read for anyone remotely interested in the concept of ‘exit’ à la Fisher/Land.

Blog: Further, TSPDT etc.

Neural Shroud’s latest which covers the increase politicization of communication is succinct. I believe there’s an undercurrent of cybernetics running through this piece – can’t quite place it – that said, the increase of politics within the everyday sphere is generally just exhausting, nigh impossible to comment on the ‘merit’ of anything without first addressing its political backdrop, affiliations…these are becoming unavoidable however e.g. Star Wars. Intriguing as these protocols are, there are at least 2 things heading our way which are (to a certain extent apolitical), the first being the rise of AI and the second being Bitcoin, or digitalized cryptographic currency as our primary means of exchange, the latter here of course having political considerations, however even those are decentralized and disconnected from state, and thus we enter in a realm of micro-protocols adhering to that which small groups, or individuals wish to do.

 

I’ve decided to venture into the depths of film this year, my trajectory is from a fairly formal standpoint, that of the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They 1000 Greatest Films List, which I shall be tackling in chronological order as a means to comment on the history of film as a whole, also as a means for lovely digressions into all manner of haphazard opinions etc. As such I began with L’arrivee d’un train a la Ciotat from 1895, little to comment other than that my mind insta-clicked of, I’ve become so used to high-definition media that the origins of film are apparently beneath me…fucking K-Addiction. And onto Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon, 1902):

There’s this odd sentiment of wonder and awe towards not only the moon itself, but the moon as the possibility of future, as opposed to simply continuation of the present. Wherein the ‘scientists’ above are seen as wizards, temporal-magicians who are the guiding force for man’s ability to transcend and overcome.

This short scene, wherein our scientists descend into a cave upon the moon, is an exemplary comment on the current climate, e.g. “What happened to the future…” we have become scared, as such these visionaries in 1902 vision the moon as this incredible place full of wonder. Our empirical abilities aside, we’ve lost our love for Mars even though the possibility of getting there grows ever nearer. It shall be a dull day when Musk lands upon Mars and the majority of TVs are tuned to some kitsch-celeb-shit-show.

D.W. Griffiths The Birth of a Nation (1915) is a masterpiece of cinema, the unavoidable racism and revisitionist history aside, technically Griffith’s magnum opus acts as a true game-changer. I must admit, I still find it difficult to engross myself in the clunky flow of these earlier works. I’m avoiding Feuillade’s Les Vampires for a while until I can find both the time and a good quality version.

Surprisingly I’d yet to watch The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and wasn’t as blown away as I thought I might be, that said, I’ve never been a fan of expressionism in general, however, on a little digging the book From Caligari to Hitler extrapolates as to some interesting temporal ideas:

“…in which he claimed that many of the elements of the expressionist film style, as well as Caligari’s overall story of a madman hypnotist who uses a mindless sleepwalker to carry out murders, were “a premonition of Hitler.” – link

“It was a bright jungle, more hell than paradise, but a paradise to those who had exchanged the horror of war for the terror of want.

It stood out lonely like a monolith.” – From Caligari to Hitler – PDF

And in my opinion, still does, the story of the sane turned insane, and of the absurdity/insanity of unquestioned authority is a continuing source of maddening loneliness (Kafka etc.). I must add that the removal of these film’s narratives from my contemporary perceptions is growing more difficult with each new watch, to appreciate their place in history, their place as creators and especially innovators is stifled immensely by K-Addiction and the awful explosion-loving programming of modern film-making. Michael Bay extends his arm into the past and rips away subtlety…