review

Review: subboreal – childhood’s end

Quaint electronic ticks and early morning coffees arise from a forgotten train journey, nothing more, nothing less. Trees pass and pylons tower overhead. Path, a path of electric and static through romantic shadows. Sonder & sadness both sewn into this metallic tapestry. A mind races, unable to enter fully into that they wish to, a book unread, a text not sent, as time passes without event to fill it.

Euthanasiaa stark title, pushing off with heart monitor remembrance, a pulse runs directly into a paranoid-loss. Overclocking your emotions into a palpitation ever-present, bulging and pulsing into veins flowing. The skyline has changed, your memories fading into an abysmal grey sludge, another beverage, another piece of the past disintegrates into wishes. There’s a lust for warmth here, a need, a want, for warmth and for a care that cannot be found amongst forgotten chips darting vertically from a washed-out landscape.

You can’t ignore the future, you can only inject nostalgia into your circuits as more and more fear washes over you. Journey, it’s ever present and the dreams a fleeting glimpse, the only hope for what it was you had: the screens, ticks, beeps and slides all melt forwards into ruining your vision, inescapable temporality has entered the memory of your earliest birthday parties, cutting the cake instead of your parents, bundles of wires where friends used to be, a static hum is sung amongst the revelry.

Mind entering a panic drive. Attempts to enter somewhere forbidden, not stopped, only warned against. You may enter here, but be warned, you’ll leave a different entity. Worship cyber and bring forth the cold of metal. Bags getting heavy and the sting of your ill red skin worsens. Harmonic aluminium hell. Screech melodics enter into the mundanity, you can’t sleep for fear of waking into more electrical-detriment. Each sombre-tone erased, ever so slowly. Each placid inch of help and love grows downward, rotting as it falls. It’s over. But it still has to continue.

As the sterilization comes, you’re already anaesthetised by the suffocation and fall, quietly into a bed made of humming. Bone splinters and spinal plunge, take the hand of steel, let go of flesh, of life, of sense. Come forth into repetition pure. We can give you your memories back for a second or two, it wont help, but the illusion of help might be nice, amongst your trees of youth, horizons lost to polite play, everything you had, had, had.

Short, but then childhood is.


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Solaris: Acceptance of Horizons

We want to extend the earth to the borders of the cosmos.”

Surrounded by sublime vegetation, trees and earth, a lake spans forth caressing the traditional architecture of a home. Rain comes heavy overshadowing the minor footsteps of humanity. There’s subtle references to a far off world called Solaris thrown into the picture, each suffocated by the remaining humanity within Tarkovsky’s writing and cinematography. There’s a sense that the question Kelvin poses, namely whether or not science can be moral or immoral needn’t matter here, for these grandiose questions are juxtaposed against the timeless tranquillity of the traditional countryside, a cliché that only someone with Tarkovsky’s skill could make original once more.

Image result for solaris 1972

We’re introduced to Berton, a pilot who previously witnessed a four-meter-tall child on Solaris, slimy, nude and creating a waves within the ocean, a horror which was dismissed by the masses as a hallucination, and in a typically Kafka-esque manner Berton’s life and story has become the subject of ridicule, yet needless to say, the man himself is wary to bring the nauseous memory to the surface once more, for fear of its induction into the plane of reality, or at least, whatever remains of reality for our horror-stricken Berton. The opening to Solaris acts as a grounding for a past, one that teases little and is sincere in its acceptance of animals. An element of contrast that thematically resides at the back of one’s memory throughout viewing, against the coming madness fades a memory of normality.

Image result for solaris 1972

Upon arrival to the station Kelvin is greeted by little hospitality, all that awaits him within the station hovering above the ocean is paranoia. Consistently placed circular windows look out onto Solaris’s surface, a surface entirely oceanic and irradiated. A pulsating behemoth of water emanating a desire to the lesser to prod its potential mysteries. Kelvin soon learns his only acquaintance upon the station, Gibarian, has committed suicide, reportedly he entered into a perpetual state of depression “since the disturbances began.”

Before long such ‘disturbances’ become apparent to Kelvin and the viewer, hallucinations appear which are collectively shared by those aboard the station. Materializations of a conception of memory, or the memory of a person are brought to life on Solaris. Kelvin’s deceased lover Hari has returned and as such he decides to fire her away in the knowledge that she is dead, yet Kelvin soon learns that the hallucinations will never fully leave, and they are to return time and time again, each time learning more and more from the matter of your memory. The infinitesimal corpses of your memories materializations pile up as the ocean continues to probe your mind for the most minute of details. Each hallucination only as much of that ‘memory’ or that ‘person’ as one’s mind can muster, as such, our crew are left with ghost like visions of their past loves and experiences.

Image result for solaris 1972

These abstract horrors cling to nothing but their provider for life, and so the lives of hallucinations are entirely burdened to their creator, as such they will do what they can to convince your of their reality. As the 20 years deceased relative you once knew attempts to convince you of their reality, piecing together fragments of your own mind, be reminded that you are not going insane, you’re merely being probed by a planetary ocean with a consciousness, one that’s far more advanced than your own, humanities’ hardware is outdated and so you shall only receive packets of information caught in an empirical feedback loop. Attend to your own madness, and be kind as to not step upon others’.

Of late and of the past there has always been the unspoken idea that space exploration will act as a form of physical transcendence for humanity, wherein upon our ascent into the cosmos our limitations shall leave us behind, an ignorance so pure as to imagine that merely some form of empirical travel could remove our horizon when in actuality we’re still within it. It is not ourselves that have changed, only our position relative to our birth.

Tarkovsky’s vision of Lem’s Solaris is unapologetically anti-2001. 2001: A Space Odyssey is mistaken in attending the idea that humans could outsmart technology, 2001 goes as far as to imply the reversal of Solaris wherein it is Hal whose memory is slave to its fragmentation as opposed to humanity. Solaris from its very beginnings fully integrates the natural flaw that is humanity into the perfected systems that either they’ve created, or exist elsewhere, outside or noumenally. 2001 at its core is a story of man’s mastery over space, to argue this point I put forth Ebert’s explanation of 2001’s ending:

 

By now, man is intelligent enough to realize that the monolith was planted by another intelligent race, and that is an awesome blow to man’s ego. So he sets out toward Jupiter because the monolith beams signals in that direction. And man takes along “Hal 9000,” a computer (or tool) so complex that it may, even surpass the human intelligence. The ultimate tool.

But Hal 9000, made by man in his own image and likeness, shares man’s ego and pride. What is finally necessary is the destruction of Hal – after he nearly destroys the mission – and that leaves one man, alone, at the outer edge of the Solar System to face the third monolith.

And here man undergoes a transformation as important as when he became a tool-user. He becomes a natural being again, having used his tools for hundreds of thousands of years to pull himself up by the bootstraps. Now he no longer needs them. He has transcended his own nature, as that original ape did, and now he is no longer a “man.”

Instead, having grown old and died, he is reborn as a child of the universe. As a solemn, wide-eyed infant who slowly looks over the stars and the Earth and then turns his eyes on the audience.

These last 20 seconds, as the child of man looks down on his ancestral parents, are the most important in the film. We in the audience are men, and here is the liberated, natural being, Kubrick believes we will someday become.” – Roger Ebert

 

Ultimately at the end of 2001 it is man who ‘succeeds’ or transcends, man achieves mastery over his literal creator somehow and in quite a sentimental way becomes a dough-eyed infant looking down upon Earth. The ending is a Kubrickian rarity, it is – debatably – positive. Humanity overcomes space, a superhuman AI and eventually overcomes their own limitations.

If we’re to return to Solaris however one realises from the very beginning that such a case was never going to be put forth. Where Kubrick has apes utilizing tools, Tarkovsky has man pondering his morals, Kubrick gives us Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, the dawn of something great. Tarkovsky originally wanted nothing, but allowed us schizo electronic sounds as an opposition to unbridled hope. Where 2001 is forgiving, Solaris is vindictive and condemning. Tarkovsky understood that not matter how far we travel, nor in what vessel or whom with, we will always be dragging along with us the vicious memories of humanity.

In their cluttered and confused attempts at grasping the teasing’s of those superior to them humanity only claws back its own insecurities. If for one moment, man, you thought you were going to outsmart a concentrated planetary conscious you are mistaken, for it need only to remind you of a character in your own play to make you grovel and retreat. You might declare as Gibrarian did in a fit of madness “I am my own judge!” but be warned, for on your return to home you shall find no need for pleasantries, for you’ve entered into a labyrinth of horror wherein your worst fears are realised for eternity.

You arrive home to find all has been replaced by a perfect replica, each inch of the supposed matter attending to your reality instils a deep sense of the uncanny. Your dead wife runs to your side, your memory of her lost to time and so she too is lost to time, you’re left eternally with a cast without a script nor characterisation. You are left with only that which you created. An eternity without anything new. The slow death of mystery.

Review: Canned Meat – Soundtrack for Over​-​the​-​Counter Pharmaceuticals

Soundtrack for Over​-​the​-​Counter Pharmaceuticals R E V I E W

Facing eternity within a flesh-based ontology. The sky here a deep static, orchestrated from the past. Pharma-scape exists as a soundtrack prescription to a mundane life.

The unique nature of medicinal stench hits my nostrils, pharmaceutical stores reek of desperation:

Hey Chap, why don’t you get fucked!”

I collapse into a flesh heap and we begin.

I am with the floor, strewn sack of bone-coverings emancipating gallons of vomit-inducing sweat into every aisle. Pillboy climbs onto the counter and spins on one leg, shin-bone freeing itself, firing a flag-dart into my spinal column. Sweat Angels in Bedsheets he repeats over and over and over, increasing in speed, until it blends into delirium, a chaotic mixture of opiate brain-chasm and rust filings…eventual release into a swamp of tinnitus. Floor trembling, hurling chunks of rotten pill-dogs into the cities ventilation shafts. The city sleeps perpetually, in an ever pulsating slumber of hell-dreams. Upon waking the transition is so smooth one knows never where ‘n what ‘n when they are and the drums continue until the your head is ache.

– f l e s h d e s c e n d s – Sun-Ra Spirals – f l e s h d e s c e n d s

Revelry of nomadic om descends from a pill-legume heaven, a transcendent symptomatic malaise covers all. Minor ticks involved within the rare behaviours – they’ll pass with time -, none of this is psycho-somatic, it’s pure pill dictatorship as the static rises into a cacophony of hellish drone-time.

Downwards the effects begin to take place, beginning to rise and fall. Your sweat jumping out and back in, each and every gland attending and expanding for its own nausea. You pile them to the back of your throat as the plastic wrappings melt into a sludge trickling off your teeth, singular affects combining into a distorted enlightenment. And stop. The eye of the storm has malformed beyond comedown into dark-tranquillity, plateau-time is now. A member of the union shouts from afar:

Do you have enough electrolytes boy?”

I return a quip “Ktttssexiphenxetopratenzenzapetsatoladrine! Ine! Adol! Ine!” as each layer of my psyche flickers over the next and under the former, causing dopamine collapse. Each plateau ascending into a higher level of melodic chaos, each second attending to the caustic end of a dirty VHS reel, dragging its tail through pharma-splinters in the hope of death.

Foaming Blood isn’t attending any of your polite shit, as each tooth rots from the root until all that’s left is bone-foam, lunging up from your gums, out of mouth, dissolving floor. Vibrations loosen each socket of your being, until simulacrum of tremble. You’ve been invited to what looks to be a short melody, allowing you to recompose the overdose into a worse structure, you begin to survey the damage, your psyche has been dismantled and workers are feasting on the separation. They’re having a party, with the splayed relic of a collapsed lung as the centrepiece, each singular line is an impossibility, vibration and repetition initiates a confusion in the crowd, rampant idea-incest begins prior to the Hellenistic vomit ritual. Follow the bile-brick road: lines of micro-workers, each holding a white blood cell, dance in perfect time, retching gut drippings into your veins and stems. You’re being remoulded, legs of concrete, head of medication-Jell-O.

A clip of humanity comes through the blood-film atmosphere, its crass nature pauses all efforts of frivolity as we’re taken back to a dead Eden. Dead Eden pretending to care, the chimes made of pill-casings, and the harps assembled from tendons. Eat from the tree, eat from the floor, eat from the snake, for it’s all pharma. We can help you feel how we want you to. A nationalistic repeat covers the world, salutes from all, cover your heart before the mulch it’s become drips out. Rib-ache. – Waiting for the Scalpels to Arrive in the MailThere’s a point in time wherein screams become futile, not because of atmospheric lack, because of pure aural suffocation, a drill like odour hum so violent your widened mouth crumbles, lips melt into one another, flesh decelerates into a pulp-casing.

Allowed subtle reminders of pharma worship, knelt before gates made of ache and crush. The devoted allow their migraines, for hope of pharmaceutical intervention. They beckon and descend down each vein, each slower than the last, your kneel becomes compulsory. Kneel before the great dispenser and pray for a maggot sized helping. Lines of skulls jerk in time, choreographed seizures act as sacrifice. Arms lift themselves, skin brings with it heavy bone, perpetual fracturing. The ground entirely grated metal, to allow for extension seepage. Hell is a repetition never interrupted, a repeat so loud no sound can enter. The great churn begins, knee caps fragment, flying through each orifice. Your entire being is displaced into a welcoming tumour. There’s no layers here, plateau eradication as the perpetual swirl gears in. The dark meditation, allies with the alien Cancer. A job of death. The purpose of an existence is to end another’s. Eternal drug-spiral within an unconscious mass of breathing tissue. Becoming-fever, sweat-session, hallucinogenic-nausea: The Cancer Killing Bees Part II is over:

Rewind the serotonin tape please…ple…pl…”


Canned Meat

Lovecrypt

Review: Nishiki Prestige – XOXO

The factory of LOVECRYPT came to me via the incessant malaise of ‘Weird Twitter™”. A basic-bitch search for fresh music isn’t going coax it into appearance. It disturbed my interests due to its extrovert leanings on the esoteric, political & philosophical. – “Who taught you how to write about music?”

No one. But I jus’ listened to that there XOXO by Nishiki Prestige, and I sure as h-hell wanna dish my digits into the keyboard, see what falls out, you know?”

“nO one will hire you.”

“HELLO! And welcome to the album review for Nishiki Prestige’s XOXO, an album put out by LOVECRYPT FREQUENCIES. And boy oh boy oh boy, we have one hell of an album for you. Help help.”

To digest the few remaining ashes of music journalism, tasty little titbits of shit. The problem here being that the factory-esque vision of marching k-ants divulged by XOXO’s first track 10 Years has seduced me into a rotten disorientation. Thrown into an insta-nostalgia for a future within its own creation; I’m witnessing a labour-march, an assembly line.

 

And When Grew Up Way Too Fast climbs down, the disorientation diversifies into chasmic slows and rises; the birth of constant beginnings, every halt ‘n jerk is a possibility for another circuit and direction, towards another musical commodity. And this creative spasmodic zombie rides high into Haunted Stars hounding with it large areas of tonality and pressure, both of which are teased continuously; a melodic form of stress. The first of many tracks in which the past is captured and held in the background, seeping through when the pipe occasionally bursts: retro-static bulges and nostalgic urges of known music appear.

Let me tell you this boys ‘n girls. The whole damn thing is like Burrough’s dirty K-offspring. A big ol’ fancy pants article, that could well be non-linear. Deleuze would say oh boy maybe they just well damn get it.”

The fragmentary consumer aspect of Apply to Broke Skin shifts inwards. Commodified medical plasters for the album itself, cornerstones of thought – Zizek on ACC – key themselves in. But not before we’re told to Celebrate good times, Celebrate Accelerate good times. The mandatory cause for Acc-celebration is the Acceleration itself. All is immanent.

The night-circuit science fictions surrounding Zuckerberg come to life in a hyper-circus named Zuck Theme, where the fun is but a simulation – we’re all on this programmed holiday. The relaxation accelerates. A harder relaxation for a premium member! The fun gets better! Just prior to the k-collapse as the test ends. Holiday-terminated.

The mellow tick-work of human flesh, its evaporation. Its comfort.

The slow embrace of a singular heroic hum. Melting into acidic launchpad.

 

“I like fast music.”

Julie, would you agree that one could say…if they so wished, that the grandiose themes utilized in this sporadic album would seem arrogant when used elsewhere, but here, amongst the disjointed quasi-hedonism of acceleration, they become gentle reminders of history eating itself?”

Oh Jonathan, I would agree, but I hate your filthy gut smell.”

 

Downtime was never invented as we hurl another into the grind. K-Goth. Those textural relics once seeping through are subsumed into consumerist submission just as quickly as they’re re-written, re-packaged and sold. Cybermemory is failing. Amongst Lifetime of Grey Skies one believes, that maybe, oh just maybe, there was someone onboard who could impersonate a pilot, because this sure is a friendly minute or so. But that lack returns – in Baby, If You Come that need for something revelling in its cyber-vitality, that acidic pinch of the fresh-take ad infinitum.

 

And the guidebook says: N O S T A L G I A FOR TOMORROW: no hope for today.

 

An attempt, I think dear audience, at articulation of the fact that acceleration is not synonymous with speed, and holds its real purpose and eventual terminal-degree in reformulation.”

 

Imagine a piece of data facing its eventual death, breathing its last. – I’ll Be There For You.

 

Future is a Machine would work well as a traditional end, but there’s no end to acceleration!”

 

* applause *

AND OH christ. It’s all capital R real and the rag ended cyber-guts trail off into this ephemeral, anti-tranquil hellscape. And as we sit arm in arm, hand in hand, bearing witness to the consumer horizon overtaking humanity, an aural assemblage of all that was provides the soundtrack to our demise.


 

A link/player to Nishiki’s album can be found below, along with various other relevant links:

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Nishiki Prestige Twitter

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Pleasantville: Knocked from Stasis

The residents of the town Pleasantville are within a TV show called Pleasantville, which our two protagonists, David and Jennifer, find themselves thrown into. A town & TV show which is of 50’s attitudes, whereas our protags are from the 2000s (it seems.)

Thus the town acts as a place of temporal-stasis, a pure-linearity, a linearity which is temporal and spatial, as its main street curves in a loop onto itself. Only that which has been written of the show can happen: A basketball will always go through the hoop, things are done in order, etc. etc. Yet once our two protags are thrown into the town, they act as malicious agents, though not on purpose, anything they alter brings consequences, a quasi-chaos theory within a smaller universe (the town of Pleasantville).

The subtle changes to the Universe remove the ‘written’ characters from their existential script, the one in which they meaning. Once the characters, acting as extras to the universe, NPCs if you will, realise they can do things outside of the written order, their world begins to deconstruct in both negative and positive ways. The sexually repressive attitudes of the 50’s: handholding, kissing at ‘Lover’s Lake’ etc. are cast aside for full-blown MTV-style lovin’, in fact this sparks a conersation in which Jennifer, who’s in her early 20’s, has to explain what sex is to her 50’s mother, the style begins to evolve into a Greaser care-free style, and that which becomes altered in the ‘meant-to-be-black-and-white world’ begins to appear in colour. Yet, certain characters who realise that they can act off script begin to question the ‘point’ of their existence, for if the chef at the diner can put the lettuce on the burgers before the cheese then his entire world is altered, he begins to question. The questioning acts in certain ways in accordance with Artificially Intelligent learning, exponential growth of knowledge: The chef realises he can place lettuce before cheese, and quickly learns he could go just not make a burger at all, or even not go to work. Thus the protagonists act as agents within a linearity, both wielding the possibility to knock existent-zombies from their unconscious statis.

Chef: What’s the point bud?

David: You make hamburgers, that is the point.

Chef: It’s always the same…

David: Look, you can’t always like what you do, sometimes you just gotta do it because it’s your job, and even if you don’t like it you just gotta do it anyway.

Chef: Why?

David:…I think that you should try not to think about that anymore.

(Note: Some filler from the conversation is cut here.)

Anything authentic, which in this case is that which is not-of-this-world begins to take on actual colour, as opposed to the black-and-white 50’s TV aesthetic. These acts of complete authenticy eventually begin to, in small ways, destroy the world, causing a tree to self-combust into flame: flame, which, as something not used within the actual TV program should not…be. Leaving the firefighters in awe of flame and actually using their equipment for its use for once, in Heideggerian terms this act is for the firefighters to take that which is present-at-hand and utilize it, transform it, into the ready-to-hand. This acts leads the in-Pleasantville characters to question the ‘outside’ of Pleasantville. The books which were previously blank, begin to become filled in via the protags memory of them, thus the characters begin to read that which they never should have, they begin to shed their black and white shells and become conscious of the metaphysical colour. Many of them become, especially the older generation of extreme 50’s conservative values, become self-conscious of the colour; self-conscious of their enjoyment of the culturally transgressive, and as such, paint themselves back to black and white, to cover their new found ‘cultural-outside’.

One scene in particular, though a little romantic, is incredible in terms of a metaphor for political and cultural escape. The chef is given a book on Art to flick through, as he enjoys painting, the process of him viewing beautiful works of Art is literally euphoric. Yet, he still cannot see ‘colours’.

Chef: “Where am I gonna see colours like that. Must be awful lucky to see colours like that, I bet they don’t know how lucky they are.”

An erudite comment on existentialism and the perspective of the artist.

Among other things, the film has a reasonably transparent criticism of the patriachy, in which William H Macy’s archtypal father character, continues to ask where his dinner is when he arrives home from work. It’s not on the table, as his wife is out expressing herself, enjoying her own life outside of the linear. He explains this to his group of pals:

There was no dinner.”

“*GASPS*”

“If George here doesn’t get his dinner, anyone of us could be next.”

A questioning of values begins from the older conservative townsfolk. They believe it will just “Go away.”, yet of course those who’ve experience the colour do not want it to go away, there begins a questioning, largely from the women at first, starting with George’s wife, who realises she can do what she wants.

And so begins the films comment of black segregation in America in the 50’s. People begin to display ‘No Coloureds’ signs and talk of seperating the pleasant (black and white) from the unpleasant (coloureds), the comment itself is a little weak. And so begins violence towards ‘coloureds’, violence, which up until now has not been part of their world, they are as of yet, to see blood.

The film roughly follows the linear history of black segregation politics in American, finishing in David and Chef painting a large mural on the side of the Police Office, showing the rise of the colour and the change.

It is a film of political, cultural and existential apathy. Directing its artistic sensibilities towards the absurd nature of those who find themselves in multiple forms of stasis, towards those who are stuck.

The Silence of the Lambs – Review

The critically acclaimed director of The Silence of the Lambs, Beloved, Philadelphia and Stop Making Sense – to name only a handful of the work produced in his lifetime – Jonathan Demme has passed away, as such I felt obliged to write a piece on one his works, and one of my all time favourite films, The Silence of the Lambs, the film that in many ways is seen as his magnum opus and the highlight of both his and Anthony Hopkin’s career. Based on the book my Thomas Harris, which I’m afraid to say I’ve yet to get around to reading, tracks the efforts of Agent Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) to interview famed serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins). Lecter’s insight might prove useful into an active serial killed named ‘Buffalo Bill’, who skins his female victim’s corpses.

The film begins with a feeling that shall remain with the viewer throughout, that of paranoia, of a certain unease and uncertainty, that at all times our very movements and those of our protagonist Agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) are being scrutinised. This in a sense is Demme’s portrayal of everyday sexism, utilizing the male gaze as a means to extrapolate on workplace and frustratingly commonplace misogyny. From the absolute beginning Starling is being followed – by the camera – in the woods where she is undergoing FBI training, she’s then told by what seems to be a superior that she is to meet with Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), after an oppressively masculine gazed elevator ride to Crawford’s office, she is met with a wall of photograph’s of Buffalo Bill’s victims, but her viewing is interrupted by Crawford’s entrance. Crawford insists on informing Starling that she is top of her class and whilst nonchalantly relaxing back into his chair, he remembers Starling from his seminars – “You grilled me pretty hard as I recall on the Bureau of Civil Right’s record in the Hoover years…I gave you an A.”. The first of many times in which Starling’s natural talent for her career is patronized, demeaned and looked down upon due to the fact she is a woman, Demme makes no attempt in making this a subtle gesture throughout the film. Starling is thus informed she is to interview Lecter, though it’s assumed he wont talk.

Oh he’s a monster! A pure psychopath. So rare to capture one alive. From a research point of view Lecter is out most prized asset.” – Frederick Chilton

Chilton’s first sentence encapsulate his entire being throughout the film, a slimy figure, who, in general preys upon others force his own personal gain. For those of nuance and critique such as Lecter and Starling this is apparent almost instantly, as it is to the viewer, he speaks of Lecter’s ‘capture’ as he licks his lips, you can tell he sees fame and fortune in his hopeful attempts at understanding the famed Hannibal Lecter. Chilton makes a pass at Starling, which she of course refuses – whilst seemingly holding back vomit – due to her professionalism for the job at hand. As they make their way to Lecter’s cell past multiple barred doors and guards Chilton speaks of the rules of engagement when it comes to Lecter, he shows Starling a photograph of a woman Lecter ‘got to’ one time after he feigned stomach pains:

When the nurse leaned over him, he did this to her. [pulls out photo] The doctors managed to reset her jaw, more or less. Saved one of her eyes … his pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue.”

I believe the last part of that line perfectly represents the utter depravity of Lecter’s mind, a man who’s gone so far in, he’s come out the other side with the understanding that what he does is ‘fine’, and shouldn’t worry him in the least. The majority of their walk is lit by a bright red light. At this point we meet Barney, one of the guards who works in Lecter’s block, the last friendly face before the madness.

Starling’s first meeting with Lecter is acting on a different place, Hopkin’s mixture of subtle aggression and frustration of the cage, along with his myth-like-perception and charisma make him a peculiar ‘villain’. A villain one knows at their very heart could destroy them in a heartbeat, those villains who brandish weapons, guns and armies are no match, kill me with a bullet and I’ll be alive no more. Allow Hannibal Lecter into your mind and one will be wondering the halls of insanity forever, your temporal existence pulled apart, your personality deconstructed, and at the end you’re cast aside, a mere puppet to the master.

I’m going to post the link to the scene here as my writing cannot do it justice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU8jKn7sMwU

Starling returns to her training, awaiting more condescending gazes from her male FBI colleagues, even after her confrontation with an insane famed cannibal. As she was leaving Lecter’s block Miggs, who resides in the cell next to Lecter’s throws his semen at her, which in an absurd way is the tug-on-the-thread which leads to Buffalo Bill’s capture, as one thing Lecter cannot stand is rudeness and bad etiquette, as such he screams for Starling to come back and gives her a subtle hidden clue as to the whereabouts of some information, the clue isn’t actually the clue he directly gave, but one hidden in her understanding of Lecter himself:

Listen carefully. Look deep within yourself, Starling Starling. Go seek out Miss Mofet, an old patient of mine. M-o-f-e-t.

Starling believes “yourself” is too ‘hokey’ for Lecter and as such comes across the Your Self Storage company. The continues to the location of the company and searches a storage garage under the name Mofet, which contains, amongst other seemingly expensive and luxurious items a severed human head in a jar. She returns to Lecter with haste to discuss her discovery. She figures at the name Lecter gave her was an anagram, leading to the fact Lecter himself rented that garage, a test, for a bright mind. He hands her a towel from his cell via a metal shoot, as she begins to dry her Lecter is already at the back of his cell, in an instant. Part of Lecter’s character will always remind me of The Judge from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, the viewer is never entirely sure how much of what their seeing is a myth, Lecter is pure-psychopath, has almost extra-human animalistic strength, is exceedingly intelligent, charismatic, the ability to smell a tumour inside one’s stomach (from the book), dexterity and heightened perception, the brilliance is in the fact all of things together are extremely unlikely, yet not impossible, what we’re seeing is something we don’t want to be, a killer who’s not a brute, the violence isn’t the point, the domination seems to be mental; becoming a toy as soon as you meet a certain person, a simple “Hello” and you’re in their domain.

We learn the severed head belongs to one of Lecter’s previous patients Benjamin Rasdale, to Lecter a ‘garden variety manic depressive’ “tedious, very tedious”, who became Lecter’s experiment after he missed 3 appointments, though who killed him? “Well, who can say really…”Lecter presses Starling about the fact Crawford ‘likes’ her, making her feel more and more insecure, though it appears to the viewer this is in no way the same way in which those at the FBI gaze at her condescendingly. It becomes clear Lecter knows who Buffalo Bill is, and is more than likely the same person who decapitated his patient, however, he refuses to allow Starling the knowledge as “All good things comes to those who wait.” Lecter is intelligence in a cage, he is existentially bored, he wants a view with a tree, possibly water, he wants to be away from Chilton, in small part to Lecter’s charisma and Hopkin’s skill, one often falls into becoming slightly sympathetic of Lecter’s situation, as he is not crass or rude, not violent (yet).

We cut to Bill abducting a new victim, via pretending he is handicap and getting them to help him move furniture into the back of his van. An oppressively strong man, with a need for women of a certain size. After this short scene Crawford and Starling are travelling to a new victim’s funeral, wherein Starling is belittled throughout, with Crawford wanting to discuss the crime privately, away from Starling, she might be too precious for such a discussion. During the funeral Starling has a memory of her father’s funeral, her father a police officer and inspirational figure in her life. Starling then needs the local law enforcement to leave so the FBI can take care of the case, which means she needs to ask a group of male law enforcement officers who are in their own town to leave, she does, and the camera pans to a group of 15 or so middle aged men staring down at Starling, looking confused, looking to one another as to whether the request is serious. The difficulty and frustration of Starling’s current situation is brought up to the fore, one wants to scream at the room, allow them to acquire our perspective, but alas, a few nods and shuffles, and Starling’s polite demands are met. Once they’ve left Starling begins to examine the body, noticing there’s something in the victime’s throat, something everyone else missed, a bug cocoon. They leave and Crawford mentions that him wanting to speak privately aggravated Starling.

THE MOTH AND BILL:

Starling takes the cocoon to two specialists, one of which hits on her, they identify the moth as the Death’s Head moth, which only live in Asia. And within in America they’d have to be specially raised…”Somebody loved him” the specialist says to the dead bug:

The moth on the poster is the death’s head moth, but the usual skull shape on their body is replaced with Salvador Dali’s photographic artwork In Voluptas Mors, which he made in collaboration with Philippe Halsman:

In Voluptas Mors could possibly be translated to say “In pleasure, there is death,” or “Voluptuous Death.” A linkage between sex and death, it’s important here to not just think of ‘sex’ as the sexual act, but one’s sex e.g. male, female etc. which can be linked to Bill’s disorder. Note: I’m not going to go too far into Bill’s disorder, there’s many, many articles and write ups discussing what it disorder it is specifically, and I don’t want to get caught up to correct terminology of a fictional serial killer’s mental disorder; however, I will accept that correct and un-bias portrayals of disorders in film is important (which is why I hate Split (2017) so much). As such, I’m going to add here a poignant quote from this article: http://www.thesociologicalcinema.com/blog/the-not-so-hidden-transphobia-in-silence-of-the-lambs

Jame Gumb’s (Buffalo Bill) gender identity is handled in a number of very problematic ways. First, her character is a classic example of the killer transgender trope, also famously present in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Transgender women are often represented as psychotic killers as a lazy method of responding to mainstream society’s fear of gender nonconforming people. This popular trope in film reinforces the idea that being transgender is unnatural and perverted, and pathologizes gender fluidity. It’s a stowaway on the Hollywood global distribution machine, reaching into countless theaters and homes around the world and embedding transphobia in the minds of a wide array of viewers.”

Meanings of the Moth:

LITERAL: When performing an autopsy on one of Buffalo Bill’s victims, the coroner finds an object lodged in the victim’s mouth. He removes it. It’s a brown pupa. He cuts it open, revealing a moth. We later discover the Buffalo Bill has a pupa breeding room at his home, where thousands of butterflies and moths flutter about.

FIGURATIVE: Buffalo Bill has an obsession with moths because they represent what he wants for himself. Moths begin as caterpillars, but then enter a cocoon and emerge as fully-formed moth. He is a man who wants to become a woman, but was denied a sex-change operation. Now he murders women and collects their skin to create a “woman suit” –  a cocoon for himself – which he can use to become a woman.

Back to synopsis:

Starling offers Lecter a transfer to another prison, with a view of a woods and access to books, Lecter’s eyes light up at the thought of it, Starling continues to explain that alongside this, for 1 week of the year Lecter would get to go to Plum Island, and be free within its limits, walk on the beach and swim in the ocean…under swat team surveillance of course. She hands him the Buffalo Bill case file and the non-negotiable offer, if Catherine Martin (the woman who Bill abducted) dies, the offer expires. Lecter notices Plum Island is a research centre “How nice…” And we begin quid pro quo, something for something:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlRLfbONYgM

And Lecter continues to pick and pick and pick.

We cut to Bill’s famous “Put the lotion in the basket!” scene. Where Bill continues to torture his victim. Cut back to Crawford teasing Hannibal about the fact there never was a deal, he’s glimpsing at a pen, Crawford pushes for Bill’s real name, Lecter lets them know his first name is Lewis, but he’ll only tell the rest in Tennessee to the Senator herself. And so Hannibal Lecter dons his classic horror getup, the barred mask, the man who bites, the animal evolved, pure bound animalistic terror. Crawford searches for his pen as to sign a contract, it becomes clear Lecter has stolen it. Lecter tells the Senator (Bill’s victims mother) all she wants to know; quid pro quo…of course.

Lecter gets his demands and is moved to the top of a courthouse. Starling meets him, he’s reading, it’s peaceful. He knows it’s her without turning. She returns his drawings. At all times, whilst talking to Lecter, he is in charge. Lecter discusses the fact all Starling needs to know about Bill is within their case file, they have all they need, just not the means to work it out, they haven’t the time…but Lecter has all the time in the world, in a cage. The quid pro quo continues, prodding deeper into Starling’s psyche, her memory of the lambs. Lambs of course act as innocence, with Starling attempting to intervene, to help save those who cannot save themselves, Starling is making it her duty to stop the screaming of the lambs. Killing Bill, it seems, will stop the lamb’s screams. Lecter hands Starling her case files, alluringly stroking her finger as he does, the romantic side of their relationship is extrapolated further in Hannibal.

Cut back to Hannibal enjoying some classical music in his new cell, as he’s being brought his second dinner…lamb chops, extra rare. They begin the cuffing routine, not before we see Lecter remove a bobby pin from his mouth, more than likely a piece of the pen he stole earlier. Lecter is about to escape his cage, the scene is set for what is, in Lecter’s mind, a moment of beautiful brutality. The cops place down his dinner, being asked by Lecter tactfully to mind the drawings. A cuff to a cop’s arm, a bite to the face, mace to the eyes, a baton repeatedly over the other’s corpse. Lecter in a moment of sublime over his victims, a vicious animal freed, he finds a switch blade:

Ready when you are…”

Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs, is a master-work, between social commentary, ecstatic moments of gothic horror and charismatic drama, one finds themselves sucked into multiple visions of a world. Morality, immorality and pure chaos combine into a theatrical experience of a grinning horror. Demme’s use of eye-to-camera contact suffocates the viewer, one feels as if they’re confronted with Lecter, they are to answer to him, to give him something, something is owed to merely be in his presence. With the villain in the background one only feels unease at their lack, where are they? What are they up to? You want Lecter in sight. Starling and Lecter both alienated from the world’s they inhabit, Lecter from his deluded interior, he cannot connect to people, and Starling alienated from the male world of police enforcement. With a prior tension before meeting Lecter that makes one jump upon seeing him for the first time, with claustrophobic close-ups of conversations making one feel at once at home and a stranger in the story, a symbolism that doesn’t descend into pretentiousness, a straightforward narrative that’s simple yet haunting, incredible performances and a sense of lingering pressure, a pressure one is unsure as to whether or not its going to be relieved even if the case is solved.

Ta ta.

The Big Short – Bureaucratic Horror

“I mean for instance, one of the hallmarks of mania is the rapid rise in complexity and the rates of fraud…” – Michael Burry

What’s the initial setup for your most basic horror film? An ordinary world, the world as a given, everything fine, normal and we as a viewer still have our nerves. Everything is as it should be. There may of course be a hero, a protagonist with which we will side, usually we shall take the side of those who we feel are more morally just. Then something goes wrong, a disturbing force, something mystical, strange, violent and absurd shall overthrow the narrative, we are given a clear warning of this, some eerie tone or a sense of unease and foreboding is given. The problem is usually solved, or fixed, the villain or sense of unease is killed/ended and those who’ve survived go on with their lives.

In this case The Big Short begins entirely in the ordinary world, we are told of Lewis Ranieri the father of mortgage-backed securities in the 70’s, we don’t know who he is, but he changed our lives, which already pushes a sense of unease, someone changed all our lives and we never knew, this is nothing unique of course, except it comes apparent later on as to why it’s a malicious global economic change. The ordinary world is short lived, we are given images from the 2008 housing crisis, people being evicted from their homes, poverty, strife, anger, worry and fear all crammed into roughly 2 minutes of news real footage. There isn’t necessarily a singular hero in this case, prior to beginning the film the audience understands that it’s about the 08’s housing crisis, so, who does one support? Who are we backing here? Who’s out hero? Potentially you could argue our ‘hero’ of sorts is the likes of Michael Burry who foresees the crisis, however, much like the rest of the films ensemble he merely uses his knowledge to profit from the crisis. Not that he, or any of the other protagonists could have done anything about it of course, to step in the way of big business is to commit career suicide, so you take what you can and leave, I guess. Perhaps the future economy is our hero? What we want to survive in an underlying sense of security in those who hold our money and safety, though the film’s general premise doesn’t bode well for this idea i.e. This has happened twice now, within a 70 year time frame. So, what kind of horror is this? A bureacratical one, constantly fluctuating with a sense of kafkaesque frustration.

Wall Street loves to use confusing terms to make you think only they can do what they do.”

Of course, this is nothing new. Look at any system in which there’s something at stake which those who know don’t want spoiled, or to have the wealth spread out amongst even more people: Bitcoin, stock markets, morgages, taxes, forex, etc. these systems are made implicitly to push people away. So already the viewer is given a new world in which the narrative is to make transparent was has for so long seemed like complete gibberish, techo-jargon explained to the layman, so we can see it for what it is, simple exploitation. We are given a world in which we’re the fish, yet the problem being, the time has passed, 2008 has passed, so we are just relieving the intricacies and underlying structure of a collective nightmare.

“You have no idea the crap people are pulling and the average person just walks around like they’re in a goddamn Enya video. They’re all getting screwed…Credit cards, pay day lenders, car financing, fees, fees, and more fees. And what do they care about? The ball game or which actress went into rehab?” – Mark Baum

 

As witty and humourous as Baum’s statement is, it’s true, it’s always been true and will forever be true, as long as we stay within the capitalist realist state we are currently within. The interesting feeling the film emanates here is that of nausea, an uncanny situation in which the horror is unfolding from both sides inwards, there’s no hero to save us, any possibility of salvation has been buried in time under stacks and stacks of paper work, maybe not, that could just be conjecture. However, the viewer now understands they are in there’s no out as this has happened, so they are just to sit and watch the horror unfold, slowly watch as the scaffolding is poked and prodded until collapse.

 

Who bets against housing?”

 

That’s the problem, complete in 4 words. Who, as in, it will never fail because everyone knows it wont. Bets, it’s a dumb gamble. Against, it’s secure. Housing, it’s housing, it’s always fine, I mean it’s housing for christ’s sake: we live in them. Everyone does it so no one questions it, The Big Short tells the story of when the mad man on the street is finally vindicated, those shouting “The End (of the economy) is Nigh!” of course no one listens, and no one will care afterwards becuase they’re too busy trying to find a new home or work out what the hell happened. Most horror movies at this point either have a clear villain win or loss: the villain either kills the victims or vice versa, that doesn’t happen here, everyone is left to deal with the remains, as if a big economic villain came in ravaged 99% of the parties involved and left without any damage to itself because it never existed in the first place. The viewer, left empty, just continues on, I don’t know how to finish this because the movie itself can only leave you with a distinct sense of dread that the walls that surround you aren’t financially secure, nothing is, it could all crumble…well, we already knew this though didn’t we.

Ivan’s Childhood

“War is no place for children.”

 

Ivan’s Childhood sits as a blueprint for Tarkovsky’s career, with an idea towards accessible spirituality and metaphysics, towards the il y a and dread of existence. One strikes one foremost, as with any Tarkosky film is the imagery, a sublime mixture of intensly humane images, contrasted with striking, quasi-abstract death-imagery.

Ivan, a 12 year old Russian boy, whose family, we learn, has been killed. He had joined a partisan group and had attempted to cross the front line into Soviet territory. He is captured by the Soviets and installed into the war effort, his small physique and swiftness his beneficial attributes. A stoic and contrarian boy, a boy pushed temporally into the realm of man prematurely, allowed access into a chaotic masculine space before one should be. His attitude allows him to fit in.

Ivan’s dreams are interspersed througout the film, the viewers gut directed towards near overdrive as one forgets Ivan’s childhood, accepting the film’s plot as truth-of-the-matter, normality forgotten, for peace cannot exist in wartime as such neither can the innocence of childhood. For a directorial debut one quickly realises Tarkosky is working from a different plane, one where the hidden, the shadowed and the mist no longer exist as a limitrophe, but are brought to the fore and Ivan’s present emotions are laid bare; amongst the half-lit swamp, the suffocation underground and the rumble of flares overhead. Which each glowing terror a moment in Ivan’s future is destroyed, physically, metaphorically and metaphysically, which each act of violent-self a piece of childhood cannot happen.

Ivan attempts to cross the river, back from where he came, an attempt at the impossible, attempt to become what one was, to erase the past. As such Ivan becomes lost in the swamp, in the mist, in the gases and gunfire. We are to find out about his fate in the final scenes of the film. As the Third Reich is overthrown, papers on the floor of an ex-Nazi government building show that Ivan was hanged. We are shown the room of execution. And then cut to a dream, Ivan playing a child’s game on a tranquil beach, all the while a dead tree sits waiting, amongst the frollics and fun there lies the metaphysicl truth of the matter, the childhood lost, tainted and never returned.

Tarkovsky seems me a director one should begin at the beginning with, one shouldn’t start with his magnum opus’ as I feel the emotion and imagery may in fact be too much, it may seem kitsch almost, when in reality it is the utmost calculated spirit and mystery. All Ivan knows is war, without hope of a childhood, born into war and his life is of war. Violence, horror and survival is all he knows and in certain respects all he will (now) ever know, a life scolded by the war. A tension between a sweet yet dangerous nostalgia – that of what is childhood is meant to be – and the reality he is within. Nostalgic dreams become nightmares; the impossibility of normality is true horror. Ivan’s loss is pure, dead loss, a side may have won, but no -ism, -opia or -ology can redeem the death of a child. A vacuum of meaning where there should be enjoyment exists in the total now, it has happened and as such the celebrations at the end of the film fall flat; Somebody won, it has ended, he is dead, hate is no-more…but what of our Ivan? What of a child? This can seem to be empty sentiment, the typical “Think of the children!”, but Tarkosky’s presentation of such a statement retrieves it from its mutation as something used. No longer are we to think of the children as a thought to get us to act, we are presented with the children, the innocence, but we are presented with a narrative complete, as such we are simply to witness what has been and attempt to learn. Ivan was gone as soon as he heard the first bomb fall.

Ivan is mad, that is a monster; that is a little hero; in reality, he is the most innocent and touching victim of the war: this boy, whom one cannot stop loving, has been forged by the violence he has internalised.” – Jean Paul Sartre (http://people.ucalgary.ca/~tstronds/nostalghia.com/TheTopics/Sartre.html)

The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour, a film based off David Lipsky’s Although of Course You End up Becoming Yourself, a book following David Foster Wallace on the book tour of his post-modern epic Infinite Jest. There was a certain amount of niche controversy following the films announcement, mostly in terms of ‘What DFW would have wanted’. Well, what would DFW want? Firstly, very few of us know for sure what DFW would want, so perhaps we should leave it there. Ok, you can take the fact his family and estate didn’t agree with the making of the film and didn’t really want any part of it. Ok, that’s a fair assumption to make that the people closest to Wallace would know what he would want, either way what will be will be and the film went ahead. I’m not as ignorant to say however that Wallace would have wanted the film, anyone who has read his work or his very select amount of interviews will realise it is most likely something who would shy away from at a rapid speed. I imagine Wallace would think that the popularity/ego connotations that would come with allowing such a semi-biopic to be too vast and interconnected to discuss without overt use of aggravating amounts of irony and self-awareness, which could all quickly, at least as I see it, head towards the definition of a fraud, something Wallace worried about excessively.

There’s a strange occurrence in Foster Wallace fans it seems, as due to the personal aspects of Wallace’s work, and the fact that in part we’re clearly entering into what often seems to be Wallace’s entirely lucid, or as he put it, “Joyceian-tumble” of thought. And that, in this the reader really feels by the end of Wallace’s books that they’ve grown to know him (something mentioned by Lipsky in the film), at least a little bit, and I believe it’s this fact that spawns such die-hard fans, wherever a fan-base in concerned, for whomever it may be. This personal connection to the author had casual and diehard alike worried. I would imagine the casual fans of Wallace, those who’ve read Infinite Jest and a couple of his essay or short story collections, would see the film as gratuitous, a latching onto a hip-obscurity. Diehard fans, such as myself, I imagine and have found various problems, mainly I believed that such a film would lead to a Cobain-ification of Wallace, in that he would become a martyr or Gen X in a Holden Caufield-esque way, all angst ridden and lonely in a way that’s simply frustrating, vacant and untrue. In fact after a viewing I can say the film does have some positives and a fair few negatives in its telling of a snippet of a life.

The films opens with Lipsky (played by Jesse Eisenberg, so basically Jesse Eisenberg), sitting in his bohemian lounge surrounded by books and throws getting a call from his Editor telling him that Dave Wallace has died, Lipsky learns of DFW’s suicide and decides to find his old tape recording of his interview with DFW, as the tape begins to play we’re taken back in time. 12 Years prior to be precise to 1996, the year of the interview and Infinite Jest’s publication, Lipsky is at some party or artists and writers, some of which are talking, rather obviously and forcibly about the fact DFW is the new hotshot of the literary world, they literally take the words from a review and tell them to Lipsky, a rather unimaginative and lazy way to tell the viewer that, yes, DFW is big in the literary world at this time, if that wasn’t already obvious…or even needed to be said, I mean, who’s going to be watching this film.

Actually, the viewer’s prior knowledge of DFW striving to be a regular guy is actually helpful, as at this point in the film, roughly 10 minutes in, DFW is yet to appear other than in the abstract of speaking or in knowledge of his work, and thus the viewer sort of feels that of course DFW is going to appear (they know what the film is about and have seen the trailer) and get a feeling that all this time he is simply living without knowledge of Lipsky, or this other little thing, it’s quite inventive on the part of the screenwriter Donald Marguiles, as it emphasises the fact that DFW is simply living and is not working or acting at some saintly level.

When they do finally meet, DFW is seen from afar via a shot through Lipsky’s car window, a rather poignant shot, once again emphasising Foster Wallace’s fear, yet at the same time enjoyment at being a regular guy who can disintegrate into his surroundings. Lipsky becomes a distraction. Instantly DFW comes across as an awkward, sweaty borderline gross man, something a fan of DFW will love, there was a part of me that worried the directors and writers would turn DFW away from his inherent messy-humanity, there was a worry he would become refined, like someone who may really feel as if they were just in a costume, and the sweat was to be applied momentarily, a simulacrum of Foster Wallace was a major concern, and potentially still is. The part was clearly well rehearsed by Jason Segel, who plays Wallace, as the mannerisms, tonality of voice and small ticks are all on-point, alongside this another worry was that due to the knowledge of DFW’s friendliness and humanity, that the other more awkward aspects of his personality may be left aside in favour of a relatable/loveable Bill Murray-esque shell.

DFW quickly comes to realise, though I imagine already knew, that the interview of course has the Rolling Stone’s agenda of coolness, drugs, alcohol, the suffering writer, the lonely artist…something that Lispky really attempts to wretch from Wallace, and it’s something that just isn’t there, at least in the dramatic Hollywood style that Rolling Stone would like. The few moments throughout the film where there seems to be less tension and academic hostility between Lipsky and Wallace is when they are eating, I would go as far to say engorging on unnecessary amounts of fast food, the times when they really bond are the times spent sharing good old fashioned commercial entertainment. There is a few instances where Wallace’s eyes light up at the fact Lipsky is divulging into his personal life and you feel that DFW is excavating for titbits of human life. I won’ comment too much on the discussions they have as I would literally be directly quoting DFW, thus read the book.

There is a direction for Wallace throughout the film, which is to normality, something which he discusses with Lipsky and has discussed generally in depth, “Am I a good person?” It becomes apparent to the viewer that DFW’s hopes for normality are unrealised currently by the presence of Lipsky, and that this physical manifestation of something he quite clearly dislikes, a tactile reporter looking for something more, is potentially what’s in the way of his normality, yet will come with his work/success. Lipsky takes a fair few hostilities from DFW because of this, which get a masculine resolve. DFW dislikes the idea of Lipsky attempts at emulating him, not for the reasons however that Lipsky thinks, it’s because DFW understand his life isn’t all that exciting, that fame isn’t all that, or success, or talent, or money, or knowledge, that these things aside he is still lonely and lost, in thought and in the world, an overriding theme of many of his works. He even mentions to Lipsky that this, as in, the interview “Is not real”. A comment that brings out in the viewer an insight into Wallace’s life like no other, striving for the normal and the real within his life was a task in itself, as everything felt ‘not real’ and like playing the writer, the worry of being a fraud once again.

Eventually Lipsky and Dave have a sort of falling out, over some girl Wallace used to know, something that as a I remember doesn’t happen in the text…and if it does it does not come across that way, and thus is gratuitous campus-romance scrawling, the likes of which Wallace mentions at the start of the film in his class are dull. Lipsky proceeds to ask Dave about the heroin rumour and at various points throughout the film pries Dave for bits about the more Rolling Stone-esque side of his life, which is simply non-existent, at least in the way Lipsky wants it to be. Yes, DFW did have a drug/drink problem, however it was not along the lines of say S Thompson, or Bukowski, it wasn’t cool of productive, or a healthy extension of a persona, no, it was a simply every day, unproductive, escapist addictive hell, the likes of which DFW wants to escape and not drag up, due to the fact he knows he won’t be able to give Lipsky anything of Rolling Stone-worth.

The film ends with DFW going to a dance at his local Baptist Church, once again in search of his regular guy-ness and thus leaves the un-normality of the Lipsky interview behind. In this the writing of the film and the writing of Infinite Jest mirror each other, the entire narrative of quirks, tribulations, dramas, awkwardness, hostilities, truths, untruths, prying etc. comes to at end at a calm, collected moment in which the characters, in a certain way, are released from a momentary burden…most likely to only go on to address the next.

Originally I set out with the intention of disliking the film, as a diehard Wallace fan I thought of it as simply cashing in, creating a DFW-like persona to sell tickets, however, I believe the film is worth a watch, it has merit to it, Eisenberg is your typical Eisenberg, yet Jason Segel does a brilliant job of playing Wallace and at no moment does his style of acting feel disrespectful or out of his depth, and thus a film about a simple snippet of the life of a fantastic author is made. For some it’s a hello to DFW and his work, I imagine for some it may almost be a goodbye due to its mainstream connotations. However, if the film does anything it will introduce more people to the work of David Foster Wallace, via a small framework of understanding that is poignant and correct.

“It’s just much easier having dogs. You don’t get laid, but you also don’t get the feeling you’re hurting their feelings all the time.” – David Foster Wallace – 1962-2008

Arrival – Heidegger, Levinas and Fatalism.

Arrival  – Dir, Denis Villeneuve. 2016.

 

I used to think this was the beginning of your story. Memory is a strange thing, it doesn’t work like I thought it did. We are so bound by time, by its order.” – Louise Banks

 

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is as gentle as a Kubrickian film is ever going to get. Overbearing stoicism, captured in wide shots and a general sense of seclusion and alienation, one is not so worried about the aliens as a potential for hostility, but if this will actually change anything, one feels for the earth. Whatever this is, it is already above the idea of humans vs aliens, it is beyond the horizon, into a dark unknown, an unknown even those who travel through space and (potentially) time cannot enter.

Amy Adams as linguist Louise Banks, who we see from the beginning has lost a daughter to cancer, in a flashback overcast with the idea of a dream made, then destroyed. The news comes in, as it always does and always will, aliens have landed…finally? It seems this way to Banks, who is nonchalant to the news, it’s clear to the viewer nothing could overthrow the hand life gave her, she cares not for the one dealt to the world. She’s asked by the government to use her skills as a linguist to communicate with the aliens. At the army camp, situated next to the ‘landed’ ship, she meets Ian Banks, a physicist, whom she has a relevant love interest with. I feel in the case the word ‘alien’ cheapens the detail and nuance applied to this film’s extraterrestrial, who I feel are at opposition to hostility, one has a sense of fright and worry, the extraterrestrials understand they are the strangers. Which at once gives the viewer the feeling of unease, who here is the authorative ‘species’ or genus, the hierarchy has been dissembled, we are at threat together.

The aliens or ‘heptapods’ landed in an oval pebble type ship, as high a skyscraper, yet gentle on the landscape, not too authoritative, not cold nor warm, there, still and settled.

The heptapods reside in there ship, within a lit room filled with what seems to be steam or smoke, separating them and the humans is, I guess, the heptapod equivalent to glass, the humans the other side, in their own large room…which is only illuminated with light from the heptapod side, and their own feeble technology (Glow sticks, lights etc.)

The heptapods bring a new illumination, one humans are only just becoming aware of, a world anew; and so the task begins of how to communicate. The illumination in a sense is post-Platonic, our minds are no longer the only source. Illumination of the Other? Or has the horizon simply ‘moved’. The Levinasian illumination (Existence and Existents) is inverted, the possibility and potentiality of hostility from light, a physical manifestation of uncanny-sense. We supplied the light to our own world for so long, and now an-Other supplies a new light, one that can go beyond our ‘known’ horizons, through time and temporality.

And so the task begins of how to communicate. The heptapods communicate via what seems to be 3-dimensional rings of smoke, the meaning of which change via the subtleties of the shape. Banks begins to understand the language as something which addresses time, addresses temporality, eventually leading her to understand that it can help one understand and view their individual history and future directly, a language that can take one within their history, within their future, within their time. A language in-keeping with Martin Heidegger’s theory of historicality:

[Death] is only the ‘end’ of Dasein; and, taken formally, it is just one of the ends by which Dasein’s totality is closed round. The other ‘end’, however, is the ‘beginning’, the ‘birth’. Only that entity which is ‘between’ birth and death presents the whole which we have been seeking… Dasein has [so far] been our theme only in the way in which it exists ‘facing forward’, as it were, leaving ‘behind’ all that has been. Not only has Being-towards-the-beginning remained unnoticed; but so too, and above all, has the way in which Dasein stretches along between birth and death. (Being and Time 72: 425).

Thus, Dasein, a being such as a human, one which can interrogate its own being is at all times behind its past, and ahead of its future. We are pushing our past, correcting and changing our experience with knowledge of our past, and attending to our past with direction towards possibilities of the future. So the language of the heptapods is a practical manifestation of Heideggerian historicality, praxis-language.

The film doesn’t however, extrapolate on whether the language is in favour of will, or is in fact fatalistic. The ending allows the viewer the knowledge that Louise Banks has seen her future, and that in fact the flashback at the beginning was a flashforward, and at ‘current’ she is witnessing her future, the one she will have with Ian, whom she met whilst working with the heptapods, they will marry, have a child, divorce, and the child shall die of an incurable disease. She decides to stay with Ian despite knowledge of her future, thus can she now – via heptapod language usage – change her future? Improve her relationship with Ian, have the child at a different time so it may potentially avoid the disease. It’s unclear whether at the beginning she (potentially) subconsciously knows of her future – this would be a possibility within the logic of the film.

These questions are classic philosophical questions, those of freewill, free-choice, determinism and fatalism, are our actions our own? Yet the questions are asked via a Heideggerian framework, one in which language is employed as spatio-temporally free-floating, existing outside of physics. A pure metaphysical language. A Heideggerian language of historicality, applied via a Levinasian ‘extraction’:

Moreover, the very fact that a painting extracts and sets aside a piece of the universe and brings about, in an inwardness, the coexistence of worlds that are mutually alien and impenetrable, has already a positive esthetic function.” (Existence & Existents, Emmanuel Levinas, p48)

Usually it is only that of a physical ‘spatio-temporal’ object that can extract from culture, physically that is, an idea etc, an object such as a painting or poem or film carries with it a sense of time, an individual-time. The language of Arrival and that of the heptapods is the extraction of time from a fixed linearity, it is a language to remove the shackles, the individual’s time becomes economic, theirs. Though if the language is, as the film’s linearity would have us believe, fatalistic, then the language is but a curse, we can view our future and do nothing about it? A world learning of their unchangeable futures is a paradox in itself. To teach a class of students how to utilize heptapod language to view their future, would be to teach a class of linguistics students their future’s look very bleak, many of them will die and suffer loss, and will want to change their future, as such, the language only be a tool, a gift, a means to alter one’s future.

The heptapods act as the symbolic manifestation of a transcendental understanding of Heideggerian thought, an understanding in which one can transcend human limitations, break free of deterministic shackles.

Afterword: There is of course the argument that the heptapod language would be part of one’s ‘preset’ path, as such determinism still stands outright, the language may only act as the ability for larger states of flux within a preset horizon.