META-NOMAD

Blog: TSPDT6 & Note on Xenobuddhism

On Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) Antonin Artaud stated that the film was meant to “reveal Joan as the victim of one of the most terrible of all perversions: the perversion of a divine principle in its passage through the minds of men, whether they be Church, Government or what you will.”

And in my opinion it does just that, and it goes about it in no overly complex way, there’s little in the way of sophistication or creative temperament, just a sublime (and I do not use that word lightly) performance by Renée Falconetti, a minimal set and a focused camera technique. The film is an exercise in compressed spirituality, wherein each time the camera is focused upon Joan of Arc’s face one gets the feeling of a real, visceral belief in God, in saviour. The feeling is akin to reading the works of Lovecraft, where that which is nowadays often accused of being a fiction is brought to life by those who have firsthand experience of the/an Outside, whether it’s Arc’s God or Lovecraft’s Occult, both are read as if that which is usually questioned is taken as reality, fictions become fact. The use of light and dark could be said to be kitsch, potentially obvious, yet it stands entirely true for its purpose as that which reveals the good from the bad. There’s very clear inspiration here for countless films to come, the use of harsh close-ups, little-to-no-makeup, angles utilized as status signifiers, yet it is unarguable that what stands out is Falconetti’s ability to make even the most staunch non-believer question their heart, even for just a second. In Dostoyevsky’s 1869 novel The Idiot, the character Prince Myshkin, having viewed the The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (below) in the home of Rogozhin, declares that it has the power to make the viewer lose his faith. Well I claim the reverse is true for Renée Falconetti’s performance as Joan of Arc.

 

 

The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb – Hans Holbein the Younger, 1520-22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renée Falconetti as Joan of Arc.

Now, onto the rest. The Wedding March and Pandora’s Box (1928) are both difficult to find, in fact, now I’ve left the era of really early stuff I imagine I’m going to be confronted with both rare and protected films. People on Sunday (1929) was about as enjoyable as it sounds, don’t bother. The Man with the Movie Camera (1929) I generally thought of as pretty convoluted and hammed up, this is usually the case with a lot of French stuff to be honest, they try just that little bit too hard and what could have been an interesting experiment/experience trails into a nonsensical reference only a few people will get. The Blood of the Poet (1930) was another non-find. L’Age D’or (1930) supposed to be one of Bunuel’s greats, hell I couldn’t draw much from it. Earth (1930) by Dovzhenko was a film I was looking forward to, Tarkovsky lists it as one of his favourites, stating that Dovzhenko understood how to create simple cinema, truly minimal film, there’s a fine line and I guess once again my temperament fell onto the wrong side of it, alas…I was unimpressed. Hell, I never said I was going to glorify the whole list, hopefully by the end of this I can give you the films from this 1000 that’ll actually interest your 21st-century addled brains.

Edward Van Sloan: [Introduction to the film] How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We’re about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to, uh… Well, we’ve warned you.

James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) I’m guessing is as clear cut as Frankenstein films are going to come, oh, and also it’s our first ‘talkie’, there’s dialogue again so these might just get a little longer. This is a very clear cut horror which arguably spent a little bit too much time in the editing room (unless there’s a story there I’m missing out on), it’s often jarring how quickly we’re moved along to the next clear piece of narrative, almost…mechanical. I jest, with a remaster this could quite easily sit alongside contemporary horror films as an example of how well a written work can be turned into film.

Extras:

Note on Xenobuddhism:

XENOBUDDHISM BEGINS WITH XENO by XENOBUDDHISM

‘Land goes on, gets blunt, boils this shit down:

“Xenobuddhism- the illusion of the substantial self isn’t dispelled by argument, and for most people it won’t be meditation or some of kind of psychological discipline that does it – getting copied, downloading thoughts, splitting/merging consciousness – that stuff will really have an impact and yes, it will be difficult to ignore”

Xenobuddhism is neither Buddhism nor accelerationism nor transhumanism. It is born from their convergence. It’s Buddhism once exposed to the mutagen, the black liquid. It’s the technocommercialist takeover of dharma in the realisation that techniques for realisation have outpaced humanity. Capital begins rerouting human agencies, demonstrating emptiness as the immanent engine of history. Buddhist modernism sought to update the former based on the latter; Xenobuddhism is dharma expounded by modernity itself. Xenobuddhism is unconditional accelerationism apprehended in the guise of a religion. The self illusion – the heart of the human security system – will be vaporized, and the species with it. Enlightenment and Enlightenment colliding. Whoever says it’s a dystopian picture really hasn’t been paying attention to history thus far.’

An intriguing read by Xenobuddism to be sure, I quarrel with the idea of the human-security-system here in relation to Buddhism. Yet it reads as if there were a mirror (=human-security-system), read the story of The Sixth Patriach Hui Neng. So here I would say that Xenobuddism makes the mistake of the first poem:

The body is the wisdom-tree,

The Mind is a bright mirror in a stand;

Take care to wipe it all the time,

And allow no dust to cling.

The human-security-system here acting as the mirror, yet the proposition that there is a mirror (within Buddhism) is wrong:

Fundamentally no wisdom-tree exists,

Nor the stand of a mirror bright.

Since all is empty from the beginning,

Where can the dust alight.

Whether or not this implies that the Buddhist mind falls quite sharply into unconditional ways of ‘thinking’ would require further investigation. There’s no mirror for dust to collect upon, there’s no human-security-system for the black liquid to collect upon, so it’s washed directly through you, potentially into you, there’s little time for transition here it seems. The substantial self (as Land puts it) in Buddhist terms never was, it was created after and so it’s more a case of realization of negation, as opposed to dispelling an attached psychological reality.

 

Blog: TSPDT5

Let me tell you, watching this much film is strange, you very quickly notice how repetitive certain techniques are, how music is utilized well or just for filler etc. etc. You very quickly notice films that standout, ones that do not make you think Oh, here we go again. I couldn’t find a good copy of October (1927), and as Eisenstein is thus far one of the few silent film makers worth watching, I didn’t want to spoil that which many claim is his best or most important work. Murnau’s Sunrise (1927), though it technically holds 8th place (ranked) in the list, I found it not at all that great, something which is held in such reverance I feel shouldn’t merely fade into the background of that which surrounds, but it did…and so I have few memories, at least none worth recalling. Seventh Heaven (1927) I was unable to find.

Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927). The version I watched [here] had the New Pollutants soundtrack, which in my opinion is far greater than some grainy classical number. The score by the New Pollutants throws you directly into the acidic hell of the clearly symbolic underclass, proletariat etc., their lives constrained by pipe and machine, their lives literally utilized as fuel for the fire, a fire that heats the bellies and homes of those above. A very clear symbolic message of class struggle in the age of industry. The industrial revolution and industry in general here acting as the ‘villain’, that machinic process which via exhaustion and overwhelming suffocates the energies’ of humanity; industry as the creative end-game of humanities’ soul, agree or disagree this is the message. As the pipes hum and shifts change, the cogs flow into one another seamlessly, a difference only of a linear time. Lives, place and acts all a series of bleak repetitions amongst a vast network of the same, sterilized life. So what is it about Metropolis that makes is so great? Well quite simply it’s everything, there isn’t a part of it (Character, location, theme, acting etc.) that isn’t great, each and every screw and bolt is wound so tight it’s difficult to spot any fault. The concentration usually on this idea of proto-AI or proto-Robotics, or even Transhumanism, or, at a push, Feminine overcoming via the emancipation of the body. Whichever way you wish to play it the discussion of the Maschinenmensch usually holds the fore. Not that it shouldn’t, only it begs the attention of one’s eyes elsewhere, what of the city, what of this…expanse. This glaring testament to Art Deco, this thematic will of the future; this film acting as a lost manifesto of blithered hope, riding a convergent wave to its doomed reality.

And what of these strange houses, overlooked by the centuries, the odd, cult-like elements of Metropolis are what help retain its presence in this contemporary clownworld. Within the alleys, atop the skyscrapers and deep underground here, still exists skulls of old and the knee to the crucifix. Those who will bow to master and ignore the reality. As the living skeleton acts his strike, looking the viewer directly in the eye, we witness a domination away from sci-fi and robotics, away from class struggle, away from the pillars of civilization, and so the film accelerates towards a mass escape from death as the tide rises, the malevolence of all involved froths to the top and the death and scorn is unavoidable no longer, welcome human race to your own demise, one you built, turned on, coaxed forward, encouraged and then, in a fit of narcissistic rage, told to halt.

Sadly, I cannot find a good copy of Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927), and I have heard great things, this might be a special case wherein in I order a copy. Un Chien Andalou (1928), Dali is an artist I not only dislike, but also distrust, and so this film doesn’t sit right for me. It’s famous for the eye-slice scene alone. The Cameraman and Steamboat Bill, Jr (1928) both Keaton flicks, and that’s all they really are now, flicks…not films. I lose interest so quickly, it may be a little overdramatic to say such a thing, but post-1950 such infantile and excessive humour just doesn’t seem right, and now, both Keaton and Chaplin stand as fragmented comics whose humour rings for another time.

The Docks of New York (1928) The Wind (1928) Storm Over Asia (1928) and The Crowd (1928) are all without accessible good copies, and I refuse to sit through 2 hours of 360p grainy silent film, it simply would not do them justice.

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: 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…