September 30, 2019

Tales of Impotence

Not sure why outlets that carry
Fair Trade Coffee
Carry so little of it
1 brand in ten on average
Assuming the spirit is willing
The supply chain is weak?
Not sure why fair dealing
Should be anything but a given in trade and employment
But I do know inequities of this kind
(Look over the shifting quicksand
Of union contracts sometime)
Are the first link in the chain
That armours climate change against all sane resistance.

September 27, 2019


                                                                              GAME ROOMS

            If you were blindfolded and transported in a wandering, deliberately deceptive way to a site deep in the bowels of one of the following: a casino, an AMC, an HMV, a state-of-the-art supermall, athree-storey "theme" restaurant and bar, an AMC or triple-decker bar inside a state-of-the-art supermall, it's unlikely, unless you wereexceptionally attuned to the subtlest audio impressions, that you could guess which it was by sound ambient alone. You would be able to
guess that it was an establishment top-heavy with flourescent and neon,its surface--walls ceilings fixtures--the kind of glossy metal that returns and multiplies the sheen of tube lighting. You'd know not only because of the low-level sputter--which without the blindfold you'd very quickly cease to notice--but because of the impress of the light on your eyeballs through the cloth.

            If you were spun round three times before the blindfold was removed, it might still take quite a while for you to identifiy your surroundings. When you did, it would be function, not design and decor,that gave the game away. And even that might jumble in your head, in
certain circumstances. A disorientation complete enough to make you think, playing a slot machine, you were actually watching, or performing in, a movie?--unlikely, but certainly far from impossible.
            You certainly wouldn't know, without outside information, if it were day or night.
            How long would it take--and what techniques would have to be applied--before your disorientation was so complete you could be persuaded you'd been shrunk, flattened and inserted into a "hyperreal"videogame? A man in Florida confessed to a murder he was acquitted of
because all the physical evidence pointed away from him. So: six days tops I think, of sleep dep, sense dep or the two in tandem before almost any of us could be persuaded we were manipulable figures in a mechanical game with a strictly limited set of entirely predictable moves.

            "Hyperreal" in quotes because this refers to the technology that makes the simulacra in those games more apparently lifelike, not to any slightest tendency in videogames to project conditions in the real world. (Hyper-commercial units tend to resemble them only because
both borrow their looks from currently dominant styles in film and video.) You don't get three chances to die in real life before you're out of the game--and when was the last time you had to kill even one person in self-defense on your way to the local mall for groceries? Bet you marked your calendar.

            This does however suggest a purpose for the brainwashing technique desribed earlier: it would be perfect for prepping assassins.No; not unless it were irrelevant to you who or how many because they'd be as anarchic and univeral in their killing sprees as a videogame hero. And how would you ever direct that purposefully in a political sense?

            There is another application. This would be an ideal technique for breeding hyper-consumers. The only key difference is that they're self-assassins as well, since the giddy whirl of exploitation and exhaustion of resources, planet-wide, is killing off eco-support systems at an accelerating rate. This is most unwise unless you have, at least, a planet or so in reserve to move to.

September 25, 2019

Apocalypse, Ah-Ha! Ah-ha, I like it (Ah-ha, ah-ha!)

My neice Ula posted this on Facebook, a reminder that young activists like Greta Thunberg have been around quite a while as the ecological crisis deepens. If there's anything encouraging about the current protests, it's that they're more widespread and harder to ignore, a fact underlined by the dismissive and patronizing 'reviews' of Greta Thunberg's activism (which is since Climate Strike Day the activism of a multitude). I had a look at one which suggested Greta Thunberg was the victim of child abuse in that she'd been inflected with apocalyptic terrors whose origin was politcal and ideological rather than scientific--which is more nearly the reverse of the truth. Most of the reasons for ignoring climate change have to do with political and media fawning over the wealthy, who stand to gain in the short term and have, as Mailer once noted, a 'psychopathic disregard for the future'. The most apocalyptic projections are written in dry, matter-of-fact language by concerned scientists. But what do you finally make of somebody who writes that concern for the rainforests goes back to the seventies and yet the rainforests--where uncontrollable fires range, hectares disappear to clearcutting every day, and erosion and desertification marches on apace--are 'doing ok'. Before very long somebody's bound to point out--on the bright side--that hurricanes, typhoons and tsunamis are a growth industry.

April 9, 2019


"How can we keep giving more money to the Pentagon than it needs when 40 million live in poverty, 34 million have no health insurance, and 140 million can't afford basic needs without going into debt?"

Because we--and by 'we' I do mean the 1%, the major political parties and the media--prefer war and preparations for war to any kind of policy framed around the needs of people. Economies all over the world have become addicted to the stimulus of trade in weapons and armies. War is only a small part of the damage done by an economy under the stimulus of, if you think about it, the world's most widespread hallucinogen.

March 14, 2019


"Utah considers ban on shackling woman prisoners who are pregnant." I'm of many more than two minds about this. An excellent thing to consider, though I think they should expedite that phase as much as humanly possible. "We're shackling woman prisoners? I think we should seriously consider cutting that out." "I think so too." "Me too." Chorus of assent. "Well we're all in agreement. We're considering it, what next?" "Actually do it?" "Stop shackling pregnant women you mean?" "I do." Chorus of voices: "IT'S SO CRAZY IT MIGHT WORK!" "Carried unanimously then. Send guards around to strike off all those shackles."

Which is fine as far as it goes, but doesn't address the underlying difficulty: the Utah justice system allows for the shackling of pregnant woman prisoners. (A number of states do it seems on further investigation, and to be fair to Utah, it has previously prohibited the practice, but the prohibition hasn't been observed. Perhaps a ban will carry more force. Certainly it's a step in the right direction, but not having ever done it in the first place is loads preferable.) And that still leaves a large unanswered question: if we grant that male prisoners are rightly to be shackled (which some may doubt), what is it about women who aren't pregnant that makes them worthy of foot and hand bracelets of steel? I say nothing of the advantage horny guards might take: "You want out of those shackles, baby? I have just the ticket, right here in my pants." No, I think it wisest not to shackle female prisoners at all. I'm sure I'll be accused of liberalism, but there it is.

September 12, 2018

The Moving Picture Rewrites

I've decided to make one last try at reinaugurating The Moving Picture Writes, which disappeared years ago in a malware hack and briefly returned in an uncongenial format, here on Facebook on the page that was originally meant simply to link to posts from the page. Here is the inaugural column.
The Moving Picture Writes
With this column I inaugurate a movie/tv appreciation website. Under the above title I'll be offering, from time to time, memoirs of my encounters over the years with film and, increasingly, tv. Under other headings I'll be doing film reviews, background studies, film commentary reviews (the first of these for The Ruling Class, since I planned when I was writing the review to comment on the Criterion Edition Extras, but discovered that, besides making the piece of unwieldy length (particularly for an online essay), it combined two pieces that might best be considered in tandem (independently of each other). I took the same approach with Performance, discussing the principals' reactions to the film and its place in their careers under the heading 'Background', tackling the film in the mimetic, synergistic style I hope soon to be famous for in a second short essay, 'All the Way'.)
My colleague Andrew Tibbetts (who I hope will soon be joining in with some of his own erudite commentaries) contends that tv is currently much ahead of movies as a medium of artistic expression. Limiting the argument to North America as he does, I think it's pretty much incontestable; every serious two hour feature made in the U.S. in the past fifteen years (such as The Usual Suspects, Twelve Monkeys (why isn't anyone trying to line up Terry Gilliam for at least a mini-series? His currently on-again project, Don Quixote, certainly would make more sense within a wider frame) The Gangs of New York, Being John Malkovich) can be matched by at least one mini-series or extended series on television of comparable ambition (and the most innovative work by Suspects director Bryan Singer since Apt Pupil has been as producer of the series House): Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz, The Sopranos, In Treatment, Breaking Bad--not to mention fascinating torsos, cut off in their prime by premature cancellation like My So-Called Life. The only films that can potentially sustain a narrative in the same way as an extended series are the roman numeral franchises, and they tend less to delve deeper film by film into character and theme (if any) than to repeat, with as minimal variation as possible, what's gone before--and I think any art form's in trouble when its most sympathetic reviewers find themselves relentlessly parsing minute differences of style, energy and emphasis in the applied art of blowing things up real good. (Anyway who's ever going to top the killing of the serpent demon by luring it into Sunnydale High School, mined throughout with dynamite, setting it off and simultaneously blowing both school and demon sky-high?)
TV's been a mature artistic force in Great Britain almost from the inception of the BBC. Great films like Black Narcissus, Odd Man Out, O Lucky Man! and the two I mentioned above have been comparative rareties at all times in England, whereas from the sixties on, television as radical and powerful as Steptoe and Son, Culloden, Pennies from Heaven, Grievous Bodily Harm, Our Friends in the North, Absolutely Fabulous, North Court, Jekyll and Coupling has turned up with almost alarming frequency on the Beeb and, latterly, Granada (Peter Barnes' final masterpiece Babies) and ITV.
So I've no movie vs tv bias, and hope to give about equal attention to both media once I get a reliable substitute for the Toshiba wand I've been using on our DVD player, which stopped doing anything but basic start up and turn off when I switched the batteries--apparently you need to reprogramme it when you switch batteries, which you need the manual for and where is the manual? Where is the manual I ask you and well I might ask you since your guess is probably as good as mine. Should really get another wand, ideally a Panasonic to match our tv so it doesn't need fresh cuing every time I change the batteries for crying out loud! Once that deficiency's corrected I'll be able to see more than one episode in four per disc on my Buffy and Angel season sets and I can start telling you what I think of them--ideally after first having thought something. I hate it when people skip that all-important initial step.
Overviews will figure prominently: of particular artists (which I'll link to subsequent reviews of individual works); of series (which I'll link to reviews of individual seasons or sequences of episodes). Interviews, profiles? In time that too is possible. With any luck it'll be awesome. We'll talk.
We'll talk, and the pictures will move. I'll aim to post about once a week, working from previous material mostly for a while.