Johnny Guitar (Adrenaline shot of Existentialism that stimulated French New Wave?)

I just watched “Johnny Guitar” (1954) by Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause) this evening with Gray. I was blown away by the film, which I had high expectations for due to its praise and influence on the creators of French New Wave Cinema. The film is a paradigm shift of everything one has come to expect of film and characterization.

Johnny Guitar Poster

Maybe my mind is in Existentialism mode, but I could not help but notice the struggle of the individual at odds with their own freedom, and the pressure applied by The Other/The Crowd/The Masses/The Herd, to supress the will and freedom of the individual whose beliefs and actions undermine the control and power of The Crowd. I also was struck by the isolation imposed onto the free-thinking individual to escape the will to power of The Crowd by their enclosure within a valley surrounded by mountains being blown apart by the outside world to change and develop. [SPOILER]: At the end of the film when Emma goes after Vienna, she does so alone, and while she relied on The Crowd to get her to where she was, ultimately she was totally and utterly alone and completely responsible for her actions in persuing Vienna.

I won’t even begin to analyze the wild Freudian sexuality that underlies this film, because even I need to get some sleep!
These Existential themes that I have been mentioning I found to echo-echo-echo-cho-ho-o and reverberate in Ray’s later film “Rebel Without A Cause”, which I believe was likely a re-exploration of these particular themes in modern and not “Western” times, since it was released only one year later in 1955.

I am officially hooked on French New Wave: Truffaut’s “Jules et Jim” (1962), and Goddard’s “A bout de souffle” (1960) [not the Richard Gere 1982 fuck-up of the same title] have been the shot of dopamine into my dome to get me hooked.

Off I go then!

Shrooms: “Do You Believe in Magic?”

Very interesting book review/article in The New York Times on:

SHROOM

A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom.

By Andy Letcher.
Illustrated. 360 pp. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $25.95.

The article is titled “Do You Believe in Magic” by Dick Teresi, and is most certainly worth a read!

Thanks James!

Beast Wars: Code of Hero

Back in the day (a la 1997-1999) there was Transformers: Beast Wars. It was a 3-D cartoon that gave meaning and purpose to my existence. Each week I would go through the motions of living, and in bad faith attending school, so that on the weekend I could awake to a new Beast Wars adventure. It is etched into my memory and runs through my veins.

This morning I went to bed at 6:00am, after a final farewell soriee for the Erasmus students at Queen’s University Belfast who have become my close friends over the last semester. After I awoke around 1pm, in a state of delusional daze and confusion, resonating with the sweet sweet sorrow that accompanies the partings of travelers along the paths of our lives, I felt like rocking out into the sentimental solitude of adolescent cartooning.

I watched the first two episodes of the Beast Wars saga on Dailymotion.com, and then proceeded to relive the episodes I have adored as a child through reading synopsises of episodes on tv.com (click here for a link to Transformers: Beast Wars Episode Guide), and found one of the most significant, enjoyable, and memorable episodes of any cartoon: “Code of Hero” (click link to re-direct to streaming episode on dailymotion.com).

Here is the synopsis:

“Dinobot sees a chance to regain his lost honor when he spots Megatron attempting to alter history using the knowledge on the remaining golden disk” (www.tv.com).
It contains some introspective insights into concepts of The Bushido Code: honor, fate, destiny, sacrifice, and redemption; as well as eternity, soul, and spirit. It ends with a wonderful side-story that is an imagining of the first discovery and use of tools by pre-historic human ancestoral-apes (a la 2001: A Space Odyssey).

“Code of Hero” was as enjoyable and meaningful as I could have hoped to remember it; hell, I even cried. Nothing like pixels rendered into 3-D constructs of robots disguising as animals with anthropomorphic characteristics to pull at the heart strings.

Existential Golf

I was sitting down reading Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, and then it happened; I transcended space and time to interact with the being of the being of John Foster, who foretold of a great and mighty noodle dish accompanied by prawn and vegetable tempora, Leffe, Espresso, mint chocolate ice cream, and amaretto cookie feast at 8pm. However I had just eaten a massive meal, and in the process of digestion and revision for my Existentialism exam Saturday, and was possessed by a monsterous force that inhibited me from doing the rational thing and accepting his transient offer. Then I was struck by pure Zeit and realized that I would be living in Bad Faith if I were to turn down John’s offer, and reaccepted his offer.

Dinner was a smash. Everything was grand and perfect. I was helping John’s roomate Gerard discover Girl Talk via Albumbase.com, when yet again I transcended space and time, and came into contact with my Existentialism Professor who had decided that he would follow through with his promise to play a round of golf with me before I left, and that it was for some reason imperative that we smash balls with clubs tomorrow in the ultimate expression of male superiority and being-for-itself, over objects that can only experience being-in-itself, tomorrow, Friday, the day before his exam. So again, I do what any sane human being stuck in the trap and groove of societal Bad Faith, and neglected the absolute freedom of our experiences of being-for-itself, and declined his offer. I explained this to John and Phillip (both Existential classmates of mine), and they put me in my place and made me remember that all I needed to do was to pass the course, that these kinds of experiences create the stories of our lives, and that it would be an excellent opportunity to bounce my philosophical theories off my clubs and he, and get a better sense of the framework of the exam and what he is looking for in an answer (seriously though, they truly made me recognize that if I turned down this offer to play a round that there was no promise that it would come around again. This would certainly be something I would regret, and since there is no doubt that I will pass my exam, it is something I should jump on).

So I rode my transcendental pony back through time and space and reaccepted the offer to play a round with my Existentialism Professor.

Today’s lesson (s) (for me: I refuse to tell anyone else what to do, except my slave-bride): Stop being stuck in your pre-med/biochemistry state of mind. Stop putting off the things you want to do, for the responsible choice that is made in bad faith. Live in the moment. Accept a good offer when you see it. Don’t live in the hypothetical future.

Now feck-off and let me study!

2001: A Space Odyssey (The voice of the professionals and critics)

Here is a wee exploration/explaination of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Caution: I really dislike the female critic in this segment and her explaination of the rise of man. While I always enjoy a woman glorifying the penis, I find it absolutely unbearable when it is done in a feminist philosophical way to create a division betwixt sexes and push them upon me. Anyway, here it is:

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I think it is valuable to a certain extent, but fails to explore and examine the most important element of the film: The Monolith! The Monolith is life, death, art, creation, and everything else in life, while at the same time absolutely nothing. Ahh…I need to save this tirade for an evening when don’t have an exam to revise for.

What the hell are you doing with your life?: Nothing meaningful…

The last couple of days have been a blur that has faded and deteriorated by the sun’s photons. I spent the last week or so preparing for my Mammalian Biochemistry exam. I made 40 pages of notes to study, and through the entire process I was terrified that I knew nothing of the material, and was legitmately going to fail (here in Belfast 75% of my grade is dependent on final exams). I was also pissed off that I was wasting my precious few days left in Belfast, when friends I would never see again were leaving, to dwell in my own neolithic cave memorizing N-glycosylation, basement membrane formation, neurochemical signaling and synthesis…you get the picture.

Then upon walking to the exam I chanted the mantra “You are going to kick the shit out of this exam”, and somehow I was stuck with a bit of confidence. Then again, maybe it came from speaking with my lab partner from Tennessee (who is a total goober, and source of malevalence carried over from group projects that were completed alone to the credit of two. I now know the significance and importance of titles in films, and will always stay to pray (or curse) those who produced the film I experienced.), and became elated at his own sense of impending doom. As always, I made a big deal out of nothing, and am certain that at the very least I passed (which is all I needed to do).

To celebrate our completion of our biochemistry module, I grabbed a pint of Guinness with my friends Orlaih, Kyle, and Gerard (who completed his last exam and finished his Architecture degree). We went to Mandala Hall at the Student Union, and it was packed. I had to wait five minutes to get served at 12:30 in the afternoon. I love Belfast. I also love the euphoric and cathartic effect of finishing an exam you busted your ass on. Everything around you seems less real than it normally would, because you never imagined that a). you would survive the impending doom of the exam, and b). you could never imagine or anticipate getting past the exam. It was a singularity of despair that trapped all sense of hope and joy, and captured your consciousness in it’s event horizon, from which it could never return to the physical world immediately before it. So pretty much after a memorization orgy, severe lack of sleep, a morning doses of coffee, tea, Adderall, Lucazade, and a good luck cigarette offering, along with a thunderous brain dump, and a Guinness, and I was in a euphoric trip of happiness.

I picked up Seven Samurai by Kurosawa along with Eyes Wide Shut and 2001: A Space Odyssey by Kubrick from the library and headed to the Botanic Garden for a smoke. I sat on a bench overlooking an empty pitch, and rolled my Drum cigarette that exploded into a transient soul-stimulant as I watched some lads toss around a football, an American football! I giddily approached and after introductions to Lyle and Gavin, architecture students at University of Ulster, I was tossed a Dallas Cowboy rubber football, and tossed it around for awhile. I taught these lads how to throw a football proper, and in return was introduced to the correct form of rugby tossing. All this was temporary though, because the Red Event Security Park Marines tackled our fun and games to preserve the peace of the empty park that bans all ball-sports (frisbee’s are allowed…go figure).

I returned to my cave where I sparked some enlightenment and finished the second season of War Planets: Shadow Raiders. It was 3-D cartoon whose animation reminds me of Transformers: Beast Wars. It was a solid series that had far too many Star Wars-esque characters, plots, scenes, and story, but enjoyable none the less. A decent mythos to expose to the youth, that could stimulating questions relating to the creation of our world that has components of those in War Planets (Fire, Ice, Rock, Sand, Plants, Bone, Technology).

I also finished the first season of the TV series Heroes. It was a solid series. I really enjoyed the prologues and epilogues that the character Mohinder narrated. I’ll probably have more to say on this later.

Then JT arrived, and we threw in 2001: A Space Odyssey. I had not seen it for eight years, and as such did not really understand the film or the significance of The Monolith. I think I have a real understanding of The Monolith mythos now, and will likely tirade on that later (note to self). JT had never seen it, but really enjoyed it. Neither Eyes Wide Shut or Seven Samurai would play, because they were Region 2, and even after ripping to a decrypted region with MacTheRipper, they failed to play due to Bad Sectors. This disappointed me, but instead I just watched some of Samurai Champloo. It was made my the team responsible for Cowboy Bebop, and is an intriguing look at Samurai culture in Meji-Japan remixed with hip-hop elements. Good fun!

Today I have been working on a CD playlist for my Existentialism professor that encapsulated Existential philosophy and ideas in some of the lyrics of my favorite bands.

I have also been watching some interesting film trailers:

Stardust

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This is obviously the film adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel of the same title. I’ll be there opening night.

The Tripper

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From the insane mind of David Arquette, and including the acting talents of Jason Mewes! Man, I wish I were going to Bonnaroo!

Diggers

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I was psyched when I saw this title. I was expecting a film on Digger/Hippie from the 1960’s (people who “Dug” psychedelic culture) a la The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Looks like it is set on Cape Cod during 1970s, and may have some enjoyable moments, or atleast some familiar sights.

Day Watch

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The anticipated sequel to the Russian fantasy/horror thriller Night Watch. I have been waiting and anticipating this!

Color Me Kubrick

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John Malkovich & Stanley Kubrick collide=crazy delicious!

Evan Almighty

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Really?

Harry Potter and The Order of The Pheonix

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Finally the series starts to get good and violent…and DARK!…Kinda…

That is all I have time for at the moment. I am going to fix a pot of tea. My next post should be related to The Books Show I saw last week.

Until then, Keep it FUNKY!