Leigh Alexander at Gamesutra has poured a bit of cold criticism on the game, piquing my attention. I think, wanting for 'monsters', she has done little else but demonstrate that she doesn't like the lack of imagination that *is* the gangster genre. Where GTA5 allows you to do a ridiculous amount of stuff that have nothing to do with mayhem, mayhem is really what video game drama offers the player, outside of plot. If you don't like having the protagonist of a gangster film deliver mayhem for its own sake, you're in dangerous territory.
I have gone on for some length about how morally degrading it is to invited to care about a real 3D character who keeps committing evil actions. It is the signature of Hollywood's best creations since the startling invention of Tony Soprano whom I call a scumbag protagonist. The skewering question nobody bothers to ask is why doesn't [Walter White] just quit doing evil? Why doesn't he just walk away? But they don't, and this is the manipulation and plot device that keeps the gangster genre ticking - that and the fact that the protagonist preternaturally avoids death long enough for the audience to experience repetitive thrills, chills and spills.
GTA5's integration of its open world with its 'rails' is very nicely done, as a bit of technical kit. No load screens is a big deal. But I think the reason that GTA5 fails to engage you in its open world is precisely because Los Santos is boring. It's LA and LA in a very stereotypical way. The Westside is the 'Westside' and South Central is 'South Central'. LA was more well done, quite frankly in Midnight Club. But on the other hand, everybody gushed about just riding a horse through Red Dead Redemption - because the Old West it presented was interesting and mysterious in its own right. So was Skyrim. So was Fallout3's Wastes. I think that criticism of GTA5 on all literary levels is happening because the gaming world understands what Bungie has teased us into understand. The shooter genre needs heroism, and heroism requires the right environment. Nobody knows how to be a hero in gritty LA. Dramtically speaking, I don't think that problem has ever been solved, not even by Bill Cosby in the remake of Neil Simon's California Suite.
GTA5 gives us what LA gives us, what is so far, an excellent big bada boom slapstick platformer with characters who are interesting enough, but not too interesting that you actually care that they might have souls. In American fiction, nobody in LA has a soul outside of Phillip Marlowe, and you're not too sure about him. These days, you have to go to New Mexico for soul, meaning Breaking Bad. Watching Walter White's family being destroyed is poison because they have souls. That is where the damage is done to the audience. I have not yet peeked at what level of monstrous acts Breaking Bad has delivered this season but I remain interested in pursuing the wacky hijinks and dirty jokes of GTA5 inured as I am. Sooner or later all of this ends up being Saint's Row. It is inevitable.
I have played Saint's Row 4 by the way, and I'm about to send it back to Gamefly. It's far too clunky for me to enjoy in the context of GTA5, and the degree of outrageousness has set me up to enjoy the Rockstar's brand of 'subtle' humor a bit more. Still, found myself in Los Santos / San Andreas wanting my character to be able to climb walls and plant explosive charges as I have been doing the past few weeks with Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell Blacklist. But I've got to do what my GTA characters actually can do, which is drive around this cartoon LA and fall into plots. So the dramatic tension has just begun as I have started the arc of engaging in crime again as Michael. I'm already a good driver as Franklin and I haven't yet met my third personality. Thar be adventures a'waitin me hearties, but I'll not be spendin' 'em with human beings. Yo ho ho it's the cartoon violence for me.
On the other hand, perhaps he believed his music was being evaluated for secret messages to the black underground.
Religion and the Arts in America CAMILLE PAGLIA
Shamelessly copied whole cloth from a lecture delivered on 6 February 2007 as the 2007 Cornerstone Arts Lecture at Colorado College. It was videotaped by C-SPAN and broadcast on its American Perspectives series on 3 March 2007.
My favorite commercial.
I forget how civilized I am because I have been raising children for 18 years.
Last evening I broke my fast for the first time in about 4 years, put on the long black coat, expensive scarf and headed out with the Spousal Unit to reacquaint myself with the high arts. The last time, we went to see Dudamel's premier at the Disney. This time it was Shen Yun at the Segerstrom and the arts were not quite so sophisticated, but high nevertheless.
It was my first time to the South Coast art complex, home of the South Coast Rep and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. The architecturals are most appropriately dramatic if not arrestingly splendid. As we had a quick drink and dash of excellent sushi at Leatherby's Cafe Rouge onsite. I just had to marvel at this little plop of class right in the middle of Corporateville California, headquarters of Taco Bell. It was quiet and plush and the people were well-appointed and polite - not meaning the staff who get paid to be so, but the patrons. Eegads Maggie!
Across the way at the Segerstrom it was more bustling with the sort of crowd one would expect to find at a high school graduation; the older two generations in moderate attire with the appropriate proportions suitable for an English & Chinese presentation. My Mandarin sucks these days, but I do pick up the occasional phrase and can tell a Northern accent from a Southern. We shuffled in with the pack and found our seats convient to both viewing and quick egress. And so it began.
Both the Unit and I were expecting something rather different than what we beheld. It was her idea to see dancing acrobats, but instead we saw acrobatic dancers that were only occasionally acrobatic. What was a complete surprise was the component of moral suggestion that was part and parcel of the program. You see, Shen Yun are cultural ambassadors for the Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong. If you've never heard of Falun Gong, what you basically need to know is that they are on the outs with the Chinese authorities and all of the backscatter you hear about 'the human rights record of China' can be quickly characterized as the news we get here in the States as the various brutalities heaped upon the Falun Gong.
I was certainly aware that the Falun Gong was in this sort of trouble, but hearing Shen Yun present itself as the oppressed Falun Dafa, I figured there was more than one Falun the Red Chinese have beef with. Not putting the two together could be attributed to the Lawrence Welkian presentation of the matter. You could easily mistake the whole affair for a Sunday Matinee for families. It aint Sarafina! So as I write this without knowing the body counts for the Falun Gong it is a bit difficult for me to determine how forced are the smiles on the performers. But that is as it should be because despite the three or four expressly political narrative dances, there was a lot of performance to take in.
Most of the pieces were, from an analytical point of view rather energetically staid as can be expected of classical Chinese that was certainly composed to entertain royalty. I could get that feeling watching the various dances that these were very much of the sort designed to make you think 'aah these are my handsomest people, and see how they all dance in unison for me'. You would notice that they all had at least sevens and eights in their groups of dances. A soloist would never command the stage for more than a few moments, and romantic duets were rare as well.
Nevertheless, the most memorable ensembles were those that set the modern students against the snaky agents who, covered in black, summoned themselves into wolfish crouching circles around brightly colored innocents. And so there it is as I left it without much more immediate curiosity about digesting Chinese history or current events. Instead I reflected on the oft repeated fact that Shen Yun is the largest troupe representing classic Chinese dance in the world. It illustrates the simple that the Chinese government is, in this regard, at war with itself. Nobody needs 500 years of recourse, much less 5000 given that actual progress does happen in 10 generations. There are limits to the logic of conservation. But still.
There's a hard drive at auction for five million dollars. It has a torrent-load of fiction and music and software and other random digital junk obsessively collected. A lot of it is good; I've checked out the list. Most of it, I think, is destined to fall to a value of zero. Now that 'everybody' knows, perhaps only a few will be interested. As I checked, there were only about 4 seeders for the $300,000 collection of English fiction.
Last evening I remembered an old dream of mine which was to become a digital archivist. Once upon a time, I wanted to be the steward of all the richness of African American cultural artifacts that could be put online. I am satisfied at this point, however, that is unlikely to be very useful considering the dilemmas of funding housing for the actual items. Still, there must be some intellectual properties out there worth scavenging and hoarding. But I think that those that do exist are unlikely to be made digital.
This past weekend, I visited BooksOff, the new discount retail meatspace bookstore. The First Daughter and I perused the shelves of $2 Compact Disc recordings. I found exactly 3 worth considering having browsed a complete aisle and told the tale of how all record shopping used to be so risky and tedious. I much prefer the contemporary method, and really don't have all that much nostalgia even considering John Cusak's High Fidelity.
My latest audiobook is Gayle Lynds' Book of Spies which opens with a murder at the annual meeting of the most exclusive roundtable of book collectors on the planet. They quiz each other on the existence of rare histories.
It has been a while since I've visited the Gutenberg Project. So far as I can tell, they keep chugging along, exploiting the gap between lack of attention, liberal arts nostalgia and intellectual property law such as it stands today. If we could compile a list of the people who have read A Pilgrim's Progress, how many would there be? In my spelunking of Western Civilization (what's worth keeping?) I keep finding little but the Long Tail, and most people bedeviled by arcane obsessions or shallow zeitgeist.
I'm preparing to write a book review of Michael Crichton's last book, Micro. But maybe I won't.
Having a life of material comfort is indeed its own reward, but our society doesn't quite know what to do otherwise. There is no Europe for guidance, there are no cherished traditions, there is no canon of literature serving as a framework for the Examined Life. I may have to reconsider the University with my new understanding of its hermetic nature. I think most people of my inclination are in relative hiding. More's the pity.
All that goes to say that it is no longer worth my while to spend money on those artifacts which I and a few others might treasure but hard times and twisted priorities have devalued in society. I shall pinch pennies and torrents and await the New Victorians.
I'm not sure that world needs more ballet dancers, but I'm more convinced that we don't need the sort we would get out of public schools. It is absolutely true that the architecture of public education is industrial but so are most of the jobs as 'jobs'. I mean if you want to get 'a job' then public education will get you that.
I'm not sure where he's going with all that. I mean lolcat pictures are creative and enormously popular. We're not missing out. Has there ever been a kind of music you wish you could hear but nobody was making and you couldn't get? Has there ever been a kind of recipe that you wished you could eat but nobody knew? Was there ever a sort of dance move you needed to see but nobody could perform? Exactly what kind of creativity are we lacking for? We obviously have the sort that imagines a planet without humans flourishing in 50 years. Do we need that sort?
I think that the lecturer imagines that human beings are infinite. We are not. Food still tastes good. Sex still feels good. Music still sounds good. Football is still good fun to watch. You don't have to experiment with all that - unless you're a wealthy jaded old fart bouncing around to international conferences telling jokes (about 7 year olds) to a bunch of other wealthy jaded old farts, and their bohemian spoiled children in their obscure fashions. Creativity is natural human expression. We get enough and don't need to be educated about how to be creative.
Art, on the other hand… well that's a different matter.
Jacques Tati is the director of one of my favorite films of all time. Playtime is the story of a man who gets lost among people who are busy living. As I look at it, now about 18 years from my first viewing, it is as timeless as ever. Its humor is still intact.
Watching it is difficult because Tati's camera doesn't tell you where to look. It's a completely different kind of storytelling than we are accustomed to; something you might not notice until you start watching this movie.
This remix reminds me of how well my generation took to the international modern jet age.
It's not often that one sees, within the course of our pastime excursions into commonplace entertainment, something that transcends what it appears to be. By all appearances, the independent film Cost of a Soul, looked to be another slightly twisted ghetto flick. I was thinking perhaps some combination of Four Brothers, Three Kings and The Town. But this film turned out to be quite remarkable - one that goes one better on all of those movies. It is that rare film, a genuine tragedy.
The texture of the film is artistic, there are hallmarks of a unique style. There are close ups. There is classical music. There is black and white. There is shaky cam. There are rolling street scenes and haunting echoed saxophone. There are rapid montages. There is crying faded to black. All of these well worn signatures add up to more than their sum. But the single most dramatic effect of this entire film is the single gunshot. The pistol has never been so dramatically cast. It reminds me of the way in which Speilberg in Saving Private Ryan made the sound effects of every other war movie sound cheap by comparison. Cost of a Soul has redefined the deadly pop and muzzle flash.
There is no other film this resembles so much as Blood Simple in its haunting simplicity, and there has never been such a matter of fact tragedy as this has proven to be. If the question is how do you make an art film that doesn't become preachy and yet sends a deadly message home with finality, Cost of a Soul is the answer.
The story is simple with all the appropriate twists, but there is no humor and no sly wit involved. There are no overworked emotional nudges. The entire screenplay is drily matter of fact. Here are the obligations of family and these are the deadly enemies of domestic tranquility - the drug dealer, the corrupt cop, the mob boss. How can two Iraq War veterans work it out when they've got nowhere to go? This is the kind of story that you might have expected Dragon Tatoo to be if it didn't drip into the pornographic. In that regard this is a classic American hard knock story, stripped of sentiment and driven to the point. And it delivers shot after shot, tragedy after tragedy until the last men fall.
They all fall down.
You can watch the film and know that it will all end in tears. You can get through the awkward moments and the single McGuffin borrowed from Pulp Fiction, the mysterious briefcase. But because this story is a tragedy, not a caper, not a mystery, not a gangster film, not a war movie, you don't expect to see what you do see. You see the good die. You see the bad die. You see the innocent and the guilty, the corrupt and the innocent strung together into the sort of destruction that is at once predictable and surprising. Surprising because there is no escape. There is no redemption. There is eyes wide open revenge that steamrolls every zigzag you imagine might lead to a better outcome.
There are passages of dialog and close ups that capture superb moments of acting. There are monologues worthy of Tarantino but remain sparse. There are silences that speak volumes. And yet it is raw - not quite into Demme territory. There isn't a single cast member that dominates, instead it is a morality tale that stays simple and powerful. That it does so with such a deft balance is what marks this as a surprisingly superb and yet raw bit of filmmaking.
I think in a certain way this film will always be compared to Hustle and Flow. The difference is that dreams die harder here. Tragedy. It's something new in contemporary American film. I wonder if we can get used to it.
(from the archives May 2004)
It's very difficult to talk about Denzel Washington's latest film without also talking about Abu Ghraib and bunch of other stuff. As much as I want to keep the subjects apart, I cannot manage it. I am at the point at which I am wanting to make the film a litmus test for sense and sensibility over the question of Iraq, but in a deeper way. However instead of stringing this character study together with what I've been talking about in 'Monsters on a Leash', let it stand as a metaphor for the man who does democracy's dirty work and sacrifice. Denzel Washington has given us a performance for the ages which resonates in many directions.
Here's what I'm getting at. I am trying to break through a kind of social phlegm which I believe to be a self-imposed exile. It is part and parcel of my antagonism to that which I describe as 'dainty'. If I were to call it 'liberal' then it would score me points with my conservative brethren but that's not my aim. Rather I am trying to reveal a kind of denial which will get us in deeper trouble. In the context of Man on Fire, it is the denial that there is a necessary good in the dealing with evil in the harshest ways. I am trying to break through the denial that says there are no noble ends worthy of extreme prejudice.
If the Geneva Conventioneers go to the movies, they would certainly have to give a huge failing grade to the Man on Fire. However I don't think they would convince many Americans that this is not an extraordinarily moving film. But let me qualify that one more step. A moving film in the genre of action is what I'm talking about, and I realize that many Americans don't go to the theater in order to see action films. I don't quite know what to make of such Americans because the great advantage of going to such events is the technology of emergence possible with the large screen and the booming system. Unless you are one of the types who are unimaginative enough to consider 'Sleepless in Seattle' a good reason to date... excuse me, my demographic is showing. 15 years ago, I'd go for a Tarkofsky at the Nuart, these days I go for a Scott at the Bridge. As for Amelie, she waits for pay per view. What I expect from an action film goes beyond the boom to the character in focus, the hero. What is his code?
From the very opening credits, I was stunned at the brilliance of director Tony Scott's sensibilities with light and film. I have been watching a great deal of digital entertainment recently: digital shorts, gaming and game cut scenes. Scott's ability with film expresses a much larger visual vocabulary, and his facility with it is often breathtaking. It is an accelerated communication I am witnessing, the visual equivalent of New Yawkese at a rapid clip. Not since Soderbergh's 'Traffic' has this kind of film been made, and yet where Traffic is an investigation into a series of characters and tragedies, 'Man on Fire' comes down to one. What does it take to unravel the kind of organization that sanctions terror and extortion? What happens when a man who can, does with trained lethality?
Washington brings a gravity to the action hero previously unknown. I even heistate to call him an action hero or this an action film. He is deliberate without being obsessed. He is damaged without self-pity. He has no attitude whatsoever. I regard him as the man who stands in disbelief at the fact that he remains alive despite the great damage done to him. He is mortally wounded, and yet he persists, seemingly in defiance of God. He is aligned to his condemnation, but ultimately accepts the opportunity for redemption offered by chance.
Washington's John W. Creasy is a frightening individual. For he makes life and death decisions on his own. He follows his own conscience, not a manual. He isn't following orders or procedures of the sort which in a democracy give the public the confidence that all is well enough. He is a protector, and he is not merely satisfied with punishing. Instead he demonstrates that it is possible to destroy all corruption - the full plant, leaves, stalk and roots. He is not a professional in the justice system, he is investigator, judge, jury and executioner. He is a scarred warrior past all ideology surviving on bible verses, whiskey and the deadly drills of the counter-terrorist trade. He knows he has gone too far.
This makes him frightening not because he a loose cannon. He paces in a cage of his own creation. He dulls his own blade. He could be sharp, deadly but he chooses to be disengaged. Such a man defies what is often expected of an assassin. We have become used to the idea that no man is capable of all that, and that given any such capability such a man should work as part of a team. We are led to believe that there is a button that can be pushed, a memorandum of understanding corroboratively agreed upon which sets in motion a series of professional actors who bring evildoers to justice. And this is satisfactory for the bourgie American citizen. Were we to find John W. Creasy somewhere in that bureaucracy, were we to know his sources and methods, we would be crying "Who let the dogs out?". We would resist his truth. We could forgive an ignorant brute, but Creasy is neither. He is an artist of death, an assassin. Echoes of 'The Professional'. But Creasy is completely self-possessed. He is a man without external sanction.
Think of the adage 'Women and children first.' When a ship is sinking, this is the rule. Why? While everyone knows that cowards will try to escape and women will die, there is more than mere chivalrous attitudes. There is an understanding that dirty work and sacrifice must be done in the interests of human survival. There is so much of our economy and culture that is available to the weaker sex, that perhaps we have forgotten about blood, guts and glory. We forget that there are monsters which arise and so we create thoughtcrime out of that which would arm us for the unthinkable. These are the thoughtcrimes which become armor in the conflict we dread. Those are the thoughtcrimes that are Creasy's training - it's what keeps him alive in the in-between times.
I think 'Man on Fire' is an excellent parable and a tragic drama. Technology has enabled the ordinary thug to commit crimes like none other in history. In the cracks of our society grow dangerous weeds. If Creasy makes us uneasy it is because he is today's man fighting tomorrows battles. One day we may come to understand him better. Until then our sensibilities may be challenged by his methods, but that is not the worst thing we face. We face our own unwillingness to fight.
I am embarassed to talk about Bernard Kinsey now that it's April. That's because I didn't return his phone call from February. 14 months ago, I enjoyed an old school evening back in my old neighborhood attending a review of the Kinsey Collection for Black History Month. What I should have done was go again this year and do my small part in writing up once again that which the Kinseys have done to preserve critical parts of American history in a collection of artifacts of historical significance.
Last year, the Kinseys were proud to announce that their collection was set to be featured at the Smithsonian in the upcoming Fall. This year I don't know the exact fate of the collection, but I do know a certain something about it. It's the kind of thing I would expect, automatically, for black old money to take care of. Boom. But it is not taken care of and for that I have regret.
It is presumptuous of me, but then again, I'm me, not to have the significant kind of role in this matter that my ambition has demanded of me. Starting with my own father's collection and with my association with Dr. & Mrs. Alfred Ligon, there is a part of me that weeps for not having become the wealthy philanthropist I always wanted to be. When I looked at Ebony magazine back in the day, my hero was the black man who ran the Ford Foundation, Franklin A. Thomas. But somehow, for all the blackified recognition I got here and there, I never got the hookup, nor did anyone I know really get it. A lot of us have done very well, don't get me wrong, but all the young, gifted and black never got the Aggregation program together. The meeting on Wednesday night, as much as everybody talked about it, never got off the ground.
It didn't hit me until I was about 26 that black unity was never going to work out. I understood it intellectually, but emotionally I viewed it as a problem until I was 32. And even though I gave up on the impractical dreams of Chocolate City (or at the very least a nationwide network of Brewster Places, hooked up with the Boule) I've always felt that there should be some black old money taking care of certain significant business. Right now that sentiment centers on a private initiative that could build a museum for the Kinsey Collection which, among other things contains personal letters written by Zora.
That intellectual understanding recognizes that Michael Jordan, sitting on hundreds of millions, is not likely to reach out to Bernard Kinsey and build that museum. Unless he reads Cobb and is moved to tears thinking of something more purposeful to do than selling underwear. I am embarassed by my poverty in this regard. And at the same time I recognize that Kinsey himself hasn't made the Jordan connection either. It's that kind of thing that is painful leaven and why I have put aside dreams of Aggregation.
Michael Jordan and Colin Powell probably could hang out. But do they? Do they have an obligation to? What about Spike Lee and Wynton Marsalis? At some point the speculation gets ridiculous, and yet if Kinsey's original print of Equiano's book falls into anonymous bureaucratic hands, whose fault is that?
I would be remiss to not mention the fact that it was Paul Simon who introduced us to Ladysmith Black Mombazo, and even though we knew Hugh and Miriam before, somehow a generation who didn't play Sun City didn't get the word out to KJLH and V103. I can't tell you how many black folks paid the price of the ticket at Newport all those Jazz Festivals ago, but does it really matter? The facts survive, the people survive, the artifacts will survive and with any luck the curators will have the right love.
The world is still worth living in, even when it's not black owned and operated.
When I was 31, I read American Mythologies. It was one of the great intellectual moments in my life, an dit helped me to understand the power of what I can probably describe at length but will not. Let's just call it 'virtual truth'.
A great deal of what I experimented with in my early web writing days was a riff on this problem, which was that there was very little 'authentic' culture in American culture. There are signifiers built on top of symbols, which leverage metaphors that are bolstered by analogies all based on myth and urban legend - and this is what most Americans believe. Education is all trivia. You can't walk into a bar with physics degree and find a mate. You have to play the game and it is a mind-numbing game because everybody is hooked into American 'culture' and not much of it is real. This was my attitude towards that called the semiotic swamp. I followed Umberto Eco and Marshall Blonsky for a time and insisted that they knew what was up. Foucault's Pendulum was my favorite fiction just before reading Blonsky. But the invention of the Internet was about to happen, in the mainstream. So I invented Boohab, who was the perfect kind of character to inhabit such a realm, a post-modern racial essentialist. In a world where influentials like Howard Rheingold encouraged the reality of virtual life led by the guiding light of McLuhan who's mantra was 'the medium is the message', there needed to be a black trickster out there keeping it real.
A lot of people resented the idea of bringing racial realism to the new digital frontier, but the fact that I did so persistently was very useful. I sought to inform my experiment with a bit of philosophy which I found in a book called The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality. I excerpted something I thought was very important from that moment when there was still a question in the public mind about whether or not blackness belonged in cyberspace.
"According to Heidegger, we notice the eclipse of the truth of being occuring already in Plato's metaphysics. Once the truth of being becomes equated with the light of unchanging intelligibility, the nature of truth shifts to the ability of statements to reflect or refer reliably to entities. With the steadiness of propositional truth comes the tendency to relate to being as a type, a form, or an anticipated shape. With being as a steady form, entities gain their reality through their being typified. Already in Plato we see the seeds of the Western drive to standardize things, to find what is dependable and typical in them. Truth as the disclosure process, as the play of revealing/ concealing disappears behind the scene in which the conscious mind grasps bright objects apprehended as clear, unwavering, rational forms. As humans develop the ability to typify and apprehend formal realities, the loss of truth as emergent disclosure goes unnoticed. All is light and form. Nothing hides behind the truth of beings. But this "nothing" finally makes an appearance after the whole world has become a rigid grid of standardized forms and shapes conceived and engineered by humans. As the wasteland grows, we see the devastation of our fully explicit truths. We see that there is, must be, more. The hidden extra cannot be consciously produced. Only by seeing the limits of standardization can we begin to respond to it. We have to realize that each advance in typifying and standardizing things also implies a trade off. When we first reach forward and grasp things, we only see the benefits of our standardization, only the positive side of greater clarity and utility. it is difficult to accept the paradox that not matter how alluring, every gain in fixed intelligibility brings with it a corresponding loss of vivacity. Because we are finite, every gain we make also implies a lost possibility. The loss is especially devastating to those living in the technological world, for here they enjoy everything conveniently at their disposal -- everything that is, except the playful process of discovery itself."
It turned out that only applied to the static web. When the web became dynamic, and populated with jillions, emergent disclosure returned. As it became even larger and more distributed, and as it will be in the future, the only findable stuff will be more and more static. People will need larger narratives to deal with its interminable complexity. The web itself will sustain more and more of these narratives. Certifications will become more important and/but they will tend to be more localized. "Word is bond" will become more important.
But my point here is that for the most part, people will require more and more skill to make sense of all of this meta-literacy. I happen to think it raises the value of war. But during peacetime, the swamp is filling up and overflowing.
This morning it took me almost an hour to find Ms Dewey, and I had lost her before. Her real name is Janina Gavankar and as Ms Dewey she exemplified the sort of woman that is my perfect mate in look, attitude and all that. I used to worry for most of my life that the woman I married would suffer a heartbreaking fate if I were to find 'the perfect woman' sometime during the course of life - and I had this odd premonition that it would happen around when I turned 35. It never did happen with the exception of the fictional Ms Dewey with whom I promptly developed a completely nerdy crush. And so I was a bit extra frustrated when, this morning for some reason, I could not for the life of me remember her name and none of my usual methods could suss her out of the incredible shitpile that is the world wide web. I finally found her.
It turns out that Ms Dewey was the creation of a marketing outfit known as EVB, short for Evolution Bureau. They are also the creators of Serenading Unicorn
And so we are most definitely way, way down the long tail. At some point it must be asked whether or not large fictions are not more useful than small ones. But I'm going to leave that as an exercise, depending upon how many people respond to this particular essay.
I no longer have much of a cultural project out here in cyberspace. I went from the responsibility of Mellow Mike to put a black foot out here, to the provocations of Boohab to get all post-moderny and interactive, to whatever it was I was doing at Slate, Salon, & Utne, Brainstorms, The Well, Electric Minds and then finally to Meanderings, Vision Circle and now Cobb. I have come full circle to the sort of peeved skepticism about the quality of knowledge purveyed on the Web, now that there is so much and the cost is so low. I perceive that the big hunking narratives are larger and more false and that the smaller ones seem more infinitely clever. It's different but the effect is the same. Truth is hard to find. That's because it's so easy to get everything else, so much of which is layered like the Juicy Fruit advertisement, upon very little else but the simple longings of an individual. There's nothing universal in that at all, which is why we'll all end up killing each other. I know it's difficult to understand why that's my conclusion, but trust me on this one. I'll explain it all later.
In the meantime, I will continue to write here, while writing more software code, and attempt to keep my perspective on the world historical, and ignoring that which is right in front of my face.
Cobb readers may recall that I used to have a running argument with Sprite about what art is and is not. She's not Sprite any longer, she's Gremmie and we no longer have that argument. It has not been resolved to anyone's satisfaction and neither of us care enough to engage it. Whatever catches the eye is pleasing enough.
I have begun to wonder if any artist captures the spirit of the times and I've made an attempt here, and will continue, to use visual art to reflect some aspect of this literary creation. People always have time to look, but seldom have time to read and rarely have time to study. So I imagine lots of people do what Gremmie and I do, which is agree not to disagree but to say 'whatever' to the question of art.
There's an artist for that. His name is Mr. Brainwash. I just watched the documentary about him. It was good.
My opinion of MBW is that he is a pop artist who is the kind of success that The Simpsons are. You cannot really compare The Simpsons to I Love Lucy although both are sitcoms. The Simpsons aren't people, they're cartoons. MBW's creations aren't creations, they're icons. They are so two dimensional that they're almost one dimensional. They lack drama. And I've seen enough of the man who created them to understand what his creations are meant to inspire, which is nothing but the sensation of having consumed art. It's like going to see a movie. Even his irony is flat.
There is a point in the film in which those artists who served as the inspiration for Mr. Brainwash, or worked for him - I can't remember which - wondered if everything he created was a big joke and if so who the joke was on. Nobody could tell, which illustrates the spontaneous meaning of the entire production. It's a production, and it will mean something finally when enough people react to it. The point is not to invest meaning or design into the production, but to arrange it in such a way that becomes a self-fulfilling thing. A curiosity which finally means nothing more than the fact that it made you curious. Like jingling keys above a baby.
The emotional weight of the film is found in the speechless energy that characterizes afficionadoes of production as art. Half the significance, if not all of the significance of street art is that it is illegal and ubiquitous. Any old pique will do, but the point is not to draw your attention to the craft so much as to draw your attention to the fact that there is great risk in producing subversion time and time again. There is no solution, no comtemplation of the art that gets you anywhere. You are merely to be stammered by the sheer perversity of it, by the fact that it slaps authority in the face, that the artist is on the run.
That's about it. Here is how a subversive operates. He is all instinct and no intellect. He has no plan other than to be famous through his productions which are immediately void of meaning, and yet significant to some fragment of that short attention span society. The more you see of it, the less you expect, until finally you are insulted.
(I'm reading Jonathan Swift and could not resist the following passage that had me howling with laughter)
We came at length to the house, which was, indeed, a noble structure, built according to the best rules of ancient architecture. The fountains, gardens, walks, avenues, and groves were all disposed with exact judgment and taste. I gave due praise to everything I saw, whereof his Excellency took not the least notice till after supper, when, there being no third companion, he told me with a very melancholy air that he doubted he must throw down his houses in town and country, to rebuild them after the present mode, destroy all his plantations, and cast others into such a form as modern usage required, and give the same directions to all his tenants, unless he would submit to incur the censure of pride, singularity, affectation, ignorance, caprice, and perhaps, increase his Majesty's displeasure. That the admiration I appeared to be under would cease, or diminish, when he had informed me of some particulars, which probably I never heard of at court, the people there being too much taken up in their own speculations to have regard to what passed here below.
The sum of his discourse was to this effect: that about forty years ago certain persons went up to Laputa, either upon business or diversion, and after five months’ continuance came back with a very little smattering in mathematics, but full of volatile spirits, acquired in that airy region. That these persons, upon their return, began to dislike the management of everything below, and fell into schemes of putting all arts, sciences, languages, and mechanics upon a new foot. To this end they procured a royal patent for erecting an academy of projectors in Lagado; and the humor prevailed so strongly among the people that there is not a town of any consequence in the kingdom without such an academy. In these colleges the professors contrive new rules and methods of agriculture and building, and new instruments and tools for all trades and manufactures, whereby, as they undertake, one man shall do the work of ten, a palace may be built in a week of materials so durable as to last forever without repairing; all the fruits of the earth shall come to maturity at whatever season we think fit to choose, and increase a hundredfold more than they do at present; with innumerable other happy proposals. The only inconvenience is, that none of these projects are yet brought to perfection; and, in the mean time, the whole country lies miserably waste, the houses in ruins, and the people without food or clothes. By all which, instead of being discouraged, they are fifty times more violently bent upon prosecuting their schemes, driven equally on by hope and despair; that as for himself, being not of an enterprising spirit, he was content to go on in the old forms, to live in the houses his ancestors had built, and act as they did in every part of life, without innovation. That some few other persons of quality and gentry had done the same, but were looked on with an eye of contempt and ill-will, as enemies to art, ignorant, and ill commonwealth's men, preferring their own ease and sloth before the general improvement of their country.
His lordship added that he would not by any further particulars prevent the pleasure I should certainly take in viewing the grand academy, whither he was resolved I should go. He only desired me to observe a ruined building upon the side of a mountain about three miles distant, of which he gave me this account that he had a very convenient mill within half a mile of his house, turned by a current from a large river, and sufficient for his own family, as well as a great number of his tenants. That about seven years ago a club of those projectors came to him with proposals to destroy this mill and build another on the side of that mountain, on the long ridge whereof a long canal must be cut for a repository of water, to be conveyed up by pipes and engines to supply the mill, because the wind and air upon a height agitated the water and thereby made it fitter for motion; and because the water, descending down a declivity, would turn the mill with half the current of a river, whose course is more upon a level. He said that being then not very well with the court, and pressed by many of his friends, he complied with the proposal; and, after employing a hundred men for two years, the work miscarried, the projectors went off, laying the blame entirely upon him, railing at him ever since, and putting others upon the same experiment, with equal assurance of success, as well as equal disappointment.
Black cultural production in the late 20th century blossomed as a generation of black Americans insisted on self-representation in the arts and media. In some ways it could be seen as the long awaited result of social pressure first established in the Black Arts Movement of the late 60s, but was also a part of new multicultural theories and the Culture Wars of the 80s.
Toni Morrison was one of the leading figures in this battle, representing to my mind the high art. As part of the culture wars, multiculturalists and others fought to change the agenda and content of Western Civilization as taught in universities. It was very common for the standard curriculum to be characterized as the study of DWEMs, dead white european males. There was something wrong with that, and they set out to change.
What is the result of that change and what has the assault produced in American culture? What are the signs of success or failure?
From my reading of history, the decline in the civility and the increase in vulgarity of American popular cultural production is a result of larger forces, primarily the sexual revolution and the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era. For me, these represented the launching pad of a continuing countercultural movement of the Baby Boomers, the most wealthy and spoiled generation of Americans ever. As they represented the mainstream, white liberals of the Boom made political ties with black civil rights ambitions over mutual disgust of their parents' and society's racism. This resulted in an amplification of the counterculturalism of the rising, post-civil rights black middle class. It is from this black middle class, infused with black power and black nationalist themes, that defined and put a priority on black cultural production.
From my conservative perspective, the most important consequence of the counterculturalism adapted by the black middle class were two. First was the growing acceptance of single parenthood. Second was the radical autonomy of black power as manifest in political anti-Americanism. These phenomena represent self-inflicted wounds and provide additional cultural friction to that of anti-black racism and serve as an effective barrier to the progress of those African Americans. I argue that there are strains of black cultural production that serve to encourage these countercultural ideas and that they spite the efforts of enlightened high art that those like Toni Morrison must have intended. These strains have come to dominate both the substance of black cultural production and continue to add to the dissonance in the perception of African Americans. They have both amplified and confirmed racial stereotypes about African Americans.
Particularly in popular music, I observe that the denouement of the R&B form, eclipsed by hiphop, represents a great loss. Themes of romantic love, devotion, political consciousness, environmentalism, spirituality, marriage, and brotherhood are nowhere nearly as common in today's black popular works as they were during the reign of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Ashford & Simpson and Al Green. While Jazz, Gospel and the Blues have retained their character for the most part, R&B and hiphop have become progressively more popular and vulgar in the American mainstream. As well, hiphop music *without* lyrics has been influential on both Jazz and Gospel.
There is no way that I could comprehensively cover this subject, and it feels rather silly to single out hiphop for blame. Its devolution is self-evident and its recovery may still be possible. But I must recognize the failure inherent in the promotion of these wildly successful commercial forms of vulgar entertainment as part and parcel of black culture. If there is merit in any multicultural criticism of the Western Canon, what must be done to properly represent actual progress in black cultural production, and how can that occur amidst such a degenerate wallow?
When I was in thrall to the possibilities of America supporting and engaging my generation's creative ambition and works, beacons like George C. Wolfe, Spike Lee, Gregory Hines, Wynton Marsalis, Anna Devere Smith, and Hinton Als held great promise. But few of them have enjoyed the success of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Tyler Perry & Kanye West. What are we to make of this? Is it necessarily the case that black cultural production does indeed follow the Western model of high, middlebrow and low art? I say yes, that is the path that has been have chosen. It is therefore inevitable that within that context, African American class tastes will select along the same lines and the unifying racial themes espoused by the original Black Arts Movement will not survive African American class stratification. In the same way the white American middle class supports and is represented by lowbrow rock & roll (the third horseman to sex and drugs) to the exclusion of literature, the black Americans will support and be represented by lowbrow hiphop to the exclusion of literature and other edifying forms.
Mike Judge's movie is still hilarious, bleeped out as it has been for Comedy Central. With any luck, the uncut version should become a cult classic. But here's the even odder thing. I taped a version of it as it aired this past Sunday on broadcast TV which means that I had to fast-forward through the commercials. The ever-increasing irony of the idiocy of the commercials I had to scroll through was not lost on me.
We have been discussing the matter of the smartness and dumbness of abortion and family planning a little bit over here at Cobb, and I do connect that very directly in the same way Judge does. Yuppies such as those portrayed in the film are indeed too dainty. Of course Idiocracies are not so benign as the one in this movie. What inevitably happens when dumb people take control of failing institutions and bend them to their numbnut notions is that people too smart to fall for the idiocy game the system and build up alternate hierarchies.
There is a slight allusion to that in the film when Rita speculates about how disgusted Einstein might have been with humanity in his day. "Maybe that's why he built the bomb." No matter how dumb people might be with regard to how to institutionalize, there will always be clever rulers. People don't forget how to flee, fight, lie and love. The machines may all break but the desires of the soul will remain and human agency will find a way.
There's no religion in Idiocracy. It makes presumptions against the human soul - that nobody will break out of the monotony and cry out to God for freedom. It presumes that corporations will remain clever enough to stupefy all of the masses and destroy history. But there is too much wisdom in faith. The human soul is too demanding and the faithful will ask questions that the stupefied would not dare, because to believe in God is to believe in the perfectibility of the soul. To believe in the soul is to have faith in revelation, and to maintain faith is to reckon with what God gives and what man must do to be worthy of God's gifts. You cannot keep faith in ignorance, and you cannot keep souls enslaved. It is, in the end, human nature to seek God's truth - and in that endless journey of faith, the continuing trial and error, understanding must finally flower. All it takes is one prophesy to come true, one element of conventional wisdom to be overturned, one small miracle to occur, and then faith is reborn. That is human nature.
Faith is misplaced a thousand ways - but we cannot deny what we are.
The internet is changing art and design. Right about now it can be said with confidence that if you are going to be a 'creative' in America, you will expect your work to be on the web. Graphic art in particular is the transformed genre. One would expect the web to be bright with flavor given that we are now 15 years beyond the wars between Photoshop and Quark Express, wars that have created such power in visual manipulation that practically anything is possible. The same can be said for CGI in film but I want to focus on the static.
BTW, the last pseudo-prediction that I made was that magazines will be replaced by a new sort of graphical production for the iPad. The iPad is the future of the graphic novel, and the graphic novel is the future of middlebrow, the best example having been Electric Sheep's Spiders.
I have found Alphadesigner, a mind of interesting cant whose appearance to me marks the new age of digital design. There has always been a way to get graphics onto the web. Nothing quite like an ugly website to show you any idiot can do it. Creating an asethetic that is functional and beautiful at once takes skill and patience. What is emerging is a unique style and form that works well, that has functional beauty and can communicate above and beyond. When you see it, you know, it kicks off ideas and associations in your head. Alphadesigner has this.
The first thing that got my pique was brought to my attention by my cousin Lino in Rome. He posted on FB the following image, which like an off target ethnic joke was both funny and uncomfortable. For the novelty of the idea, you forgive. And it shows that Alphadesigner was willing to be even-handed about it as there are multiple versions placed on the site.
It's not Mercator's projection, it's a stereotypical projection of American projection. Which on the whole is very clever though in particular slightly missing the mark where higher points could have been scored. How anyone could mis-label India as 'Curry' instead of 'Call Center' or 'Outsource' is almost unforgivable. So my first instinct was to see if there was an app for this such that I could put my own labels. Alas, no, just a clever designer whose wit outshines his incisiveness. Nevertheless, 'Fuck Yeah' for Iraq was as inspired as 'Hockey Moms' for Alaska was tritely insipid. I don't know anybody who thinks of Brazil as a home of 'Liberal Commies', so there you go.
But you've got to know something about America to stage the picture of this dude. It is just brilliant. This is That Dude.
It has been about six months since I last cruised with the sunroof open through Palos Verdes in a white shirt and Ray-Bans. Around Portuguese Bend in the black BMW you could have seen me with the bling hanging out the driver's side. The best rap on the planet blasting. That would be Steve Coleman & Metrics. Since '93 rap has has only been a mood-enhancer and there are only certain moods I enjoy having enhanced by beats and rhymes, driving bogard is first. There was a time when I threw out some couplets, but I couldn't live for making blue collar teens wanna be. So my heart wasn't in the core of the art. I might have thought a broader mix of mental juices could be loosed by the right combination, and a few have tried that hiphop chemistry, but most of the young punks can't hack it. They confuse H20 with H2SO4. I third degree that mimicry of shit we heard before.
And so I take my pleasures elsewhere.
I couldn't estimate who it would be that would not look as stupid as Snoop Dogg, who is now officially the oldest man in the club. He blew up a truck for Zynga, and that's the state of the art. But Jay-Z has done the extraordinary. He has become middle aged, appropriately. So I was literally brought to tears when I saw this piece this morning. It is what hiphop should have become, and now, if this is any indicator, has actually become - because this is the man at the top.
There are several things that strike me about this tribute to NYC in this performance.
The first thing you have to recognize is Jay-Z himself. Everything about his performance says pro. He's up to make the perfection exuding confidence, ease and energy at the same time. He's right in the moment and he knows he is the performance. The chorus, busted out by BK just soars. It's flat out majestic. The stanzas chop with the same piano highlights that made 'Hard Knock Life' groundbreaking, but now all empty space is orchestrated right through to the dramatic swelling cinematic drama tumbling down like boom boom boom. It dances with poise and lets the bittersweet poison of the gritty lyric sink in. But like the best hiphop and why the whole genre always has the potential to change music, you don't get it until you read the lyrics, memorize their poetry, internalize their associative imagery and then spin it back with the dBs up into the plus.
What's excellent here is that so long as Jay-Z stays in the game there's a level of mediocrity that he won't stand for, and we all stand to win for that. I thought about Linkin Park last month seeing that they put out a new album that's less hiphop and more something else. After their collab with Jay-Z what else hiphop is there for them to do? My prediction. If Jay-Z is all that he portends to be in this performance, then fifty years from now, this will be the sort of stentorian lyricism that rules 4:4 time, and you'll have to go to Bob Dylan and get sparse and rambling to find its equal. And so there is the reason that he's like Sinatra. May he live that long.
As you can see, I have a new look at Cobb. It is influenced by the new theme I put on Chrome which is the Tom Sachs Theme. There are people who say that Sachs is best known for his "bronzes of Hello Kitty, a foamcore Unité d'Habitation, and a functioning plywood McDonald's", but that's just stupidity fronting as taste. I say the man is brilliant in the way Dean Kamen is. He builds things.
You cannot appreciate Tom Sachs the way I do unless you can look at the following picture and get really excited about the space. This picture gets to me in the same way as walking down the aisle as Sur La Table surrounded by cooking hardware, or walking down the aisle at Fry's surrounded by computing hardware, or walking down the aisle at Ace surrounded by hardware. These are today's modern stockpiles of tools for creative construction and people who think like I do are excited by the possibilities of building.
I'm a gearhead and Sachs is a gearhead as well. It's quite finally a pleasure to find his kind of art to get me beyond the designs of Oakley, which are beginning to get old. But what really got to me was a surprise that I found having used the Chrome theme for a day. It's the quote: "It won't fail because of me."
That says plenty. So when I checked out his website, I wondered if the person matched up to the artwork. Comparing him to Duchamps or Warhol because he does bricolage with what appear to be found objects is just a lazy way of describing him to a rather stale art crowd in NYC. I mean really, why would anybody want to be the next Warhol? So I got 15 minutes into his Goole presentation and determined that I like him. Not too ironic, or rather I should say all of his irony seems to come from his comfort in being misinterpreted and people not getting his jokes. He opens up with a classic geek line, which you would expect to get interest at Google "Who is going to be the last Cylon?" and nobody had an answer. He had to explain that it was Battlestar Galactica and was disappointed that they didn't get it. I don't watch the show but I get it when he said Adama. At any rate, his arts's raison d'etre is simple. I want to build what I can't afford to buy. So he built a spacecraft. A man after my own heart.
I hope to continue to be impressed with Sachs, and I will take to and adapt his visual themes. They are clean and precise without being antiseptic or brittle. They are masculine and clever bringing a sense of awe not by being overbearing, but by being engineered. It is truly wonderful. Maybe there is art in contemporary America after all.
I've been reading like a mad man in the gap between projects, and catching up and reorganizing. A thoughtful reader added to my Goodreads list reminded me of Chester Himes. And so I wrote:
Chester Himes, now that was something I could barely stand. I read 'If He Hollers' just through a couple dozen pages and could take no more. He so brilliantly made me angry, and brought to mind so much of what I felt that I couldn't take it. There have been books like that - too painful to read. And Himes was the last of his kind that I read in the days before the LA Riots, before I left Los Angeles at the age of 30. One image stands in my mind of the man described by Himes, of the black man so angry that he drank hard liquor alone in his room and only got up for the fresh breeze of the open window in order to throw empty whiskey bottles at the white men in the street. It was the dead end of despair I know I was not born for, and so I left Himes alone.
There is that canon of black American literature I read once upon a time. At the beginning it was so very frustrating. Intensely painful it was as I tried desperately to connect with any black literary scene. It was part of my fête manqué out of technical school and clueless about the higher elements of the humanities. When I decided to be purposeful in reading contemporary black American literature I first found Gloria Naylor's 'Women of Brewster Place'. I purposefully didn't want to read the older authors that I had known - no more Richard Wright, James Baldwin, LeRoi Jones-Amiri Baraka, Alex Haley, Ralph Ellison. Nobody old. Nobody ghetto. It left almost nobody. It took me almost forever to find an author that actually spoke to me in a way I wanted to share in joy and pride. It took a lot of long hard looks inward and outward. I didn't know what to expect - I didn't know how my literacy would serve me. I didn't know what to make of what I learned. After a few years, I became comfortable with exactly that. It took from 1989 to 1993 to make peace with that itch. I didn't give it up finally until 1996.
In the end, I was most satisfied by Ernest J. Gaines, Jean Toomer, Darryl Pinckney, Paul Beatty & Toni Morrison. I can't describe in any small way what they meant. They were each an Emerald City that pointed my home, each a patch of blackness in serious literature I needed to see and experience, each a solid stepping stone in a garden of forking paths.
Himes sat out there like Iceberg Slim and Donald Goins and John Edgar Wideman. Just all blue collar and urban, so unlike my father, the soft-spoken Connecticut Episcopalian photographer, Sierra Club hiker and part-time poet. It was impossible for me to accept stories of the mean streets as real literature, as impossible as it is for a Hebrew to accept Baptist ministry as Gospel. It all may have had the ring of truth, but not of destiny.
I wonder how much literature has served an existential purpose for me, and yet some part of me resists the question. I know who I am and who I must be, but it is ever the case that I am engaged with writers far more than with neighbors. Sooner or later, I find a part of myself waiting for me in the words of strangers. What will I find in Tolstoy? Another part of me.
I reflect on that aspect of my generation immersed in a struggle for self-reflection in the arts and in the mainstream. It seemed so god-awfully important and significant and momentous. Just standing in line for a Spike Lee movie or a play by August Wilson or a book signing by Toni Morrison was portentous. There was a day in the 80s when George C. Wolfe snarked about the world's last 'mama on the couch play', and I think that time has come and gone, then again I've only seen one Tyler Perry.
Being as I am a crotchety old fart, I know what's best for everybody including me. So I keep my ass on the straight and narrow and protect my soul from undue influence. You know. From the Element. But it's easy to find and sometimes it sneaks in and jes grows. Not much you can do but convert like Sir Nose. It's not like I never learned to swim or can't catch the rhythm of the stroke. It's just that once you've swum the English Channel, it's time to move on. And so I did, and every once in a while crack wise on those who are just knee deep, and even those who are totally deep. Swimming ain't all of human locomotion. Sometimes you have to bike. Sometimes you have to climb. Sometimes you have to run.
So I strayed off the path for a bored minute - waiting for a download to complete - and wound up at the NYT, which remains in my bookmarks but is low on the visit priority. I watched a few of the front page videos. One about a happy young couple. One about a dude who draws subway commuters with his fingers on an iPhone. One about Chinese head banging mosh boys. Eclexia about somewhat extraordinary people all over the world. Then I drifted over through other sections. The NYT is an enormous and unfocused enterprise, as are most newspapers. They do too much to be authoritative, but at least they have a system. I landed at the critical section and watch AO Scott talk about 'A Perfect World'. I remember that movie. It was that good. I like Eastwood, he's the generation of man I learned from. You don't think of him as part of a happy young couple, a head banger or somebody who does digital fingerpaint. If the Times did more stories about men of Eastwood's stature, they'd be a smaller business, and better in my estimation. But, there is a need for frills.
Baraka Flaka Flames is a satire video that can be appreciated for what it is, but is better appreciated for what it almost is. It's a multileveled parody of Barack Obama, hoodrat culture and rapper Waka Flocka Flame. I didn't know any of these 'oka nouns until this morning, thanks to the Times. Sometime since I used to hang out there between 1979 and 81, they have changed the name of The Jungle to The Jungles. My estimate is that is because Bloods have split it up. It was still one jungle when Denzel did his movie and the cliche of the hard ghetto backdrop still has currency. The last time I paid attention to such a music video and let it jes grow on me was the introduction of a cat whose name I forget, but who made ... you know, that big hit with all the people dancing in the street and bouncing lowriders and him in the middle of the crowd with his crew... You must have seen it. Seriously, I can't remember. (diligence). Nelly. Country Grammar. Wow, that was a while back. Seems tame.
But the harder rap that Waka Flocka Flame presents is unquestionably in the mainstream of gangsta. What could be more gangsta than being the leader of the mu'fuckin' free ass world?
James Davis, who plays Obama in the video cites as inspiration 'Fear of a Black Hat' and Dave Chapelle, the two most brainy parodies of hiphop and black hoodrat culture. I think he deserves to be in that pantheon in the short subject category.
Over here at Cobb, we mock overserious liberals and their progressive agendas. It doesn't matter what Davis' politics are, he's got the parody smack dabbed. Living in that shadow world of hood-adjacency, in it but not of it, this one rises above and delivers something inescapably wry. It's crazy enough to have a rapper with a name like Waka Flocka Flame, but inspired to take it to this next level. It reminds me of the old crufty mixes of the 70s when somebody would mix in a goofy reporter's fake questions with answers cut from the popular songs of the day. While in some eyes, this might qualify as 'negative images', it will be interesting to see how opinion forms around this video and all that it sends up.
One of the cool things about being on the conservative side of life having previously been on the progressive side, is that I have developed senses for the narratives that are supposed to appeal to me as the Peasant I am. Which is to say that since I get propaganda from MoveOn.org as well as RedState.com I'm familiar with the diatribes.
Just a bit ago I tripped by the names of Barthes and Levi-Strauss. By way of my now fully developed conservative spidey senses, I know that I'm supposed to be wary of such French intellectuals and all of their mumbo jumbo, especially Barthes who is one of those guys who talks about coded speech, which is something Progressives like to say we conservatives do when we open our mouths. Be that as it may, there is something I think I like about Structuralism, being a programmer and all.
The last book I finished was a re-read of 'The Diamond Age', and as much as folks like CD hate that I prefer to get my moral instruction from literate fiction instead of social science white papers, I remain addicted to excellent prose and imagination. Which I think rather disqualifies great swaths of post-modern mumbo jumbo and academic publications. I suppose if I could bother to get on with Adam Smith's Moral Sentiments then I might be immune to any tedium. My point however is that one of the striking premises of 'The Diamond Age' is that there is a book that adjusts itself to the young reader and immerses them in a set of instructional and interactive videogames of her own life and education. It is a book to be read over a series of many years. Its adaptation by 50,000 girls known as the Mouse Army fuels a righteous insurrection that begins the overthrow of a corrupt regime.
The interesting thing to me, of course, is the book itself as a mutable lesson, a sort of sandbox RPG of the self full of moral tales and intellectual & moral puzzles. That is not so much the actual story of The Young Lady's Primer, but it's close enough. Barthes for his part in this intrigue is the popularizer of a Russian by the name of Vladimir Propp who authored a book called Morphology of the Folktale. This book is like a Dewey Decimal system of fairy tales, wives tales and all other sorts of basic lit.
There's a joke about a group of comedians who are close friends who know all the jokes being told in the country. Since it's bad form to tell somebody else's joke, this is something they must know. When they get together, all they have to do is tell the punchline and they laugh it up. After a while they come up with a numbering system and all they then have to do is speak the number to illicit guffaws. After a couple years of this, they start to sound like accountants. "42!", Hahaha!. "607!" Heeheee.
Propp is the expert in this field of identifying the skeletal structures of folktales / narratives and categorizing them by type. Wouldn't it be cool to have all of the world's folktales translated into all of the popular languages? With these frameworks, you essentially have a narrative creation machine. It only takes a little imagination to see that there are endless variations on various themes that can be used for just about any purpose. The human mind wants to hear stories. Propp shows the universal framework upon which all such successful stories work their magic.
Having just finished Vernor Vinge's 'Rainbows End'. I find some of that a bit obscured by the number of characters he uses. Of course I listened to the book rather than read it, and it seemed to go on a bit overlong. The extent to which the intrigue went was not quite deep enough for my fandom, but was nicely blended with a broad cast. There were enough real people in the book to give the events adequate dramatic investment and there was a fair share of twisty stuff, nicely playing on the old crypto-terms of Bob, Alice and the Rabbit.
But the main event of the book, and a constant theme, was the extent to which seemingly spontaneous events might garner global audiences and the monetization of same based upon an adhoc virtual marketplace of labor and consumption was a bit too much. One could think about 'Rainbows End' and 'The Diamond Age' as two ends of a spectrum of market speed and assimilation. In Vinge's world, propriety is reduced to almost nothingness in the events of ordinary people. They live in a cyber-reality-based contest world where people make commercials based on creative tweaks of prior aired commercials. It's a world of long-tail aggregation in the extreme, where competing worldviews don't really exist except as matters of avatar style.
In Vinge's world, the poet is an outcast, isolated and thus seeks the comfort of isolation. Power extends only from military necessity, and entertainment market share. The subversion of network security is the great crime. But surely Vinge didn't mean to describe the whole world in the ways that Stephenson does, consequently his characters are a bit more resilient. It's a good enough story of character in a strange new world.
The point of bringing in Vinge is to consider whether or not it will matter that variations of the enumerated themes of folklore will be human generated or not. The prospect of literary Singularity exists if the voice of the author becomes subjugated to the sweep of the plot within the context of the finite world of the morphologically proper tale. That's where the rubber meets the road. If the author ceases to matter, and all we do is come up with more interesting avatars who do more dramatic things or 'creative' things in the context of the narrative, then that's when we lose. It won't matter if books are virtual or real if that happens. Just like it doesn't matter if we read Harry Potter or watch the Harry Potter film - so long as Rowling disappears.
So what's necessary is the human bit of wrangling over the context of creation. A successful critical thread is the thing that humanizes literary production. What astonishes us is the wisdom of the creator, his grasp of not just morphology but the human condition, and that is gotten through understanding the context of his will to create. This will always differentiate those who write in service to the individual from those in service to the mass market.
Here is a comment I wrote that's too big to fit over at NewSavanna. Check it out.
You may have heard that Ebert’s been kicking up a fuss about video games. He doesn’t think that they can ever be art. This little tempest in a teapot led him to Tweet and then blog a simple question: “Which of these would you value more? A great video game. Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.” The answer came back 13,823 to 8,088 in favor of video games.And so Ebert posted that result to his blog, while also admitting that there was nothing remotely scientific about his procedure. It’s just an informal question, with an answer that didn’t please him. And he launches into a defense and justification of literature without, however, saying anything more against video games. For the moment, that’s done and gone.
Right now there are legions of video games that allow you to walk in the shoes of characters with different backgrounds. The best of these provide and extraordinary experience. None so legendarily riveting as one of the early Call of Duty series that put you on Omaha Beach. It was, in just about every way, equal to the cinematic experience of Spielberg's opening to Saving Private Ryan, except that your character dies. You die over and over again from acts of violence whose origin you are incapable of determining. There is no strategy or tactic you can use to think your way up the beach. You simply die 10 or 12 times, and then by sheer luck you live and continue the game.
There are few ways to express the horror of war that are more impressive than that. You get your orders, you have your rifle, you move forward through chaos expecting to win, and you lose. Over and over again, you lose. You contribute a pile of bodies to the gory landscape as you recognize that there actually can be no war narrative as subtle and compelling as your game experience. Nobody survives it.
The power of historical simulations in the narrative form of Call of Duty may be instructive, depending on the intent of the authors, but nothing is quite as immersive as those 'period pieces' we refer to as sandbox RPGs.
An RPG is a role-playing game. You inhabit a character which is either a pre-selected individual whose skills you can modify slightly through gained experience, or whose appearance and characteristics you can modify greatly. A sandbox game in one in which you are given a very large area in which to play - a realm as it were, and whose specific narrative is addressed at your leisure.
In a game like Call of Duty, you are assigned missions and you work with your squadmates (either real people online, or AIs) to accomplish them. There is nothing else to do and you must walk a narrow path. For example, you are walking through a shallow river in a jungle on a Pacific Island - your mission is to destroy a Japanese weapons depot. Enemies snipe at you in the river canyon. All you can do is evade them, shoot back and get to the ammo dump alive, then blow it up. Mission accomplished. Next mission.
In a sandbox game, you are in a wide open space, 1945 Brooklyn perhaps, and now home from the war you are to find a job in the mob. But you can stop and shop, talk to neighbors and waste as much time as you like interacting with people who are non-essential to the primary plot. These may be mini-missions, like find a cheating husband, or a missing child which only serve to shape your character independent of the primary mission. It is almost unanimous that the two greatest sandbox RPGs are Grand Theft Auto 4 and Red Dead Redemption. One set in contemporary NYC and the other on the border of Texas & Mexico circa 1900.
Games such as these challenge designers to create a verisimilitude that will engage gamers as long as a good book would. One generally expects to finish a straight mission based game like Call of Duty in under 10 hours. But a sandbox RPG like Mafia 2 or Fallout 3 contain easily 60 hours of immersion. To complete every main and side quest in such games can easily take double that amount of time. And recall that in most sandbox games, your actions change the character. So often gamers will play the entire game as a good person and then replay the entire game as an evil person.
The opportunity for critical evaluation of video games as literature is enormous. The difficulty is that the bulk of the industry is perceived callously by intellectuals, who are invariably not gamers. And because games are sophisticated, it's not easy to become one.
One commonly cited reason that games are dismissed is because of their violent content. It is reasonable to note that violence is part of the attraction of many many video games. But the same can be said of Western movies. A war simulation as a first person shooter is about as hacked a genre as cowboys and indians. But there are better and worse, and the proper role of the critic is to nudge the art along.
I think this will inevitably happen because the bandwidth for games is so broad. Unlike with hiphop, I think the lack of intellectual criticism will not hinder the aesthetic value of video games. They are much too expensive an enterprise and require too much collaborative creativity to continue on momentum alone. And quite frankly, outside the MSM, there is some serious gamer crit.
Even though he is employed by Microsoft, a cat named 'Major Nelson' sets a fairly high standard for commentary. The most widely know critics are G4TV's Adam Sessler and Morgan Web. They've been in the business for over a decade, and more and more often, in almost every one of their daily shows called X-Play they queue the phrase 'brutally honest review' for games you know are going to suck.
There are artists in the realm of video game design and production, and while blockbuster titles tend to make all the moola, there is an 'indie' spirit that is alive and well in the industry. But overall, the industry is just at that point where technology is beginning to matter less and less, and richer stories, characters and experiences are required. I don't think you'll find anyone who could dismiss the richness of the worlds created in games like Bioshock and Mass Effect 2. Is it art? If anyone could possibly consider Roger Corman an artist, then video games have been art for a long time. Is it fine art? It's getting close.
Perverse modernism is the strain in modern art that will do anything to get a rise out of the public. It's not the sum total of modernism, by any means. Rather it's the easy part. Millions of people who cannot grasp the formal innovations of Picasso or Parker have no trouble grasping "art" that rejects tradition, attacks standards, blurs the line between high and low, and (most important) uses shock and offense to attract attention and boost sales. These tactics are often classified as "post-modern," but in fact they've been present since the dawn of modernism. A century ago, certain avant-garde artists in Europe believed that if they made the right anarchic gesture in the right setting, it would spark social and political revolution. No one believes this any more - indeed, there is a vacuum at the heart of today's perverse modernism, where the old dream of revolution once stood. But the bold outrageous gesture is still thought the essence of "creativity" by many people who can know better (artists and pundits) and many who cannot (teenagers).
Ivan Kramskoi was a painter from the Realist and Humanist school. I'm struck by his portraiture, especially of Tolstoy but something else caught my mind here - not particularly my eye. It was the irony of some twisted humor that I heard for the first time this weekend.
I was talking to an old friend who made an extraordinarily funny riff off the idea that God, in order to get back love from humanity after generations of smiting and literally drowning the planet, offered to kill his son. The stark irony of the the way it was presented among a crowd of black Catholics, was devastatingly funny. "Dad, really do I have to?" "It'll make you famous! Here, just take this pill."
This is not a garden of Gethsemane, it is the pitiless desert of God's calculation, and the hour is growing late.There are several peoples of the world I love by reputation and the briefest of introductions. I always found something to admire about the Chinese but I could never love them. I find them rather unlovable. It's complicated why, but primarily because I perceive that they don't love themselves - not at least with any romance in their suffering. The Russians, I love ineffably. Yet I find them about an inch more trustworthy than Nigerians, and while I'm casting aspersions let me not forget the Indians. Whom I neither admire nor greatly respect, but like very much. I've only met a few noble Indians and I remember them well. But I've met too many others and have started to treat them like they treat each other, with a ruthless disdain for anyone marginally inferior. The Russians have suffered. The Russians have soul. The Russians are subversively crafty soulmates to the Negro, drunken sophisticated sellouts all. The Brazilians? Don't know enough. I've only known one. Why do they not come here? Good question.
But here is the Russian painter with a Christian subject, done up in the time before the czars fell. And there is that suffering, that anguish over a fate beyond control - a fate with only the briefest hint of a real choice, one that is dubiously ennobling and likely to turn out painfully. The Christlike Russian. The Russian Christ. There in that heavy brow is the weight of God's autonomy.
And where is his dram?
I'm downloading iBooks for my iPhone. I haven't got the 4 yet and I'm trying desperately to be logical about buying the iPad. In other words, I'm resisting the iPad purchase, but my emotions may get the better of my wallet.
Here's the thing. I was just browsing around Gelaskins, which is a very cool online shopping joint that allows you to customize the look of your hardware. I find much of their graphics cool, in a rather juvenile way. This led me to think about what kinds of graphic design appeals to what kinds of intellects. I say so as a college junkie of Graphis Magazine. (now subscribed to their blog). See, Gelaskins will allow you to submit a custom print, which they'll turn into a skin and blah blah you get it. So the first thing that popped into my head was a cool Kandinsky. But maybe not that one.
Maybe I want something more warm like a reddish Rothko. Nah. These are a bit to abstract. But I like the general direction. So how could I look at a bunch of abstract impressionist paintings and pick which one I want? In fact, I'd like to inform my whole outlook with some other kinds of iconography for myself as I approach fifty years of age. Where am I going to find it? Hmm. Coffee table books? Why not Graphis itself? Why not all the 2D art in the world? Aww man, how am I going to...
How much would I pay to have a digital subscription to all of the paintings in the MOMA on a high definition handheld device? More than a little bit. Considering what I pay for Netflix and Gamefly, the WSJ and The Economist and what I'm actually getting? I could definitely shift some of that expense to some more inspirational creations than stuff from Ubisoft. I need a little urbane sophistication because I'm embarrassing myself with the food pr0n of Man Vs Food.
So clearly, Amazon is not immediately close to this, or they are giving no indication that they are going to up their offering to the level of color density I'd license my creations to if I were a graphical artist. But that guy Steve Jobs, well he's got that Retina Display and I kinda like it - even though I haven't even seen it.
So there it is. The iBooks challenge is to capture the high ground by offering what the Web never did, a good look at high quality graphic art. Yeah we know you've got comic books Steve, but us literate folks care about color too. Besides, I'm getting to old to care about GPS-enabling. My knee hurts.
Bernard Kinsey is one of the most influential men I know. He had been a special inspiration to me as I started my career at Xerox. He and the late Dr. Guy Dobbs were the men I thought I would be - when the arc of my ambition was to be on the management team at Xerox. So when I heard his name mentioned in association with an art collection here in Los Angeles, I had to take the invitation. I got way more than I bargained for.
It turns out that Kinsey and his wife Shirley have been collecting some of the premier artifacts of African American history. I'm not just talking about your standard knick knackery, but extraordinarily rare and precious documents. Among the many precious items he has is the original signed decision of the US Supreme Court for the Brown vs Board of Education case. Yes, it's that deep.
The evening's events took place over in my old neighborhood at the Ebony Rep. I didn't know about the Ebony Rep so much as I did the Ebony Showcase Theatre. It has been a long time and the space has come a very long way. This is a first rate stage in a beautiful building. Even the portrait of Nate Holden, an old pol of extreme repute, looks extra fine and distinguished.
I had no idea what to expect. I thought I was buying tickets to an exhibit; instead I was treated to 90 minute seminar on black history tidbits of delectable and fine provenance. Kinsey, an ex-executive rattles off history in a phrasing that is altogether new and rare. He plays it like Joe Friday - just the facts without interrupting them with the inspirational implications. He has taken the material which has heretofore served as chitlin circuit fodder of Hoteps exploiting black undergraduate club money to a new level of accuracy and responsibility. Does he have an artifact from the slave castle? Hell yes he does. Does he dwell on the emotional impact of it like Whitney and Bobby? Hell no he does not. Kinsey comes correct with an agenda of obsessive love, which is just what you expect from a philanthropic collector. He is not just a dry presenter. Far from it, but he handles the narrative surrounding the meaning of these historical artifacts with the proper respect and responsibility, the right mix of scholarship and passion. He does so without commanding us or insulting our intelligence, and as usually the case for presenters in public buildings on video, he never has enough time.
Kinsey, a classic salesman, tells you what he's going to tell you, tells you, and tells you what he told you. He operates on two basic principles and has a couple ethical rules. It is this framework that channels the same passion he shares with less disciplined and more emotional and racially chauvinistic presenters of similar material. The rules for life are "From whom much is given much is expected", and "Live a life of no regrets". In their presentations they will not call Africans 'slaves' but always say that they were 'enslaved'. Secondly, they always refer to these historical Africans as brothers and sisters. He summarizes his love and solidarity with his brothers and sisters in the present and the past through the parable of the eagle who thought he was a chicken. For Kinsey, the greatest failure is the wasting of time and consequent missing of opportunity.
These driving forces impel the Kinseys to be collectors of evidence and artifacts of stupendous firsts whose existence defy the chickenheaded stereotypes of black underachievement. Kinsey desires to animate the understanding with verbs and emphasize the animism of history. He clearly engages his subjects on many levels and wants his audience to as well. Now he has made the mark in his years of collecting which signifies him as a world class contributor - his collection is going to be featured at the Smithsonian in October of this year.
In 1987, when I was still working at Xerox and engaged in discussions on its black oriented email distribution, one of the constant conflicts I had was with what I perceived to be the limited scope of recognition of black achievement. It was part and parcel of my gripe with the Talented Tenth and it boiled down to a frustration with the narrow set of heroes and role models highlighted for emulation, past and present. The breadth of the Kinsey Collection is satisfying to me as it covers not only those we know, but many others we never heard of or exist vaguely on the borders of our memory. James Forten was presented by Kinsey as a great businessman - whose sailmaking business was the envy of Philadelphia. His funeral was second in size only to that of Benjamin Franklin. Kinsey also reveals the parentage of Benjamin Bannaker. He tells the story of a white woman who purchased the freedom of two black men and married one of them. Her daughter did the same; purchased two black men, married one and that daughter was the mother of Benjamin Bannaker.
There are all sorts of narratives that are supported by the facts of African American history. I'm most interested in that of institution building and institutional failure. For the singular pressing fact of this thread of history to me is how all of these outstanding individuals came to naught. We know of Henry Ossowa Tanner, but where is the Tanner legacy today? If we didn't go to this particular event on this particular night, what would we know of it? After all, the correct premise is that this material is something that isn't taught in schools. It is my judgment that America has failed to take up the lessons of their triumph or that somehow their families crumbled. It is a long-standing bias for me, one whose value I am unsure about. In the context of Black History Month, we are inevitably compared to other ethnics and told there is something we must do that we haven't. Kinsey remarks about the 3 billion dollar cotton industry that was, before the Civil War, 55% of the American GDP. And it was through this wealth that great fortunes, including that of the Lehman Brothers, were begun. Where are the black Lehman Brothers, and where is our old boy network? When Reconstruction placed hundreds of blacks into positions of political power, was their intent to endow us with the NBA? No, of course not. Then why is it that is what we have rather than their legacy? The link was somehow lost, broken, stolen, forgotten. I don't know exactly how to feel about this when I give it any thought. Mostly I accept that within African America we have yet to aggregate to a significant Dosh point. We are insecure in our institutions and too much a part of the public. I often wonder if it could be any other way and I don't know the answer, but I think some part of that answer is in Kinsey's mind.
The California Afro American Museum is famously endowed by the State of California, a state whose bonds are rated slightly above junk and are ever on the edge of default. I can remember writing under the influence of Thomas Sowell about how such an overwhelmingly non-private institution could come to naught. I was there the day Mike Woo and Maxine Waters cut the ribbon to the shiny new place thinking that it was all an Affirmative Action supporting a good idea but with other people's money. In that way I couldn't be proud enough and still await that thing I call Aggregation. Or perhaps I simply don't appreciate quite properly that which already exists. But the fact remains that the Kinseys stand alone, and their collection hasn't yet got a permanent home outside of their basement.
I had my 30 seconds with the man last evening at the premier and asked if there is a university sponsor; an unfair question perhaps. I stand to inherit my father's library, and though my ambition has flagged of late, I have always wanted to do what Kinsey has done. But he has the money and I don't. Somebody has the money that Kinsey doesn't and so where might his treasures fall if he should fail? Surely everyone in the house last night would desire to carry on in their bosom this preservation of African American history, whatever the narrative, but who has the Dosh?
Black Hollywood was much in attendance last evening and as I cruised the room I got the distinct feeling that there were a lot more people in that crowd that I should know. It took me quite a while to put the name with a face I instantly recognized - oh yeah finally it was Bill Duke. I stopped a moment to show an old picture to Ron Karenga - he remembered my father. Kevin Ross, of course was in attendance and proving, once again that he is the man to know in this town. A number of other luminaries I won't bother to namedrop were there as well. One in particular, with whom I am especially fond is also part of Kinsey's project. That is Dennis Haysbert. He, along with Angela Bassett are part of the voice talent who narrate the audio tour of the Kinsey Collection.
So there is success in the rush of blood to the heads of many black Americans who breathe deeply this vein of American history and achievement. For the sake of its own preservation, it is my opinion that private hands are best, and we all might hope that the letters of Zora Neal Hurston and the original copy of Equiano's Slave Narrative stay in the properly directed care that the Kinseys would have for it. That would take the sort of money I would be overjoyed to supply if I had my way in this world - that is the sort of Aggregation and old money responsibility that warms my belly to just beneath the point of fire. We all are worthy heirs, but only few of us are worthy curators, of these historical artifacts and their narrative.
We are all familiar with the phrase 'it's a big country'. Kinsey's breadth and depth remind us that it's a big race too. We 40 millions are a big people, a lot bigger than we often get credit for being. But there are only a small number who keep that in mind at all times by being faithful stewards of what has transpired in our sojourns in and out of freedom. It is easy to forget, fixed as our attentions can get on the loud and often debased here and now. Kinseys have taken their share and pulled from every corner of the world and our great nation that which binds us to 500 years of unique triumphs and failures in the cause of our own and everyone's dedication to liberty. The future depends upon our ability to maintain it piece by precious piece.
Yes Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, we follow you. God willing we will find a continuing and permanent home for these great reminders of our humanity and the never ending struggle to maintain liberty and justice for all.
I'm looking for a new wallpaper for my windows desktop. I ambled across a Picaso and then went to Guernica. It reminded me that my cousin had a very large print on his wall in Brooklyn, and I suppose that says a bit about my cousin and my family. I doubt that he still has it in Madison where he's raising his family. But it also reminded me that I would be remiss in my review of Western Civilization, that thing our Improper Empire is involved in defending against errant Islamists and other enemies of liberty, if I were not to consider our arts at length.
We already know that popular film and music are degraded, music much more than film but film nonetheless. I can't imagine that there has been a significant and serious play on Broadway since Angels in America, although I didn't even bother to see that. People die of disease. So what? But we are geniuses when it comes to graphic art and architecture. The 'design' area of Western Civ is alive and kicking, and fewer places more innovative than videogames despite their mostly awful cultural content. Movies can be visually arresting, and I tend to watch them for that quality as well as their mix of storytelling through the medium though again, most of the stories are awful. (Remind me to compare and contrast 'Gran Torino' with 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall').
So I'm thinking back to Picaso and his peers, and fortunately, there is a top 200 poll that I have found at the Telegraph. I figure I'll go through it. I do so in parallel to my good virtual friend Gerard over at American Digest as an effort to find Something Wonderful over here.
One of the very first CD-ROMs I ever bought, back when they called them CD-ROMs was a collection of several hundred paintings complete with text and audio narrations on their significance. I wore that sucker down, and I wonder where it is. But there were some extraordinary images from around the world and my favorites remain clear in my mind's eye without any particular attribution.
Today it is not completely ironically, a videogame by the name of Assassin's Creed II that impels me to jump into a little online art collection, appreciation and criticism. As part of one of that game's side quests, collecting art for one's villa is included. So I must travel to Forli, Venezia and Firenze to pick up bargains. I recognized a few of the paintings and so it piqued my curiosity. What must there be on Google artwise? Well, quite a bit.
Back in 1986 when Xerox bet one of its farms on VAX technology, we used to wonder if anybody on the planet would scan documents at higher resolutions than 600dpi. It seemed, at the time, to be out of the question. And so Eeyore and his doubtful cousins ran the day about matters of online art appreciation saying it'll never happen. At this moment in Moore's Law's run (amok it seems) isn't it odd that as GE is in the process of selling NBC to Comcast what those megalomaniacs have in mind is piping more crap like Iron Man in HD? Now I enjoy watching metal monsters spit fire at Muhajadeen as much as the next barbarian, but there's a limit. And of late I am becoming fond of mocking those who capitalize on the tastes of peasants and then later pretend that they are too big to fail. So right about now I think it most appropriate to consider what efforts there are to retain and represent some of mankind's better visual creations onto the Internet, the second greatest creation of the 20th century (behind all that's nuke).
So it begins.