Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Alphaville

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #25: Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville.

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Watching this film, one of the first things I realized is that Jean-Luc Godard has no idea how to make convincing science fiction. The next thing I realized was that Godard was merely using enough of the science fiction idiom to display and enact his dialectic battle between love and logic. From this point of view, the inconsistencies and pathological inability to fully suspend disbelief are of secondary consequence to observing philosophical gymnastics that only the French are capable of. Alphaville is a city controlled by a computer called Alpha 60, whose goal is to remake humanity in his own image, purely logical and without even the slightest ability to express emotion. Alpha 60 also sounds like you’d expect a guy who smokes through a stoma to talk. Thank God the Intergalactic Secret Agent Lemmy Caution has been sent from the Outlands to do a little recon, kill a man and destroy Alpha 60 if he can. As a bonus he gets to sleep with Anna Karina.

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Since this was shot in the 60s it feels pretty dated, because the sci-fi is cultural, it becomes anachronistic in its setting; whereas something like The Day The Earth Stood Still brings in all the science fiction from an extra-terrestrial source, and while dated, remains believable. Alphaville is more on the order of Philip K. Dickian, psychological trauma fraught with paranoia. Alpha 60’s omnipresence facilitates cultural comparisons to Orwell’s 1984 and David Bowie’s song Saviour Machine. At the same time, the 60s were the perfect time to find visual cognates to reflect the technological advancement of society. You’ve got to think in that frame of mind to recognize buildings that look like punch-cards though. Much like sci-fi from that period couldn’t predict personal computer or the digital age, and you end up with spacemen using slide-rules.

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At one point Lemmy is interrogated by Alpha 60 to determine whether he can be successfully assimilated or whether he should be executed. He manages to present the computer with a conundrum that eventually short circuits the thing, simultaneously freeing and destroying most of the inhabitants of Alphaville. The ones who had become fully logical and emotionless, who had forgotten words like weeping and redbreast, went mad and died when the lights went out. Only those with some emotional bearing left to them had the ability to survive the death of logic in the face of universal poetry wielded by the ugly crag of a man called Lemmy Caution. Light is both safety net and the yoke of logic in Alphaville, and it is only in the dark recesses of intergalactic space, and in the human heart that emotion can find the strength to triumph.

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Monday, 30 July 2007

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Library Table Finally and Sidebar

DSC02207 I ran around the secondhand furniture stores and antique strip on Lorain today in search of furniture. I’d forgotten how ridiculously over-priced most of the antique places are compared to back in Indiana, but I lucked out and found a dude actually interested in selling some merchandise and finally picked up the exact kind of library table I’ve been looking for years. Quartersawn oak with a middle drawer. I got it and a chair for $130. A better price than buying something new and not as sturdy.

I’ve also brought back the sidebar posts as my researches on various topics have been turning up lots of amazing links. Here’s a feed for it.

The Very Knees, Heartwarmer

I went to Pat’s in the Flats last night to see a couple of bands. I know The Very Knees and like them muchly, and wasn’t familiar with Heartwarmer. Heartwarmer are from Kentucky and had some danceable poppy tunes, a bit reminiscent of Of Montreal sans the glam and nods to the orchestration of Arcade Fire. My only criticism is that they’ve got too much tambourine and not enough melody or harmony. I’d like to see them add another guitar or let the girl sing along with the guy. Here’s the video I took of ’em.

The Very Knees put on another raucous show and God saw it and said that it was good. They had a 16mm video to go along with their single and the video projector made me wistful, since I’ve been trying to find a functional one for the past little while. My 16mm film from college is moldering meanwhile. Not that it is any good in the first place. If I get a projector I might as well get a 16mm camera too, and it will all be downhill from there. Oh yeah, Very Knees video:

Here’s the video in easy-to-see format. It cracks me up in an inside-joke sort of way since I know about half of the people in it.