Beginner’s Mind

Monday, 31 May 2010

The in­ex­pe­ri­enced teacher, fear­ing his own ig­no­rance, is afraid to ad­mit it. Perhaps that courage on­ly comes when one knows to what ex­tent ig­no­rance is al­most uni­ver­sal. Attempts to cam­ou­flage it are sim­ply a waste, in the long run, of time.

If the teacher is slow of wit, he may well be ter­ri­fied by stu­dents whose minds move more quick­ly than his own, but he would be bet­ter ad­vised to use the live­ly pupil for scout work, to ex­ploit the quick­er eye or sub­tler ear as look-out or lis­ten­ing post.

[…]

There is no man who knows so much about, let us say, a pas­sage be­tween lines 100 to 200 of the six­th book of the Odyssey that he can’t learn some­thing by re-read­ing it WITH his stu­dents, not mere­ly TO his stu­dents. If he knows Guido’s Donna Mi Prega as well as I now know it, mean­ing mi­cro­scop­i­cal­ly, he can still get new light by some cross-ref­er­ence, by some re­la­tion be­tween the thing he has ex­am­ined and re-ex­am­ined, and some oth­er fine work, sim­i­lar or dis­sim­i­lar.

I be­lieve the ide­al teacher would ap­proach any mas­ter­piece that he was pre­sent­ing to his class al­most as if he had nev­er seen it be­fore.

Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading

Blood For Dracula

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Blood for Dracula - Bad blood for Dracula is like too much tequila for the rest of us.

A part of this view­ing listCriterion Collection Spine #28: Paul Morrissey’s Blood For Dracula.

Blood for Dracula is lit­tle dif­fer­ent, in essence, from it’s part­ner, Flesh for Frankenstein. I guess if I had to pick, I’d say I en­joyed this movie bet­ter, main­ly due to the ridicu­lous­ly gra­tu­itous nu­di­ty, hot les­bian make-out sce­nes and a scene that re­mind­ed me of the Black Knight from Monty Python & the Holy Grail. Shlock has its re­deem­ing qual­i­ties, as long as you’re not con­cerned with main­tain­ing a cer­tain lev­el of snob­bery.

Blood for Dracula stars the same folks, in vir­tu­al­ly the same roles. Udo Kier is Dracula in­stead of Baron Frankenstein, he still has the same creepy as­sis­tant (more kempt this time around), and Joe Dallesandro re­mains Joe Dallesandro, fuck­ing any­thing with a pulse. This film was shot back-to-back with Flesh, so it prob­a­bly wasn’t hard for any of the­se ac­tors to stay in char­ac­ter. (If you can con­sid­er Dallesandro to be ca­pa­ble of act­ing. He doesn’t even try to feign an ac­cent. Probably no point.)

There’s quite a bit of heavy-hand­ed pro­le­tar­i­an rev­o­lu­tion­ary talk in this film, and the fact that Dallesandro as sta­ble­boy cum stud ends up own­ing the manor with a harem of three nu­bile sis­ters who’d love noth­ing more than to spend their days shirt­less out­doors and nights watch­ing each oth­er get porked by Dallesandro, and, well then.

The high aris­to­crat­ic body count is Warhol-gen­er­a­tion wish-ful­fill­ment, on­ly 36 years lat­er, Joe Dallesandro’s char­ac­ter ap­pears just as moral­ly bank­rupt as every­one else. The film re­mains as a good record of what a cer­tain group of peo­ple thought about at a cer­tain time, but with age has be­come no longer com­pelling.

Tangentially, all three films since I’ve start­ed back in on watch­ing the Criterion Collection have all had some messed up sex­u­al pol­i­tics go­ing on. I’m ready for a change-up.

Supplemental Materials

Caveat Emptor

Monday, 24 May 2010

There are end­less things we can and have learned from na­ture that have dai­ly, prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion in our lives. Velcro was in­vent­ed by a guy who took a close look at the burrs that stuck to his dog’s fur. It wasn’t given to us by Vulcans. I’m sure my mom has a spe­cial place in her heart for those things, since there were in­nu­mer­able times that my socks went through the wash com­plete­ly cov­ered in them. Velcro is use­ful, and it is kind of dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out how it could be mis­used.

Marketing, on the oth­er hand, is some­thing that na­ture has in­grained in­to us, and learn­ing to use it as a tool for just about any job means it gets mis­used all the time. The most bla­tant form of nature’s mar­ket­ing is used for sex­u­al se­lec­tion. Think pea­cocks, or Irish Elk. Pretty harm­less, specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed mar­ket­ing. That eas­i­ly ex­plains the mar­ket­ing phrase “sex sells.” Properly mar­ket­ed, you can sell any­thing. With prod­ucts, this has been age old; there were huck­sters sell­ing snake-oil and hoof grease to dirt-farm­ers in Ur. I’m sure the mar­ket­ing of ideas dates to an­tiq­ui­ty as well, but the pro­lif­er­a­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the in­for­ma­tion age com­pounds this in­to a se­ri­ous prob­lem.

With prop­er mar­ket­ing, you can sell any idea. There’s a suck­er born every min­ute. What sucks about the suck­ers is that they’re more like­ly to be­lieve the hy­pe than due the dili­gence. So you can sell cre­ation­ism, fas­cism, racism, and that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslin and folks will take the good mar­ket­ing as gospel.  It’s Colbert’s truthi­ness. Facts are hard things, and think­ing re­quires thought. Since we’re hard-wired by na­ture to buy good mar­ket­ing, it’s eas­ier to buy in­tel­lec­tu­al snake oil (es­pe­cial­ly when it goes with our pre­con­cep­tions) than put forth the ef­fort to test facts for scratch, in­den­ta­tion and re­bound hard­ness.

Caveat emp­tor, and if you don’t, God help the rest of us.

Flesh for Frankenstein

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Flesh For Frankenstein

A part of this view­ing listCriterion Collection Spine #27: Paul Morrissey’s Flesh for Frankenstein.

Also known, for ob­vi­ous mar­ket­ing rea­sons, as Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, this film on­ly us­es the name “Frankenstein” as a pop cul­ture ref­er­ence to go along with the oth­er clichéd hor­ror tropes; mad sci­en­tists, castle lab­o­ra­to­ries, sundry chunks of corpses, creepy as­sis­tant, etc. This film isn’t a hor­ror film, it is gore-com­e­dy, like Dead Alive (Braindead) with side help­ings of nu­di­ty and sex fetishism. It is high-brow de­lib­er­ate­ly act­ing low-brow; an an­tithe­sis to Sam Fuller films, which are low-brow serendip­i­tous­ly be­com­ing high-brow. The twist­ed Teutonic (even though he’s Serbian, are Serbians con­sid­ered Teutonic? I couldn’t man­age to find an an­swer…) sex­u­al mono­ma­nia present in the Baron is one large piece of the puz­zle, and Nicholas, the near­ly amoral sta­ble­boy cum stud (this could al­so be writ­ten as “sta­ble­boy cum-stud” for added fla­vor) is the oth­er. The rest of the char­ac­ters flesh out (I should stop with the puns al­ready) ad­di­tion­al an­gles on what clear­ly be­comes the point of the film; we’re all vi­o­lent, sex­u­al so­ciopaths in one way or an­oth­er. The Baron says: “To know death, Otto, you have to fuck life… in the gall blad­der!” right af­ter he has done just that.

Well, okay, but what then, or what else? There isn’t re­al­ly an an­swer given, un­less it is present in the voyeuris­tic in­ces­tu­ous off­spring of the Baron and his sister/​wife. The film be­gins and ends with them in­volved in tor­ture, first at play, but ful­ly re­al­ized at the last. If any­thing, the chil­dren are even less hu­man than every­one else. They (al­most?) nev­er speak, and of­fer no jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for their acts. No mat­ter how de­based or ex­is­ten­tial­ly dead any of the oth­er char­ac­ters are, they al­ways speak their piece be­fore con­tribut­ing to a body count that would do a Shakespearean tragedy proud.

Like the tank of pi­ran­ha that we see oc­ca­sion­al­ly, the chil­dren have been re­duced to blood­thirsty beasts, who act as their na­ture de­mands, and feel no need for sophistry to jus­ti­fy them­selves. If there’s a moral here, it’s that the ab­sence of em­pa­thy and al­tru­ism is com­pound­ed gen­er­a­tional­ly. Your ob­ses­sions can be­come your chil­drens’ and more like­ly worse.

Supplemental Materials

Caveman Diaries 7, Megachurch, Clan of the Cave Bear, Swindlella

Saturday, 22 May 2010

On 13 May 2010, I went to the Front Room Gallery for John G’s Caveman Diaries 7 ‘zine re­lease; Megachurch’s al­bum re­lease & show with Clan of the Cave Bear and Swindlella. Great crowd, great ex­hi­bi­tion by John G, and great mu­sic. Unfortunately I for­got my earplugs. Fortunately, I got my mitts on CMD7, the Megachurch al­bum (which I forced Mikey, Dan & Brian to au­to­graph) and mu­sic from Cave Bear & Swindlella (whose Christmas CD is bonkers).

This post on­ly took a lit­tle over a week to come to­geth­er. I wish there was a faster way to get HD video up to YouTube, but there isn’t. Rock on, guys. Seven video playlist is be­low.

Hui Neng — The Mind That Moves

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Hui Neng was an il­lit­er­ate peas­ant who had ex­pe­ri­enced a sud­den awak­en­ing up­on hear­ing the Lotus Sutra re­cit­ed aloud, and went to join the monastery of the Fifth Patriarch of Zen. The Patriarch rec­og­nized that Hui Neng was in the process of awak­en­ing, but rather than open­ly ac­knowl­edge this he as­signed him to care for the pigs on the out­skirts of the monastery to pro­tect him from the aca­d­e­mic and spir­i­tu­al cor­rup­tions of the oth­er monks.

However, one day as Hui Neng was go­ing about his work he heard two monks near­by en­gag­ing in a clas­sic ar­gu­ment about spir­i­tu­al re­al­i­ty. They were watch­ing the large monastery flag wav­ing in the wind, and one monk was ar­gu­ing that it was the flag that was mov­ing, while the oth­er ar­gued that it was the wind that was mov­ing. These two ar­gu­ments cor­re­spond to clas­sic spir­i­tu­al view­points about the na­ture of re­al­i­ty, and while lis­ten­ing to the learned monks ar­gue, Hui Neng could not hold back. He in­ter­rupt­ed them and told them, “It is nei­ther the flag that moves, nor the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves”.

The two monks were si­lenced, and Hui Neng went about his work tend­ing to the pigs. 

To Do List

Monday, 17 May 2010

  • Das Schnitzel Haus
  • Udupi
  • East Coast Original Custard
  • Korea House (The Bibim Bam is as awe­some as I re­mem­bered)
  • Punk Rock Softball
  • Caveman Diaries/​Megachurch CD Release (more to come)
  • Paint up­stairs apart­ment
  • Eat south­ern-roast­ed turkey, po­len­ta and roast­ed red onion & av­o­cado sal­ad with neigh­bors
  • Jack Frost Donuts (I’ve had the donuts plen­ty of times, but nev­er ac­tu­al­ly been there)

I need to hang out in Parma more of­ten. All kinds of great places to go.