Beginner’s Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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.