Hemingway can always cheer me up on the rainy days. I can sit here all day telling you how great Hemingway is, and it would still not do justice to the magic of his works. I can only ask you to read his books yourself. And maybe when years pass after you read them, you’ll wonder if it was only some story, or did these things really happened to you.
Video: “The Dot and The Line” by Chuck Jones, 1965.
Through out my boyhood of watching cartoons on TV, I always find myself staring at shows like the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck, without taking much notice to the creators of these incredible animations. The front man behind stage, as it were, is of course Chuck Jones. Besides his impeccable timing for the movements of the characters, what makes Jones an animation Godfather is his sense of storytelling through these moving pictures. He’s able to make you laugh and cry in the same clip, for he understands the logic of tragedy inevitably always turn into comedy (and vise versa). Continue reading
Most of today’s mainstream animations are, for me, disappointing. It’s very common to see animated shows fully blown with lightening speech and outrages jokes, yet something feels wrong with the movements of the characters. Their gestures seem stiff and clumsy. Their bodies are floating through space, limbs hanging like a rag doll. The stories are kept to a minimal for fear that kids might get bored. Just jokes. Back-to-back jokes for the attention deficient generation. Fast and funny is what the audience want, so they give it to them. I don’t over exaggerate.
Animation is a world. A world not belonging to the one we currently dwell in. It’s another world. As a kid growing up watching animation in the 1990s, it provided magic to an otherwise mundane, dreary universe. As science dominated the ideological field of the social space (ideology in the Marxist sense of the word), the protection of miraculous magic seemed to have vanished. There was not even room for superstition. However, animation (good animation) lit up the world for me. It enveloped me in hope.
Good animation for me is never just jokes or how fast can one say the jokes. It’s the story that opens me up to believe in the world that the animation has created. And when I think of a good story in American animation, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant always comes to mind. Is not the movie ultimately about an innocent boy trying to protect himself from the fraudulent passage of growing up? Was not the giant robot a sort of guardian angel we all long for, indestructible and childlike? It is a film that offers a well-wished promise in regard to the world. The film gave me a sense of wonder without the horrific abyss that’s so well recorded in science. It completed a world for me.
What we need today is not merely frantic distractions. What we need is a new narrative that offers us protection once again. We need a new Iron Giant.
Helloooo people of tomorrow. I’m sorry for my absence. I’ve been trying to un-digitize myself. I’ve been struggling with writing some short stories these past months. The work is tedious, and writing is a dark universe. I had to step away from the digital cloud for a while.
More than ever today we’re experiencing a narrative deficiency. It’s so fashionable to say that today we don’t have just one narrative, that we have multiple ones, of which each one has its own unique place in the world. We are all, so it goes, just stories that we tell ourselves, that each of us can have a little piece of the universe. But what if this is the wrong way to approach the problem of multiplicity (or multiple narratives)–whether it be the multiplicity of political parties or the multiplicity of races. What if instead of saying that you have you’re culture, and we have ours; what we should say is that we need a new grand narrative?
The other day I was re-watching “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” the 1920 Robert Wiene horror film. It’s about the story of a Dr. Caligari using a somnambulist as a instrument of murder. But the films twist is that the entire incident was merely the hallucination of Francis, the protagonist, who is finally reveal twards the end that he’s a patience of the asylum. The film was made during the Weimar Republic, the short Democratic-trauma of the WWI aftermath of Germany. What if we’re in the same situation today?
What if we live in one big insane asylum, and all of our contingent experiences are just a mere hallucination? I think this is the horror we are facing with today: to discover that our so called “permissive-liberating society” is actually a hox, a hallucinatory ideology. We live in a era of inconsistencies, of what Peter Sloterdiyk calls sphere implosion. It is when the protective dimension of our grand narrative breaks down. At the level of personal freedom, we seem to have limitless possibilities (we can read anything we want, we can travel anywhere we like, we can have as many sexual partners as we desire, etc.), but on the level of political freedom we’re more and more constrain in a straitjacket, as if changing any small parts of the political-economic system will result in a domino effect towards disaster (e.g. universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage, etc.). I think this so call “liberal-permissive society” is deeply ideological, in the Marxian sense of the word (i.e. ideology as a essential illusion that mystifies a certain problem). While, yes, we have freedom on the person level (and this level is also important), we loose the fundamental choice of the frame work that determines these personal choices. As Jane at the end of the film says, ” we queens…are not permitted to follow the dictates of our hearts.” Do we not live in an age of disheartened individualism?
The horror that had taken place in Paris a week ago fundamentally shook my core. The brutality was unspeakable. However, who is ultimately the true victim in this picture? One would of course say that it’s the Parisians. While, undoubtedly, they have experience gruesome violence, do not the refugees remain the true victims of the bombings?
Although we should sympathize with all of the innocent lives lost the France, our sympathy needs to redouble for the people who are fleeing their war torn countries that Europe and we in the States have much to blame for. We not only destabilized their government, but we also created the inflammatory insurgencies that have driven the refugees out of their home. Who are we to say no to these wonderers while we are fully responsible for them?
Rightly, we should condemn the terrors in Paris, but are these horrors not a daily experience for the refugees? It is as if we in the west live in an fantasmatic bubble, and for the first time since 9/11 the holographic fantasy shuts off momentarly, giving us a full glimpse at the horrors of the dark underside of globalization.
I’m not here trying to propose a solution to which I don’t even pretend to have. I’m simply saying that we live in fragile, dangerous times. And maybe we shouldn’t hasten for war, but sit and think carefully what our (the US and Europe in general) role will be in the very near future. Our dream of being a global police is over: our late-capitalist-libral-democratic impotence can testify to that. We may think we have the solutions, but perhaps we should take a step back and re-examine the very questions for these so called answers. More then ever today we need to ask ourselves: are we posing the right questions?