Friday, November 30, 2018

Michael Benton: Thinking

Thinking by Michael Benton

It started out innocently enough. I began to think before social gatherings, now and then -- just to loosen up.

Inevitably, though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker. I became concerned about America's global wars and the broad ranging effects of inequality on our democracy. I would ask others about these problems, but no one wanted to talk about it. This caused me to think about it more...

Soon, I began to think alone, "just to relax" I told myself this, but I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time. That was when things began to sour at home.

One evening, insisting that we turn off the finals of American Idol, I asked my partner about the meaning of life. My partner looked up from the I-phone while typing a message on a social media profile and yelled at me for being confrontational. My partner spent that night at a friend's house.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't stop myself. I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Karl Marx and Adam Smith in order to understand the origins of our capitalist system. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here and how do we contribute to our community?" One day the boss called me in. He said, "Listen, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss.

"Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..."

"I know you've been thinking," my partner said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."

"It is serious," my partner said, lower lip quivering. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don't make serious money, so if you keep on thinking, we won't have any money!"

"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently.

My partner exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to deal with the emotional drama.

"I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche.

I roared into the parking lot with Democracy Now playing and ran up to the big glass doors...They didn't open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

Leaning on the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker's Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker.

I never miss a TA meeting. We start off by telling each other everything is just fine and there is no need to question how our world is organized and run. Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. Luckily, my boss approved of my attempt at recovery, so I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home.

Life just seemed...easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

I think the road to recovery is nearly complete for me.

My partner is ecstatic about my recovery.

Tonight I'm going to a Trump rally, he says we are doing "really, really great" and that makes me happy. I'm glad we have decisive leaders like him that encourage the people to avoid the dangers of thinking too much!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 28, 2018

Such is the quandry when it comes to magic, that it is not an issue of strength but of balance. For too little power, and we become weak. Too much, and we become something else. -- Tieren Serense, Head Priest of the London Sanctuary (Schwab, V.E. A Darker Shade of Magic. Tor, 2015: 7.)

Barber, William. "Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith Jokes About Hangings, But Her Policies Will Strangle the Poor." Democracy Now (November 26, 2018) ["Mississippi voters will head to the polls Tuesday in the state’s hotly contested runoff senate election, as incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith faces off against Democrat Mike Espy. In a state that Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points two years ago, Espy is attempting to become Mississippi’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction. His opponent, incumbent Sen. Hyde-Smith, attended and graduated from an all-white segregationist high school and recently posed for photos with a Confederate Army cap and other Confederate artifacts. Earlier this month, a viral video showed Hyde-Smith praising a campaign supporter, saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Mississippi was once considered the lynching capital of the United States. We speak with Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach. He recently traveled to Mississippi to get out the vote."]

---. "Tear Gassing Central American Migrants is Inhumane, Unconstitutional, Immoral." Democracy Now (November 26, 2018) ["U.S. border patrol officers fired tear gas into a crowd of desperate Central American asylum-seekers Sunday in Tijuana, Mexico as some tried to push their way through the heavily militarized border with the United States. Mothers and small children were left gagging and screaming as the tear gas spread. The migrants are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and are fleeing widespread violence, poverty and mass unemployment. We speak with Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach."]

Brophy, Megan. "In Iowa, Pioneering Undergrad Workers Union Keeps Growing." Labor Notes (November 6, 2018)

Klein, Naomi. "The Game-Changing Promise of a Green New Deal." The Intercept (November 27, 2018)  ["If you are part of the economy’s winning class and funded by even bigger winners, as so many politicians are, then your attempts to craft climate legislation will likely be guided by the idea that change should be as minimal and unchallenging to the status quo as possible. After all, the status quo is working just fine for you and your donors. Leaders who are rooted in communities that are being egregiously failed by the current system, on the other hand, are liberated to take a very different approach. Their climate policies can embrace deep and systemic change — including the need for massive investments in public transit, affordable housing, and health care — because that kind of change is precisely what their bases need to thrive. As climate justice organizations have been arguing for many years now, when the people with the most to gain lead the movement, they fight to win."]

Pérez, Ana Cecilia. "Refusing to Hide: Migrants Find Power in Caravans." Yes! (November 26, 2018) ["Every step is a collective action to expose the failures of governments throughout the region. Their courageous, albeit dangerous, journey exposes the impact of U.S imperialism in countries where our government is directly implicated in multiple coups. They elucidate for us the trade policies that are grounded in economies of extraction, at the expense of local economies—all for the benefit of U.S. corporations. Images of parents carrying toddlers on their shoulders as they cross rivers and of mothers lying on sidewalks comforting their children are in sharp contrast with the narratives the 45th president of the United States conjures up as he continues to sow hate, division, and lies. Make no mistake: What is at stake here is our country’s values and our very own humanity as citizens and residents of the United States. Will we turn our backs on dispossessed families, or will we fight to uphold the aspirational principles on which this country was founded? The time has come to see Latin American nations not as “shithole countries,” but as real partners in the geopolitical arena. This means creating trade and foreign-relations policies that support alternative and sustainable economic development, local industries, and the creation of jobs with a living wage. Policies focused on people, the planet, and the well-being of all people. We all deserve that."]
Sunrise Movement ["Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We're building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and well being of all people. We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country. Everyone has a role to play. Public opinion is already with us - if we unite by the millions we can turn this into political power and reclaim our democracy. We are not looking to the right or left. We look forward. Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning."]

West, Stephen. "Michel Foucault Pt. 3 - Power." Philosophize This (September 24, 2018)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 26, 2018

The genuine heart of sadness comes from feeling that your nonexistent heart is full. You would like to spill your heart's blood, give your heart to others. For the warrior, this experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that, if someone hits you, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about street-fighter level of fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others. (32)
... But then, as you experience this sadness more and more, you realize that human beings should be tender and open. So you no longer need to feel shy or embarrassed about being gentle. In fact your softness begins to become passionate. You would like to extend yourself to others and communicate with them. When tenderness evolves in that direction, then you can truly appreciate the world around you. (36) -- Trungpa, Chögyam. Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Shambhala, 2007.

Banuelas, Erika. "The Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018: #18 Adoption Agencies a Gateway for Child Exploitation." Project Censored (October 2, 2018)

Blue Velvet (USA: David Lynch, 1986) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Heath, Roderick. "Blue Velvet (1986)." Ferdy on Films (October 22, 2018) ["Part of Lynch’s shrewd humour lies in his way of conceptualising evil, no matter how inflated and perverse, as something readily understandable to a young man like Jeffrey. Frank is a school bully inflated to the nth degree, with his coterie of giggling companions, existing purely to dominate and humiliate. At first Frank might seem too wilfully extreme, too bizarre a creation to offer social commentary. But Lynch makes clear when he glimpses Frank watching Dorothy perform and when he adopts his “well-dressed man” disguise he’s capable of acting sufficiently ordinary to move amongst daylight people. Normality is a guise he puts on but for him the pleasure of, and motive for, his criminal activities is the way they allow him to mostly dispense with his own, specific veil of behaviour, the one that stands between the inner, id-driven man-child that operates through whim and appetite and what it wants, alternating cruel tantrums and displays of jarring, fetishistic neediness that manifests in the need to control. His random habit of plucking out a facemask and huffing on some gaseous intoxicant makes him look like in turn vaguely insectoid and cyborg, a creation born in the primal age and just at home in a post-apocalyptic landscape. He casts Dorothy as lover, mother, slave, and psychic ashtray, needing to know only what it takes to make her conform to his will. It’s a siren song Jeffrey experiences too, the shocking mainlining thrill of walloping pretty white flesh and watching it turn purple. Lynch never tries to state whether Dorothy’s masochistic streak is a by-product of guilt and anxiety over her family or if it’s a more intricate aspect of her nature, and perhaps it doesn’t matter; everyone is the by-product of their grazings against other bodies and wills, forming and malformed. In the end Jeffrey seems to be just as compelled to place himself under Frank’s fist as her, as if he senses pain is a profound contract with reality that must be paid one way or another."]

Lim, Dennis. "Bernardo Bertolucci, Director of Last Tango in Paris, Dies at 77." The New York Times (November 26, 2018)

Mealer, Bryan. "This is what Trump’s caravan 'invasion' really looks like." The Guardian (November 26, 2018) ["Those walking to the US to seek asylum have been demonized by Trump, who sent more than 5,000 soldiers to await them at the border. Bryan Mealer traveled with the most vulnerable among them"]

Vasquez, Zach. "The Truth About Killer Robots: The Year's Most Terrifying Documentary." The Guardian (November 26, 2018)

Blue Velvet (USA: David Lynch, 1986)

Blue Velvet (USA: David Lynch, 1986: 120 mins)

Cleaver, Sarah Kathryn and Mary Wild. "Fashion Films Episode 5: Fashion & Fetish." Projections #5 (April 3, 2019) ["Sarah and Mary discuss fetishism, fashion and wigs in Ken Russell’s Crimes of Passion (1984) and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986)."]

Eggert, Brian. "Blue Velvet (1986)." Deep Focus (January 27, 2013)

Freeman, Sara. "The Creatures: Lynchian Women and Mulholland Drive." Keyframe (October 30, 2016)

Golum, Caroline, Lady P. and Matt Prigge. "Blue Velvet and Auteurist Television." Flixwise #69 (August 29, 2017)

Greene, Liz. "David Lynch's Blue Velvet and The Elephant Man." Must See Films (June 2015)

Grozdaniz, Lidija. "Möbius, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the 1950s: David Lynch As the Ultimate Architect's Film Director." Architizer (July 14, 2014)

Heath, Roderick. "Blue Velvet (1986)." Ferdy on Films (October 22, 2018) ["Part of Lynch’s shrewd humour lies in his way of conceptualising evil, no matter how inflated and perverse, as something readily understandable to a young man like Jeffrey. Frank is a school bully inflated to the nth degree, with his coterie of giggling companions, existing purely to dominate and humiliate. At first Frank might seem too wilfully extreme, too bizarre a creation to offer social commentary. But Lynch makes clear when he glimpses Frank watching Dorothy perform and when he adopts his “well-dressed man” disguise he’s capable of acting sufficiently ordinary to move amongst daylight people. Normality is a guise he puts on but for him the pleasure of, and motive for, his criminal activities is the way they allow him to mostly dispense with his own, specific veil of behaviour, the one that stands between the inner, id-driven man-child that operates through whim and appetite and what it wants, alternating cruel tantrums and displays of jarring, fetishistic neediness that manifests in the need to control. His random habit of plucking out a facemask and huffing on some gaseous intoxicant makes him look like in turn vaguely insectoid and cyborg, a creation born in the primal age and just at home in a post-apocalyptic landscape. He casts Dorothy as lover, mother, slave, and psychic ashtray, needing to know only what it takes to make her conform to his will. It’s a siren song Jeffrey experiences too, the shocking mainlining thrill of walloping pretty white flesh and watching it turn purple. Lynch never tries to state whether Dorothy’s masochistic streak is a by-product of guilt and anxiety over her family or if it’s a more intricate aspect of her nature, and perhaps it doesn’t matter; everyone is the by-product of their grazings against other bodies and wills, forming and malformed. In the end Jeffrey seems to be just as compelled to place himself under Frank’s fist as her, as if he senses pain is a profound contract with reality that must be paid one way or another."]

Jennings, Tom. "David Lynch, Contemporary Cinema and Social Class (2000)." libcom (March 7, 2008)

Kuersten, Erich. "The Primal Father (CinemArchetypes #8)." Acidemic (March 19, 2012)

Lim, Dennis. "David Lynch's Elusive Language." The New Yorker (October 28, 2015)

LoBrutto, Vincent. "Dream State: Blue Velvet." Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 46-52. [BCTC Library: PN1994 L595 2005]

Macaulay, Scott. "NOW IT’S DARK… THE “BLUE VELVET” PROJECT." Filmmaker Magazine (August 7, 2011)

Martin, Adrian. "The Misleading Man: Dennis Hopper." Film International 5.1 (2007). [Professor has copy for students]

Orr, Niela. "It Is Happening Again: David Lynch’s Twin Peaks returns—to its white fantasia." The Baffler (June 4, 2017)

Rombes, Nicholas. "The Blue Velvet Project." Filmmaker Magazine (August 8, 2011: Ongoing)

Sammon, Paul M. "Blue Velvet." The Projection Booth #104 (March 5, 2013)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 21, 2018

Imagine if all of the people that opposed Trump's agenda boycotted Black Friday? "Blackout for Human Rights (Blackout)’s fifth annual #BlackoutBlackFriday, taking place on November 23, 2018, continues to be part of a nationwide call to action encouraging individuals to refrain from shopping to protest social and economic injustice in the U.S. and instead engage in cultural activism." What kind of message would that send?

Documenting Hate: New American NAZIs Frontline (November 20, 2018) ["In the wake of the deadly anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, FRONTLINE and ProPublica present a new investigation into white supremacist groups in America – in particular, a neo-Nazi group, Atomwaffen Division, that has actively recruited inside the U.S. military. Continuing FRONTLINE and ProPublica’s reporting on violent white supremacists in the U.S. (which has helped lead to multiple arrests), this joint investigation shows the group’s terrorist objectives and how it gained strength after the 2017 Charlottesville rally."]

Giridharadas, Anand. "The Elite Charade of Changing the World." Ralph Nader Radio Hour (November 3, 2018) ["Ralph welcomes journalist and author, Anand Giridharadas to talk about his book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, which argues that rich “do-gooders” don’t really want to change the system that made them rich."]

Gross, Larry. "Love is Colder Than Death: Luca Guadagnino on Suspiria." Filmmaker (September 17, 2018)

Snow, Izzy. "The Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018: #19 People Bussed across US to Cut Cities’ Homeless Populations." Project Censored (October 2, 2018)

Thompson, A.C. "New American Nazis: Inside the White Supremacist Movement That Fueled Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting." Democracy Now (November 20, 2018) ["Neo-Nazis are on the rise in America. Nearly a month after a gunman killed eleven Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, we look at the violent hate groups that helped fuel the massacre. On the same day that shooter Robert Bowers opened fire in the synagogue, a neo-Nazi named Edward Clark that Bowers had been communicating with online took his own life in Washington, D.C. The man’s brother, Jeffrey Clark, has since been arrested on weapons charges. The brothers were both linked to the violent white supremacist group Atomwaffen. We speak with A.C. Thompson, correspondent for FRONTLINE PBS and reporter for ProPublica. His investigation “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis” premieres tonight on PBSstations and online."]

"An early and influential statement of identity politics (as this tendency quickly became known) was 'A Black Feminist Statement,' published in 1977 and written by the Combahee River Collective: 'We believe that the most profound and potentially the most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else's oppression... We reject pedestals, queenhood, and walking ten paces behind. To be recognized as human, levelly human, is enough.' They proposed an integrated perspective on sex, race, and class, and criticized both lesbian separatism and 'any type of biological determinism.' This is important to remember, because identity politics became increasingly identified-- often unfairly, and by both members of the right and left-- as the very ideology of separatism and immutable difference. Identity politics, if we listen to the original voices, was a general call to become 'levelly human,' but to do so as particular persons with particular histories." - Tucker, Scott. The Queer Question: Essays on Desire and Democracy (South End Press, 1997: 72)

Expanded from Haruki Murakami’s short story “Barn Burning,” the sixth feature from Korean master Lee Chang-dong, known best in the U.S. for such searing, emotional dramas as Secret Sunshine (NYFF45) and Poetry (NYFF48), begins by tracing a romantic triangle of sorts: Jongsu (Yoo Ah-in), an aspiring writer, becomes involved with a woman he knew from childhood, Haemi (Jun Jong-seo), who is about to embark on a trip to Africa. She returns some weeks later with a fellow Korean, the Gatsby-esque Ben (Steven Yeun), who has a mysterious source of income and a very unusual hobby. A tense, haunting multiple-character study, the film accumulates a series of unanswered questions and unspoken motivations to conjure a totalizing mood of uncertainty and quietly bends the contours of the thriller genre to brilliant effect. A Well Go USA release. - Film Society Lincoln Center (2018)

In the impressive directorial debut from actor Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), a carefully wrought adaptation of Richard Ford’s 1990 novel, a family comes apart one loosely stitched seam at a time. We are in the lonely expanses of the American west in the mid-’60s. An affable man (Jake Gyllenhaal), down on his luck, runs off to fight the wildfires raging in the mountains. His wife (Carey Mulligan) strikes out blindly in search of security and finds herself running amok. It is left to their young adolescent son Joe (Ed Oxenbould) to hold the center. Co-written by Zoe Kazan, Wildlife is made with a sensitivity and at a level of craft that are increasingly rare in movies. An IFC Films release. -- Film Society Lincoln Center (2018)

Kore-eda’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner is a heartrending glimpse into an often invisible segment of Japanese society: those struggling to stay afloat in the face of crushing poverty. On the margins of Tokyo, a most unusual “family”—a collection of societal castoffs united by their shared outsiderhood and fierce loyalty to one another—survives by petty stealing and grifting. When they welcome into their fold a young girl who’s been abused by her parents, they risk exposing themselves to the authorities and upending their tenuous, below-the-radar existence. The director’s latest masterful, richly observed human drama makes the quietly radical case that it is love—not blood—that defines a family. An NYFF56 selection. A Magnolia Pictures release. -- Film Society Lincoln Center (2018)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 19, 2018

Tony Kaye's Detachment is a powerful meditation on teacher-cogs and disadvantaged students caught in the corporatizing, underfunded, bureaucratic educational system. Told through the viewpoint of a long term substitute teacher caught in his own mind, who slowly opens up to the world in his slow awakening as a result of his interaction with two youths (one in his class and one on the streets). I particularly appreciated the glimpses into the minds (literally) of many of the main characters and slipstream manner of the narration. One of the best films about teaching I have seen, especially as it develops the main character as a fully fleshed out, problematic and conflicted force in a chaotic environment, not the stereotypical heroic force of simplistic Hollywood feel good teaching movies or the simplistic bad apple that privatized education advocates seek to portray teachers as. Besides being a great film of teaching and students, it is universal in its portrayal of workers struggling make sense and make a difference (or not) in an uncaring system/institution. It is difficult to communicate to people who do not teach the emotional havoc of this profession ... a good attempt to do so... -- Michael Dean Benton

Erwin, Blaine and Alyssa Hain. "Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018: #20 Extravagant Hospital Waste of Unused Medical Supplies." Project Censored (October 2, 2018)

Hemphill, Jim. "Into the Spotlight: Bradley Cooper on A Star is Born, Consulting with Terrence Malick and Shooting his First Feature in 42 Days." Filmmaker 104 (Fall 2018)

Lennard, Natasha. "Even the FBI Thinks Police Have Links to White Supremacists — but Don’t Tell the New York Times." The Intercept (November 5, 2018)

Jone, Alan. "Killing the Mother: Luca Guadagnino Discusses Suspiria." Notebook (November 16, 2018)

Kalven, Jamie. "Chicago Faces a Defining Moment in Police Reform and Civil Order." The Intercept (August 15, 2018)

The characters. I was interested in writing about marriage, middle-aged marriage, and about hitting up against this ceiling of what your expectations were and where you are now - that zone. And then, in vitro, dealing with fertility and stuff, was something that I had dealt with myself. When I was doing my own IVF, a very good friend said, "Oh, you should really write about this." I was like, "I am not ever writing about this. Forget it." And then, of course, here I am because it became the perfect metaphor.
Some people are probably more conscious about the way they start writing, but I am not. I'm sort of unconscious, or self-conscious. I have a general sort of thing, and then I start going after it and then what exactly I'm interested in starts revealing itself. It's like mining or looking at tea leaves - writing material, finding these characters and then trusting the rational part of your brain that something's going on in there. Eventually, a structure starts revealing itself. One of the things that I realized that the movie had in a structural way was an exploration of women at biological moments in their life and how it impacts them as people. There's a women in menopause, Molly Shannon, who's dealing with an empty nest thing. There is an insanely fertile [women who does] not have any interest in having a child, and there's a person who is hitting the end of that [period]. I remember writing a pretentious note to myself: "The biological tyranny of the female condition." I was like, "Oh, that's what the movie's kind of about." - Tamara Jenkins in Salovaara, Sara. "Moment of Conception." Filmmaker #104 (Fall 2018): 33.

West, Stephen. "Michel Foucault Pt. 2 - The Order of Things." Philosophize This! #122 (September 24, 2018)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Mary Gergen and Kenneth J. Gergen: The Communal Origins of Knowledge

Contemporary constructionism has multiple roots. They grow from a variety of different dialogues that span the the humanities and the sciences. In this sense, social constructionism is not a singular and unified position. Rather, it is better seen as an unfolding dialogue among participants who vary considerably in their logics, values, and visions. And the dialogues remain in motion. To articulate a final truth, a foundational logic, or a code of values would indeed be antithetical to the flow of the dialogue itself.


The Communal Origins of Knowledge

Perhaps the pivotal assumption around which the constructionist dialogues revolve is that what we take to be knowledge of the world and self finds its origins in communal interchange. What we take to be true as opposed to false, objective as opposed to subjective, scientific as opposed to mythological is brought into being by historically and culturally located groups of people. This view stands in dramatic contrast to two of the most important intellectual and cultural traditions of the West. First the tradition of the individual knower, the rational, self-directing and knowledgeable agent of action is thrown into question. ... the constructionist dialogues ... challenge the individualist tradition, and increasingly invite an appreciation of relationship as central to knowledge and human well-being. Second, the communal view of knowledge also represents a major challenge to the view of Truth, or the possibility that any one arrangement of words is necessarily more objective or accurate in its depiction of reality than any other. To be sure, accuracy may be achieved within a given community (not Truth but 'truth'), but any attempt to determine the superior account would itself be the outcome of a given community of agreement. All authorities of truth are thus both legitimized and relativized.

Without doubt, the most influential opening to the communal view of knowledge is located in the pages of Thomas Kuhn's 1962 volume, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. ... As Kuhn proposed, knowledge within any discipline depends on a communally shared commitment to a paradigm. Roughly speaking, a paradigm consists of (1) an array of assumptions about what exists (ontology), how it may be known (epistemology), and how scientific work out to proceed (ethics), and (2) a pattern of activities held to be consistent with these assumptions. The importance of Kuhn's proposal is twofold: first, a commitment to a paradigm must precede the generation of knowledge. Thus it is the commitment to a priori [roughly --> knowledge without experience] set of assumptions and practices that makes knowledge possible. In effect, different paradigms will create different scientific realities, and there is no means of standing outside a paradigm of some kind to adjudicate among them. Truth exists only within a paradigm. The second significant point is that individual minds are not the source of knowledge, but communities - people in relationship. Individual knowledge, on this account, is not a private achievement but owes its origins to community participation.

While Kuhn's work grew from the soil of historical study, highly congenial ideas had also been brewing for many years within sociology. Mannheim's Ideology and Utopia, Fleck's Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, and Berger and Luckmann's The Social Construction of Reality, among others, had all been concerned with the social processes giving rise to scientific truth claims. Such work also contained important implications that went far beyond the realm of science. Rather, one could begin to see that everyday knowledge - indeed the grounds for all our daily activity - were also lodged in community negotiations. These implications were made most fully apparent by the work of sociologist, Harold Garfinkel ... and his colleagues. As Garfinkel reasoned, built into the conventions of ongoing conversation are 'methods' for creating various events, objects, institutions, and the like as 'real.' These reality-generating practices are termed 'ethnomethods.' For example, to classify a particular event as a 'suicide' requires that people come to an agreement that, from the enormous and complex flux of everyday life events, a certain configuration counts as suicide. Depending on the ethnomethods in operation, however, what one group might call suicide could be interpreted as an 'act of honor,' or an 'accident' or, given a certain kind of conversation we might come to see all cigarette smokers as engaged in suicidal behavior. As Garfinkel also reasoned, these unwritten agreements can be fragile; if participants question them the consequences can be painful. ... and the intense frustration that can result from failures to participate in them ... points to the enormous trust we must place in each other from moment to moment to support the common rules for constructing reality.

Gergen, Mary and Kenneth J. Gergen. "Social Construction of the Real and the Good: Introduction." Social Constructionism: A Reader. ed. Mary Gergen and Kenneth J. Gergen. Sage, 2003: 2-3.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 16, 2018

In 1983, 50 companies owned 90 percent of the media consumed by Americans. By 2012, just six companies controlled that 90 percent, according to testimony before the House Judiciary Committee examining Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal. How long before just three Studio Death Stars become the Standard Oils of the knowledge economy's Gilded Age? -- Brown, Colin. "Swimming with Megalodons." Filmmaker #104 (Fall 2018) 

Almaaita, Zaynah. "Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018 - #22 Big Pharma’s Biostitutes: Corporate Media Ignore Root Cause of Opioid Crisis." Project Censored (October 2, 2018) ["The beginning of the opioid crisis, Martin reported, goes back to drug manufacturing companies hiring “biostitutes,” a derogatory term for biological scientists hired to misrepresent research or commit fraud in order to protect their employers’ corporate interests. As Martin reported, research by biostitutes was used to make the (misleading) case that opioids could treat pain without the risk of addiction. Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, and McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, which distribute that drug and other opioids, suppressed research that showed how addictive opioids are, and they began to push doctors to write more prescriptions on behalf of the “needs” of consumers.  In particular, Papantonio said, distributors targeted the nation’s poorer communities, including industrial cities with high unemployment rates, such as Detroit, and economically-stressed mining communities, as in West Virginia. Such mercenary practices not only impacted the individuals who became addicted, they also ravaged the finances of the targeted cities and counties. As Papantonio told The Empire Files, the opioid crisis has required local government expenditures for everything from new training for emergency medical responders, to the purchase of Naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) for treating opioid overdoses, to the expansion of dependency courts to handle the cases of neglected or abused children, and the retooling of jails as de facto rehabilitation centers—all of which have come out of city and county budgets. In his Empire Files interview, Papantonio estimated that the cost for a “typical community” fell between “ninety and two hundred million dollars—that’s just the beginning number.”]

Drori, Danielle. "Feminist Ambivalences at Exclusive Women’s Social Club." BLARB (November 15, 2018) ["The critical theorist Nancy Fraser has argued for decades that feminism has lost its way. Once a social movement that fought for equality in its broadest sense, its most vocal ambassadors in the Global North since the ’70s have focused on “cracking glass ceilings” and “leaning in.” These powerful metaphors reflect the concerns of a specific group of women — the professional and upper classes — rather than serve the larger goal, as Fraser and others see it, of creating an egalitarian society."]

Gil, Rahuldeep. "From the Frontlines of a Civilizational Crisis." BLARB (November 14, 2018) ["Maybe the statistics will still show that Thousand Oaks is one of the safest communities in the United States. But now there can be no complacency in such safety. We, as a country, have to stop electing leaders who are making the world ever more dangerous for all young people. We have to support policies that ensure that humanity sees a twenty-second century. We have to support leaders who understand the urgency of sharing solidarity across lines of difference, and not those who give ammunition to racists, bigots, and murderers. This is a global, civilizational crisis. As an educator, and as a parent, I implore you. Hoping and praying is not enough, we have to act for change."]

Khanna, Ro. "By Blocking Yemen Resolution, House GOP Is Abdicating Its Duty to Decide War & Peace." Democracy Now (November 15, 2018)  ["House Republicans have quashed debate on a resolution that aims to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, by sneaking a single line into an unrelated resolution about wolves. The House voted 201 to 187 on the bill Wednesday, approving a provision that blocks the Democrats from forcing a vote on the U.S. role in Yemen under the War Powers Act. For nearly four years the United States has played a key role supporting the Saudi-led invasion, which has devastated Yemen, creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The U.N. is warning 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine. One new study has estimated the war has killed at least 57,000 people since the beginning of 2016. We speak with Congressmember Ro Khanna, who introduced the resolution in the House."]

Surface, Bethany. "Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018: #21 Parkland Shooter’s JROTC Connections Spotlight Militarization of Schools." Project Censored (October 2, 2018) ["Florida is “arguably the most friendly state in terms of the militarization of the schools,” Elder said. Its statutes “allow a student who takes four years of JROTC to substitute biology, physical science, physical education and art for this straight-jacketed military indoctrination program.” In an article for World Beyond War, he further noted that, in Florida, JROTC is regarded as an Advanced Placement course for which students earn points toward their weighted GPAs, even though many of the courses are taught by retired soldiers with no teaching credentials and little or no college education. Florida, Elder explained, has simply gone further than other states, many of which allow JROTC participation to substitute for requirements in physical education and American government and civics."]

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Michael Benton: Some Questions on the Possibility of Changing Minds

I have been thinking about this a lot in interacting with people in my life lately (as well as in our larger society - irl and online). A lot of pontificating and dictating, little listening to others' perspectives or self-questioning of one's own position. Communication skills are seriously lacking - you reply by directly responding to what a person actually said/wrote and if you want to convince someone you build common ground. I made it my New Year's resolution last year to consciously further develop my listening skills and empathy for others. I was a shy, bookish kid, so I have always watched and listened, but I also forced myself to become more extroverted and lost some of that (especially as our society moved to online communities). I've always questioned my own perspective (when you lose a world-building faith at an earlier age, it leaves you with that) - funny how the blindly-certain view that as a weakness.

-What prevents us from changing our opinions?

-Does debate truly encourage people to change their minds, or does it actually prevent the formation of new opinions?
-Can one look at the opinions of others accurately without looking closely at their own assumptions?
-What is the role of corporate media and social media in the formation of public opinion?
-Do they allow for people to change opinions or work against it?
-Is action necessary to prove an opinion has truly changed; is saying one has changed enough?
-What is the role of violence (individually and collectively) in changing opinions?
-What effect does an absence of belief in the possibility of change have on individuals and communities?
-Does academia serve to foster or prevent the changing of minds?
-Does experience override education (or vice versa, or both working together) in the formation of beliefs, values, and opinions?
- Does our society produce an abundance of egomaniacs/narcissists that are incapable or relating to or understanding other opinions/perspectives?  If so, why is that?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 13, 2018

I can't help but dream about a type of criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. - Michel Foucault, Foucault Live (Interviews, 1966-84). Trans. John Johnston. Semiotext(e), 1989: 193 - 202.

Bordwell, David. "André Bazin, man of the cinema." Observations on Film Art (November 11, 2018)

Brown, Pat. "Shoah: Four Sisters." Slant (November 11, 2018)

Dreifus, Claudia. ""I’m not the Resistance, I’m a reporter’: An Interview with April Ryan." NYR Daily (November 12, 2018)  ["At the top of Donald Trump’s journalistic enemies list is April Ryan, the fifty-one-year-old American Urban Radio Networks correspondent. Ryan—who has covered the presidency for more than two decades—is also an on-air political analyst for CNN and the author of three books, including the recently released Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House. Around Washington, D.C., Ryan holds the title Dean of the White House Press Corps. “I watched her get up,” the president fumed last week before departing for Paris. “I mean, you talk about somebody that’s a loser. She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing… She’s very nasty, and she shouldn’t be… You’ve got to treat the White House and the Office of the Presidency with respect.” What Trump may find disrespectful is that Ryan has a penchant for asking tough questions on topics he’d doesn’t want to hear about: voter suppression, civil rights, Russia. Ryan is also black, female, middle-aged, and resolute. In January 2018, she asked, “Mr. President, are you a racist?” This boldness has made Ryan the target of Trump’s more ardent followers. She receives frequent death threats. On a reporter’s salary, she’s had to hire a full-time bodyguard. There are reports that Cesar Sayoc Jr., who is accused of sending pipe bombs to Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Barack Obama, and others, also had Ryan on his mailing list."]

Smith, Derek. "Of Fathers and Sons." Slant (November 4, 2018)

Tan, Sandi. "The Cine-Ghosts of Shirkers." Filmmaker #104 (Fall 2018)

"The Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018: #23 New Restrictions on Prisoners’ First Amendment Rights." Project Censored (October 2, 2018)

"The Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018: #24 More Than 80,000 Stolen Guns Worsen Crime in Florida." Project Censored (October 2, 2018)

West, Stephen. "Michel Foucault (Part 1)." Philosophize This (August 15, 2018) ["Foucault himself would never describe [Discipline and Punish] as a 'history' of anything. Foucault hated the word history and almost never used it in his writing. He used words to describe this book more like, a geneology of the way we’ve treated criminals, or an archaeology of how criminals have been punished over the years. He hates the word history…because so often the word history brings with it a connotation… that we exist in our modern world at the end of this long historical timeline of events that have led to near constant progress. This idea that, hey, we used to be these barbaric savages that followed the playbook of Machievelli, the ends justify the means, we used to believe that it was morally acceptable for the king or the people in power to brutally torture and kill someone that was guilty of a heinous crime…but then HISTORY happened. Time went on…progress was made. Great political theorists came along…great leaders, great ethical philosophers did their work and we all realized the error of our ways and brought into existence a more modern world where everyone is much more free…the people in power inhibiting the lives of the average citizen far less than they used to . Foucault is going to call this assumption about history into question and really dig deeper into the idea of: how much has really changed when it comes to the fundamental relationship between those in power and the citizens?"]

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 12, 2018

"The Deadly Sex Trafficking Cycle in American Prisons." The Guardian (June 29, 2018) ["The Trap investigates how prisons and jails across the United States have become recruiting grounds for human traffickers, who are targeting incarcerated women and trafficking them out of correctional facilities and into pimp-controlled prostitution."]

Heath, Roderick. "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, 1919)." Ferdy on Films (October 26, 2018)

---. "The White Buffalo." Ferdy on Films (October 24, 2018)

Tchobanian, Tiffany. "Homecoming." Film Threat (November 12, 2018)

Toohey, Elizabeth. "Colette in the #MeToo Era." Film International (October 22, 2018)

"The Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018: #25 Sheriffs Using Iris Recognition Technology along US–Mexico Border." Project Censored (October 2, 2018)

West, Steven. "A Basic Look at Post-Modernism." Philosophize This (May 21, 2018)

---. "Derrida and Words." Philosophize This (June 25, 2018)

"FRUITVALE STATION Ryan Coogler, USA, 2013, 85m:  Coogler’s remarkable debut feature explores the life and harrowing death of Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old African-American man killed by police in the early hours of January 1, 2009. Six months after sweeping both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Fruitvale Station opened on the same weekend that jurors in Florida acquitted George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. [Rachel] Morrison’s gripping, exploratory Super 16 on-location camerawork dramatizes the unseen complexities and personal relationships of Grant’s inner circle with a startling sense of urgency, emotion, and the unflagging awareness of a preventable tragedy too often seen in the news cycle." - The Female Gaze (2018) 

"When I look through a camera and record moving images, I have new powers. I am acutely aware that I am in my own very particular body when I film—because of what a physical job it is, because of the way people look at me, because a woman with a camera is still uncommon, because a woman who has the agency a camera brings is still a sight to behold, because I get close to people and sometimes touch them, because I feel when I film, because I am aware of the ways my shortcomings can misrepresent others... The list goes on and remains grounded in the physical act of being present when I film. Sometimes I am gazing, sometimes I am moving, sometimes I am swooning with discovery, always I am searching. This is my ever-evolving female gaze." - Kirsten Johnson, "The Female Gaze." (2018)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Slurring Bee 17

Also need 15 absurd/quirky warm up questions

Pronouncer Information 1. Read carefully the Judges, Recorders, Spellers and Audiences information that is included in the Scripps pronouncers’ guide. 2. Familiarize yourself with all words on the confidential word list. Pronunciation is important. A meeting with the judges to insure pronunciation of words and procedures will be scheduled prior to the Bee beginning. 3. Speak clearly for contestants, judges and audience alike. Grant all requests to repeat a word until the judges agree that the word has been made reasonably clear to the speller. You may request the speller to speak more clearly or louder. 4. “Pace” yourself. You need time to focus attention on the pronunciation of the new word and the judges need a few moments between each contestant to do their tasks.

Speller’s Information 1. Each speller needs to focus on the Pronouncer, to aid his or her hearing and understanding of the context of the word. A speller may ask for the word to be repeated, for its use in a sentence, for a definition, for the part of speech, and for the language of origin. 2. Each speller should pronounce the word before and after spelling it. If the speller fails to pronounce the word after spelling it, the judge may ask if they are finished. If they say yes, the judge will remind the speller to remember to repeat the word the next time. (No speller will be eliminated for failing to pronounce a word.) 3. When a speller is at the podium spelling, the next speller should be standing at a marked location ready to proceed to the podium.

431) indoctrinate

432) proselytize 

433) pamphleteer

434) multitudinous

435) caterwaul

436) ululate

437) connive

438) brouhaha

439) etymology

440) menagerie

441) repartee

442) accidentally

443) valorous

444) demagogue

Slurring Bee 1 #10

Friday, November 9, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 9, 2018

Cole, David. "Trump Fires AG Sessions, Installs New Loyalist Whitaker to Oversee Mueller Probe." Democracy Now (November 8, 2018) ["President Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing him with a Trump loyalist who has called special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation a “witch hunt.” Matthew Whitaker, formerly Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff, will now take charge of the Russia inquiry, prompting questions about the future of the Russia investigation and whether Trump will target Robert Mueller next. Some experts are raising questions about the legality of putting Whitaker in charge rather than Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing the Russia probe. The ACLU wrote in a statement, “Jeff Sessions was the worst attorney general in modern American history. Period. But the dismissal of the nation’s top law enforcement official shouldn’t be based on political motives.” We speak with David Cole, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor of law and public policy at Georgetown University Law Center. His most recent book is “Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law.”"]

Cole, David and Elizabeth Holtzman. "Ex-Congresswoman Who Voted to Impeach Nixon: Trump Firing Sessions Brings Back Troubling Memories." Democracy Now (November 8. 2018) ["Democrats have seized control of the House of Representatives, flipping more than two dozen seats in a historic midterm election that gives Democrats subpoena power for the first time since President Donald Trump was elected two years ago. A day after the election, Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump’s firing of Sessions has led to many comparisons between Trump and former President Richard Nixon. On Wednesday, CNN’s Jake Tapper called Sessions’s ouster another chapter in “a slow-motion, multi-monthed Saturday Night Massacre.” He was referencing the infamous Saturday Night Massacre in 1973, when then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy resigned after President Richard Nixon ordered Richardson to fire the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. We speak with Elizabeth Holtzman, former U.S. congressmember from New York who served on the House Judiciary Committee that voted to impeach Richard Nixon. Her new book, “The Case for Impeaching Trump,” is out on Monday. And we speak with David Cole, the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor of law and public policy at Georgetown University Law Center."]

Haaland, Deb. "One of Nation’s First Native Congresswomen, Calls for Probe of Missing Indigenous Women." Democracy Now (November 8, 2018) ["Two Native American women have made history in the midterms, becoming the nation’s first Native congresswomen. Democrat Sharice Davids won the 3rd Congressional District in Kansas, unseating Republican Kevin Yoder. In New Mexico, Democrat Deb Haaland won in the 1st Congressional District, defeating Republican Janice Arnold-Jones. They will join more than 100 women in the U.S. House of Representatives—another historic first. We speak to Deb Haaland about her plans for Congress, the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women around the country, and whether she’ll attempt to impeach Donald Trump."]

Innocence (Belgium/France/UK/Japan: Lucile Hadžihalilović, 2004) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Smith, Thomas and Andrew Torrez. "Dissenting on the Supreme Court." Opening Arguments #183 (June 18, 2018) ["Today’s episode takes a deep dive into two recent 8-1 decisions by the Supreme Court: Collins v. Virginia and Sveen v. Melin. What makes a decision nearly unanimous, and what causes that lone Justice to dissent?"]

Stranger By the Lake (France: Alain Guiraudie, 2013) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Tlaib, Rashida. "On Impeaching Trump, Occupied Palestine & Becoming One of First Muslim Congresswomen." Democracy Now (November 9, 2018) ["On Tuesday evening, Palestinian American Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Somali American Ilhan Omar in Minnesota became the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress. Rashida Tlaib is a Democratic Socialist who supports the Palestinian right of return and a one-state solution. She also supports Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage and abolishing ICE. The child of immigrants, Tlaib has spoken out against the Trump administration’s travel bans."]

STRANGER BY THE LAKE Alain Guiraudie, France, 2013. Guiraudie’s Cannes-awarded exploration of death and desire unfolds entirely in the vicinity of a gay cruising ground that becomes a crime scene. Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) is a regular at a lakeside pickup spot, where he finds companionship both platonic and carnal. But his new paramour Michel (Christophe Paou) turns out to be a love-’em-and-leave-’em type, in the deadliest sense… Guiraudie has long been a singular voice in French cinema: anti-bourgeois, at ease in nature, a true regionalist and outsider. Here he and [cinematographer Claire] Mathon capture naked bodies and hardcore sex with the same matter-of-fact sensuousness they bring to ripples on the water and the fading light of dusk.  - The Female Gaze (2018)

Stranger By the Lake (France: Alain Guiraudie, 2013)

STRANGER BY THE LAKE Alain Guiraudie, France, 2013. Guiraudie’s Cannes-awarded exploration of death and desire unfolds entirely in the vicinity of a gay cruising ground that becomes a crime scene. Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) is a regular at a lakeside pickup spot, where he finds companionship both platonic and carnal. But his new paramour Michel (Christophe Paou) turns out to be a love-’em-and-leave-’em type, in the deadliest sense… Guiraudie has long been a singular voice in French cinema: anti-bourgeois, at ease in nature, a true regionalist and outsider. Here he and [cinematographer Claire] Mathon capture naked bodies and hardcore sex with the same matter-of-fact sensuousness they bring to ripples on the water and the fading light of dusk.  - The Female Gaze (2018)

Stranger By the Lake (France: Alain Guiraudie, 2013: 100 mins)

Brody, Richard. "Silence Equals Death in Stranger By The Lake.” The New Yorker (January 24, 2014)

Ferdinand, Marilyn. "CIFF 2013: Stranger by the Lake (L’inconnu du lac, 2013)." Ferdy on Film (2013)

James, Mark. "Stranger by the Lake (2013)." Film International (November 26, 2013)

Knegt, Peter. "Que(e)ries: Talking Sex With The Star and Director of NYFF's Raciest (Male) Gay Offering, 'Stranger By The Lake.'" IndieWire (October 10, 2013)

Koresky, Michael. "Stranger by the Lake." Reverse Shot (January 22, 2014)

Labuza, Peter and Carson Lund. "Special Episode - The 51st New York Film Festival #1." The Cinephiliacs (September 26, 2013)

Peranson, Mark. "TIFF 2013 | João Pedro Rodrigues & Alain Guiraudie on Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, France)." Cinema Scope #55 (Summer 2013)

Quandt, James. "Dangerous Liaisons." Art Forum (January 20, 2014)

Rapold, Nicholas. "Interview: Alain Guiraudie." Film Comment (January 16, 2014)

Russell, Francey. "The Unknown Inside: Alain Guiraudie’s "L’inconnu du lac" (“Stranger by the Lake”)." The Los Angeles Review of Books (February 21, 2014)

Saner, Emine. "From Nymphomaniac to Stranger By the Lake, is Sex in Cinema Getting too Real?" The Guardian (February 21, 2014)

"Stranger by the Lake." Critics Round Up (Ongoing Archive)

Walters, Ben. "Stranger By the Lake - Lakeside cruising and what lies beneath: a spellbinding erotic mystery from French writer-director Alain Guiraudie." Sight and Sound (March 2014)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Innocence (Belgium/France/UK/Japan: Lucile Hadžihalilović, 2004)

Innocence (Belgium/France/UK/Japan: Lucile Hadžihalilović, 2004: 122 mins)

Banks, Julie. "Innocent When You Dream: Affect and Perception through Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Innocence." Screening the Past (September 2013)

Bitel, Anton. "Rites of Passage, Fluidity and Metamorphoses: The Imagery of Education in Lucile Hadžihalilović’s Innocence, Evolution and Earwig." Senses of Cinema #102 (August 2022)

Bondurant, Erik. "Innocence: An Education in Gender Norms." Poptiq (ND)

Cheney, Matthew. "Innocence." The Mumpsimus (January 9, 2010)

Lund, Carson. "Innocence (2004) A Film by Lucile Hadzihalilovic." Are the Hills Going to March Off? (January 21, 2013)

Palmer, Tim. Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2011. [Professor has a copy]

Pugh, Lindsay. "Innocence (2004) by Lucile Hadžihalilović." Women in Revolt (November 13, 2017)

Singer, Leigh. "The New Canon: Innocence." Fandor (Posted on Youtube: September 30, 2018) ["The dedication that ends Lucile Hadžihalilović’s debut feature Innocence is “à Gaspar” (“to Gaspar”), a tribute to her then-partner, notorious film provocateur Gaspar Noé (Irreversible, Love, Climax et al). Given that Innocence is based on a work by another controversial artist, German author Frank Wedekind, who is somewhat infamous for writing the plays, Pandora’s Box and Spring Awakening – both of which delve into taboos of youthful sexuality, lust and violent power games centered on young girls, who are forced into an unforgiving regime of display, performance, and subjugation — you might well fear the worst. You might fear — as in the title of another Noé film — “enter the void.” Instead, Hadžihalilović produced a suggestive, seductive scary tale. Rather than the in your face, combative type of film that is typical of her former paramour, she instead quietly slips inside your head, and attacks from the inside, out. The beauty of her images – all outdoor scenes shot in natural light – are juxtaposed with the sinister connotations so many of them hold. These quiet horrors are heightened since we, the audience, understand that the young women, by virtue of their age, inexperience, and, yes, innocence, have little concept of the undercurrents occurring in the film. I say potential because Innocence thrives, even flourishes, on its ambiguities, its allusions and what it often doesn’t show. It’s that rare film you can come away from feeling that you have both “figured it out” and also felt that you couldn’t pin it down. It can take an obvious, indisputably awful thing – like exploiting young girls for their physical allure – and hold it up to the light from a different angle and find something even more disturbing. In watching Innocence we learn how the darkest impulses may be our very own."]

Smalley, Gregory J. "299: Innocence (2004)." 366 Weird Movies (September 7, 2017)

Taylor, Alison and John Edmond. "This Is Not A Ritual: An Introduction to Lucile Hadžihalilović." Senses of Cinema #102 (August 2022) ["Lucile Hadžihalilović’s films have the structure of allegories. Time after time they are described in terms of surrealism and symbolism, fairy tales, and the shaping of childhood; all rich frameworks for the provision and searching of meaning. Whether with her debut medium-length La bouche de Jean-Pierre (1996), her breakthrough Innocence (2004), its midnight mirror Evolution (2015) or her latest Earwig (2021), Hadžihalilović creates models of nature that appear as simultaneously potential models of society and as cloistered worlds, beholden to their own mysterious logic. These films, when summarised read as fantasy, horror or science fiction, which they are, but when experienced, are slow sensuous works attentive to colour and texture and whose minimalist approach avoids guiding the viewer to specific interpretations and instead allows them to find their own path."]

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 7, 2018

How much of our everyday life is colonized by corporate sponsored vandalism and socially engineered marketing prompts? Never mind the obvious mediatized experiences. Take a walk across your nearest urban landscape and look deeply at the signs—explicit and implicit—that seek to influence our actions. Observe how the environment increasingly is demarcated, bordered, limited, controlled and monitored. Why do so few people think about our “society of control” or its soft bargaining through manufactured desires, marketing prompts and mindless distractions? (Hard bargaining occurs when your Governor threatens to call out the National Guard on you for exercising your democratic rights.) 
The distinction between private and public space is becoming increasingly blurred. The average urban dweller is now estimated to absorb—mindfully or not—2000+ ads a day. Advertising dominates our internal mindscapes and our external landscapes. Unless we desire to isolate ourselves like the technophobic Unabomber, we are unable to escape these corporate marketing intrusions. What, then, is our defense? 
... The colonization of personal mindscapes and public landscapes is part of a privatization of the commons in which limitations are put into place through walls and barriers. Extending this metaphor further, corporate colonization delimits the artistic creative imagination as well as the civic imagination of what is possible. Extend this even further and it is as if we have been culturally framed and put on the wall of a museum. Our world becomes comprised only of the narratives that “they” state “we” should pay attention to. 
... Humans are narrative creatures, homo fabulans, who seek meaning and are open to narrative constructions. We all laugh at the person who is unable to perceive that their favorite TV star is not the character they play, but is this all that different from those of us who are unable to perceive the surreality of the infotainment with which we are presented 24/7? When it comes to more important political and social issues, how does this play out in our perceptions of what is right and wrong? Do most people investigate for themselves and use their knowledge to produce their own meanings, or do they sit back and allow talking heads to tell them what to think? 
... What do you do, though, when the populace has been colonized so heavily by the invading forces? How do you get them to recognize their enslavement or to begin to imagine something different? How do you deal with the lackey art world that supports the dominant structure of passive consumption, corporate branding and obsessive collecting? What does an artist do, when they know their art depends on a critical audience to respond as co-creators, to wake people up? Especially when all of their direct actions of defiance and critique are immediately repurposed and delimited for safe consumption in the 24-hour titillation news cycle. 
This is not a new dilemma. As Monty Python so humorously demonstrates in The Life of Brian, graffiti most likely showed up wherever the first empires sought to control societies. Critical artists of all types have a heritage of challenging controlling narratives through defiant rejection of the forms of the dominant culture: medieval carnival culture, dada, ‘pataphysics, punk, Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s performative dioramas, Luis Bunuel’s films, Situationist detournements, and so on. 
Documentaries generally adopt an authoritative voice and are very manipulative in their traditional structures. Documentary films from the very beginning have problematized and/or been implicated in this cultural problem. From the questions of whether Nanook of the North restaged its anthropological observations of Inuit life, to Orson Welles’ playful mocking of truth, art and property in F for Fake, to Errol Morris’s restaging of torture scenes in Standard Operating Procedure. What then is the filmmaker-artist to do when attempting to critique dominant, controlling narratives through the form of documentary film?  -- Michael Dean Benton, "Exit Through the Gift Shop." North of Center (March 2, 2011)

Abosch, Kevin, et al. "A Very Crypto Future." On the Media (October 12, 2018) ["The economy is the ultimate exercise in collaboration — with collaborators you don’t necessarily choose, such as governments, which can impoverish you with the stroke of a pen. In response to this vulnerability, a person (or persons) working under the name Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer currency with a fixed number of tokens, built on a distributed, indelible ledger. Ten years into the life of the cryptocurrency, it has a market cap in the billions of dollars, and has given rise to thousands of copycat and competitor currencies, all built on their own communities and visions of the future. But in many ways, the underlying principle — faith — is as central to the value of money as ever. Bob speaks with Vinay Gupta, Nathaniel Popper, Neha Narula, Mark Blyth and Kevin Abosch about how cryptocurrency fits into the evolution of money."]

Blyth, Mark and Bill Maurer. "Money, Then and Now." On the Media (October 12, 2018) ["Most schoolchildren learn that money arose when barter proved insufficient for meeting everyday trade needs. People required more complex transactions, so they invented currency: a medium of exchange, unit of account and store of value. It's a compelling story...but a false one. Instead, most evidence suggests that money arose from recordkeeping — or, as UC Irvine professor Bill Maurer explains to Bob, "in the beginning was not the coin... in the beginning was the receipt." In this segment, Bob speaks with Maurer and Brown University's Mark Blyth about past and present myths about money, and what the history of money might suggest about its future."]

Hyman, Louis. "The Radical Catalog." On the Media (October 18, 2018) ["Another chapter in the history of American consumerism came to a close this week when the retail giant Sears announced it was filing for bankruptcy and closing 142 of its unprofitable stores. As experts sifted through the details about what doomed Sears, we found ourselves reading a Twitter thread about a little-known bit of shopping history. Louis Hymanis an economic historian and professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He tweeted: "In my history of consumption class, I teach about Sears, but what most people don't know is just how radical the catalogue was in the era of Jim Crow." In this week's podcast extra, Hyman talks to Brooke about what we can learn from the way Sears upended Jim Crow power dynamics, and what lessons it offers about capitalism more broadly. His latest book is Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary."]

Keene, John. "Reimagining History." On the Media (October 10, 2018) ["Last week, the MacArthur Foundation awarded genius grants to 25 creatives in art, literature, science and music. John Keene, a writer of poetry, fiction and cultural criticism, was one of them. He was recognized for his innovative use of language and form, and the way his work “exposes the social structures that confine, enslave, or destroy” people of color and queer people. Keene spoke to Brooke back in 2015 about his story collection, Counternarratives, which centers the voices of the marginalized in both imagined and reimagined historical moments."]

Lish, Atticus. "On Becoming a Scumbag." Harper's (October 2018) ["A poignant, profane novel of addiction."]

Narula, Neha and Lawrence Weschler. "Ceci N'est Pas Un Dollar." On the Media (October 12, 2018)  [When I discuss/lecture about the social construction of reality an initial touchstone is money - this short (12 mins) episode from On the Media is a good intro to thinking about this through money (also a provocative discussion of art).]

Wolin, Sheldon S. "Myth in the Making." Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Princeton University Press, 2008: 4-14.  ["Democracy is struggling in America--by now this statement is almost cliché. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? In Democracy Incorporated, Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation check its descent into what the author terms "inverted totalitarianism"? Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive--and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a "managed democracy" where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls. Wolin makes clear that today's America is in no way morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, yet he warns that unchecked economic power risks verging on total power and has its own unnerving pathologies. Wolin examines the myths and mythmaking that justify today's politics, the quest for an ever-expanding economy, and the perverse attractions of an endless war on terror. He argues passionately that democracy's best hope lies in citizens themselves learning anew to exercise power at the local level."]

Rivette’s final film [Around a Small Mountain] is a captivating variation on a theme that obsessed him: the interplay between life and performance. Luminously photographed by Lubtchansky in the open-air splendor of the south of France, it revolves around an Italian flaneur (Sergio Castellitto) who finds himself drawn into the world of a humble traveling circus led by the elusive Kate (Jane Birkin), whose enigmatic past becomes a tantalizing mystery he is determined to solve. -- The Female Gaze (2018)