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February 24, 2005


turnipsandcelery copy.jpg

Okay, okay, not bad. Sort of resembles art.
But you fucked up on the plate edges.
Maybe I just like my edges messy.
You didn't even notice until after you took the picture.
By which time you'd already plowed it down.
No, no, I remembered, I did: 30 chews per forkload.
Now you're just getting ridiculous.
Oh, I know.

Posted by ÿ at 10:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 21, 2005

On rewatching Ararat...


I almost apologize for the harshness of my initial assessment. I still think it's an uninvolving and convoluted failure but because I'm able to fast-forward through the stuff that's too excruciating to endure again, I have a clearer sense of where the film's trying to go, and the intention is clearly remarkable. Egoyan loves dialogue like, "I don't need a story to make me believe something," or "I'm suspicious of anything that tries to make me feel anyway at all," and he could have gotten away with more of this discoursing (which, because I'm turning Japanese, I will from now on refer to as kouwaing) if only the story wasn't so bloated with coincidence and expository takes on the nature of verisimilitude that are themselves rich with too much self-reflexive verisimilitude when really, unless you went to art school and crossed over, do you really care about verisimilitude at all? Is the demographic of this movie Emily Carr students or human beings?
There are some very odious mistakes such as casting Bruce Greenwood in two roles - as both a security guard who works in a gallery where Gorky's exhibit is showing and also as an actor-- this is sort of like Achilles lamenting his break up with Jennifer Aniston while building the horse of Troy in the image of the 22 year old supermodel he's about to start dating. Marie Jose Croze is totally extraneous also. There are about ten too many coincidences and because it's fresh in my mind I want to articulate them, if I can, though there are so many it's difficult to know where to start. Perhaps here: A customs official with a gay son - no problem. The official spends the film interrogating a kid named Raffi who has just flown in from Armenia - no problem. Raffi claims he was shooting location footage for a film about Armenian genocide otherwise shot on a backlot in Toronto - no problem. But when it gets to the point where the custom official's gay son works in a gallery featuring an Armenian artist, and lives with a guy who gets a part in the Armenian movie playing Jevdet Bey, no worky. Armenian genocide, if we're being true to life, is not something that gets that much attention. When it gets to the point where Jevdet is on set with the actor playing his lover, even though his lover is now just an "actor" playing an American medic in Armenia you find yourself shrieking: Just cast someone else! My disbelief requires more than gold plated suspenders to buy into any of this, which is surely the point, but the result, which Egoyan might act like he intended, is Egoyan with his pants around his ankles, and all he can say in his defence is that he intended it that way, because he likes to be pretentious - and suspicious of something that tries to make us feel one way or the other. Fine. But this is a film that should feel more confidently entitled to its agenda and get over it already, indeed, its agenda is its most notable attribute. There's no question the Turks commited atrocities, and there's no question their government's shamelessly involved in covering it up. The power-house scene at the film's conclusion, where the gay actor dating the customs official's son faces off with our protagonist, Raffi, would have been a lot more powerful if the audience wasn't involved in unravelling all the contrivances which, if you were me anyway, would sound something like: okay, so wait a sec, this gay guy playing Jevdet Bey is dating someone whose disapproving father spent all day interrogating this kid and now they end up in a car together driving home from a movie that was finished shooting when the kid was in the airport because he called his mom and she was on her way to the premiere - so now this is all happening before everything we've seen even though it's somehow our end-point? Then you shriek: No worky!! Irony is effective when it dawns on you, not when you must strain your brain into mad contortions to decode it. Remove that whole interconnected web, get rid of Celia, and just play the scene out between strangers-- it's way more compelling. Give Eric Bogosian - one of the greatest actors ever to appear in a Canadian film - something to do, and the film becomes a lot more compelling, as you don't sense how dismayed he is by the under-development of his character.
In the DVD extras section, the cast and crew are asked about how important Ararat is as a movie and not surprisingly they all agree it's important. Also not surprisingly, none of them have seen the film when they say this. Given the subject matter, there's no question the potential for importance is great. This is a movie Turkey has to deal with. If only it wasn't so tempting to dismiss.

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February 18, 2005

no one knows who's a prick


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It's Turtles All the Way Down

Christ You've Really Done It Now, sky blue as it is today.
The wind is too. And so are you!
Blue air in the lungs and blue hair in your air.
Work on weaknesses for awhile.
There are so many of them.
Your cooking for instance.
Is fine.
Your cooking is awful.
My cooking, let me tell you something -
I'm through doing that though.
I'm telling you something now.
Your cooking is awful.
My attitude needs work too.
It wasn't that girl on the phone's fault. She'd had a long day. Repeat after me.
She'd had a long day.
That's courage. A bend in the road.
Or denial.
But my cooking is fine.
Your presentation's disastrous.
Don't be like that.
I can't help it.
I know that, but surfaces are never deeper. Do you
remember how you never used to make your bed?
I was a good kid.
You were only going to get in it at night again anyway you'd say.
Actually, that was never the reason.
Do you know what the fountain of youth is?
Maybe I don't need a fresh bed in my childhood like that, okay?
It's art with a capital A my friend; that's the fountain of youth
and there is everything to gain from eating it
I just cracked the joint in my pinky toe so do as
you're told: A cunning drawing with your uncoordinated hand
to coordinate that which the mind's niggardly logic will always refuse.
Did you need that though? Or is
it wise to revise all our hourly good-byes, when there are so many of them?
When you're full up on crab cakes, asparagus, hollondaise--
Worse than city air are the blue tears than anything you might eat here,
and what else? That faith is a frog, we know we've known that all along
& only just forgotten that much - that it's presentation. A lilly pad. Get to
sleep on time, eat masterpieces alive, digest them whole
and make your
bed in the morning, dammit - it's presentation,
but you said that.

Posted by ÿ at 04:52 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 02, 2005

lo shu square


Lo shu orders the Chinese stages of life 1 through 9 in a square that adds up to 15 in all directions-- diagonally, horizontally and vertically. 15's a magic number in China, so this square was something that fascinated them. As the guy who told me about this square said, 'if you're around for 6000 years to have to find something to do.'

The 9 stages of life are:
1-beginning, danger, water sex/black
2-planning, harmony
4-chaos, acceleration
5-stillness (in the eye of the storm- as 5 is in the middle), adolescence/yellow

In China you're considered born at the moment of conception, so it makes sense 1. is sex, black, beginning, water, and danger, for at the time infant fatality rates would have been tremendous, and 1. references our time in the womb. If we apply lo shu to business the model means: a company is born out of the black into its planning stage, then finally growth occurs, unforseen market forces bring chaos into the picture, in the middle of the chaotic storm there is always a calm eye - yellow number 5- eventually the company achieves wealth, people can relax, perhaps some retire, there's stasis, the company dies, and there's eventual recognition of all that's happened.

Every piece of art has a number as well. If a novel's about chaos it's a 4, etc.. Say you want to tell the story of someone who gets rich, for instance. Place the number 3 (for growth) in the wealth spot (the bottom right hand corner of the box - where '6' sits in the lo shu box). Now, we have 3/6 - growth occuring in wealth - someone's getting rich. From there, we fill out the rest of the box following the magic lo shu line and we're left with this:


If we like the 3/6 and want to experiment further we can go in the opposite direction along the lo shu line aswell:


The last thing we do is decide where we start. You don't necessarily want to start in the beginning - beginnings are more effective elsewhere in the cycle. If we have a particularly powerful scene in mind for the opening we might put 9/9 - double recognition - at the beginning. One possible order that follows from this is 1/8, 2/7, 3/6, 4/5, 5/4, 6/3, 7/2, 8/1, which breaks down as:

9/9 recognition in a place of recognition - our shocking opening scene, followed by
1/8 beginning (water danger sex black) in stasis
2/7 planning and harmony in relaxation
3/6 growth (thunder/green) in wealth
4/5 chaos in stillness (center, adolescence/yellow)
5/4 stillness (center, adolescence/yellow) in chaos
6/3 wealth in growth
7/2 relaxation in planning/harmony
8/1 stasis in beginning (water, danger, sex/black)

If you knew you wanted to end with "chaos in stillness" (4/5), you would have to begin with "stillness in chaos" (5/4) and work down, or with "growth in wealth" (3/6) and work back.

The symbols are vague enough that the juxtapositions are invariably evocative: Lo shu can function as a kind of random plot generator to test drafts against. It is also used with equal effectiveness to make decisions and tell fortunes - or so the ancients believed.

Posted by ÿ at 05:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack