Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nailing our Cultural Coffin, One Unquestioned Re-categorization and Ill-Assumption at a Time. (*Warning- overt doom-sayer over-dramatization follows*)

As much as its not a new thing (in fact it seems lately a bit over-observed and often a trite and empty buzz-phrase), it’s nevertheless been on my mind a lot that, in countless regards, we’re currently residing at a bizarre cultural turning-point. Decisions made and actions taken in regard to the social-structures of our current transitional society are guaranteed to, for better, worse, or just “different,” turn the world that we live in into a place that we wouldn’t have recognized or foreseen five or ten years ago. The current dilemmas and changes (economic, cultural, social, technological, commercial, etc.) that the world is facing could either force us to think more creatively and overhaul outdated systems, thoughts, and ways of functioning that are no longer viable, healthy, constructive, or pertinent… or they could force a tail-spin, as society-at-large continues to blindly rest on the laurels of failed old- and untested new- systems, from which the mass-populous eventually looks around and notices that we are deadlocked into a way of life that makes us irreparably miserable.

I know, I know… I can’t even write these sort of words without a bit of a cringe at the over-dramatization. I’m no doomsayer or garden-variety conspiracy theorist. But maybe it’s time that we consider a bit whether part of the reason that these sentiments make us a bit queasy is that what WOULD have seemed laughable and pompous not that long ago is uncomfortably close to being REALISTIC for the real-life drama-quotient of the present situation.

Whether appropriate or exaggerated, this possibility should prove fodder for our consideration. Increasing our mindfulness of how we live, what we support with our time and money, what information we intake, and how we filter that information into what views and opinions that we choose to subscribe to can be nothing but positive, particularly in a time like this, when nearly every aspect of our collective lives bears some sort of “what’s next?” element.

This is no time to criticize each other for over-analyzing things, for looking at too-broad of a picture, or to even mention the words “You think too much.” We live at a juncture when thinking critically about everyday situations is among the only ways to find possibilities of the positive in impending negativity. Analyzing why we do what we do MUST become a more constant and widespread phenomenon if we are to use trying times as learning experiences rather than long-term detriments. Even if the clich├ęd synopsis’ of our present situation are overblown, this sort of mindset certainly can’t cause us any harm.

Just one bizarre case in point: A recent Monday’s Boston-area newspapers featured a rather surreal media-squabble story that alarmed me quite a bit. It featured a local football-”hero” and a “super”-model, their henchmen (“security”), and a couple of working photo-journalists (relabeled “paparazzi” for the added drama and stock-image automatic vilification) in a South American jungle-nation. As this story is now about a week and a half old, I’ll just relay a cursory recap in case you didn’t catch it.

Basically, the photo-journalists were commissioned by their employer to take pictures of the quarterback and model’s “top-secret” second wedding ceremony (which was so “clandestine” and “private” that its only purpose was as a media-stunt for a different publication). When the photographers were “caught” doing so by the couple’s “security”/ henchmen, they were basically kidnapped onto the property that they had previously remained off-premise of, and were detained (or attempted to be) there until they surrendered their camera and film. When the photographers refused and escaped, the henchmen opened-fire at them, missing their heads by inches and shattering the windows of their vehicle. (I wish I had have thought up this scenario for fiction… but most workshopping groups would probably have told me it was far too preposterous to be compellingly realistic.)

As you can probably guess from the code-switching in this synopsis, for the purpose of this entry I’m most interested in the issues of semantics and linguistics at play in this story, and how those translate into cultural assumptions and a set of media-based (and consumer-digested) binary codes.

Let’s remove the character stereotypes from the scenario and replace them with other stock images. If the same situation had taken place in the middle-east, for instance, the celebrities and security would be labeled “terrorists.” If they were immigrants in a US city, the headline would have read “mafia-related.” But our current culture seems unwilling to be dissuaded from the general binary assumption that “celebrities= heroes, paparazzi= villains.”

To quote the British rapper Scroobious Pip (from 2008’s Strange Famous Records release “Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobious Pip- Angles”) “I always had the feelin’ I could never be the villain, ’cuz the villain in the films is always backlit.” (for more relevant quotes on similar issues of pivotal semantics, check out the title track to that record, “Angles.”)

The photo-journalists in this scenario were paid to do a job. That job facilitates the celebrities’ ability to do their own job (particularly in the case of the super-model), of which the principle occupation and exorbitant pay-checks are derived from having photos taken of them, and maintaining the public interest (their primary claim to job-stability and commercial viability) that only the media is capable of ensuring. Photo-journalists doing their job facilitate the jobs of celebrities, yet somehow that very same media expects us to believe (and it seems that much of the populace is all too willing to) that the facilitator is somehow (by way of the facilitation itself) oppressing and victimizing the facilitated?

Cue that “what’s next?” element here… If this sort of thing is any indication, those laurels we could choose to rest on are planted in quicksand.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Swords We Swallow; Transparency in Brainstorming.

In my last post, I mentioned that, per the requests of some participants in our poll to name "Swords We Swallow," I would post the complete list of choices from which the finalists where culled. You asked for it, you got it. I'm so sorry. Chalk this up once again to part of the project of making the art-process a facet of the art itself. A bit of transparency in brainstorming.

Although only one of these names could be selected as the title of the project, we still enjoy many of them that were eliminated early for reasons of logistics... expect to see some reappear in other parts of the endeavor.

Muddle the Plan
Luck Before Wedlock
Tanner and the Make
Grant Owl’s Facktotem
Twelve Months Aristocrat
Awnt Yuke
The Pet Plagues
Archdukon Cabbanger
Last Past the Post
Old Fruit
Bogside Beauty
York’s Porker
Moonface the Murderer
Midnight Sunburst
Tight Before Teatime
You’re Welcome to Waterfood
Lobsterpot Lardling
The Ace and Deuce of Paupering
He’s None of Me Causin’
Scuttle to Cover
Salary Grab
Sleeps with Feathers and Ropes
Swayed in his Falling
Vee Was a Vindner
Born Burst Feet Foremost
Easyathic Phallusaphist
Fast in the Barrel
Boawwll’s Alocutionist
Spring Peepers
Ealaine aire san Ealaine
The Immaculate Conceptions
Whose Wings
Swords We Swallow
Old Seabeastius’ Salvation
Saith a Sawyer til a Strame
Buy Birthplace for a Bite
The Crazier Letters
Groans of a Britoness
He Never Has the Hour
Ought We to Visit Him?
Placeat Vestrae
Gettle Nettie
Thrust Him Not
Oremunds Queue Visits Amen Mart
Twenty of Chambers
Weighty Ten Beds and a Wan Ceteroom
I Led the Life
The Following Fork
Drink to Him
I Ask You to Believe I Was His Mistress
He Can Explain
Da’s a Daisy so Guimea Your Handsel Too
Tank and Bonnbtail
Huskvy Admortal
What Jumbo Made to Jalice and What Anisette to Him
Ophelia’s Culpreints
Hear Hubty Hublin
My Old Dansh
Suppotes a Ventriloquist Merries a Corpse
Look to the Lady
Of the Two Ways of Opening the Mouth
Through a Lift in the Lude
Oldsire is Dead to the World
Inn the Gleam of Waherlow
Thee Steps Forward
Two Stops Back
In My Lord’s Bed
Mum It Is All Over
He’s Hue to Me Cry
A Boob was Weeping This Mower Was Reaping
Up From the Pit of My Stomach I Swish You the White of the Mourning
Gentlehomme’s Faut Pas
See the First Book of Jealesies Pessim
The Suspended Sentence
A Pretty Brick Story for Childsize Heroes
As Lo Our Sleep
The Fokes Family Interior
Seen Aples and Thin Dyed
Fine’s Fault was no Felon
His is the House That Malt Made
Divine Views From Back to the Front
Sounds and Compliments Libiduous
Seven Wives Awake Aweek
Many-festoons For the Colleagues on the Green
As Tree is Quick and Stone is White So is My Washing Done by Night
The Honorary Mirsy Earwicker
Showing All the Unmentionability
Jaywalking Eyes
Ten Canons in the Skelterfugue