Sunday, May 18, 2014

Against the Flow, Rather Again

"So, how about we get something to eat?"

Scene changes. We're all at an oceanside restaurant. A few seconds after we've described the funny personal habits of the waiter, or just panned the camera across the waves, Sally leans forward. "Are you sure this is a good idea?" she asks the table. "After all, we're wanted criminals! Anyone could see us!"

"Stop worrying," mutters Billy. "I just had to get some lamb chops before we're on the run."

Oh, fine; "salmon." Scratch out the lamb chops. We're at a seaside place, remember? It's just that "Billy" sounds more like a "lamb chops" guy. The important part, though, is that, for decades upon decades, all of art--directorial techniques, writing of books and novels, TV shows, movie scripts, friggin' comic book layouts--we've had this all-powerful idea that, to economize on storytelling space, we mustn't include full conversations. We don't have time for them, after all.

So, how did the conversation flow when Billy suggested getting something to eat? Obviously, Sally and Billy decided on, "Yes, we'll eat." And how did they decide upon that despite being wanted fugitives? Apparently, Billy really had to eat that salmon. But why, when they're are the restaurant an hour 45 later, after having the argument, settling on a plan, driving there, Billy taking a leak while Sally eats butter mints off the maƮtre d's podium when no one is looking, them getting shown to a table, ordering and being served, and cutting a few bites--why then is Sally bringing up the old subject again, in very clear, yet concise terms?

Because we're reminding the viewer, of course. We skipped from one scene to another, intending to entertain a bunch of shallow-attention-spanned idiots who couldn't handle listening to Sally and Billy's argument and understand their decision, so we put artificial dialogue into Sally's mouth (inserted at an arbitrary point mid-meal) just to explain the transition and get to the next "more interesting" scene we'd prefer to show. This is what it means to be a professional entertainer--to destroy character consistency, and make people act in unnatural ways, redundantly referencing topics in objective terminology in order to explain why we are where we are without having to bore anybody with the details of why.

A future without a past. A destination without a reason. A passion without a passion. Blink.

I threw away four brand new books today. (No, not fiction. Don't jump to any conclusions.) Cookbooks, ranging from vegetarian to (east) Indian Nouveau. And why not? Who the hell needs a book anymore? All the recipes are on the internet. But these were new books, newly printed, with recipes and health tips, yet lacking any cute side stories. Nothing but recipes and pictures of the completed recipes. Why in the world would anyone print such a book? It's a waste of space. It's even more environmentally sound to use a friggin' iPad, left on a custom-made stand during the whole cooking process, for a cooking reference, than it is to print and ship and retail and transact and drive home an actual, physical cookbook. And everyone knows it, by now. This isn't, shudder, the year 2000 or 1990 or 1980. It's far enough into this phase that we all know how stupid cookbooks are. Unlike fiction, you don't read them in the tub, or treasure them as part of a family collection. So why? It's insane to print them.

So I finally, after suffering their presence untouched on the shelf for several years, tossed them out. You can't blame people for giving them as gifts, though. Nothing says "pointless holiday gift" quite like an in-print cookbook in the post-digital age, oops, we're not there yet, fine, "like an in-print cookbook in the digital age," there ya go. So we have to print them. What else will people give for the holidays if not in-print cookbooks? And you can't even blame each other for buying them or throwing them out. Life is nothing but the short span of random shit that happens on the roughly four feet of conveyor belt located in-between the factory and the landfill, eh? Moves quick, too.

I bought a twenty-four thousand dollar dining table today. It's ugly, ugly as hell, but he liked it. It was on "special," too, if you can believe that.

(Oh, go on; excoriate me for my largesse. But actually, the shits that like these kinds of tables think of this one as pretty low-end. The real purpose is to communicate a message--a message that can only be communicated by wasting so much on such an ugly thing [with redundant curves that make serving a pain in the ass] that exists only to communicate. Communication for the sake of communication, power and power dynamics, welcome to the top of the food chain, or at least, as close as you're gonna get. Have the boss over for dinner again, honey. I'll be in the back with the hemlock.)

Even more offensive than the table is the nineteen hundred dollar vase of reeds. This "vase," nearly five feet high, holds a bunch of reeds that look vaguely like malnourished didgeridoos. They're supposed to be artistic, these collections of reeds, and a step up from the equally pointless platters of wooden "spheres" (don't call them "balls") that the lesser folk set on their coffee tables in an attempt to imitate my vase of reeds. I look at it, and I think, God, I gotta stop reading Luxe. That's right--it's not my fault. It's the constant bombardment of something I crave and actively create. Blink.

The military march. The murder mystery. The broiled trout. The gonzo moneyshot. Different facets of art, subjected to the tortures of the house of bathos: music; literature; cuisine; erotica. Where does it begin? Where end?

Her prose is evocative; incendiary; brutally reminiscent of the post-postmodern world, where entertainment has increasingly become like a contract between the viewer and the artist. The slices of contemporary urban Americana here represent...

His review was banal; pointless; brutally reminiscent of the post-postmodern world, where entertainment has increasingly become like a contract between the viewer and the artist.

I boned up on my Russian history. Apparently, events occurring between Russia and Ukraine between the years of 1907 and 1922 do not merit a mention of the American and British humanitarian intervention (which certain ignorant extremists have called the 1917 invasion of Russia). This, from the London School of Economics! I was so shocked at their oversight that I moved right on to the new treatise on President Polk, where I learned that Anglo settlers in North America came there out of a desire to work hard and live free, in contrast to those damned half-African Spanish bastards, who held an exclusive license on cruelty. Because, you know, Cortes. What is Columbia thinking, these days? How could they have strayed so far from their reliable roots of...hey, maybe the table isn't so ugly after all.

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