tisdag 9 april 2013

Zizek drinking game


I thought I could just post this on the wall of the group, but it would seem I will have to go through the proper channels! It's just for fun, but maybe more people will appreciate it. I want more ideas for this "game", but also to share what I have already. So, what is it? Zizek Drinking Game! I would like people to contribute with more ideas than just "zizek says", because these sort of things are not prone much to discussion, and discussing while drunk is fun (can you imagine the discussions whether zizek is returning to the core of hir argument or if it is indeed an anecdote, or perhaps an anecdote within the anecdote? It would be interesting to make a zizek flow chart!).

So, the rules are: gather some people, put on a lecture or movie with zizek, and drink whenever...

... zizek says "and so on"

... zizek tugs shirt/touches nose/coughs/snorts

... zizek defends hegel/lacan from accusations/advocates them for a true understanding of our society today (or more specifically hegel for understanding society, and lacan for understanding hegel)

... zizek makes a "zizekian reversal" ("hitler didn't go far enough", "love is evil", "a good portrait looks more like the person than the person itself", 'the capitalist system is in place because we know it's unjust yet want to have something to complain about in case we mess up our own lives", etc)

... zizek describes hirself as a realist/communist

... zizek proclaims that something is too simple (an explanation) or juxtaposes a naive/superficial/simple reading with a more "realistic" one

... zizek says "let me give you..."

... zizek says "I mean"

... zizek says "whatever"

... zizek says "the problem is"

... zizek says "they believe"

... zizek says "I claim"

... zizek says "you know"

... zizek says "my god"

... zizek says "precisely"

... zizek says "I don't mean/ideology isn't..."

... zizek says something vulgar

... zizek says "blablabla"

... zizek says "not just"

... zizek says "this is why"

... zizek tells an anecdote

... zizek criticizes the left

... zizek says "let me be brutally honest"

... zizek tells a joke about jews

... zizek compares hirself to Stalin/Lenin

... zizek criticizes liberalism or tolerance

... zizek uses the phrase "good old-fashioned"

onsdag 18 januari 2012

Buffy, writing, analysis, notes

Some pointers on good writing:

When people speak: make sure it's character specific (unique voice, could only be said by this person), check if the dialogue brings the action forward and leads to something which cannot lead to a regression, but instead a climax, and check if it refers back to something from before.

If something happens, make sure it happens on different levels.
Beside the face value, whatever that is, check if what happens springs from a call-to-action, can be read as metaphor for something, says something about the world, about the social aspects of that world, of about the people inhabiting it. See if it corresponds with what's happening in the story arc, the episode, the whole season, chapter, book, whatever.

Earlier to now, viz a vis, juxtaposed, allegory, classic, subversion. Duets are good at this, like in dr horrible, where words mean different things, or different words are employed. Nip/Tuck is very good at creating specific episodic juxtapositions. Another duet that's wonderful is the reprise of taras “under your spell” and giles “standing”.

of context, of tropes, of genre, etc. The game BUTTON subverts expectations of the medium at hand, changing what is happening and how it is interpreted, which would not work the same way if it was made analog, even if it could be without problems since the digital version does not enforce rules such as video games usually do. In china town, the noir trope of rain becomes dry heat, and in dark city, water is overflowing in the end. In buffy, in the episode where people sing, spike says “i'm free if that bitch dies... I better help her out”, and “first I'll kill her then I'll save her”. This is about different things: it is death and love, darkness and wants, but also about vampires, tropes about sexuality and what vampires stand for; the erotic, the dark, the primal giving in, the original human, the old, the primordiality claiming it's animal descendants. The good vampire is perhaps not a subversion of things as such, especially not anymore, but here spike is not good or evil as such even, and the fact that some fans were pissed at the transition says something about their wish to have this cool evil villain, who already in the beginning I would say was ambivalent and weak in some ways.

Just like spike is william the bloody poet but also the terror of slayers, so Spike is a bad vampire, bad also a bad good guy. Oz sometimes wish to just give in to the beast/werewolf, to relax, and angel suffers oh so terribly because zie tries to be good. Spike doesn't and often brings this up; zie suffered enough in life and takes hir vengeance upon the world now. But for Buffy, zie wants to change. Yet Buffy wants the darkness in spike (even if zie hated riley for trying out vampires). So what will spike be free from exactly if zie kills buffy? Will zie be free to relax finally, just like the vampire zie is? Ah, but can zie really find peace as a vampire, and grow as such? No, only make the pile of corpses larger. So zie is ambivalent in hir love for buffy, as it is not the vampire thing to do, yet zie wants to save hir in order for hir to become a better person, to find something to “live” for. Without buffy zie can not be free, but becomes a vampire again. Yet with buffy there, zie can not be free neither, lost in love, an outsider, not a real vampire, just a lapdog.

I know I should go
But I follow you like a man possessed
There's a traitor here beneath my breast
And it hurts me more than you've ever guessed
If my heart could beat, it would break my chest

As zie says in the end when buffy says that zie loves spike: “no, you don't love me. But you treated me like a man, and for that I thank you”. Without being free to make mistakes, to not be assumed to have a choice, but just an evil, dark thing, spike feels zie will never be free.

I died
So many years ago
But you can make me feel
Like it isn't so

This freedom of vampirism that is releasing the beast is somewhat subverted by the coolest and most evil vampire ever, by Spike.

Gaimans/Moores specialty, which is a form of discrepancy, often handled through voice over and pictures, where what we see is not what we read. It can also be the irony of having the hero named as “Hammer”, a hero who is a “tool”. Or words meaning different things in conversation, which reverberates back to things expressed earlier. It is spike, a phallus symbol, called william the bloody, as in the terror of the night, actually getting that name because hir poetry was so bad that people rather drove a railroad spike through their heads. Effeminate spike, clinging to mommy.

new reading of what happened before, expectations, guessing work, slasher movies principle of guessing who will die, and how, not if they will die.

Non-linearity is to be respected:
where things get a different feel/meaning when seen from another angle. Physicality here plays into it, like for instance having a comic in your hand and not on the screen often leads to an easier time to read in non-linear ways, which in the writings of Moore and Gaiman for example is very important for me due to their subtexts, textuality. Cyclical natures of arcs and themes are cool too, and breaking symmetry. Musical themes, recurring, changing. Dream Theater are good with this. For example in the song on bipolar syndrome, there is the themes of cyclical things (as in many of their concept albums), where voices are distinct and represented musically, and songs that start the album end it somehow, and even lyrics are juxtaposed with the lyrics, as when the character has weathered the depression, thus succeeding, and the music takes a dark turn once again (resumed frantic pace), making the theme of cyclical natures stronger. “Even though she seems so high” juxtaposed with dissonant piano sounds, the song taking a turn for the themes of “war inside my head”, on themes about post traumatic stress. Thus the songs can be read as a journey of sorts, but also as smaller pieces, internally consistent and complete. But still; the reprise of the bipolar song at the end is from the voice of the person with mental problems, the voices of the “other” now disappeared, and the outsider who has learned the lesson is now the protagonist, singing “I” during the phases of the song that were skipping beats and turning towards slower tempo and dissonance before, now ringing in a new day, but also incorporating themes for all the songs of the album, leading to very complex layers of meaning and once again ending on the notes of “war inside my head” which lead to the final song on clinical depression, “losing time”, which is in contrast to the even faster paced reprise, but also working on the cyclical nature of depression followed by manic periods. Encompassing (lyrically) earlier songs, connecting them to themes such as deception and vengeance, it also opens up for interpretations on other characters than those that at first glance seem to be the ones suffering from mental illness, such as the friend who watches the bipolar person tearing hirself apart:

Shame and disgrace over mental unrest
Keeps us from
saving those we love

It can be shame over anothers mental illness, but also over ones own perhaps, the illness not represented in people who have invisible illnesses. Buffy too has wonderful cyclical natures, like the last season vis a vis the first, but also how it shows how things have become different, which dream theater does with their album octavarium, where they “come full circle”, grow up, make more musical tributes than ever before on this album, have number symbolism ad absurdum, and also finally grow up and realize that they are now the adults, others admire them, just as buffy finally returns to school in season 7 but not to gain an ordinary life, but to return to highschool to become the counselor and handle the rising hellmouth.

Art is a puzzle. It is about expectations. Like reveals. Oz says: you haven't met my baby. Then comes a gasp from everyone (does zie have a child, how will willow react?!), and then we see a dog. A sigh of relief. We know how this works, whedon doesn't have to tell us stuff, because we connect things. But Oz is so matter-of-fact that zie does not say something just for the sake of it, so then zie says: “oh no, that's just my dog. Meet my baby.” So we are in Ozs realm now, which means that even the comic itself becomes glued to this specific “retreat from conventions”.

Art is about subverting expectations, about not giving the audience what they want, but what they need. About being violent towards them, making them grow, which is never painless.

Symbolism makes emotions bigger. Why symbolism? To be honest I don't know what symbolism is really. But I think it has to do with economics at least: one cannot say everything, fit everything, and make things flow. It is about puzzling, about giving the audience feedback, not everything served, writing them on the nose, too. It is about more ambiguity, and also rereading, opening up for more things, for different kind of readings (non-linear, skimming through pictures for meaning). If journalism is the art of making people read something once, then good literature is making people read stuff more than once. I totally believe in that, which is then not weird that I like the works of people such as Moore, who makes comics that should be read 4-5 times, as zie claims somewhere. One also cannot not communicate, so one might as well have some control over the content and think consciously about symbolism, since I don't think people can assume what is face value and just keep to that. If symbolism is something standing for something else, then one has to know what is the original signifier/signified, which really confuses me and leads to essentialist thinking and my ideas on semiotic domains.

people saying that a submarine is from US, and then we see a korean flag on it. What does this mean?

I work with it a lot, which is also why player privilege interests me in video games and why I sometimes write things that don't correspond to earlier things I wrote in the manifesto. Player privilege is sort of like Chekovs gun: if something is there, it is there for you as a player, and you will be able to use it/conquer it/make it yours. To do otherwise is to be a slut, a tease, and is generally considered to be bad signposting or just plain out lying. If there is a statue I can interact with, I will be able to solve something with it, I as a player will not be questioned (I will approach people and ask them many questions, and they will be willing to answer, work as plot exposition, or read as information posts, but people will seldom approach me and leave me dazed and confused). The world is there for me, like a buffet. I will be able to save everyone if I'm good enough. These are the privileges, and these are the rules of engagement.

This is why I love Metal Gear Solid 2 and how it subverts these notions of what we as gamers have grown accustomed to. Kojima decides from the get-go on canon, and which of the alternative endings from the first game will be the correct one in the second game. And not only this: both are true, which disqualifies player agency and decision which we grow with and find ourselves invested in, completely. From there it's just downhill: player characters becoming their own individuals, breaking free from our grasp, and hir role, in other ways than sneezing in inappropriate situations (an occasion which is otherwise too quite uncommon: that we, as a player, lose control over what our character is doing, without us being able to predict it).

That's why I also love games such as Pathologic, which are meditations on inadequacy and human frailty. As such, they don't care about being “fun”. I've been thinking about Majoras Mask, the last zelda game I've truly connected to on a deeper level. It was the first zelda game that I felt ambivalent towards, also, because some of the magic was not longer there. I was grown up. I think it feels so damn magic still today just because it subverts expectations on the zelda canon and structure which has been working for 25 years now but were indeed a different sort of coming-of-age for me and also others in majoras mask..

Now, some examples of symbolism and other stuff in Whedons work (Buffy/Dr Horrible). Just some scattered thoughts from my notebook. The connection to different types of writing tricks could be made clearer, but this is mostly for me, so eh.

When demons attack the fortress of the slayers
, the witches make the bridge collapse, or rather, just retract the magic holding the bridge up, thus drowning some enemies. The bridge is for security, but also for approaching, for conquering water, a means for communication, contact. The bridge is not there, but held in stasis by magical means. Since the slayer fortress could be found because the witches inside there were using too much magic, then magic alleviates yet exacerbates some problems. The bridge speaks of the foundation of the fortress, that perhaps the slayer army is held together by artificial means, by magic (which must be paid for somehow, but how exactly Willow keeps hidden, just as Buffy keeps hidden from Willow that zie robs banks and whatnot).

There is much talk in this arc about solutions which are not good enough, or not good in the long run (as hiding), but also about doing radical things in order not to be one step behind all the time, just reacting, which was exactly why Buffy decided to divide the power among potentials in season 7. And now here they are, facing the same problem again, a fix to a fix to a fix. (bridge over troubled) Water is a symbol of femininity, which connects to moons, to the season arc of season 8 (twilight are the enemies), and after the retreat (which here has a double meaning, of escaping but also going to a retreat in Tibet) also to Oz, who has a very special relationship with the full moon, yet is the only person who Buffy can think of who has made it into a mission to live “less magic”.


The words of Faith in Buffys body when they did the old switcheroo lead to Faith making a cheap imitation of Buffys morals as pastiche. This experience of being shown kindness and true friendship profoundly changed Faith, although zie did act out to begin with. Then in the comic, Faith says similar words, but for real. Not a masochist anymore, zie fights for hir love of life, and wants to help others as a social worker. Faith says to the people (about killing vampires) that they should aim for the heart, which is taking leadership (“don't be afraid to lead, Buffy says in season 7, which is ironically what Faith decides not to do with the new role as social worker, when indeed zie has a choice), coming into hir own, taking responsibility. Faith is also referring to the first kill by Faith, when zie killed a human, and how this process changed hir. Buffy aimed for Faiths heart, just as Xander aimed for Willows heart when Willow turned evil, etc. It is an admittance of Faith that zie was indeed a vampire, and that aiming for the heart is all you need to know. Faith is now Buffy, doesn't want to wage a war, while Buffy has declared war on humanity. Giles hangs out with Faith and has even adopted hir way of speaking (“five by five”).

Andrew says in one comic that zie has experience with bullying. This I interpret in two ways: as having been bullied, but also being the bully. Questions arise, like which one Andrew means, and if Buffys comment "yeah I know" means that Buffy has a different reading, an ironic reading because Andrew bullied Buffy, or not. It accentuates change, and that Andrew and Buffy are now together, however it was before (Buffy cheerleader, Andrew nerd). They are now family. Andrew is so glad when zie hears that, like zie never had a family. Were not the evil trio a family then? What is the difference?

If Andrew does indeed still see hirself as being bullied, then does zie still feel like a victim, which is something zie has seen hirself as for a long time and even been confronted by Buffy for? Andrew always felt like zie did nothing wrong, was led on, victim of circumstances, until Buffy told Andrew to stop telling stories, to turn the camera off, and admit that zie was a killer, once and for all (?). Zie did, and took responsibility. Is zie still trying to fix problems hirself, keeping things secret, instead of being truthful and admitting mistakes? Just before Buffy tells Andrew that zie is family now, zie reminds us that all of the Scoobies have lied to one-another, done wrong, or killed even. What keeps the family together: is it that forgiveness is truly forgiveness, instead of just another thing to keep locked up and then used to stab someone in the back with, like in the evil trio family? Are the slayers bullys now perhaps? They redistributed their powers, yet are not deemed an ever larger threat by humanity as a whole, and must step up to the challenge and become outlaws. Buffy does not use guns, because these are real weapons, whereas swords are... what exactly? Similarly, zie does not kill humans, but has no problem releasing deadly spiders upon them. Also: deciding who is human, worthy of humane treatment or not, as Harmony pointed out. Has the oppressed become the oppressor?

Giles and Buffy are once again connecting in season 8 for a short while, talking behind Willows back about the dangers of magic, which puts Willow in the position of Faith from before, which is a form of counterpoint, or a lesson perhaps not learned. People have went behind others backs many times in the series. What are the new circumstances, why is this happening again? Differences, similarities? On the theme of victim/offender which is very much the theme through buffy season 8 (and also before, but then more about good/evil), Faith and Giles hide out in an old nazi bunker, but then must run off when attacked by vampires, and are on a train in germany. Are they both offender and victim? Just irony? As always, there is the conflict of knowing that the power our good guys have comes from a dark place, from demons, and the war against demons can only lead to one thing: the end of magic. But many of our heroes, Willow/Buffy especially, have much invested in their magic/demonic powers. It's a disaster waiting to happen. Who is willow if not hir “poison”? Buffy, on the other hand, feels differently, and wants peace, but at the same time hir actions speak differently often.

Once more with feelings

We don't know in the intro that the musical theme is about spontaneity. Words say I am apathetic, yet the musical number says that I'm singing, and free. There is a discrepancy, a mask, showing itself, just like Buffy hirself in season 6. These words weigh more at the end of the episode, when the song comes back after the reveal where Buffy sings to the scooby gang that zie was in heaven before being taken back to hell on earth. A slightly different meaning emerges, as buffy whispers the reveal, what has been bothering hir. Now the “give me something to sing about” has a new energy, an anger, in the way of “what do you want me to do now, are you happy?”. Buffy says “don't give me songs, give me something to sing about”, reflecting the intro of “going through the motions”, but without emotions. The song afterwards tells it all: where do we go from here? Now that there is room for dialogue, there is room for secrecy, and people don't know what to say to each-other, which is the case also in the “hush” episode when a spell is cast so that people can't talk, where riley in the end after the spell is broken says “we must talk”, buffy says “yeah” and then the rest of the episode is silent anyway. The demon leaves them be, just as spike spread lies in earlier seasons on the command of adam, and as twillight in season 8 spreads doubt among the slayers ranks. Their undoing is often due to internal struggles and lack of clear communication. I'll never tell, the song anya and xander sing? Yeah, definitely irony there, with all the nostalgic notions of family which among the scoobies has never been an option. I love the juxtapositions in anyas song in another episode, “im his mrs”, between death/love/premonition/fears/marriage/loss of personality/lack of personality, such as “lately anya” (death/late into the game of love, xander late for wedding, late for communication, everything is a flashback upon anya dying). How sex is collapsed with death in the buffy series is an another interesting topic, which Whedon hirself has commented upon (“promised not to punish strong female characters, sexually promiscuous characters, yet here I am, punishing the hell out of buffy”), and has also lead to some critique in the case of the most promiscuous of them all, faith, who is punished like hell. Anywya, the most shocking of these juxtapositions is at the end of the song:

I'll be Missis
I will be his Missis
I will beeeee -
[cut to image of dead Anya]

So was xander right, would marriage lead to even worse things? We all know what happened with anya later...

Now for some Dr Horrible stuff! Three themes and analysis:

on change, growth, and fear as male syndrome (class, violence, privileges)
on water as theme
on Penny and feminism

With my freeze-ray I will stop the pain

With the freeze-ray Horrible wants to stop the world in order to find time, as the clothes are tumbling in the washer, people are mumbling, and things are happening so fast in the realm of penny (womanhood), the laundry room.

You need time to know that I'm the guy to make it real, the feelings you don't want to feel.

Projecting much?

Destiny ends with me saving you

Once again, nothing ever ends, yet Hammer wants there to be a stasis. It is still fear of change which leads to catastrophe.

I’ll bend the world to our will and we’ll make time stand still

It is the blog, static information, the realm of the predictable, of (lack of) control which is here standing still. Technology makes it true, news report giving credibility (to both hammer and horrible).

My victory's complete
So hail to the king

Ironic. Everything you ever is here sung by distant female voices, like a whisper. What's left to do now then?

The song “brand new day” has a similar structure as “everything you ever”, and is as such a comment on the plans set out in brand new day. “She may cry but her tears will dry”, and indeed, pennys tears do dry as zie dies, and with this, horrible stops to feel a thing too, the final disgrace being that even in death penny asks for captain hammer and does not recognize whose fault it was that zie is dying, just as zie did not recognize who saved/almost killed hir in the song “a mans gotta do”. Hammer fails to save penny, just as zie did not in the beginning, as sung from penny in “a mans gotta”, which here gets a different meaning:

My heart is beating like a drum
Must be, must be in shock
Assuming I’m not loving you to death
So please give me a sec to catch my breath

Yeah, no beating there, but loving to death? Surely, if zie ever loved hammer, which I don't think zie did but was told to do by everyone else (he is perfect for me, so they say, I guess he's pretty ok), reflecting the situation of not having a choice/clue about what happened/who hammer really was, and that zie was a victim of circumstances. The freeze-ray of horrible is converted into a death ray, and only in death does time stand still. Water is change. And never does horrible take responsibility for the death of penny. Hammer on the other hand, can't stop crying afterwards, but looses hir macho power, left as a child. Interesting is that the song “mans gotta do” has the piano melody of “slipping”, where horrible sings about the mask of society slipping, which turns into a piratey march of pure terror, which is a rephrasing of the theme song in the beginning (which sounded more like news) but also the march of captain hammer when zie comes in and steals the show in “mans gotta do”.

There is another theme which is common to hammer and the dr, which is typical male: afraid of closeness, of being real, of being fragile, weak.

And Penny will see the evil me
Not a joke not a dork not a failure

“So please give me a sec to catch my breath” is what hammer sings when penny sings, but with a different meaning, which is sort of “hey, leave me alone, I just came here and saved you, let a man breathe!”. The dr is often disguised, afraid to show hir true self, which leads to a scene where zie invades the homeless shelter, disguised as a worker in order to spy on penny and hammer. Here, zie is throwing food on the ground, making matters worse, because zie is not attentive on the work but on penny. When disguised, penny never notices the dr, yet dr continues. Zie does not realize that penny likes the meek person, and not the dr. Both hammer and the dr use others as objects, especially penny. They are both sekf-absorbed, even to the degree that when Horrible says that things will not end well, zie adds “at least for me”, which may be the case, but penny fucking dies.

So I thank my girlfriend Penny
Yeah, we totally had sex
She showed me there’s so many
Different muscles I can flex

So, more on Hammer, the hero. Behind these lyrics, there is a fucking asshole, leading the way, which explains sort of how I felt when younger. I was sort of the Dr, feeling that the sanity of the world is a big show, because these nice things that people say is just bullshit, which is sort of what Hammer is doing when singing to the homeless. Even when the Dr sings that “my wish is your command”, this is a subversion of a saying that humble servants speak. The Dr is tired of being the servant, but it speaks also of the ambiguous role that zie inhabits, since zie believes that zie is a hero of some sort too.

Everyones a hero:
It may not feel too classy
Begging just to eat
But you know who does that? Lassie
And she always gets a treat

Yeah, not on even grounds here right? Just like penny looks up to hammer so much that zie does not see the real hammer hammering down upon hir, calling hir sir, thinking zie came from above, and wondering what hammer is captain of.

It’s not enough to bash in heads
You’ve got to bash in minds

Yes, this Hammer does: uses symbolic violence, which is much harder to spot. Like the question of class

This is his dry cleaning bill
Four sweater vests

Penny and the Dr make their own laundry, which is the place where Penny connects to the Dr, and the Dr fails to connect.

Everyone’s a hero in their own way
Everyone can blaze a hero’s trail
Don’t worry if it’s hard,
if you’re not a friggin ‘tard you will prevail

Everything has to do with their struggle, their egos. And people who won't make it, well, they only have themselves to blame. The following is one of the most telling statements in all of the movie, coming from the Dr after conquering the world, as a comment on people in general and how politics are run. It's sort of like a small seed from Penny has been planted inside the Dr after hir death.

So your world's benign
So you think justice has a voice
And we all have a choice
Well now your world is mine

Now the Dr has gained everything, there is nothing left. As zie is about to sing “and I am finally”, it just becomes “fine...”, although we don't believe hir. Directly afterwards, comes this:

Now the nightmare’s real
Now dr. horrible is here to make you quake with fear
To make the whole world kneel
And I wont feel … a thing

Now the world has stopped indeed, but not for Hammer, who for the first time ever felt pain when the Dr attacked hir. Now Hammer is crying hir guts out at a shrinks, repeating “it hurts”, because zie never felt pain before.

So, water.

Just when you feel youve almost drowned
You find yourself on solid ground

Even in the darkness every color can be found
And every day of rain brings
Water flowing
To things growing in the ground
Any time youre hurt
Theres one who has it worse around
And every drop of rain will keep you growing
Seeds you?re sowing in the ground

This is perfect for me so they say
I guess he’s pretty ok
After years of stormy
Sailing have I finally found the bay?

It’s a brand new me
I’ve got no remorse
Now the water’s rising but I know the course
I’m gonna shock the world

And she may cry but her tears will dry
When I hand her the keys to a shiny new Australia.

You lined up like lemmings
You lead to the water

Penny is the one who everyone ignores, yet zie is the true hero,
which is why hammers fans have a problem with penny: zie doesn't eat meat and help the homeless, and thus is competition to hammer, and also showing how narcissistic hammer really is. I'm thinking about how both Gaiman/Moore/Whedon/Von Trier has been accused of being sexist/homophobic because they sacrifice minority characters in their works (Moore rapes hirs superheroes, Gaiman kills off blacks and transsexuals, Trier puts hir female protagonists through hell) as a form of sadism. Here I think I can make a quite literal interpretation of how I believe that violence is needed to communicate. People accused Whedon of killing off Tara, the lesbian character, but I think that this violence is of a lesser sort than that of seeing Tara as only a lesbian and nothing else, not understanding that Tara is “internally riven” and cannot be just one thing, the token homosexual. This way, Whedon proves that zie is not only this. In a similar way, Penny in dr horrible has been accused of being a bad feminist role model, which is what Whedon is famous for having, but I think something deeper is going on here. Whedon knows hir fans and that zie has a cult, so has to surprise sometimes. Penny is small, spares some change for the homeless, lost in the world of competing male egos. But is zie really all that weak and a bad role model? In one way, Whedon continues hir themes of regular human beings that was presented in buffy, how everyone else is not buffy but still must make their own way, find their own ways to make the world a better place, and not perhaps have all these utopian dreams but just wanting to make a difference. We are not superman (it's a bird!), and both xander and the owl in watchmen has been described as the greatest heros of respective universe because they are the most human and work with what they have. It's not very cool to be a social worker, it's much cooler to be a vampire killing babe, but who is the bad feminist if one thinks that a good role model must be the vampire killing babe, and the other one thinks that there are different types of heroes? Pennys rapture rising is the pain of an unfinished tale, always growing.

I could go on all day, but I have no more energy! Just some other thoughts I've been having these days:

Besides this, I have been working more on my theories on ontology of essences in art. How instrumentality works, what separates form from content in the dominant discourse of art theory (and by that I don't mean an academic discipline, but how actually people speak about movies, their meaning, how cultural artifacts are and what parts are about what), and how this division is based on commonality in exformation (norstedt), semiotic domains (mcgee), cultural symbolic artifacts and their broader shared meanings, etc. How essences ("this is not metal", or, "this is metal but a new type of metal", or, "nothing new has been done within metal since this and this artist") are understood by many people, and at what level of abstraction (and what kind of abstraction) does one infer to have reached the specifics of a certain type of essence and what these speak of notions of authorship, craftsmanship, etc, and how essences are construed in these areas by some common tropes in my manifesto, such as the notion of violence as generalizations, the necessity of violence (replication, invasion, surprise), art as being the economics of violence (between complexity and simplicity), and the notion of communication as dependent upon non-communication (areas of inscription, entropy, waste products) and thus how meaning, and common elements of meaning and understanding work at the expense of separation between meaning-laden parts of a work, and those deemed instrumental, meaning-bearing, or perhaps, as "transportation", common suspense of disbelief, fetishistic disavowal. If Heidegger believes that the essence of technology is to reveal, well, then my analysis claims that technology as it reveals has a counterpoint, where in order to reveal it also has to hide, blackbox, retract, trace, defer, refer. How it is never exhaustive, connected to taoism, paradoxes and other spiritual questions going on in my head (rhizomatic zones of multiplicity instead of hierarchical, aborescent, discrete, units).

One of my main points is that yes, the author may have died according to some, but the notion of meaning as an essence of the expressive quality of the author is necessary if one is to separate between form and content, between medium and message, if one instead does not infuse the work of art itself with a self-asserting quality of what is real and what is not, what is diegetic and what is technology. A systemic approach, where the thing-of-itself gains authority, a fetishistic property of infusing inanimate things with intention, where it indeed is just a hidden aspect of the shared, common agreements on how to read a work proper that is this spectre which many respect as if there was a ghost in the shell. This is one of the parts of my manifesto which I have least theoretical groundwork done by others, directly, so it is also one of the most confusing.

måndag 7 november 2011