Wednesday, June 04, 2014

what i am doing, i am doing what, what am i doing

I spent the day at home, having to wait to get my heat-pump serviced (again) -- this time it seems it needed a flushing out, by which I suppose it was clogged in some capacity. A novel thing, working from home: cats at my feet, a large pot of coffee within reach, dressed in my most comfortable of attires. I rather enjoyed it, and got to try out the local Sky Blue Sky sandwich shop; excellent chowder!

Earlier this week I did one of my spur-of-the-moment rides across the city, from downtown to the beaches and back home, a circuitous route, some 20 km, navigating by will alone, without a destination or goal other than to feel the city pass by, to push my legs and lungs. Such glorious weather, I could not deny its call to enjoy it.

I have been keeping up with karate. Mostly keeping up, there being only the one class a week right now. I would like to say that I've been keeping up with my workouts as well, but that would be a blatant lie; I go through phases of regular and not at all. I often blame the waves of fatigue I feel when I arrive at home, though perhaps now that the A/C is on again I can self-persuade myself more frequently. Sleep is certainly a factor here, though the quality of that is my lack of willpower, my lack of drive.

Oh yeah, Monday night was so blasted warm I got very little sleep, having to resort to drinking half a bottle of wine to endure the evening air. Summer's early warning shots are scary indeed.

Saturday I was in Trinity Bellwoods, putting in some hours with Cycle Toronto. Strange to think of myself accosting strangers, attempting to raise awareness and sell memberships. I was glad to be out and about, at least. For I am in a funk, have been for the past couple months. I feel myself becoming farther and farther removed from those around me. I suppose much of it has to do with everyone settling down and coupling up, but even so.

I'll mention lastly that I saw Godzilla (terrible, just brain-dead action) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (the best of the series, has heart and teeth).

Here's to hoping for some joy in June!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

zizek's the pervert's guide to ideology

Here are my notes made while watching Slavoj Zizek's The Pervert's Guide to Ideology. I've italicized those parts which I feel ring the most true or insightful for me. I've little illusion that you, dear reader, will understand all I've hastily scribbled down, but perhaps it'll give some fresh perspective into these films.

"They Live"
The glasses allow the wearer to see ideology. To put them on, to be free, and to have one's illusions shattered, is a painful experience; hence the big fight scene. Freedom is painful.

"The Sound of Music"
The guilt felt by people confessing is not from having sinned, or betrayed their conscience; it's from not having enjoyed the sin enough.

Coca Cola, Kinder Egg
Desire begets desire. The ultimate horror of desire is to have it fully sated, so that it disappears. The centre is the prize, which allows us to enjoy the chocolate (?), "probably made in some Chinese gulag."

"Ode to Joy", "Clockwork Orange", "West Side Story", 2011 England Riots
A piece of music with a fascinating history of use. Who is excluded from the universal joy? How can you know all this, that the actions are wrong, the causes of it, and still do it. "Even the most brutal violence is the enacting of a certain symbolic deadlock."

"Taxi Driver", "The Searchers", Anders Breivik
Fantasy is a lie in that it covers up a gap in consistency; fantasy provides an easy answer. What drives the violence of the hero is not that the victim is just a victim but rather that the victim enjoys and even participates in their own victimhood. Indeed, the violence should rather be directed inwards, towards the ideology that chains you, ties you.

"Jaws", "Triumph of the Will"
The function of the shark is to trade all of our smaller fears into a single target. Perhaps in a similar way as anti-Semitic Germany. Fascism aims to maintain a conservative hierarchy. Develop a narrative that explains the problems with a target, a foreigner.

(Sidenote: Rammstein have been accused of having Nazi sentiments (?), but in reality they separate the parts of mass group rituals from Nazism, allowing people to enjoy the ritual without the ideology.)

Airplane graveyard
Capitalism is a kind of religion, where one sacrifices oneself, one's environment, so that capital is moved.

"Titanic", "The Fall of Berlin"
Winslet's character has a broken image of herself, which DiCaprio literally and figuratively puts together; she draws energy from a lower-class person before she can return to the upper-class. The catastrophe overshadows this conservative message, of the rich taking advantage of the poor, using the couple as a vessel to hold the movie together, to make it more palatable to the liberally minded.

"Full Metal Jacket", "M.A.S.H.", "If...."
Military routine can induce one of two reactions: ironic distance e.g. joking around, or an obscene supplement e.g. marching chants. Communities always require unwritten rules. But to get too close to this obscenity is suicidal, destructive.

"The Dark Knight", rhetoric justifying the invasion of Iraq
Disturbingly perpetuates the myth that telling the truth (the Joker) means distraction -- the idea that if the public were to learn the truth (that Havery Dent committed those murders rather than Batman) would result in chaos. The lie maintains order, an old conservative wisdom: That the truth is too strong to be told to ordinary people.

9/11, the Big Other, "The Loves of a Blond", "The Fireman's Ball", "Brief Encounter", "Brazil"
"If there is no God, then everything is permitted." Patently the opposite is true; the concept of God allows people to do horrific things. The same can be said of true Communists, who see themselves as instruments of their shared perceived historical destiny; as tools they allow themselves to do terrible things, since it is not they, personally, who orders them. To undermine this ideology one needs to ridicule the practices of the individual in the system, not (just) their leader. The Big Other, sometimes embodied as a nosy busybody, forces us to act civilized, to maintain social appearances. Thus is the tragedy of our predicament -- the necessity of the Big Other, and yet there not actually being one.

"The Last Temptation of Christ"
All new inventions come from hysterical questioning. Judaism persists in the anxiety of the question: "But what do you want from me?" Christianity resolves this tension with love. However, in Christianity and Christ's death there is a strong atheist message -- that one is free to do as one sees fit (?).

"Seconds" (1956)
A change of the external did not change the man; the dream the company fulfilled was a shallow, materialist dream. The first step to freedom is not just to change reality to fit your dream; it's to change the way you dream. Which, again, will hurt, as all satisfactions we have come from our dreams.