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You Are The Alpha and Omega

There’s a trend in advertising based on some discredited animal behavorial psychology. That beef jerky manufacturers (abattoir job creators, if you will) are purposefully telling people to “eat like an alpha” implies… something.

Atta boy, Alpha Consumer - you're leading the pack now that you've got your salted meaty treats.

Atta boy, Alpha Consumer – you’re leading the pack now that you’ve got your salted meaty treats.

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Categories: Communications & Media Studies, Natural Science, Psychology, Social Science.

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The Dude Abides—But Should He?

Universal Studios

The Big Lebowski is one of the greatest films ever written.

This is a fact about the world in which we live. It is not merely my subjective opinion. But why is it so beloved? If you think about it, nothing really even happens. I mean, of course, lots of things “happen”—it’s very complicated: a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous—but in the end, nothing of any meaning or consequence has occurred: nothing’s changed. Sure, Donny died, butFuck itthat wasn’t even enough to stop the Dude and Walter from competing in the semis. What makes The Big Lebowski so great, thoughapart from being the most quotable movie of all timeis that it is essentially a statement about the souls of us Americans at the end of the 20th century.

Fifteen years ago, The Big Lebowski was released in theaters and was roundly rejected by the American court of public opinion. But as Oliver Benjamin, founder of the Church of the Latter-Day Dude, notes, it was a different world back then: America was still in “full-achievement mode,” riding high on government surpluses and the techno-optimism of Silicon Valley. Or maybe we were just too busy playing with our Furbies and getting jiggy with it to have much time for any introspection. Since then, however, a “Great Lebowski Re-evaluation,” as Benjamin calls it, “gradually took root among the youth counterculture after the goddamn plane crashed into the building,” and the movie is now considered to be one of the most revered cult classics of all time.

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Categories: Long Form, Philosophy, Pop Culture, Psychoanalysis.

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Sine expositione: vis explicare?

Heliofant

Authorized for distribution to      . Approved for comment.

Categories: Arcana, Current events.

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Where’s my flowers & chocolate? (or why I’d rather talk about the Simpsons than Nymphomaniac)

PoMo Twitter buddy @SilentMachinery is a font of bad jokes and good observations. Following an exchange about ‘House of Cards’, about which I can’t say much, @SM invited comments on some other pop culture phenomena, specifically ‘Kill List, Field in England, Tree of Life, any random Lars von Trier movie, Sopranos finale, BrBa finale, pick a Cronenberg’. I’ve been noodling on the reply a bit, and even though I can’t really do much over Twitter, I remembered that this website exists for exactly that sort of thing. I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to doing any of it, but this post is about why I’m not really interested in doing parts of it.

Someone on the Internet is ... curious (and someone else is apparently vain).

Someone on the Internet is … curious (and someone else is apparently vain).

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Categories: Uncategorized.

The cake is a lie*

Personal fact: I’ve gambled for money exactly 3 times in my life. The first was at a pool hall, where I was drinking under age and hustling some friends at 9-ball long ago. A Guy on the verge of becoming a proper junkie was on the con and smelled my teenage ego a mile away. He came up and challenged me to a shell game, the original where you have to guess which of three little cups is hiding the pea. I denied him and challenged him to a game of 9 ball. Cleverly, he challenged a couple of my friends for no money, and they both won. So when he came back to me, I of course put 10 currency units on the table and played, and, of course, I lost. Stupidly, I lost again at double or nothing. I should’ve been paying more attention when my friends played, because they could have said that the pea was up his ass, and it would have been. As soon as that cup covered the pea, it disappeared so that it could reappear wherever it needed to be for them to find it. They weren’t the mark. And when it came my turn, it wasn’t that I couldn’t find the pea, it’s that there was no longer a pea to find.

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Categories: Uncategorized.

Two Brief Pieces

1. In The Loop

A friend who happens to be a DJ once commended me for knowing (and liking) Burial; I noted Burial was rather hard to not know about. Similarly, as we started talking about movies, I argued that David Lynch was practically mainstream. I was wrong, in one very specific sense – Our culture, and specifically the digital realm, has completely obliterated the logic of mainstream/niches. Anyone can play a game of Six Degrees of Bacon on Wikipedia with music, television, literature… and very easily end up here, or here, or here. Finding out about any one of these is trivial; Pitchfork – paradoxically, by which I mean not paradoxically at all, Mecca of “alternative” music – publishes reviews on Mogwai and Isis and Burial (and how). The Guardian and just about every other news-outlet will review any new David Lynch movie. There are no mainstreams and niches, there are only loops of varying sizes.

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Categories: Uncategorized.

Why Don’t Movie and TV Fights Look Real?

 

I'm gonna fuck you up

I’m gonna fuck you up

I’ve always wondered what makes fights in movies and TV look unreal and lacking. Continued…

Categories: Uncategorized.

Knock yourself out

Fabius, a co-ed who seems to have made blowing people away his hobby, made a good case that repetition is incompatible with creativity, which he is right to value. There might be an important difference to be made between specialization and repetition in that specialization can pertain to a field that might include many diverse activities. For example, a good stage actor – or better, a great Shakespearean actor – will have to master different genres, like comedy or tragedy, and all kinds of different characters to win the title. But Fabius’s point is more that if an actor only ever plays McDuff, he’ll be able to recite the part beautifully even after a frat-sized beer bong, but he’ll basically be just a McDuff salary man, contributing little and learning nothing.

Fabius is generally right, but I want to point out the edge of logic where the banal turns sublime.

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Categories: Arcana, Philosophy, Pop Culture, Psychoanalysis, Psychology.

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MORE LIKE, “TWENTY YEARS AGO PEOPLE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THIS AD IS NUTS” (PART 1 OF 2)

 

Fast Co Design (or is it Co.Design? Sigh-Designers) has published an article titled, “In 20 Years We’re All Going to Realize This Apple Ad is Nuts.” It’s about how Apple is “consecrating” behaviour that is antisocial with its ad. Everyone in their ad is choosing the screen over real interactions. But why would we see this as crazy? We’re already doing this. Every generation since TV was invented has been taught to venerate what’s  behind a screen. Screens deliver our myths, shows us our gods, and defines our norms. Media mediates our reality.

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Categories: Communications & Media Studies, Pop Culture, Uncategorized.

Classic America

America: the land of endlessness. Endless landscapes. Endless opportunities. Endless diversions from the uncomfortable but mercifully occasional glimpses of our social and economic reality.

 

I submit to you, dear reader, a few of these discomfiting glimmers, particularly concerning the continued maintenance of America’s stratified class structure. I make no claim to originality of content, only format. May they stir something of mercy in your soul, and may you be given the strength to re-cognize your own abilities in effecting alternatives, in ways big and small.

 

This post was in part written to this album – perhaps you’ll enjoy it while digesting: Waking Season, Caspian

And this track was also somewhat instrumental (ha!) to the production of this piece: Asa, Caspian

 

 

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Categories: Long Form, Social Science.

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