Monday, October 21, 2013

Science is Psychedelic

I spend alot of my downtime watching documentaries about physics, i am taking a physics class this semester, and i spend alot of my time (a part time job amount-easily 20-30 hours a week) doing physics homework. as slippery as the concepts are and as badly as i am failing at the math side of it, i continue to become more fascinated and more passionate about the whole prismatic realm that i am slowly walking into. its more like crawling, falling, teetering into Lidsville, like a toddler who can't do quadratic equations yet but she is in the room with it, and soon she will grow to be able to reach that doorknob to get to the NEXT level. i have chubby little baby legs in Lidsville right now. But i can SEE it. i can sense it.

there is no doubt that we really are in a different kind of psychedelic age. this is something that excites me to no end. its something i talk about and think about and read about and write about alot. i try and get everyone excited about it because artists are notoriously anti-empirical science, much more likely to believe in ephemeral concepts than what a scientist tells them.

i think the medical establishment has contributed to people's cynical view of research and facts and study of the physical world. we see medicine as a vast moneymaking machine devoid of fairness or care- at least in america. we tend to view Big Pharma and corporate medicine in the dim light they often deserve. and often science is in service to the military-industrial complex, another reason to view it with suspicion. and of course the Bomb would not have been possible without physics.

I would like to see, and be a part of, a movement that wrestles science away from the establishment even in some brief, symbolic sense, and puts it in the hands of the people who need it the most. people who need to understand the nature of the universe so that they no longer brood and worry about these things. its tied into our ultimate human potential, and its wrapped up in a lot of if not most new age thinking that artists and bohemians like myself have always been interested in. and it is absolutely essential to understanding the law of attraction or manifestation, or positive thinking, or whatever writer this week is calling it. its all part of a grand design and you no longer have to- nor can you-leave science out of the equation. there is one long hallway, and each of you have been approaching each other down this long dark tunnel, and the light you saw was each approaching the other. once you meet, you can go upward and out of the tunnel and beyond all of it, and shine a light so that everyone can see.

that is probably in some sense what was meant by all the resurrection parables in every religion- that something comes back in a wave of light or a flash from above after a period of darkness or death or a quest of some type. i think leading our way out of darkness must involve the coming together of the two halves of our potential, our collective brain- the scientific, and the spiritual. these two sides of us have always been at war. we distrust what we can't see. but what we know now is that what we cannot see is where the action is REALLY happening. for the first time in human history mankind is actually down into the cosmos spelunking into minute, teeming worlds of weirdness and wonder. we have learned so much about the workaday world but in a sense we have learned nothing that would properly prepare us for the way things really are. this is the most bizarre twist perhaps EVER in the history of mankind. such a global shift in our thinking on the cellular level is the next revolution. it will not be political and it certainly won't be artistic. but all those realms will inevitably be influenced by this shifting earth of ideas. there will be no way to avoid change.

i really intend to be a part of this world and i want my art to be informed by it as well. the more i can learn about science the more i can literally create- both mentally and physically- the world i want to reside in. the machines and synths i intend to build, the music i want to make, my creativity is general and the profession i want to take on are all now a part of the same thing. there are no longer conflicts in my life between doing art or doing something practical. it is all now literally the same thing, tho it is still in the conceptual stages while i work my way through school and process and learn.

i want to very much get beyond any preconceived ideas about space and science fiction and all the silver-clad retrofuturistic hooha that inevitably creeps up when one talks about a "tech" aspect of art. i loathe techno music. but i adore other kinds of electronic music and certainly love synthesizers and so-called artificial tones. there are other possibilities in expressing this esthetic that i am interested in now. i do not want to invoke some hamhanded futurism. i don't enjoy the typical "technoir" visual or tone or flavor. more than anything its about NOW, the present moment and the power that lies in it. its not taking off the planet Venus.

really its a bout a modern psychedelia devoid of all the trappings of the idea of psychedelia that has become codified- a swirly sitar, a tie-dye shirt. like something trish keenan said once about psychedelia being a way of seeing and challenging form and temper. going beyond a simple style to actually making people more aware of how weird the world really is. moving them to believe that through art and music.

(sidebar-honestly nothing bothers me more on an esthetic level than shock value. its the thing that i value the least in rock music, really. i am not talking about screaming jay hawkins, i am talking about "i want to fuck you like an animal" and ugliness and blood and violence without meaning or context. the coolness of violence. even tho i adore hiphop i have to take breaks from listening to it because of the swagger. i don't like ghastly images used in art just to piss people off. its really i think quite damaging and not really a revolution at all. its like GG allin smearing himself in his own shit and flinging it on the audience. its "piss christ" in a museum. it isn't robert mapplethorpe, it isn't an artist who uses something that could shock SOME people to show a kind of beauty in what used to be in the shadows, but those who simply go for the jugular out of pure spite. its the people who made "cannibal holocaust" or "a serbian film", it isn't "holy mountain"or pasolini. there is a fine line and everyone draws it themselves according to their own taste but i personally will never and have never gone for the shocking in my own art. i don't find shock necessary to bring people to a higher level. i would much rather mesmerize.)

i am not sure what all these concepts will bear but i am definitely going to continue meditating on it and planning on it and creating it, making it real.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Let's Scare Jessica To Death"

Last night, here in our wonderland, we watched this film on the Big Wall outside. I have long considered this film to be on a very short list of best b-movies ever made, but I don't know why I have insisted on even calling it a B movie all these years. Maybe its because I first saw it on "Movie Macabre"? They didn't exactly show Polanski on a regular basis there. Whatever the reason, i think it is quite time to cease calling it and accept the fact that this is an A movie that has simply escaped too many people's attention. And its a real shame. 

Brief synopsis: Made in 1971, "LSJTD" tells the story of Jessica, played to heartbreaking effect by the wonderful Zohra Lampert. Jessica has just been released from a mental hospital, after 6 months of treatment for some vague breakdown we are never really told much about. She and her husband (Barton Heyman) and a hippie friend (Kevin O' Connor) buy a apple farm out in the Connecticut wilds to get away from it all, but strange things begin to happen immediately. The line between what is truly happening and what is simply Jessica going nuts again is of course, made purposely vague and never really comes quite clear. This gives the film a spooky tension that I find much preferable to typical horror over-acceleration. 

Zohra Lampert is the key to much of this film's charm. The fact that she is not a huge star is one more reason to loathe and despise Hollywood. On the other hand, one gets the sense that the only reason she didn't make it is because she probably didn't want to, which is something I could understand. You can tell that she has so much character, so many chops, is so heartfelt and genuine, that she must have been running purposely in the opposite direction from fame and stardom. She MUST have. there is simply no better performance in a movie of this caliber by someone who did not die shortly afterwards that did not lead to more fame than what she has received. Its quite puzzling, and while the film would have still been enjoyable without her in it, she alone raises it to its deserved status as a cult classic.
It also doesn't hurt that she is absolutely gorgeous with such a soulful, expressive manner, and says even the most ordinary things in such an extraordinary way.
It reminds me of something Patty Duke said in her autobio, regarding one of her early films, "Me, Natalie". There was scene featuring Al Pacino in what I think was his very first appearance on film, She commented that you could tell that there was something special about him even tho he only said the phrase, "so, do you put out?" I think her words were, "it was like seeing laurence olivier in dinner theatre in Florida". THAT is how Zohra comes across. Just TOO damn good to have been ignored unless it was by her own choice. One can tell that she is possessed of depths that most actors are not, and I could very much imagine her purposely flying under the radar so she could live a peaceful life and teach pottery to underprivileged kids or something. She is JUST the type.

     Mari-Clare Costello, on the other hand, is much more in the realm of normal acting chops and does a servicable, creepy job as the slutty free-lovin' folk-guitar playin' perhaps-a-vampire girl who tries to sleep her way through the whole house from the get go. Her actions in this film really do freak you out a little bit- she just seems to strike the wrong chord and go too far. Which is a GOOD thing. She gives you an added dimension of psychological squeamishness that is unexpected in the context to a film like this.

Beyond the acting is the overall oft-mentioned atmosphere of the film. It has gotten bad reviews (even from a couple of my friends) for being too slow. Its been called dated, hokey, vague. I don't agree with any of this, of course- one man's vague is another man's atmosphere. This film is filled with so much subtlety that you have to be a fan of subtlety in general to get anything out of this film. I think it takes a page out of Polanski's book in that regard. If you were to sit down and watch "Rosemary's Baby" six times in a row, you would find new things in it every time. Polanksi really does stick little bits in here and there that most people simply don't notice. People are hamhanded and lazy. They like actions that they can decipher without too much thought. They miss subtleties of dialogue because they are checking their voice mail or running their mouths. They have no idea what they miss.

I never understand those types. They miss all kinds of colors.

Another film this reminds me of is "The Innocents". It definitely belongs in some kind of sub-genre of creepy psychological horror- while watching this last night the phrase "gentle horror" came to mind. Something cold like a wind, a steady rise instead of jabs of shock. This is the MOST difficult thing to do, of course- its easier to show tits and blood and car crashes and the black cat that jumps out of the alley. It takes a deft hand to hold back.

Not that this film is without its "gotchas". The above photo of Mariclare coming out of the lake is a prime example. Other shocks are to be had but almost none are on the order of your typical horror film. Many of them are psychological and don't have accompanying action.

One of the most effective traits of this film is the constant self-talk that Jessica hears (or is it voices in her head?). Subtle whispers, shadows, looks exchanged between her and her husband, the tension presented between what Jessica knows to be happening and what she says- incredibly effective and incredibly creepy. I would even go so far as to call this film not a supernatural thriller at all, but psychological at its core. One is never sure where one ends and the other begins.

It has been one of my favorite films for many years. I watched it first, as i mentioned, as a child, and when i saw it again as an adult it actually frightened me even MORE than it had, which is a first for me. The deeper dimensions of this film were more understandable to me as an adult, but as a child the creeping dread and whispery mystery hit me very clearly. I was impressed to find a real gem that was not just a sepia-toned memory as is usually the case with half-remembered films.

Honestly, if any of these sorts of films appeal to you it would be a good bet to simply go buy a copy right off and watch this. Its a gamble worth taking. If you see only ONE film that is new to you this Halloween I highly recommend it be this one- unless you are ham-fisted and like torture porn and blood splattered on tits for two hours. I doubt you would even be reading this blog if you were a knuckledragger such as that, but the internet has many strange corners we find ourselves in. I highly recommend this for anyone with more refined horror sensibilities. I don't think you will be disappointed.