Friday, November 28, 2014

Melanie Gaydos and the Myth of "New Beauty"

                                                           photo by Eric Lee Bowman

Melanie Gaydos.
I love you.
I want others to love you.
But I have to be careful in my approach.

Melanie Gaydos is a model. She was born with something called ectodermal dysplasia. This changes one's ability to grow hair, have sweat glands, effects the nails and teeth, and in fact seems to be an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of unusual detours from the norm. Hers is a severe case. But she wanted to be a model. And she is one. A high fashion, fine art model, perhaps one day on a runway, already featured in a number of music videos.

One thing straight tho.
The more time I spend with her pictures, the more I think of her, the more I understand her, the harder it is to stand the obvious pandering that happens. People love her DESPITE her face. People think, "oh, poor girl, how brave, that DESPITE her face, she wants to be a model. How sweet". They commend her on her bravery (which of course she must have, truly), they deride the norms of beauty and focus on her body (because "DESPITE" her face her body is, it is true, extraordinary, and so on).

I have to say that I honestly, truly, DO think she is beautiful. This isn't some soft-peddling of what is obviously a face that is unusual, a disease that I am sure has caused her numerous difficulties in her life. But the more I look, the more I see, and the more I feel awake. I feel like another sense opens up when I see her. It isn't some pitytrip for a woman suffering. Its someone looking at another and saying, "no, you know, I really LIKE this. I really DO think this is something else. I want more of this in my life".
Her mouth, in particular, I find beautiful. When she wears lipstick, her face takes on such a wonderful shape that it blows my mind.
The WAY she conveys in her photos- there is something she is bringing forth that i can't put my finger on. Its like she is dispensing this new wisdom or something. I kept thinking, "new beauty"....
but that's bullshit.

Beauty is beauty. As she herself said, "beauty is a state of being...I have never felt I was ugly and I don't feel that way now".
It isn't about saying, "yes, maybe, I could look at that and not feel sorry for her and I think her struggle is beautiful, poor girl". NO. NO.
It really isn't that.
Beauty is beauty. Just because you get locked in and fooled by an overwhelming majority doesn't mean that when someone like Melanic comes along (which is, of course, never) you should softpedal and make it sound like she is no different from others. She is AMAZINGLY different. She is WONDERFULLY different.

You may, upon first seeing her face, be shocked. I was. I had to know- is she real? What is happening here?
Then I got really profoundly touched by her interview for "What's Underneath". I cried. Alot.
Then I got over it.
She is so much more than even THAT.

The more I look the more I am amazed. When I spend some time with her photos and then look at other people, its just not as interesting. Its just not as....yes, beautiful.

The whole dialog of "stretching" one's idea of beauty to encompass Melanie Gaydos is just.....shit. Its shit. What is beauty? Really? Symmetry? A body without scars? A mouth that is not a cleft palate? Can a cleft palate be beautiful?

I think it is. I am glad to learn this lesson and not be someone crying. She is beautiful to me. There is no "new" beauty, just new eyes to see what has always been. Its an extraordinary lesson in my own bullshit. And a lesson in keeping your eyes and mind open.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jamaican Noir

I decided to make a playlist that exemplified that sound that i have started calling "Jamaican Noir". There is that subsect of Jamaican stuff whether it be dub or ska that has a disquieting tone to a shadow cast of a long gunman after dark in the streets of trenchtown. Noir is the only thing to call it.

The first song in this mix is Big Youth's "Keep Your Dread"....which just sounds so shadowy and worried that it starts things off at the very right tone. There are a few tracks here like "Blacula" that might not have the most worried tone, but they have a MAD tone that just sounds like everyone is on a bad trip. There are 35 songs total on this playlist, just download the zip file and open everything up and the playlist will just populate in order. Apart from the first couple songs I didn't agonize too much about the order. Didn't do any crossfades- this is all just raw MP3's. Wish I had the time and the right material to make an accompanying clip loop but I alas do not.

You can download it all here. Enjoy.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Creepypasta, Memes, Orbis Tertius and Time Away

haven't spent much time nurturing this blog of late. had a bit of a crisis of confidence, as they call it, in my life and my esthetics. i recently left a collective in los angeles that i had been a part of for five years. was hellbent on either writing a book or making a film about Broadcast, but James cannot be involved due to his schedule and his still-overwhelming grief. I am hoping that someday that story will still be told, but it might be a long while. in any case, my own work must go on, which consists of my education, and focusing more on the fine arts. I have moved into a new place which is providing me with alot of peace and time to get things realigned in my mind. i have definitely been suffering from a lack of creativity, but today i felt the forces come back and am back on the case, working on a new video and getting some other things, like my website for my video work/vjing, up and running.

now that that explanation is out of the way i would like to share some interesting intersections.

a few days ago, i spent the evening as i sometimes do wandering round the web. being at an impasse will do that to you. but i rediscovered a fascinating bit of 21st century fiddling that i have been fascinated with for a while- the creepypasta.

for those that don't know, a creepypasta is a meme or false mythology that is made with two intentions- to frighten, and to go viral. its the internet equivalent of an urban legend, but constructed specifically with the knowledge that it is not true, with (so i surmise) the hopes that others will believe it is true.

my longtime favorite in this genre centered around a 1970's children's show called "Candle Cove". Apparently this was a television show with dark undertones and lots of children screaming, and there were purported viewers of this show that remembered watching it as a child. These "memories" featured this tidbit- their parents claimed that the entire time they were viewing it, all the parent could see on the tv was static.

some more very strange creepypastas can be found here.

for some reason, it only occurred to me this weekend how Borgesian this all is. It instantly reminded me of the story "Orbis Tertius" by jorge luis borges, one of my favorite writers. In this story, a false mythology/cosmology by a Council of 100 is distributed, inseminated really, throughout the culture. The idea was to supplant reality by rewriting history. every time a member of the council died, they were replaced, ensuring that the rewriting would go infinitely. Language, flora and fauna, everything was being re-imagined over hundreds of years, seeping into the culture with the eventual aim of eradicating the previous human history completely.

i have always been a fan of urban legends, and am fascinated with the way they occur and what they say about the culture that they infiltrate. its also fascinating to realize that people are unwitting participants in the building of myths, which really are what urban legends are. the idea that groups of people purposefully have chosen to create new urban legends, release them and watch them go is very interesting to me. and it brings up a lot of interesting notions.

first off, there are a few creepypastas i have stumbled on without realizing their false provenance that scared me absolutely silly. This is one of them. The tricky thing is, that when you decide to research these, inevitably you are faced with endless blogs and posts repeating these ad infinitum, making the discovery that they are in fact, NOT REAL, much more difficult to do.

here is where my love of quantum physics comes in and leads me to ask, "if a whole bunch of people begin believing that these things happened, have they in fact happened?"

the idea of reality is something i have always questioned and even before becoming immersed in quantum physics i realized that reality is nothing but a mass agreement. its a bunch of people who have decided that this, and not this, is reality, and there is this denial that reality is far more fluid than people realize. in other words, reality as we know it is only a consensus. there is literally nothing that can be called "absolute reality". its subjective. even with a mass consensus, its simply a consensus that our subjective reality is "real". and we can of course never know what another's reality is. fascinating, really.

with this in mind, you begin to wonder if the roots of some of these memes will not become so obscured that many people will begin to believe it. people as a whole don't tend to research everything they come across. call it the death of critical thinking. if people read it somewhere, they tend to believe it. i am not so cynical as to believe that people are merely sheep, because i don't believe that they are, but i do believe that humanity as a whole (especially in the western world with our mass of "entertainments" and media overload) are VERY easily distracted. when you are easily distracted you can be easily fooled. this is something that every magician knows instinctively.

if fifty people believe that charlie noonan existed, that "candle cove" was a real show, that a demented kleenex ad screened in japan led to mass suicides, is it not, in some sense, real? in a landscape of holographic multiverses, what does this imply? does not this imply or impart a degree of "reality"?

i do believe in things like the law of attraction, having seen in manifest in my life in a myriad of ways. i need a new scarf, or a printer, and within a few days, after focusing, it will "find" me. the more sure i am, the quicker it seems to happen. the belief that it will happen is of course the one necessary ingredient to these proceedings. belief makes things so.

in twenty years, will our world be so littered with memes that we have forgotten that they are not true? I remember rumors from my childhood- that joan jett had died in a plane crash, that prince was dying of AIDS, etc- and laugh about them now. obviously, enough people believing in something does not make the thing come to pass always.

but these were actual people. these were rumors. if you create a false reality, whole cloth, what will be the long term effects? i so very much wish that borges were still alive. i believe he would have much to say on the subject- and i think it would have delighted him.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dear Trish

Its been about 15 days since the 3rd anniversary of Trish Keenan's death. It occurred to me tonight how unreal it still feels. Even tho I never knew her, her music has been such a force in my life- akin to when I discovered punk rock. The bearing she has had far outweighs not knowing her.

I have been working for a couple years now on my Broadcast Project, where I attempt to make a video for all of their songs. I think I am on the 17th one now, but it started to feel like it wasn't enough. So, I have decided to make a full length documentary about the band, with James' blessing (which I am waiting for, and hoping for the best, as we have been in contact, crossing fingers....). Even if that blessing never comes, I still feel like there is something i NEED to do to make people more aware of them. I don't know why. You think you get past the age of that kind of fandom, but I realized with this band that I hadn't. Its like the need to build a monument to something beloved. You just HAVE to.

I believe in quantum physics and parallel worlds, and in one of those worlds Trish is still alive and is working on another EP and the band is getting even weirder and there are still many more songs to come. I would get to see them live many times, perhaps make some videos for them, I would get to tell her what their music meant to me.

But we live in this world. Rest in peace Ms Trish.