Thursday, January 19, 2017

NERRRRRRRD! vol. 57


One of the things that I wanted to say with Jerusalem was that the imagination is still massively important. Use it or lose it. We should be able to create art and writing that is sufficient to these times. We should not have our culture frozen upon the spot in the way that it appears to be. It seems to me that we frisked hurriedly through the 1950s with all of the car tail fins like Buck Rogers rocket ships. We skipped through the space-age sixties with the moon landings and all of our science fiction. We were hastening through these decades in a hurry to get to our promised Jetsons’ future. Sometime around the mid-nineties, we suddenly realized that we were there. That this was the future and it was looking a lot more complicated and a lot different than the future we’d been imagining. And we froze. We didn’t know what to do. We decided that we would culturally march on the spot for the next twenty or thirty years. We would simply recycle the musical tastes of the previous few decades. Our films would largely be franchises based on characters that were created last century. We wanted that familiar twentieth-century stuff that we understood.

“The interior of the human head is infinite”: A Conversation with Alan Moore

Monday, January 16, 2017

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! vol. 96


Hillary Clinton was the ultimate Establishment candidate facing the ultimate outsider, and also a quintessential old-media personality facing a veritable Voldemort of social media. Given that, she came pretty damn close to pulling it off. But Clinton was also a candidate from reality facing a shimmering celebrity avatar, a clownish prankster who took physical form in our universe but who could say anything and do anything because he was self-evidently not real. That disadvantage proved impossible to overcome. 

 Furthermore, Trump’s supporters may be delusional and misguided, but they aren’t half as dumb as they often look to “coastal elites.” Many of them understood, consciously or otherwise, that his incoherent promises could not be taken literally and that his outrageous personality did not reflect the realm of reality. They were sick of reality, and you can’t entirely blame them. For lots of people in “middle America” (the term is patronizing, but let’s move on) reality has been so debased, or so much replaced, as to seem valueless. 

 If reality means lives of pointless service-sector drudgery, downward mobility or stagnation, fast-food dinners, opioid addiction and traffic jams, then escape into fantasy seems forgivable. Donald Trump is a creature of the nurturing electronic cocoon that disrupts or replaces reality, an overlord of consumerism. (He is not in any meaningful sense a “capitalist.” Capitalists produce things, in the real world.) To paraphrase Michael Moore, Trump represented a historic opportunity to extend a giant middle finger to reality itself, and to the forces that have rendered it so dismal. 

 When I suggested a few weeks ago that Trump’s worldview resembled the narcissistic simulated universe of “The Matrix,” I had no idea how far the analogy would go. His election represents the moment when roughly half our voting population — slightly less than that, to be fair — spoke out clearly: Give us the blue pill! That’s the one where you wake up in your beds and believe whatever you want to believe, leaving reality behind. If onetime movie star Ronald Reagan was the first postmodern president (the word still meant something back then), Trump will be the first post-reality president.

Fake news, a fake president and a fake country: Welcome to America, land of no context

Donald Trump's supporters have locked themselves in a "Matrix"-style simulated America — but they're not alone

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Negation Aspiration vol. 36

Apocalypse Whatever

The making of a racist, sexist religion of nihilism on 4Chan

In their apparent indifference to content and their commitment to aestheticized irony, shitposters resemble the disengaged ironists the 19th-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard discussed in texts like The Concept of Irony and Either/Or. According to Kierkegaard, the ironist “poetically composes himself and his environment with the greatest possible poetic license” and lives “in this totally hypothetical and subjunctive way.” Every act is an act of self-creation: Stories that are told are not descriptive of “true” facts out there but rather ways in which the ironist can prove his power, his philosophical strength, his verbal dexterity. He says things just to be the sort of person who says them. The ironist maintains his power by taking no position, starting every argument anew. “There is something seductive about every beginning, because the subject is again free, and it is this pleasure the ironist longs for,” Kierkegaard writes in The Concept of Irony. “In such moments, actuality loses its validity for him; he is free, above it.” For that freedom, the ironist is willing to say anything, make any argument, undeterred by any fear of being called to account. That is, the ironist is the proto-troll.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

NERRRRRRRRRD! vol. 56

DC Comics’ Watchmen Revival Could Go Very, Very Wrong

“DC Universe meets the Watchmen!”

i'm not going to suggest that someone Charlie Hebdos the DC offices... but that might be the only way they'll learn.

 'kay... that's your nerd-salt for the year.


Monday, January 9, 2017

We Are The Sprocket Holes vol. 234

micro-reviews:

BLACK PAST

shot-on-video enfant terrible Olaf Ittenbach's first gooey blast of backyard splatter borrows heavily from Raimi's first Evil Dead film in plot and ideas, but Ittenbach establishes his vision within those parameters, crafting set-pieces that look as if your worst nightmare of an indoor kid made a life-size paper-mache diorama detailing the goreist passages of Sade's 150 Passions.



CARNAGE PARK

Mickey Keating's stand-your-ground parable avoids the pitfalls of most similarly costumed "grindhouse" throwbacks due in large part to convincing performances from all the players involved, an organic sense of who the characters are, and a narrative that escalates into strobe-lit nightmare.


THE DEVIL LIVES HERE

occasionally formulaic (sometimes frustratingly so) and periodically dragging, this Brazilian export still has enough visual imagination and energetic aggression to encourage its recommendation.


DOG EAT DOG

Paul Schrader's latest veers dangerously close to being one of those dreadful post-Tarantino celluloid husks that pocked the indie-scene throughout the 90s, but mercifully all those involved are able to stay the course, crafting a film that hearkens back to the themes that made Schrader the Poet Laureate of White Male Impotence.


THE GREASY STRANGLER 

every frame... every piece of dialogue... is a work of mind scrambled post-ironic art.


TRASH FIRE

Richard Bates Jr.'s (Excision) delightfully mean-spirited gothic horror comedy dips hard into perverse surrealism and dinner-table-giggling blasphemy, topped off with some of the most likable unlikables this side of John Waters.