no cape no mask

who needs a costume when you have words?

Month: September, 2012

Intermission for Zilla

I was really enjoying this post on Quora: as it answered (to a degree) some of the questions I’ve long had about dramatic entrances and exits. And of course, Batman is one of the great stealth operatives when he wants to be, and then I got thinking about the Bat mythos and Dark Knight Rises. Particularly that smartphone footage posted on YouTube last year where somebody filmed the filming (its sad that a phrase like that has become commonplace, there should be a study on exactly what portion of media generated is dedicated to recording the production of other media. Then another one showing the Venn diagram with media generated, media generated by recording said media’s construction, and media which is utter shit.)… anyway, the smartphone footage of the Bane/Bats fight on the steps of Gotham City Hall or wherever the hell it took place.

I stopped watching it after about 10 seconds because I wanted to like the movie when it came out (little did I know), and all the footage did was ruin the spectacle to be created by showing that it’s component parts were a couple of average height dudes in dumb outfits pretending, slowly and clumsily, to hit each other.

I’m not against the inclusion of “reality” or “verité” in fiction, and I am very much of my generation in being a sucker for the constructed which seems artfully un-constructed. On a slight tangent, there is a great article in Aeon Magazine on “The New Aesthetic” which talks about what exactly it is (the word exactly is misleading) and more generally the themes it wishes to address about what is constructed, by whom (or what), and what that tells us about power structures post the “male gaze” and other relevant theories.

And then I got the above image in my head. Its more than the old “the King puts on his trousers one leg at a time too, y’know” bullshit. Anything constructed can (should?) be impressive, create a certain amount of wonder. But that just makes it all the more important to recognise and enjoy wonder when it arises naturally. Anything from a gnarly old tree to a particularly elegant running style.

Anything can be made extra-ordinary. So lets appreciate that which just IS.


More on Zilla and his taste for humans next time.


Mutually Adored Destruction

Peanut butter and decomposition scented the air.

Zilla made for the peanut butter. Joe didn’t stop him. It was probably still good. And it would keep him from the bodies. Zilla seemed happy enough to nose through the broken glass for the crunchiest coagulates.

The Deceased’s were lying facing each other, from the looks of their feet. Having fallen in a doorway, their uppermost torsos were out of view, and Joe hesitated. It had been a bad Monday, Tuesday was shaping up to be busy, and he didn’t need to deal with dead people. He had half a mind to fix the oven light like he’d been asked to, then just hit the next job and play dumb janitor when the questions began to rain. The other half of his mind said Zilla’d probably left half a pint of DNA in the peanut butter by now, and he recalled some half-formed notions of science and forensics, the concept of “time of death” being figure-out-able to a pretty good degree. He closed the front door behind him.

“I hope you cut your tongue wide open. Fool dog.”

The oven light was no problem, just a little de-greasing needed, and after checking it repeatedly he took the necessary pictures and filled out the compliance forms. He could hear Zilla slurping and smacking in the background, all breath and tongue.

Zilla wasn’t his dog. He wasn’t anybody’s dog, as far as Joe could make out. Sometimes he’d be around the depot when Joe picked up his van, other times he’d be there in spirit only, a foot-long turd coiled neatly in the corner of the garage, or by the front gates so that there was the maximum possibility of that turd getting tracked across the pavement and then the city itself, to parts unknown, by turd-smushing pedestrians or the janitorial vans.

Zilla wasn’t big on ridealongs, but if it was a Go day, there wasn’t a staffer yet who’d been able to deny him shotgun privileges. For some it was straight up fear. Zilla was close to 180, and very few wanted to try to oppose a dog their size. For some of the others, they’d make it difficult for Zilla, but more out of awe at his agility than anything else. Zilla had made it across the length of the depot and into a moving van through a rapidly upward-rolling window before now, and some drivers just liked to make him work for it.

Joe didn’t give a shit one way or the other. Dog was a moocher, as far as he was concerned. And he sure as shit wasn’t no good luck charm.

Apparently, he also ate quicker than Joe had anticipated.


Who you calling “Weirdo”, Bub?

“Weirdo” is a reflex that needs fighting.

One whose justification all too often boils down to “Who Does That?”.

She does that. He does that. The Other, does that.

The reason for this being an issue is that falling into the habit of asking the question means falling into the shadow of the same question, only asked by others about you. Asking WDT requires on some level thinking WDT, and thinking WDT involves accepting WDT as a valid mode of inquiry, which means expecting others to regard you and your life through the lens of WDT.

The “Who” of WDT is used to distinguish the known (the WDT dee-voh-tee) from the unknown, the Other. WDT is just another way of breaking the world into Us and Them.

We do this anyway. We’re classification organisms, we seek to order the universe around us according to our individual peculiarities and preferences, so that we feel in control. So that we feel secure.

WDT, then, is just an extension of that natural classifying, right?

I would say wrong.

WDT solidifies the primacy of Us/Them distinctions, of segregational modes of thinking. It insinuates partisanship, bigotry, and the attendant hostility of those ideas into our daily lives through the words we say.

But it’s easy to change. It’s a straight swap of TLAs, IWW for WDT.

I Wonder Why.

For Socrates, wisdom began in wonder. For Neil Armstrong, wonder was the basis of man’s desire to understand. Buddhism teaches wonder as a fundamental part of spiritual health.

Wonder is a good word to have going through your head on a daily basis.

Why is a magical word. ’nuff said.

But using IWW (“IWW … he’s doing that/she’s wearing that/they’re shouting that/I didn’t do that”) gets to thinking about the thing being done/word/said/made/expressed, rather than the person doing/writing/saying/making/expressing it.

We can’t help but classify, but maybe better to do it with wonder and toward deeds, rather than through a one-way mirror and toward others who are, after all, like us.


Kids in Black (a NaNoWriMo audition tape)

The Kids in Black aren’t bad or good. If you suggest they’re either they’re liable to flip, though unlike you may never know that’s what they did.

A little while ago, some kid heard that we have no free will, only free won’t. Said kid got to thinking and talking with other kids, as kids are wont to do. These kids weren’t tribal, weren’t rebels, weren’t particularly remarkable in any degree other than their contemplative depth. As an experiment in escapism (from the self, from society, from school, from hormones) said thoughtful kids that their identities, now perceived as agglomerations of programming intrinsic and extrinsic, needed redefining. They had to find out who they really were, something they decided was only possible through the conscious, moment-to-moment application of their free will. Or won’t. And to these kids the only way to know free will was being freely exercised, was to do anything except what they wanted to do.

The Kids in Black were defined by undefinable patterns of behaviour. Rational actions had a part to play in their lives, alongside irrational ones, as valid breakers of rationality circuits. Just when you were sure you could predict the direction of their mania, they would switch tack, assuming the proportions of normalcy with zealot intensity.

The black uniform was a prescient defiance of the vain showboatery they knew they risked. Picking a colour scheme meant making aesthetic choices, meant addressing the external self, and the kids weren’t interested in outward perceptions. Some were smart enough to know this was a phase. They foresaw graduation from blacks into normal society’s jeans, stronger and better self-defined for their time as Kids. Sadly, as the enigma spread and lured those seeking a ready-made identity (even one as low-status as “weird, ebony-clad youth), the black became an affirmation rather than a negation.

Kids could be spotted easily. They were the ones sitting motionless in the middle of the road. Also the ones leaping up to hug swerve-enraged drivers.

They were the ones walking backwards across public spaces, cartwheeling down crowded sidewalks. They alternated exhaustingly between action and inaction, jittered with impulse/counter-impulse static. A Kid at her happiest would run up to you with crocodile tears streaming from her face and plead with you, “Help Me I’m so lonely I don’t know who I am I want to be normal”. A desperate, near-suicidal Kid would mosey up casually and offer to carry your bag, pay you a compliment, the desperation undergoing an alchemy to produce not ease, not charm exactly, but the endearing authenticity of someone in the grip of profound emotions trying to make it back to polite equilibrium.

I’m talking about the Kids. They’re not to blame, but you can’t understand the Children without first knowing the Kids.

Back to the well

Somebody I trust said recently “You’re at your best when you just go, and don’t try to construct things too much”. I was going to blame them for what ensues, but in reality its Tequila and a day reading Wired magazine that has brought us to this point.

The future will be broken, unfixable even. But this will be its strength. If something is perceived as fixable, the primary concern is always fixing it, and each fix merely reveals the other breaks. Or the spectre of failed fixes proves a haunting downer.

The future will be honest about it’s brokenness. We will all be honest about our brokenness. This will be an interregnum before the great age of Is [i-zz], where the existing condition of the world and of its constituents will be accepted as harmonious with a “natural order”, despite prevailing inequality and injustice. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

During the interregnum, likely to be named the Frag (for fragmentation, not for the future’s resemblance to Mega City One or any other fictional conurbation and attendant slang), humanity will regroup according to communicable criteria. Access to communication (both legal and illegal, the latter largely tolerated) will have become ubiquitous, enabling humanity to cluster along lines of its choosing. The resulting society will be unequal, fractious, comfortably discontented, but each cluster will be so well networked as to feel themselves inseparable, unseparated, despite the real-world disparity of their locations.

These clusters will each realise that they are the latest chapter in a species history largely defined by failed attempts at creating unison, at fixing the inbuilt divisions between said species’ constituents. To that extent, if to no other, they will be self-aware. There are of course further ventures of reason and recognition to be made from and on this point, but as the human race has shown, only the few and the interested will get to the extremes, the rest will spectate from the middle. That’s no bad thing necessarily.

As the world fragments into these communities and their collective drives, there will be less enthusiasm for attempting to draw all people together. This will mean a refocusing on the universals which all can agree upon (sanitation, healthcare, housing, utilities), though obviously the process of reaching universal accord as to the provision of these entitlements will be one of several decades and a multitude of grey hairs.

Big picture, humanity will realise that though we are evolutionarily joined in our basic needs, we as a species have evolved beyond this commonality by securing the essentials in perpetuity. We will thus be freed to pursue the full multiplicity of our passions, the thousand souls within each of us, without Darwinian competition.

Just enough self-consciousness to perform. Just enough collaboration to survive. Just flawed enough to need to believe in progress.

The future will rule.