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Responsibility

In one of my classes this week, my professor posed a question for discussion: “to whom are we responsible?”  My professor probably had a number of other questions in mind to tie together our readings due that day, but we all got stuck on that one.  The question consumed us for the entire class, and it has been at the back of my mind ever since.

Perhaps it was because of this that I was so struck by something that happened to me on Chicago Ave. yesterday.  I was walking with my friend, when I see an elderly man standing right in the road.  He was standing right-of-center in the right lane, and he was staring blankly into the distance.  I was kind of taken aback by this sight, but I tried to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.  I rationalized his behavior.  Maybe he was waiting for someone, or taking a break while he crossed the street.

But the scene was just too bizarre.  And I knew I would end up obsessing over it if I didn’t go back and at least check that he was okay.  So I ran back, leaving my friend dumbfounded, and approached the man.  I asked him if he was alright.  He responded that he was fine.  I explained that I wanted to make sure since he was standing in the road that everything was okay.  And he repeated that he was fine, and thanked me with a smile.

At this point, I felt that there was nothing I could do but trust that he was really okay.  He was far enough to the side of the lane that I was sure he wasn’t in any terrible danger. But he was close enough to oncoming traffic that I felt a twinge of guilt letting him stay there like that.

Both my class and this story have left me thinking a lot about responsibility.  How responsible are we supposed to feel in instances like this?  Should I have done more for the elderly man I saw?  Could I have?

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A Fine Frenzy

Last year, I happened to stumble upon “Almost Lover” and I fell in love with the song and a Fine Frenzy, because her voice is amazing and she’s able to capture emotions so beautiful in her songs. Despite, claiming to be a fan of her, I had never really viewed her videos until this week, in desperate search of something to get my mind off school mode, and I found myself noticing how essayist they are and though they use some special effects, for the most part, they are simple videos, that try to tell simple stories without the Hollywood commotion of some other videos, that are praised for their visual effects. Visual effects are nice, but sometimes simple  story telling in a genuine way is all one needs to make a masterpiece.

For some reason I love this one, maybe because it reminds me of Chaucer and Up at the same time.

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Missing Sleep

This intense crazy week of papers, projects, and work is finally coming to an end.  By five today, good or bad, I’ll be almost done with stress. I’ll have one more paper due Monday. But that gives me three solid days to worry about it. Unlike the last few days, where I’ve slept no more than 4 hours a night. And tonight I had about a half an hour of sleep where I passed out and managed to be 5 minutes late for class-A big taboo in my book. Why complain one might ask? I don’t know it’s all I can really do until I’m done! Then I’ll get to play catch up on these post….just noticed I’m basically talking to myself in this post-first sign you need sleep-you write post like these.

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The happier I am, the less I want to write.

Thats sad, isn’t it?

When I was >10 years old, it was quite the opposite. I wrote stories about a recurring cast of characters featuring Stara, Princess of the Stars – and I wrote out of a place of enormous joy. I wrote and illustrated a series of projective autobiographies, most of which featured me winning an Emmy before I knew what an Emmy was – and again I was tragically optimistic and happy.

Perhaps it was a learned behavior transition, but in my early adolescence writing became much more about working through the issue du jour. But at least I stayed in comedic genre – creating a series of comic strips about the Yap Yap family (I made no attempt to veil their true identities). Finally, probably after “goth” was in and before “emo” was a word, I became one of those, kids. The ones that let their guts spill out in diaries that they hid under their bed and who only record all the misadventures of their tremblingly hormonal life. I hope I’m not there anymore, but who knows…

Since I’ve been at college the impulse to creative write or journal has ebbed and flowed with the tides of fortune and misfortune. As I said before, the happier I am, the less I want to write. In a lot of ways this class and particularly the blogging assignment has sent a breath of fresh air through the writer corner of my brain; for most of this quarter I have looked forward to writing “whatever’s on my mind,” to paraphrase the instructions we were given.

I don’t think I’ve been particularly dower this winter (hey, its been pretty warm), but in the last week or so an increasing sense of fun in my life has really made it difficult to want to blog, even if the topic is perscribed or easy to formulate. I know this seems problematic, and I would blame no one for concluding that “if I were a true writer, I wouldn’t have so many mood contingencies to write (or so many spelling and punctuation errors!)” I enormously enjoy the consumption and production of the written word but I am not married to the idea of being a writer – at least not in the identity sub-heading sort of way. If my happiness means I would never write again… well I would probably want just a little misery, but not much.

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Speaking of Commercials

I find this commercial to be both politically sound and visually enticing.  The philosophical implications of such a contrast between the black and white images and the lyrics linger in the very depths of the soul pronouncing its profound capacity for truth, knowledge and dignity.

Who let the dogs out??

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Save the Newspaper

Just picked this up from BoingBoing:

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Let me tell you about The Flawless Nonbitch.

The Flawless Nonbitch and I met in a CS class last fall, back when I was trudging semi-miserably down that pitiable path to backend programming. We worked on our final project together, a ridiculously buggy one-person shooter in which Darth Vader eggs on the user (a hapless pawn of the Empire) in shooting Rebel X-wings while avoiding the Tie-fighters that zoom by.

Don’t give me that look, I mentioned the geekery.

Anyway, we bonded over Star Wars love and a uncannily communal knowledge of zombie movies, the late Triassic period, and the dinosaurs existent therein. Again, point being: geek. Her. Me. Geek. Geek geek geek.

Since that ill-fated program, the Flawless Nonbitch and I have had the chance to collaborate on various projects. One being a script for a zombie mockumentary (oh come on, at this point you had to have been expecting it), and another being a few short comedy sketches.

The reason The Flawless Nonbitch is named as such is because that is what she is. The Flawless Nonbitch possesses the following talents and is actively involved in some project or other requiring each of them:

1) artistic (painting, drawing, writing)

2) cinematographic (photography, film)

3) comedic (improv, standup, impressions, sketch comedy)

4) music (flute, banjo, guitar, music composition)

5) performance (acting)

and oh yeah: she’s also pretty to the point that it’s almost offensive.

Yeah. Bitch.

But the thing is, she’s a Nonbitch. As I pointed out, she’s a mutual geekoid (to the max! in geekspeech). She’s very funny and sweet. So I can’t hate her as I do all other Perfect people. I adamantly believe that Perfect people should all go live in a house together somewhere and let the rest of us fend on a level playing ground.

But alack, alack-a-day, The Flawless is not a Bitch, and so is referred to as The Flawless Nonbitch.

The advantage of keeping The Flawless Nonbitch around, despite her actively (albeit unintentionally) making me look bad, is that we work well together creatively, apart from being terrible programmers. So of course she’s the one I approached to score an animated project that I am working on this quarter. We met to talk about the piece today, so that she could see my storyboards and concept sketches, and get a sense for what would visually accompany the “sailor’s ditty” and “octopus theme” I’m having her write. This is my first time collaborating with a composer, and I have no idea of how to go about it. Generally, in the few film projects I’ve done as of yet, I very meticulously attempt to marry editing to sound. I’ve tried to make image movement reflect various crescendos and cuts match the sound’s rhythms. But this is always with sound that I have had in mind before even beginning to shoot.

This project, obviously, is much different. Not only do I have no idea what the music is going to sound like, but I know beforehand how each and every moment of each and every scene is going to look. Which means that none of it will be cut, as I have complete and utter control over each “shot”–things like lighting and outside blips and factors can’t sully my animation. Which means that the music will have to be written to match the pacing of the images, not the other way around. Thus, when I met with The Flawless Nonbitch, it seemed almost natural to Koyaanisqatsi it. At present, her most detailed instruction is to “write something sailor-y but not too jolly. otherwise you have pretty free rein.” I figure, The Flawless Nonbitch has lived up to her name thus far–I trust her judgement, as in the past our creative vision has been fairly congruous. The process we’re going to approach this with is similar to how Glass and Reggio approached their project–every week we’re going to meet and exchange sound and images so that each can be tweaked to match the other. Visual-aural collaboration.

It’s exciting, it makes me finally feel like a real filmmaker.

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I’m sick *cough cough*

When I read poetry written at the beginning of the 20th century, preceding WWI, I sympathize with the increasing foreboding, the growing feelings of dread and lack of agency effected by these poets.  I know these feelings, the emotionally and physically draining reality of seeing something dreadful coming, without the power to do anything to stop it.

Simply, this is how I feel during cold/flu season.

Not to belittle a major world catastrophe in which millions died.  But, for the record, the fact that most of these deaths were due to influenza, should not be overlooked.

Each year, inexplicably, I think I’m going to evade the grasp of the winter cold.  Last year I thought I had stumbled across a suitable preventive, but later learned that prolonged use of the drug could obliterate your taste buds.  Not good.

Yet, it always comes: that back of your throat/nose static, that precedes the runny nose, the puffy eyes, and then the dreaded congestion, which is basically the final nail in your social life’s coffin.  Nobody enjoys a mouth breather, especially one who is clearly contagious and looks like a walking Vicks ad.

But what’s the use of complaining? The common cold is a unifying human condition, that we all must suffer through, in miserable solidarity each winter, right?

WRONG.

Last year, buried in the Science section of the New York Times (safely, one of the least read sections of the paper) I did a double take over a seemingly innocuous headline: “Cure for the Common? Not Yet, But Possible”  Had this been the Huffington Post, I wouldn’t have given this any attention (ex: “Jennifer Garner brings Dolphin to Orgasm,” “John Mayer on the Racial Preferences of his Penis” – need I say more?), but this was the New York Times, where they do things like interview legitimate sources and fact check.

It’s true: the cure for the common cold is now a possibility, with scientists having decoded 99 strains of the virus. However, prohibitive production costs have dissuaded pharmaceutical companies from filing a patent (big surprise).

So not to get all Michael Moore on y’all, but this winter, as you stand at a party, trying to decide what you’re going to do for kleenex after depleting your hosts’ stock of toilet paper, summon up whatever iota of energy you have left beneath that haze of cold medicine and alcohol, and shake a silent, tissue-clenching fist at big health care.

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necco-phelia

After a five week cold war with ATT regarding modem prices and wireless internet service fine print, I finally got wireless internet in my apartment this Tuesday.  Despite certain inconveniences derived from living off the grid, like having to spend absurd amounts of time in coffee shops, syphoning the free wifi while nursing one steadily cooling cup of coffee in an attempt to spend as little money as possible (college, yay.), I have some what enjoyed my forced relegation to a simpler time, and the carefree, relatively responsibility-free environment it facilitates (“oh sorry, I missed that extremely pointless meeting, I didn’t get the preceding six equally pointless e-mails notifying me of this eventual waste of my time – you see, I don’t have internet…).

Apparently, this is just in time, as the 90’s – and the blissful unaccountability that accompanied the Clinton era and my childhood – have officially come to an end this Valentine’s day season. In a formal statement released last month, Necco, the masterminds behind such cardboard confectionary achievements as the Necco Wafer and the Candy Heart, announced that they would be discontinuing certain dated phrases in exchange for new, more cultural relevant ones.  Beginning this Valentine’s day, office relationships among the upper age brackets and landlords will have to find another way to communicate their love, or at least turn to a less socially aware candy in which to do so (I suggest maryjanes): the phrase “fax me” has been replaced with “tweet me.”

As a conscientious Twitter objector, with a penchant for overly-complicated, outdated technologies, I was horrified by this news.  How am I supposed to solicit all my love letters written on legal pad? That paper don’t fit on the average scanner. Plus, if I lose my internet again, how would I even receive said scanned document via e-mail? No, I’ll stick to the tried and true fax machine, wire-FUL and elegantly collecting dust in the back corner of the nearest Kinkos, thank you.

So this Valentines day, as you and your loved one tweet simultaneously about the same movie, you’re both watching, on the same couch, from the smart phones you each just bought each other, think of the sacrifice that some of us – those without internet connection on our phones, who can honestly claim that most of our human contact is done face to face, not interface to interface – had to make for your little romantic tweetfest.  But most of all, think of the fax machine, stripped of its one final remaining claims to cultural relevance.

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Video essays are, in many ways, new-age oral histories. I thought about this as we moved from video to video during class today.

Without this class, and without the form of the video essay, none of us would have stopped to zoom in on the minute aspects of our life that we chronicled. The necklace one wears without thinking, almost an extension of one’s physical self. The knees that support us. The boy from a past life. The pipe waiting for you in your bedroom at the end of a dizzying day. These are facets of our lives that weave in with infinite other facets, and get lost in the cacophony of our evolving self-narratives. It was exciting to see our class share such intimate details of their out-of-the-classroom lives today.

And, on the subject of oral histories, here’s a cool organization I discovered today. It’s called StoryCorps: a nonprofit whose mission is to honor each others’ lives through short video/audio pieces. StoryCorps sets up “listening” spaces across the country, and is well known for its booth in bustling Grand Central Station. Individuals can walk into these booths and interview each other — the idea here is that an intimate, unscripted interview between a mother and son, husband and wife, or two longtime friends, can reveal not only a story but the dynamics of a relationship. Each interview is recorded and preserved. The interviews are taken home by participants and sent to the Library of Congress, where they’re archived to document the America of today.

I love stories, and this organization seems like another way to herald stories into the new century. Here is StoryCorps’ section on the NPR website, and here’s their homepage.

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Who am I?

Our discussion in class today about Michael’s culture and heritage left an impression on me. I wish I had a cultural heritage to push away from and become my own person. Okay, that sounds a little strange, I am aware of this. Hang in there though…hear me out.

What I am trying to say is that who says I cannot dictate my own cultural heritage? Just as Assyria is no longer a tangible place maybe there is a non-place out there for people like me. Or a non-place out there where I can create my own interpretation of the culture and reject the traditional beliefs.

This all goes back to my deep-rooted desire to rebel against something. As of now I am a rebel without a cause, but if I had a cultural heritage I could be a rebel with a cause. Essentially I am applauding Michael for being his own person and contemplating how I can define myself in a world with few boundaries.

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Regret to Inform

Of all the countless things about war that infuriate and depress me, the aspect that probably gets me the most is the dehumanization of it.  In a time of war, the people most directly affected become pawns in a twisted and merciless game of chess.  Individual people become facts and figures; they become single digits in a death count.  Dehumanization is what makes war possible.  How could a soldier who enters a war having never desired to kill another, be driven to do so unless they were able to view this other as something subhuman?  I might just be naive and overly optimistic about the inherent good in people.  But I really do stand by this.

So what I appreciated most about Sonneborn’s Regret to Inform was the humanness of it.  The women in her interviews poured out their hearts and souls.  It was raw.  This movie did what the naively hopeful and optimistic me always envisions doing when it comes to war: revealing the humanity of both sides, and thus bringing the good guy/bad guy dichotomy into question.  The good guys and the bad guys don’t seem so different when you hear the real stories.  The humanizing stories.

Like other people in the class, I did question Sonneborn at first.  It irked me a little to think of the privileged American woman heading to Vietnam for the sake of her own healing process.  Seeking out these women was uncomfortably close to the kind of pillaging the Americans did during the war.  But where Sonneborn redeemed herself for me was in the care I felt she took with the women on both sides.  Although it sounds like last quarter’s class would disagree, I didn’t see this film as being melodramatic.  The soundtrack was sentimental, but appropriately so.  I wouldn’t expect any happier-sounding music, nor did I think it crossed over into pompous, in-your-face territory (like the soundtrack of Night and Fog did).  And the narration on Sonneborn’s part was minimal, and to me it simply sounded sincere.  She meant the things she was saying.  And regardless of how much healing time she has had, or that she has moved on to be happily married, I could never deny her the right to be sincerely emotional about something.  I think a lighter tone would have been unnatural for her, and out of place in the film.

Sonneborn combated dehumanization by pairing the brutality of war with the personal, heartfelt emotion of the real people affected by it.  And she bridged the gap of good guy versus bad guy by humanizing those affected on both sides of the pond.

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Night and Fog is hands down the most disturbing thing I have ever watched.* It disturbs me in a very deep way, which stretches even beyond the graphic footage and the photographs that, aesthetically speaking, are clearly the most disturbing part of the film.  What I found the most chilling was the pairing of these images with footage of the peaceful, lush countryside and the historical buildings of past concentration camps.  And–with the narrator’s resounding last words about our blind eyes and deaf ears and the absence of anyone taking responsibility–I wonder if that was the point.

The stark contrast between the concentration camp scenes literally teeming with bodies (and body parts) and the site years later, devoid of any human form, was unbelievably eerie to me.  As horrified as I was by the grotesque scenes, I was almost equally horrified at the sparse shots of lush green grass–sometimes with an unidentifiable metal form here and there–which left all the horror up to my now-traumatized imagination.

The past few days, I have been grappling with this film on an ethical level.  Yes, it is necessary to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.  It is crucial for people to understand the terror of this and other tragedies so that, among many other reasons, we can keep them from happening again.  With the ridiculous claims we still see today that deny the very actuality of the Holocaust, I cannot call it unethical to present the world with concrete proof, and to shed light on the nightmare. But where do we draw the line between necessary exposure, and gratuitous exposure?  I don’t ask this because I have a theory on the answer, but because I genuinely do not know.  I know I was physically sickened by the images in this film.  I lost my appetite, my hear rate went out of the roof, and I oftentimes couldn’t help but turn away and cover my eyes. I have read a lot and seen a lot and learned a lot when it comes to the Holocaust, but I saw and learned things I never knew in this film.

On the one hand, it does seem gratuitous to bombard a viewer with images like these without any sensitivity or care…or at the very least some time to process the living hell taking place on screen (if it is ever possible to process such a thing). And it seems completely wrong to show these naked, withering bodies knowing that these bodies all had names and families; they were humans but this movie dehumanizes them just as the Nazis did.

But on the other hand, this very action of bombarding without remorse and dehumanizing does through film what the Nazis did through systematic violence.  And if the victims of this tragedy had to actually endure all of this, who am I to say as a viewer that I can’t endure a half-hour of looking at it, especially if this means gaining a better understanding of their struggles? And if this all happened in the first place, and is actually documented on video, how can this documentation not be shared..?

And to bring yet another loaded question into play, what are the differences in ethics and responsibility when it comes to written language, versus still image, versus moving image? If I had read accounts of all of the horrors in Night and Fog, I don’t think I would have questioned the ethics of it at all.  Yet, I also probably wouldn’t have been affected quite as viscerally.

ejfdkjfhdkjfhdksjfhdkjfhdjkhkjdfghdfjkgejskfskfhsjkfhsf <—(lack of real words to express anything else about this film, and lack of ability to think straight at 1:45am)

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Small things are cute, but small people are more cute. I have come to the conclusion that everything is better through the eyes of a child. Things are just happier when they are spoken about in a higher octave and with the insertion of awkward pauses. Not only is this true for conversation but also for song:

There is always a line though…for example, if I were to speak in a child’s voice I know for a fact it would have the opposite effect…I’d just be creepy.

So next time you’re tempted to revert back to childhood to make a situation go in your favor just remember that you can’t always get what you want. May the force be with you.

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“Are You OK?”

This morning when I woke I felt particularly tired. You know how some days you wake up, hit snooze repeatedly, and just feel like you are too tired to physically function even after you get out of the shower? This was one of those mornings.

But I went to my 9:30 class anyway determined to get the most out of the class I worked so hard to wake up for. But this too-tired-to-function feeling continued and permeated my class, which was particularly unfortunate as my class was devoted almost entirely to discussion. When class was over I saw a text I got from my mom saying, “I hope you have a fun day in the snow! Go out and have a snowball fight!” (Yes, my mom sends me texts everyday and yes, she does tell her 20-year-old daughter to have a snowball fight). I forcefully opened the door to the building and took two steps outside onto the snowy terrain. On my second step it happened. My foot slid out from under me and I fell flat on my back. Now there are many types of falls. There are the graceful, almost-saved-your-fall-but-didn’t-quite-make-it falls. While these are embarrassing, they still leave the person with their dignity somewhat preserved. And then there are the falls like I took this morning where one second you are standing vertically and the next second you are flat on the ground, the kind where no matter what you say or how well you recover, your pride is shattered. My fall fell into the second category. While I was lying on the ground thinking about how fitting it was that this would happen to me this morning of all mornings, someone asked me in passing, “Are you OK?”

Just like there are different types of falls, there are also different ways of asking people if they are OK. There is the “Are you OK?” that comes from a general sincerity and concern for the person’s physical and/or emotional well-being. This type of questioning is surprisingly not used that often. The majority of “Are you OKs” fall into the next category where the person asking the question is on one level concerned with the person’s well-being, but is also asking because it is the societal response expected. This is a sort of half-hearted “Are you OK?” resulting from the fact that the person would be considered rude if he or she didn’t ask, but already suspecting the answer. And then there is the “Are you OK?” that I was asked today. The guy who asked me if I was OK did it as he was walking by with no intention of stopping. It served as a wake-up call. It was as if he was saying, “Are you OK? Good. I know you are. Life happens. Sometimes you fall. So get up and get on with your life.” And it was exactly the “Are you OK” that I needed.

As I go through the motions of my day, I keep hearing his question and the tone of his question over and over again. At the moment I fell, there was nothing I wanted to do more than just lie there in my self-pity. But life happens, and the only thing you can do is get up and wipe off the snow and move on to your next class.  And so what if you are all wet with melted snow down your side and are soggy during the next class? It happens. Throughout the day I continuously find that I keep asking myself, “Are you OK?” Good. Then move on.

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Regret to Inform

Whenever I see someone cry on camera I am hesitant to believe them. Usually I assume they are conjuring up images in their heads equating to when their first dog died when they three or their playground love affair went awry. This is not to degrade the intensity or gravity of these situations but it is to say that perhaps they do not merit tears years later (not to mention the fact they are paid to cry).

Rarely do I see honesty in tears. For this exact reason I can say I truly appreciate the film Regret to Inform. I never once felt obligated to empathize with the women being interviewed. Instead I felt honored to be privy to their pain. More so, I have a true appreciation for the director- she selflessly let her story take the back-burner as she highlighted the assumed enemy. In fact, she raised more sympathy for the Vietnamese women than herself.

I found that whereas the images complimented the language they were not nearly as important for the purpose of the documentary. The exceptions are the faces of the women interviewed. Being able to see their physical pain adds a lot to their overall interview.

Overall it is safe to say I enjoyed the film. Of course, it is hard to say I enjoy such a depressing piece of work but I really did enjoy it and I cannot lie and say I didn’t.  Night and Fog is another story, one of those I can appreciate but will never subject myself to again.

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Day in and day out

I’m enjoying working on our monologue assignment, and I think it is because this is a bite-sized chunk of a full video essay. Still images allow the viewer to slow down and zoom in our a thread of thought – and as a “video essayist,” working with still images is allowing me to slacken my pace and focus on a coherent, short narrative product.

While sifting through photos and trying to decide what to draw on for this monologue, I found nearly 20 images for which I would be excited to write different, corresponding narratives. The video essay lends itself wonderfully to small narratives, anecdotes, and finite hypotheses on the human condition. I’m sure that, if our class was a bit more confident in our tech skills, we could produce one video essay every, say, two days. The speed would keep us moving, thinking, working and reevaluating. The thought is exciting.

In other fields, constant work in built into a practice. Artists work to keep their wrists constantly flicking. Writers (solely-for-print writers) keep notebooks to scribble in. Athletes never waver in conditioning their bodies. And have you ever heard of Record Production Month, with the challenge of writing, recording and producing a new album in just one month?

Once in a while, one track-minded, constant practice brings satisfying returns. I wonder if this logic could be applied to a video essay creating challenge?

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All is fair in-

I was really impressed with several aspects of Regret to Inform. I thought the concept, structure, and pairings of sound and language all worked very well. But more than anything, this film discussed the tireless theme “War is Hell” from perhaps the most important perspective: those who must live with its consequences for a lifetime.

I was also very moved that Sonneborn was able to make a film about war that was filled with so much love. At the heart of each woman’s grief, mixed with varying degrees of anger and regret and sadness, was love. I am not saying I liked this film because it was sentimental – I don’t think you could call the stories of especially those Vietnamese women sentimental. I was instead moved by the ability of human connection to make the strongest anti-war message I have ever seen articulated. The problem with war, as I see it, is that it becomes completely impersonal – and endless stream of numbers and maps and statistics – it becomes too easy to forget the importance of human life.

I had planned to write about how glad I was that Sonneborn had cast her net so wide, put the war into such a universal non-americentric context – but I said my peace on that earlier today. The more I thought about the film after class, the more I marveled at the sweet irony it was able to exploit between love and war.

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I was just reading over what I wanted to cover in the still project: the Guernica tapestry that was covered up for Colin Powell conference proposing war against Iraq.  I wanted to move through the tapestry, highlighting the brown tones that distort Picasso’s harmonic chaos in the mono-chromatic original. The tapestry reveals itself as a discordant version of Picasso’s in Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum.

I stumbled upon “Pop and Circumstance,” an article from The Nation discussing Picasso’s infamous antifascist statement.  In the article, it discussed the history of Guernica and how it has developed into such a popular anti-war symbol, withstanding the test of time.   It refers to the Guernica tapestry in the opening paragraph, calling it a mise-en-scene, the result of quibbling politicians.

However, the tapestry representing Picasso’s Guernica that disturbed the politicians into covering it up. Was the defamation of the painting (My Lai massacre) an irreparable brand on the American consciousness? The politicians refused to discuss the invasion of Iraq with it hanging over their head. Literally. But what are they hiding from? I thought the bad guys were the terrorists. They’re the ones hiding with their weapons of mass destruction!

The press later claimed that the imagery made for a bad backdrop, lifting the pressure from the politicians.  Guernica has an eternal power to evoke imagery of destruction.  We could not talk about Iraq because of the power of the image. Its undying, haunting nature. The UN at the New York headquarters decisively put the Guernica tapestry in front of the Security Council chamber, as a reminder of the atrocities of war. Of the destruction of absolute power. Of human’s ability to conjure chaos.

There is a difference between the original and the UN tapestry.  The brown tones add an eerie naturalistic quality distorting the balance upheld in Picasso’s colorless version. The earth tones add a realistic element that collapses the natural brilliance of the non-dueling dualisms: order (black and white) chaos (destruction). Like destruction coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once. This was not the original. It is the faint scar of the original wound. It reminds us of how we can forget history while making history. Colin Powell did not pay homage to the past. The baby-blue tapestry up for two days is a testament to that fact.

Caveat: In my readings, I came to fine that Resnais’s work is considered guernicaisme. Resnais made a collage film about Guernica, paired with actress Maria Casares’s reading of Eluard’s Guernica poem against a somber score. Yet again, the images and the accompaniment take the audience by surprise. Just like Picasso’s modernist interpretation of the corrida Minotaur myth, Resnais finds a harmony in chaos.  Which is both satisfying and disturbing.

Work in Progress — still brewing…..

I don’t think I’ll mention Resnais in my work, but I thought that it was VERY interesting and ironic (isn’t it ironic?!) to run across this subject overlap.  Hindsight: 20.20??

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