Shop Vac (kinetic typography animation)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Robins Nest in a basket

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry


Thursday, May 20, 2010

I work for a major telephone company now!
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Comic book as toilet paper.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Very useful medium.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Star Trek Online is an abomination. Do not give Cryptic any money.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry


Ya I been super busy doing nothing!! Lots of gaming Mass Effect was cool Modren warfare was short and sweet! I will try and be more fastidious with my updates.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Happy newyears

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

It has Meltdown

Sunday, December 20, 2009

So it has a meltdown. These things happen occasionally. There is no reason to be upset just because a few things fall apart and stuff. The school semester was crazy. Barely managed to survive it. Re-considering my Major and what makes me happy. Run of Bad Luck in life. More visitation with my psychiatrist.Work more this week to cover my assistant manager while she has breast augmentation.

Mid terms

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Dark Country (Review)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Its Almost Halloween and that means its a great time to watch scary films. This week I review straight to DvD new comer Dark Country.

Dark Country is a horror film marking the 2nd directorial debut of Thomas Jane (Punisher Fame). The Director smartly decided to cast Thomas Jane in the lead role with back-up role going to the veteran thespian Ron Perlman as the Sheriff. The acting is actually pretty good all things considered BUT the story is the retard baby of Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling. If you enjoy the thrill of a deeply complex psychological thriller, you will be sadly disappointed.

The B-Listers bring their A-Game but hired D-List writer Tab Murphy, whose writing credits include "I was a teenaged draculur" and a few pathetic adaptations. Overall I give this movie one Smiley Face and one Angry Face.

Casual Conversation With My Cousin

Saturday, September 26, 2009

roach3000: i got chased by an angry rodeo horse one time
roach3000: there evil
hørrørS¢øþe: well yeah
hørrørS¢øþe: horse = evil
hørrørS¢øþe: rodeo anything is just meaner
hørrørS¢øþe: even rodeo clowns are meaner than regular clowns


Subtitles: laza·retto (laz′ə retō)

noun pl. lazarettos -·tos

  1. a public hospital for poor people having contagious diseases, esp. for lepers

Authors Note:

I suggest wherever possible to make use of hardware that may compliment any special effects employed in the editing room for example: Any live action firefight should be accompanied by a plethora of low budget firecrackers and bright flashing lights. Any dialogue that is delivered should be a modest performance of the actors ability and delivered natural if at all possible. Dubbing and or voice modification would be prefferable to the roll of villain.Please

Camera opens to Dirt Road. Zoom to cricket singing on side of road. A moment of calm as wind stirs grass and tree's. Wind sound builds to cresecendo as camera pulls out a motorcycle roars past frame.Cut to elevated high angle shot of black motorcycle with helmeted Solidus. Cut to Tight Shot of Soliduss face as a blasted Landscape rushes behind at 4x speed normal creating a blurring effect Solidus is wearing goggles and appears clean and crisp in a well pressed uniform. Sound consists of loud engine and whoosing wind noise. Solidus is filmed at double speed to convey irregular movement as time lapse. Sun Rises behind silouette of Solidus in time lapse and then quickly sinks into horizon as moon rises camera fades to black & Titles.


The words Danger: Restricted Area are spray painted in large bold stencils to look official. Just under the large bold print is a smaller fine print. No access beyond this point. Large yellow and black stripped stockades and pylons flash and blink in the darkness illuminated only by the large bright Signpost.

The Solidus dismounts his cycle and moving in a rushed yet deliberate pace reaches into his saddle bags and produces an arsenal of equipment and weapons. Cut to Medium// standard shot. Solidus secures belts and harnesses and slips a large dark CLOAK and Hood overtop of his leather riding gear. Solidus removes pistols from saddle bags and holsters weapons to chest and leg. Large Shiny Badge on left chest.
Solidus reaches over and removes unusually long rifle with ridiculously large scope. Solidus shoulders rifle with ease running hand over barrel stock and making adjustments to the scope with dialing motions before finally loading a shell loudly and locking the bolt in place. Solidus unstraps large duffel bag from behind motorcycle and turns to face camera. Thick Fog backlit by bright security lighting. Solidus equips gas mask and sound of medical air can be heard flowing.

Solidus places hand to temple
Solidus : I'm in position.
Radio squelching produces loud noises.
Solidus Taps head and signal comes in clear.
CorporateHQ: Administrative Operation, Corporate AUDIT Multiple subjects.
***Squelching***..considered dangerous. Tactical use of deadly force has been advised, please verify.

Solidus : tactical deadly force.

CorporateHQ: Confirmation Verified. Thank you and good luck hunting Commander Solidus.

Solidus : Affirmative.


The softwood forest is carpeted with fine red needles from pine and spruce. The root system weaving its way across the sandy soil marking a treacherous hazard with snags and snares running the gambit.

The trail from the lot descends to a look out point on the edge of the tallest hill, indeed the entire park rests along this ridge. With a magnificent panoramic view of the blue hills and behind those, white capped mountains some thousand leagues distant. Beneath the edge of the cliff lies the cold rushing waters of an ancient and furious river, surging and tearing at the soil and rocks some fifty feet below.

Solidus Moves down the trail crouched low and scanning peripherials with long barreled weapon. Time lapes type here -Brennon Obst 9/25/09 9:56 PM

Until Floodlights and AirHorn sound. Solidus sheilds his face with an arm, raising his rifle into the air in a sign of surrender.


Half a dozen figures stand blocking the trail near a derelict vehicle. Campfire & tents + tarps. They are partially shrouded in shadows but appear to be wearing emergency rain slickers and brandish weapons, pistols, machetes. They have a paramilitary look and various tech gadgets in their costumes. The leader speaks using a megaphone.

Leader: Thats far enough Commander, Turn around and leave and you will not be harmed. Your governing corporation has no authority here.

Solidus : I will leave ...immediately after I carry out my mandate.

Leader: I am displeased to hear that. The last job they sent said the same thing, as did the Ghoul before him, so I caution you to please turn around and leave peacefully. I know it seems you came an awful distance to meet failure but better that than your maker.

Solidus : I am obligated by Law to enforce the quarantine and thereby census any and all contaminated within the perimeter of this containment and furthermore I have been advised to use deadly force should said individuals fail to recognize my commision.

Leader: Oh its a CENSUS now? Slow cynical laughter.The company sent you here to die. You think you can manage a couple of quarantines. You are mistaken, these are my lands and my brigade can more than maintain our sovereignty. I am giving you a chance to live, just turn around and leave. The company can farm another fool. I promise you, we will bury your body in the graveyard for the ghouls.


The Solidus seems to be making a decision before loudly cocking his weapon and the mob opens fire in response.


The Solidus takes evasive action shouldering his weapon and letting off a volley of shots in a wide arc, sending one enemy combatant spinning through the air while the rest run for cover.



Lights Flare from Muzzle fire as fire crackers and whirly birds fly in either direction. The Solidus takes shelter from the mob behind a large tree as bullets whiz past loudly. One Enemy swings a machete in slow mo towards the Solidus's head to be evaded and lodged into tree trunk and before the Solidus can train his long gun he is kicked in the knee and drops his rifle to draw a pistol and shoot the combatant in the head. Spinning around the Solidus just has enough time to shoot a third soldier before glancing over his shoulder to see ten more guerrillas (backlit) standing shoulder to shoulder in rain slickers carrying rifles with helmets n stuff!

Solidus touches his temple

Solidus : Overwhelming odds. Requesting air support to sat nav cords.

CorporateHQ: Negative Commander. Air support is denied.

Solidus : Strategic retreat may not be possible. I require reinforcements.

CorporateHQ: Request denied. Fall Back & Rendezvous with Advanced Patrol @ Nav Point Epsilon.

Solidus: Affirmative HQ

The Solidus hyperventilates before drawing out a second pistol and dashing out from cover runs and guns to jump down behind a small rise in the ground as small ricochets sound out and the zips and zings of near misses rain down on the cover. The Militia can be seen flanking the Soliduss position. The Solidus jumps out from cover to unleash a barrage of gun fire.
Camera PoV: Solidus Screaming a mighty War Cry, Firing a pistol from each hand in a heroic kamikaze death charge, as Militia soldiers fall under the savage assault. Camera fades to white.


Fade in from white, FOG birds chirping. The forest is empty save a small patrol of Soldiers' sharing the same face and uniform.( CLONES) The leader kneels down to retrieve spent shell casing.

Camera Pulls Back to reveal no corpses surrounding the soldiers.

Ritualistic Graveyard//Cemetary
ZOOM to Fresh Grave

Hill stomping

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Where Did That Come From? I wonder!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

High art by my Auntie

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Popping corn

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Behind my house

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Fire Pit Cont.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Invisible FIre

Monday, August 31, 2009

Campfire found during parambulation.

Terrible Peril: The Hidden Dangers of Transcendence

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus is a sad tale wherein a learned man defies God and is mightily smited. The Faerie Queen, Book I chronicles the misadventures of the Red Crosse Knight, a noble knight errant seeking to avenge the fall of Eden. On the surface these two separate works would seem to share very little in common, yet upon closer examination the dramatic psychomachia present within the text suggests a kindred spirit. The epic battle for good and evil, played out within the theater of human spirituality. A cosmic campaign, whereby anthropomorphic entities metaphysically embody the conflicting forces of chaos and order, come to a cataclysmic conclusion, contained within the microcosm of personal convictions. These are compelling issues which have captivated audiences for hundreds of years. The individual must make choices everyday and consider and weigh the crushing bulk of society’s values against their own. These are critical decisions, with respect to the moral ambiguity of personal freedom. Hubris and greed could very well tear down the mighty towers of civilization.

The Red Crosse Knight epitomized the virtuous fool, the symbol of his divinity emblazoned upon his shield. The Knight is the very image of pious fealty. This image stands in contrast to the lecherous and greedy Dr. Faustus, a parody of intellectual corruption. While the villainous Dr. and virtuous knight errant make fascinating characters; it is important to understand their roles beyond the text and examine the larger social issues these characters represent. Elizabethans were sophisticated thinkers and had adopted the notion of a unified theory of God worship. The population of Europe was largely Christian; the choices in religion were quite limited on account of the painful death which accompanies heresy. The Christian world view divided the Universe into two separate and whole parts: The natural world and the order of grace. The natural world houses the man and beast and the order of grace houses immortal salvation. The natural world was responsible for much of the misery of the human condition and the order of Grace had the good stuff. Woodhouse describes the two chambers “To the Christian, of course, both orders were subject to the power and providence of God, but exercised in a manner sufficiently different to maintain a clear-cut distinction between the two” (Woodhouse,195). While it helps to understand the poets world it is not necessary to appreciate the significance of these works. The nature of the writing and quality of its prose set these two works above topical interest. There is something deeply enticing contained within the embellishment. There is poignancy in the presentation of the human condition.

The title for The First Booke of the Faerie Queene makes direct reference to holiness. As suggested by Lyle Glazier. “The Red Cross Knight is not simply a soul striving for holiness, he is the striving soul, a representation of the earnest Christian soul wherever it can be found, just as Everyman and Adam and Eve are representations of all men and women. The wandering wood represents not a specific temptation but temptation itself, wherever found and in whatever form”(Glazier,383). The temptations the Knight faces are numerous and subtle. It is these temptations which combined with a total lack of situational awareness compound the Knights problems. It is passion and defiance which lands the knight in the serpents den. “But full of fire and greedy hardiment/ The youthfull Knight could not for ought be staide”(Spencer, 836). His disposition towards insolence nearly see’s the Knight killed if not for the interference of Una. “Now now Sir knight, shew what ye bee/ Add faith unto your force, and be not faint/ Strangle her, else she sure will strangle thee”(Spencer,838). So the Knight is saved from his first trial and by a force of faith. While the majority of the Knights trials and challenges come from external sources Dr. Faustus seems to be the architect of his own demise.

Based on the popular legend of Dr. Faust, Marlowe’s manuscript achieved notoriety and was made infamous by a growing folklore which sprang up around the performance. These urban legends make for amusing anecdotal remarks but in no way overshadow the stirring emotional content of the play itself. The legend of Faust transcends the locality of its inception and its iterations. One could suggest that the mode in which the performance is presented has less to do with entertainment but strikes a chord deep within human psyche. Kenneth Golden expands upon the psychological significance of the Faustian mythos. “ Indeed, despite the medieval and Reformation atmosphere, Faustus’ dilemma is easy to see as parallel to that of modern man –especially from the twentieth-century standpoint of C.G. Jung’s psychology of archetypes”(Golden,202). It may appear as though few would be able to identify with the megalomaniac complex experienced by the Doctor. Yet much of Faustus’ history is spent in obtaining information.

A quest for knowledge that may seem distant to the individual and yet as a society it is our advancement in technology and arts that measure our culture. The age of Renaissance was an awakening to classical thought, when reason and intellect began the slow revolutions to overthrow the political and intellectual oppression of the Catholic Church. Four hundred years later and not much has changed. The age of information is still encumbered by the domination of nation states and structured oligarchy. The feudal caste system has been replaced by corporate overlords and the modern man shares much in common with his ancestors. The plight of the citizen remains unchanged in nearly half a millennium.

The parables of Greek myth are as valid to the modern man as they were to the flip-flop toting, toga swathed thinkers of western civilization. The introduction to Dr. Faustus makes direct reference to the tale of Icarus, that venerable fable born of ancient Greece. Marlowe begins his play with an introduction by the chorus which recounts the exploits of Dr. Faustus and his scholarly accomplishments. “That shortly he was graced with Doctor’s name, In th’ heavenly matters of theology. Till swol’n with cunning of a self-conceit, His waxen wings did mount above his reach, And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow” (Marlowe, 19-22). Such a direct comparison may seem heavy handed or obtuse yet the title of the play leaves little to speculation.

If the alluring mystery of Faustian character is not present within his fall then perhaps it is in his meteoric rise through academia and attempts to achieve God’s Grace through unscrupulous means. His defiance of Gods laws and false understanding of the natural world only help to focalize the audiences understanding of his folly. There is a thrilling sense of complicity while witnessing the crimes Dr. Faustus commits. The blasphemous invocation of demons and the shabby bargain sealed with blood, binding Mephistopheles to the whims of Dr. Faustus, or so it would seem. The terms of the arrangement are never actually met.

Marlowe delivers a tale of broken promises, lust greed and vanity. The miracles performed by the devils amount to little more than grandiose illusions and Dr. Faustus never accomplishes the lofty tasks he had imagined. Faustus may very well represent the wasted potential found in the individual. He is prepared to exchange his immortal soul for instant gratification. The theology of Dr. Faustus describes the metaphysical status of Faustus’ soul. “At the beginning of Dr. Faustus the sublime charity of the Sacrifice is poised against Faustus' consuming egotism; at the close of the play it is poised against the unpitying wrath of God” (Ornstein, 1385). There is no redemption for the damned. The end of the tale offers no silken angel of redemption. A fiendish rending of flesh is too poor a reward for the promethean hero.

If Faustus represents the corruption of faith then the Red Crosse knight embodies the Christian ideal. The Red Cross Knight epitomizes the contemporary Christian morals. If Faustus was an Anti-Christ then the Red Cross Knight is the pseudo God. The themes of ethics and piety never diminish the archaic poetry employed by Spencer, they do however point to the authors preoccupation with matters of faith and the mastery of his classical discipline. Maurice Evans suggests the symbolic allegory used is appropriate. “The imagery of Book I is overwhelmingly Christian, from the Christian armour in the first stanza to the jaws of the dragon which gaped 'like the griesly mouth of Hell' at the end; and it is no accident that Temperance, the chief Aristotelian virtue, is described in terms of Odys-seus' journey home”(Evans, 132). The powerful platonic reasoning and use of Christian theology further compound the metaphysical challenges the Red Cross Knight faces. The steadfast warrior possessed of a boundless source of faith must still encounter Error and lies. These obstacles to truth and understanding entrap and exploit the weakness present in the Knight.

The Knight and the necromancer share more in common than the polar difference in spiritual disposition. There appears to be a mutable aspect to their persona. Faustus is not aware of the fallacious nature of his dialectics. Okerlund argues that Faustus’ reasoning amounts to sophistical fallacy. “Here is the consummate intellect willfully forfeiting the power to reason; here is rational man suborning his logical being in the quest for immortality”(Okerlund, 261). These observations further expand on the erroneous nature of sophistical philosophy. The misappropriated knowledge is used as leverage to achieve illicit dreams of base desires. This false faith is present within the Red Cross Knight as well. The various evils that plague the knight however are mostly external forces acting upon the stout beliefs of the Christian soldier.

The allegory acting as undercurrents in what could be otherwise read as an exciting Arthurian epic. Dallet suggests that there is more to the content of the poem than a first reading may reveal. “…Book I, in many respects the most unified section of the work, owes much of its coherence to an ordering of visual perceptions, and something of its uniqueness to an allegorical sight unseen which makes it true on the literal level that ‘more is meant than meets the ear”. (Dallett, 87) The allegorical context in which the Faerie Queene was conceived shares a mate with the duality of the Faustian text.

Every scene in which Faustus boldly provokes God is matched in kind by the comedic parody of Wagner and his Clown. Whereas Faustus exchanges his soul for deification, the clown mocks his action with mimicry and echoes his masters’ incapacity. Even when Faustus deliberates upon repentance the Devil appears to distract. These ironic twists within the manuscript are meant to entertain and inform the audience of the absurdity of Faustian ambition. The humor contained within the text serves a larger purpose to the overarching themes of damnation and greed. Robert Ornstein expands on the short attention span of Faustus. “Entranced by Lucifer’s vaudeville show he forgets salvation. Lucifer is also entertained but on a more intellectual plane. The consummate cynic, he diverts his victim with a picture gallery that suggests Faustus’ own futility”(Ornstein, 168). To Marlowe, it was important to create an element of artifice. It was necessary to fulfilling the spectacle of failure. If the audience could laugh at the Clown dreaming of wenches then they might weep as they witness Faustus waste his immortal soul for a tryst with a false beauty.

Marlowe’s grasp of irony was profound. The script speaks to the thinking mind on several different levels. The verse ascends to the dizzying heights of satire and descends to the deepest depths of despair. Faustus’ last words edge around repentance and salvation and yet he does not utter the apology that might save his very soul. He laments the terrible fate he forged himself. “Ugly hell, gape not, come not Lucifer! I’ll burn my books. Ah, Mephostophilis!”(Marlowe,1227). Faustus put off all thought of his inevitable damnation to the very end. His tone is of regret and not repentance.

Faustus is reduced to a self indulged flailing, a sign of the consummate sinner and coward. Marlowe ends his play with a whimper and a warning. “To wonder not at unlawful things, Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits, To practice more than heavenly power permits”(Marlowe, Act5). With the tragical scene delivered as promised, it must shock the audience to wonder in awe and somberly consider the measure of their own morality
Dr. Faustus had in himself the worst enemy; the same cannot be said of the Saint George. Within the complex allegory exist outside forces, exerting their control over the Red Cross Knight. The Knight benefits from having an arch enemy in Archimago. The sin present in the world is separate from it. The evil which dwells outside paradise will always tempt the weak. It is the curse of free will to face these conflicts. Even armored against the sin of moral platitudes, the Red Cross Knight is vulnerable to the psychological effects Archimago. The invisible filaments separating man from perfection can be found in the lies of the church with its printed words and the folly of our base urges.

These notions of moral functions help to illustrate the road to right reason. The tragical history of Dr. Faustus facilitates an understanding of the complexity of power and corruption. It may appear as though the much maligned Dr. Faustus is the author of his own destruction, however under scrutiny it appears as though he was a pawn in a cosmic battle for supremacy. The Red Cross Knight too served his duty and would have been consumed by his own passion and lies if not for Love and Mercy. The path to transcendence is limited by emotional capacity. Marlowe and Spencer have produced masterpieces on the state of salvation; they have built a ledge upon which we may lift ourselves up to gaze upon the wide horizon of glory.

Works Cited

Dallet, Joseph Ideas of Sight in the Faerie Queene, “ELH” Vol. 27 No. 2
Johns Hopkins University (1960) pp.87-121
Evans, Maurice Platonic Allegory in The Faerie Queene, “The Review of English Studies,
New Series”, Vol 12, No. 46 (May 1961) pp. 132-143
Golden, L. Kenneth Myth, Psychology, and Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus” “College Literature”,
Vol. 12, No. 3 (fall 1985), pp. 202-210
Okerlund, N. A. The Intellectual Folly of Dr. Faustus, “Studies in Philosophy”,
Vol. 74, No. 3 University of North Carolina Press (Jul., 1977), pp. 258-278
Ornstein, Robert Marlowe and God: The Tragic Theology of Dr. Faustus
“PMLA”, Vol. 83 No. 5 (Oct., 1968), pp 1374-1385
The Comic Synthesis in Doctor Faustus, ELH, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Sep, 1955) pp. 165-172
Spencer, Edmund The First Booke of the Faerie Queene, “The Longman Anthology of British
Literature 3rd. Ed”. (2006) pp.832-979
Marlowe, Christopher The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, The Longman Anthology of British
Literature 3rd. Ed. (2006) pp.1177-1227

Orlando & Alchemy: Forging the Philosopher's Stone

Legend has it that once a great alchemist had achieved the impossible, and created a talisman of immeasurable value. It was called the Philosophers Stone for it could bestow wealth, immortality, intellectual enlightenment and produce the Magnum opus. It may be such a mythical treasure does exist in some form or another. It is certain that Virginia Woolf gave her beloved Orlando this very gift, blessing Orlando, the nobleman, the warrior poet, the immortal.
There are elements present within the text of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando which may astound the reader. Woolf has created a biography of a young nobleman. It is no secret that Virginia Woolf and Victoria Sackville-West were intimate companions and that the novel roughly biographies the life of Victoria. The satirical portrayal of Victoria as a man helps to illustrate the hypocrisy of early 19th century property laws and civil freedoms. Victoria Sackville-West had been the victim of outrageous oppression. The wealth of her family could not be inherited by a woman. Frank Baldanza suggests that Victoria had made arrangements with Woolf to write this book. “The aim of Orlando is to explore the complexities of selfhood, of time, and of sexual differences through material provided by Mrs. Woolf's idea of her friend ‘Vita"(Baldanza, 274). There is no doubt that the Sackville family tree came from royal peerage. Their title, ancestry and land holdings were extensive.
Orlando too, is wealthy and born to a noble family. It is not until he wins the affection of Queen Elizabeth is his fate sealed. She grants land and title and gives the young Orlando position and authority. The Queen spies Orlando in her mirror kissing a serving girl and smashes the mirror with her sword. The Queen is unwell from this moment on and spends the rest of her life cursing the treachery of men. It is here that the narrator interrupts the biography to defend Orlando from the reader’s harsh appraisal of his behavior. “It was Orlando’s fault perhaps; yet, after all, are we to blame Orlando? The age was the Elizabethan; their morals were not ours”(Woolf, 26). The interjection by the narrator is perhaps intended as a satirical view of so called legitimate biographers, those victors of history.
Orlando is beautiful and rich and must now choose for himself a bride. He reluctantly selects an appropriate mate when the Great Frost arrives to freeze the fluid rivers and explode helpless village girls. It is at this point that Woolf introduces the beautiful and tempting Muscovite Princess. At first Orlando cannot tell whether it is a male or female he is looking at. This is the first instance of androgyny within the text, a blurring of sexual gender. The lustful temptation experienced by Orlando dramatically changes the tone of the story
Orlando is infatuated with the Princess and quickly embarrasses his betrothed with his behavior. She breaks off the engagement but Orlando is emotionally unaffected. For Orlando there is only the exotic Muscovite and he willingly pins upon her all his hopes and future love. The Princess Sasha is getting cold in the weather and Orlando accompanies her to ship, frozen in the river. While growing impatient waiting for her to return from bellow deck Orlando bursts in on Sasha in the arms of one of the sailors. Orlando is overcome with grief and begins to suspect his lover is not entirely faithful. These suspicions are confirmed when Orlando’s pact to elope with his lover are dashed to ruin. The winter is ended with a great rain and time seems to slow to a crawl and then stop at the moment of Orlando’s realization. The bell ringing in the hour of midnight rings in a new thought, a new understanding of his abandonment. Then all the clocks in town seem to whisper the secret knowledge of his shame. The passage of time shifts and slows under the direction of Woolf. The author bends the temporal flow of time to clarify the message being delivered. There are advantages to the manipulation of the space in which the mind may unravel a particularly complex issue. By allowing a moment to carry on for an eternity Woolf can display the entire range of emotion an individual can embrace. Time to memory amounts to little more than a faint wisp of a familiar odor. The genius in Woolf is exploiting her characters environment to accommodate the needs of her character. There are critical moments in life that only last a moment and yet may forever alter the destiny of an individual. In order to fully appreciate these events it is necessary to slow down our observations of time and emotionality. This is not the only moment Woolf employs sorcery to accomplish her goals. Shortly after the clock strikes twelve the ice in the river can be seen to rapidly melt and shatter stranding the festivals revelers on shelves of ice. The victims of the supernatural thaw are isolated and call out to Orlando for assistance he is helpless to provide.
The infusion into the text of near mystic weather patterns and time flow collaborate to fashion a tapestry of life. The memories of events are often fragments of imagination and emotion. Woolf sublimely combines these moments of epiphany with magic realism to create a truth in observation not possible using traditional methods of biography. Weschler attempts to expand on the definition of magic realism. “Magic realism does not invent a new order of things; it simply reorders reality to make it seem alien. Magic realism is an art of the implausible, not the impossible; it is imaginative, not imaginary”(Weschler,293). The act of tampering with the universe must be subtle. The use of magic must be indirect and modest. Woolf expertly weaves the incredible with the mundane. Orlando has known only pleasure in life, the occasion upon which he must witness his first tragedy creates a rupture in the sky and tears thaw the frozen landscape of his heart.
There are several advantages to using the atmosphere and world events to echo the emotional status of the young Orlando. Woolf has made several innovations to the fictional biography. The addition of a costumed period helps to establish the antiquity with which Orlando’s family has serviced the Empire and establishes the geopolitical sphere of the characters realm of influence. That the ages seem to slide by in a blur is only offset by the long thought moments that last a life time. The narrator usually espouses and gilds the deeds of young Orlando fending off criticism of his character and generally elaborating on the esteem and accomplishments of the subject. The methods and design of such a complex novel would require careful planning and research. The precision in which Woolf describes the period and the ethereal nature of the time flow becomes a charming fantasy within which the extradoinary and supernatural seem to fit correctly.
While it may be that Woolf was simply attempting to forward the movement of feminism or advance her own personal relationship with Vita; she did so with such flare that the novel transcends any such agenda. It might come as a surprise when Orlando first undergoes the change of gender but within the frame of reference, the metamorphosis fits. The new challenges that surface for Orlando are generally social pressures experienced by an individual with an intimate knowledge of the personal liberties enjoyed by men. The presentation of these radical changes is met by the character with some small surprise. The incongruous and baffling change is merely taken in stride. It may very well be that the flourishing touches of communication with the imaginary laws that govern a fictional world are all in the buildup, an almost subconscious signage along the plot. As previous to Orlando’s sexual change his time spent in Constantinople and among the Turks turns his attention to the finer details with all the pomp and decorum of courtier ship. These acts of ambassadorial success elevate Orlando to the highest peerage. It is at this point that it seems as though Orlando has achieved everything a man could set his heart upon.
There is nothing left for the character to experience in life. Orlando has a thirst for exploration and it should not come as a shock to find the three aspects of female virtue incarnated within his bed chamber. “Truth! Truth! Truth! We have no choice left but confess—he was a woman” (Woolf, 132). Even though Orlando’s gender has changed he notes that he remains precisely what he had been. This allows the reader to understand that the character has not changed, on the contrary it seem more suitable to see Orlando as a strong female. That modesty, truth and chastity sought to cover up Orlando and hide his shameful true shape of womanhood. The appearance of deity’s is simply a tool used to help the reader understand the process by which Orlando undergoes his change, It is possible for mythological deities to manifest and affect the outcome of an epic adventure and so the device is not a new one to literature. The reader is likely nonplussed with the simple nature in which the impossible is blended with the ordinary. The truth shatters the illusion that Orlando was a male and her true form is revealed. Woolf selected a very carefully constructed mythology to fuse her need to alter the destiny of her character. The original false form of maleness had led a rather whimsical life, fortune and fame afforded Orlando the time necessary to develop her more female aspirations. The cultivation of poetry (albeit bad) continues in a much improved form after the metamorphosis. The issues of androgen and societal understanding of genders roll and influence on the matter of legal status were and always have been appalling. The notion that women were legally dead and or lesser creatures is truly a noble quest for a promethean hero.
The change in sex does little to affect the character of Orlando except perhaps his challenges double. The plight of women was desperate for hero’s which could challenge the English notion of chastity as suggested “Orlando seeks a place of national belonging for the polymorphous sexual, masculine-identified white woman”(Hovey, 394). This idea of shocking the public into accepting her values has more traction than the subtle way in which Woolf was able to articulate the appalling state of social reforms. Woolf's choice in using the biography as her nexus for the fantastic events which befall her characters speaks to the irreverence in which Woolf held her contemporary biographers.
The lack of form and introduction of magic into the formulaic biography speak to the innovative nature of Woolf’s work. The tasks in which Woolf set out to accomplish are accomplished with aplomb and dignity. Woolf’s need to chronicle the life of Orlando as a mock biography may go further than simply rejecting the boring manner in which traditional biopic were composed and mocking the role of the biographer as infallible. Phillips suggests that Woolf was creating a new genre of fiction “She wishes to contest the distinction separating biography and the novel, and writes fictional biographies between her more serious novels”(Phillips,421) The fictional biography grants the author more freedom and creativity in form. The balance of real and magic requires a fluidity of penmanship not typically found within the non fiction writer.
There is a luminescence to her writing which captures the emotionality of consciousness. The fundamental biography is enhanced by the meticulous precision with which Woolf spins her web. The parody of gender identifies and masquerade perpetrated by Orlando in her feminine form suggests to the reader that very little distinguishes the real from unreal the female from the male. The temporal flow of the novel does not follow the prescribed reality by which time is judged. The facts are presented and the reader must simply suspend disbelief and proceed with the assumption that the universe adheres to its own set of laws.
It is Woolf’s assertion that the world shrinks as technology expands humanities sphere of influence “It was a little alarming this shrinkage, everything seems to have shrunk” (283). Woolf connects the emotional state with the physical. There is a super reality born, between Woolf’s boiling narrative and inquisitive social commentary. The dreamlike quality of such observations improves the reader’s connection to the fictional world.
The correct mixture of fact and fiction makes a fine line of reality. The presence of clocks shocks Orlando into the next phase of his life. The chime of bells signals a changing of the hour. The reader can closely identify with the changing of time. The ringing of an alarm clock signals the beginning of a new day or that lunch is ready to be eaten. The flow of time is a matter of strict perspective with the good times a blur and the waiting an agony. Virginia Woolf does not break the laws of nature as much as reinterpret their meaning. Orlando’s poetry was completed and her family established as the final clock chimes to the end of the novel. Orlando’s story has been told and rather cleverly. The blending of reality with fantasy forges a believable world. Virginia may have turned the tragic circumstances of her lover’s life into the literary gold of legends. The mixture of social injustice and personal triumph inspire tolerance and compassion.

Works Cited
Baldanza, Frank “Orlando and the Sackvilles” PMLA, Vol. 70, No. 1
(Mar., 1955), pp. 274-279

Hovey Jaime “Kissing a Negress in the Dark: Englishness as a Masquerade in Woolf’s Orlando” PMLA, Vol. 112, No. 3 (May, 1997), pp. 393-404

Weschler Jeffrey “Magic Realism: Defining the Indefinite”
Art Journal, Vol. 45, No. 4, The Visionary Impulse: An American Tendency (Winter, 1985), pp. 293-298

Woolf, Virginia “Orlando” Oxford University Press NY, Editor Rachel Bowlby (2008), pp. 26-132

Phillips, Brian “Reality and Virginia Woolf” The Hudson Review,
Vol. 56, No. 3 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 415-430

The Essence of Epiphany

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Dubliners is a collection of short stories written by James Joyce and after much delay, due to discord and censorship, was finally published in 1914. The separate works are meant to illustrate the alternating stages of mans life with each story capturing a moment of profound revelation. The characters in the various shorts are all bound by the common thread of community, as implied by the title of the novel. The epiphanies experienced by the characters hint at a greater purpose within the context of mundane events. The novel is a great patchwork. Each individual story represents a different aspect of Irish life, stitched together by major themes of paralysis and epiphany. The narrative drifts from introspection to retrospection, while perpetually postulating an irreverent intervention of the divine.
The religious overtones found within the text compliment the liturgical cycles of Catholic epiphany. The festival marking the celebration of Gods son made manifest. James Joyce remarked in a personal letter that he had deliberately separated his fifteen stories into four aspects: childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life. As explained by Florence L. Walzl “The Epiphany cycle gave Joyce this model. Its two-part internal division offered a design readily adaptable to Dubliners. Though Joyce divided Dubliners into four parts and his proportions are different, the basic plan is similar. His division of the stories follows the order of the liturgical epiphanies” (440). So by using this working model of religious revelation Joyce was able to eclipse the ordinary subject matter of his stories with the mythos of the Catholic religion.
James Joyce himself said "My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the center of paralysis."(ix) His intention then was to create a reflection of a stagnant culture. A mirror to hold in front of the people of his nation to serve as impetus to change. Joyce understood the nature of the disease and hoped to vaccinate. The first of his shorts was entitled The Sisters and captures the spirit and mystery of youth perfectly. A young boy must attempt to understand the greater meaning behind the death of his mentor and priest. The family speaks in hushed whispers and avoid discussing the details of the late priests sickness in front of the youth. This tale speaks directly to societies need to protect our children from the suffering of disease and death. This protectionism is in turn perceived by the young as a deliberate act of isolation. A shutting out of children, an enforcement of non-participation. The priest has suffered a series of strokes, which can affect mobility and result in paralysis, a major theme of the novel. The family speaks on the matter of his decline beginning with the breaking of a chalice.
The symbolism of the chalice is elaborated by Gerhard Friedrich “The paralyzing guilt of chalice-breaking lies in that spiritual and physical corruption which prevents sacramental fulfillment. It is a comprehensive ailment, of which all of Joyce's stories are symptomatic, and his "epiphanies" are therefore not so much manifestations of the spirit of redemption in mundane and trivial situations as they are occasions for a momentary acknowledgment of the very pathos of mundaneness and triviality. No new and better priest provides a happy ending to The Sisters."(423).
The breaking of the chalice and the priests subsequent death hint at the corruption of reason. The denigration of sanity into dementia. The boy too felt that not all was well with his old friend. As the narrator imagines his deceased companion. “But the grey face still followed me. It murmured; and I understood that it desired to confess something. I felt my soul receding into some pleasant and vicious region; and there again I found it waiting for me. It began to confess to me in a murmuring voice and I wondered why it smiled continually and why the lips were so moist with spittled. But then I remembered that it had died of paralysis and I felt that I too was smiling feebly as if to absolve the simoniac of his sin” (4). The act of simony being the buying and selling of ecclesiastical favors and a crime against the church. The reader then is treated to a revelation of their own. The boy, despite his age, understands the fraudulent dichotomy of religion. The indulgence and corruption of the church had long been a major point of contention and to frame an accusation in such form hints at a bitter heart. As Joyce himself said “... a style of scrupulous meanness.” ( xvii )
The Dubliners begins with a story of death and it ends with one as well. The circle of life completed. The last story is aptly titled The Dead. The tone of the story shifts dramatically from the previous stories. As described by Adrienne Auslander Munich “Hostilities, figured as warfare, structure the subtext of The Dead. Joyce's animus toward the sepulchral Rome, where he conceived the story, blended with his attitude toward the citizens of Dublin, "the people who had betrayed me and sent me to hell."' By "hell" Joyce meant his exile, even though elected; in authorial revenge he assigned Dubliners to a progressively murkier hell where they play minor fiends while one of them, Gabriel Conroy, fights increasingly insubstantial enemies a servant, a drunkard, dances, food, music, a dead horse, a dead lover “(173). The conclusion of the story looms over the memory of the dead and concludes with a metaphysical twist. Joyce slips into the stream of consciousness to describe the thoughts of Gabriel Conroy “ His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling” (176). Joyce introduces surrealism into the last story. Reiterating the shadowy form of the ethereal and concluding the tale with a dark and foreboding end.
The Dead grants the reader a voyeuristic glimpse inside the darkest depths of man's psyche. The masculine urges and emotional passions of the protagonist eliciting censorship from publishers and labeled obscene by critics. Despite the damning controversy surrounding these works James Joyce managed to convey the truth of his convictions. The stories are both evocative and absorbing. The narrative changes tone and mood rapidly shifting from clever quips to somber memory.
The Dubliners severs the bond between body and mind and concludes the tale with a sweeping description of a wintry night in Ireland. Gabriel Conroy's melancholy spirit gazing over the snowy city and beyond. His world held frozen in paralysis. The revelation that memories hold a death grip on the living. A spiritual realization. The epiphany serves as impetus to change.

Works Cited
Friedrich, Gerhard. "The perspective of Joyce's Dunbliners". College English Vol. 26, No. 6
(Mar., 1965): 421-426.
Joyce, James. “The Dubliners” Oxford University Press Inc., New York
Oxford Paperbacks (Jul 12 2008):
Munich,Adrienne Auslander. “Form and Subtext in Joyce's “The Dead” Modern Philology Vol. 82, No. 2 (Nov., 1984): 173-184 The University of Chicago Press
Walzl L., Florence . "The Liturgy of the Epiphany Season and the Epiphanies of Joyce." Modern Language Association Vol. 80, No. 4 (Sep.1965): 436-450.

High Fives!

Friday, January 30, 2009

2nd Sequester

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Im reading Shakespear and stuff. I guess every gradeschool kid does this sort of thing but I somehow managed to avoid a classical education by virtue of the poor quality institutions available in my city. Which is not to say that I did not have good teachers, there were some few who presented crucial lessons but too few. I relish the choosing of what I learn. The Bard said it first better.
"You taught me language; and my profit on'tIs, I know how to curse: the red plague rid you,For learning me your language."
The Tempest, 1. 2

The Cleaning Dance!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dirty Dungeon Needs Cleaning!

Machuca: A film Review

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The feature film Machuca was co-written and directed by Andres Wood. Released in 2004, the film is set before and after the 1973 Chilean military coup. Wood eschews historical evidence in favor of a dramatic depiction focalized by the social dynamics of an upper-middle class family. The film is in essence a coming of age tale. The story is primarily told from the perspective of a young boy, Gonzalo Infante, a privileged youth attending a private school in Chile. The film begins as the school's headmaster, Father McEnroe, introduces Gonzalo's class to five new students. The new students are visibly poor, which is evident from their dirty faces and ragged clothing. Father McEnroe informs his class that these students are from 'nearby', and asks if any of the students know the newcomers. One of the young affluent students responds that Machuca's mother performs a laundry service for his family. The headmaster then disrupts the social hierarchy by altering the students' seating arrangements, creating hostility, as the class bully must surrender his premium 'cheating' spot behind the class nerd 'Gonzalo'. This simple yet effective introduction offers a first glimpse of the social chasm that exists between the wealthy and the poorer, marginalized members of Chilean society. The opening scenes successfully represent a microcosm of Chilean culture.
This social experiment parallels the policies of President Salvador Allende's Marxist Government. Allende nationalized the banking and mining sectors and introduced sweeping land reforms. These policies alarmed the U.S. Government and led to the “economic sabotage”1of Chile by the U.S. This foreign interference is revealed casually during a conversation between Gonzalo's parents, illuminating the skyrocketing inflation and boom in black market activities. The complex economic problems had exhausted Chile's foreign exchange reserves, and in 1972 inflation had “climbed from 33 to 99.8 percent”2
A difference of political opinions manifests itself within the family shortly after a televised news program reports President Allende's visit to Communist China. This scene briefly communicates the everyday problems of Chilean society and the political division among family and friends. It appears as though Gonzalo's mother and father quarrel over a wide range of topics including economic and social issues. The domestic tension felt at home is offset by the graphic novel, The Lone Ranger, a gifts from his mother’s dear friend Roberto Ochagavia. This book alludes to a friendship between an American settler and a native Indian. Andres Woods intentionally uses the comic book to represent the bond between the strawberry Gonzalo and his indigenous friend.
The following day at school, Gonzalo is accosted by the class bully and his small gang of thugs. The bully demands that Gonzalo participate in the beating of the underprivileged Pedro Machuca. When Infante refuses, and instead attacks Pedro's tormentors, the bully retaliates by throwing stones; striking Gonzalo in the head. Pedro respects Gonzalo's heroic defiance and the two become friends.
Pedro offers Gonzalo a ride home and we are introduced to Machuca's neighbors: the jolly Uncle Willi and his daughter Silvana. In a bid to escape his suffocating family, Gonzalo offers to assist his new friends in their day of labor. The scene then transitions to a high-energy protest; Uncle Willi sells Chilean national flags and cigarettes to the mob. Gonzalo enjoys the thrill of participating in this demonstration. In an amusing fashion, the scene changes, and the government flags are replaced by those of the opposition. Uncle Willi, the consummate businessman, serves no political agenda-only his wallet. The scenes create a view of a motivated population divided by moral perspective and wealth. Gonzalo is then seen accompanying his mother to visit her friend Roberto Ochagavia. The gentleman is wealthy and lives a life of luxury.
Roberto is friendly with Gonzalo, commenting on their shared experiences and bribing the youth with massive quantities of candy. It is during the discourse between Roberto and Gonzalo's mother that the viewer begins to sense that perhaps Gonzalo's fair appearance is the result of heritage. Roberto then disappears with his mistress and we are left to contemplate the emotional void felt by Gonzalo at the revelation of his mother’s infidelity. At this point the story shifts from the suburban homes of the bourgeoisie, to the desperate conditions of Machuca's shanty-town.
The young Infante decides to pay a visit to his new friend’s house. The camera quickly pans across figures hunched over, laboriously digging in mud. There is a cinematic shot of men and boys carrying scraps of tin and wood and the camera focuses upon the ramshackle houses built from garbage. Gonzalo is horrified by the shanty-town's lack of plumbing and is confronted by Silvana, who mocks and teases the wealthy boy. Their flirtation is interrupted by Pedro's father. Mr. Machuca assaults Pedro's mother and robs his family of their savings, which he spends on drink. Pedro chastises his father. His father responds by prophesying the future friendship between Pedro and Gonzalo. Mr. Machuca predicts that Pedro will be cleaning toilets his entire life while his prosperous friend will enjoy a life of wealth and power.
His father’s outburst forces Pedro to test his friendship. Machuca invites himself over to Gonzalo's home. Gonzalo is not completely comfortable but allows his friend to visit. Upon arrival at the Infante home Machuca is attacked by Gonzalo's sister's boyfriend. The boyfriend is a big threatening bully. A right wing supporter with nun chucks. He harasses Machuca and the bravery Gonzalo once displayed evaporates. Andres Wood took particular care in presenting his villains as Pinochet supporters; Ordinary characters yet vaguely menacing. “In a country beset by acute economic crisis, social conflict and political polarization, perhaps half the population initially supported the new military government, expecting it to be moderate and transitional.”3
Andres Wood's direction succeeds in creating an atmosphere of tension and doubt. Machuca survives the sinister boyfriend and his idle threats. These events do, however, help to dramatize the racial tension. A foreshadowing of the violent coup d'etat which looms over the narrative. The film continues to reinforce an element of fear through a community meeting at the catholic chapel. Father McEnroe must face off against an angry division of the schools parents. They are outraged that he has allowed poor children to mix with the affluent. Machuca's mother makes an emotional appeal suggesting that the poor would not be poor, if given the opportunity for education and enhancement.
After unsuccessfully convincing his family of the dangerous instability within Chile; Gonzalo's father abandons the country. He leaves for Italy, packing everything he owns. This increases Gonzalo's sense of isolation. Meanwhile the blossoming relationship with Silvana intensifies and it becomes clear Gonzalo is developing an interest. The differences in their social status is made apparent while during a political demonstration, Gonzalo's mother attempts to defend Silvana from an angry mob, gives up and denounces her. Silvana must flee for her life as the mob becomes extremely violent. Uncle Willi shows up to escape with the children in his truck.
Shortly after this harrowing experience, the three friends are riding Gonzalo's bicycle in the shanty-town. The bicycle is a symbol of Salvador Allende's attempt to provide the poor with a means of escaping their poverty. “Pedro and Silvana try to ride the bike once again without Gonzalo's consent, but this time Gonzalo runs after them shouting 'rotos, culiados' (an insult used to refer to poor people). The spell is broken. Without the consent of the upper class Pedro's ride becomes a theft.”4
Silvana and Machuca are outraged and abandon the bike. The mood of the film changes drastically after this argument. The theft of the bike and division between friends coincides with the military usurpation of the legitimate Chilean government. The following day at school Gonzalo and Machuca are greeted by armed guards in front of their school. A severe military officer expels several students and warns that any dissent will be punished.
Gonzalo then returns to his friend’s impoverished neighborhood, hoping they will forgive him for their differences. He is shocked to discover the military has deployed soldiers to the lower class residences. Gonzalo watches in horror as the mostly indigenous population is rounded up into large trucks. Uncle Willi is pushed into the mud and kicked and beaten while his daughter Silvana screams in protest, exasperating the soldiers. While attempting to defend her father, Silvana is fatally shot. Gonzalo witnesses the tragic death of his girlfriend and barely escapes from the same fate. A soldier grabs Gonzalo but is persuaded to release him on account of his expensive shoes.
The movie ends as Gonzalo's mother and sister move in with the wealthy Roberto Ochagavia. Gonzalo stares solemnly into a wide empty field where his friends and an entire community had disappeared. The narrative blends historical events with strong symbolism in order to “expose the hidden realities of Chilean life under Pinochet's regime.”5 The film chronicles two tales simultaneously: a boy's metamorphosis into manhood and the transformation of Chile from a civil nation to a state of unspeakable evil. The movie sends a strong message that warns the world to be vigilante against intolerance.

1. Mabasa Sasa, “A Chilean Example,” New African, August /September 2007 p.145.
2. Paul E. Sigmund, “The Invisible Blockade and The Overthrow of Allende” Foreign Affairs, Jan1974, Vol. 52 Issue 2, P.335.
3Peter Winn, “Chile: Twilight of the Goons” The Nation, November 8th, 1975, Vol. 221 Issue 15.
4. Luis Martin-Cabrera and Daniel Noemi Voionmaa, “Class Conflict, State of Exception and Radical Justice in Machuca” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1 March 2007, P. 70.
5. Keith D. Dickson “Canadian Journal of History”, Spring 2008, Vol. 43 Issue 1, P.187.

The Heroic Change: Examining The Dynamic Character

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Protagonist in fiction literature is almost required to be dynamic. It is an unspoken law that governs nearly every genre of narrative composition. A consistent theme among varied forms of story-telling. Tribulations mark the transition from innocence lost, to wisdom inferred. This seems common knowledge and yet the audience is rarely disappointed with predictable 'sun-set' endings. It is the process and intensity of identity adaptation which drives the gears of narrative mechanism. The viewer wishes to know their hero intimately. Every thought and reaction is important. Change is constant and at odds with us all; these events loom over the lives of everyone, but rarely are we afforded the opportunity to understand them. Fiction presents life changing events with expanded explanation but change is ever more poignant when it is tragic.
“TRAGEDY, as it was antiently compos'd, hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other Poems: therefore said by Aristotle to be of power by raising pity and fear, or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like passions, that is to temper and reduce them to just with a kind of delight, stirr'd up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated.” (John Milton)
The novel All Passions Spent was Victoria Sackville-West's second novel and is prefaced with an excerpt from John Milton's tragedy Samson Agonistes. This is a very illuminating poem, in it are details of the tragic fall of biblical Samson. Captured by the Philistines, his hair cut, his super-human strength gone and his eye's gouged out. Samson is left 'blind among his enemies' Vita Sackville-West symbolically connects the epic hero of legend with the elderly protagonist Lady Slane at the end of her long life. Time and age have ravished the luster of youth and beauty and broken the indomitable spirit.
Her husband lays dead and she is left in the precarious position of spending her remaining days in internment within the confines of her children's homes. A virtual prisoner among Philistines.
The mechanism in which Vita Sackville-West chooses to intensify drama is clearly the lifespan of her chosen protagonist. That she is surrounded by enemies is highlighted by Lady Slanes' narrative in combination with the observations of her slightly more sympathetic daughter Edith.
“Alone in the room his widow contemplated him, filled with thoughts that would greatly have surprised her children, could they but have read her mind. Her children, however, were not there to observe her. They were collected in the drawing room, all six of them; two wives and a husband bringing the number up to nine. A sufficiently formidable family gathering – old, black ravens, Thought Edith, the youngest” (Vita Sackville-West, All Passion Spent. 19)
A rather poetic description of mourners and yet drawing parallels between family and eaters of the dead, cannot help endear these characters. So we are introduced to this family and explicitly warned of their scheming sinister plans.
“Mother was wonderful, but what was to be done with Mother? Evidently, she could not go on being wonderful for the rest of her life. Somewhere, somehow, she must be allowed to break down, and then, after that was over, must be stowed away; housed, taken care of.” (23)
That her children did not understand or even know their mother may have been a consequence of aristocracy and environment. But that does not make them any more likable. That they have no concept of their mothers plans is made clear when Herbert remarks to the rest of the family.
“Thank goodness, Mother is not one of those clever women.” That she might have ideas which she kept to herself never entered into their estimate. They anticipated no trouble with their mother. That she might turn round and play a trick on them – several tricks- after years of being merely a fluttering lovable presence amongst them, never entered into their calculations either She was not a clever woman. She would be grateful to them for arranging her few remaining years.” (24-25)
This then becomes the first clue that our protagonist will shrug off the yoke of matriarchal servitude. That her children love her is clear and yet they do stand as an obstacle of her own intentions. Unable to separate their mother's life from that of their fathers. They see her as ancillary to his life and now that the connection has been severed, she must be quietly disposed of. She has essentially lived beyond her usefulness, now that their father has perished.
The narrative shifts to Edith as she observes the mourning and she provides the reader with insight into the wealth of the family and its maintenance. Not content to simply put their mother out to pasture and retire with dignity, Lady Slanes son William brings up the matter of finances. Even though Edith remarks on the 'sacks and sacks of treasure' William has in personal possession. Upon Herbert's revelations as to the quantified amount of finances inherited to his mother, William becomes covetous of the family jewels. His ironic greed for wealth becomes a point of contention. Later used as a turning point in the development of a dramatic change in Lady Slanes character.

So what led to this radical departure in Lady Slanes submissive character is very slowly built up using subtle methods of story telling. We are introduced to a strange millionaire by way of the narrative of Lady Slanes eccentric son Kay. Mr. FitzGeorge was Kay's only friend and recollects his fondness of Kay's mother in a surprise speech over dinner. Consoling Kay over his fathers death, Mr FitzGeorge makes an incredible proposal that he be introduced to Lady Slane. The retrospective glimpse of a young Lady Slane creates a broader scope beyond her sons understanding and Kay reluctantly acquiesces to his friends unusual request.
An oppressive male dominated family structure comes into contrast with the feelings and aspirations of the individual and women in particular. We are given glimpses into a world quite apart from the ordinary lives of the reader but with strikingly familiar contrasts between the ideas of self determination and society; between the needs of the many vs the well being of the individual. It is easy for the reader to identify with the ridiculed daughter Edith or the under appreciated Kay, two universal personalities that are at a tragic vantage and which the author seeks to maintain a sympathetic angle to both promote this attachment and further events in the tale.
It is after the funeral that we are properly introduced to Lady Slane. Her physical description is lavished and described in detail and led to an opinion which reinforces the feminist themes of the book and create a dichotomy of character by juxtaposing the image of a loyal and honor bound female with that of the widow. A woman set adrift and with no purpose beyond her propitious uses to husband and family.
This is a strong theme running throughout the narrative and a powerful message is being told. As Vita Sackville-West is instilling her own personal history into the character. The frustration and struggle of
women everywhere to achieve independence from the oppressive male dominated society.
“ The complex legal machinations and gender politics at work in determining the Sackville-Wests' ancestral line both fascinated and appalled Vita. At once proud and protective of her aristocratic heritage, she remained disdainful of a system that effectively disallowed the succession of an equally 'natural' maternal birthright.” (Blanch 74)
It is at this point the matter of Lady Slanes future is brought to attention and we hear for the first time a subdued defiance. When she replies to Herbert's question of her plans by suggesting he had already decided for her and need not be bothered to hear her opinion(59). Herbert is not comfortable with his mothers cleverness and attempts to coerce her with a combination of patronizing and guilt. Suggesting that with her energy she spend all her time managing the various committees, clubs and society's founded by Lady Slane. She slyly responds by implying she has completely forgotten about these duties. When these tactics prove weak Herbert attempts to use fear to scare his mother into obedience and suggests her inheritance would not sufficiently allow her a standard of living and that she must kowtow to the male domination of the family. Louise DeSalvo suggests that Lady Slane may not appreciate being taken care of.
“Lady Slane does not like what has happened to happened to her under the dominion of her husband's influence, although she has kept her silence through these sixty long years of her life with him. The opportunity to live a life truly her own only comes to Lady Slane with her husbands death, when she makes a life for herself in Hampstead Heath.”( DeSalvo 210)
So the transformation is nearly complete. Lady Slane has rejected her obligations to family and severs her ties with family with a dramatic flair. She announces her decision to live alone and her rebellious attitude delights the attending women.
Her defiance is expressed by denying William his precious jewels and instead awarding the entire collection to Herbert's wife Mabel. She then announces as yet another surprise that she has made an appointment to rent a home, and all this without the permission of her children. Lady Slane has furthermore decided to travel the distance alone and by train. A metamorphosis takes place in the evolving characterization.
So the journey begins and the narrative shifts to Lady Slane grappling with inner torment. As she changes trains her focus shifts into self doubt and reflection. She seems to be coming to terms with the fragility of her age and the necessity to cherish her few remaining years. She concludes that youth 'were apt to display a slight irritability.'(79) She begins referencing memories with the passing of the stations and the identity of the protagonist is enriched by the retrospective. Lady Slane begins to feel liberated and by the time she meets Mr. Bucktrout and secures her home the transformation is complete.
Once Lady Slane has taken possession of her house at Hampstead. She reinvents herself as the King of her castle. She denies visitors except for those she chooses and she accepts very few family members. We are treated to memories of youthful aspirations and the reintroduction of Mr. FitzGeorge as a force from her past. A gentleman that may truly understand her notions of artistic responsibility. The company she keeps is predominantly male and yet rather than the suppressive relationships of past domination and submission; Lady Slane is accepted as a person within the egalitarian sphere of her home. The text seems to focus on important past events, the crushed dreams of youth and the sacrifice of self for society.
“The feminist ideology underlying both texts emphasize the repression of the female artist by cultural expectations of womanhood, and the necessity of rebellion against those expectations in order to forge the identity of the female artist” (Morse 335)
It is interesting when the aged millionaire Mr. FitzGeorge passes and leaves his immense wealth, not to the museums and community as he had promised, but to the Lady Slane. He had made much of her misaligned priorities and wasted dreams and granted her one last opportunity to relive her ambitions as an artist by giving as a gift to the nation a large deposit of art, collected over a lifetime. At this point Lady Slane becomes satisfied with her life. Despite the outrage from her family she was unaffected by their anger and discovers that she misses FitzGeorge. “She desired nothing more. She desired only peace and the laying down of vexation.”(264)
Her only window to the outside world is the newspapers and she finds herself pleased that her family has achieved prosperity and thanks herself for their lack of troubles. “There would be no battle for them, no struggle in their souls; they would simply set hard into the moulds prepared for them. Lady Slane sighed to think that she was responsible, though indirectly, for their existence. The long weary serpent of posterity streamed away from her. She felt sick at heart and looked forward only to release.”(266)
It is at this turning point that the final dynamic change is seen in our protagonist, that of proud mother. She begins collecting the press-cuttings which reference her family and ignoring those from her own children focusing instead on those of her great-grand children. It is shortly after her maid Genoux reveals the trials of her impoverished youth that Lady Slane selfishly wonders “Which wounds went the deeper: the jagged wounds of reality, or the profound invisible bruises of the imagination?”(273)
The story concludes in a predictable and yet not unpleasant ending. Lady Slanes great grand daughter comes to visit in contradiction of the conventions set forth.
Deborah bears the same name and face of her great grandmother and in a poetic turn of events announces her decision to break the wedding off with her fiancée in order to focus on her own personal pursuits. Lady Slane confuses her own identity with that of her great-grand daughter. She sees at last the spark of resistance take flame in the heart of Deborah.
The narrative shifts from Lady Slane to Deborah as the aged grandmother gently drifts into sleep and her great-grand daughter attempts to articulate her desire to create music and pursue a life of art. When Deborah notices her great-grandmother has fallen asleep she quietly lets herself out of the Hampstead House. Genoux discovers Lady Slain has died and the text leads into a denouement detailing the family's ongoing ironic misunderstanding of the passionate Lady Slane. Uplifting in its pursuit of truth and equality All Passions Spent treats tragedy softly by rejoicing in the spirit of defiance. The protagonist undergoes capricious events and ends like Samson; rancor becomes revenge. By destroying the pillars of foundation, one can upset the stage. Sometimes the hero must become a martyr and especially in a good story.

Works Cited
Blanch, Sophie. “Contested Wills: Reclaiming the Daughter’s Estate in Vita Sackville-
West’s The Edwardians.” Critical Survey 19.1 (2007): 73-83.
DeSalvo, Sophie. “Lighting the Cave: The Relationship between Vita Sackville-West and
Virginia Woolf.” Signs 8.2 (1982): 195-214.
Milton, John. “Paradise Regain'd; .... to which is added Samson Agonistes”
London: J. M. Starkey, (1671). B-10 302
Morse, Deborah. “My Next Bride: Kay Boyle's Text of the Female Artist”
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol 34 No. 3 (1988):pp. 334-346

Cinematography: The Dark Art

Citizen Kane and Blade Runner are two vastly different films with one thing in common; style. A brooding world of dark shadows and vivid texture, oblique angles and long shots. All a means of sharing an experience. Story telling is the foundation of our culture. Matters intellectual and physical are imparted through recitation of books and fabula. The art of story telling has improved and continues to enhance our lives. The great poets and bards have all contributed their voices through the long ages to the zeitgeist. So too has science and technology enhanced the mechanism of stories. There is no other art that is so eager to amalgamate the worlds myriad disciplines.
Over time music and song have been added to the performance of thespians, photography has evolved to chronicle the staging of these events. The perfect performance can be recorded and manipulated, edited and reviewed ad nauseum. Cinema has become the quintessential mode of storytelling. The public has an insatiable appetite for movies. Audiences can be fickle in their criteria of what makes good cinema and many different genres of film exist to satisfy the worlds demand. Cinematography is delicate and similar in aspect to the arrangement of still art. The presentation of a films various visual elements is subtle and can be nearly imperceptible except as an emotive response by the audience.
There exists among the wider viewing public a consensus towards style that most films share and movies are divided into two categories of style to reflect this commonality. Formalist and Realist are recognized as sharing very few similarities and yet and have come to dominate cinematography. They can be roughly equated to fantastic and real. The lighting and editing must be made to reflect the films dramatic detail. A documentary style film is vastly different from the visual choices made in a science fiction film. The goal of the realist is to suggest that the viewer is present and seeing the movie as an invisible observer often accompanied by an all knowing narrator. This is in stark contrast to the wild tales of fiction enjoyed by the majority of formalist fans. In blockbuster Hollywood films, the audience is not present but observes the narration from a first person perspective. The choice of lighting differs on the content of the film but generally follow the theme of the film. Formalist film is less rigid than realist and seeks to enhance the movie experience through interpretation of the methods.
Citizen Kane was an exceptional example of a film able to transcend style and limitations; combining elements of realism and formalism. The film was written and directed by the auteur Orson Welles. The story follows the death of a newspaper tycoon, as a journalist seeks to uncover the mystery of Citizen Kane's last words. The story acts as a prism dividing a single narrative into five separate facets. Conducting the audience through the memories of those who knew the tycoon best. The movie acts as a biography and recounts the life of a modern day monarch. Typical characters inhabit the stage but Orson Welles was far from a typical director and gave himself the leading role in his film. His acting was convincing but beyond his natural talents as an actor Orson Welles brought his experience as a radio producer and the imagination of his writing genius to cinema. This resulted in more than a few innovations in the art of sound and lighting. Important and influential for Orson Welles forever changed the future of films by showing the audience more than they had ever seen before. As Tony Jackson suggests in his description of film styles.
“Because of the nature of film as a representation, "form" involves an especially wide variety of possibilities: lighting, angles, acting, directing, audio, focus, and so on. As with drama, in fiction film (since the advent of sound) a particularly crucial element in presenting the story is spoken language. And the form of spoken language will always be essential to the content. We judge the quality of acting by, among other things, the convincing ways in which lines are delivered; for the form of the delivery will always be key to the "showing" that will make the spoken content more than simply "telling." (29)
Orson Welles was able to show the world a better film and the industry is changed forever. Citizen Kane can therefore be considered a precursor to the emerging film noir genre. A style combining elements of shadowy lighting and amoral characterization. This film is comparable in many aspects to the dystopian vision created nearly thirty years after 'Citizen Kane' by director Ridley Scott in “Blade Runner.” An adaptation of the novel 'Do androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by author Philip K. Dick. Comparing the visual elements it becomes easy to draw parallels between the pioneering mood created by Orson Welles and the dark and dramatic atmosphere of Ridley Scott. The style of film being a revival of classical film noir now renamed neo-noir by Mark T Conrad in his introduction.
“Although the classic film noir period ended in the late 1950s, its impact on more films has been profound. While typically not black and white, these new films incorporate the noir sensibility of alienation, pessimism, moral ambivalence, and disorientation. In fact, neo-noir films in some ways seem better able to embody the noir outlook. This is for a couple of important reasons. First the term film noir was employed only retroactively, describing a cycle of films that had already (largely) passed. Consequently, the filmmakers of the classic period didn't have access to that expression and couldn't have understood or grasped entirely the meaning or shape of the movement to which they were contributing, whereas neo-noir filmmakers are quite aware of the meaning of noir and are quite consciously working within the noir framework and adding to the noir cannon.” (2 )
Blade Runner set a century ahead of Citizen Kane uses the same thick textures and dark shadows to set the dramatic atmosphere. So filmmakers use their favorite films as the launchpad of invention and build their vision upon the foundation established by their predecessors. The innovations of the past become the standards of the future. Films are enhanced by the invention of new effects. Old techniques improved and reinvented break the traditional methods of the medium. Shedding new light and a different angle on old stories.

Word Count: 1100
Conrad, Mark T. 2007 -. “The Philosophy of Neo-Noir”
Lexington Ky, University Press of Kentucky Jan. 5 2007
Jackson, Tony E., 1951-. "Writing, Orality, Cinema: The 'Story' of Citizen Kane." Narrative 16.1 29-45. Project MUSE. 23 Nov. 2008

Things To Do Before I Die

Friday, October 31, 2008

1. Make short documentry
2. Make short sci-fi film
3. ???