Dialogue w/Guy Zimmerman, Formula

Dialogue with Guy Zimmerman: On Formula and Doors to read click link: http://john-steppling.com/dialogue-wguy-zimmerman-formula/ … [Read more...]

Dialogue w/Guy Zimmerman: Formula

John, I happened to take a look at Friedkin's film Sorcerer from 1977 and was struck again by what a fine piece of work it is. Cluzot's original (Wages of Fear) is strong also, but Friedkin's version is, remarkably, not secondary to the original. There's a transition near the close of the film that struck me as among the most beautiful transitions in the history of cinema. Roy Scheider's character (Scanlon) is driving the final nighttime leg of his journey with the dead body of his partner - the assassin played by Francisco Rabal (Nilo). This dead man is taunting Scanlon, laughing as the truck finally breaks down in a ghostly terrain full of conic sand formations that look particularly eerie … [Read more...]

A Screen Reich

Marcuse wrote in 1942, in an essay titled "The New German Mentality": "We may distinguish between two layers of the new mentality: 1) The Pragmatic Layer ...matter of factness, the philosophy of efficiency and success, of mechanization and rationalization. 2) The Mythological Layer...paganism, racism, social naturalism." Marcuse saw what he called a new "cynical matter of factness". A cynicicm that integrated the political in everything, but only a very narrow definition of the political. Business had become political...and vice versa. The new "brutal pragmatist" saw in terms of quantities, not qualities. Now, coupled to this was a neo-paganism. Marcuse saw in National Socialism a … [Read more...]

Fucking Punks

"Fucking assholes..." George Zimmerman "Fucking punks..." George Zimmerman "“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer." D.H. Lawrence "After the Mexican-American war, the scalp bounties went up in price. Despite efforts to regulate the killing (some of the states tried to prevent fraud by creating standard definitions and practices), the scalping business remained profitable until the 1880s, when the unpredictability and brutality finally took its toll. The mercenaries often became a threat themselves, as happens with Glanton's gang. Nevertheless, scalping appeared during the Civil War (1861-1865) as well. "Bloody Bill" Anderson, the infamous … [Read more...]

Nothing Works (Landscape of Punishment part 2)

Seems like a good week to write a sort of short part two to the Landscape of Punishment post. And one of the reasons is the ongoing coverage of the Edward Snowden asylum search. I think that as one watches the TV news, or reads and watches it on the mainstream internet sites now, it is difficult to avoid seeing the strings of the puppeteer at work. The narrative is being spun out of whole cloth...total invention if neccessary. In the US in particular, the news is presented in simple narrative form, like a simple children's story. The 'tone' is childish, the graphics simple and, yes, childish, too. Life is a cartoon. We will see the cartoon plane as it is projected to fly from one … [Read more...]

A Tragic Tone

There are two things I want to write about this entry. One has to do with Sianne Ngai's book Ugly Feelings. The other (which is directly related) is how much Herman Melville seems to coming up in public discourse. I can think of three separate mentions of Melville in Op Ed pieces, and Chris Hedges wrote a nice piece here using Moby Dick... http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/18315-we-are-all-aboard-the-pequod Ngai's book brings up two other of Melville's works, Bartelby The Scrivner, and The Confidence Man. It is probably not at all a coincidence that Melville is being resurrected, besides that fact he is the greatest writer the US has produced, he is also among the … [Read more...]

The Landscape of Punishment, part 1

I intend to write a series (of which this is the first) on how punishment has now infected the totality of life under advanced capitalism in the West. Last blog post I commented on the idea of how culturally it is ever harder for today's populace to imagine a world without capitalism, and how advanced corporate neo liberalism had essentially negated the avant garde. Coupled to this was the idea that Capitalism was linked directly with, even predicated upon an idea of punishment as the responsibility, even duty, of the state. If one starts to dig a bit deeper into notions of punishment, you discover the ways in which almost all of modern life is mediated by punishment, and categories … [Read more...]

Machines Dreaming Us

There is a new piece at Monthly Review that addresses exactly the issues that motivated me to start this blog. I have spent a lifetime in the arts; the majority in theatre as playwright and director and even as artistic director of several companies, but also as a screenwriter and TV writer, free lance and for several painful years as a staff writer. In all that time, the one thing that has never left my mind, that was, in fact, constantly placed before me, was the truth that the system, the producers of this vast cultural apparatus, were in the business of killing art. And they were in that business because art destabilizes and awakens consciousness. It may not directly foment … [Read more...]