An Appearance of Reality

One of the nagging aesthetic issues in our commodity saturated society of ever greater surrender to societal domination is the question of *realism* -- or, naturalism, a term pretty much used interchangeably. I suspect the ascension of marketing and advertising has created an even greater focus on this idea of what is realistic. For selling things it is useful to avoid ambiguity, either perceptual or narratively. If we go back to Plato and Aristotle we find the origin of modern Western ideas of realism .. of the conventional notion of mimesis. Plato was concerned with art's ability to mirror the material world. Aristotle more concerned with the logic of plots and with probability in … [Read more...]


I have spent this week watching a good many films nominated for Academy Awards. Now, the so called 'oscars' have never had any importance outside of studio marketing departments and the halls of big entertainment agencies, but a friend happened to have 'screeners' and wanted to watch and so we did. I want to write an entire post on Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, because I think it's one of the best three or films of the last ten years. But I will say a few things here before linking to a couple other topics. Anderson is something of an engima, for he both works within a studio system, and far outside it. Having paid dues with acceptable films such as Boogie Nights, and the dreadful … [Read more...]

Used Car Salesmen

It seems to me that another thing marketing does, when applied to mass entertainment narratives, is teach and normalize all the skills and expertise of the used-car salesmen. How to ingratiate. I see this in actors all the time. It's always been there, but it has become more prevalent these days. In fact, I see it in once very good actors who have plugged themselves into the mass entertainment system. In that respect, it's interesting to ponder the effect of agents on all levels of culture. I often wonder at why promising actors will accept some of the projects they do --- and simply to say *money* is not enough of an answer -- although it raises a secondary question (again) about … [Read more...]

It’s Your Choice

One of the effects of corporate mass media is to make oppression and control appear as normal. To make it appear normal that workers obey authority, and normal for white people to control things. White men, usually. Normalizing of domination. The structural dimension of global capitalism is never questioned. The mechanisms are both in language and in image. There is also the role played by media in its presentation of public figures, and of itself, and how this helps blur distinctions between state propaganda, and artworks, between fiction and history. One of the curious effects of the last thirty years of marketing dominance in media, has been that people have come to live with … [Read more...]

Something That Lies in Wait

The concept of "space" seems crucial in forming an understanding of artworks, and by extension, of culture. I want to touch on two related things. One is the way in which image is technically manufactured. The other is about how we see "space" in terms of narrative. I have wondered recently about how imperfect the marketing industry is, how despite all their available tools, and information, they often come up with branding blunders, with TV shows that flop, with brands of anything that don't sell. Let me try to lay out some groundwork for this discussion, however. Flusser says that technical images are produced by apparatuses. The most obvious is the camera. The Latin word apparatus is … [Read more...]

Like a Barking Where There Are No Dogs

People have asked me, on occasion, why I would bother having stupid arguments on sites such as facebook. The answer is that while the context of facebook encourages the superficial, and limits in-depth discussions, it also allows for connections to be made between people who might not otherwise ever meet. That said, the social media platforms are all there to gather data for corporations, and prevent substantive analysis. They are perfect for posting photos of cats with cute copy inserted, and pictures of people's kids, and so forth. Nothing wrong with any of that, of course. But, to answer the question, I think it's important to engage with people, even if it's with someone hopelessly … [Read more...]


At the start of Great Expectations, Pip has an encounter with an escaped convict, Magwitch, a very violent man. Throughout No Country for Old Men, violence appears and reappears as if a ghost, a haunting, and at the end the Sheriff sits with this thoughts for a lengthy reflection on our own complicity in violence and destruction. In Raymond Chandler and in Hammett, violence drives the narrative. Violence and crime. Transgressive acts, lies, betrayls. In Shakespeare, its hard to keep count of the bodies. How many are left on stage in Hamlet? There seems to be an outrage now... of a liberal flavor...about depictions of violence in movies and TV. There is also an outcry about … [Read more...]

Xmas Thoughts

It being Christmas, and the fact of my being further north....with limited internet, this is a sort of abridged posting, or intro to further posting on the topic. That's assuming I actually know what the posting is about. So allow me to approach many disparate ideas by linking them to theories I have about theatre. Photography has always seemed to have a meaningful active relationship with theatre. With the poetics of theatre. With theatre space. Last post I had a photo by Atget at the top. For me, this is a mini play all by itself. You are heading to that darkness. It is a particular kind of darkness; for it possesses depth. It is not a black wall. It is also not an empty void. … [Read more...]