Orbital decay.

A few things:

One: When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was The Gods Must Be Crazy. I didn’t exactly understand it as a kid, obviously, but I still enjoyed it for some reason.

I’m happy to say that at least I understood, as my parents explained it to me then: It’s the story of an African bushman and his tribe who have no knowledge of the world beyond their own, of different cultures and advancements in technology, etc. They have everything that their gods provide them with and they’re happy with that.

One day a plane flies over their neck of the woods and someone throws a coca-cola bottle out the window and it somehow lands unbroken. The members of the tribe discover it and at first thing that the sky is falling. Then they presume that it is a gift from the gods, and they discover so many uses for this bottle. But with that comes an even more dangerous element in their world: property, possession, ownership of a limited resource. And with that comes envy, jealousy, hatred, violence.

The item must be removed from their world so that their tribe and worldview can be saved. So the protagonist decides to take on the task of carrying the bottle away, to find what he presumes will be the edge of world, and he’ll throw the bottle over the side and save his people, and the world. He is the ringbearer and he will travel to Mount Doom. But to do so he must journey for the first time into Hell, which comes confusingly in the form of the the modern world and western civilization.

There’s other elements to the story, of course, but that’s what I always remembered from it: The view of our world as interpreted by the limited perspective of someone from outside that world. Hilarity ensues, and as Arthur C. Clarke told us, to less advanced cultures the toys and tools (and tethers) of more advanced cultures would be indistinguishable from magic.

Two: A “Yes” is better than a “No” almost every time. But it really does matter how you pose the question.

Don’t believe me? Ask John Lennon.

Two Point Five: I’m amazed that we (the royal we) haven’t talked more about John Lennon here.

Three: This blog will be going away soon. Soon-ish. Probably some time this year.

The only people who knew that it was ending was Benjamin Light and myself, and that was only when we decided that it was ending. But like ourselves, I’m sure the two and a half actual readers of the blog were barely surprised with the official announcement.

Once they read it, one friend emailed me and asked me how I felt about the imminent closing of Counter-Force’s doors and I literally shrugged upon reading the email. It’s not like it’s my child or anything, but I’ve enjoyed being a part of the thing and will miss it. The next question this particular friend posed to me was whether or not I felt as if the blog had been successful. That made me scratch my chin. Eventually I was able to answer: “Yes.” To me, by a certain set of definitions, yes.

This blog has allowed me to do things and talk about things and share things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do. It’s given me license to explore things that I’ve enjoyed learning about. It’s given me regrets and little moments of agony, things that I wouldn’t have had in the same way without this blog as the starting point, and for that, believe it or not, I’m thankful. Bad times will teach you just as much about yourself as the good times will, if you play them right.

Could the blog been more successful by my definitions or any definitions at all? FUCK YES. But it is what it is and it’s been great when it’s been great, and the game is different than when we started.

Take a look around at the blogsophere now, and compare what you see today to what that landscape looked like four years ago. Everything changes, which is great, and the only constant in the universe, but it’s bizarre how things change.

All of my favorite blogs from way back when are struggling now, it seems. They’re meandering, trying not to waiver in this quantity and qualitiy, but obviously there’s diminished output and even more diminished returns. All my favorite bloggers, those who aren’t struggling along with their blogs, have gone to print media, or to the netherworld that is the writing staff of sitcoms, and they’re flourishing. And they’re not just celebrated and envied now, but also respected. Which may or may not be new.

Four: Just out of curiosity, do websites and blogs still get turned into books, or at least book deals? Do twitter feeds still get turned into sitcoms?

Five: I would kill for the ability to travel in time. In fact, if someone were to put an ad in the personals looking for someone willing to go back in time to kill, like, Hitler, then I would do it. Sure. Sounds legit enough to me.

Picture a narrative, like a story in a computer file opened up in front of you, on your desktop or laptop. Look at the cursor. It can move forward or backward. It can highlight, change, control. The power is at your fingertips. That’s time travel.

Sorry, that’s a bit out of nowhere, I know.

Six: It’s funny to me how the old monsters are still around and still happy to scoop up the sexy younglings into their bosom. And then eat them.

And it’s understandable. A job is a job. A chance is a chance, even in a market or medium you don’t respect. Maybe you can change the system from the inside, but probably not, but who cares? A foot or even a toe in the door is more than what so many of us have now.

We all analyze and talk shit and then sell out. And then shit out some kids. And then die. That’s the cycle of life.

If Benjamin Light were here, he’d tell you that network television is soon to be a thing of the past. He’d tell you that the networks will all be dead or in their cancerous last stages in five years. I don’t disagree with him, but I would disagree on his time table. I think it’ll take a lot longer for them to die and for the new thing that comes after to really get its foothold. “What is dead may never die,” sure, but some things never really die, just shrink for a while. Like print media. Like publishing. I suspect that they may never fully pay the Iron Price, if you will. But it will certainly look like that at times.

All that said, if I were offered a job to write for a network sitcom, I would do it in a heartbeat. Are you kidding me? Of course I would. Fuck yeah. Any shitty ass job too. Two And A Half Men starring Ashton Kutcher dressed up like Steve Jobs? Only seen about five minutes cumulative of the entire show ever, but fuck yeah, I’d take a meeting or submit a spec script or whatever. I’m trying to think of an even worse example…

(FYI – This whole blog thing is obviously winding and grinding down, so if anyone out there wanted to offer me a job, let me just say… I’m cheap. And easy.)

I would literally pitch a buddy roommates sitcom starring Dane Cook and Carrot Top if I thought it meant the slightest possibility of a pay check and to be a breath closer to a creative industry I would like to be a part of. I can’t say that I’d love that job, because… Well, of course, I wouldn’t. But I’d do everything in my power to take that thing that I hated and try to make it something that I can hate less, and I’d much rather have a thing to let go than to never have had it at all…

Meta.

Seven: Here’s an excerpt from a conversation Benjie and I had the other day…

Benjie: This article kind of captures some of the reason that I don’t like blogging anymore: “The Web Is a Customer Service Medium.”

Marco: Interesting article. The last quote in the article kind of sums up a nice train of thought, I think.

Benjie: New potential podcast name: Pedantic Asshattery.

Marco: The medium is the message, and to this day, I still don’t think people understand what the internet medium really is or why things work, or why you should do something other than, “well, someone else is doing it.”

We should start a little dialogue here and turn it into a blog post – which would be so hip – and talk about why we’re bored with blogging, and why Counter-Force is ending, which would the exact opposite of a 5by5 practice.

This follows an earlier discussion/bit of theorizing we were doing about why John Gruber mysteriously or perhaps not so mysteriously moved his podcast, The Talk Show, from one podcast network to another. Also, there’s some ongoing discussion between Benjie and I about a new name for our podcast… Perhaps we can discuss that on the next episode of our podcast?

Also, check out our fucking podcast! Or, rather…

CHECK OUT OUR FUCKING PODCAST! Please. The latest episode is called: “K-Stew Has A Shotgun.”

Benjie: I guess for me, this article articulates why I want our podcast to be “this is entertaining to listen to,” not “I have some opinions on stuff.”

Marco: Well, the tactic that I intend to employ in the podcast, the one that I’m assuming will work for me, is that I’ll have things to say to you. I only ever kind of think about the fact that we’re recording and distributing that recording in some way. That may bite me in the ass later on, but hopefully people will just enjoy listening to us. But hey, it’s free.

Benjie: I live my entire life as though an audience is watching.

Marco: The only audience that I care about consistently is myself. And the million different voices in my head.

Benjie: There is an idea of a Benjamin Light, some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me; only an entity, something illusory…

Marco: “…but even after admitting this there is no catharsis, my punishment continues to elude me and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself; no new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing.”

Anyway, I don’t think the internet is going anywhere, and I think it’s always evolving and expanding, but it’s a shallow ocean. And there’s lots of waves with groupthink and LOLcats and porn bobbing up and down all over the place.

Benjie: I don’t think the internet is going anywhere, and what you see on it is just a reflection of culture.

Marco: Right. It’s not going anywhere and it’ll change, as cultures change, but the internet, to me, dances a fine line between not being all that real and being a little too real at times.

Or maybe not real enough? Excuse me, I need to go return some videotapes…

Eight: Was Marshall McLuhan the first academic rock star? I would say yes, at least for our somewhat modern times. Perhaps the first academic rock star was Galilleo, or Isaac Newton. They seemed like real chill bros of science.

But anyway, I’m just bullshitting here. This is just me carrying out some thoughts to their natural conclusions, for now. But if I could further borrow from the man…

Oh yes.

Nine: Here’s one of my favorite McLuhan fun facts…

Not long after he started teaching at Fordham university, and became a full on Academic Rock Star, McLuhan still felt the pressure for people to back up his ideas and philosophies with facts, with proven experiments. So he did so: He split up one of his classes into two, and showed both halves a movie. With the one half of the class, he showed them the movie on a movie screen. They sat there in the dark, watching a large screen with reflected light bouncing off it. The other half of the class was shown the same movie, but on a TV screen.

The result? The two halves took something different from the experience, one side able to discuss the film objectively and the other subjectively. Those who watched the film on the movie screen were able to comment on and critique the film itself. Those who watched it on the TV screen talked more in terms of themselves, how the film made them feel, what they took from the whole thing, etc.

Ten: I hope you enjoyed that story. I’m going to record myself saying that story on a podcast, then film it, then translate it into Japanese, and then back into English, and then I’m going to split this blog’s two and a half readers down the middle and I’m going to show one half that video, spliced into every second and a half frame of a super cut video of keyboard cat versus the Japanese further ruining what we think think/know of porn, and the other half is going to have the video broadcast straight into their nightmares.

The Aristocrats!

Eleven: I don’t mean to be continuously, in the parlance of the internet, fap fap fapping about McLuhan, but the dude was seriously smart, and had some good ideas that only become more applicable as the global village gave way to the world wide web. He was smart enough to realize that the book wasn’t just an invention of ease to deliver information and entertainment, but that it was also technology. The Gutenberg Man had his whole consciousness changed by movable type and technology isn’t just something that mankind creates, but something that recreates mankind. Hence… The medium is the message, we create the medium, which in turn recreates us, new media, old shit/new shit, blah blah blah, fap fap fap.

Here’s another quick McLuhan fun fact…

When they did his book which was to feature his famous slogan, “The medium is the message” as the title, they discovered that when the galleys came back that their was a pretty huge typo present: The Medium Is The Massage. Everyone was furious, except for McLuhan himself. He was a smart guy and probably had a good sense of humor, but now he suddenly saw his simple thought presented as a series of puns.

The message is massaged into the Mass Age which gives way for the onslaught of the Mess Age.

Peace be with you.

Twelve: I don’t know a lot of about the more technical side of the internet, and perhaps I don’t know enough about human beings to even go slightly pop psychology about the larger social networking that happens between us wee simple folk. Memes and SEO and the idea of the ecosystem are all extremely fascinating to me, but feel like they’re still in their infancy. Even with as tired and overplayed as they are in our brains.

I remember at the tail end of last summer Benjamin Light and I were having lunch at our favorite tacqueria and he was trying to explain to me the big tech patent wars that had been erupting over the summer. You know the one? The one in which millions of people who don’t understand how our patent system works anyway were complaining that it was broken? That one. Anyway, Benjie was telling me increasingly humorous stories about CEOs and chief legal officers of these massive corporations shit talking each other in blog posts and in YouTube videos. It was either the battle (of attrition) for public opinion or the ongoing struggle to get the last word, I don’t know, but it was funny.

At the time I made some kind of comment like: “The battle for the Internet will be fought to extremes, but with the tools of the Internet, which makes it ridiculous.”

Here’s a fun fact about me: When I originally typed up that half remembered statement just now, instead of “fought,” I wrote “thought.” Weird.

Anyway, I think the patent wars of last year were actually about phones, or something. Whatevs.

Thirteen: Anyway.

The old media may be dying, but it’s dying very slowly. We’ll have quite a bit of shade here underneath those falling giants.

Or, put another way: Orbits deteriorate constantly. Things fall out of the sky all the time. It usually takes a while, longer than you might think, and they tend to burn up before you’ll ever hear a THUD. And some things are pretty when they’re burning away into nothing.

Or, put another way still: 97 posts to go. It may/may not get a little messy on the way out. And then…

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You were an island and I passed you by.

Okay, for today, let’s start at something we know and go somewhere we don’t and end up… who knows?

1. This man:

Sawyer from Lost. Remember him?

2. This is a picture of Sawyer reading a book:

That’s in “Eggtown.” How odd was it that Sawyer was the most prolific reader on the show? And Ben came in second place. We saw lots of glimpses of Ben’s and Jack’s bookshelves but Sawyer was the one we always saw actually reading (and Ben just occasionally). I wonder if Sawyer and Juliet (re)started a book club somewhere in their three years in the 1970s DHARMA Initiative… Hmm.

2 1/2. I’m all about Sawyer and Juliet reading Erica Jong‘s Fear Of Flying, I gotta say.

Go ahead, say it with me now: “Zipless fuck.” That felt good, didn’t it?

2 3/4. Like I said…

Ben actually read sometimes. In his mind, it goes like this: James Joyce > Stephen King. And I’d have to agree with him.

Sorry, Juliet.

3. Anyway, that book that Sawyer happens to be reading there is this:

The Invention Of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares, written in 1940. It’s about a fugitive who ends up on a mysterious island where strange things are happening…

4. That particular cover above is based on the fact that the lead female role of the book, a character called Faustine, is based on silent film star Louise Brooks, whom is on the cover. This is another picture of her:

It’s also been said that the book was written, in part, as a reaction to the decline of her career at the time.

5. The plot, rather roughly, is: a man hiding from the authorities ends up on a mysterious island. Eventually a group of people come and the fugitive falls in love with one of the women with them. He keeps a diary, in which he talks about observing these people and their actions all the while trying to not be discovered by them, and how they seem to repeat some of the same conversations over and over, and then disappear. The fugitive tries to confront the woman, Faustine, and tell her how he feels about her but, as Wikipedia puts it, “an anomalous phenomenon keeps them apart.”

6. This is the original first edition cover of the book:

And another:

…which were designed by Norah Borges, the sister of Jorge Luis Borges, one of the author’s closest friends and a serious advocate of this novel. Borges even wrote a prologue for the book in which he said: “To classify it [the novel] as perfect is neither an imprecision nor a hyperbole.”

7. Supposedly the novel was inspired in part by earlier novels, such as 1934’s XYZ, by Clemente Palma, which I don’t know much about, but also the much more popular novel, The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells.

8. This is an image from the 1996 film version of the movie:

9. And below is a joke that was inspired by that little detail:

Yeah, that’s right.

10. I only saw that 1996 version of The Island Of Dr. Moreau once, which was directed by John Frakenheimer, and it was incredibly long ago, probably not long after it came out, but I love hearing accounts of the considerably rocky production, which suffered all kinds of shake ups, script rewrites almost daily, the original director being fired just three days into shooting on location in the tropical wilderness of North Queesland, Australia and, of course, the perfect storm that is Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando.

Anyway, so just a day or two after they got to their tropical location shoot, Kilmer decided that he wanted his role (as the lead character who happens upon the unethical villainy of the mad Dr. Moreau) cut by 40%. Some of this was because, yes, Val Kilmer is insane, but it was also right around the time he was going through a painful divorce. And after quite a bit of examination, it was discovered that there was no way to cut down the role Kilmer had been hired for, so he’d have to trade roles with David Thewlis, who had been cast as one of Moreau’s creepy flunkies.

11. Only slightly related: “I’m Val Kilmer. Take me to the strip club!”

12. Val Kilmer, even at your greatest heights, you’re still no Charlie Sheen. That’s a fact to both be ashamed of and to take pride in.

13. Speaking of weird actor bullshit on the set of a movie, if you ever get a chance, and are bored enough, you should go read up on the crazy demands that Marlon Brando came up with on the set of 2001’s The Score starring Rober De Niro, Edward Norton, and Angela Bassett. It’s some great stuff like not wanting to wear pants (so therefore a majority of his scenes are shot from the waist up) or refusing to take direction from director Frank Oz, whom he would only refer to as “Miss Piggy,” which lead to Oz having to sit in a van outside the set with a monitor and relaying direction via walkie talkie to De Niro to give to Brando.

Honestly, it’s enough to make you want to get really huge (mostly in a fame and talent sort of way, but possibly also in physical size) and just go really splendidly crazy, you know?

14. Getting somewhat back to our original topic… The Invention Of Morel. Interestingly enough, it was adapted into film in 1974 and starred the lovely Anna Karina, famous from so many Jean-Luc Godard films, and who was also in the film adaptation of The Magus. But that shouldn’t be held against her, should it?

15. But more interesting than that is the theory that the novel was a serious influence on the classic and notorious Alain Resnais film Last Year At Marienbad.

Many a person hate the film, which has inspired so much satire and so very many attempts at deciphering it, at finding meaning in it’s voluptuous qualities, but that’s an almost impossible task to do definitively.

16. If you’ve never seen it, shame on you. But if that’s true, I’ll try to sum the film up succinctly as best I can:

At a European château, a man approaches a woman. He claims to know her, but she doesn’t seem to know him. He tells her that they had met last year at Marienbad and that she had told him that she’d be waiting here for him now. He’s positive of this but again, she doesn’t remember. Her husband shows up. There’s a question of dominance at play, a power struggle, and the continuing effort to try and convince the woman of what the first man says is the truth. The characters have no names, but in the screenplay, the first man is X, the woman is A, and her husband’s name is M. Conversations happen again and again throughout the château, and reality seems to be a changing whim and there are many a haunting, cryptic voiceover hanging over lush, ambiguous tracking shots.

This is a very necessary film if you have any plans of calling yourself a pretentious film buff or a lover of the French New Wave.

17. The film is a thrill for guessing at, for surrendering yourself over to it’s masterful pace and tone, and then for pondering over with enlightened friends after a viewing.

18. Trust me, the film becomes a lot more fun and the guess work far more potent if you take on the assumption that it’s a science fiction story. Or a ghost story. Wander through that same mesmerizing landscape as the characters in the story and you’ll have a fun time.

19. Of course this all kind of ties into Lost, with certain echos of similar scenarios throughout the show and it’s mysterious island setting.

One example of that would be: Horace appearing to John and talking about Jacob’s cabin while chopping wood in a continuous loop. Of course, this was in a dream, but it’s an interesting visual representation of stone tape theory.

Remember back in the early, glory days of Lost theories, there was always stuff like “The Monster is nanotechnology,” which took a long time to fade after repeated denials from the producers, but that I always liked was holograms. Like “Jack’s dad is a hologram” or “Eko’s brother is a hologram,” meaning that they weren’t ghosts in the classic supernatural sense.

20. Last Year At Marienbad inspired the video for “To The End,” a 1994 single by Blur from their album Parklife

Jesus, remember Blur? Fuck, I miss Britpop. Damon Albarn has held on pretty strongly musical, both with Gorillaz and more recently complaining somewhat unnecessarily about Glee. Anyway, in the lovely video, that’s Albarn as “X” and Graham Coxon as “M.”

21. Albarn vs. Coxon? That’s fitting.

22. A year after “To The End” Blur would use another film as fuel for pastiche in a music video with “The Universal” from The Great Escape. Viddy well:

The film this time being Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, interesting enough. And the single’s cover was reminiscent of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

23. It should be pointed out that these both songs that I like quite a bit, as well as their videos. It was a smart move on Blur’s part, I think in doing these pastiches, not only because it makes them appear more stylistically interesting and intellectual (or as intellectually far as an homage can take one these days), but it really reinforced the strong roots that the 1960s held within the foundations of Britpop.

24. Going back to Last Year At Marienbad, another video:

This short film, called “The Arranged Time,” by a filmmaker named Scott Johnston, clearly owes a debt to the mysterious dream logic of Resnais’ classic, but is also it’s own intriguing thing. It’s well worth the viewing, but if you don’t want to favor the tip of the hat to Last Year At Marienbad, I can always offer you the hipster version of a reference: It’s remarkably David Lynch-ian.

25. I should probably loop this thing back around somewhat, back to where we started…

…but to a slightly different starting point…

…with that guy.

from here.

26. Here’s a nice fun fact for you: Matthew Fox has never seen a single episode of Lost.

Apparently he’s just really uncomfortable with watching himself “act.”

I can just imagine him watching the show and thinking, “Oh man, this Jack guy is just too fucking intense.”

27. This is a great picture I found today…

28. I like Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, but I also really liked Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne.

28A. It’s kind of like how I’d rather watch a Tony Stark movie than an Iron Man movie.

29. Staying mostly on target here… Don’t forget: They originally wanted Michael Keaton to be Jack on Lost. Granted, had that happened, they would’ve killed him off in the pilot (to shock you!) and Kate would’ve become the lead of the show, but had they kept him, I feel confident that he would’ve mustered up a decent quota of Jackface on a regular basis.

The problem with casting a seasoned film actor like Michael Keaton in the role of Jack would’ve been that he just wouldn’t have taken the chances that a seasoned and angry television actor like Matthew Fox (who always seemed to have something of a chip on his shoulder, a kind of unresolved anger residing within him after Party Of Five) would have and did end up taking. It’s shocking to think and say this in a way, but I just don’t think that Michael Keaton would’ve matched Matthew Fox’s intensity.

30. I made mention the other day, somewhat jokingly, that I kind of assumed that The Venture Bros. would end with the titular characters’ father, Rusty, putting himself out of his own misery (which is a much larger conversation, of course), but in thinking about that in the days since I typed those words, I couldn’t think of a moment in Lost where we saw Jack actually reading a book. Which makes sense for a lost of reasons, one being that Jack always had shit to do, was always on the move. He wasn’t a lounger like Sawyer or Ben or Locke. But, speaking of Locke, that was the only instance I could think of where Jack had a seat and read something rather significant…

…that item being Locke’s suicide note. That’s heavy, right?

31. This picture is funny:

32. It’s a nice thought, thinking back to the humble, mysterious beginnings of Lost

I’d love to someday see a book from Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse talking about all the various things they had wanted to do on the show that didn’t work out. On one hand, obviously, it wouldn’t matter. The show is the final product and that’s all that really matters, but even still, from the perspective of creating and writing and running a big show, one as ambitious as the one they produced, I’d be dying to know tricks they had up their sleeves that didn’t work out (Nikki and Paulo), how things would’ve gone if certain tricks hadn’t worked out so well (the character that became Benjamin Linus was only supposed to be around for three episodes and wasn’t intended to be the leader of the Others but Michael Emerson was just too good), and how they got to where they did.

Just imagine all those creative ghosts that are alive and wandering around the Island of Ideas.

33. All of that said, right now I’d figure this would be the last time that we really talk about Lost on this blog, but I can’t commit to that notion, not fully. To me personally, the show was such a broad, interesting thing that I feel like something can always come along that has relevance with the show. Especially, if you’ve noticed so far, since I have a particular interest in the way things align and connect with each other.

Who knows, maybe we’ll never talk about Lost again here. Or maybe we’ll be talking about it again tomorrow. Memories and locations intertwine differently for all of us and we can only bring our own unique meaning to them. The past has an amazing power over us, a constant hold, but it’s different for everyone. I would love to have a new show come along that inspires and interests us and ignites our imagination just like Lost did, but right now I’m not holding my breath. Maybe we’ll never leave the place we made together.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

So, a very, very, very long time ago, there was this massive explosion. It’s just a cosmological theory, but it’s also been accepted as fact. Our universe was so incredibly hot and dense for a finite time, and it just exploded and expanded and it was bigger than anything ever, because it is everything and it’s always expanding and cooling…

…and it happened. How do we know? Because you’re sitting there, right there, right now, in your comfy chair, or on your couch, or perhaps laying in bed, or wherever or however you read your friendly neighborhood Counterforce. Well, or so we think. It sounds nice. Exploding into being, from essence to existence by way of KA-BOOM! That sounds good, right? But this thing, which we can call “Event One,” it happened, and because of it, the universe as we know it was created.

And then something happened. A serious of events that lead to the total and utter collapse of the universe and all reality. Well, they didn’t just collapse, but they began a severe process of collapsing. But the universe is big and vast and this took a little bit of time. How long? Well, roughly 2,000 years in theoretical time, but in subjective time, about 45 minutes or so.

And all of that happened, and then happened again in tonight’s season finale of Doctor Who’s fifth series, “The Big Bang.” Following last week’s ridiculously intense episode, the universe collapsed, or rather, began the process of collapsing until there was a second big bang, and everything was re-created again.

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Anything you can get away with.

And now for something completely different: Just a few of my favorite quotes by Marshall McLuhan…

Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century.

All advertising advertises advertising — no ad has its meaning alone.

from here.

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.

Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior.

The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers.

from here.

Good taste is the first refuge of the non-creative. It is the last-ditch stand of the artist.

from here.

The nuclear bomb will turn warfare into the juggling of images.

The printing press was at first mistaken for an engine of immortality by everybody except Shakespeare.

Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly.

Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.

from here.

Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms. The machine world reciprocates man’s love by expediting his wishes and desires, namely, in providing him with wealth.

Diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it.

We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror.

Art is anything you can get away with.

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.

I don’t explain—I explore.

(and personally, I believe that the above could and perhaps should be the motto of most writers and bloggers, but maybe that’s just me?)


I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say.

Ouroboros.

Mad linkage:

I am sitting in a video room.

Tina Fey wins comedy prize, thanks Betty White.

Crossbow cannibal” remanded over prostitute murders.

Something massively important: A timeline of the hair styles of one Mr. Nicolas Cage.

You’ve seen our round up of reviews of Sex In The City 2, but there’s so many more, including one that posits that it could very well be a work of science fiction.

First human “infected with computer virus.”

The oil spill becomes an internet sensation.

Highly creative people and schizophrenics have quite a bit in common.

Neal Stephenson, computers, sword fighting, and The Mongoliad.

RIP Dennis Hopper, fascinating actor, lover of art, and all around strange bastard.

The Ouroboros, an ancient symbol, usually a depiction of a dragon or a serpent (sometimes two) swallowing it’s own tale and thus forming a circle. It usually symbolizes self-reflexivity or the concept of an eternal return. In alchemy, it’s a purifying sigil, something Carl Jung saw as representing the basic mandala of alchemy. Sometimes it’s associated with gnosticism or hermeticism. Perhaps it represents a pre-ego “dawn state,” as Jung suggested or maybe it depicts mankind’s circular nature, our self-defeating, always repeating cycles, or perhaps it’s more similar in nature to the mythological phoenix, reminding us that some things can begin anew even as they’re coming to an end…

A list of cycles.

Jörmungandr, the world snake, and enemy of Thor.

Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye.

Quetzalcoatl.

The armadillo lizard.

Sisyphus.

from here.

Poincaré reccurence theorem.

AURYN from The Neverending Story.

The mandala, “the representation of the unconscious self.”

The Möbius Strip and Klein bottle.

Orientability.

Self-reference and strange loops.

Drawing Hands by M.C. Escher.

The books of Douglas Hofstadter.

Ensō art and the Lucent logo.

-All You Zombies-” by Robert Heinlein.

By His Bootstraps” also by Heinlein.

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk.

The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold.

The ouroboros was also one of the main symbols used in the Chris Carter show, Millennium, which started Lance Henriksen and Terry O’Quinn, who was amazing in it. I’ve been in a mood lately to watch this show again and I’d recommend (parts of) it to you as well. There’s some perfect moments in season 1 (though not the whole of it), and season 2 was absolutely brilliant.

The first and last sentences of both James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren.

How cool would it have been if Charles Widmore had been his own grandfather?

Paradoxes of both the predestination and ontological nature.

Don’t forget that Philip J. Fry is his own grandfather!

The Airborne Toxic Event.

So I’ve told you that my favorite author is Amy Hempel, right? Let me share with you what is possibly my second favorite author (though it’s a tight knit cluster towards the top of great literature, the post modernist), Don Delillo.

I’ll make this simple and easy

Name: Don Delillo.

Born: November 20, 1936 in New York.

Died: Thankfully not yet. He’s 72.

Best known novel: Either White Noise or Underworld.

Last published novel: Falling Man, about a survivor of 9/11. The title, of course, is based on this classic image:

Which is entitled “The Falling Man” and was taken by Richard Drew at 9:41 AM on September 11, 2001.

Next novel: Omega Point is the title, which is… so very intriguing. It’ll be his 15th novel. It’s scheduled for release in February, 2010, which is too far away.

Plot description: “A young filmmaker visits the desert home of a secret war adviser in the hopes of making a documentary. The situation is complicated by the arrival of the older man’s daughter, and the narrative takes a dark turn.”

from here.

Things that primarily inspire him:Abstract expressionism, foreign films, and jazz.” Also, the things we do to history. And the things that history does to us in return.

Themes he likes/keeps returning to in his work: rampant consumerism, novelty intellectualism, underground conspiracies, the disintegration and re-integration of the family, and the promise of rebirth through violence (from wikipedia, but wikipedia is right). Also, mass media pollution, the collision and interchangeability of words and images, and the draining of meaning and context from an event as our lives are filled up with more and more simulacra.

Writers who cite him as a major influence: Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Franzen, and David Foster Wallace.

His place in the world: Harold Bloom has named him as one of the four major novelists of his time, the other three being Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, and Phillip Roth.

His humble beginnings: The world of advertising. He wrote image ads for Sears Roebuck amongst others but eventually quit to start his writing career, including his first novel.

About the start of his writing career, he said: “I did some short stories at that time, but very infrequently. I quit my job just to quit. I didn’t quit my job to write fiction. I just didn’t want to work anymore.”

Forays into film: Only one screenplay so far, for a film entitled Game 6, about the 1986 World Series. The script was written in the 90s, but the film (I don’t know when it was actually produced) came out in 2006, and stars Michael Keaton (who would later go on to do a shitty looking thriller entitled White Noise that has nothing to do with the Delillo book), Griffin Dunne, and Robert Downey, jr. and has a score by Yo La Tengo. The story is classic Delillo.

Theatre: He’s written four plays, two of which, The Day Room and Valparaiso, I’m happy to say I own and have read. The other two, Love-Lies-Bleeding and The Word For Snow, I have not yet.

Just a few of his awards: The National Book Award (for White Noise) and the Jerusalem Prize, which is given to writers who deal with the themes of human freedom, society, politics, and government. And he also won the 2009 Common Wealth Award for Literature.

from here.

The first line of Underworld: “He speaks in your voice, American, and there’s a shine in his eye that’s halfway hopeful.” The opening prologue of the book was also released as it’s own novella, with the separate title, Pafko At The Wall.

Some real talk from White Noise: “All plots move deathwards.”

Musical name checks: Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes, Rhett Miller, Luna, and a band called Too Much Joy. Also, the band called The Airborne Toxic Event got their band name from White Noise.

The first line of Great Jones Street: “Fame requires every kind of excess.”

Don Delillo, as depicted by Brian Wood. From here.

One of my favorite quotes from his books #1: “I don’t want your candor. I want your soul in a silver thimble.”

Fictionalized version of him: blogs for The Onion covering last year’s election.

His three favorite things: “Silence, exile, and cunning. And so on.” Also, paraphrasing James Joyce.

The criticism: There’s been a lot. While there can be no argument that Delillo is a smarter author than a large majority out there, many would say that his books tend towards being over stylized and perhaps a bit intellectually shallow. I think that argument is fair in certain cases.

More criticism: George Will described Delillo’s Libra, which is a study of Lee Harvey Oswald, as “sandbox existentialism,” and then added that the book is an act of “literary vandalism and bad citizenship.”

Delillo’s response to Will: “I don’t take it seriously, but being called a ‘bad citizen’ is a compliment to a novelist, at least to my mind. That’s exactly what we ought to do. We ought to be bad citizens. We ought to, in the sense that we’re writing against what power represents, and often what government represents, and what the corporation dictates, and what consumer consciousness has come to mean. In that sense, if we’re bad citizen, we’re doing our job.”

One of my favorite quotes from his books #2: “History is the sum total of the things they aren’t telling us.” So true.

One of my favorite passages from his books: “I went out on the terrace. Automobiles were moving across Central Park, ticking red taillights trailing each other  north and west and toward the darkness and the river, headlights coming this way, soft orange, the whistling doormen. The park’s lamplights were dull cold steady silver. I was wasting my life.” From Americana, his first novel.

What he’s said about his first novel: “It’s no accident that my first novel was called Americana. This was a private declaration of independence, a statement of my intention to use the whole picture, the whole culture. America was and is the immigrant’s dream, and as the son of two immigrants I was attracted by the sense of possibility that had drawn my grandparents and parents.”

The above quote was from an interview that was referenced on a great site about the author: Don Delillo’s America. It’s a really good resource about the author.

Where’s a good place to start with Delillo: White Noise. Start there and enjoy it. Read about the book here and here and here.

One last thing, how is “Delillo pronounced?” Like this: Duh Lih Lo.

One last great quote from Don Delillo: “Years ago I use to think it was possible for  novelist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory. They make raids on humn consciousness. What writers used to do before we were all incorporated.”

I fear those big words which make us so unhappy.

History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

BLOOMSDAY!

It’s today and it rhymes with doomsday. It’s a special day for the truly ridiculous and hardcore literary nerds, fans of James Joyce’s classic novel, Ulysses. I’m one of those geeks so I find just a bit of silly enjoyment in this day, I’m not going to lie.

They name comes from the novel’s main character, Leopold Bloom, and June 16 is the day the novel is set on (it all takes place in one very long day). But the date also comes from…

Nora Barnacle, who was, and I love the way that Wikipedia words this, “the lover, companion, inspiration – and eventually – wife of author James Joyce.” An episode from her real life would inspire the epiphanic moment from “The Dead” and the date of their first romantic liaison with Joyce – June 16, 1904 – would be forever immortalized as Bloomsday.

I’ve talked about the novel before here on Counterforce, but mostly focused on my favorite section of the book, the last one, which is the infamous Molly Bloom soliloquy.

I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.

from here.

The day is much more of a big deal in Dublin itself, where it is all out celebration (and I think we all know that the Irish hardly need a reason to celebrate, so when they actually have one… boy, watch out!) and a wide range of cultural activities, including readings and dramatizations. And, of course, pub crawls and and crazy fun merriment.

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes actually got married on June 16, 1956 in special honor of Bloomsday.

Richard Linklater seems to have a special affinity for the day himself. a character in Slacker throws his copy of Ulysses into the river at one point and Before Sunrise is actually set on the date.

from here.

You can follow Bloomsday on twitter, of all places. Or, if you have just a little bit more patience, you can always enjoy Slowblogging Ulysses, a site devoted to sharing one word from the novel with you a day. It’s an ambitious little art project, and one that should take you well into the year 2741 if you’re planning on sticking around for a while. But you could always just go read it now if you so chose.

Thanks to Oh Grow Up and Elvira on tumblr for some of those heads ups.

Anyway, that’s enough out of me for a bit. I’m going to go find my copy of the book and do a little catching up over a Guinness or two. If you get the chance, feel free to join me.

from here.