Friday, April 18, 2008
Videodrome As Prophecy
I'll be at the New York Comic Con this weekend so I asked Joe Linsner to do a guest spot eleaborating on some interesting points he raised in an email. I think this piece is right up the Synchromystic alley, from the perspective of a guy with a lot of experience in the subconscious mind. This is the kind of stuff Joe and I chat about for hours on end and I wanted you guys out there to get a chance to get Joe's very synchro and very mystic take on art and reality. I'll be out most of the day and will post any comments when I get back tonight.
Hope you guys enjoy this!
Talking to my friend Chris Knowles the other night sparked a chain reaction of associated thoughts in my mind.
He mentioned seeing pictures of people in India living in cardboard boxes while still being hooked up to satellite TV.
He stated that he could personally live anywhere, just so long as he didn’t lose his high speed internet connection (I'm the same way).
He mentioned how popular World Of Warcraft has become. World of Warcraft is currently the most popular MMO ( Massively Multiplayer Online ) interactive game in the United States. It is number three in Korea, and number six in China.
It made me think of a scene from David Cronenberg's Videodrome where the Cathode Ray Mission takes disjointed homeless people and brings them back into society's norms by setting them up in cubicles and giving them a good dose of TV. Television becomes their eyes and shows them the world as the nation’s broadcasters believe it should be -- it replaces their own personal vision with a hand-crafted one.
Cronenberg later explored these concepts further in Existenz, which is about video games and virtual reality. It was inspired by an interview he did with Salmon Rushdie (author of The Satanic Verses) where they batted around the question “can game designers be artists?” Is a creative work that is interactive still art? Or is it only “Art” when it is static, and the information only flows one way?
William S. Burroughs said that when science finally gets to another star, they will find the artists and writers already there waiting for them. The artists and writers are the architects of reality. Nothing ever happens until it already exists on the dream plane.
Joseph Campbell said pretty much the same thing ~~ that poets and artists always lead the way to the future for any society.
This led me to think of David Lynch’s Inland Empire, a poetic masterpiece which works on a myriad of levels, offering a wide spectrum of valid interpretations. In Inland Empire, reality bleeds into and then back out of a number of different modes of perception-- art -vision – dream – television - real life – dream life. All of those facets exist at once, and preference of one facet over another is simply a matter of personal choice. I am sure that the films weird sitcom bunny people tie into that -- Lynch serves the viewer whacko images, and the viewer is then left to digest them however they choose. In this way, it is a very interactive movie. The mark of Lynch’s genius is that the viewer never once gets the feeling that he is being served pure gibberish. It is all spoken in an almost familiar language, one which the viewer just needs to learn in order to keep up.
One of the key points of Videodrome is the externalization of man through technology. It is a two-way flow – it bleeds into us, and we enter into it. Walls come down, and a fusion occurs. In Videodrome, James Woods literally pushes his face through a pulsing and alive television, then later goes on to accept a videotape into his abdomen.
For those people in India living in boxes, their reality goes into and expands outward beyond the literal measurements of their TV sets. Same with us internet junkies. Same with the World of Warcraft junkies. That artificial reality we all know and love, cyberspace, has become just as valid as the cardboard box we may someday live in.
With this in mind, the Harry Potter series is the ultimate metaphor for our age. Just think of the scene in The Order of the Phoenix-- Harry and the magical Weasleys enter a ratty looking tent. Once they enter it, Harry ‘plugs into their virtual enviornment,' and what he sees expands fantastically. Harry exclaims, “I LOVE Magic!”
The ratty exterior of the tent is rubbish, but the magical interior of the tent is ELECTRIC. Those twin realities that young Harry Potter straddle represent both our humdrum daily lives and the lives we live on the dream plain -- just like Dorothy’s real-world Kansas and her dreamland of Oz.
I know that for almost the past 20 years people have been saying that the internet is replacing reality for many people. That is nothing new and has been a cliche for a long time. But I think the skeleton key that will somehow unlock the mystery door is hooked into what Burroughs said ~~
The artists and writers will get there first.
And it was these 2 quotes from Chris’s post about the film 2001: A Space Odyssey which made me remember the William S. Burroughs statement.
“I will say that the God concept is at the heart of 2001-- but not any traditional anthropomorphic image of God. I don’t believe in any of Earth’s monotheistic religions, but I do believe that one can construct an intriguing scientific definition of God.” Stanley Kubrick, Playboy interview, Sept 1968
“Quite early in the game I went around saying, not very loudly, "M-G-M doesn't know this yet, but they're paying for the first $10,000,000 religious movie."
Arthur C. Clarke, Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations, 1972.
I think that 2001 is just as much about inner space as outer space. Walls are coming down left and right, and we are finding ourselves on the dream plain with the artists and writers of the world staring back at us.
Joseph M. Linsner
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