I can live with apocalypse

So it was not too bad, if not a little too formulaic in the construction of the ensemble cast.

I was a little surprised that The Killers track “All These Things I’ve Done” (I think) was the intro tune as it is one of my favourite songs at the moment, and if the show was crap then it would be tainted.

After an adolescence that had a healthy diet of anime I am all psyched for post-rockalyptic narratives. It is a little weird that the US fantasy of 9/11 was that was an apocalypse, when it has been the only country to use nuclear weapons in war, against Japan, which produced all the anime I watched growing up… I like Lost’s post-9/11 vibe better, but I can live with apocalypse. Hello Baudrillard!

Anyway, there are two remarkable things to this show that need to be highlighted.

1) The premiere was shown in Australia at the same time (roughly) as the US premiere. Finally some peanut realised that if we can access shows at the same time they become available in the US (or anywhere in the world) then we won’t have to download them through torrents and we will actually watch them on the telly hence some other peanut (maybe the same one!) gets money through advertising revenue.

2) The other utterly amazing thing that I just read about and am still coming to terms with is that CBS is apparently going to post 90 minute versions of the episodes online (W! T! F!) directly after the broadcast of the 60 minute (or 44 minute) version on TV. I am looking now. I’ll just repeat that WTF, because this demonstrates a creative, intelligent response to the possibilities of broadband, rather than some dumb arse response expected of media mega-companies. According to CBS Digital Media president Larry Kramer said that viewers “don’t have to go on the Web to find out what really happens, but it enriches experience because there will be four, rather than two or three, plotlines.” WTF! This is some crazy shit. How many fans are not going to attempt to watch the online shows? I say attempt because if they have it as a live streaming file the servers at CBS are never going to be able to hack it. Actually, here is the link. Serve me right exceeding my bandwidth allocation for this month. So it is running one something called ‘Innertube’. They have a number of ‘brief messages’ before the actual file of the show begins… “This content is not available for viewing outside of the United States.” Good one CBS…

Back to work!

Coffee and Writing

coffee as desiring machine?

Perhaps they are after the so-called pink dollar, but I am pretty sure they are attempting to capture the hetero female consumer. Is instant (shitty) coffee approaching the location of chocolate (as pursued in a ruthless manner by Infinite Thought who rails against chocolate without fear of retalliation from trans-national choco-military-industrial complex)? I drink shitloads of coffee. Do I figure as the magic subject of what Susan Buck-Morss would call the an/aesthetics of capitalism? On a continuum with what Virilio would call the ‘hyper-stimulated man’ in the aerobic Taylorism that seduces me with the burn/buzz? Yeah! Whoo! Work that shit.

FUCK. PHD. FINISH. (F cubed.)

I need an erotics of the PhD. I think I almost have it, the erotics, not the completed PhD. Pulling it apart and putting it back together. One of my n-sexes (along with fast cars and crazy theory stuff).

My problem now is empirical stuff. How much to put in? I think about it as evidence. Proving something. Or ‘demonstrating’ something as it is normally expressed in cultstuds or other related fields. However, much of what I read feels a little undeveloped in this regard, like in Foucault’s work for example. (Although it seems like the smaller the temporal frame the more detail is required, has anyone noticed this paradox, or is it just common sense to historians?) Anyway, so I go nuts, like most things, overboard, completely, but I don’t have time to be proving everything. I simply do not have the time resource to do it (instead I write blog posts). I need to finish, and rely more on the poetics of my intellect. I know my PhD would be better if I could pursue every line, but I am not meant to be writing a ‘good’ PhD, only one that will pass. Therefore, I only need ‘enough’ evidence. Yet, I always feel insecure… Whatever, what keeps me sane is that I know after I finish, and when someone else wants to do research in the same field, they will not have to stuff around for two and half years just trying to figure what the ‘field’ is.

I am about half done.

Neo-Noir: Affects of Seriousness

What is with all the teen-noir at the moment? Or neo-noir or whatever you want it called? OK, it is not as if popular culture is suddenly saturated with it, and I am not complaining as neo-noir of any description is far more preferrable to the stupidities of other forms of mass-culture. What I find interesting are the affects of seriousness and mattering itself which saturate neo-noir texts such as Veronica Mars and Brick, perhaps Buffy, definitely Angel, or the established influence of noir on cyberpunk evidenced by my favourite D&G-quoting anime Ghost in the Shell.

Noir is well suited to fiction set in teenage worlds. One of the charecteristics of noir is that the world is hard, unforgiving, and as the wikipedia entry for Noir puts it “inherently corrupt and unsympathetic.” Neo-noir is an apparatus of capture for the affects that exist within what psychanalysts would call a fantasy projection of the world of teenagers. Teenage protagonists routinely ‘deal’ (to quote Buffy) with ‘adult’ concerns and worries. The situations are serious, they require someone of sophisticated toughness to ‘deal’. The affects of seriousness itself are the elements that seem to make these neo-noir texts work, or work for some people. WHo is attracted to these sorts of shows? And it is an attraction, of charisma or perhaps of a romantic dimension.

One of the joys of Veronica Mars was the ability of the writers to (mostly) balance the the affects of seriousness with a lightness or levity. The lightness is also in part produced by the physical presence of the lead actress Kirsten Bell. The male characters are all so completely unattractive, except for Veronica’s best friend, whatever his name is. Setting most of the action in her father’s private investigation business means there is a constant supply of ‘seriousness’ from petty and major crime. The multiple relationship arcs in the second season also serve as loci of seriousness as romantic problems are set alongside crime and slights of personhood (often one in the same for distraught partners who seek out the private eye firm to dig up dirt on cheating or provisional partners). What I like about the show is how this is set alongside the reliefs of inter-textual references to popular culture and the odd, light moments of friendship captured so well by the writing. The character of Veronica Mars is given a quick wit, and the writers do not attempt to drop explicit signifiers of a particular generation through argot and the like. Haircuts and cars (or bikes) are the main signifers of contemporaneity. Oh, plus the music… Ethnicity and class differences place the world of Veronica Mars in a much larger set of congruences with the actual world.

From what I can figure out, the tension between seriousness and lightness around which the affects of Veronica Mars (the show) are distributed is almost completely absent from the recent film Brick. There is no lightness to balance the heavy darkness, hence no tension. It is an ultra-noir teen-noir neo-noir film. There is no relief from the relentless pursuit by the main character for the truth of what happened. He consumes himself in the process in this war of abolition. The language is of a different time, and one of the reasons why the film has a slightly surreal feel to it. Who talks like that? Who ever talked like that beyond characters in works of fiction? I got a ‘squawker’? It weighs the film down with the burden of affective implausibility. In the end those indexes of seriousness, which were meant to carry a certain affective charge of noir, become the opposite. It all becomes hilarious. Socially inept nerd kids talking like they are out of some 1930s pulp novella. Hilarious. Imagine if you heard a couple of kids talking like that on a train. The absence of any mark of youth or non-adult means there is no affective tension of the sort that gives Veronica Mars its what-the-fuck-just-happpened-ness.

An example (which is quite brutal, so I apologise), Veronica’s rape becomes an event that is differentially repeated throughout the second series, it goes from being a sickening rape of unknown proportions, to consensual sex she can’t remember, but which at least is partially joyful (that scene is perhaps one of the best I have ever seen in any work of filmed fiction), to all manner of fucked up shit and so on. I am talking about the range of affect around which the singularities of this event are arrayed and distributed, and then continually arranged and redistributed, which bodies, which acts, what states, at what times, and so on. Veronica Mars (the show) captures this movement, the rearrangement of a constellation of singularities which define a singular event repeated in different ways. We feel like we know what has happened, but then we don’t.

Brick, on the other hand, can’t quite match Veronica Mars. Part of the reason is the length of a film simply can’t allow for such a long duration of affective modulation. There is a similar event, but I won’t discuss it, cause it would be a spoiler. However, I can say that it plays itself out in the final scene, and I don’t mean finding out who the ‘baddie’ is. There is always going to be a baddie, that is the logic of the film. I mean the repetition of a fact that throws a different light upon all that has preceded.

Lastly, I like the weird quasi-romantic interest in Brick, Laura (Nora Zehetner), I think mainly in a reminds-me-of-a-couple-ex’s sort of way, although the psychotic bourgie thing she’s got going on in the film may have something to do with it.

Panel Van Aesthetics

EDIT 08/08/11: Here are some 1980s Font pages that people are searching for and landing on this page:

1. A large number of cool fonts here, I like the computer games fonts, here.
2. Commodore 64 font, here.
3. A Tron font, here.
4. Da Font has heaps of cool fonts, I like the ‘Techno sci-fi’ fonts, here.
5. A ‘neon 80s’ font, here.

I went back to the department store and bought another exercise top. Besides the neo-colonial tourism thing they’ve got going on, they remind me of the murals that were painted on the side of panel vans in the 1970s. This one especially:
tropical nights
This is like a weird childhood refrain. The stenciled palm trees and airbrush-like bicolour sky and chunky neon-ish font is straight out of the early-80s. The panel vans of this era, just before Street Machining took over in a big way, all had phallocentric names like ‘Alley Cat’, ‘Dream Warrior’, ‘Checkmate’, ‘Seducer’, ‘Invader 2001’, ‘Motivator’, and ‘Total Eclipse’. ‘Tropical Nights’ could very well have been a panel van. I bought another different one ‘Paradise’ but I am wearing it.

I have also gone Fight Club-crazy with the Ikea-ification of my flat. Well kind of, I did get two 6 ft by 3ft shelves off eBay to hold all my books. However the second panel van aesthetics point of this blog post is that I did get some Ikea shelves and some cardboard magazine holder things which fit sungly into the shelves. So now my several hundred magazines are off the floor. I have shifted the TV into the bedroom and couch against the wall height windows. There is heaps more room but the problem is that now I have this massive white wall of magazine holders where my porn-set-style mirror wall used to be. Not that I am too sad about the loss of my mirror wall, rather I see the white wall (black hole! lol!) as an opportunity to do something. I think it would be cool to use the cover art as pop art. So I have decided to scan a cover of one of the 1970s panel van magazine covers and blow it up so each magazine holder has a little slice of the cover. It will be a 6 ft high magazine cover or 2/3’s of a cover. Some of the covers in the 1970s were completely crazy, especially from Van Wheels magazine. I like the bottom one, issue 3:
Van Wheels magazine No. 1

Van Wheels magazine No. 6

Van Wheels magazine No. 7 (the famous Dole Bludgers' Guide issue)

Van Wheels magazine No. 3 (click for larger image)

When I can afford the ink for my colour printer I’ll do it and post some photos.