Ktismatics

29 June 2007

Wasted Effort

Filed under: Culture, Psychology — ktismatics @ 6:08 am

The main problem of the modern and postmodern capitalist industry is precisely waste. We are postmodern beings because we realize that all our aesthetically appealing consumption artifacts will eventually end as leftover, to the point that it will transform the earth into a vast waste land. You lose the sense of tragedy, you perceive progress as derisive.

– Jacques-Alain Miller, “The Desire of Lacan,” 1999

The pile of wasted product is just the artifact; think about all the wasted effort that goes into making and consuming it. Our memories are vast waste lands, piled up with all the intentionally ephemeral mental energy we’ve put into activities that were never meant to last.

Say you do a consulting project for a big corporate client. The analyses you generate provide competitive advantage for one of the client’s new products within a selected demographic niche. The client uses the information to generate a surge in sales within that niche. The competition, aware of its disadvantage, responds with a subtle product modification or a targeted marketing campaign, closing the gap with its rival. Now the playing field is level again. Your client calls you back in, asking you to do another project in search of another edge, another opportunity.

At the end of a successful consulting career you look back and see — what? Clients come and go, their personnel and products come and go, market shares shift back and forth across the competitive environment. You’ve done some good work, met some nice people and some assholes, acquired a certain expertise, made some money. But the work itself? The most recent stuff fills a row of filing cabinets; the rest of it is long gone. The net impact of all that work is precisely nill.

You lose the sense of tragedy, says Miller. It’s tragic when you try to accomplish something you hope will last, and fail. In a world where nothing lasts tragedy is rendered futile. What do you call it when you purposely set out to accomplish something futile, and succeed?

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50 Comments »

  1. I cite Qohelet chapter 5 at length:

    10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, 14 or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. 15 Naked a man come from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind? 17 All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger. 18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

    Verse 11 has always fascinated me, and I think it ties in with your post in the sense that most of our efforts and production goes into things that we have for sake of their appeal to view. That is, we consume things for their eye-candy. But, as you say, once they are consumed we move on to another product. Big screen televisions used to be attractive. It used to stimulate us. Now, unless you have HDTV and a widescreen that you can mount on the wall your television is just a big, clunky box. In a decade there will be a new technology that makes our plasma HDTVs look repulsive. But this is what we put our energy into producing and we work hard to afford these things, or, in the absence of the necessary funds to purchase we can mortgage ourselves at something of a consumeristic whore-house that we call a Lender or a Credit Card company. Ultimately, we “toil for the wind.” It is this that set Qohelet into depression. I can’t blame him! Happiness is rare.

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    Comment by Erdman — 29 June 2007 @ 7:26 am

  2. I’m not sure that I find PoMo thinking to be as waste centred as Miller assumes. A more limited scope and reach mean that hope doesn’t have to dash itself to death against its own limits/contradictions.

    Rather than losing ‘the sense of tragedy’ in hopelessness, the tragedy and the comedy, the involvement, can potentially become sharper and more poignant.

    A whole world full of waste, wasted effort, pointless plans, and the construction of metarealities seem to go hand in hand.

    I am small, so let me do small things, things that are relationally meaningful in small and personal ways and let me try to be satisfied with that, at least to start with.

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    Comment by samlcarr — 29 June 2007 @ 9:47 am

  3. Sam, et al,

    How might cultural trends fit into the discussion: Environmental consciousness (recycling, carbon footprints, reducing omissions, etc.), and the organic and natural foods popularity.

    Do some of these trends represent an effort to escape from wastefulness, at least on a “small and personal” scale? To leave a positive mark on mother earth?

    Like

    Comment by Erdman — 29 June 2007 @ 9:58 am

  4. “What do you call it when you purposely set out to accomplish something futile, and succeed?”

    Simulacrum, of course.

    “Rather than losing ‘the sense of tragedy’ in hopelessness, the tragedy and the comedy, the involvement, can potentially become sharper and more poignant.”

    Interesting. As I’ve said, reading Baudrillard makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 29 June 2007 @ 10:36 am

  5. I think so, Jon. Even amongst the more conservative, there always has been a silent very personal interest in Justice on a broader base especially societally, even though the puplic posture has been otherwise. It is pointed out that just because the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing doesn’t mean that the right hand has been idle!

    I think the younger generations have picked up on and expanded this thinking perhaps with an increased appreciation of what ‘the glogal village’ actually involves and a consciousness that terrible things can happen if we remain silent and content in our capitalist coccoons.

    The ethic of conservatism automatically supporting capitalism certainly is being questioned though the old alternative of ‘swinging left’ is now known not to be the only option, but a softer form of capitalism, more personal an less harsh may result.

    From a Justice standpoint, the startling contrast between Iraq-Iran and the other trouble spots that we have effectively ignored, such as Darfur, Somalia, Palestine, Myanmar, Congo, the various ‘kistans are active questions for the youth of the USA in particular but also of England, this ‘Iraq factor’ is significant even though the marketing machine has been spinning a pretty strong coccoon to insulate the public from the harshest of the realities.

    Rather, Iraq and this global complex of guilt is going to be one of those ‘hidden’ strands that will keep uncoiling and messing with the membranes and clogging the portals in ways that the system cannot entirely predict.

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    Comment by samlcarr — 29 June 2007 @ 10:38 am

  6. “In a decade there will be a new technology that makes our plasma HDTVs look repulsive. But this is what we put our energy into producing and we work hard to afford these things.”

    Say you’re one of the guys who worked on designing HDTV. You see the fruits of your labor turned into a commodity, you see that commodity subjected to the marketing machinery, you see marketing creating desire in the consumer, you see that desire transformed into profits. Meanwhile your boss is leaning on you to come up with what’s next — ultra-HDTV, post-HDTV, whatever. You get this sense of futility, of continually feeding the insatiable maw of consumer culture.

    But as a worker is there the possibility of “experience that refuses commodification,” as Jonathan Beller calls it? In other words, is it possible to separate the market value of your work from other ways in which your work can be deemed valuable? So: HDTV evaluated strictly as a technological advance over low-definition TV, or as a way of minimizing the distortion of aesthetic beauty when transmitted over the airwaves — can you take satisfaction in contributing this kind of value, this kind of progress to collective human culture?

    It’s an ironic reversal from the way you’d think the market should work. Presumably you identify and quantify the intrinsic value of something, then add a supplemental profit on top in order to come up with the “market value.” Now we’re talking about starting with the market value and then subtracting commodity value in order to come up with a residual “authentic value.” Something wrong there.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2007 @ 10:40 am

  7. “A whole world full of waste, wasted effort, pointless plans, and the construction of metarealities seem to go hand in hand.”

    I’m concerned that the metareality of the marketplace is to promote waste — in work, in consumption, in accumulation of stuff — instead of lamenting it. The “old” metarealities of religion, politics and technological progress labeled waste as bad, or perhaps as “collateral damage” in pursuit of a larger good. In a marketplace reality we buy or watch stuff we freely acknowledge is garbage — that’s part of its market appeal.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2007 @ 10:49 am

  8. Zizek’s paradigmatic example is Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. Take out the flavor, the buzz, and the nutrients, then sell what’s left over. The commodification of waste. I think he overstates his case, or else I’m already sold down the river, since Caffeine-Free Diet is my personal favorite in the Coca-Cola product line.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2007 @ 11:17 am

  9. “How might cultural trends fit into the discussion: Environmental consciousness (recycling, carbon footprints, reducing omissions, etc.), and the organic and natural foods popularity. Do some of these trends represent an effort to escape from wastefulness, at least on a “small and personal” scale? To leave a positive mark on mother earth?”

    Don’t you think that recycling and reducing toxic emissions just encourage more consumption? I just read that people who drive hybrid fuel-efficient cars drive more miles per day than people with ordinary cars. The more you drive the hybrid, the better you feel about your fuel efficiency. The more crap you buy, the better you feel about recycling the packaging.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2007 @ 11:23 am

  10. Cola (“a cool drink”)in any form seems to be the paradigm. Water, sweetened, carbonated and flavored and sold at a premium. It all began as a coca high, but what makes it adicting now!

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    Comment by samlcarr — 29 June 2007 @ 11:35 am

  11. Doyle, where and how on earth did you find that “Jonathan Beller” link on cinema and capital!?

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 29 June 2007 @ 11:42 am

  12. “From a Justice standpoint, the startling contrast between Iraq-Iran and the other trouble spots that we have effectively ignored, such as Darfur, Somalia, Palestine, Myanmar, Congo, the various ‘kistans…”

    There are those who contend that, if you subtract market value from the other values of intervening in a trouble spot (e.g., justice), the only one worth bothering with was Iraq. The arguments in favor of Iraq — would you rather Saddam was still in power, etc. — have become shopworn as the carnage continues to pile up. So from a pessimistic standpoint it’s conceivable that the fallout from Iraq is that intervening in international trouble spots in the name of justice is futile, hebel, chasing after the wind. From now on stick with strictly economic considerations, and give up these high-minded neocon and neolib humanitarian considerations.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2007 @ 11:44 am

  13. People used to laugh at the ‘oil conspiracy theories’. No more! it has become obvious that the US military, the executive and the intelligence communities all KNEW what the results would be. The goal always was then a permanent presence in Iraq guaranteeing control of that oil and (just perhaps) the added prize of Iran too.

    That’s not chasing after the wind! What may result tho is that if oil prices stay as high as they are (or go higher) alternative sources of energy may become attractive enough to wipe out the advantages of controlling the oil in the first place. As Qohelet would put it much striving after nothing!

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    Comment by samlcarr — 29 June 2007 @ 12:26 pm

  14. Supply-side economics – pah! I think ktismatics put his finger on it a few comments prior – waste is an inevitible consequence of consumption. The public debate is mostly about less waste per unit consumed, or non-oil sources of energy to sate the gluttony of more consumers, more consumption per consumer. How long is that model sustainable, I wonder? There seems to be widespread faith that technology and human inventiveness will find a way to satisfy demand, or that at least the economics of supply and demand will cause a soft landing at an equilibrium point.

    Growth in consumption is the fuel of vibrant capitalist economies – new markets, new products, more revenue per customer, more material goods and more experience-per-fee. Recession and stagnation are the bad guys. Are there examples in history of stable, contented societies during periods of severe reduction in consumption or static rates of consumption? Is there a cataclysm when the supplies are not at hand to feed the beast of growth or when the dogs will not pay for more dog food?

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    Comment by Pykoman — 29 June 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  15. Jason –

    In your quote Baudrillard suggests that it’s possible for the simulacrum to generate even more intense tragedy and comedy. How so? Is it through manipulated emotions generated by cinematic tragicomic images, through which the passive viewer lives the vicarious experience that keeps him from actively engaging in meaningful acts? (Even now my Baudrillard is probably being gnawed on by rats in the Antwerp shipyards, so I can’t look it up.)

    The Jonathan Beller paper came from a post by Elusive Lucidity. I’ve seen some strong recommendations for Beller’s book “The Cinematic Mode of Production,” in which Beller proposes that capitalism is now essentially cinematic — the production of images.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2007 @ 3:04 pm

  16. “How long is that model sustainable, I wonder? There seems to be widespread faith that technology and human inventiveness will find a way to satisfy demand, or that at least the economics of supply and demand will cause a soft landing at an equilibrium point.”

    I’ve read that there are vast oil reserves under the Arctic Ocean, which will become accessible in 15 years when the ice melts, so there’s a lot of jockeying for drilling rights. Also the legendary Northwest Passage will at last become a reality, so there’s big enthusiasm for building shipyards and such along what will be the new coastline. This is the libertarian argument against restrictive measures like Kyoto Protocol: the market will always find a way. If Holland and Florida go under the waves, someplace else will step up and exploit the opportunity.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2007 @ 3:30 pm

  17. “Are there examples in history of stable, contented societies during periods of severe reduction in consumption or static rates of consumption?”

    I don’t know, but I do wonder whether the criteria for defining “stable and contented” are culturally defined. In a culture that’s built on the accumulation and expenditure of capital, stable contentment probably has mostly to do with opportunities to earn and spend. It’s more nuanced in our late-capitalistic Western culture, of course, where it’s more a matter of self-expression, quality of life, and freedom to choose — all of which seems to have mostly to do with the bobo ethos.

    There are various ideologies that would like to see a society in which creation/production is given free rein without being tied so explicitly to consumption and the accumulation of profits. Variants of Marxism and Christianity share this vision, as do scattered “creative types” who espouse no particular ideology other than the sense that contentment comes from creation and discovery rather than through making and spending money.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 June 2007 @ 3:55 pm

  18. Say you’re one of the guys who worked on designing HDTV. You see the fruits of your labor turned into a commodity, you see that commodity subjected to the marketing machinery, you see marketing creating desire in the consumer, you see that desire transformed into profits. Meanwhile your boss is leaning on you to come up with what’s next — ultra-HDTV, post-HDTV, whatever. You get this sense of futility, of continually feeding the insatiable maw of consumer culture.

    If I were one of those guys I would call Jason and suggest that we immediately go out for a drink together because I would have a much better understanding of the tensions and frustrations he feels.

    Good point, John, about the reversal of value, from aesthetic-to-market into market-to-aesthetic. I think this is even more clear in American pop-art: pop-music, film, literature.

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    Comment by Erdman — 29 June 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  19. On a strictly indiviual level I have spoken to many young people who seriously question the market and its imperatives. I’m not sure though how easy it is with the paucity of leaders to help to ask the more penetrating questions and to provide some focus and encouragement for this search for meaning beyon what the marketplace has on offer. Perhaps it is part and parcel of being in a more PoMo environment, and as usual the generation gap keeps the older generation a bit too off balance to be helpful. Nonetheless, there are quite a few of an Erdmanian bent out there and that is certainly encouraging.

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    Comment by samlcarr — 30 June 2007 @ 6:32 am

  20. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

    God bestows a gladness of heart that distracts a person from reflection: is this a good system, do you think? Sounds like “opiate of the masses” thinking to me.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 30 June 2007 @ 6:48 am

  21. There’s a definite double edge to Ecclesiastes especially if the identification with Solomon is made!

    A super-taxed population, bearing the burden of a king with huge builing and expansion plans. Certainly a good dose of ‘be happy, don’t worry’ and whatever you do don’t stop working, is an excellent bit of advice.

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    Comment by samlcarr — 30 June 2007 @ 6:57 am

  22. “On a strictly indiviual level I have spoken to many young people who seriously question the market and its imperatives.”

    As a member of the Baby Boomer generation, I find myself disappointed at the way in which those of us who espoused antimarket values got co-opted. What happened in part is that jobs for educated types got more interesting, less rigidly bureaucratic, more self-empowered. Work wasn’t as mind-benumbing as we’d been led to believe. And ways of spending money got more interesting: world travel, better restaurants, high-end hobby gear, etc. Hence the bourgeoisification of a nascent neo-bohemian culture.

    Part of the problem is that the antimarket kids were sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie. As Erdman pointed out a couple posts ago, it’s perhaps impossible to de-bourgify oneself. So the Boomers went bobo, thinking they could have their cake and eat it too.

    Will the new generation, who are the affluent and well-educated sons and daughters of Baby Boomers and the inheritors of bobo culture, fare any better than their parents at resisting what seems like the irresistibly adaptive and overdetermining forces that propel the market economy? Can they recognize the compromises the devil dangles in front of them and the easy path to co-optation? When the Big Other of our culture is the Market and it tells you to enjoy and to stop reflecting, what’s the response? Is it a return to puritanical suppression of happiness, or an awareness that the happiness being dangled in front of you is an illusion, or a renewed sense that some desires and values might be even stronger than happiness if you learn to recognize them?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 30 June 2007 @ 7:12 am

  23. “Nonetheless, there are quite a few of an Erdmanian bent out there and that is certainly encouraging.”

    Hmm… would I find it more encouraging, or less so, if the Erdmanian quit his job and became a full-time street evangelist?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 30 June 2007 @ 7:14 am

  24. “The Erdmanian bent” — I like that.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 30 June 2007 @ 7:15 am

  25. Ktismatics: 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

    God bestows a gladness of heart that distracts a person from reflection: is this a good system, do you think? Sounds like “opiate of the masses” thinking to me.

    This is a good observation. There is certainly a sense of suspicion that has grown out of Qohelet’s search for knowledge and wisdom. This is so much the case that he says: “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow, the more knowledge, the more grief.” (1:18)

    He is clearly disenfranchised with the whole lot of things and I think that there is a sense in which even a vulgar person is better off than the academic if he is enjoying life and living it to the full.

    So, I think there is definitely something to be gained from “gladness of heart.” There are not many who gain it. Does this mean that they are living the “unexamined life”? Perhaps. Is it “worth living”? Seems to be….for me, the jury is still out. Would I rather be a Kierkegaard or a happy 47 year old surfer living with my Mom on the California coast?

    Good question.

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    Comment by Erdman — 2 July 2007 @ 9:59 am

  26. The Great Hesmaniak Attack

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    Comment by Erdman — 2 July 2007 @ 10:03 am

  27. PoMo writings are known for their anomolies. Representative…the lonely comment…”The Great Hesmaniak Attack.” Tornado – please share the meaing?

    “If I were one of those guys I would call Jason and suggest that we immediately go out for a drink together because I would have a much better understanding of the tensions and frustrations he feels.”

    Frustrated, I would probably dump my beer on my head. Who knows, someone may laugh.

    And recycling was never about reducing consumption. At least that wasn’t the message that came across to me when the craze started.

    “In your quote Baudrillard suggests that it’s possible for the simulacrum to generate even more intense tragedy and comedy. How so? Is it through manipulated emotions generated by cinematic tragicomic images, through which the passive viewer lives the vicarious experience that keeps him from actively engaging in meaningful acts?”

    We all get our turn. Baudrillard speaks. I listen; I speak. And I react one way, while another reacts another. Although I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking.

    Along similar lines of a loss of tragedy and a loss of meaning in the system, I found the following musation to be interesting: “As a member of the Baby Boomer generation, I find myself disappointed at the way in which those of us who espoused antimarket values got co-opted.” Maybe it IS about choice, after all?

    —————————

    [and me to my old friend Clay]

    I came across this yesterday. I thought you guys might be interested, just maybe.

    The following exerpt reminds me of Regel’s paintings:

    “The writer Barton is trying to create a script about the real man, about ‘everyman,’ but when the film finally encounters everyman’s never told biography, the biography of the failed encyclopedia salesman (John Goodman) and the biography that Barton, being preoccupied with his script, has not had the time to listen to, the encounter is and can only be indirect, off-screen as it were, and that, as a crisis. At the moment of the encounter between cinema and the experience of ‘everyman,’ a conflagration erupts. Inside the frame the film set is burnt, while outside the frame in the space beyond the film the very edges of the frame burst and flame–the medium literally self-destructs as the reality principle of the film is destroyed in the confrontation of its limits. As a film steeped in the protocols of profit, the particular experiences of Goodman’s mad encyclopedia salesman, that is, the myriad experiences of failure in capitalism, fall below the threshold of knowing possible in capital cinema and are precipitated only as effects. These effects, much like a labor strike, confront the mode of production as a crisis and halt its smooth functioning. The experience of Everyman, nearly uncommodifiable by definition, cannot be represented in Capital Cinema. Its emergence threatens to destroy the medium itself.”

    Hence “niche marketing”, I suppose.

    [then clay to me]

    I saw a trailer the other day for some pop movie coming out and realized that the age of film as an art is over, and probably has been. tarentino is like warhol, and its over. all we are left with is documentary for the evryday, or movies like schindlers list or iwo jima…………..made to (im)personate documentaries. as opposed to living documentaries that personate them (because they are just that.)

    At first I thought schindlers list was great because it impersonates and dehumanizes by being a mock documentary in black and white, but its the personation that living film and documentary has that creates the immmediate tension and even an immediate type of human, and dehumanization. How about the everyman in tarkovsky? is andre rublev in black and white or color? my memory is that it is in full color.

    the big question is what is the role of the everyman in tragedy? it may be that there is no everyman, or that there is no tragedy and all there is is everyman.

    how’s your work?

    [me back to clay, with no response yet]

    Interesting that that’s how you decided to respond, about the end of art. For the last two weeks I’ve sort of been in mourning what I am taking to be the end of architecture. This link I sent to you is about cinema, but so far as the realtors or developers care, architecture is another image on the screen.

    Tarentino…blah. I think Tarentino is less conscious of what he’s doing than Warhol. I think Warhol was at least conscious that he was being ironically funny in a dark kind of way.

    I haven’t seen Andrei Rublev yet. It was only relatively recently that I even heard about it. I’ve been on the prowl to find it…even here in LA I can’t find it to rent. Did you buy it? Anyway…I think I remember reading that its in black and white, but I can’t say for sure. I could imagine a black and white film by Tarkovsky being a bit different from one by whoever that famous guy is who did Schindler’s List and Munich whose name I can’t remember. Example…the cinematic series’ of black and white photos by Anselm Kiefer…of landscapes…of traces of railroad pathways…of holocause exhibitions, with that one upside down photo as a clue.

    Also interestingly, I’ve seen another good film by Tarkovsky…about a quite aescetic who, at the end of the film, screams a sermon in an empty public plaza to a small audience…the sermon and the film end with his setting himself on fire.

    It should not be forgotten, however, that most of what we have are documentaries of the everyday. So far as living documentaries that personate, however…John Hejduk? Existential impersonal documentaries…your aloof prof. himself…Sir Peter Eisenman.

    Also interestingly…speaking of Russians and Schindler and tragedy or a lack thereof…I just finished The Death of Ivan Illych, by Tostoy, as well as the introduction to Iconostasis, by Florensky. It takes the kiss of his young son combined with a glimpse of the light at the end of the abyss for the high-class Ivan Illych to realize that his chosen life was not the best one possible. Basically his last words for “forgive me,” spoken to his wife and daughter. But he couldn’t get the whole phrase out, as he was dying, and too weak. Is that tragic?

    In the intro. to Iconostasis, I read that Florensky was shot in the back of the head at point blank range in a gulag. After such an anti-climactic death, as his body was rolled through the camp, many of the prisoners basically risked their lives by bowing as their dead spiritual father went by.

    Tragedy and everyman. I suppose Baudrillard would say that there’s no tragedy, and there is only everyman. But with his reel of words and images he makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. I supose McLuhan would say that there is no everyman, and only tragedy…and hope.

    Work? What work? Labor. I am a real estate agent. And pissed off about it, too. Or hopeless. Or annoyed. Numb, maybe.

    How about you? Before you made your thesis statement that only the house was left…was their mounring? A sense of loss? Anger? You made the statement so nonchalantly.

    [then me later…last night]

    Interestingly…by sheer chance, today I happened to find a place to rent Andrei Rublev. I’ll probably watch it one night this week. Oh…and the other Tarkovsky film I was thinking of…the name is Nostalgia.

    What about Inland Empire? Have you seen that? There seems to be some big debate whether Lynch is commodifying cinema or revealing cinema as commodity. But I haven’t seen the film yet.

    ———————–

    :)

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 12:48 pm

  28. Oops…”I came across this yesterday. I thought you guys might be interested, just maybe.”…”this” in the email to Clay and my prof. was a link to the Johnathan Baller essay on Cinema as Commodity in the Twentieth Century.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 12:50 pm

  29. “How about the everyman in tarkovsky? is andre rublev in black and white or color? my memory is that it is in full color.”

    Andre Rublev was in black and white until the very last image of the film, his icon of The Trinity, which is in color.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 1:02 pm

  30. FYI…

    On Hejduk and “documentaries”, from wikipedia: “Eventually, John Hejduk’s ‘hard-line’ modernist space-making exercises, heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe [both “modernists”], moved away from his interests in favor of free-hand ‘figure/objects’ influenced by mythology and spirituality, clearly expressing the nature of his poetry. The relationship between Hejduk’s shape/objects and their surroundings is a controversial subject, raising questions similar to those raised by the early houses of Peter Eisenman.” In Hejduk’s work, forms are figurative and have recognizably “personal” characteristics…heads, feet, ect. Things “head”(ing) in a direction somehow. Ex. – “The House of Suicide”

    Eisenman: I mentioned him because he was a bit of a Deleuzian existentialist. My thought was that the “impersonal transcental field” of the event in existentialism is related to the “impersonal” nature of the “merely infomrational” documentary. Example, when most folks were asked to design a “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, they might do something a bit more “personal.” Eisenman, however?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_to_the_Murdered_Jews_of_Europe

    :)

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 1:08 pm

  31. Thanks Doyle…I’ll inform Clay. Interesting that he remembers the film being in color.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 1:09 pm

  32. Interesting…the colorS of the icon are of hope. The red of “Schindler’s List” isn’t exactly that…nor even of tragedy, really though.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 1:12 pm

  33. “So, I think there is definitely something to be gained from “gladness of heart.” There are not many who gain it. Does this mean that they are living the “unexamined life”? Perhaps. Is it “worth living”? Seems to be….for me, the jury is still out. Would I rather be a Kierkegaard or a happy 47 year old surfer living with my Mom on the California coast?”

    Remember Dominic, he of the abrasively sharp comment on Dr. Carl’s post at Church and PoMo? Here’s a post from Dominic on this very subject, where he vehemently promotes intelligence over happiness.

    …which reminds me of a comment I thought about putting on your recent Forrest Gump post. I think I’ll go do it now…

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    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  34. “Maybe it IS about choice, after all?”

    You think you’re choosing, but you’re also being chosen — only certain options are visibly open. But maybe at some point, once you recognize what’s being done, you do finally have to choose instead of continuing to compromise. So far the choice for me has mostly meant opting out, which works only as long as the savings last…

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 3:13 pm

  35. I haven’t finished the Jonathan Beller article I linked to in an earlier comment, but it is rather stimulating. Maybe I’ll finish it and post something on it. On the filmic front, I just watched Pan’s Labyrinth and liked it a lot — imaginative, meaningful, inspiriting. I’m also eager to see Ratatouille, the new animated movie about the rat who’s a chef. It’s sad that so few really good movies get made while so much crap gets hundreds of millions thrown at it.

    This is related to one of Beller’s ideas: watching as unpaid labor. The more people watch Paris Hilton or Johnnie Depp or whoever, the more their market value increases. Spectator labor.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 3:20 pm

  36. “the big question is what is the role of the everyman in tragedy? it may be that there is no everyman, or that there is no tragedy and all there is is everyman.”

    The second option pretty much captures J-A Miller’s position in the quote at the beginning of this post. Everyman never undertakes the heroic quest so he never tragically fails. All he does is succeed predictably in wasting time.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  37. “Work? What work? Labor. I am a real estate agent. And pissed off about it, too. Or hopeless. Or annoyed. Numb, maybe.”

    That’s the spirit, Jason. Now here’s the question: what CHOICE is there? This GAP between value and market value is what provoked me to quit my consulting job and to take up whatever the hell it is I’ve been doing for the past few years. And believe me, I don’t have a whole lot of satisfaction to show for it, nor do I feel particularly heroic or tragic. Mostly pathetic, and still pissed as hell besides, but with nobody paying me for my trouble.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  38. I suspect Eisenman’s memorial is very moving. You recall I counseled Vietnam vets? The vets were pissed that some “gook chick” got the commission to design the Vietnam vets’ memorial. Anne and I were there for the dedication ceremony — it was an overwhelming experience for most of the thousands of vets who came from all over the country to be there in support of their fallen brothers.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 3:55 pm

  39. [me to clay]

    Clay…I’ve go the inside scoop from a friend [link here to your very comment].

    “Andre Rublev was in black and white until the very last image of the film, his icon of The Trinity, which is in color.”

    Interesting that you remember its being in color. The icon is one of hope. The red in Schindler’s list isn’t exactly that…but not really of tragedy either.

    [clay to me]

    I’ve watched it several times. The actually colored end is memorable, but the rest of it is full of color.

    [me to clay]

    No wonder I’m confused about life. Shit. One smart guy whose seen the film says its B/W. The other smart guy says its full of color. Is my pooh brown, lol?

    Screw you guys. I rented it during lunch. Its sitting in my car as we speak. I’ll get back to you both…HAH.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 3:57 pm

  40. That’s what we need: DATA! EVIDENCE! I will accede to your findings.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 4:08 pm

  41. Bow to my authority! Lol.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 4:10 pm

  42. Empirical master-servant discourse: he who has the data is the master.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 July 2007 @ 4:12 pm

  43. Shit…then I’ll give the data…you analyze…eternal return…lol. first the l, then the o, back to the l all over again. what is the “o”? zero, maybe. hence the laughter. but maybe omega. hance the original tragedy.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 4:33 pm

  44. I do recall that you counselled Vietnam Vets. Hhmm…”Gook”…not exactly an endearing term. I’m not entirely sure what to think of her work. The Eastern Void isn’t exactly “personal,” but there’s so much about some Eastern work that I like. That “Eastern” religion calld “Jewish” is a bit of an anomaly, methinks.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 July 2007 @ 9:19 pm

  45. You were both right. It is colorful, but you don’t actually see the color until it is revealed in the end. In an icon, the Light comes from elsewhere. But it is evident everywhere in the image; and interwoven into all the structural relationships between each part.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 3 July 2007 @ 2:45 am

  46. BTW…I’m not just being all spiritual and crap. The “color” in the film starts with the right side up smiley face on the ass of the up side down jester. By the end you realize that the coloring had already begun before you ever saw the jester…in the relationships between the three monks in the opening scene. Wise words from a Golden Ass, lol. Eventually you even hear the color in the sound of the bell and the tears of its maker. Interestingly…he was crying because he was angry at his dead father. So finally “father” Andrei decided to speak again, and began coloring.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 3 July 2007 @ 2:57 am

  47. “BTW…I’m not just being all spiritual and crap.”

    How about enigmatically mystical?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 July 2007 @ 7:37 am

  48. Maybe. But sheesh, it is an iconic film about and iconic iconographer! The film itself seems to speak a pretty clear language about color and a lack thereof. Esp. knowing Tarkovsky.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 3 July 2007 @ 10:02 am

  49. Actually…OK…I’ll go to “probably” enigmatically mystical. But that’s just normal to me. Fish in water, dude.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 3 July 2007 @ 10:03 am

  50. ”Gook”…not exactly an endearing term.

    Definitely not. The Vietnam war had definite racist overtones — the yellow menace, the inscrutable orientals and all that. Dehumanizing the enemy makes it easier to kill them. And the strong Vietcong guerrilla presence among the South Vietnamese “allies” made any distictions between good-guy and bad-guy Vietnamese unreliable and dangerous. So all the Vietnamese, and all southeast Asians for that matter, became gooks.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 July 2007 @ 3:52 pm


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