Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society & Its Pathologies / Social Survival / Culture /
1st @ IonaArc 2005 12
Post-modern Professional Sincerity
You know how these days TV shows advertise themselves by lining up their stars, not like the Kremlin used to do it, all of them in a row, and not like the Nazi’s did it at Nuremberg, the army down here and the fuehrer up there, but sort of like dominos in a side profile: the news anchor up front, the woman right behind him, slightly diminished by perspective, the ethnic contribution right behind her: lined up and all superior to you. Well just now a show’s ad came on. Some blond was running, fear on her face, some male was running behind her: and with perfect choreography, the blond segued into a dominant-domino pose and the male slid into place behind her. I am reminded only a little of Mount Rushmore and a lot of Hollywood Ben-Hur-type graphics.
And I said to myself, Oh, gracious, they’re giving the game away. They’re giving the game away sort of like Meg Ryan did, having coffee with Rob Reiner, and, cueing herself, goes into a Richter scale orgasm; then, just as abruptly, ceases and smiles sweetly. (Reiner, the film’s director, gave (not dad but this time mom) a follow-up bit: Mom Reiner says to the diner’s waitress, “I’ll have what she‘s having.”)
Hollywood should be careful. Audiences cherish their primitive confidence that illusions prepared specifically for them are somehow real, not staged. When Tony Richardson had Albert Finney’s Tom Jones turn suddenly and speak directly to the camera (and therefore, directly to the audience) it was a riot. Making a whole film where Kevin Bacon delivers every other line as an aside to the audience shows that the whole culture is cracking at the seams.
Not many people are likely to spend more time thinking about semiotics and semantic map/territory distinctions than I do, but I too have my own cherished naiveté. I like the actor to stay in the damn role until the scene is over. I don’t want them to show their acting chops just to show their acting chops. To me, musicians were showing their feelings, raw and naked, not just displaying a lifetime of acquired technique. My jaw dropped decades ago on TV when Dick Cavett was interviewing an opera star and she illustrated her musical point with perfect exercises, seemingly replete with passion, on and off, switching singing with speaking and speaking with singing. I don’t doubt that she could turn the feeling on or off as well. Apropos, I remember an interview with an actress talking about Alec Guiness. She reported that he had been deep in conversation with her off camera: he heard his cue, abruptly left her, went and did his scene, came back and picked the conversation right back up. “I’m not all Method or anything,” she said, “But really …” (I’m also reminded in that context of the story that Bobby Fischer, talking to a reporter, paused mid-sentence, had dinner, then another dinner, played solitaire chess for four hours, then resumed his sentence.)
If the whore, or your wife, or your girlfriend, is pretending to have an orgasm, let her maintain the pretense. (Though we’re all actors, males don’t have to pretend; not in THAT area.) Five years later, in the middle of a fight, your wife can claim that she was faking it (claiming thereby to be a whore), and of course, all of us being liars on one or another occasion, you’ll have no opinion but your own whether she was lying then or whether she’s lying now.
Am I the only primitive left? Is everyone else really thoroughly PostModern?
Winding down for the moment: a drummer told the story of the big moment in his life when he got to audition for Bird: Charlie Parker. He played his heart out. Bird said something like No, no, you got to mix it up. His saxophone still strapped around his neck, Bird sat at the drums. His one foot kicked a steady beat against the bass drum. His other foot kicked a charleston beat on the high hat. With his left hand he did triplets, and with his right, Latin: or some such mix.
The great pros can do anything. When Bird wanted to give young trumpeter, Miles Davis, a shot, then-trumpet-star-supreme Dizzy Gillespie said, “That’s OK, I’ll play piano.” Later, when all-time supreme trumpet artist Miles Davis wanted the keyboard just so, he played it himself. But then the great pros must have had passion to start with. Mozart must have had passion a life time before puberty.
This piece sort of pairs with the blog post I followed it with: White Men Can’t Jump.
Posted 2005 12: long enough ago for me to have totally forgotten what the hell “Post-modern” means. I’m 74 going on 75, but I guess I was good at forgetting even forty, fifty, sixty years ago. When I was a kid, 1940s, 1950s, “modern” meant Picasso, Stravinsky … flappers. So what was Jackson Pollock? Marilyn Monroe?
What did I mean when I wrote this those eight years ago? For the moment I’ll accept plain old “contemporary.” But: with an aura of academic bullshit.