Monday, July 11, 2005


This post is in flux

The Roland Collection is a wonderful resource. R. Mark Wood of Ca. seems to be a genius at finding this stuff: his use of the visual a master stroke. Don't always have much a clue about the quotes, but you don't have to go there just once. The paintings and photograph are always a rich source.

Looking for the best to link to in the movie category, found this 1990 Dutch production, Drawn from Experience : art therapist [subtitled] explaining her work with the aid of her patients' (if anyone says 'clients'....) work. It may be my capacity, a talent even, to take longeurs: this is a wonderfully deep little film, ostensibly on rehabilitation about the the human spirit and creativity. It is also about the way the creative impulse rises up, originates, and develops.

Film has always been my first love. Not a Cahiers type - though reading the big nobs of film on film can be instructive once the crap has been cut through - I prefer to build up knowledge and understanding from watching, thinking and writing. Most of these writings, including one called "Why I am a film-maker" - when patently I haven't actually made one - were written in the last five years and remain private so far, through lack of confidence and fear of ridicule of the as "A very good sixth form essay" variety. Anyway, this stuff hasn't stewed long enough to know if it is a learning experience or something to share.

When I have overcome the fear of my thinking and writing never having risen beyond a fairly basic level, I will publish some of it. Though there is no need to ask someone else to judge it before doing so: we are all Randolph Hearsts now, as the saying ought to go.

You may have to work through the extent and limits of your intelligence - early or late in life. Publishing writing or displaying one's art doesn't help having a fine sensibility. One of the useful functions of a weblog: to practice public writing. There is personal disclosure in MM but hopefuly minimal in the showy off sense and as objective as it is possible to be when writing about yourself.

A few real film projects started about 20 years ago. For many years I have wanted to buy a good amateur cinematograph (the dream: a Canon) and just go out there to make a film, object trouvé
fashion, but it just didn't happen. There have been many still that take the place of movie sequences, which could in effect be stitched together to make films. Now, with the digital technology all seems possible, with a little time and application. Many film ideas would work quite well using animation software.

One thing that is going to help a great deal is a source of film scripts online, e.g. The Manchurian Candidate, which, again, probably came through RMW. Anyone who has tried to write a script without bothering to buy a book on how to do it, knows you get it all wrong to start with. The BBC Radio and TV guidance is excellent : it gives sample scripting for the different formats. Of course, if your name is George Bernard Shaw, you have the hutzpah to write long stage directions - a study of the history of script writing probably shows they have progressively tightened and shortened.

Drawn fom Experience {conveniently linked to in its own category => } made me think back to my first year in teaching, with the good fortune to find in the same school a fellow new-ish teacher who had the same jaundiced view of the profession and was able to articulate its idiocies and inanities with great humour! She soon left teaching, to her credit, and became an art therapist. Gwen are you out there? Although not much of an artist - "the heart of the artist; the brain's of the booking clerk?" - that is the sort of job that might have covered my skills, aptitudes, temperament and interests.

It struck me forcibly again while watching the film - not novel but worth saying - how much reading and writing and here, drawing and painting, are principally therapeutic (only a handful are and even wish to be published) : how often humans have to depend on them to keep sane. Let's hope the diary and commonplace book continue to get written by hand as well in the weblog. Do remember inkjet ink runs like a school bottling paper chromatography experiment. Pecil is known to have lasted longest. If all writing is solely digital there is the risk of the whole lot going up in smoke on day leaving only the handwritten stuff....

It's not so much if you are a good writer or painter, then, but what it does for you. Creativity, yours or someone else's, is, must, begin with making you feel good, uplifting you in some way, though we know of so many writers who hate the process of getting it down on paper. Something drives them to overcome this hurdle. Even the simplest acts such as someone drawing while you watch give a frisson of pleasure, don't they?

Living film ideas, creating, running through, changing scene structure, in your head is greatly pleasurable too and, well, therapeutic: it takes you out of yourself in a way that work and much of life doesn't. It helps if you are hooked on - 'get' the essence of film in its techniques and its magical illusions : 100fps and {2}. Pehaps there are more people out there who actually make films in their heads than we know. Whatever, they have only been doing it for a 100 odd years, whereas idle dreaming and writing in the head have been going on for millenia.

You can sink into a good book - or daydream - but to preface ones' imaginings with "I'm making a film" makes it different in a special way (remember not to tell anyone you are doing it - eyes skyward, mostly, if you do): more engrossing (much more than drawing or painting or watching someone draw or paint partly because of the rules you have to obey) if you do have the sort of mind that can make films in your head. You need to be able film the scenes - eyes shut or open - to be really good at it, to 'sit' in the darkened editing room cutting and splicing, noticing as you do so that there seem to be more cuts than you filmed, going out to re-shoot scens. Sometimes there seems to be so much celluloid coiling on the dusty floor you begin to wonder is some of this stuff from a film someone else made?

Is 'making films' what humans do anyway? No:yes. Only since we learnt the rules of film. Technology and technique : lenses, depth of field, focal length, film type, shutter speeds, storyboarding, tracking, panning, fades, the eveyday tricks that make a film possible. Unless you are doing all this creating within the limits of film then it some other type of imagining. Film is the creation of realities or fantasies by a set of rules which you can't break: to break them too seriously means it is not film. There is plenty of scope for how you make one, thankfully.

The defining moment about film for me when I heard it said, "Show it, don't say it." Who said that?

Vision is the predominant sense and we didn't always have print. The cosy neolithic fire-side stories passing surpringly intact from generation to generation, or the Prophet Mohammed's words, were - had to be - pictured though almost-but-not-quite movies sans pellicule. You couldn't remember all in words - it has to be held together by interlinked images. Memory only works effectively if each object on the tray is associated with some sort of story. My favourite way of learning a list is placing everything in a virtual picture gallery..maybe 'film-makers' tend to do this rather than use raw cognitive power to memorise.

Some have to "raise the plane of regard" in life or weblogs : they would prefer to die than be be bereft of what is 'best' and not be allowed to let their creative impulses to flow. When the blitteur starts up, he or she may have done so because it seems like a neat way to form a reading group, but I suspect it is the desire to commune with others spiritually that is behind them. A few like to be seen, perhaps, to be able to judge what is good or newly cool in literature. Mine seems to be about going through what I have already read or done and trying to write good English! If you come back to some of my posts they may have radically changed their wording if not meaning...

Others have more mundane and complicated agendas, including professional self-promotion - where better to do so that in a weblog? The Americans are awfully good at all that, aren't they?

Weblogs have been a blessing and a curse, including amongst blitteurs, with so many starting off bright sparks, then slowly fading, some descending into unexplained silence, others with the need to sign off even if with the hope-filled promise of, "I will return". Although the weblog was seen by educated/cultured/creative types as "a good thing", the pressures of holding down a job (they are usually symbol manipulators) and doing the life maintenance necessities made it impossible to do all three well. Blogging takes time. I don't like three sentance posts with 8 links. The self-appointed bloggenphilosophes claim these are best. Why not sometimes be discursive within the bounds of sense and logic. As someone says after a while you lose your self consciousness about the process and use it as if a private diary or a telephone call to a friend. Letting go withing the bounds of personal safety (Don't say my neighbour Mr. Smith at No. 18 Google St. by mistake...) is part of the deal. The only rules that need apply are the constraints of the software. So many webloggers seem to be overtly or covertly laying down rules as to how weblogs should be used: this and commenting on how useless other weblogs are in terms of design and facilities such as RSS, seems to be taking up more of their time than actually getting on with expressing thought about something important or funny.

Many blitteurs who have maintained quality and quantity over a long period are probably using it to enhance their academic work. Some show a disconnect between their academic work and the paucity of their ideas and language used in their weblogs: when they have to talk in ordinary language, as if to a friend, they don't have quite so much to say as they thought. Some of the most interesting are those who off-load some of their professional work or thinking into their blogs: vid. John Wilkins' Evolving Thoughts. Sometimes it a case of being able to think and discus,s without the formal constraint, which has proved so, well, er, therapeutic. A philosophy student such as Richard Chappell can educate us while he is running through his course, blogwise.

Those weblogs - blitteur or otherwise - which just stop just stop and remain dormant are quite fascinating and mysterious in a way. There is a slight disappointment when you pick them up in a new, brighter, sharper format, under a new, cool name. Has the no-more-blogger has decided after many hundreds of hours of posting and flaming that it isn't worth the candle ? Doing the rounds a bit more than usual came across mention that England's Sword was packing up. But you see he is posting on other sites when and if. Its quicker and easier for a busy professional academic, writer, or whatever to do it this way. You can email the submission to the group site or whatever to make it even quicker.

Often, a weblog visit is simply to get access to a compendious set of handily categorised links. Someone's been putting in time and effort to do this and you get it for free, saving the bother of creating your own compendium. A massive blogroll can be a way of describing/defining who you are without having to post about it: it can also be a boring show off. Creativity can be stiffled in the effort of maintaining a weblog and constantly re-designing it to keep up with the crowd. Checking links go main page and not to some old post months ago, is another time waster. Scanning through the posts in 'link heavy' sites even after a week or two, with that expert eye one develops for a keyword, using the automatic mouse roll on its slowest speed while topping up wine glass or making roll-up, can be done relatively quickly and painlessly.

I don't want to be too annoying with that humorists old device about, "There are two types of people..." but in the interweb, as some wag recently called it, this is patently true. The weblog asks the eternal question "Hey, who am I?". " I'm a definite entity and I'm going to demonstrate my integrity by words and pictures.".....or ...."I'm a part of cyberpace so can change identity, opinions, employ the art of Ketman, employ multiple personalities..I'm freeeeeeeeee." This even in older age groups.

Looking for whether we can call workers as well as computers symbol manipulators and coming across nothing but Turing and Searle discussions, bumped in Daniel Drezner waxing about the therapeutics of weblogging. There's divergent thinking and there's convergent thinking and you'd be surprised how convergent we can be from the evidence of weblogworld.


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