Monday, February 22, 2010

Death and All of His/Her friends


"It has been said that as animals, one factor that sets us apart from all other animals is that our lives need to be stories, narratives, and that when our stories vanish, that is when we feel lost, dangerous, out of control and susceptible to the forces of randomness. It is the process, whereby one loses one's life story: "denarration". Denarration is the technical way of saying, "not having a life."

"Scott doesn't have a life."

"Amber is denarrated."

Up until recently, no matter where or when one was born on earth, one's culture provided one with all components essential for the forging of identity. These components include religion, family, ideology, class strata, geography, politics and a sense of living with a historic continuum.

Suddenly, around 10 years ago, with the deluge of electronic and information media into our lives, these stencils within which we trace our lives begin to vanish, almost overnight, particularly on the West Coast. It became possible to be alive yet have no religion, no family connections, no ideology, no sense of class or location, no politics, and no sense of history. Denarration.

In a low-information environment, pre-TV, etc. relationships were the only form of entertainment available. Now we have methods of information linkage and control ranging from phone answering machines to the Internet that mediate relationships to the extent that corporeal interaction is now beside the point. As a result, the internal dialogue has been accelerated to whole new planes as regularized daily contact has become an obsolete indulgence.

The West Coast continues to be a laboratory of denarration. In a very odd sense, the vacuum of nothingness forces the individual either to daily reinvent himself or herself or perish. Therefore it should come as no surprise that, sunny weather aside, Hollywood and the dream-creation apparatus of the 20th century should locate itself in a planetary locale of relative blackness.

Q: Who are you this week? This year?"

Taken from Douglas Coupland's Polaroids from the Dead pg. 179-180


First of all, I would suggest that if you ever see one of Coupland's books you should pick it up and read it immediately. After much criticism I will throw JPod into that category as well, though it will most definitely be a while before I read that mess again.

There are a few reasons why I wanted to share this excerpt. One reason is that I've caught myself a lot lately thinking in "status". Let me explain. Recently I was playing hockey upstairs with my son Miles and at one moment I caught myself saying in my head, "Brett is playing hockey with his son." This, of course, is a Facebook status that does not nor ever will exist. I am "writing" things in my head that I don't even mean to write nor do I want to write them. I'm sure that many others can relate to this. Maybe there are even a few Tweeters our there that can agree that this kind of thing is common. I am thankful that I am not a Tweeter.

"Brett is sitting." 4:17pm
"Brett's legs are straightening out." 4:17pm
"Brett is standing." 4:18pm
"Brett is thinking about sitting again. Details to follow..." 4:18pm

The point of this is that there are a lot of thoughts buzzing around in my head. I'm sure that statistics would show that most of us with sleeping problems have these problems because our brains are slowly frying, literally, and they never do settle down. Kind of like a big sunburn that keeps on burning while your trying to sleep. The reason why TV commercials are so annoying is because they stimulate your brain in such a way as to grab your attention away from all of the other distractions around you.

"Fred stopped texting on his cell phone while tuning out the voice of his lovely wife in order to look around his daughter's computer screen so he could see the new Rickard's ad."

The sad thing about all this is that we don't even have a choice anymore. I mean, walk into your kid's school and notice how many of those little rascals are wearing glasses. We are born into this distraction.

Ladies and gentlemen... Progress!

This is what we, as humans, have come to think of as "the good life." It seems to me that the good life is just good because its convenient and easy. The convenience is pretty amazing,

"How are you doing, George, who lives in Montreal while I am in China talking on Skype with you? You look well."

but I believe that though I can talk to whoever I want to whenever I want to, there is a tendency to build up a bunch of shallow relationships full of how-are-yous and see-you-laters.

I'm sure that pointing this out is nothing new. Most of us love all of the gimmicks and gadgets that we can spend our time with. Its like an addiction that everyone is addicted to so, when everyone has it, is it still an addiction or is it just the norm?

A few questions come to mind...

1. How many deep, intimate, genuine conversations have I had this week or this month for that matter?

2. Is the world progressing? Are all of these things for the better?

3. Will I still be able to go camping in the year 2035?

***Photo taken from the set of the film "Into the Woods". The trailer should be ready before April but the film itself might never be finished.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Photos of the week.

Here are a few interesting photos from this week:

Our city is going through quite a transformation. There are 20 story apartment buildings in places where they were tearing down old buildings when we left 10 months ago.

The picture below is of a doomed building. The character on the side is 拆 which means "to be destroyed". Most of the old buildings in the city have this character stamped on the side of them.

You don't know how relieved I was to see that our local grocery store was finally carrying corn juice again!

And finally, I made tortillas for the first time this week and this one ended up looking just like me! Do you see the side profile there? Weird.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2 base hits and a double.

I have been watching a lot of movies these days, and one I would recommend to all would be Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. This film seems to raise a lot of interesting discussions. The way the film itself is shot is made to look as though it was shot in one take. That is, its one 80 minute scene, which is very unique in film. Actually, I don't think that there are any other films made this way. Click on the link to see a very unique trailer as well. Do yourself a favor and watch the film, too!


After watching Terminator 2 for the millionth time I noticed something new; John Conner, the future leader of the human resistance, is wearing a "Public Enemy" t-shirt for the entire film. Seems to be a pretty significant wardrobe piece. Good job, Mr. Cameron.


Another public display of embarrassment this week on the bus. First of all, it costs 0.6 RMB to ride the bus, which is literally pennies. Anyways, a lady came on and "beeped" her card on the scanner and sat down. The driver, another lady, told the lady that it did not "beep" and that she should scan it again. Well, that was enough to send the passenger into quite a raging pout. She went to the front to argue with the driver while the bus was cruising down the road. Her screaming and arguing grew into a lash of her purse to the drivers shoulder. She kept calling the driver a "swindler", which everyone else knew was absurd considering the driver would not "swindle" the lady out of a few pennies. But by this time the rage was quite embarrassing and the women knew that she needed to keep arguing in order to save face.

So the screaming and whining continued for about 5 more minutes until something else happened that I have never seen before in these kind of arguments. The other passengers got sick of the screaming and told the lady to drop it and to, in a way, "shut up". After that, she was quiet and I got off at my stop a few minutes later.

It was refreshing to see those passengers get fed up with this kind of scene as I originally thought that us foreigners were the only ones.