ALT/ME

9 Oct

Freedom is free of the need to be free. Free your mind and your arse will follow – the Kingdom of Heaven is within.

LeeMarvinWildone

From: One of the world’s top ten blogs, apparently.

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.

Jim Jarmusch
Rules of Filmmaking #5

There are only five. Simple, simplicity, less is more, I have plugged into the zone. These words are real, my purest most innermost thoughts as Jack Kerouac used to say. Pure innermost thoughts. Thoughts? Or brainfarts? That’s Kerouac’s rub, that’s the rub of Rothko and Pollock; of anyone who thinks that just letting go produces magic. It don’t. It’s a trade and ye’ve got ta labour it long and hard lassie, afore ye can produce the magic.

And it’s up to others to be the judge of this ‘magic’. That’s the rub for all of us who think our cultural artefacts are worthwhile, materially or spiritually: who dare to make a living from the word, the image, the tune. Jarmusch’s rules #2 subclause b. reads: Avoid sycophants at all costs. There are always people around who only want to be involved in filmmaking to get rich, get famous, or get laid. Generally, they know as much about filmmaking as George W. Bush knows about hand-to-hand combat..

Easier in America but not so much. In my country, the culture is run by sycophants and philistines: one part Bunyip aristocracy to three parts Muriel’s Wedding and a dash of Priscilla. Oh and let’s not forget the inner-city folks saying ‘fuck it all’ the whole year ’round. They’re also the Bunyip aristocracy, some of ’em. Global Australia. They’ve got the circle of ‘interesting’ friends. Some have careers, some work in hospitality but live to play music. They’re all ‘cool’ ya dig. But there’s always this vibe around ’em; feels like being ’round 17th century puritans who take drugs. There are strict parameters of acceptable opinion. Go outside it and you’re suspect. Bohemian Australia is orthodox!

They don’t count. You don’t need them to make the brassy lime green cocktail that’s Oz kulcha bro’. Do you need the Outback? How does that bubble thru? Like Bohemia it’s marginal. The plastic stick in the glass with five chunky pieces of tropical fruit and a cherry; design riffs in the gift shop. Stuff hung low to take advantage of the primary ethical obligation of 21st century parents: spoil their kids blind. They’ll be deprived otherwise. You don’t want to damage their ego.

Don’t you? People are always more interesting and empathetic when you’ve ‘damaged’ their ego.

There’s a character in a book that s’posedly ‘defined’ my generation. In it there’s a guy who has a good job in marketing. His boss is a bleeding ponytail. A bleeding ponytail, if you don’t know, is an embittered, jaded ex-hippy who snaps like ‘a wolverine on speed’ if he can’t get the table by the window. This is what the guy says to Bleeding Ponytail and much more besides. Deadly stuff that turns the guy’s face purple for hours. Then he walks. Lives in a basement apartment, wears black, works some shit job. He feels even more of a phony then he did at the marketing firm.

So he moves to Palm Springs.

This story doesn’t define ‘my generation’. Everyone knows the compulsive use of quotations does. It doesn’t define me either. I used to live in a basement flat. I didn’t feel phony I felt sticky in summer. Somehow I thought it relevant to the theme of this piece: alt/me. ‘Alternative me’ rendered in the J. Lo lingo of abbreviated everything. Alternative Me? Sounds like a start-up fashion crew taking on Dangerfield and doomed to crash and burn. In seeking to define ‘me’ I let myself go, I don’t think. I go all Rothko:

Rothko

From SecretForts.

And I start to select a few of my favourite things: the way Jim Jarmusch goes about making movies for example. I’m not thinking about it when I do it. It’s not contrived. There are no notes before me. I have no idea what I’m going to type next. I select music that’ll help me write: Parliament; Zappa, Santana; Michael Nyman; Caberet Voltaire; The Orb. I remember a bit from that book and I just go. It seems to me to be the true thing to do. There is something to it, this stream of consciousness thing.

We are, most of us, able to define our selves, these days. Various writers tell me that we’re too obsessed with this. Many more make much more telling us how to do it. Do it. Just do it. Be free. Be the You you want to be. Who’s the Me I want to be? I want to be a richer Me. How original. 🙂

Pargue68

I want to be in the Sons of Lee Marvin; I want to be an experimental documentary filmmaker on the streets of Prague in 1968. I want to be a man that never saw a city. I want to live in a penthouse with a view of the Statue of Liberty. Actually no I don’t. That’s a lie, a joke, an ironic counter-point. Something I don’ want to do. But the rest – yeah. I dig it the most.

The way things are: there’s no magical self. There’s a monkey who can read. A monkey that wears cologne sometimes. A well-dressed ape (some of us). And are people who are well-dressed always interesting? Are they kind? Are interesting people kind? Are kind people interesting?

You can see the limits of the Kerouac approach. You end up sounding like a French philosopher.

Fundamentally we’re little creatures on a rock that’s only big to us. The universe is gi-normous and our galaxy is a grain of sand tossed against a moonless sky. So get a grip on this thing ‘self’. Me? You? Our little lives are rounded by a sleep. What I’m doing here isn’t special. Look at the links? How many million bots out there scribble daily on their global personal newspapers ’bout stuff just like I do?

No one 🙂

Individual as a fingerprint, member of a tribe. My generation; my family; my people: me. I can choose ‘my people’. And they can choose me. They can unchoose me. We are all choosing each other and then deselecting. There’s family but what if that’s just a place where you feel like an alien? Families too, deselect each other.

We modern apes have been set free from back-breaking, mind-killing toil and the constant companionship of fear (well maybe not the mind-killing bit). Yet everywhere complaints of misery? How strange to see. So much further on the tightrope to superhuman but we still find ourselves inadequate. We still need God.

God as a craven image.

I haven’t the answers. I don’t even think there are answers. Answers to what question? Who am I? All I know is that there’s a soul and I’ve got one and I’ve got tend to it. That has something to do with love. I know I’m a monkey on a rock. And I know that ‘defining one’s self’ is just another marketing trip that describes something that sounds important but doesn’t really mean anything. Or if it does, it means: my taste.

I look for my own craven images and they lead my to the thoughts and words by kindred souls, interesting folks, boring gits and cra-zeee motherfuckers – the world over. I sit in the same room as someone I’ve tried to connect with time and again but can’t. So I distract myself with ‘culture’. I score Devo’s first ever live performance (excruitiating! fans only). Haven’t thought about Devo for a while. So I boot ’em up. And head for the finish.

I’m finished.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: