Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Muscles, Fire, Guns, the New Frontier and Inner City Savages! - the Right Wing Mythology of Eighties' Action Films

By Jimi Thaule
"We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!"
Colonel Walter E. Kurtz - Apocalypse Now

The eighties was the last decade of the Cold War, a decade dominated by the presidency of Ronald Reagan and his second term vice president George Bush – elected as Reagan's successor in 1988. Another significant feature of the decade was the American action film, which had its golden age in the eighties and nearly died out once the Cold War ended. As the nineties and the Clinton years progressed action films were reduced to action comedies, and only recently have we seen a resurgence of the type of action films we saw in the eighties – in particular with Stallones' tribute film the Expendables and its anticipated sequel.

There have been rumors that Expendables 2 would be rated PG13 to ensure Chuck Norris' involvement. Chuck Norris of course is known for his right wing conservative christian politics as well as his involvement in several classic action films – notably the Missing in Action series. While wholesale slaughter seems to be fine with conservatives, blasphemy is not.

Before turning to politics Reagan was an actor, and while he mostly starred in b-comedies it seems fitting that the decade dominated by his policies would also see a great number of films espousing conservative ideals and myths. Some of them far to the right of even the most conservative Republican.

Let's take a look at the action films of the eighties, to which Expendables plays loving tribute. While the action film is as old as the Tinsel Town itself eighties action was unique in its portrayal of steroid enhanced muscle men fighting small wars single handedly, and espousing conservative values. We're talking Sylvester Stallone, Charles Bronson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris of course -as well as Jean Claude VanDamme, Dolph Lundgren and many others. In order to understand the action film of the eighties we have to start about a decade earlier, with Clint Eastwood and his lauded interpretation of the role "Dirty" Harry Callahan in 1971 - a movie that spawned a handful of sequels and changed the face of action films forever.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Our Subconscious’ Role in Listening to Stories

By Julie Holden

Such beginnings as "Once upon a time, or In a land far far away," and even "In the beginning," are all cultural signals to the brain that we are about to be told a story, and that we should switch off our normal, everyday censorship. However, there is one beginning that is almost sure to make us suspend our disbelief: the statement This is a true story. It appeals to us perhaps more than any other because we not only want it to be true, we want to hear it because it is true.

As much as storytellers lead us away into fantasy, our brains are looking for what is real, what can be relied on. Of course, in story tradition, a story element is often a metaphor for truth, so it is hardly surprising that even when faced with make believe, we still look for truth. It is almost as if we know that the story has something to give us – some gift, or even healing. Many therapists deliberately use stories to heal, to awaken insight.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Virtual Classroom #1: Love sacrifice and the apocalypse

In this class we discuss many topics raised in The Immanence of Myth:
Sacrifice and the sacred, love, marriage and the apocalypse
Bataille's The absence of myth
Science and mythology
Cosmological models and myths of progress
World War II as a model for enlightenment reason
Suicide and creativity
The senselessness of the body and the unconscious...

This is just the first in a series of classroom recordings from SUNY Binghamton in conjunction with this digital humanities project.
Class with Rowan Tepper and James Curcio.
Background recording be William Clark, with some performances by Adrina Marie, William Clark and James Curcio.

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]

Outsider Artist Gonzomentary Free Movie

The free movie length version of "the world's first Gonzomentary" has been released! (Rough cut).
“Gonzomentary” is an ongoing web series project which began as a gonzomentary “reality” show surrounding the struggles of an independent artist who influences change in the art underground with his phallic art.
Get out the popcorn and crack pipes, and share it round.

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Simple Model for Transmedia Narrative

From Narratology:

Last night James Curcio, manager of Modern Mythology, and I had a fascinating conversation about transmedia: the challenges of creating it but especially the even greater challenge of getting people to fully commit to the storyline(s).
The traditionally episodic Star Trek television franchise compared with the much more coherent development of Battlestar Galactica is a step in the right direction, but I wondered afterwards if transmedia content might actually benefit from a more episodic treatment, at first, since that’s what people are more accustomed to.

I wanted to add to this. The point I was making is that in shows that are developing plot arcs over the course of seasons, along with the episodic plot arcs, you have a model that can lead right into a closer understanding of how transmedia works.

Consider each episode a unique item: whether it is a novel, a comic, a DVD, a website with an inherent narrative strung together of text and video, or even a twitter account doing the same.

This item must stand on its own to an extent, because it may be the first, or even the only item that a user interacts with.

From here you structure long plot arcs which move from one of these items to the next. Over ten years, say, you produce 3 books, 2 albums, and a movie all based within the same world. Perhaps the progression can be chronological, as it often is in series such as BattleStar Galactica. But time needn't be the the transition point from one piece to the next. It could be a shift of focus from one character to another. It could be different planets in a Sci Fi transmedia mythology. The only limitations that exist come from the creativity of the creators and audience, as well as their mutual commitment to the work.

There is a non-linear through-path, as the user may interact with different items in the web at different times, even if the items themselves follow traditional linear storytelling methods.

I do not mean to imply that this is the only way to look at transmedia, or that this is an entirely unique perspective on it. It is simply an easy way to understand how transmedia differs from, for instance, adaptions of the same story in different medium.

Not to spoil any secrets but this is also, by the way, the framework we have used in the creation of Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End, the 404 Documents, Bradley The Buyer's album "Used Using People," and the Fallen Nation bandcamp. (Which itself contains 3 albums worth of material.) Citizen Y is also partially tied into these myths in a similar way, while being a bridge to the Graveland mythic cycle created by Foolish People.

For my part, I look forward to continuing to explore such possibilities, and I hope that many of those who have picked up some of this work have realized how much it all ties together.

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]

Monday, March 12, 2012

Invisible Children, KONY, and the curse of virality

By James Curcio
You must have heard of the viral video created by Invisible Children (IC), a U.S. organization that has launched a one-year campaign (expires December 31, 2012) to eliminate Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group in Northern Uganda that has been embroiled in civil conflict with the Ugandan government for 25+ years. The LRA has admittedly used atrocious tactics such as abductions to engage children in conflict, using boys as soldiers and girls as sex slaves. Needless to say, Kony and LRA must go. That’s where my agreement begins and ends with Invisible Children’s work. I appreciate the organization’s commitment to the issue and can see its good intent, but I strongly question the group’s approach, strategy, and work. Below are some of the reasons why. (Article.)
I don't want to add to or debate the points made in this article. But it does bring up a related issue about "virality," and how difficult it can be to produce something with that potential that isn't entirely devoid of subtlety.

You see, for something to become "viral" it has to be entirely ubiquitous, which essentially means that it must be stripped of all nuance and worthwhile content. This is an issue facing all propogandists who have any ethics at all. It must act on a common emotion, a simple emotion that is shared by many people. It must have the pretense of a genuine expression that all corporate messages must inherently lack.

Yet if you think that corporate and political interests aren't going to be the driving force behind most "indie" and "viral" content, you're fucking insane. 

Don't get me wrong. Despite the moral color that "propoganda" has, anyone that writes stories, creates blog posts, or viral videos, or movies, or music, etc are all propogandists. Or myth makers. Read more of this site if you don't understand why.

The more people we want to reach, the more we have to strip out the particular color and reach for the archetypical, for fear of turning off one person or another. As creators of media, no matter what decisions we make, we will accidentally lose a segment of our market, whether it is because they don't like the color orange for some reason, or because they don't like being emotionally manipulated.

I am not apologizing for such emotional manipulation. Just asking that we not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they say. Reach for the off-the-beaten-path content.

Before I descend into a further long stream of idioms -- long day of content and beta prepping at the "day job" -- I'll bid you all goodnight.

(Oh hey, look. They're doing damage control.)

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]

Invasive Stories: Wombs, Brains & Survival

By Mr. VI

Allow me to tell you a story – and I say allow, because you will have to give consent. A story can't be told without the audience participating in some way, even if it's simple suspension of disbelief.

The written and spoken word require a little more effort, because that kind of story requires the audience to use their imaginations, and we've already spoken of how communication and storytelling actually require – and produce- a kind of bizarre neurological entanglement.

(If you've not been following this blog long enough to read it, or need your memory refreshing, it's here – Red Riding Hood: Narrative, Neurology & Storytelling. Go on, I'll wait, because it really is essential to what you're going to be reading next, and will help you see where we're going.)

One of the interesting things about stories is that they build on each other – they provide a referential framework. A story is not just one event, it is in fact an arrangement of events. Story, as a word comes from the same linguistic roots as history:

history Look up history at
late 14c., "relation of incidents" (true or false), from O.Fr. estoire, estorie "chronicle, history, story" (12c., Mod.Fr. histoire), from L. historia "narrative of past events, account, tale, story," from Gk. historia "a learning or knowing by inquiry; an account of one's inquiries, history, record, narrative," from historein "inquire," from histor "wise man, judge," from PIE *wid-tor-, from root *weid- "to know," lit. "to see" (see vision). Related to Gk. idein "to see," and to eidenai "to know." In Middle English, not differentiated from story; sense of "record of past events" probably first attested late 15c. As a branch of knowledge, from 1842. Sense of "systematic account (without reference to time) of a set of natural phenomena" (1560s) is now obsolete except in natural history.
As you can see, it's quite literally a recounting of events – an order of experience conveyed to you.

That same earlier post you will have read was collected in a best-of Modern Mythology 2011 – a selection of our work last year. It's a peculiar thing, because it ends up giving you a snapshot of events which may lead you into looking back on 2011 with new eyes. Certainly, many of those posts were inspired by events in our lives and the wider world.

Those events spawned those pieces, which even now are spawning this piece, folding in current events, reacting and changing in accordance with circumstance and stimuli. No story, no myth, no recounting of events is immune to this.

Not even the Bible – or at the very least, the interpretation of it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cosmogenesis: In a Small Boat, Drifting on the Ocean/ Part 10

By Brian George
The Theatre of the Zodiac

Hi Don (Shake),

You wrote, “Although I have admitted to you that I have difficulty with some writings of yours—indicating that they were over my head—this one was on the edge of my capability to understand and enjoy. And after reading all of the comments above, which acknowledged and expanded upon my perceived understanding, broadening my enjoyment—as if to say ‘Here you go Don, this will help you even more’—I'm now somehow different—improved—from who I was before reading it. ‘The Devil is in the details.’”

As always, it is a pleasure to hear from you. Part of the difficulty with interpretation that you describe has to do with my background as a writer; I had written seven books of poetry before turning my attention to prose. Even when I start out by trying to be as direct as possible, as I did here, each piece I write tends to go through several dozen revisions, and, in the process my tendency towards paradox tends to reconfigure all ideas.

I do not think in terms of either/ or oppositions. And lately, as I struggle to push beyond the whole concept of duality, I find that most social and political modes of discourse are inadequate to the moment.

Much mainstream economic theory since the 18th Century assumes that we are rational actors, who, in maximizing their individual gains will also do what is best for the body politic: I do not see this at all. The decentralized autocracy is adept at playing games, as well as at manufacturing the illusion of consent. The top one percent hold 42 percent of the wealth, and Joe Average is convinced that he will soon become a billionaire. If top experts build a chain of nuclear reactors on a fault-line, then there is no way that an accident could occur. Risk/ benefit analysis will direct us to one conclusion: That atomic fission is the best way to boil water. In the event of a catastrophic meltdown, there is, in fact, no downside for the well-prepared investor: The cost, of necessity, will be borne by six billion others. In the same mode: oil is not a finite resource, and we can never have too many cars.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Strange Happenings in Walton County, GA

by David Metcalfe

Erase from your mind history channel dramatizations, inept experts parading through graveyards, television psychics emoting around an asserted haunting, and return to the simple act of storytelling that has always been the center of Fortean investigation. Even the most powerful myths existed first as stories, experiences recounted in a shared word between friends, family and strangers.

With the rise of communication technology, it’s easy to miss the importance of mundane encounters. Stories act as a well of meaning where we can sink a whisper of some local memory, shadows playing past events, personal recollections gathered while investigating the borderland between real and imagined. We encounter them every day, meaningful, coordinated incidents measuring a slow rhythm in time, subtle glimpses of a possibility that strange, structured narratives underlie our common lives.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Human Demonology: The Betrayal of Sabu

LulzSec are the Daily Mail readers' wet dream and were probably dreamt up and promoted by like/right-minded journalists in the service of the Stazi State. -Guardian Comment 29 June 2011 6:09AM
By P. Emerson Williams
Last year was marked by a seeming endless thread of DDOS attacks and new video declarations, tying in or not, intersecting or not with boots on the ground protesting across the cities of the West. Common wisdom among anti-authoritarian types was that the establishment was too big and lumbering to ever catch up with or even understand any of this. (Also see: the "piracy" issue.) Large financial institutions, big media and government looked form the outside to be playing whack-a-mole, running defence against the actions of Anonymous and Wikileaks.

Recent acts of Anonymous, or more specifically Lulzsec include the interception and release of an FBI conference call, and a dump of five million emails exchanged between emplyees of intelligence firm Stratfor, the publication of which by WikiLeaks made headlines. Not the massive coverage the Cablegate release garnered, but after the loss of the Bank of America documents in a manner suspicious to all but the most credulous, this is understandable. The fact that these emails were supplied by Lulzsec did make the ears of conspiracy spotter prick up. This cooperation between Anonymous and Wikileaks fit the narrative that has both parties being part of a massive psyop.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Story of a Transmedia Revolution: (Part 3) The Rise of The Unbook

The Unbook: A digital narrative that's more than meets the eye...
"When we think about digital's effect on storytelling, we tend to grasp for the lowest hanging fruits: words will move, pictures become movies, every story will be a choose-your-own-adventure. While digital does make all of this possible, these are the changes of least radical importance..."
        --Craig Mod, Storytelling 2.0: The digital death of the author
In an age of digital storytelling, the distance between author and reader is rapidly shrinking, and the roles those parties play are rapidly changing. One of the most radical concepts that I've come across during my research of transmedia storytelling is the "unbook."

Instead of viewing books as the cold, static, and lifeless byproduct of creativity--an unbook sees the creation of a narrative as a continuing creative process. It views the book as a living thing, one that continuously changes and evolves over time. Thanks to updated research, feedback (and in some cases even the active participation of its audience), an unbook has the potential to bridge the gap between writer and reader, creator and participant...


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