Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Concerning Pathos

I should preface this by saying that by no means should anyone ever do or think or rationalize what I'm about to propose, because it is bad.

There's a terribly unpractical way you can gage how unhappy you are. A couple times when driving down a long straight road at night without any cars in sight, I used to close my eyes and count. Despite knowing I would be safe from crashing, the situation would immediately intensify. If, in that moment, you feel enough affinity for the world and life and people, three seconds is all you can do. 1 Mississippi. 2 Mississippi. 3 I want to live. After three seconds, I would begin to doubt if the car was driving straight. I began to fear and shake and question what I was doing. These four seconds are for those with a great indifference to the world, life, and people. 4 Avocado. 5 Stromboli. 6 Iguana cage. 7 I want to live. I can't describe the last three seconds. I only got there one time. I can only say that the whole period of time didn’t make much sense and I’m glad I didn’t hit that pole. It was the worst possible, most intense feeling of anxiety I’ve ever experienced. The numbers only go so high. It will always be agony, and my day will come when I will face it and move on, but that day is not soon. I could never put myself in that position again. If we all did what I did, we’d all eventually die from it, and I want to live.

People have told me that they don't "understand" me, leading me to believe that there are even more people who would claim to not "understand" me but merely haven't informed me.
I don't really understand that. In my eyes, these people either haven't tried very hard or just suck at understanding people. Yeah, yeah, people can't completely understand people, but people can understand people enough so that they can fairly claim that they understand people. I know this because I understand people. Now shut up.

This generalization is how we base our judgments and convictions of the world and its workings. What is also fair to say is that people suck at this process of compensating for another aforementioned process that people suck at (see: racists, over-generalizers, people who claim to know everything, people who HAVE to know everything, ego-centrists, 14 year-old girls, selective listeners, retards of emotion, Sylvia Plaths, texters, libertarians, et. al. assholes). What people do well from the process is probably what seems like what we shouldn't be doing at all, which is what I just did.

What I just did was outline the type of person who I don't want to be, without identifying who I do want to be. That's because it's easier to remember more specific details of undesirable attributes. If you were to try to think of things you would like to be, words like "trust-worthy," "kind," ”empathetic," "creative," "hard-working," and "enthusiastic" may come to mind. Those are all great aspirations, but those are also all words. It's hard to wake up in the morning and think, "I am going to be creative and trust-worthy today." As much as we admire words, we never really exist though them. People would argue that this is because people simply ARE, but I call
bullshit on that. People “aren't.” Our resilience to “aren't” is so much more powerful than our will to “are.” Kudos to thoughtful people, but mad props goes to those full of thoughts. These are those who are doing the work of good people. I'll back up.

Easiest example. Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy were great people. They did the work of good people, despite personal decisions pointing to what the general public would point to their being not only not “great people” but qualities of "bad people." But as history has shown, it's not what you do, but it's what you do. History never makes any sense, and we are all going to be a part of it.

For my entire life, I and everyone I have known have been encouraged to find role models. I could say I have five people who I can look at their worst moment and think, "I love and respect and want to be like this person, even now." You marry your role models (watch out, Jacqui Sheehan). That’s why most people marry their mothers. There are also those who you look at their best moment and think, "I can find no desirable characteristics about your personality and I will never be envious of you." These are who I call our role supermodels, and they deserve to be shown respect for shaping our lives just as much if not more so than our role models. I've always admired the, "love your enemies" aspect of Christianity. That's why those “great people” I mentioned before had sex with supermodels, apparently. Of course, all of my pastors have interpreted this as, "Love your enemies in order to piss them off and confuse them into becoming Christians," but I feel my interpretation has made myself and those around me better people.

(Un?)Fortunately for me, I will never be a great person and a supermodel will never have sex with me.

I can find no discernible reason why every person I meet should not be an experience of which to cognitively and socially grow off of. The more you look really is the more you find, and peace of mind is the single most important objective of life (or at least of the Sims, but there you achieve that by buying things, not introspective growth— this is beside the point).

People usually find peace of mind through love and Marriage. Maybe that’s all there is to it, but I doubt that Jacqui Sheehan would date a student. Sigh. This is going to be so much more difficult than it has to be.

Having “role supermodels” isn't some affirmation to the asshole lifestyle. "Truth will out," as an asshole once said. People know if you’re an asshole, for the most part. There’s no masking asshole. Again, it's about what you do, not what you do. It's not about whether you wake up in the morning and think, "I'm going to do something out of my ordinary routine in order to make someone else's day by sacrificing part of mine," but that you eventually will on your own if you're living the right way. And these people who live the “right” way live each day as a standalone unit of life, abiding to the unshakable and inexorable creed of, "Live today or don't." Because if you aren't "living," then what are you doing? This is what a person who is alive would ask himself-- every single day. It’s about what you are, what you aren’t, and what that makes you.

Keeping in mind, what makes you is always an ongoing process. We’re in such a hurry to get to wherever we’re going that we rarely end up going anywhere. Patience is certainly a virtue reserved for the virtuous. Sometimes I wish I weren’t so patient all the time, but it has its advantages.

Mr. Wall, the other teacher who made my role model list, once straight-up told the newspaper staff a couple years ago what love entailed, and half of them weren't paying attention and probably never will.

He told us that love can only exist when one person makes a clear and conscious effort beyond what anyone would ever expect to treat and interact with another person with kindness; the other person finally catches on and responds with an equally clear and conscious effort; the two find that they've moved far past each other, turn around, and realize they have made themselves room to build a relationship. He actually said it with the words, "You have this person who comes this far and this person who comes this far, and then you have room to make a relationship WORRRK. People don't think about it this way anymore." He made a drawing of it while explaining it to us. Then he scribbled all over the heart. We kept it up on our board for months, at a time where we averaged 14 or more hours of school every day working on the paper. I like to think that we kept it up to remind us that love exists when we feel we feel nothing but frustration.

Many are turned off to love's give-and-take relationship, but I see love’s dilemma as an essential indicator to life’s.

It's about knowing when to give and when to take, about when to know and when to forget and forgive, about feeling and empathizing, about sacrificing much to receive little in return, about the best/worst of times, about trials and tribulations, about misunderstanding and lying, about dying and living and existing without while holding onto the faintest living memory, about door holding and satisfaction, about sex and realizing it's one in a list, about seeing that it's always and never and nothing without promise, about leaving, about the mundane and the monumental, about getting what you want and then not wanting it anymore. At least, this is all that I gathered from this one picture.

Of all that I doubt and question, of this and only this I am completely sure.

I’m still figuring it out, but I want to live and I want to love.
All the same, really.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thoughts on Toy Story 3

(Spoiler alert, I guess. It won't be as good if you read this before, so don't.)

Watching Toy Story 3 was a delight. Everything about it was a joy. Beautifully comprised, perfectly paced, written by pros, inexorably fun. K, we agree? Good. Now we can move past that shit.

Watching Toy Story 3 made me realize how much I didn't like Up. Grab a tissue.

Even after finishing Up close to a year ago, I had the oddest feeling after its credits. It wasn't that it wasn't insanely clever or lovingly tender. I realized how beautiful it was, but still I felt nothing.

I cried a little at the beginning of Toy Story 3. I found it infinitely more beautifully tragic than the beginning of Up. This is a credit to Pixar's pathos-knapper (seen in both movies). A lot of movies (Pixar, in particular) rely on a certain emotional attachment from the viewer to the characters in order to have the story really make the viewer experience something. Toy Story 3 had this easy. For people who have watched the original (I hardly remember Toy Story 2 and for this won't refer to it, although I remember it being good?), the fondness felt for the characters was already there. You might have felt what Andy felt. You were supposed to. You had enjoyed the toys a long time ago, but now you're revisiting them just when it's time to say goodbye. People feel this when a grandparent or friend dies or when a love leaves at the wrong time. Or you might feel for the toys. At first, I thought the whole movie was about death, but now I see that it's about so much more than that. It's about leaving. Maybe it's for a lifetime or five minutes, but it's that feeling. Where The Wild Things Are hit where it felt like once at childhood, but Toy Story 3 is about how you might feel almost every day. For displaying this through Andy's mom's home videos, I cried, and of which I feel no remorse for.

Up tried the same shit on me and it didn't work. Haha!

For me, Up was so all or nothing. It was tragic. The characters had flaws that could relate to viewers. It tackled the issue of death. Why didn't I care? I'll tell you why I didn't care. Because I didn't care! To be honest, I was given no reason to like the old guy. No reason. I liked the dead wife better. She was deeper and more interesting. Again, I know, his flaws, whatever. And after the tragic montage where everyone in America was balling their eyes out (apparently), I was wondering how these suckers bought into caring about a character we knew virtually nothing about other than a horrible thing that happened to a person. Gripping.* And since I started off on the wrong foot, the annoying as fuck dogs, the irrelevant and brain dead comedic asides, the constant bringing up of the guy's dead wife (which was sad but seemed manipulative of the filmmakers), and the LITERALLY linear progression of the story did not help me enjoy it. In the end, I felt that Up tried to force emotion down my throat through a nostalgia that I refused to buy into.

But man, did I buy into Toy Story 3. It's because they did it without words, without seemingly any tactics or manipulative devices. It was almost as if I got there on my own. This obviously isn't true, as millions of people had to have "got there on their own," but at least the tragedy felt real. And in the end, all the toys can do is say goodbye after one last play and look ahead. Such is life. Sigh. Clouds. Sniff. (It really was beautiful, though.)


I mean, another beautiful part in a flawless movie, but the protagonists accepted death in a children's movie. Heavy. And then there's an immediate comic relief just when you are holding back tears and resolving an existential battle waging against the human psyche and Mephistopheles.

It really was great. Have I mentioned that? Up is also well done (Haha! See what I did there?). Of course, while there is no way I could possibly emulate the feeling of watching Toy Story 3 for the first time, I'm not sure if I would want to. Like the end of the movie (and of Lost, for that matter), it's about remembering, letting go, and moving on.


(P.S. - I wasn't that wild about Spanish-speaking Buzz. I know, kids movie.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Leaving Danger Mountain

I re-cut my movie today and posted it online. Well, "re-cutting" is a dramatic way of putting it. I love the full thing. I just posted my favorite scenes online for people to watch who maybe didn't buy it. Yet somehow I feel as though I'm finally putting this big project of mine to rest, also a part of my life. It's an odd feeling when you realize that the primary goal of the spirit club you were a part of is changing the world. You've been good to me, Danger Mountain. I will remember you fondly.

Return to Danger Mountain was personal. Hopefully personal for a lot of people. Saying I'll never make anything personal again is like saying I'll never love again.

I finished "writing" my short film for this summer. It'll be less than 10 minutes and I'm going to film the entire thing in my closet. I'm trying to broaden my horizons, of course. I'll have to buy some equipment online before I can start, though.

I'm ready to fall in love again.
Maybe a love all the same but still undeniably new.

This one is my favorite scene in the movie (but I wrote it so of course it is). It's a love letter to rapists, at least my Dad thinks so. He was particularly disturbed by this scene, asking, "What? They're not all that... yes they are! Who wrote that?"

Happy birthday, Mom. Good night.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

An Intellectualization of Something That Was Meant To Be Inherently Stupid

Batman was arrested today. Or maybe it was yesterday.

I know this because the news has come to me as the headline story on my AP news feed. This is how the story read--

As part of an LAPD crackdown on people who dress up as superheroes and cinematic icons, then troll Hollywood’s Walk of Fame while illegally charging the errant tourist money for a photo, KNBC managed to capture the immortal sight of a shamed, arrested Batman as he was hustled into a squad car.

Upon reading that story I knew that the national attention it was given was utterly trite, unnecessary, and entirely important for our culture. I mean, it's so stupid. I understand that attention is paid to what isn't important. A fair argument could be made that television is a coping device. Well, pretty much everything else, too. I'm completely AOK with that because I see more and more that people blend the two. I would like nothing more than to over-intellectualize Jersey Shore. The juxtaposition of doing that is just hilarious to me. I've found that people notice the comedy in that, too. Because of this, I've recognized that the world isn't inherently stupid, but that we (close to) equally enjoy things that are both thought provoking and Ke$ha.

I thought people simply liked fighting robot movies because they thought they were fucking art. This has rekindled my hope in humanity.

But I know, I know. People are still pretty stupid. There are those who live on one end of the scale, entirely satisfied in not actively pursuing what people who claim to be actively pursuing important things are pursuing. To make it easy, they stereotype. We do it, too. Often the terms "idiots" and "intellectuals" are thrown around, but I don't feel the two are mutually exclusive. For the rest of this essay, I'll call the "idiots" "Wookies" and the "intellectuals" "Ewoks."

I am an Ewok. Fully, bonefide, pretentious, wannabe, greedy Ewok. At times I feel disgusted and indifferent to the Wookies. I make generalizations about them and damn their way of life as the lesser path. But I do like pretending. I listen to Ke$ha and watch Jersey Shore and fighting robot movies and respect the nuclear family. I don't take as much joy from the experience as Wookies do (occasionally I will), but I like to stay involved and at least understand what the fusses are about. I used to think I had this all under control, but now I know I do.

If one is to look at the world, to see everything that happens and everything that is paid attention to, it could be deduced that everything is horrible and there is no hope. Sometimes there isn't.* We are absolutely helpless in regards to the BP oil spill. There's nothing we can do. Nobody can end the war in the Gaza Strip.

At least not without enough people paying attention. Attention, attention must be paid.

More and more Ewoks are becoming plunderers of attention; absurdism is the new television. It makes everything tolerable, or at least copable. The promise of absudism remains that its efforts intend to progress society in the right direction, even though that direction is nowhere.

I've always realized that, but then again I have never been able to find someone who hasn't claimed that the notion of absurdism isn't bullshit. Because, come on. The Stranger is bullshit. The Fountainhead is bullshit. Books like that craft characters within the confines of bullshit, hyperbolic philosophy and ideals, never admitting that people can not be made up of solely philosophy or ideals. They present duality, so that's what the Wookies and the Ewoks make so. We craft real issues around this pejorative narrative so that little can be done in the matter. We start classifying people as “Wookies” and “Ewoks” in order to cope with the fact that we don’t understand each other and that we really are alone. We're so unsatisfied with the status quo because it always sucks. We don't want reality. We want Howard Rourke and Albert Camus and Charizard and Ke$ha and Batman.

We're all trying to be Jedis. That's not all that bad. Jedis are awesome.

Thus, it remains the role of the absurdists and the comedians to keep us all sane/sometimes be wrong. I've never really tried my hand at that before making my vlog, and I didn't even know I was trying that then. I just thought I was making fun of things I didn't like. I think now I feel I was maybe trying to talk to a person I don't understand. I'm still an Ewok. The world is just as it was and oil is still gushing out of a pipe somewhere.

But for whatever reason, I can't help but uncontrollably laugh when I watch Brodyquest. One would suspect that it's a Wookie's vice. Another would say it’s overlong and stupid. Part of me knows that it is, another thinks it’s the most important thing I’ve ever seen, and part of me wants to punch that other part in the face.

Now I'm actually going to take that break I was talking about.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I'm gonna take a break from vlogging, blogging, and the internet altogether.
Gonna read, write, and spend some time away from home.
How long do I have to figure everything out, again?

Edit: I edited the "Shit I Like" section to your right. It seems about right, now.

Wellenburg Dr.

-“I want to talk to you about something that happened a while ago, okay?”
-“And I seriously mean this. You can’t laugh.”
-“So I was driving home and I felt like shit. No, no. I felt like shit and I was driving home.”
-“Got it.”
-“Yeah, and it’s late, you see. It’s, like, 2 in the morning. So there are no cars on the road. Keep in mind, the shit.”
-“Let’s not harp on the shit.”
-“So I’m tired and, and annoyed and tired. So I took my hands off the wheel, placed them on my lap, closed my eyes and let my inhibitions take over, or whatever.”
-“Jesus! Man, what the fuck-“
-“I know, I know. But I figured that if I lived through it then my life actually had a meaning and that everything would be OK.”
-“…well what happened?”
-“Oh yeah, I hit a pole. Miracle I didn’t die.”