September 23rd, 2004

Salt Precaution

Nature's ROM born for sweet you, dear Bionconella

Finally got a decent amount of time to-day! I feel oddly giddy and unsure of how I want to spend this time. A thousand different things are occurring to me. I picked up the Criterion edition of Naked Lunch a few days ago so I'll probably watch that. It's got all kinds of features, included commentary from David Cronenberg and Peter Weller as well as a piece written by William S. Burroughs about the film. And more than that even.

It's weird to think back to the days when I thought of Howard Shore primarily as the composer for Cronenberg movies. Maybe Cronenberg will do a fantasy adventure movie?

A lot of my time's been taken spending time with my grandmother, who's still in town. I watched North by Northwest with her--a movie I haven't seen since high school. And of course, I can appreciate a lot more of it now than I did then. Watched it on a huge, widescreen television on DVD--looked absolutely beautiful.

Speaking of movies I first saw as a youth that I can better appreciate now, I watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit last weekend. I can appreciate a lot of the dialogue a lot more now (I now know what a drunken reprobate is, for example). But the more interesting thing is how the animation looks now, after time has passed. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was made years before cgi was commonplace, and absolutely no cgi was used in the movie. And much is done in the movie that to-day no one would even think of doing by any means other than cgi.

I remember as a child marvelling at how extraordinarily fluid much of the animation looked--remember the cartoon at the beginning where we see the jar slowly tipping off the broken shelf? No cgi there--meaning animators had to go through the trouble of mathematically figuring out the appearance of the jar based on the changing perspective as it moved--and with a subtle distortion because it was close to the "camera". It must have taken forever to draw each of those frames--and that was just the jar. How many other virtuoso examples of animation were seen in the film?

You might remember that the older Disney film Oliver and Company actually employed some crude cgi--so it was available. But the director of animation for Roger Rabbit felt that cgi would not have been in the spirit of the movie they were making. We're fortunate he felt this way because now the movie stands as an artefact of a kind of motion picture that we may never see again. It does have a different look from cgi--sometimes it's very subtle but it's definitely there. It's fascinating and almost unnerving, feeling more unpredictable and less cold than cgi. I suppose because somewhere in all our brains, we can see the true, natural three dimensions and are acquainted with them. But the three dimensions in Roger Rabbit are subtly different--in fact, no matter how perfectly calculated, we're inevitably looking at an artist's impression of the three dimensions. As a consequence, the movie seems more like a voice communicating with us.

I feel kind of sad thinking that no animation studio large enough to carry off something like this would now consider it cost-effective to make a movie this way. Even Trail Mix-Up, the newest Roger Rabbit short, employed a bit of cgi. Just not right at all.

Oh yeah . . . And what's the deal with Kathleen Turner not being credited as the voice of Jessica Rabbit? It sounds like her. IMDb says it's her. Very strange. I'm noticing all kinds of uncredited performances these days. Y'know Teri Garr wasn't credited for her role in Ghost World?
  • Current Music
    Angelo Badalamenti - "Moving Through Time"
Salt Precaution

Headache to paper

A few days ago, someone was making the case that a writer can never be very good if he or she suffers from an almost complete absence of human society and a lack of interest in procuring any. This idea is demonstrably wrong when one thinks of the likes of H.P. Lovecraft or Kafka--or, well, any number of writers. Just last night I was watching the special features on the Naked Lunch DVD and William S. Burroughs mentioned in an interview that writing requires a commitment to solitude. In fact, it seems to me that a sociable writer is more of an exception to the rule than anything else.

But this is probably almost obvious to most of you and I am indeed a little surprised that anyone would attempt to argue to the contrary. The only reason I bring it up is because I got to thinking last night about the relationship between sociable people and fiction. Someone who spends most of their leisure time interacting with groups of other human beings will obviously spend less time with art. And for one for whom art is a lower priority, it's not unreasonable to suspect that their exposure to art is governed by a narrow set of prejudices; if they're going to waste valuable time on art, they will obviously want the piece most likely to yield pleasurable results and, without having taken the time to study art in general or to exercise intellect to reason that one can benefit from an open mind, they're likely only to seek out those pieces that, to their untrained eye, have similarities to those pieces they either enjoyed in the past or, more likely, were instructed to enjoy by their society.

That's also pretty obvious, but I think it pays to think about it in this detail. And by the way, I don't mean to suggest that someone who spends more time with a social group necessarily places art at a low priority. There're a myriad of reasons as to why someone might feel the need to be surrounded by people often. But as this becomes a comfortable situation, one falls in danger of becoming someone whose poor attention to art taints their perception of it.

So the question on my mind last night was . . . what is therefore the value of art to someone who is afraid of solitude? How could I explain the benefit of art to the poor students obnoxiously gabbing their way through movies?

My suspicion is that there is no answer and that we're all mad here. The person who is alone writes for the person who is alone. Perhaps the writer exists as the emissary of fixation, whose job it is to fill the strange aquarium which the average person now and then has need to look in on, to gain a perspective?

Well, I've got a page to draw . . .
  • Current Music
    Johann Sebastian Bach - "Brandenburg Concerto No. 3"