Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dream House

I had another extremely vivid house dream last night.  As usual with my house dreams, I was the new owner of the house.  It was an old house, a bungalow, and it looked very small.  It was much bigger on the inside than the outside.  Rooms kept expanding and giving way to more rooms.  There were three refrigerators in the house.  One of the refrigerators hid the entrance to a commode right off the kitchen.   There was a sack of hamburger half defrosted on the floor in the cellar and I put it into the freezer of one of the refrigerators.  The refrigerators were full of supplies.  There was a root cellar off to the side of the main cellar, painted white, full of old furniture.  Old upholstered chairs, picture frames, a mirror, cob-webs.  That cellar was cramped and very tight.  It was difficult to move.  I had to bend over, and crawl over many obstacles in my path.  I also remember that in the bathroom off the kitchen there was a metal cabinet of supplies that had been left there by the former owner.  It was a large cabinet, stacked very neatly with all kinds of supplies, soap, cleaning materials, cigarettes, deodorant, as well as tools: hammer, pliers, wrenches.  Everything was in perfect rows and arranged in alphabetical order.  The objects in my dream were very colorful, greens,  yellows, pastel reds.  The walls of the house were white.  There was a white and yellow striped shower curtain in the bathroom.

Is it significant that earlier in the day I had completed the first draft of the novel manuscript that I had been working on for two years?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

On the same theme as yesterday...

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

     --Aleister Crowley, The Book of the Law

Perfect humility would be a full willingness, in all times and places, to find and to do the will of God.

     --Bill W[ilson], founder of A.A.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Is there no middle ground?

There is nothing either fundamentally good, nor anything fundamentally evil; everything is relative, relative to our point of view…This point once established, it is extremely possible that something, perfectly indifferent in itself, may be indeed distasteful in your eyes, but may be most delicious in mine; and immediately I find it pleasing, immediately I find it amusing, regardless of our inability to agree in assigning a character to it, should I not be a fool to deprive myself of it merely because you condemn it?

—The Marquis de Sade from The 120 Days of Sodom

Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and "swept along by every wind of teaching," looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today's standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires.

—Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI)
Homily at the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff, April 18, 2005

Friday, May 20, 2005

Mortal Thoughts

Sometimes when the work flow gets unmanageable, and attorneys get snarky and unreasonable, it salves my spirit to meditate on Lady Macbeth's monologue.

Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts
Unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe
Top-full of direst cruelty.  Make thick my blood.
Stop up the access and passage to remorse
That no compunctuous visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose nor put peace
Between the effect and it.  Come to my woman's
Breasts and take my milk for gall
You murdering ministers, wherever in your
Sightless substances you wait on nature's mischief.
Come thick night!  And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of HELL!
That my quick knife sees not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark to cry,

This was typed from memory--so the line breaks may not conform to Shakespeare.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Die Tag

Several days go by and no entry.  Harumph.  Many things to report.  First, The Gift is a very moody, moving, character-driven film.  I recommend it.  Cate Blanchett plays a very credible deep south psychic.  The only thing I didn't like was the use of the Rhine symbol cards in divination (sometimes called the Zener cards).  The Rhine symbols were never divination devices, they were designed to test telepathy and precognition.  That made me think Annie (Blanchett's character) was a fraud.  Film is not like fiction.  When you get something wrong it's not easy to go back and fix it, like it is writing a novel.

Novel writing goes well.  I've decided to place the action of the story around a film shoot--rather than a discotheque.  That is a much more active choice, and the connection between the characters make much more sense.  It comes as a result of a comment by one of my fellow writing students.  Funny how an off-hand comment by someone outside the process can be so on target.  Sometimes you are so focused on maples, elms and firs, you can't get a very good view of the national park. 

Looking forward to the weekend.  I've rewritten though scene 11 and now I've got to tackle scene 12, which needs major revision.  The rest can be glued together pretty easily, but I didn't really know what direction Steve Sims was going to go at that point, and as written, that scene doesn't work now. 

Monday, May 16, 2005

Monday-An Inventory

Happy Monday.  For the wage slave, it is yet another opening to a string of days in which one's time, the very energy of life, is sold to the highest bidder.  We are not truly slaves.  One may opt out of the American commercial system at any time.  One can become a non-person, living on the fringe, say, in an aluminum trailer somewhere in the wilds of Nevada.  I only wish I had the courage...

The weekend was good.  Saw a great Mariners game on Friday evening.  Many HRs, two back to back by Beltre and Sexson.  They are fine additions to our team.  Ate one hot dog too many, and the onions disagreed.  They mounted an armed rebellion in my gut and quickly overwhelmed all resistance.  Onions and Michael do not get along, but ja, sure, you betcha, they're tasty on a dog with yellow mustard and sweet relish.

However, during the game, became aware of a twinge in my upper back (right between the left scapula and the spine) that began to radiate stabbing pain whenever I moved my arm or upper body.  That pain did not abate and is still with me, though on Saturday it stabbed me whenever I took a breath.  I almost went to the ER but I didn't want to pay four hundred dollars for a bottle of pain pills.  So I suffered through with my electric massage wand (a very good investment).  I would have used ice but since it was very hard to reach I opted not to. 

I have been seeing a new dentist and he wants me to spend $8,000.  I think I need an even newer dentist.  I would like to have the courage to say, "I want only medically necessary treatment."  But I'm such a people pleaser that I find that extremely difficult.  Tonight I'm supposed to have another impression taken of my jaws, though I've sent an e-mail stating that if it means another $200 - (I had this done in April) then I don't want it.  They haven't responded to the e-mail. 

Friday, May 13, 2005

Salo: A Reminiscence

Yesterday brought the news that the 30-year-old murder of Italian poet, playwright, political activist and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini would be reopened due to the willingness of the assassin to perhaps name his accomplices.  Pasolini was the visionary filmmaker behind such masterpieces as Canterbury Tales, Oedipus Rex, Medea, The Gospel according to Matthew, and The Decameron.  Pasolini was a devout gay communist who grew up in the shadow of fascism.  His brother was murdered by Yugoslavian separatists during World War II.  Pasolini's visionary style is intriguing.  First of all, it is beautiful.  His composition is remarkable, the weight of image juxtaposed with the quality of light, and the fluidity of the moving human form.   Second, it is passionate.  Maria Callas as Medea comes to mind, but most of Pasolini's performers were not trained actors, thus the emotion he elicits is often very genuine and raw.  And third, his films always employed a modern sensibility imposed on a classical text.  Thus we come to Pasolini's last film, Salo: 120 Days of Sodom.  The text here was the Marquis De Sade's suppressed and profane work of the same name.  Pasolini updated the story to the waning days of World War II.  A group of four fascist dignitaries, The Duke, The Magistrate, the Archbishop and the President select a group of teenagers and take them to a castle in the mountains.  There they spend 120 days abusing them in every conceivable way and end by murdering them.  At first glance this seems like little more than an exploitation film that reaches the lowest levels of depravity and the highest of obscenity.  However, there is so much more this film does to the viewer.  This is an intimate, challenging and horrific journey of the soul.  It is an exploration of violence, the way the ruling class exploits the dreams, the bodies and souls of the lower--in particular, the youth of the next generation, who are enslaved to not only work for the comfort and well being of the upper class, but to serve their every debased and obsessive need.  Here we see Pasolini the communist theorist. 

Pasolini had a love-hate relationship with the catholic church.  He loved the church, and the church hated him.  His spirituality conflicted the communist mandate for atheism.  You cannot analyze Salo in a vacuum.  It is the last work of an artist who was on a trajectory.  This is the same filmmaker who made the Gospel of Matthew--one of the most beloved cinematic depictions of the life of Christ.  (Mel Gibson sort of smashed Salo together with The Gospel of Matthew and created the Passion of the Christ).  The children in Salo are sufferers, just as Christ suffered, although they suffer far, far worse tortures than Christ ever dreamed of suffering.  The bourgois fascists are far worse than the worst demons from hell.  Yet, it is all entirely believable.  The film is an expose of the depravity of the fascist capitalist system, and the suffering and death it inflicts upon the young and the poor, using the cinematic language of visual hyperbole.

When I first saw Salo, I could not believe how beautiful a film it was, the quality of light, the colors, the beautiful scenery and landscape, and how quickly it degenerated into the most offensive ugliness I had ever witnessed.  I've never fainted watching a film, but I've come very close.  The first time was I Spit on Your Grave, the second was Salo.  Be warned, this film is not for the faint of heart.  The prostitutes telling their stories in the round room, with the pianist and the elegant deco-style furnishings--reminded me of the mood and the look of David Lynch.  Like Mulholland Drive, Salo takes you where angels fear to tread.  If you can survive Salo, it will stick in your mind like glue.  Entire scenes will be as vivid ten years hence as they are the next day.  This is a film which must be seen by every scholar and film buff.  Once you have survived the experience, you will be changed forever.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Blog Manifesto

Blogging is an exercise in letting go of perfectionism.  One of the problems that has plagued my writing has been the superconscious critic that demands everything I write be deathless prose.  That's one reason to blog--to simply put words out for public consumption that are not very good.

So, with that in mind, on to my favorite subject: Crime.

This week interest in two thirty-year-old homicides have resulted in the cases being reopened.  One of those was the Atlanta Child Murders which were attributed to Wayne Williams.  Williams was convicted of only two of the 30 or more homicides that police decided were connected to each other in the mid 70's.  The problem was, that the murders tended to continue after Williams was incarcerated.  This past week investigators in Atlanta reopened the investigation.  I've seen several documentaries on this case, and the most compelling was the A&E special that featured John Douglas' take on the trial of Wayne Williams.  That was compelling.  Douglas had Williams' psyche pinned down like a butterfly on a drying block.  There was no question in Douglas' mind that Wayne Williams was guilty of something.  But was it murder?  Ah, there's the rub. 

The second 30-year-old murder case that was recently reopened was the assassination of Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who was beaten to death in 1975, purportedly by a male prostitute when a sadomasochistic tryst went out of control.  The one-person killer scenario doesn't jibe with the forensic evidence, but the killer, Peri Pelosi, has not given up the names of his co-consipirators.  The political scene in Italy during the 70's fluxuated between extremes, neofascists and communists battling for political dominance.  Pasolini, a rabid communist, in addition to being a filmmaker was also a political pundit.  Pelosi's family had ties to the reactionary right wing.  Now that Pelosi's parents have passed away and has nothing to fear, it appears that he may be willing to give up the names of those who were involved.  He probably wants to have some kind of life during the years left to him.  He went to prison at 17.

By the way, all of this interest in Pasolini has rekindled my own interest.  I've ordered several of his visionary films through netflix.  However, Netflix does not offer Pasolini's most amazing work, perhaps the most transgressive art film ever made in the history of films: Salo: 120 Days of Sodom.  Watch for my review/critique of that film in the days to come.

Friday, May 6, 2005

Spokane's Homosexual Mayor

I'm not sure how much national play this story is getting.  However, locally, it struck like a bombshell yesterday when the Spokane paper outed Spokane's mayor.  The spokesperson for the gay/lesbian community when interviewed did not say what I wanted her to say, which was, "what has he ever done for us, besides vilify and marginalize us?  Don't expect us to defend him." 

Indeed, even when interviewed for the Spokesman Review Mayor West said "I wouldn't call me gay."  Shades of Roy Cohn, the HUAC counsel who considered himself a straight man who just happened to prefer sex with men.  It is a vicious, self defeating and hideous way to live.  And it's the way conservatives prefer it.  They believe, as Dick Cheney demonstrated during the last election, that allowing gays to exist as long as they don't talk about it, is compassionate.

This is the truth that straight people have to realize: although homophobia from straights is unfortunate and shortsighted, it rarely rises to the level of violence or rabid vilification.  That is almost exclusively the provence of closeted homosexuals.  This is why some in the gay community think it's best to force closeted homosexuals out of the closet--when they are working to limit gay people's civil rights.  We don't care about doctors, lawyers, college professors, computer programmers, laundry workers, bricklayers or candlestick makers.  But we do care about politicians who live double lives of hypocrisy and work against the well being of the gay community and are directly motivated to do so because of their own sick self-disgust.

Monday, May 2, 2005

Democrats Down for the Count

The thought occurred to me that the true architects of the GOP control of government is not our current president--or a reaction to the pecadillos of our most recent president before him, but Ronald Wilson Reagan and Jimmy Carter.  Carter is to blame for energizing the evangelical base.  Although they are completely opposed to his brand of politics, Carter woke the beast during his 1977 campaign.  Those who were old enough to understand, cannot forget "I have lusted in my heart."  Confessions of a dangerous mind.  Reagan truly had the evil genius of foresight--destroy the unions and decimate the Democrats' strongest base.  So this two-pronged attack on the party of Jefferson, first, coopting the energized evangelicals and second, emasculating the labor and trade unions' political gravitas, has achieved the purpose of reducing the democrats to a minority party.  The great struggle ahead for the conservatives is trying to hold together their coalition.  It's tenuous at best.  They have the gays to unite against--and that's a huge issue, though probably not as important to the evangelicals as getting Roe v. Wade reversed. 

However--the cycle turns.  As the corporations garner more power, and more jobs go off-shore, discontent will fulminate.  If they're not careful, the GOP could inflict real class warfare in the United States.  When people have nothing--they have nothing to lose.