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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spooks

I shall not allow the fact that I am not awake dissuade me from making this blog entry.

Yesterday was, as I said, a day off. And it was not a bad day off, but I fear my head was not cleared out during the course of the day, as I'd hoped it would be. So, I move ahead with a cluttered head.

I've done A-E of "The Yellow Alphabet." Today, F-H.

Watching The Runaways night before last, and pretty much any time I see something made before the advent of the personal computer, the cellphone, the iPod, videogames, the world wide web, and so forth...I am left with the disquieting feeling that the world is becoming increasingly less real. No, I cannot yet quantify that. I'm still working on some way to explain precisely what I mean. Just a sense that things were more real than they are now, and that we continue losing the integrity of reality as we accept more and more techno-distraction into our lives. And sure, this likely goes back to radio and motion pictures, television and telephones. Maybe it even goes back to the invention of the printing press. But the latter was invented in 1440 or so, and it was only at the end of the 19th Century that the explosion of communication and entertainment media via electronic delivery devices really began. Sure, I sound like a Luddite. I probably am a Luddite, albeit a Luddite who spends most of her life online, who uses Twitter and Facebook and LiveJournal and Gmail. Who has an iBook (from 2000, but still), an iPod (from 2005, but still) and a cellphone (from 2004, but still). Mostly, I'm just thinking aloud here. I think the world is becoming less real, and the rate of disintegration may be exponential. Maybe this is what all those transhumanist H+ wonks mean by the "Singularity."

---

I think that my various new meds have my body a little off kilter. Specifically, my blood pressure. When I went to the doctor last Monday, my blood pressure was high. But mostly, the Prazosin is causing my blood pressure to drop. In the mornings, I am woozy and weak. My pulse tends to race. But the alternative to the meds is unacceptable, so...I'm dealing with it.

---

So, yesterday we saw Phillip Noyce's Salt. The first half was slow, but it picked up steam and the second half was quite enjoyable, as long as you didn't expect the plot to make much sense. As long you're satisfied by watching Angelina Jolie kick butt. Which I was. The ending is more of a "just stopping," so I assume this is the beginning of a series, unless this film tanks. But yeah, big dumb fun, leave your brain at the door.

Which brings me to the fact that we finished Season Two of 24 last night. It's a strange, strange show. It's really not very good. It is, in fact, often perfectly ridiculous. And yet we keep watching it. I think it's mostly Kiefer Sutherland, and the violent absurdity of it all, that keeps us coming back. But I can't imagine anyone watching this one week at a time, one episode a week, with commercials. It's certainly not that compelling. And, setting aside all the silliness, the plot devices and stuff the writers just pull out of their butts because it looks cool and Jack's such a badass that physics don't apply and the like, my main annoyance with the series is it's insistence on irrelevant subplots. In this respect, Season Two was both better and worse than Season One. All that business about Kim and the murdered wife and the murdering husband...it was just a huge distraction. I suspect studio execs insisted there be something to "appeal to the female demographic." But none of it had anything whatsoever to do with the actual story until the very, very end, and then only as a too-convenient device to distract Jack during a crucial minute or so, which was hardly enough to justify its existence. But yeah, we made it through two seasons. Not sure if we'll keep going (especially given that what happens after the Season Two cliffhanger was put into a frakking videogame).

Also, I'm not usually opposed to American remakes of foreign films, not by default. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn't. But I am horrified at what's been done by Matt Reeves to Låt den rätte komma in. It's one thing to move the film to America. It's a far, far worse thing to remove Eli's gender issues. That, essentially, guts the film of one of its driving forces. This is not just a story about a budding serial killer and vampirism, but about sexual violation and gender ambiguity, and by striving to make the story more "accessible" (Reeves' own choice of words), he's destroyed it. There's a reason Tomas Alfredson's movie was pretty much limited to the art-film circuit. It was smart and subtle and dealt with complex issues, and dumbing it down for the mass American consumer is an abominable notion. Even if it's a notion that makes money.

We have eBay auctions ending this afternoon. Please have a look.

Anyway...I should get to work.

Comments

( 27 comments — Have your say! )
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)

Perhaps we're connected by a tentacle, albeit a long distance one.

I wondered what that tickle was.
sovay
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Just a sense that things were more real than they are now, and that we continue losing the integrity of reality as we accept more and more techno-distraction into our lives.

I do not know if things themselves are any less real now, but I do think it is becoming more and more possible—and acceptable—to treat the representations of things as a valid alternative to or even a preferable substitute for their reality. A Twitter feed equals the intimacy of a friendship. The ocean in storm is indistinguishable from a computer-generated typhoon onscreen. Death is a special effect.

It's a far, far worse thing to remove Eli's gender issues.

What? No. That is not correct.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
Death is a special effect.

Good line. And yes, as regards substitution.

What? No. That is not correct.

Next up, Of Mice and Men, only Lenny's not mentally retarded.



Edited at 2010-07-28 04:41 pm (UTC)
fornikate
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
I just finished 'The Ammonite Violin & Others' and it was fabulous. Thank you.

Also I read the translation of 'Let the Right One In', and I think you would like it.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)

I just finished 'The Ammonite Violin & Others' and it was fabulous. Thank you.

You're welcome.

Also I read the translation of 'Let the Right One In', and I think you would like it.

I read it, too. It's not bad, but I actually think Alfredson's film is an improvement on the novel.
fornikate
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I agree the film was much better than the book.
jdack
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)
That's how I feel about music. Everything I hear from the current generation just sounds way too clean and perfect. Like you can practically feel the engineer's mouse clicking on filters and pitch correction in Pro Tools.

Give me Son House in an old juke with a single microphone and a slide guitar any day.

But don't take away my Android phone.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)

But don't take away my Android phone.

Somehow, this is part of the general insidiousness of the reality's loss of integrity. Even those of us who complain have something (or many somethings) we can't imagine letting go of.
jdack
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Yup. Bit of a paradox perhaps.

(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)


My two cents ... We make things real by paying attention to them. People are paying less attention to the real world and more attention to the idiotic light-and-pixel representations of same that abound in chat rooms, video games, etc.


Interesting.

Until the giant robot weasels come to eat them.

Of course.
mercurygrrl
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oh no! I didn't realize the remake is finished!
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)

The release date is October 1st.
mercurygrrl
Jul. 28th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
Just saw the trailer. I'm sure the theaters here will have it, so I suspect I'll go see it st some point.
michael_b_lee
Jul. 28th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
I am left with the disquieting feeling that the world is becoming increasingly less real.

I agree. Over the last few months I've come to believe that the internet sucks us into a kind of waking dream, bombarding us stimulus, but without the corresponding sense of tangibility that we gain from the world itself.

One could also say that extended periods of writing can cause the same effect. When one spends the lion's share of one's time inhabiting an alternate world that may only bear a passing resemblance to our own, the sense of dislocation can become profound. At least, I feel that way more and more these days.

Which brings me to the fact that we finished Season Two of 24 last night. It's a strange, strange show. It's really not very good. It is, in fact, often perfectly ridiculous.

I got as far as the cougar in season two, and that was my breaking point. I never went back.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)

I agree. Over the last few months I've come to believe that the internet sucks us into a kind of waking dream, bombarding us stimulus, but without the corresponding sense of tangibility that we gain from the world itself.

A waking dream. It might be interesting, here, to cross reference this idea with Inception and how the generally positive reception the film is enjoying. Perhaps a recognition of a communal dream state, existing in many layers...

One could also say that extended periods of writing can cause the same effect. When one spends the lion's share of one's time inhabiting an alternate world that may only bear a passing resemblance to our own, the sense of dislocation can become profound. At least, I feel that way more and more these days.

Agreed. I also experience the same thing reading at length, or roleplaying at length. It becomes an issue of immersion.


I got as far as the cougar in season two, and that was my breaking point. I never went back.


The cougar was an astoundingly stupid moment.
michael_b_lee
Jul. 28th, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC)
A waking dream. It might be interesting, here, to cross reference this idea with Inception and how the generally positive reception the film is enjoying. Perhaps a recognition of a communal dream state, existing in many layers...

That's a fascinating idea. Not having seen the movie yet, I can't really speak to that, but now I'm really interested in seeing it.

Agreed. I also experience the same thing reading at length, or roleplaying at length. It becomes an issue of immersion.

When I was younger, I could manage that kind of immersion while reading; in fact, I consciously pursued it, because it was preferable to the reality I lived in. I never really experienced the same thing in roleplaying though, perhaps because I was always the Gamemaster, and thus I spent all my time driving the world rather than inhabiting it.

And now, ironically, I find myself unmoored from the real world more and more, and crave the kind of grounding I used to try and escape.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)

I never really experienced the same thing in roleplaying though, perhaps because I was always the Gamemaster, and thus I spent all my time driving the world rather than inhabiting it.

Also, online rp with a visual interface greatly increases the potential for immersion.
valdary
Jul. 28th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
Personally my life feels a lot more "real" to me now than it felt to me in the 1970's.

Then I physically isolated myself and buried myself in books.

Now the people I met and talk to online spill over into my life and take me bowling and visit me in hospital. I see a lot of the world thru virtual images but am constantly reminded their are real people at the other end, (almost anytime there is a disaster around the world I will have talked online to someone affected by it, The world is more PERSONAL now, I care more) wheras when I was young the bubble around you was complete and if you didn't already know people through family or geography your options to reach out to people with similar interests were very limited.

To me the world is becoming more real, more intense, every day and with every new way of making connections.

greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)

To me the world is becoming more real, more intense, every day and with every new way of making connections.

I would say that you're mistaking the overwhelming deluge of data and connectivity for an actual increase in the quality (and authenticity) of experience. But I've been wrong before.
valdary
Jul. 28th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
Maybe I am. Does it take boredom and limitations to make life seem "authentic" to you?

I find life a lot less grey now.

Maybe what is lacking is meaningful physical "work" rather than artificial "exercise" for the sake of it.

I'm just saying I didn't feel more real 30 to 40 years ago, just more bored and very frustrated.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)

Does it take boredom and limitations to make life seem "authentic" to you?

Indeed, these are an inherent and necessary aspect of life. They permit both reflection and the necessity of imagination.
seph_ski
Jul. 28th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
There's a reason Tomas Alfredson's movie was pretty much limited to the art-film circuit. It was smart and subtle and dealt with complex issues, and dumbing it down for the mass American consumer is an abominable notion.

I -WISH- I had been able to see that version. Aside from the spectacular and world-renowned Toledo Museum of Art, I live in a cultural void and the "art film" version came nowhere near me. I excitedly rented the DVD when it first came out, but the dubbed vocals and the inane translation to English made me want to bludgeon someone. It was only when I went online to try and figure out why it was so highly praised that I realized I'd fallen for a bait-and-switch. I have the book a ways down on my reading list though, and I hope to see the -real- movie some day.

ETA: Wait! I just realized you said "remake". I was under the impression you were referring to the mangled translation. There's actually an American remake though? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Disgusted and annoyed, but not surprised.

Edited at 2010-07-28 09:00 pm (UTC)
greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)

There's actually an American remake though?

Yes.
seph_ski
Jul. 28th, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
Yep. Disgusted and annoyed.
Well then. That does seem to tie in well with your feelings that things are less real these days.
jessamyg
Jul. 29th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
Let The Right One In
And, just to say, taking the gender issues out of Let The Right One In is just another way that the supposed mass-media is being turned in a mess of grey and tasteless porridge. Why don't they just say, rather than making it more "accessible", let's pander to the lowest common denominator and not give a flying fish-fuck about issues such as art and actual intelligent work. Oh, I love living in such a turgid, Christian-centric society, where anything other than the heterosexual 'norm' is censored and pushed behind the refrigerator with all the other stuff you want to forget about. This does not begin to express how pissed off I am, but it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that it has happened. Time for a bed...
jacobluest
Jul. 30th, 2010 04:30 am (UTC)
the broomsticks dip their buckets
I think all this technology is just an excuse to externalize the inside of our heads. It's hard to create something generative in this space. So much is just mastication. Beating that same horse in a different way. But there's so much opportunity if one is willing to do ten times the work...

Eventually the tools will learn to craft from scratch, or our culture will degrade to total remix. Then we can let the machines prepare the feast, and eat ourselves to death. And those who have trained their palates to finer things will starve.

~Jacob
magdalen77
Jul. 31st, 2010 05:08 am (UTC)
Argh!! I knew they were going to dumb the movie down for American audiences. It was so good because it had depth and there were things going on beneath the surface that you weren't quite sure about.
( 27 comments — Have your say! )