Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Emotion Porn

This is the last post from Cold Lake. With the spring semester over, I left Duluth to spend the summer in Minneapolis. The reading continues at Deer Spirit.
...melodramatic weepie is the genre that seems to endlessly repeat our melancholic sense of the loss of origins -- impossibly hoping to return to an earlier state which is perhaps most fundamentally represented by the body of the mother.
-Linda Williams, "Film Bodies: Gender, Genre and Excess" (1991)

Outrun My Gun

Robert's got a quick hand
He'll look around the room
He won't tell you his plan
He's got a rolled cigarette hanging out his mouth 
He's a cowboy kid
Yeah, he found a six-shooter gun
In his dad's closet hidden in a box of fun things
And I don't even know what
But he's coming for you, yeah, he's coming for you

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks 
You'd better run, better run, outrun my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks 
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks 
You'd better run, better run, outrun my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks 
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

Daddy works a long day
He be coming home late, yeah, he's coming home late
And he's bringing me a surprise
Because dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice
I've waited for a long time
Yeah, the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger
I reason with my cigarette
And say your hair's on fire
You must have lost your wits, yeah.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cruel Science

It is an unanswered question how specific the cries of the human neonate may be, although some mothers are confident they can distinguish different types of cries from their infants.

One method of answering such a question would be to record a sample of the cries of a neonate during its first week. Then, at moments when the infant was not crying, subject it to a distributed series of playbacks of its past cries, and record the fresh crying which the infant emitted in response to hearing itself cry. The infant should cry to the sound of its own cry, since the cry is a quite contagious response. One could then examine the degree of correlation between each cry which was used as a stimulus and the contagious response to that cry. If the neonate does emit distinctively different cries, then it should respond differentially to its own distinctive cries; therefore the variance between pairs of cries should exceed that within pairs of cries. To our knowledge such a test method has not yet been employed.(7-8)
Frings and Jumber tape-recorded the distress cries of a starling which it uttered when caught. They then played this at high volume over a loudspeaker in a town where there were many starlings. The effect was to drive the starlings away permanently.

There are also distress cries of birds which have exactly the opposite effect on the parent bird who hears them. In species of birds in which the mother does no feeding, the cries of the infant birds bring the mother and prevent their getting lost.

The extraordinary specificity of such responses was shown in a study by Bruckner who found that the domestic hen responds only to the sound of the distress call of the chick. When he fastened a chick to a peg behind a screen, the mother would come to its rescue when she heard the chick crying. But when he put the chick under a glass dome so that the mother cuold see it struggling but could not hear its distress cry, she was entirely indifferent.(15-16)
-Silvan Tomkins, Affect, Imagery, Consciousness

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sick Rose

By William Blake 1757–1827(code from the Poetry Foundation)

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sex Sentence

"...impure Ganimeds, Hermaphrodits, Neronists, Messalinists, Dodecomechanists, Capricians, Inventors of newe, or revivers of old leacheries, and the whole brood of venerous libertines, that know no reason but appetite, no Lawe but Luste, no humanitie, but villanye, noe divinity but Atheisme.”
-Gabriel Harvey, 1593, on the bad company kept by satirist Thomas Nashe (1567-1601)
...But good, my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven
Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.
-Ophelia to Laertes, Hamlet I. iii, 49–4)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Affect explosion

...The characters are into emotional laceration for fun. They are verbal, articulate, self-absorbed, selfish, egotistical, cold and fascinating. They've never felt an emotion they couldn't laugh at.

..."Margot at the Wedding" may not be based on Noah Baumbach's own family, but it demonstrates a way of looking at families he must have learned somewhere. Both of his parents were writers and, to one degree or another, film critics; I recall Gene Siskel telling a friend at dinner that film critics eventually became critical of everything: For example, "your tie is hideous." In revenge, the friend went to Marshall Field's and asked to buy their ugliest tie. Two salesclerks helped him in a spirited debate to select the tie that qualified. My friend wore it the next time they met. Siskel identified the brand of the tie correctly and said: "If you like that tie, it shows you have better taste than 99 percent of men."

So it goes with the family in this movie. All of its members are engaged in a mutual process of shooting one another down.
-Roger Ebert

Saturday, April 14, 2012