Here Thar Be Monsters!

From the other side of the argument to the other side of the planet, read in over 149 countries and 17 languages. We bring you news and opinion with an IndoTex® flavor. Be sure to check out Radio Far Side. Send thoughts and comments to luap.jkt at gmail, and tell all your friends. Sampai jumpa, y'all.


Reader Wrights

View from the Writer's hut
You know, sometimes all the effort to sit here in my jungle hut, with monkeys on treadmills generating electricity and four wives hounding me to go pick fruit or something useful, is just worth it.  That's especially true when I get great email from readers that let me know I'm having some effect on the world, that is just a four-day canoe ride through dengue-infested backwaters away.

Ever see African Queen?  That scene where Bogart and Hepburn are swarmed by mosquitoes?

Like that.

Anyway, I digress.  I blame my 20-year-old newest wife who is picking my nits and getting me rather frothed up.

So, reader email.  That's where we were a moment ago.

We received this email from long-time reader and supporter R.F., while he was attending a luau on Malibu beach, I think:
Hello Bernard:
I hope you are well, safe and prosperous. Your blogs are a blessing, and I wouldn't know where to start if I were to comment on them.
When Henry the 8th criminalized the Roman Catholics my Irish ancestors were rounded up and shipped off to the penal colony of Australia as convicted sheep thieves, along with thousands of other young Irish men that were at the time "kicking up their heels" or as they say nowadays, existential threats. So I might have inherited a dissident gene or two as a result, and that might be why I like your blogs so much.

As you did I tossed out the TV decades ago, but I watch movies (and I have several thousand in my library). I love movies and analyze them for the content that influences the feelings. I watch the background as much as the foreground mis-en-scene, listen to the the music, and watch for metaphors, allegories, symbols and other triggers and effects.

Of course this drives any family members crazy because I will lurch for the remote to stop a film at odd moments to replay scenes while they are trying to become immersed in the story. My analytical approach always seems much more entertaining and rewarding to me than what others seem to get out of films. I believe movies are an extension of theater and wayang, and movies, theater and wayang are often used to guide society--in pre-Facebook times of course :-)      Wasn't The "Gospel of John" a perfect model of the Greek 3 act play? The last act has the curtain drawn symbolizing the hereafter. (please comment if that is correct). "The Third Man" takes us around in a full circle just like life does. "Chushingura" seems liken to the Bagavad Gita issue of duty in conflict with honor, (possibly a reflection of your father's inner conflict.) A flood of examples comes. Your message is clear, but I must limit this note. 
As with theater and films, in your "Sorcerer's apprentice" blog you remind me that politics is another of the "glamours" as defined in the Maleus Maleficarum. A spell, an illusion causing people to see things differently from what they are. Hence, to cast a glamer is to cause a visual deception. (--wickisomething or other) 
This can be proven: when the glamour fades that scraping sound we hear in the middle of the night are the neighbors in the confines of their garages scraping off Clinton, or Bush, or Obama bumpers stickers. In the forthcoming reboot they will replace them with the newest glamour of Hillary or Trump or whoever bumper stickers.
Thanks for the blogs.

Sorry for the momentary pause there.  The tears running down our cheeks shorted out the "good" laptop and electrocuted the monkey.  Had to put wife #3 on the job and whip out the antique laptop.

It's letters like this that keep us going.  And we love that our readers are intelligent and well educated.  We even had to use the rotting copy of Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 1948 edition to understand half this stuff.

Of course, we knew about Botany Bay from watching Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, but the rest of it, well...

We have a massive movie collection too!  All sorted by genre, writer, director, lead actor, even director of photography and editor.  And yes, the film format is a direct extension of the proscenium, or picture frame stage, which is about 2,300 years old.  The psychological effect is of an invisible "fourth wall" that allows the audience to observe the action without being a part of it.

One of the best theories I've ever found (and am still looking for again) for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, was that the "monolith" represents the picture frame, whether stage or screen.  It's dimensions are almost exactly the same as 65-mm film frames, and the narrow depth represents the bare reality of the third dimension in film.

Thus, by extension, Stanley Kubrick was creating a magical working on the audience, through the picture frame, showing us (and bringing us along) an alchemical transformation of anyone who participates in the process (watches it).

All great works of art are transformative.  In fact, one cannot call something art unless it transforms.  That is the whole point.  And yes, there are dark arts and light arts: people who vomit on canvass, and Leonardo da Vinci.  One crushes the spirit, the other elevates it.

I agree with R.F., analyzing the magic makes for a much richer and enlightening experience, at least for me.  In some way, it is also a protection from the magic.  By understanding how it is done helps me maintain a mental distance from its effect.

I would rather watch Citizen Kane a thousand times, than a thousand lesser movies.  When the craft is performed at its peak of skill and artistry, it is truly magical.  Would you rather have one da Vinci or Rembrandt or a thousand Warhols?  Think with your mind and spirit, not your investment portfolio here.

At any rate, you see what happens now when we get great letters like this.  We start thinking (finally?).

Many thanks to R.F., both for reading and for sending us the occasional brain-bombs.  We save these things and dust them off on rainy days, you know.

And thanks to all the readers.  We had our second-best month ever in July, with an average of 800 hits per day, and this past weekend was the most heavily trafficked ever, with over 3,000 hits in two days.  Somebody out there likes us.

Don't forget to pass on a link to your friends and enemies.  You can hook up with us on half a dozen "social media" outlets to keep up with our doings, the archives date back seven years and over 1,000,000 words, and there's some great stuff coming, including events in which you can participate.  So keep tuned.

Onward through the fog!

And yes, the photo at the top is the view out our writer shack deep in the jungles of Borneo.  Ish.

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