Sunday, March 20, 2005

Apophenia Jones

I am editing the poo out of a previous post because I either presented a joke too sloppily or vastly underestimated the sophistication of my readership.

I got an email from a friend (which sort of got me on this subject) telling me I had to see a film called "What the Bleep do We Know?" He said, "Wow this film really opened my eyes." Ok, all systems go. I'll roll the dice. There is no fucking way I'd ever link the film and after reading this post, you'll understand why.

So it’s a tale of a photographer who is at an impasse in her life because her husband has left her for another woman. She’s really pissed off and bitter and I think she’s trying to figure out how she could have seen it coming (at least this is how I have stitched the story together within the context of the subject matter that surrounds this woman's journey). So, interspersed with the events in her life are different “scientists” discussing quantum physics and reality and how us monkeys can’t perceive "true" reality, la la la.

So there I am, watching this movie, descending slowly into uncomfortable silence. You know the kind: You're a little afraid that the person next to you is actually enjoying what you're experiencing as a preachy, Jesus-less but still frighteningly dogmatic onslaught. The first hint that it was going seriously off into the whimsical forest of "What the fuck...." was when one of the "experts" in the film claimed that the natives of the Americas couldn't see Columbus' ships approaching because “…it was so unlike anything they’d ever seen before. They couldn’t see it.” No, I’m not kidding. I am not kidding. This, among other gems, like the claim that the sub-atomic world is a fantasy concocted by mad physicists and um, the assertion that a camera "sees a lot more than what is here". Wait, if it's not there...what??

That’s when I began the old lady "quiet-but-agitated muttering". And the highjinks just keep getting higher. By the end, I was shouting at the television. I was also looking forward to seeing the credentials of the people who had done some of the commentary. I mean, if these folks were real scientists, what the fuck had I been studying for three years? As the list went on, I noticed one thing in particular. There was a name: J.Z. Knight. And another. Ramtha. And between the two names? “Channeled by”. Cock of the head, blink blink of the eyes, slow nodding. Ohhhhhhh....

I hightailed it to the computer and uncovered the tragic truth. J.Z. Knight has made lots of money by claiming that she can channel an Atlantean (yes, I said Atlantean) warrior name of Ramtha. Together, she and Ramtha made a movie called “What the Bleep do we Know?” with the help of some of their pals and a dupe from Columbia whose testimony was apparently “creatively edited” to back up their claims.
The pals? Well, where to begin. A rundown can be found here.

What's bothersome about all of this spiritual junk is that there are people seeking truth who turn to people like Knight (among others) because they talk a good game about viewing things from a different perspective. The truth about she and other con people/gurus is that they're like methadone clinics without the methadone.

So, this leads us back to the original post about bullshit.

Harry Frankfurt's book/essay is especially relevant at the moment given the inordinate amount of liars I've come across of late and the creepy acceptance of lying by the masses. Or acceptance of things they'd previously shunned. For example, one of my biggest pet peeves is that some of the former catholics that I have known, who've complained heartily about the Pope (among other "holy men") call the Dalai Lama "His Holiness" without question. If that's not the biggest crock! Remember the good ol' days when you had to stage an inquisition or at least take over the world for that kind of reverence? Now all you have to do is be super-nice and get exiled from your mystical place of origin to score a sweet title like that.


If a person can create a passive audience, he or she becomes their own celebrity. And in a culture where celebrity has become more relevant and valued than integrity, it makes perfect sense that scripted conversation would outweigh objective reality. Junk food for the psyche. Or, people are just so damned apathetic they can't even manage a conversation anymore. Pedestrian answers I suppose. I think the truth rests somewhere in the fact that many of my own peers have either raised themselves or were alternately abused and then given idle "grudge affection" here and there. A lasting bitterness with a desperate desire for validity has produced a generation of selfish beings who are somewhat lost and lack the understanding of how rewarding emotional maturity can really be.

The point of all of this is: Everyone one is trying to make sense of a reality that not only thrives on bullshit, but exists because of it. We're the products of the vast amounts of fertilizer that we create. Making sense of fabrication is difficult at best and some of the roads that one travels in order to sort things out are fucking endless. Now that deities have to tug the rope against shrink wrapped, pop-culture icons, the gettin's good at the id/superego buffet. Simply put, there are more people and lots more bullshit to choose from. Like "What the Bleep" and the Dalai Lama (tm).

I'm also irked that William Orbit let them use one of my favorite songs on the soundtrack of that crap movie.

*edit: This is a fun link...

Someone Needs a Whuppin'

It began with the murders of Joan Lefkow's mother and husband. It seems to be catching on. The word "kin" is popping up more and more often. So this leaves me with only one question:

When the fuck did we get to Dogpatch??

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Burning the Double Standard at Both Ends

Jamie Lee Curtis “came out” and exposed the kinds of trickery that the entertainment industry uses to make women look more beautiful in film and print. Why? Because at age 40+, she was through being poked, prodded, and starved to maintain a media friendly image. Kirstie Alley is stepping up to the plate to speak out against the same kinds of standards. What do these women have in common? They only chose to complain about these images and standards after they no longer met them. How can we blithely applaud them for their efforts against unrealistic expectations of beauty when they and other highly visible women achieved (and continue to achieve) wealth and success perpetuating them?

The same can be said for every over-forty actress heard voicing her disgust at the lack of juicy roles in Hollywood for women their age. How much effort was made by these women to thwart sexist ageism in Hollywood when people were lining up to take their picture? How many of them turned down roles because they had to play a much younger wife to a sixty year-old, Viagra chugging geezer? Does it occur to either Curtis or Alley that their efforts today would not be necessary if they and other women had not sanctified those potentially dangerous stereotypes to begin with? Those women are not standing up and saying "no" to someone else's stupid expectations. They're trying to sell empowerment because they can no longer sell their young, beautiful asses. Now, they're on our side? Give me a break. I'll let them play in my sandbox when I think it means something, not because it's their only other option.

When we bask in the reflected glory of false bravado, we can easily forget that unrealistic beauty standards are not only reinforced but celebrated because other women agree to meet them. As long as not-so-visible women and former media darlings are the only ones in the vanguard against an entirely unhealthy image of beauty, we're screwed. The world is saturated with images of young women who are so thin that they have to buy breasts. And it's only getting worse.

Fostering the illusion of eternal youth and beauty is worth it for famous actresses because at the end of the day, they know it is bullshit and they're getting paid a lot of money to pretend that it's not. I will stop doubting the sincerity and intentions of these babes when there are fewer shows like “Fat Actress” and more shows like “Thin Gorgeous Actress Eats a Ham Sandwich and Refuses to Pretend She’d Actually Sleep with an Old Skanky Bastard”.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Almost Dead

My “I can’t believe it” moments of late have been due to really terrible news and the mood resulting from them has certainly been obvious from my last few posts.

On a gray, snowy day in Ohio, good news spanked me into a wonderful afternoon.

There are many reasons to be happy today and they all have names and birthdays. Aside from the obvious, the good news is that we, the country that thinks that it can dictate how the rest of the world behaves, has eliminated at least a tiny bit of hypocritical barbarism from our (cringe) system. I hope (so much) that rehabilitation becomes a reality instead of just a nice way of saying, "Cheap Labor".