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Peter Greenaway Lecture On Cinema

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Genre Parody used as satire

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A good example of what Genette might call caricature, the parodic imitation of a style with satirical intent. The satire here is not directed at the style or the genre so much as using that genre and its stylistic features to satirise a social phenomenon.

[download the full pdf version from the original publication site here]

“The word parody is currently the site of a rather onerous confusion, because it s called upon to designate at times playful distortion, at times the burlesque transposition of a text, and on other occasions the satirical imitation of a style. The main reason for this confusion is obviously the functional convergence of the three formulas, each of whch produces a comic effect, generally at the expense of the text or style being “parodied.” [24]

“I propose therefore to (re)baptise as parody the distortion of a text by means of a minimal transformation of the Chapelain décoiffé type; travesty will designate the stylistic transformation whose function is to debase, à la Virgile travesti; caricature (but no longer, as previously, parody) will designate the satirical pastiche […]; and pastiche plain and simple would refer to the imitation of a style without any satircal intent, a type illustrated by at least some pages of Proust’s “L’Affaire Lemoine”. [25]

“I am therefore claiming not to censure the abuse of the word parody (since, in effect, this is what we are dealing with) but only to point it out and – because it is impossible to clear up this lexical area effectively – at least provide its users with a conceptual tool enabling them to check and focus with greater swiftness and accuracy what it is they are (probably) thinking about when they (haphazardly) utter the word parody. [26]

“Parody does not actually subject the hypotext to a degrading stylistic treatment but only takes it as a model or template for the construction of a new text which, once produced, is not longer concerned with the model. [27]

Gerard Genette. 1997 [1982] Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. Translated by Channa Newman & Claude Doubinsky. Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press

Notes on a uniform

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The anthropological bent has dogged me, one might say, for a goodly period of my life. Occasioned, no doubt, by most of my early and formative years being spent on the sub-continent where many ethnic identities and language groups made themselves apparent to each other by the laying on of identity signifiers, many of which took the form of clothing – as well as an array of related adornment of a less practical motivation. My later adolescence on the Antipodean continent-cum-island can also be considered formative, at least in this regard, in that the teenaged Sydney-sider, even in the far-off decades of the 60’s and 70’s, was regularly required to focus their attention on the outward signifiers of dress that identified the wearer as in alignment (or not) with the local power structure. This self-scrutiny and the accompanying scrutiny of others on the part of teenaged female high-school students at the time, was enhanced and given direction in 1970 by the first appearance in the media-scape of the highly colourful and yet not very bright DOLLY magazine. I well recall my first perusal of that initial edition, to the extent that I remember to where and with whom I was travelling, and by what means. My reaction at the time may have included scoffing, I may even have suggested throwing the publication from a window of the top deck of the double decker bus in which we were being transported away from rather than in the direction of our secondary school on a weekday.

At the end of the following year, for the school farewell ball, I brought, in lieu of a beau, my adoptive older brother, a person I had adopted to fill the space that a genetically-related brother might have occupied should I have had one – which indeed I should have had. The point of this short anecdote is that my adoptive brother, as my escort, had refused to follow the ruling set down by the school rule-makers, to wit, that escorts (interlopers, you must admire, into the all-female domain of our high school cohort) needed to be sporting a tie, worn in the appropriate fashion around the neck and collar. Instead, our rebellion was realised in a resistance of the local power structure through non-compliance with the dress-code, whereby he attended the event in a polo-necked jumper. We were rewarded for our efforts with a series of counter-resistant entry-level embarrassments in the form of discussions between my teachers and my escort. Since it was no longer the sixties at that juncture, I still wonder whether the polo was a good move to make.

In terms of formativeness too, I have not even mentioned the Mater’s influence on my later psychological make-up. Suffice to say that we (my sister and I) were subject to constant admonitions regarding the attire of exemplary others. And by ‘exemplary’, I do not necessarily wish the reader to imagine I refer to its regular positive connotation, but that attention was regularly drawn to those exemplars of style and taste which might advise us, in the words of those very clever mass media mavens Trinny and Susannah, what not to wear. With apologies for being less than precise here, we can summarise some of these instances of clothing error through the use of broader labels encompassing the main idea entailed. Certainly, for example, girls with fat legs should not wear mini-skirts. I personally could not agree more, and not primarily because I would hope to restrict anyone’s freedom to wear what they wanted – this would no doubt redound on myself in some way (I was born in India after all you see) – but because I am afflicted by a very nasty turn at the sight of visual arrangements which are not aesthetically-pleasing, which by the by has always been a great burden to both myself and to any companions, on occasions of traversing any locale where, for example, a McDonald’s has set up shop. Other combinations that one should avoid included that of dirty hair and a white collar, a stiletto and a bare leg, green and blue in the same outfit, a scarf tied about the rollers on the head, garish jewellery, and so on – these all administered by the Mater with a small disapproving grimace.

These notes that I offer here have been occasioned by a recent excursion stateside, where I attended a conference in NYC (a pretext, one might observe) in which context I was alerted once again to a phenomenon I am aware I have been subconsciously registering for some time, but have not systematically described as yet. My attention in this instance was arrested, or motivated perhaps, by the outward appearance of one of the presenters, whose self-satisfied but dull readings of the writings of some favoured performance artists while standing before blurry blown-up images of the same artists – all of course having lead intense and thwarted lives until their activities as performance artists meant that their subjugated and hitherto unappreciated inner selves had been released – caused me to interrogate in an extended fashion the basis for my sudden wave of displeasure at her delivery. On that score, I could uncover no satisfaction, but in the process I became aware of her vestimentary attributes, collocations of clothing items I have in the past remarked repeated in a variety of ways such that they can be considered variations on a theme, instantiations in fact of a genre, a conventional combination, an iconic reference to a potential state of identity rather than, say, indexical of an object.

/……to be continued

it’s like shooting fish in a barrel

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learning english can be fun!

Self Introduction

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On once more being asked to join another web-log, another drift of voices irregularly heard through the auspices of this one and the other web-logs entertained by these administrators, I was warned – ah, but the term I am wont to use would be threatened for its entailment of a notional accuracy (‘valeur’ as I believe some might say) in relation to the alternative; however, it became obvious as I toyed with its insertion that the grammar of the two words is completely different and thus I was diverted down a path of contemplation regarding the very meaning of the term threaten as appropriate for what I was hoping to explain. It is a matter of projection it seems, which alerts us to the nuances of meanings here, rather than a mere casual glance at the lexicon, and the convention which allows us to threaten something (or someone, I admit), but not to warn something directly… which takes us into much too abstract a territory.

At this point, much more appropriate should I return to the example provided by the invitation I received to offer observations through the medium of this web-log – in addition to my other internet presences I hasten to add. To wit, in tandem with my invitation to contribute, I was warned that I should announce my connections at the outset. As you can no doubt see, although I felt that my interlocutor’s intent was more to threaten me not to fail to reveal my connections with her on pain of later upheaval and accusatory rumblings, I could not express this apperception on my part as “I was threatened that I should divulge my interests at the outset”. No – although I felt that her manner of description and explanation were in the way of a threat, the rider here can only be rendered as I was warned that I should divulge my relationship to one of the administrators at the outset lest dire consequences should ensue. As a matter of fact (to be precise it would be better to say, as a matter of conjecture) I am not sure as to the exact nature of these consequences and to whom they might apply. Nonetheless, I am bound by the code of guest-ship, and hence I needs must reveal at this juncture and before indulging in any further contributions in the forum that I have known eldon for some several years past.

It is a matter of record that she earlier invited me to subscribe to other online forums, to which I acquiesced in my usual fashion. Indeed it seems (I cannot remember) that I made an earlier appearance on the virtual stage of some previous incarnations of other discussion spaces she used to inhabit when they were purveyed in electronic discussion list form, at the time we both lived in Japan (I was about to say “inhabited” Japan, but even I was never so large). My peripatetic lifestyle means that I can occasionally still cross paths with eldon, if we manage to time it correctly, and in this instance it is to my own good fortune that eldon now inhabits (along with two cats and a large P) a terrace with 4 bedrooms in Sydney, to which location I regularly return to recharge my batteries as the quaint expression goes, and to make sure the country hasn’t gone to the dogs in my absence. And also to make sure they will continue to let me in for the foreseeable future – successive Australian governments evincing populist paranoia making it sometimes extremely difficult for refugees to enter its hallowed grounds having once being invaded by Europeans, and after being inhabited for hundreds of thousands of years by the now disinherited original owners. I just wrote owners but in fact that is not the best term to use – unfortunately a more apt term like belongers is not part of the English language lexicon.
In any case, the issue attending my regular visits rests on my having been raised in Australian climes, but not having been born here. I have triple citizenship in fact, with the sub-continent being my favourite, perhaps due to its also having been the place of my bursting forth into the light so to speak. During this particular visit to Australian soil I intend to perform some research-induced agenda, and it may even eventuate, attendant on its success or no, that my own permanent removal from the land of infinite pleasure relating to anthropological curiosities may occur as a result.

I am reliably informed by eldon, then, that this web-log needs the services – or at least the contributions – of an anthropologist. In point of actual fact, I like to see myself as an anthro-apologist, but this is a minor aberration which I hope readers will either ignore or celebrate depending on their point of view. I personally am not sure that I can stand any more tension, and can reliably admit that tension of an inter-stratal nature is definitely not inviting, each stratum being as it is occupied with tribes of conflicting ideological viewpoints, I cannot see that we need to focus on the tension so much as assuage any that comes to light.

As far as the necessity for my services goes, she vouchsafes that the administrators occupy pretty similar disciplinary niches and that should not really auger well for balance of opinion, or in fact any discussion at all, since everyone is keen to behave like the polite gophers in a bugs bunny cartoon at one…er…level, but she has observed to me that often-times instead, perspectival boundaries tend to arise between members and their negotiations over the nature of reality. While I am not in the business of defining reality for anyone else, I am drawn to inspecting and relating in new lights the various representations that different groups attempt to define for themselves in delineating what sections of the cosmos and its knowledge-making facilities they themselves call into being. My own concerns then are outside myself so to speak, and located in groups rather than individuals. Indubitably this definition of my trajectory is simplistic, and yet it will do for the moment as a line along which to align my big toe as I relate (in other words) what eldon wants me to observe, and which in fact I have been desultorily observing since my subscriberhood here began.

She (the L-person) has always taken a participant-observer status with respect to the groups she studies, and I respect this stance on her part, and even applaud the work she has done with it, but I am more inclined to stand apart from the cultural practices on which I am interested to comment – not completely, but in the manner of having one foot fully outside the practices of that group whilst I am in any way ‘studying’ it, and at the same time, I endeavour to maintain another foot (or even feet) within that group, under its superstructure, in the bedrock of the community perhaps. In Japan, this has only been achieved by not studying the Japanese themselves, but rather the antics of expats living there. But this is another story.

To return to the matter at hand via this rather circumlocutionary route, eldon claims that her mien is in the way of a sociologist when approaching phenomenon of human behaviour, while the clown takes the role of grammarian. In the case of pedro, he is the tech-engineer of the outfit, and comes up with gee-gaws, modifications, etc, at regular intervals.
As an antho-apologist, I am more interested in art-making practices that point to elements of the dynamics of any tribe – I believe “community” may now be the word of choice in some spheres? – In any case, the aesthetic, as it will be remembered and no doubt agreed, is not altogether the province of the visual or even the plastic arts, but includes notions regarding beauty and truth (however conceived) relating to sound and music, words and their sequencing, and the sequencing of other elements of experience apart from the usual words, sounds, smells, tastes and graphics – sensations. Although simplification is not my forte, I am willing to extend my head or expose further my neck by saying that aesthetics can be boiled down to (hoping here that no anti-essentialists are reading along to curse me and follow me spitefully on twitter) relationships. Beauty, via this definition, is a not a part of the single act or object, or even a static composition of objects or elements but is imminent in the intricacies of the relationships that obtain between acts and objects, or elements thereof, extending as well to sequences in human interaction and the parts out of which they are composed. Readers jumping ahead will connect this with my anthropological leanings and intuit that they rest on a basis of examining what specific sequences and juxtapositionings constitute a group’s favoured practices, mores and so on, repeated instances, and legitimised, allowed, ratified and lauded sequences of acts or apperceptions of them which in turn realise that group’s “culture”…with, she apologises and accentuates at the same time, scare quotes.

Herein has lain my self introduction. May it please your honours to accept my humble postings from this day forward – although I cannot promise their regularity or appropriate content.

no grammar today

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having travelled across australia a third of the way and back just recently, i can confidently assert that there is no grammar today. there is a lot of weather about, and, in rural areas coffee is available but weak and not so milky or firm frothy for the cappuccino-afficionados out there. in addition, one has to invariably state that one would like one’s coffee to be served in a cup, not a mug.
as for grammar, we saw none on the way, and had to make do with random gurgles and unrelated-to-each-other signs or icons.

banned clip test…


here is an offending vimeo.
i test  here whether it is the vid itself, or the words which go with it,
to wit: greenpeace, nestle, google, china,
because has suffered an internal server error… just after i posted it there…..
oh — it was pulled from youtube by request from nestle, so i just thought maybe nestle is more powerful than china… seeing as google has decided not to allow filtering of its content anymore there…

[anyone for a multi-modal analysis of the vid?]

Have a break? from Greenpeace UK on Vimeo.

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