Friday, October 26, 2007

HUH?



I'd like to pose some questions for FI staff/FI readers that may help fix the immediacy of this catastrophe in individual experience before it fades or becomes crusted over by journalistic/political viewpoints. Feel free to answer one, all, or none of the questions in the comments section. But we'd be stoked just to hear about anything.

how did the fires start?

what was the true cause(s) of their start?

how did the fires develop through time (when and where did the first one start and how did it lead to the others)?

what are the unique qualities and attributes of these fires (as opposed to other fires in history)?

what objects are connected and related to the fires?

how can we use these fires and apply them to our lives?

what will be the results and effects of these fires?

what do these fires explain and prove?

what will be the end or future of these fires?

what is the best opinion or attitude to take towards the fires, and what is the cause/motivation of this opinion?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

WITCH FIRE IMAGES FROM OCEANSIDE, CA

ash in the pool

ash in the pool part II

ash on the car

ash on the land

Kali gets her way

weird sun

Monday, October 22, 2007

ECSTATIC PEACE



Thurston Moore's been a role model for freaked out kids into underground music, writing, and art for decades cause he's living proof that you can build an exciting life out of those interests. As a singer/guitarist of Sonic Youth he somehow launched strange open tunings, feed back, noise, and surrealistic imagery into pop culture without suffering in alienated obscurity. Vice Magazine is running a series of episodes on their internet television channel documenting Thurston's record label Ecstatic Peace. The first episode focuses on his archives of rare literary magazines he's collected over the years with some indirect help from college English departments.

watch it here

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Message to Rudy



The Specials, with legendary ska trombonist Rico.

Power to the People



A visually exciting video from Spain's garage quartet, Tokyo Sex Destruction.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You're all my bitches, now



Lenin breaks it down:

The arrival of the 'barbarians' (the term widely used, without irony, after 9/11) not only gave masculinism a fresh lease of life against what are perceived as the decadent, feminising years of the Clinton administration; it gave a floundering Bush the chance to foster paternal projection by feeding us with baby talk, in the manner of Reagan. This is the significance of 'The Hug', the stage-managed encounter between Bush and Ashley Faulkner, photographed by her Republican father and sent to some people who rapidly dispersed it among 'close friends, whereupon it found its way through all the usual right-wing outlets and then the mainstream media. Bush, it transpired, was the Daddy of the nation, and his hugs would become legendary, even after he had presided over the contrived destruction by neglect (and then seige) of New Orleans. I have written before about how nationalism relies on familial (patriarchal) metaphors, and anyone who wants to understand the regressive tendencies of nationalism need only consult Peter Blickle and Uli Linke. American nationalism has emphasised these trends, despite the occasional nod to diversity. It is instructive to see Faludi's discussion of Bush going through his reassuringly fatherly routines: he discusses his favourite gun, stages photoshoots while swinging axes and chainsaws, catches big fat fish. "Protection fantasies," Faludi says, have become ubiquitous. Thus, Kerry repeatedly poses with a rifle (not unlike this man in a way), and photograghs of this are used on electioneering leaflets with the slogan 'Kerry Will Protect Ohio'. Pollsters and PR men seemed to decide that venturing into the wild and killing animals proved manhood: and Americans wanted nothing more than a big fat manhood hovering over them.

The tension in this concrete silence


Vassily Grossman

Please note this passage, from John Lancaster's LBR review of Vassily Grossman's epic Life and Fate:

That greatness is to do with scale. This is one of the hardest qualities to demonstrate, and it is made harder by the unpyrotechnic flatness of Grossman’s writing; although it has its virtuosities and set pieces, these are at the level of the character sketch rather than the brilliant sentence or flashy paragraph. Once you get used to this, it comes to seem a virtue; there’s no writerly showing-off. What there is is an immense depth of feeling and experience.

In addition to his wartime adventures, Grossman knew the Ukraine; the world of factories, where he had worked; the world of science, from his training as a chemist; the world of the Party ideologues, and the world of those they cajoled, arrested and interrogated. He knew prisoners, snipers, starving old ladies, Slavophile bigots, commissars, collaborators, every flavour of ordinary soldier, tankman, fighter pilot, nurse, power-station worker, Tolstoyan, drunk, and cross teenage daughter. His experiences of Soviet society had an immense range, and he tried to get all of it into Life and Fate. The novel gives an extraordinary sense of intimacy with an entire culture.

One test of greatness in fiction is unflinchingness, and Life and Fate is utterly unflinching, taking the reader both into the prison camps of the Soviet state and the death camps of the Nazis: the latter journey, accompanying a young boy, David, and the woman who looks after him on the journey, Sofya Levinton, I found that I could not reread. The horror is all the more real because we have actually witnessed the gas chambers being built, and an inspection visit by Eichmann.

"A small surprise had been laid on for Eichmann and Liss during their tour of inspection. In the middle of the gas chamber, the engineers had laid a small table with hors d’oeuvres and wine. Reineke invited Eichmann and Liss to sit down.

Eichmann laughed at this charming idea and said: ‘With the greatest of pleasure.’

He gave his cap to his bodyguard and sat down. His large face suddenly took on a look of kindly concentration, the same look that appears on the faces of millions of men as they sit down to a good meal.

Reineke poured out the wine and they all reached for their glasses, waiting for Eichmann to propose a toast.

The tension in this concrete silence, in these full glasses, was so extreme that Liss felt his heart was about to burst. What he wanted was some ringing toast to clear the atmosphere, a toast to the glory of the German ideal. Instead, the tension grew stronger – Eichmann was chewing a sandwich.

‘Well, gentlemen?’ said Eichmann. ‘I call that excellent ham!’

‘We’re waiting for the master of ceremonies to propose a toast,’ said Liss.

Eichmann raised his glass.

‘To the continued success of our work! Yes, that certainly deserves a toast!’

Eichmann was the only man to eat well and drink very little."

A Song from Under the Floorboards



Documentary filmmakers Molly Bingham and Steve Connors mine a seam on the NYT video Op-Ed webpage (here via UTube); watch closely people--this is how it's done.

Here's a link to the NYT page

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Salvation Mountain

Docufiction by Harold Jaffe

Jesus came to him in the cab of a Datsun long bed pickup.
Gloomy Monday, ten minutes before midnight, March 3, 1973, St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
Dewey Birdsong was parked in his truck because he’d run out of money and had no place to go.
He usually made enough to get by shoveling snow in the long winters.
But this winter was uncommonly dry so he couldn’t afford to rent a room by the week as was his custom.
It was cold in the truck and he couldn’t sleep.
To keep his mind off the cold he prayed to Jesus, which he’d done before on occasion.
This time he prayed aloud, insistently.
Finally he dozed and he dreamed.
It was not a dream but a vision.
Lord Jesus came to him and said:

Go to the end of the earth and construct a mountain to testify to me.
It will be called Salvation Mountain.
But first you must learn to fly like a bird.
Three days later Dewey, with borrowed money, was driving west.
He stopped in Newton, Iowa, where he got work as a farmhand along with room and board.
In his spare time he set about building a hot air balloon so that he could learn to fly like a bird.
He spent seven years building the balloon mostly from nylon scraps and Styrofoam plastic harvested from dumpsters.
Painted bright orange, the balloon bore the billboard-sized message that God is Love, which Dewey inscribed in black latex house paint.
The problem was the balloon was about nine stories high and Dewey could not get it off the ground.
So he bid farewell to the Iowa farmer, his employer and landlord for the last seven years.
He mounted the balloon on an old Ford flatbed truck and drove west to the most desolate place he could find that was still more or less inhabitable.
The southeast tip of California.
An outpost called Slab City, in the Mojave Desert, between Niland and the
Chocolate Mountains, a few miles east of the massive inland Salton Sea.
There he tried again to loft the balloon and this time was successful.
He steered it to the Salton Sea, then farther west to the Pacific.
Then he turned the balloon around and headed back east where it suddenly lost altitude and plummeted to the hard desert floor.
Amazingly, Dewey survived unhurt.
Dewey said, “I just rutted out here, so I figured I’d stay put.”
Having flown once, Dewey Birdsong ceased working on the balloon and turned his full attention to constructing a mountain in the slabs of the Mojave Desert.
Located on the former Camp Locust Marine Corps base due east of Niland, Slab City received its name from the cement slabs which were all that remained from the former base buildings.
The slabs made convenient parking blocks for RVs, SUVs pickup trucks, and abandoned school busses.
Between November and April more than 3000 “snowbirds,” pensioners, and assorted misfits are drawn to the ungoverned life in the Slab City desert.
They don’t pay taxes or fees of any kind.
Who would pay for squatting at the end of the earth, where summer comes in March, lasts through October and the temperature climbs to 115 degrees?
Where there is no electricity, running water, sanitation, or medical facilities.
Where the stench from the decomposing sea is close to overwhelming for miles around.
During World War 2, General Patton used the desert base for war games to simulate the African campaign he would wage against Rommel
Later the crew of the Enola Gray would practice for Hiroshima by releasing dummy A bombs into the Salton Sea.
Though the base that occupied Slab City is abandoned, the US army still drops bombs at a desert “test site” three or four miles away.
Bombay Beach, the bereft hamlet north of Niland, takes its name not from its Bombay, India-like setting on the fetid sea but from the bombs that explode intermittently to the east.
Dewey Birdsong was fond of saying that he had difficulty drawing a straight line.
But after Jesus came to him in the Datsun long bed pickup on that freezing Vermont night he became infused not only with God but with an architecture that testified to God.
Dewey said that even now, twenty-six years after beginning the construc-tion of Salvation Mountain, he never knew what he was going to paint or sculpt until he held the paintbrush or chisel in his hand and Jesus instructed him.
Occasionally he would have to appeal out loud to Jesus to guide his hand.
Nonetheless, after working on the mountain for three years it collapsed in a wind storm.
Instead of giving up, Dewey cleared away the debris and began again substituting clay for sand and making other construction alterations deduced from his failure.
Dewey said, “With Jesus in me I can make a hundred mistakes and start all over with exactly the same enthusiasm.”
The mountain, which testified to Jesus, Dewey constructed out of straw bales covered in adobe, that is, a mixture of clay soil, chopped straw, and water.
With house paint he painted phrases from Scripture, biblical injunctions, birds, flowers and allegorical figures; layer on layer in a delirious medley of colors.
Dewey estimates that he’s used about forty thousand gallons of paint, all donated.
Seventy-five-years-old now, he still wakes up at five am, drinks a glass of water and gets to work.
He climbs the ladder and hoists bales of hay into large clefts in the mountain which he then cements with adobe.
In one large cleft he actually managed to insert the ruins of a mature ironwood tree, roots and all.
It functions as a buttress for the adobe overlay.
Still on the ladder, Dewey paints and sculpts his biblical quotations, flowers and symbolic figures on to the adobe.
He works until 11:30 or so.
The rest of the day is given over to reading scripture, feeding his animals (cats and dogs that people abandoned), greeting and giving tours to visitors.
If it cools off a little at dusk he will work on the mountain for another hour and a half or so.
A twenty foot stone cross painted bright pink marks the highest point of Salvation Mountain.
The centerpiece, just beneath the cross, is a massive red heart with the multicolored message: JESUS I'M A SINNER, PLEASE COME UPON MY BODY AND INTO MY HEART.
Dewey carved steps into the mountain’s side for pilgrims to scale and examine the display from different angles.
He constructed kivas or grottos at the base of the mountain, where pilgrims can rest away from the sun.
He himself lives in an old Dodge pickup with a shell, which was donated.
He still owns the Ford Flatbed truck which he drove west from Newton, Iowa.
Someone also donated an ancient school bus and a bicycle.
Another Samaritan donated a moped.
Dewey has painted and inscribed all of these vehicles with colorful biblical quotations and commands.
Dewey Birdsong, in his wide-brimmed straw hat, is tall, rail-thin, slightly stooped, with an eagle-nose, deeply sunburned face and illuminated blue
eyes under shaggy white brows.
When he talks with you in his soft voice he tends to look over your head, beyond you.
Despite the onerous work and his advanced age his long hands are slim and mostly unlined.

***

Dewey, you dreamt of Jesus in your Datsun pickup on the other side of the continent nearly thirty-five years ago.
That, you’ve said, marked the beginning of your quest.
Do you still dream of Jesus when you sleep at night?

Jesus is with me all day while I work.
At night I’m so bone-tired that I sleep very deep.
But I also float.

In what sense?

The way it is when I climb the ladder with the bale and the
adobe.
Only there’s no ladder.
And I don’t feel any of the weight of the bale and the clay.

Jesus is levitating you, making you float?

Yes sir.
It feels real nice.

Jesus does not tell you what to paint on the mountain the following morning?

No, huh-uh.
That comes when I’m on the ladder working.

How does Jesus communicate to you?
Through words?

Not exactly.

The Slabs draw a lot of different people.
Snowbirds, the homeless, even some dangerous types.
Outlaws and bikers, militia.
How have the people in and around the Slabs responded to Salvation Mountain?

Oh, real good.
Lots of Christian folks have expressed themselves very positive about the mountain.
Even the non-believers, they’ve been supportive to the mountain.
Folks buy me coffee and donuts in the restaurants.
People buy me groceries.
I don’t ask.
I can turn my back and there’ll be some groceries and two cans of paint right next to my truck.
See, it ain’t me.
It’s God’s mountain working through me.

I didn’t see a church in Niland or Bombay Beach.
Where are the nearest evangelical churches, Dewey?

Well, there’s one up in Mecca, just north of Salton City.
Another down there in Brawley.
But I’ve never went.
My church is right here.

Your mountain.

Jesus’ mountain.
I’m just real fortunate he chose me to build it.
Because without him I could not even draw a straight line.

Why do you think Jesus chose you rather than, say, an artist or
sculptor with knowledge and experience?

I’ve asked myself that same question.
I always kinda figured that God scraped the bottom of the barrel to have me build his mountain.
Maybe he just wanted to prove he could pick somebody that really couldn’t do it and then make him do it. [laughs]
Man, I was here without state permission.
The county didn’t never give me permission.
I had no right to be here at all.
But God got it done for me.
I think maybe to testify to his faith in poor folks.
The poor and the ignorant, like me.
Was it eight or ten years ago that county supervisors called
Salvation Mountain a "toxic nightmare” because of the leaded paint you used?
They talked about bulldozing the mountain and burying it in a hazardous-waste site on an Indian reservation in Nevada.
Has that problem with the supervisors been resolved?

Oh, sure.
Senator Barbara Boxer wrote to the supervisors on behalf of the mountain.
So did twenty-five museum directors from acrost the country.
You see, I never knew much about politicians.
But I knew they have a lot of power.
They just come in here like a fifty ton bulldozer, with lies, and they didn’t care.
They thought they could push me over easy because I’m clumsy, awkward, I’ve got no money.
But once they realized they were wrong, they backed off.
I still believe American politicians are better than in most countries.

I know you paint and sculpt every day.
Do you eat every day or do you sometimes fast?

I eat, but not much.
I used to fast but now I don’t have the strength to fast after climbing the ladder and working in the sun.
It gets pretty darn hot out here.

What do you eat?

Pretty much what good folks donate.
Whatever groceries I find by my truck, that’s what I eat.
I never fussed about food, even when I was young.
I never had enough money to fuss.
I never went to school the way everyone does these days.
I was ignorant, like I said.
I’m still ignorant.
But I love Jesus and through his grace I am building this mountain.
But it is actually Jesus building it with my hands, you see.

You’ve become famous, Dewey.
Salvation Mountain is reproduced in art books both in this country and Europe.
You receive hundreds of visitors.
They give you donations.
What do you do with the donated money?

Well, I used to keep it in my truck.
But then I was robbed a few times.
[smiles and shrugs his shoulders]
Now I have it in a bank down there in El Centro.
Do you want to see a book?
They just sent it to me, a big art book.
From Germany.

I’d like to see it..

See, there is Salvation Mountain on the cover.
And inside there are five more pages of the mountain from different angles.
Full color.
The photographers--two of them from Germany--were here for three days.
They stayed in a hotel in Calipatria.

Calipatria?
Near Mexicali?
Where the state prison is?

Uh-huh.
There’s a fancy hotel down there.
Holiday Inn, I think it is.

Handsome book, Dewey.
Very nice presentation of the mountain.
Taschen--they’re a well-known publisher.
Did they pay you?

No.
It don’t matter.
I have all the money I need.
More than I ever had, because I was always real poor, you see.
I don’t have a lot of expenses.
Except for my teeth.
I have this new set of teeth that I got done in El Centro.
What do you think?

They look good.
How do they feel?

They feel good.

You have a new set of teeth and you’ve become a world-famous artist.
You don’t mind that designation—artist?

At first when someone even mentioned me being an artist I’d correct ‘em.
No, no, that ain’t me.
But then it happened so often I got to feeling I should feel good about it.
Shoot, I don’t care what people call it.
If they want to push the mountain as art, boy, I’m glad you like that artwork. [laughs]
Just so “God is Love” is up there and folks can come and draw their own conclusions.

What about apprentices?
There’s so much interest in what you’re doing, I’m sure you can get some young people to help you with the hoisting and heavy stuff.

That’s true.
The heavy work is harder for me than it used to be.
Well, I did have a couple of young fellows volunteer to help me and they came from up there in Oregon all ready to do the heavy work.
Except one of the boys brought his mother with him.
She was a very religious lady, she took one look at the flowers I painted in all them colors and she scolded me.
She said: “You got to take them flowers down because you can’t preach Jesus pretty.”
“If you truly love Jesus,” she said, “you are going to be persecuted and people gonna hate you.”
Now that didn’t hit me good.
Jesus is a beautiful spirit so I always thought it is right that I preach Jesus pretty.
So what I done after she scolded me is I just started putting more flowers than ever on the mountain.
I guess I’m stubborner than a mule.
You tell me I can’t so something, look out. [laughs]
See, I’m such a loner it’s almost embarrassing.
I don’t know how to explain that really.
I love people, but I’ve been out here a lot of years and I hardly know anyone’s last name.
I love to smile at them and thank them for bringing paint and groceries.
But when I get too close to folks, they sort of want me to do it their way.
And most of the time their way is right.
But I still like to do it my way.
I’m-a-gonna make lots of mistakes, but let me make them with God lookin’ over me.

So you work alone.
But you and Salvation Mountain are all over the virtual world.
You have your own web site and blog, right?

[laughs]
Some young people from the LA area came up with the idea and I said fine, as long as they took care of it.
Which, I guess, they’re doing.
I don’t have a computer myself, but folks tell me it looks real nice.

It does.
You’re even on YouTube, videos of you constructing the mountain.

That’s what they tell me.
It makes me happy to hear because not everyone can make it all the way to the Slabs to see the real thing.

Do you think that all the interest in Salvation Mountain has to do
with a renewed interest in Jesus and the word of God?
Or does it have to do with the oddity of a person erecting a colorful mountain in a remote desert at the “end of the earth”?

I don’t rightly know.
I hope it’s about Jesus, because without him the mountain wouldn’t exist.
But it may not happen right away either, this true appreciation of Jesus.
As long as it happens sometime and Salvation Mountain is still standing.
You asked before about the donations.
Where the money goes.
About every dollar that’s donated I put back into the mountain.
The more it expands, the more it needs to be maintained, you see.

How much larger is the mountain likely to get, Dewey?

That depends on Jesus.

Terror Chic





These photos were from a Sept. '06 Vogue Italia series by superstar fashion photographer Steven Meisel (he shot Madonna's "Sex" book). Given the lack of controversy surrounding these images, one must assume that they fall within the norms of the dominant culture. Meisel has refused to comment on these photos.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Freaks and repressive state apparatuses


Here is Erik Sprague, a former doctoral candidate and philosophy degree holder, known around the world for his amazing transformation from man to lizard as well as his modern sideshow performance art. A proud freak. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the nose flossing, or other sideshow undertakings Sprague does in his act, but he is clearly a thoughtful agent of change and his discussion of the medical procedures behind his body modification project is rich with observations about the social importance of regulating the human body. In particular, his filed teeth and bifurcated tongue have caused a movement to form around writing laws to make such body modifications illegal, thus invoking and Althusserian repressive state apparatus to protect us from turning ourselves into lizard people.

While Erik Sprague occupies the low culture sideshow stages, his high culture colleagues, Strelarc and Orlan, among others, explore related boundaries in their surgical interventions, which are displayed and exhibited in gallery spaces and universities.

Here's Lizard Man speaking about his origins and some of the procedures.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Curtis

"Superfly"

"Freddy's Dead"


Curtis Mayfield: 6/3/42--12/16/99

Myths of the Near Future




Ancient US military bunker--Marin, CA.

Photo by Sigma, via BLDG BLOG.

Monday, October 8, 2007

"Walter Benjamin"



"Walter Benjamin" is drawn from a series of Harold Jaffe's docufictions called OD, which addresses well-known humans who have died of an overdose of drugs either intentionally or inadvertently."






Found dead in his room from a deliberate overdose of morphine in the French-Spanish border town of Portbou, after the group of Jewish refugees of which he was a part was intercepted by the Spanish Police on September 26, 1940. The group was attempting to reach Portugal, “officially” neutral in the Allies-Axis war.

He had a peculiar gait, described by an acquaintance as “at once advancing and tarrying, a strange mixture of both.”

Was it a “mixture” or a contradiction?

Was it contradictory or dialectical?

Was it impulse or calculation?

Was it another display of Benjamin’s much-commented-on-complexity?

With something of the comic, tragic and idiot-savant in the pot?


He thought of himself as a collector.

Walking aimlessly through Paris, collecting impressions.

Flanerie.

He read very widely, of course, but the books he meticulously collected were to be admired, not read.

When someone entered Derrida’s library and inquired whether the philosophe had read “all those books,” Derrida replied softly: “I’ve read just four, but very, very carefully.”
Benjamin collected objects that struck his fancy, with a keen eye always for the object’s non-usefulness.

He collected quotations all his adult life, pausing to write the words into a little book he carried in his breast pocket.

Wrote with his left hand.

Born on July 15, 1892, in Berlin.

The city he loved was Paris.

The first theoretician of the flaneur was Baudelaire, whom Benjamin admired and addressed in writing.


But how did Benjamin win over Bertolt Brecht, the most irascible artist-intellectual in Europe?

With the possible exception of Thomas Stearns Eliot, who because of unceasing constipation and his elevated caste, feigned patience.

Except, perhaps, towards Jews and Irish Catholics.

Walter Benjamin was a non-Jewish Jew.

Rather like Kafka with whom he identified.

Benjamin evidently never crossed paths with Eliot, who mostly remained in Britain, handling money, editing his literary journal, having quiet breakdowns . . .

Eliot, bent over his turtle soup, spoke softly, unctuously.

What little walking Eliot did made him think of fame and prayer.

Flanerie signifies a rich even delirious passivity, not thinking of anything in particular.


Hannah Arendt speculates that Benjamin was pursued by the “bucklicht Mannlein," the little hunchback of bad luck, well-known in German fairy tales.

At least in the ways of the world, Benjamin seemed incapable of making the right choice.

The little hunchback was always there pointing in the opposite direction.
When Benjamin refused on principle to compromise, he should have compromised.

When he suspended principle for the moment and did compromise, he need not have compromised.

He manifested potently (impotently) what he subtly demonstrated in both Proust and Kafka: that place at which weakness and genius coincide.

According to the sympathetic Hannah Arendt.


I nearly said “syphilitic Hannah Arendt.”

But that would have been Benjamin, wishing to be promiscuous but incapable, becoming syphilitic on his first deviation, which itself would be less than successful.

Lacked the thrusting power of his hero Brecht .

Lacked the courage (if that’s what it is) to enact his deviations as his hero Baudelaire enacted his.

He rarely completed what he set about.

What little he did complete was to him unsatisfactory.

Unsatisfactory as well to his student turned mentor/monitor, Adorno.


Another compulsion to flanerie was his, as it were, benign incapacity to locate himself.

He made a point of not going to the restroom while dining out for fear of not being able to find his way back to his table.

Which reminds us again of Kafka, born nine years before Benjamin, on July 3, at a period when the art of fasting had some purchase.

Moreover the most successful fasters had impresarios to present them to a restless public which naturally became more engaged the closer the hunger “artiste” approached death.

One such artiste, known as K, was especially refined at his craft and had established the Central European record of 42 days of fasting.

More than 42 days was unlawful because of the prospect of suicide, a prosecutable offence throughout Europe at that time.

K displayed his wasting self in a portable cage, barred, on a floor covered with grass, with a wooden bench and a low door at the left back corner which opened to a basin for excretions.

These of course became negligible as the fast extended.

The hunger artiste in his portable cage was transported from hamlet to hamlet, with an occasional stop in a city.

Sophisticated city dwellers for whom time was money tended to favor death itself rather than near-death, such as the hunger artiste presented.

At the termination of a successful fast there would be a small celebration.

Someone would play the tuba.

A pretty girl in a swimsuit secretly holding her nose would lead the rickety faster from his straw pallet to a table outside the cage bedecked with food.

For the artiste this was an intolerable moment.

The very thought of food made him dizzy with nausea.

Finally he would be prevailed upon to nibble a piece of bread, sip a thimble-full of mild tea.

Because of cultural factors not directly relevant to this discourse, the cynical attitude of the cities spread to the hamlets.

The general public grew more impatient with hunger artistes, as they did with other “performers” who, so to speak, toyed with death without actually dying.
As a result, K, in the 19th day of a new fast, awoke one dawn (he was never a sleeper) to find himself without an impresario.

After some nervous days, K hired himself out to a traveling circus, whose impresario could not be called enthusiastic.

To win him over, K offered to present his art for no pay, since his needs were minimal and money, of which he had little, meant to him nothing.

The graver difficulty was that the circus impresario had, he claimed, just one vacant cage, which was conjoined laterally to the cage of a young panther.

All night the hunger artiste listened to the panther pacing and growling.

In the day he smelled the raw meat and heard the panther savaging it.

Still he continued fasting, the sole occupation he knew.

Circus-goers, though not many of course, would pause by his cage, watch him for a brief time, occasionally comment.

The children would sometimes point at him then look at each other.

Usually these were nuclear families passing or returning from the fierce carnivores’ cages.

After several weeks the circus impresario removed the panther from the cage adjoining the artiste to a more spacious cage farther away.

The cage adjoining the faster’s cage remained empty, and as a result fewer and fewer viewers paused there.

After a time nobody paused by the faster’s cage.

Because the circus was otherwise thriving, nobody seemed to notice, until one day an overseer saw that not just the panther’s previous cage but the faster’s cage were empty.

An attendant was summoned to clean and prepare both cages for a newly captured brace of Bengal tigers.

As he was raking the straw in the faster’s cage he uncovered the faster himself, now shriveled to the dimensions of a starving child.

The attendant grinned vacuously at his discovery.

With what remaining strength he had, the artiste, without food for nearly fifty days, feebly motioned to the attendant, who squatted and, still grinning, lent an ear.

Before expiring, the enfeebled hunger artiste scratched out this almost inaudible whisper: I never wished to be a celebrated hunger artiste. I just could never find anything I wanted to eat.


Walter Benjamin did not deliberately kill himself with an overdose of morphine, as was widely reported.

He shot morphine into his left thigh because he never found anything else he liked to inject into his left thigh nearly as much.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It's a Drive-In Saturday



Ziggy-era Bowie as futuristic Teddy Boy in drag, from his very fine LP Aladdin Sane

"Lola"



Ray Davies sings his paen to virginity lost to an affectionate transvestite.

The Colossus of Maroussi


Raconteur, beggar, censored novelist and occasional pornographer; Henry Miller's name came up of over pints of Newcastle with Trumanwater last night. Trumanwater is the only person I've ever met, besides myself, who's (nearly) read Miller's "Rosy Crucifixion" trilogy. I can't believe it's been almost 30 years since Miller died.

Henry Miller was an inspiration to me as a younger man, appealing strongly to my sense of romantic adventure, and portraying the life of the literary artist as funny, sacred, sexy, desperate and very much worth pursuing. No writer has made books, writers and writing seem so vitally important, so invested with the well-lived life. A generation ago, Miller was caught in the crossfire of the PC wars, and his reputation has suffered; many now see him simply as a sexist fool, but this is a grievously unfair caricature: while he does, without apology, embody the working class sexual attitudes of his milieu, there is far more to him as an artist.

What follows are the opening pages of Miller's lyrical and in some ways profound Greek travelogue The Colossus of Maroussi

I WOULD NEVER HAVE GONE TO GREECE
had it not been for a girl named Betty Ryan who lived in
the same house with me in Paris. One evening, over a
glass of white wine, she began to talk of her experiences
in roaming about the world. I always listened to her with
great attention, not only because her experiences were
strange but because when she talked about her wander-
ings she seemed to paint them: everything she described
remained in my head like finished canvases by a master.
It was a peculiar conversation that evening: we began by
talking about China and the Chinese language which she
had begun to study. Soon we were in North Africa, in the
desert, among peoples I had never heard of before. And
then suddenly she was all alone, walking beside a river,
and the light was intense and I was following her as best
I could in the blinding sun but she got lost and I found
myself wandering about in a strange land listening to a
language I had never heard before. She is not exactly a
story teller, this girl, but she is an artist of some sort be-
cause nobody has ever given me the ambiance of a place
so thoroughly as she did Greece. Long afterwards I dis-
covered that it was near Olympia that she had gone astray
and I with her, but at the time it was just Greece to me,
a world of light such as I had never dreamed of and never
hoped to see.

For months prior to this conversation I had been re-
ceiving letters from Greece from my friend Lawrence
Durrell who had practically made Corfu his home. His
letters were marvellous too, and yet a bit unreal to me.
Durrell is a poet and his letters were poetic: they caused a
certain confusion in me owing to the fact that the dream
and the reality, the historical and the mythological, were
so artfully blended. Later I was to discover for myself
that this confusion is real and not due entirely to the
poetic faculty. But at the time I thought he was laying it
on, that it was his way of coaxing me to accept his repeated
invitations to come and stay with him.

A few months before the war broke out I decided to take
a long vacation. I had long wanted to visit the valley of
the Dordogne, for one thing. So I packed my valise and
took the train for Rocamadour where I arrived early one
morning about sun up, the moon still gleaming brightly.
It was a stroke of genius on my part to make the tour of
the Dordogne region before plunging into the bright and
hoary world of Greece. Just to glimpse the black, mys-
terious river at Dômme from the beautiful bluff at the
edge of the town is something to be grateful for all one's
life. To me this river, this country, belong to the poet,
Rainer Maria Rilke. It is not French, not Austrian, not
European even: it is the country of enchantment which
the poets have staked out and which they alone may lay
claim to. It is the nearest thing to Paradise this side of
Greece. Let us call it the Frenchman's paradise, by way of
making a concession. Actually it must have been a para-
dise for many thousands of years. I believe it must have
been so for the Cro-Magnon man, despite the fossilized
evidences of the great caves which point to a condition of
life rather bewildering and terrifying. I believe that the
Cro-Magnon man settled here because he was extremely
intelligent and had a highly developed sense of beauty.
I believe that in him the religious sense was already highly
developed and that it flourished here even if he lived like
an animal in the depths of the caves. I believe that this
great peaceful region of France will always be a sacred
spot for man and that when the cities have killed off the
poets this will be the refuge and the cradle of the poets
to come. I repeat, it was most important for me to have
seen the Dordogne: it gives me hope for the future of the
race, for the future of the earth itself. France may one
day exist no more, but the Dordogne will live on just as
dreams live on and nourish the souls of men.

At Marseilles I took the boat for Piraeus. My friend
Durrell was to meet me in Athens and take me to Corfu.
On the boat there were many people from the Levant. I
singled them out immediately, in preference to the Amer-
icans; the French, the English. I had a strong desire to
talk to Arabs and Turks and Syrians and such like. I was
curious to know how they looked at the world. The voy-
age lasted four or five days, giving me ample time to
make acquaintance with those whom I was eager to know
more about. Quite by accident the first friend I made was
a Greek medical student returning from Paris. We spoke
French together. The first evening we talked until three
or four in the morning, mostly about Knut Hamsun,
whom I discovered the Greeks were passionate about. It
seemed strange at first to be talking about this genius of
the North whilst sailing into warm waters. But that con-
versation taught me immediately that the Greeks are an
enthusiastic, curious-minded, passionate people. Passion
--it was something I had long missed in France. Not only
passion, but contradictoriness, confusion, chaos--all these
sterling human qualities I rediscovered and cherished
again in the person of my new-found friend. And gen-
erosity. I had almost thought it had perished from the
earth. There we were, a Greek and an American, with
something in common, yet two vastly different beings. It
was a splendid introduction to that world which was about
to open before my eyes. I was already enamored of
Greece, and the Greeks, before catching sight of the
country. I could see in advance that they were a friendly,
hospitable people, easy to reach, easy to deal with.

The next day I opened conversation with the others--a
Turk, a Syrian, some students from Lebanon, an Argen-
tine man of Italian extraction. The Turk aroused my an-
tipathies almost at once. He had a mania for logic which
infuriated me. It was bad logic too. And like the others,
all of whom I violently disagreed with, I found in him
an expression of the American spirit at its worst. Progress
was their obsession. More machines, more efficiency, more
capital, more comforts--that was their whole talk. I asked
them if they had heard of the millions who were unem-
ployed in America. They ignored the question. I asked
them if they realized how empty, restless and miserable
the American people were with all their machine-made
luxuries and comforts. They were impervious to my sar-
casm. What they wanted was success--money, power, a
place in the sun. None of them wanted to return to their
own country; for some reason they had all of them been
obliged to return against their will. They said there was
no life for them in their own country. When would life
begin? I wanted to know. When they had all the things
which America had, or Germany, or France. Life was
made up of things, of machines mainly, from what I
could gather. Life without money was an impossibility:
one had to have clothes, a good home, a radio, a car, a
tennis racquet, and so on. I told them I had none of those
things and that I was happy without them, that I had
turned my back on America precisely because these things
meant nothing to me. They said I was the strangest Amer-
ican they had ever met. But they liked me. They stuck to
me throughout the voyage, plying me with all sorts of
questions which I answered in vain. Evenings I would get
together with the Greek. We understood one another
better, much better, despite his adoration for Germany
and the German régime. He too, of course, wanted to go
to America some day. Every Greek dreams of going to
America and making a nest egg. I didn't try to dissuade
him; I gave him a picture of America as I knew it, as I
had seen it and experienced it. That seemed to frighten
him a little: he admitted he had never heard anything
like that about America before. "You go," I said, "and
see for yourself. I may be wrong. I am only telling you
what I know from my own experience.""Remember," I
added, "Knut Hamsun didn't have such a wonderful time
of it there, nor your beloved Edgar Allan Poe. . . ."

There was a French archaeologist returning to Greece
who sat opposite me at the table; he could have told me a
lot of things about Greece but I never gave him a chance;
I disliked him from the time I first laid eyes on him. The
chap I really liked most during the voyage was the Ital-
ian from the Argentine. He was about the most ignorant
fellow I have ever met and charming at the same time.
At Naples we went ashore together to have a good meal
and to visit Pompeii which he had never even heard of.
Despite the overpowering heat I enjoyed the trip to
Pompeii; if I had gone with an archaeologist I would
have been bored stiff. At Piraeus he came ashore with me
to visit the Acropolis. The heat was even worse than at
Pompeii, which was pretty bad. At nine in the morning
it must have been 120 degrees in the sun. We had hardly
gotten through the gate at the dock when we fell into the
hands of a wily Greek guide who spoke a little English
and French and who promised to show us everything of
interest for a modest sum. We tried to find out what he
wanted for his services but in vain. It was too hot to dis-
cuss prices; we fell into a taxi and told him to steer us
straight to the Acropolis. I had changed my francs into
drachmas on the boat; it seemed like a tremendous wad
that I had stuffed into my pocket and I felt that I could
meet the bill no matter how exorbitant it might be. I
knew we were going to be gypped and I looked forward to
it with relish. The only thing that was solidly fixed in my
mind about the Greeks was that you couldn't trust them;
I would have been disappointed if our guide had turned
out to be magnanimous and chivalrous. My companion
on the other hand was somewhat worried about the situa-
tion. He was going on to Beyrout. I could actually hear
him making mental calculations as we rode along in the
suffocating dust and heat.

The ride from Piraeus to Athens is a good introduction
to Greece. There is nothing inviting about it. It makes
you wonder why you decided to come to Greece. There is
something not only arid and desolate about the scene, but
something terrifying too. You feel stripped and plun-
dered, almost annihilated. The driver was like an animal
who had been miraculously taught to operate a crazy
machine: our guide was constantly directing him to go to
the right or the left, as though they had never made the
journey before. I felt an enormous sympathy for the
driver whom I knew would be gypped also. I had the
feeling that he could not count beyond a hundred; I had
also the feeling that he would drive into a ditch if he
were directed to. When we got to the Acropolis--it was
an insane idea to go there immediately--there were sev-
eral hundred people ahead of us storming the gate. By this
time the heat was so terrific that all I thought of was
where to sit down and enjoy a bit of shade. I found my-
self a fairly cool spot and I waited there while the Ar-
gentine chap got his money's worth. Our guide had re-
mained at the entrance with the taxi driver after turning
us over to one of the official guides. He was going to
escort us to the Temple of Jupiter and the Thesion and
other places as soon as we had had our fill of the Acropo-
lis. We never went to these places, of course. We told him
to drive into town, find a cool spot and order some ice
cream. It was about ten thirty when we parked ourselves
on the terrace of a cafe. Everybody looked fagged out
from the heat, even the Greeks. We ate the ice cream,
drank the iced water, then more ice cream and more iced
water. After that I called for some hot tea, because I sud-
denly remembered somebody telling me once that hot
tea cools you off.

The taxi was standing at the curb with the motor run-
ning. Our guide seemed to be the only one who didn't
mind the heat. I suppose he thought we would cool off a
bit and then start trotting around again in the sun looking
at ruins and monuments. We told him finally that we
wanted to dispense with his services. He said there was
no hurry, he had nothing special to do, and was happy
to keep us company. We told him we had had enough for
the day and would like to settle up. He called the waiter
and paid the check out of his own pocket. We kept prod-
ding him to tell us how much. He seemed reluctant as hell
to tell us. He wanted to know how much we thought his
services were worth. We said we didn't know--we would
leave it to him to decide. Whereupon, after a long pause,
after looking us over from head to foot, scratching him-
self, tilting his hat back, mopping his brow, and so on, he
blandly announced that he thought 2500 drachmas would
square the account. I gave my companion a look and told
him to open fire. The Greek of course was thoroughly
prepared for our reaction. And it's this, I must confess,
that I really like about the Greeks, when they are wily
and cunning. Almost at once he said, "well, all right, if
you don't think my price is fair then you make me a
price." So we did. We made him one as ridiculously low
as his was high. It seemed to make him feel good, this
crude bargaining. As a matter of fact, we all felt good
about it. It was making service into something tangible
and real like a commodity. We weighed it and appraised
it, we juggled it like a ripe tomato or an ear of corn. And
finally we agreed, not on a fair price, because that would
have been an insult to our guide's ability, but we agreed
that for this unique occasion, because of the heat, because
we had not seen everything, and so on and so forth, that
we would fix on thus and such a sum and part good friends.
One of the little items we haggled about a long time was
the amount paid by our guide to the official guide at the
Acropolis. He swore he had given the man 150 drachmas.
I had seen the transaction with my own eyes, and I knew
he had given only fifty drachmas. He maintained that I
had not seen well. We smoothed it out by pretending that
he had inadvertently handed the man a hundred drach-
mas more than he intended to, a piece of casuistry so
thoroughly un-Greek that had he then and there decided
to rob us of all we possessed he would have been justified
and the courts of Greece would have upheld him.

An hour later I said good-bye to my companion, found
myself a room in a small hotel at double the usual price,
stripped down and lay on the bed naked in a pool of
sweat until nine that evening. I looked for a restaurant,
tried to eat, but after taking a few mouthfuls gave it up.
I have never been so hot in all my life. To sit near an
electric light was torture. After a few cold drinks I got
up from the terrace where I was sitting and headed for
the park. I should say it was about eleven o'clock. People
were swarming in all directions to the park. It reminded
me of New York on a sweltering night in August. It was
the herd again, something I had never felt in Paris, ex-
cept during the aborted revolution. I sauntered slowly
through the park towards the Temple of Jupiter. There
were little tables along the dusty paths set out in an
absent-minded way: couples were sitting there quietly in
the dark, talking in low voices, over glasses of water. The
glass of water. . . everywhere I saw the glass of water.
It became obsessional. I began to think of water as a new
thing, a new vital element of life. Earth, air, fire, water.
Right now water had become the cardinal element. See-
ing lovers sitting there in the dark drinking water, sitting
there in peace and quiet and talking in low tones, gave me
a wonderful feeling about the Greek character. The dust,
the heat, the poverty, the bareness, the containedness of
the people, and the water everywhere in little tumblers
standing between the quiet, peaceful couples, gave me the
feeling that there was something holy about the place,
something nourishing and sustaining. I walked about en-
chanted on this first night in the Zapion. It remains in my
memory like no other park I have known. It is the quin-
tessence of park, the thing one feels sometimes in looking
at a canvas or dreaming of a place you'd like to be in and
never find. It is lovely in the morning, too, as I was to dis-
cover. But at night, coming upon it from nowhere, feel-
ing the hard dirt under your feet and hearing a buzz of
language which is altogether unfamiliar to you, it is mag-
ical--and it is more magical to me perhaps because I think
of it as filled with the poorest people in the world, and
the gentlest. I am glad I arrived in Athens during that
incredible heat wave, glad I saw it under the worst condi-
tions. I felt the naked strength of the people, their purity,
their nobility, their resignation. I saw their children, a
sight which warmed me, because coming from France it
was as if children were missing from the world, as if they
were not being born any more. I saw people in rags, and
that was cleansing too. The Greek knows how to live with
his rags: they don't utterly degrade and befoul him as in
other countries I have visited.

The following day I decided to take the boat to Corfu
where my friend Durrell was waiting for me. We pulled
out of Piraeus about five in the afternoon, the sun still
burning like a furnace. I had made the mistake of buying
a second class ticket. When I saw the animals coming
aboard, the bedding, all the crazy paraphernalia which
the Greeks drag with them on their voyages, I promptly
changed to first class, which was only a trifle more expen-
sive than second. I had never travelled first class before
on anything, except the Metro in Paris--it seemed like a
genuine luxury to me. The waiter was continuously circu-
lating about with a tray filled with glasses of water. It was
the first Greek word I learned: nero (water) and a beau-
tiful word it is. Night was coming on and the islands were
looming up in the distance, always floating above the
water, not resting on it. The stars came out with magnifi-
cent brilliance and the wind was soft and cooling. I began
to get the feel of it at once, what Greece was, what it had
been, what it will always be even should it meet with the
misfortune of being overrun by American tourists. When
the steward asked me what I would like for dinner, when
I gathered what it was we were going to have for dinner,
I almost broke down and wept. The meals on a Greek
boat are staggering. I like a good Greek meal better than
a good French meal, even though it be heresy to admit it.
There was lots to eat and lots to drink: there was the air
outside and the sky full of stars. I had promised myself
on leaving Paris not to do a stroke of work for a year. It
was my first real vacation in twenty years and I was ready
for it. Everything seemed right to me. There was no time
any more, just me drifting along in a slow boat ready to
meet all comers and take whatever came along. Out of
the sea, as if Homer himself had arranged it for me, the
islands bobbed up, lonely, deserted, mysterious in the
fading light. I couldn't ask for more, nor did I want any-
thing more. I had everything a man could desire, and I
knew it. I knew too that I might never have it again. I
felt the war coming on--it was getting closer and closer
every day. For a little while yet there would be peace
and men might still behave like human beings.

We didn't go through the Corinth canal because there had
been a landslide: we practically circumnavigated the Pelo-
ponnesus. The second night out we pulled into Patras
opposite Missolonghi. I have come into this port several
times since, always about the same hour, and always I ex-
perienced the same fascination. You ride straight into a
big headland, like an arrow burying itself in the side of
a mountain. The electric lights strung along the water-
front create a Japanese effect; there is something im-
promptu about the lighting in all Greek ports, something
which gives the impression of an impending festival. As
you pull into port the little boats come out to meet you:
they are filled with passengers and luggage and livestock
and bedding and furniture. The men row standing up,
pushing instead of pulling. They seem absolutely tire-
less, moving their heavy burdens about at will with deft
and almost imperceptible movements of the wrist. As
they draw alongside a pandemonium sets in. Everybody
goes the wrong way, everything is confused, chaotic, dis-
orderly. But nobody is ever lost or hurt, nothing is stolen,
no blows are exchanged. It is a kind of ferment which is
created by reason of the fact that for a Greek every event,
no matter how stale, is always unique. He is always doing
the same thing for the first time: he is curious, avidly
curious, and experimental. He experiments for the sake
of experimenting, not to establish a better or more effi-
cient way of doing things. He likes to do things with his
hands, with his whole body, with his soul, I might as well
say. Thus Homer lives on. Though I've never read a
line of Homer I believe the Greek of to-day is essentially
unchanged. If anything he is more Greek than he ever
was. And here I must make a parenthesis to say a word
about my friend Mayo, the painter, whom I knew in
Paris. Malliarakis was his real name and I think he came
originally from Crete. Anyway, pulling into Patras I got
to thinking about him violently. I remembered asking
him in Paris to tell me something about Greece and sud-
denly, as we were coming into the port of Patras, I under-
stood everything he had been trying to tell me that night
and I felt bad that he was not alongside me to share my
enjoyment. I remembered how he had said with quiet,
steady conviction, after describing the country for me as
best he could--" Miller, you will like Greece, I am sure of
it." Somehow those words impressed me more than any-
thing he had said about Greece. You will like it. . . .
that stuck in my crop. "By God, yes, I like it," I was say-
ing to myself over and over as I stood at the rail taking in
the movement and the hubbub. I leaned back and looked
up at the sky. I had never seen a sky like this before. It
was magnificent. I felt completely detached from Eu-
rope. I had entered a new realm as a free man--every-
thing had conjoined to make the experience unique and
fructifying. Christ, I was happy...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

CARGO CULT


A cargo cult is any of a group of unorthodox religious movements appearing in tribal societies in the wake of Western impact, especially in New Guinea and Melanesia. Cargo cults sometimes maintain that manufactured western goods ("cargo") have been created by divine spirits and are intended for the local indigenous people, but that Westerners have unfairly gained control of these objects. Cargo cults thus focus on overcoming what they perceive as undue 'white' influences by conducting rituals similar to the white behavior they have observed, presuming that the ancestors will at last recognize their own and send them cargo. Thus a characteristic feature of cargo cults is the belief that spiritual agents will at some future time give much valuable cargo and desirable manufactured products to the cult members. In other instances such as on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, cult members worship Americans who brought the cargo.

In attempts to get cargo to fall by parachute or land in planes or ships again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors and airmen use. They carved headphones from wood, and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses. The cultists thought that the foreigners had some special connection to their own ancestors, who were the only beings powerful enough to produce such riches.

A similar cult, the dance of the spirits, arose from contact between Native Americans and the Anglo-American civilization in late 19th century. The Paiute prophet Wovoka preached that by dancing in a certain fashion, the ancestors would come back on railways and a new earth would cover the white people. Some Amazonian Indians have carved wood mockups of cassette players (gabarora from Portuguese gravadora or Spanish grabadora) that they use to communicate with spirits.

Famous French guy Serge Gainsbourg wrote a song about Cargo Cults on his 1971 album "Histoire de Melody Nelson".


I know of the the magicians who call to jets
In the jungle of New Guinea
They scrutinize the zenith coveting the guineas
That the pillage of freight would bring them

On the sea of coral in the wake of this
Machine those creatures not deprived
Of reason those Papuans wait for vapour
The wreck of the Vice-count and that of the Comet

And as their totem hasn't ever been able to bring down
To their feet neither a Boeing nor even a D.C. four
They dream of hijacks and of bird accidents

Those naive shipwreckers armed with blowguns
Who sacrifice to the cargo cult
By blowing toward the azur and the airplanes.

Where are you Melody and your wrecked body
Is it haunting the archipeligo where the sirens live
Or well attatched to the cargo plane whose siren
Of alarm has become silent, did you stay

Adrift on the currents have you already touched
Those bright corals of the Guinean costs
Where those indiginous magicians act in vain
Who still hope for smashed planes

Having nothing more to lose nor a God in whom to believe,
So that they give me meaningless loves
I, like them, I prayed to the night cargo planes

And I hold onto that hope of an air
Disaster that would bring Melody back to me
A minor turned away from the gravity of the stars.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Architectural Representations of the City in Science Fiction Cinema

Still from Michael Winterbottom's film Code 46.

The following is an excerpt from Eric Mahleb's fascinating essay, which can be found here.

Before Hollywood realized the money making potential of the science fiction film and its ability to draw large audiences in search of pure escapism, the genre was able to attract talented directors (and still does, occasionally) who had a true interest in exploring the future of humankind or in using it as a means to express contemporary fears and problems. Like many of their literary counterparts, these directors were engaged in a process of discovery and showed a curiosity and thirst for knowledge which, in spite of a lack of a universally accepted definition for science fiction, form an essential characteristic of the genre. Drawing on the works of utopian science fiction literature, which has been in existence more or less officially since Thomas More wrote Utopia in 1516, these directors saw architecture and set design as a way to provide a realistic and accurate depiction of the future. As such, they also relied heavily on past or contemporary architectural and urban planning movements and visionaries. Like utopic science fiction, architecture is often concerned with the search for a better way of living, for ways that Man can improve himself and his environment. Since the industrial revolution and the emergence of the metropolitan city in the mid to late 19th century, the country vs. city discourse has largely defined man’s relationship to his environment and the city has proven a rich source of inspiration for both sociologists and architects. Its emergence has radically altered the landscape of our lands as well as the landscape of the human mind. It has and continues to have ramifications on the evolution of Man and how he perceives and structures his life and experiences. The city has become the perfect outlet for Man’s imagination, his fears, his anxieties and his creativity. And it is also an ideal method to foretell the future, a laboratory where human experiments can take place and can be studied. Cinema fell in love with architecture and the city, and the city fell in love with cinema. Like the connection between science fiction and production design, cinema and the architecture of the city have a long history of interdependence and of relying on one another for inspiration and commentary.