synthetic zero


January 28, 2005

An experiment in _______:

I always dream best when I am awake.

It's scary to let things happen. To let go of the stick for a little while ... who will take over.

Sometimes I think the arc of a life itself can be the most interesting artwork of all.

Is the shape of the future a tree? Why isn't the shape of the past roots?

Each stroke of the pen or movement of the finger could be the last. It must be, already is, perfect, even if it is the last.

Someone is running behind me all the time, saying, "hurry up!" I want to ignore that voice and listen to my own.

I long to give myself up to something, but that something, I realize, is already me.

What is it about stories? What is possible? Why do stories imprison us? Can we free ourselves using stories, as well?

January 23, 2005

My friend Miranda's movie is premiering at Sundance tomorrow night, and I decided sort of at the last minute to come out here and see it. It was quite an ordeal trying to get tickets --- but as luck would have it, somehow I managed to snag the LAST TWO tickets to the premiere. Sundance didn't give Miranda enough tickets for the major cast and their families, much less the crew or people like me who just worked for several days on the film (I did the instant messaging scenes, though, which actually get screen time --- it was really fun, actually, to have to perform live, move the mouse for the camera, try to match the rhythm of the child actors, etc.) So the crew got together to try to buy tickets --- we didn't get enough for everybody yet, but hopefully somehow people will get them tomorrow.

Today, I did manage to see one of the shorts programs and an excellent film set in Memphis, centered around music, called Hustle & Flow. I have to say I was kind of disappointed by the shorts program --- a few I liked, but most of them weren't all that imaginative. One of them, however, Cry for Help, was pretty amusing, and it turns out it was edited by an old friend of mine from high school, Kevin Greutert, whom I haven't seen in a long time --- I chatted with the director for a while afterwards and got his email address, so maybe I'll be able to get in touch with Kevin again. The director told me that since Kevin edited Saw his career has gotten a lot better. I've always thought he was a remarkable and creative guy, and it's good to see him making it.

January 18, 2005

It's a cliche that comedy is what happens when you change from what's expected to what's slightly unexpected. But recently it occurred to me that horror is simply that same principle taken further --- when things are so far from what you expect, when they're so far from the norm, it starts to feel horrifying. Why else are clowns so frightening to some people?

I have to put in a good word for one of the best television shows I have ever seen, and you're going to think me crazy, but believe it or not, it's the new "remake" of Battlestar Galactica. They've taken the shlocky 70's TV show and turned it into a near-masterpiece of subtle character motivations, gripping plotlines, superb acting, set design, costume design, cinematography, and effects. I know, it's really hard to believe; but basically they've taken the skeleton of the original series' concept and turned it inside out, getting rid of most of the idiotic, illogical, and/or cheesy aspects (as one small example, "Apollo" is no longer the character's real name, but just his call sign) and replacing them with a totally revamped set of stories and characters. It's an impressive work and it gives me hope again that television can be dramatic and well-made, surprising and nuanced.

January 14, 2005

Sarah is visiting; I had many dreams about her when she arrived (nothing sexual, just dreams about her as a kind of personality-force), though I don't recall the details. The feeling of the dreams was clearly Sarah --- in a way, it reminded me that we sometimes know people in our dreams better than we are aware when we are awake. I could sense the depth of her personality-force (I can't think of a better word/phrase to describe this feeling) in the tenor of these dreams, even though I can only remember fragments. So many things are hard to say, but we shouldn't be trapped into only thinking about things we can say.

I was talking with Heather Anne at lunch a few days ago about dreams; since my head injury (yes, I had a head trauma --- before I started writing this weblog, actually, so every word you've read here has been written by someone with a damaged brain, in case that explains anything) --- my dreams have been less vivid. We started to talk about the fact that many people seem to claim that they dream only in black and white --- I have read this many times, and I even remember Ebert or Siskel or someone, years ago, commenting on how they like black and white films because that's how we dream. Except I have always dreamt in color --- so has Heather Anne, and most of the people I know. Do people really dream mostly in black and white? It is hard to believe.

Yet my dreams have been far less vivid in recent years and I wasn't actually sure anymore if I really do dream in color. I decided to try to lucid dream again, something I haven't played with consciously for a long time; for the last couple of nights I thought to myself as I went to sleep that I would like to have a lucid dream. This morning I didn't actually dream lucidly, but I did wake up and realize that I'd had a dream about searching for a new apartment, and seeing one where one of the rooms had been painted with a sort of Mondrian-like pattern --- and I realized to my relief that it had definitely been in color --- primary red and blue areas between black lines. My dream life might be somewhat fuzzier and less intense than it used to be, but my dreams are still in color.

January 6, 2005

New thought for the day (week, month, year, decade, life): don't put things off.

I was sitting in the subway the other day and I looked into the air in front of me; there's a peculiar quality of looking into the air which can make you feel you are looking into your own mind; or perhaps the mind of the world. I thought of a paradox: why is there this tension between change (the desire to change our situation) and the ever-increasingly evident fact that it is precisely the mind that is constantly grasping for the next thing (the next improvement, the next whatever-it-is-that-is-not-yet-the-case) that causes a fundamental break in our connection with reality, that very connection that is the basis of everything, all life? Isn't it a change to wish that this itself changes, but is it the mind that grasps for the next, next, next --- is it that mind that can actually give up that next? How do you give up the next without changing?

As I sat there, this came up: the change that we need isn't a change in the ordinary sense, but rather one level out --- a change in the way we deal with change. We seem to think we usually want something to happen, we want a desired outcome, but in fact it is typically more effective to look into the way we are being in the world, rather than being obsessed with the outcomes per se.

Check out Alex Steffen's worldchanging.com.