nov·el /ˈnɒvəl/ –adjective/ of a new kind; different from anything seen or known before: a novel idea.
eye -noun/ 6. the power of seeing; appreciative or discriminating visual perception: the eye of an artist.
8. an attentive look, close observation, or watch
9. regard, view, aim, or intention
10. a manner or way of looking at a thing
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Bread and circuses
Tonight I did something I'm ashamed of: I watched two episodes of Project Runway. Well, I read while they played on the TV, but I looked up a lot. Bless me, Readers, for I have sinned and I feel unclean. I hate reality television, even something as "positive" as this, someone will get a lot of money and a start in fashion from it and no one has to eat bugs or cheat on their loved ones or set fire to themselves. For every supposedly positive thing that reality television promotes--rooting for a fan, an underdog, rewarding some talent--there is something dark and horrible, because in the end we are all waiting for someone to crash and burn on national tv, and we all know that the most talented (whatever that means) is not going to walk away with the prize (Clay Aiken, anyone?). I got sucked in because of the first challenge which was to make dresses using only material that they had ripped from the dorms where they are staying. I love a good challenge esp. of materials, and in my mind I was imagining what I would make under the same restraints. On the one hand it seems unfair because they have so little time and in the real world they would have a staff and time to make these things, but sometimes the most imaginative work comes from the limitations (view my other blog) and in life you do have to judge your own skill, your time and your budget and decide what can realistically be made, not just what you'd like to make given a perfect world. My college had a pretty good endowment and we had fairly luxurious budgets to work with as designers and good shops with a kind and experienced costumer (love you Red Queen!) and a good wood shop staff. Then you hit the real world. I've been in shows designed by new college grads who aim too high--forgetting that they don't have the time, support or budget of school. I like to think that I have a pretty good grasp of budgets and time and what I can do. I always joke with small companies that I make three designs--the design I'd like to do had I time and staff, the design I could do with some help, and the design I can do if I get no help whatsoever. Oddly enough, I've only gone over budget when I had the most money. But I digress. The judges are not designers I admire and I didn't agree with their assessments, but the prettiest dress did win. The one that lost really lost because she ran out of time and I felt sorry for her, but I did understand. She was also the least interesting person, if you know what I mean and that really brings us to the crux of the matter. THESE ARE NOT REAL. Decisions are made based on ratings and sometimes someone quite terrible and talentless is left on the show to "Spice it UP." Crash and burn time. The ratings come with conflict and if they were all just really nice people with really good sewing skills then who cares. They milk it sooooo much. Dear God, it could be 20 to 30 minutes shorter if they didn't play for the suspense. Is the step forward line going to be in or out this week. How much humiliation and stress can we pack in? I thought Miss America pageants were sad, but at least you counted down the losers and there you were. The last two standing were number two and number one, not the winner and the loser. Oddly enough the second challenge was to make a dress for Miss USA or America (I forget which) to wear at the Miss Universe (but I'm still not seeing Venusians represented there!) pageant. This time it was partners and the two most horrible people ended up with each other. I think the one's designs have consistently been awful and he is an arrogant jerk, but she and he stayed on despite Bravo running a viewer poll in the middle (for something that was filmed and in the can months ago) and the loser was one of the best designers who overstretched himself. He had a tall model and Miss America was short so his hemline was raw BUT he would seldom if ever face that kind of problem in the real world, what a growth spurt? He was sweet and sad and needy and of course they had a clip of him saying how his mother had thrown his designs on the floor when he was 14 and he was trying to prove himself to her just minutes before he lost so that we would really SEE his pain and humiliation PLUS he probably wouldn't give the great fireworks that the other two will give in the weeks to come. And that's what it's really all about, isn't it? Watching HUMILIATION. Watching another human being squirm and being glad it's not you and feeling safe and smug and secure on your sofa while someone SUFFERS. I can't stand it. Not in any medium. I'll watch gory films, violent films, tragic films and poignant films but I can't watch humiliation because I FEEL for them. I know what it's like to feel so embarrassed you wish the earth would swallow you and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. The loser said he felt shame. Isn't that the saddest thing? Why should he feel shame? We should be ashamed for wanting to see it. We don't shame our prisoners. We didn't shame Ken Lay or Tom Delay for that matter but we shame these poor idiots on tv. I can't even watch The Office because the embarrassment factor is too high. I feel for those characters too. And that brings me to what kind of person goes on these things in the first place. What kind of need is there to do that to yourself--because if you really believe in yourself then you certainly don't need this show to tell you your good and you'll be happy whether you get a show in New York, or simply sew for friends and get compliments on the street. Yes, being handed a show in New York for a few weeks of no privacy and possible humiliation sounds like it's easier than slogging for some horrible boss who'll steal your work but it's not. And it's no more guaranteed than the slogging way. Talent alone will never get it and neither will hard work, despite the lies that we tell our children. There isn't a guarantee anywhere but there are ways of trying that don't require your soul and your dignity.
I was completely blown away by the movie of The Prestige, and I thought then about reading the novel, but it seemed too soon. So I carried the author's name around with me for over a year (Christopher Priest) and then, finally remembered to buy it through an odd sequence of events. We watched The Painted Veil based on the novel by Maugham starring Edward Norton, and while I decided I didn't want to read The Painted Veil because of it's differences from the film (which was more romantic and tragic) it reminded me that I had wanted to read Fight Club (the movie version of which starred Edward Norton) and that reminded me that I had wanted to read The Prestige (which did not star Edward Norton, but was up against The Illusionist which did). Whew...so it's all Edward Norton's fault.
The Prestige is a very good novel, and yet, the movie differs from it considerably. And I am still trying to figure out what exactly that means. The central premise is the same, AND HER…
Inching along in a log jam of traffic yesterday on the Mass Pike I watched an Audi a few cars in front of me weave in and out of traffic determined to find the lane that was "moving" and yet for the whole half an hour that we sat there he ended up still only a few cars ahead of me. Sure there were times his lane pulled ahead, but then mine would catch up and he would switch back. The only thing he accomplished was to make the line that much slower. There was a great article that a friend sent me years ago on the physics of traffic and it has been determined that weaving in and out of tight traffic will really gain you nothing and in fact cause the very blockages that you believe you are defying. (Sidenote--an unfortunately side effect of so much of interest on the internet is that it is impossible to store all of the articles that interest you over the years in the vague belief that you will someday want to reference them to others) The article also pointed out that if all d…
Feel I must write this--promised it to myself, can I finish before midnight (when I said I would go to bed at 11)?
Where was I?
Oh, yes, section 5, where it gets interesting--because it's the future, at least 25 years, hopefully more. I say hopefully, because I don't want to be living in this future. The section is called "An Orison of Sonmi-451." An Orison (I had to look it up, proving I don't remember my Shakespeare) is a prayer, but in this future world where language has taken as many turns as in Orwell's 1984, it is more a confession or final statement. Sonmi-451 is a clone (as the name might suggest). The section is not entirely original. It owes much to Brave New World and Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (made into the film Bladerunner). I find it interesting that 40 or so years ago--when Dick wrote his book he believed that future slaves would be Androids, replicants. Now we are much more likely to presume they will be clones,…