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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

The value of education

In Inspiration on September 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm

My Alma Mater just got new digs.

What is the value of education?  Why does one spend so much time and money trying to cram as much stuff into one’s brain as one can?  Sometimes I really don’t know.

One of my favourite paradoxes is that ignorance is bliss.  If you don’t know what to worry about, how can you worry about it?  The more education one has, the more one has to worry about.  If I didn’t know there were whales I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to save them.

SFU’s new facilities are very impressive.  Lavish.  Opulent.  But, will they lead to a better education for the students?  When I was at SFU our classroom was an old portable.  There had been a previous 20 years worth of film students using that same portable.  Does this new facility benefit the school?  Unquestionably, the school will reap the rewards of increased exposure, a jewel in its institutional crown, and generous rental fees from outside parties wanting to use the building.  But, if the school’s main focus is the student, none of these concerns matter.  All that matters is that an instructor who cares has the time to sit in the edit suite with an inquisitive student and help them learn to focus their creativity into a specific framework.  The location is of no real importance.

The ‘move downtown and become a satellite campus, or stay on the hill (SFU is located, for some arcane reason, on the top of a dark, cold mountain)’ was raging while I was a school.  The pro downtown side had good arguments.  There is more of an art scene downtown, downtown is cool, we’d be more connected to the arts in a downtown location, we could get some government money to build new facilities downtown, but not if we stayed on the hill, etc.  Yet, moving off the hill always seemed like a bad idea to me.  There is more to going to a University then just being connected to your niche vocational group.  There was a connection to a broader school life that includes studies in different disciplines, involvement in clubs and sports teams, the support of the library, the bad food.  All of this is lost by moving downtown, and I fear that the quality of one’s education diminishes as a result.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope that the students get everything I got from my education, and more.  I hope the school, in its ever feverish growth phase hasn’t given itself one more thing to worry about.  I hope that, perhaps, the portables were not bliss after all.

‘Hodd’ by Adam Thorpe

In Inspiration on September 3, 2010 at 2:10 am

It was a somewhat difficult read, but worth the effort.  ‘Hodd’ by Adam Thorpe chronicles the experience of a young man swept up into a whirlwind of violence, self importance and lust.  There is not one hint of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.  Instead, ‘Hodd’ presents what may be a more true to life account of the legendary life of Robin Hood.

One of the things that makes this account so interesting is the way the book is mediated through layers of interpretation that bring into question the authenticity of the text in particular, and on a grander scale the reliability of folk stories and historical texts in general.  The book is framed by an introduction by a World War I veteran who claims to have found the main body of the text (written in Latin) in the ruins of a medieval church during the war.  He then took it upon himself to translate the document into English.  He makes many footnotes explaining points of translation, medieval custom and personal observation.  The version of the manuscript that he is working from was itself copied by an unknown individual after it’s author penned the original.  And that original author is the aged man who, in his youth, was the chosen favourite pupil of Robert Hodd.  The layers of mediation – memory, translation, interpretation, and partial destruction of the legibility of the manuscript – lead the reader to question the authenticity of the text, which is one of the main themes of the book.

More than an academic exercise, Hodd is about a boys search for a father, the autocracy of the medieval church, and the power of lust.  These themes resonate with the reader, and are easily understandable by today’s reader.  Hodd denies the church, is a heretic, breaks from tradition and is a reclusive maverick in an uncertain world.  The author is a boy lost and confused in a world dominated by religion and superstition.  There are hits of Oedipus laced through the story, and a culture of violence that we in the west’s rule of law shelters us from.  The book is raw and uncompromising.  Life is cheap, and the cleverest survive.

It is beautifully written.  Thorpe skillfully speaks in the many voices of the author and translators of the text simultaneously, and the language used is exquisitely descriptive, sometimes to the point of annoyance to the reader.

Hodd is a book that makes you consider what you ‘know’ to be truth as you read it.  It is not an easy read, but the challenge is well worth the reward.

Who wouldn’t buy it?

In Inspiration on August 3, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Raw Power

Barely enough space for your ripped quads!

For those of you who’ve had the discipline to spend any time with me, you know I like a good laugh.  I first read the following about a year ago, and could hardly make it to the end because I was doubled over with tears in my eyes.  When the mundane is described in such deliciously exquisite detail to the point of rediculousness…well I love it.  Read on, but don’t bother contacting this fine young man.  Chuck Norris already bought it.

NINJA HAULER: 2005 Nissan Xterra – $12900 (Ronan / Lake County )
Reply to: [?]
Date: 2008-11-19, 10:04PM MST
OK, let me start off by saying this Xterra is only available for purchase by the manliest of men (or women) . My friend, if it was possible for a vehicle to sprout chest hair and a five o’clock shadow, this Nissan would look like Tom Selleck . It is just that manly .

Rock on .

It was never intended to drive to the mall so you can pick up that adorable shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch that you had your eye on . It wasn’t meant to transport you to yoga class or Linens & Things . No, that’s what your Prius is for . If that’s the kind of car you’re looking for, then just do us all a favor and stop reading right now . I mean it . Just stop .

This car was engineered by 3rd degree ninja super-warriors in the highest mountains of Japan to serve the needs of the man that cheats death on a daily basis . They didn’t even consider superfluous nancy boy amenities like navigation systems (real men don’t get lost), heated leather seats (a real man doesn’t let anything warm his butt), or On Star (real men don’t even know what On Star is) .

No, this brute comes with the things us testosterone-fueled super action junkies need . It has a 265 HP engine to outrun the cops . It’s got special blood/gore resistant upholstery . It even has a first-aid kit in the back . You know what the first aid kit has in it? A pint of whiskey, a stitch-your-own-wound kit and a hunk of leather to bite down on when you’re operating on yourself . The Xterra also has an automatic transmission so if you’re being chased by Libyan terrorists, you’ll still be able to shoot your machine gun out the window and drive at the same time . It’s saved my bacon more than once .

It has room for you and the four hotties you picked up on the way to the gym to blast your pecs and hammer your glutes . There’s a tow hitch to pull your 50 caliber anti-Taliban, self cooling machine gun . I also just put in a new windshield to replace the one that got shot out by The Man .

My price on this bad boy is an incredibly low $12,900, but I’ll entertain reasonable offers . And by reasonable, I mean don’t walk up and tell me you’ll give me $5,000 for it . That’s liable to earn you a Burmese-roundhouse-sphincter-kick with a follow up three fingered eye-jab . Would it hurt? Hell yeah . Let’s just say you won’t be the prettiest guy at the Coldplay concert anymore .

There’s only 69,000 miles on this four-wheeled hellcat from Planet Kickass . Trust me, it will outlive you and the offspring that will carry your name . It will live on as a monument to your machismo .

Now, go look in the mirror and tell me what you see . If it’s a rugged, no holds barred, super brute he-man macho Chuck Norris stunt double, then contact me . I might be out hang-gliding or BASE jumping or just chilling with my ladies, but I’ll get back to you . And when I do, we’ll talk about a price over a nice glass of Schmidt while we listen to Johnny Cash .

To sweeten the deal a little, I’m throwing in this pair of MC Hammer pants for the man with rippling quads that can’t fit into regular pants . Yeah, you heard me . FREE MC Hammer pants .

One finds the most interesting things on a scout.

In Inspiration on July 20, 2010 at 7:26 am

But, tell us what you really think.

Today I was location scouting, and came across these three posters plastered up on a construction site plywood fence.  In and of themselves they’re unremarkable, but someone took the initiative to give an unsolicited band review with the aid of a Jiffy Marker.

This got me thinking about the band, and how difficult it must be for them to make any strides in their careers.  Do they really suck?  I don’t know, I’m not familiar with their music.  Likely they work very hard trying to promote themselves, write and practice their music, book shows, and perform, not to mention all of the other business that must surround any creative endeavour.  Then, after the incalculable man hours it must have taken to get to the point where the band could place these posters in such a well planned position, out of nowhere somebody who’s likely never heard of the band scribbles across the poster cruelly turning them from a promo piece into a joke.  I laughed.  All that hard work dashed apart in an instant.  It’s sort of sad.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t have noticed the posters if the marker wielding mystery man hadn’t taken it upon himself to throw in his two cents.  True, I laughed when I saw them, but I wouldn’t have even noticed the posters without the punch line sprawled across them.  Maybe he did the band a favour.  Maybe now that you’ve seen the photo of the posters you’ll be curious about the music, and want to check out what the band is really all about.  Do they suck?  Maybe you’ll want to decide for yourself.  Maybe the band will win a new fan who doesn’t think their music sucks.  In fact, a fan would think just the opposite.  Maybe then, the joke is on the editorialist.  Maybe he and his nay-saying marker suck.  Maybe.