Tuesday, April 1, 2008
"When Suzuki Daisetz was asked what was it like to have satori, he said 'Well, it's like ordinary, everyday experience, except about two feet off the ground.'"
— Alan Watts
Happy Saint Stupid's Day.
Well, kids. Joe Strummer is dead and I don't feel so good myself.
That said, a marathon Clockwork Orange-style (leave me glazzies!) viddying of the John from Cincinatti DVD proved instructive.
How to squeeze its essence into the eyedropper of a blog, eh?
Well, sir. It's Huxley's perennial philosophy on a surfboard. It's a pre-apocalyptic response to a post-apocalyptic bummer. It is, whatever else you wanna call it, true SF.
"SF" aka "science fiction" aka "speculative fictio"n is one of those terms the rubes don't get. SF ain't about the future. It's about the gestalt. I.e.: the chessboard the pieces move on. SF picked up the torch from Jack London. The rest is Tom Clancy, Tom Wolfe, and silence.
David Milch (the writer/producer/mad genius behind this thing) last kicked in the door of human consciousness with Deadwood, essentially a SF serial novel set in 1870. His concern was the collective human organism, in an anti-Ayn Rand sense. The embryonic city of Deadwood, to shoot a dead horse, was the show's central character: the foetal city as hero. As in Aristole's De Anima, Milch showed the gestation of that being.
Al Swearengen — a self-serving, bastard if ever there was one — acts like a fucking saint when the need arises. There is a divinity that shapes our ends, sir. That divinity is us. Not some cocksucking, bloodless, faggot saint in a stained glass window, sir. We the cocksucking people. All of us. The whole, collective motherfucking shooting match. In this case, the city of Deadwood. It's as close to Baby Jesus as you're ever going to get.
This, you'll understand, being my rough paraphrase of David Milchism. And not, necessarily, my own motherfucking opinion.
Aside from the new logo and the 21st century SoCal setting, John from Cincinatti is still the same show. Same problems. Same diamond bullet in David Milch's brain. Let's make things nice and sparkling clear, shall we?
Human beings create culture as e coli bacteria create certain amino acids.
The basic software code of human culture is digital, on-off, one-zero, us-them.
If we keep running that code, we will all die.
So, pardon my syntax errors ....
Run: Globalized capitalism
Delete faith-based hierarchial systems
Respond by: flying planes into Twin Towers
Respond by: killing towelheads.
Respond by: destroying planet.
Or, to quote David Milch:
"People's expectations have been so infantilized by television that the infantilation has itself disposed us to a genocide... My belief is that the constant exposure to news, the constant exposure of the viewer sensibilities to those planes flying into those buildings explains our involvement in Iraq. We wanted to be exposed to an absolutely different show (than the World Trade Center towers falling)...But we were promised a 12-episode miniseries. We'd go in, pull down a statue and it'd be over. Now we want to get out because we want the series to be over...
It's the reason I believe the argument that the next time such a (terrorist) event takes place, we'll commit a genocide. We'll sanction the murder of men, women and children, the incarceration of Muslims the way we did the Japanese (during World War II.)
John from Cincinatti postulates some alien sumpin that interferes with human culture to break that logic chain.
Eponymous John, the surfing Messiah, surfs into Imperial Beach, CA, and responds to human contact with crack-brained echolaliacal aphorisms. He's shot full of bullet holes. Like Jesus, he rises again. Like Gort the robot, it ain't exactly clear if John is alive, programmed or simulated. Like certain people we know, he ain't capable of an original thought. He can only respoond with a sound-bite of the last thing somebody said. Or thought.
John, bless his heart, is trying to prevent the end of the world.
David Milch, bless his heart, is trying to do the same thing. The ideas of the show were meant to be viral. He wasn't playing around.
HBO, damn them to hell, cancelled the show.
But, the good news is, having seen the DVD, I was prompted to buy "Global A-Go-Go" by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. If we're all going to die, damn if this ain't a good tune to go out on.