Archive for the 'A Late Night Musing' Category

Open Source Theatre

July 27, 2005
I had an idea today while walking home after delivering some books to a used bookstore. Just wanted to jot it down quickly before I ended up forgetting about it.

Open Source Theatre would allow a community to come together and write a script to be performed. This task would be completed over a period of time, say a month or two.

People would come to the theatre, and have to attend a one hour workshop (perhaps longer) that would involve the director of the piece, possibly designers, and actors. They would have a discussion about the project, what an open source project is, why they’re doing it, and what is to be expected. There would be a talk about the play they’re working on, why it was chosen and what kind of style they may after.

After taking part in the workshop, the people could go into a computer lab or sorts at the theatre and work on the script. There would be at least four terminals at first, perhaps expanding to include more if there was a great demand. There would be no time limit for how long they could work, as long as there was sort of respect if the place was busy.

Each terminal would ideally be running a Linux distro to keep the open-source theme constant throughout the entire process. It would also lower costs, since Linux is free and there are more than enough computers available cheaply for word processing. I would like to have it so the word processor (most likely OpenOffice.org) wouldn’t allow the deletion of text, only the movement of it around the pages. This is to prevent someone from erasing the entire document (backups would be made, of course) or typing crass language continually. Defeats the purpose of the task at hand. Lines could shift between characters, or characters be given long monologues, and so forth.

When the deadline has been reached for the text, a play reading would be given. No actions or movement allowed, just vocalizing the words on the script. There would be discussion afterwards about the worthiness of the script, whether it fit into the whole plan of the project, or if parts didn’t make sense, etc. A period of editing would happen, then another reading. Perhaps this process would continue for three or four drafts.

For the rehearsal period, all rehearsals would be open to the public so they could see the play in development. Suggestions would be listened to during intervals, just to ensure there was progress in the actual rehearsal and it didn’t become a large discussion about the play again. This would continue for two months, minimum, to allow for plenty of time for experimentation, suggestion, progress, etc.

At the same time, a set would be designed. A set designer would supply a basic design that could be flexible to manipulate into other sets. A series of building blocks to be added, subtracted, shifted, placed on top, in different locations, etc. They would also design a palette of paint to be used, to make sure the design was coherent and not plain ugly. Again, volunteers from the public would paint the set the way they wanted it to look. There would be edits to it, repainting over old work, or a few basic additions to it.

Costumes would be handled in a similar way. We would supply magazines and catalogues, letting people cut out the shapes of clothing they would like to see and begin making collages of the characters. This would continue until everyone was happy, then the clothes would be made or bought.

After each performance, there would be a discussion about how to improve upon the acting, the blocking, or the delivery of the text.

A month after the final performance, the text would be archived on a webserver in various formats for people to print off and read. There would also be a streaming video on the website for people to watch. Possibly, earlier drafts of the script or video from rehearsals would be published for people to see the evolution of the piece.

It’s an ambitious project that would depend greatly on the organizers to keep things moving smoothly and quickly, as well as an enthusiastic public willing to play with a creation that would be unique to their community.

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Belief

July 7, 2005
What is the nature of trust and belief?
 
I’m wondering if evolution has changed how humans think of trust/belief and how we ultimately decide whether we do trust someone or not. In my mind, the beginnings of trust and belief belonged with witnessing the leader of your tribe do an action (like killing an animal for food). The tribesmen would view this action and decide on their own that the leader should continue be the leader. The leader did not need to prove his worth to the others except through his actions, or inactions. The system was basic and had very little room for a wrong decision, at least, on the end of the tribesmen. The leader still had the pressure on their shoulders to provide, but they were able to focus on that goal.
 
In our modern world, I feel like this trust and belief has been muddied and twisted into a whole other contraption. We no longer get to witness our leaders in action and get to make up our mind about that person. Today, we are fed a constant stream of images, of words, of stories from a large number of sources. The arguments for and against the leader(s) is a "he said, she said" deal, rather than obversation from the tribesmen. Whereas in the past, it was the action that was significant and the telling of that action memorable (the story), today it is the opposite: the story is more significant and the action becomes more memorable.
 
Here’s a few crude examples to prove my point, first from the past, then from the present.
 
Story A:
 
Charlie goes up to Bob, in front of a dozen spectators, and stabs him with a knife. Bob dies in front of the dozen people, who bow down in fear of Charlie. They know he can kill people and is powerful. They write stories so we can remember how Charlie behaved that day and worship him. The stories evolve so the action seems even larger than life, that it was destiny, or an act of God that did this to Bob. In the recent future, they will see Charlie and remember that day’s events; the future will remember the stories and preserve Charlie’s history that way.
 
Story B:
 
Charlie goes up to Bob, in front of a dozen spectators, and stabs him with a knife. Bob dies in front of the dozen people, who know surround Charlie to get his response to the death of Bob. What his reasoning was, what his future plans are now, etc. They no longer fear Charlie, but want to understand Charlie so they can better place their trust in him. They turn away and tell their stories to the people. People begin to forget that Charlie killed a man, but remember Charlie killed Bob because Bob was a ruthless rapist in the past, and it was his destiny to die at the hand of Charlie. The recent future and the further future forget that Charlie killed Bob in front of all those people, but rather it was a justified murder by Charlie, and that Charlie would never kill again. They remember the layers of information built up on top of the action, not the action itself.
 
In case you didnt’ pick up the distinction between the two, in Story A, it was the observers who created the stories; in Story B, it was Charlie creating his own story to sell to the people, despite there having been witneses. In the past, the general population took a story and let it grow amongst them, while in the present, the people involved are doing the work for them. The exaggeration of a story comes from the people involved, and not in the people just hearing it wrong.
 
Here’s a more complex and relevent example:
 
Action we can indirectly observe through cameras and photographs: thousands of American and international soldiers being at war in Iraq.
 
The layers: Bush says Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, we can’t trust him, is a major threat to the world, is harboring terrorists, we went to war to bring democracy to the middle east, to give people a better life, etc.
 
When we remember this war, or for that matter any war, we will never remember it solely as Bush going to war against Iraq. We will remember it as Bush going to war against Iraq to bring democracy there, or protecting the world from an evil dictator. We’ll remember how much corruption exists in the country, how long it took to accomplish, how much death was lost, but in the end it was a good thing to happen.  We’re going to believe that the war was necessary and completely forget the fact that it was a fucking war. No matter what happens in the future, we’ll always remember the layering stories on top of this action and forget what it really was.
 
Now, why would we allow this to happen in our society? The power structures evolved and grew larger. What was once a tribe leader and tribespeople, has become a king/president, a senate, a parliament/congress, and the people way down at the bottom. The people could no longer see the events that were taking place by their leaders. If the leaders had told the people plainly that, "We attacked a country and won," the people will start to have visions of what that invasion looked like, felt, and create their own reasons for why it happened, just like in the past – the story growing to support the action. Except, the problem was the people couldn’t see the action so their stories were highly inaccurate and possibly damaging to the leaders/government, etc.
 
The solution to this was to create a media, a way to get the leader/government’s message out to the people to describe what happened, why it happened, how it happened, etc. The government, in corporation with the media, took away the power of controlling the stories from the people and put it into their own hands. The stories they told were elaborate, and the media supported them, so over time the people became to believe in them.
 
Gone were the days of deciding whether an action was good or bad. That decision was now being told directly to us and we either believed it, or we went against the government. The government could protect themselves from this dissent by calling out to the rebels that they were aligning themselves with the devil, because they were going against the grain, standing up against the good of the people.
 
Since this system was to believed in at the higher levels of government, it made sense to the people to accept it at the lower level as well. We could no longer lead by example. We had to explain our actions to everyone around us to protect ourselves, and the others, so people could agree that what we were doing was good. It wasn’t an option to do things on our own and let people make their own decisions. We now had to conform to the higher ideals that were being placed upon our society by government.
 
Somewhere in this journey, the feeling of doubt was created. Relying on our gut instincts was useless in the modern world, because we were now told to compare the actions to a higher level, an abstract rule. When witnessing an event, or hearing it through the media, we now had to decide whether this action was agreeable to this abstract idea or not. When something happened that involved the leader, you had to rely on the information they provided you. The more information they dump on you, the more likely it becomes that it may not be true or just. You start to have doubts that it is right, but you can’t clearly say "It is wrong" or "it is right," because you lack critical information (witnessing the event) and you have to compare it to something that isn’t concrete. How can you condemn something if you’re not even entirely sure of the guiding principles yourself? You can’t play the role of god, so you get comfortable with the feeling of doubt and let the world correct itself.

 
… to be continued.
 

Kindness

June 25, 2005

What’s wrong with humanity? When someone is down and hurting, the advice given out more often than not is to "suck it up and deal with it." Everyone is too busy to do anything to help you because they don’t want to help the needy. For instance:

"Honestly?  Maybe it would help if I just told you to fuck off  and deal with it.  You’ve got to light your own firecracker up your ass to get going.  Moping and being depressed isn’t giong to help.  Half-assed searching isnt’ going to help.  Do or Die.   The times I actually accomplished the most was when I was pissed.  Or when someone slapped me around instead of comforted.  **** has told me countless times, "Either you fucking stop crying and do something about it or you go to someone else who gives a fuck.  I don’t have time to deal with your problems- there’s not a goddamn thing i can do to help."  …it was the one time i actually did something. "

Now I can understand the motivation from within, but when the person doesn’t even have the motivation to wake up in the morning, how is abandoning that person actually helping? Do you really need people to become the "I don’t give a fuck" kind of people? Isn’t that how acts of war are really started – I don’t care what the cost of human lives is, but it has to be done. If Bush truly did care about people, he’d be helping out the poor and the sick, not dipping his fingers into someone else’s candy dish.

It really concerns me that our society has turned from our primitive tribe mates having to band together to overcome nature’s problems, to wanting to continually push people out of the cave and become these aggressive, selfish hermits. How are we to survive as a species if keep doing this?

Is the lack of time the real issue here, or are people lacking the energy and heart to do what needs to be done? Are they taking the easy road so they can return to being couch potatos and watch their televisions? Is there anyway we can reverse this problem?

Or is it even a problem? Am I just lashing out because no one gives a fuck about what I do anymore? Am I taking this personal issue way too personally and not respecting the other person’s wishes, even though I gave said person a significant amount of my life to make sure they didn’t do anything stupid and were able to get their life up and running again?

Why does all this crap have to land into my lap during possibly the worst year of my life?

And why am I so fucking nice to everyone else when no one seems to appreciate it?

And why do I keep asking so many questions in these posts and in life in general? Shoot me. I know you want to.

 

Gypsy Blood

June 20, 2005

Someone mentioned to me tonight that I must have gypsy blood still running through my veins.

I had to pause and think about this. I agreed, this is completely true of my life at this moment. I am quite restless in my actions. My mind is always on the go, not focusing on any one area of interest. I can find myself reading for hours about a variety of topics that are generally on opposite ends of the spectrum. I have an open mind, willing to take in everything I hear and contemplate it, consider its worth, whether it’s a negative or a positive force.

I’m never satisfied with where I’m living. I wasn’t fully happy in Whitehorse, Yukon. I wasn’t completely happy in Regina, SK. I wasn’t happy in Hartford, CT. I wasn’t happy in Regina when I returned there. And now I’m not happy here in Syracuse, NY. Is this because of the people I meet, or am I bound to be a restless person the rest of my life?

I won’t deny that there are great appeals to being a journeyman in life. I could be meeting numerous people with a great variety of backgrounds. I could see all the sites in the world that are meant to be seen, and discover all the private areas that only a select few have settled on. I would get to taste exotic foods, or the plain ones that are always satisfying.

But then I wonder if I’m running away from something. Is this gypsy blood causing me to escape a personal fear I have of settling down and being married, being scared of a 9-5 job, being scared that I may not be a good father or husband in life?

Or am I searching for something that I don’t know exists, searching for that perfect woman, for that perfect job, for that perfect situation that allows me to do everything I dreamed of doing and then everything else I haven’t even thought about?

Why is my mind full of questions that have no answers? Maybe it’s my curiousity that is driving me, my thirst for knowledge. My lust for intelligence.

Whatever it is, I’m cursed with gypsy blood.

A Late Night Musing: Music

April 10, 2005

With a lack of something better to write about, thought I’d just share my thoughts on some new music I’ve been listening to lately. I’m a big fan of Pepsi and they’ve been having a promo with Apple to give away free Itunes with their bottled drinks. You’re odds are 1/3 in winning, so you can really add them up quickly if you drink Pepsi steadily. The past few days, I decide to actually check underneath the cap to see if I won anything, and I did. So I checked more bottles, and won more.

I gathered up all the caps and headed off to the iTunes website to see what I could find. Downloaded the software, loaded it up, then flipped open the latest issue of Esquire to see what they’re recommending to read. One of the bands they said was up-and-coming was Louis XIV. The other band I decided to check out was Beck, since I knew he had a new album out and I’m a fan of his earlier stuff.

Five Pepsi-iTune caps, five reviews. Here goes:

Beck – "Girl" – from Guero

Starts with this funky little beeping part, before Beck’s voice kicks in with the acoustic guitars and slowly builds up. I like the sound of this song, has all the qualities of a good song. Catchy beat and not too over-bearing (ie the bass isn’t loud, percussion in the background, vocals rule the song). Has your basic song structure of the verse and chorus repeating, etc. Reminds me a lot of his older music – well worth checking out.

Louis XIV – "Hey Teacher" – The Best Little Secrets…

I can’t put my finger on how this track starts off, but it reminds me of another song. I can remember it’s a song off of the HardCoreLogo soundtrack, but I digress. This song instantly puts you into a good mood, however. With the bouncy guitar and hand-clapping, to the falsetto voices contrast with the normal singing voice. Has a touch of The White Stripe’s "Seven Nation Army" thrown in, along with a feeling of Coldplay when it breaks down. I think I could listen to this track on repeat forever and it wouldn’t get old for me.

Beck – "Que’ Onda Guero" – Guero

This song sounds like something off of his Odelay album. Has the same kind of beat to it, the rapping pattern, the trumpets coming in with a strange sound, or the scratching of a record, etc. Kind of a Spanish version of his "Devil Haircut," I think. I’m sure some people will disagree with me. Not quite the best of what I’ve heard from him, but still quite good.

Beck – "E-Pro" – Guero

Definitely a rock anthem for a new generation. I feel like this song could come on the radio while driving in the car and the teenagers reach over and crank up the volume and start belting out the words. Reminds me of a grungier version of… a song by the Wings/Paul Mc. Also reminds me of some tracks from Limp Bizkit back when he was cool and his "Chocolate Starfish" album came out. Has that same kind of entrancing beat behind it and masculinity that makes you want to mosh around – not that I would know anything about that.

Louis XIV – "All the Little Pieces" – The Best Little…

A very slow ballad song, similar to Coldplay. I’m usually not a major fan of this type of music, but I like the voices "flying" around in my head, followed by the violins and the drums building in the background. A lovely song, but not something I could listen to often, unlike the other song I listed above.

Bonus track:


Feist – "One Evening" – One Evening

This was iTunes free track of the week, and I picked it up mainlyl because I wanted to get an idea of how fast/slow the transfer times were for iTunes (fast on my highspeed connection, by the way), and she’s Canadian, like me. That sold me. Anyways, the track is slow, loungy, very hypnotic with the various smooth sounds tossed your way. I love her voice and will have to check out some of her other music sometime. Sounds like a good track to seduce a woman you like and it should be unforgettable because of the song title. Recommended.

I’ll try doing this regularly if anyone does read this and finds it at all helpful.

A Late Night Musing: Abstractions

February 27, 2005

How can a simple thing, like a piece of art, be called abstract?

Simple. Abstraction is merely a form of us seeing. It has nothing to do with what is being seen and how complex that image may be, but rather in how that form is being seen by the viewer. For some, a painting or dance piece could be called abstract because they are missing the underlying beauty that is simple in nature- ie lines of paint or the arcs of the body in space. Anything can be seen as abstract, and yet everything is simple. It all follws a pattern, a set of rules, is contained in a physical or metaphysical way. Abstraction is the rule of nature.

Nature is abstract? No. Nature is beauty.

But beauty is an abstraction, as well, or rather a confirmation of how simple and elegant something is to the mind. But if that same mind took that same object and started repeating the imagery in their mind or said that word over and over again, the object starts to abstract itself from its inherit beauty. The simplicity and beauty still exist but the word plays tricks on you and fools you. Abstraction is the jokester of life- making you believe in something as it isn’t and ignoring the truth.

How do you get past the abstraction?

By learning how to see again- to learn how to discover again and experiment with your vision and your other senses. Expose yourself to a multiplicity of images, scents, sounds. Accustom yourself to the diversity of our world and how there is more than meets the eye. Draw objects by not how you see them but how they move or take up space. Don’t only listen to music, but dance and move to it – and don’t resist the urge to move a certain way if the music is telling you to move that way. By breaking things down into an essence, you’ll start to see things as they are deep down and not just on their physical form.

Why is it important to understand abstractions?

Because you’re missing out on a lot of great art, music, environments, and so forth, because you choose not to see everything and understand. If you can appreciate abstractions, then you’ll appreciate other human beings and make this world a better place.

 

(to be continued, maybe)