Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This Filthy World

I just got back in from seeing John Waters' one man show, "This Filthy World." It was great, and I wish I would have known last week that three seats for the seminar he'll be doing tomorrow morning would open up. I could have asked for the day off. Instead, I'll be outside the city having not nearly as much fun. I should go into far more detail, but those won't be fully imprinted until I've reminisced far too many times with fellow attendees. Among the highlights was learning that one of his favorite directors, if not his absolute favorite, is Joseph Losey who, if I haven't already mentioned my affinity for his work here, is also on my short list. My friend Devon intends to ask him about Boom tomorrow; he should also mention Secret Ceremony.

Other highlights:
I learned what a blossom is in certain vernacular circles.

A lovely idea for getting your young girls to stay away from pregnancy.

An awesome quote I think I'll muddle, but someone will correct me. He mentioned Michael Jackson and how Jackson has a burn unit in his house that is full of children. We were asked to imagine being a child in that burn unit, looking up at a little window and "seeing Michael Jackson up there dressed like Joan Crawford. He comes down the stairs and stands next to you, 'Does it hurt? Would you like some ointment?' And he pulls out his flaccid, polka-dotted penis and drops an oily load on your leg." How can you beat imagery like that?

I also have three new goals in life thanks to John Waters (listed in order of likelihood):
1. Touch myself while voting.
2. Have sex on Waters' grave.
3. Steal John Waters' body.

With three new goals for life, I'd say this evening went rather well.

Further Musings

I really don't intend to post everything that runs through my head as I sit in this one particular class, but I wrote wrote out far too much today to leave it moulder in my notebook. I'm sure I've used some of the words incorrectly, but I don't quite care right now.

How could there possibly be limits to interpretation? Certainly, there can be arguments over elements intentionally included in a work. If a film, book, poem, musical composition, &c. was made long beforehand, it doesn't follow that links or allusions to World War II, for example, are intentionally placed within the work, but that hardly negates the possibility of a viewer/listener having various links appear in its mind. Because all interpretation is subjective, any "right" or "wrong" interpretations are only able to be defined so through the imposition of an artificial, arbitrary framework of cognitive restrictions by an authoritarian body whose continued importance and existence is contingent on the maintenance and continued longevity of these structures.

There is no "wrong" interpretation. When asking if a work of art can erect boundaries within which interpretation is valid while anything outside is not, there is a conflation of two separate elements: what is intentionally placed within the work by the artist(s), and the way said artist(s) desire for the work to be interpreted, and what the observer experiences upon contact with the work. It would be exceedingly silly to suggest some wildly divergent element was expressly included in the work if it is not in the artist's (immediate?) frame of reference and experience. However, what is experienced by the viewer is dependent upon said viewer's own frame of reference and experience, and this cannot be quantified for all possible viewers. It stands to reason that there can be no wrong interpretation in this territory.

To say that the filmmaker intended for an element of the film to evoke the idea of pedophilia can be wrong. To say that viewing an element of the film evoked in one or more viewers the idea of pedophilia cannot.

Side note: I'm sorry to break it to you professor, but "correct" interpretation is defined by the current hegemony of one's discipline and not by something inherent in the material being interpreted.

What wonders will spring forth in the coming class meetings?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Classroom Musings

While sitting in class this morning, we were treated with a speech on why the professor feels he failed the class because we were not reacting in the proper manner to the stupendously wonderful art that is Mark Rappaport's Scenic Routs. He was so disheartened by this turn of events, he felt that we needed something "easier" to work with. During the speech, he declared that ideas are not (in) film, they are a resistance mechanism employed because we are frightened of the dangerous implications of the artwork. The following is what sprang to my mind and was written during the speech (a bit of rewording has been done; it's a second draft):

<Professor's name> says he's not teaching ideas but shaping students' perceptual apparatuses. However, if one shapes the apparatus of perception, is that not teaching ideas by proxy since it is by way of what and how we perceive that information is processed and interpreted, resulting in the formation of ideas, values, and tendencies? I should answer in the positive. Stating you seek to shape the interpretive apparatuses of the students is simply a circuitous method of stating you seek to instill within the students a mindset conducive to their ideas and values echoing your own. It is different from teaching ideas in that it is almost more insidious because the perceptual apparatus is not a pre-formed thought structure or filter that is easily recognised by those who use it and just as easily discarded. Instead, it is like a sort of genetic parasite that weaves its way into the perceptual filters constructed by its student hosts when they seek to find their own way. Certainly, other forces act in a similar manner, but they will often own their part (i.e. parents, religious leaders, &c.) rather than act an innocent party.*
* Some exceptions apply (i.e. governments).

Last week, was this:

Because art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, the designation of a work as art is quite subjective. Designations of greater or lesser value to art become doubly so. As such, the only definite right or wrong answers to questions about art are those your instructor wishes to hear. The same holds true for interpretive issues as well.

Are they pompous? Possibly. Pretensious? Probably. Make sense? Maybe?

At least it's therapeutic enough to prevent assault each day when I realize I'm paying for the mostly wasted time I spend in that class?