Infernal Evening

Infernal Evening

Decided to start posting some artwork of mine. It is amateurish and mild, but perhaps someone may gain aesthetic pleasure from one of my works. And all my work will be published upside down from how I originally imagined it to be…mostly because I cannot for the life of me figure out how to flip this motherfucker right-side-up.

Review: “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

Seeing as I have naught else to write about at this time, I figured I would do a review on a story that has been told through the media of both film and the written novel, a story called “The Road” conceived by Cormac McCarthy.

My first encounter with McCarthy was the novel “No Country for Old Men” which was a pleasurable read, despite the dark story, and left me feeling like I had enjoyed wandering through the pages of the book. Likewise, the film was excellently done by the brothers Coen and left me with a similar feeling of having experienced some quality storytelling.

Thus, when I first came upon a hardback copy of “The Road” at a local thrift shop, I figured I might as well pick it up. When I finally opened the book and began reading, I found it a bland revisitation of themes that had already been covered by authors in the past in much more…compelling manners.

Let’s take a look at exactly what I mean by this. “The Road” seems to focus on the importance of The Man and The Boy carrying The Fire (a cliched symbol as is for the goodness and perseverance of humankind) as they trudge through the barren waste that is planet Earth. Another theme is that there are those who have discarded or never even had this Fire and resort to cannibalism, which seems to be the only defining characteristic of “the bad guys” in this novel, have become something less than human as humans are wont to do in survival situations.

Already we are dealing with a glorified image of humanity. And the fact that the cannibals are looked down upon is the very support I need to demonstrate this point. The cannibals are viewed as the fallen, which denotes that they must have had some level from which to fall, some sort of metahumanity where they could have dwelled had they only carried The Fire and decided to starve rather than ingest the flesh of their own species in order to survive.

This then is a story of the glorified humans slowly falling prey to the fallen nature of humanity, to the corruption that must therefore lurk within each of us.

To this I say, “Pah.” Golding, Huxley, Orwell, Dostoyevsky…the list goes on…have all ventured to observe this phenomenon of the “weak many” overrunning the “righteous few” but in much more creative (and much less sentimental) manners of storytelling. Whereas these authors used crisp narrative, “The Road” meanders as trudgingly as the characters of the story. True, there are some memorable moments, but they are lost in endless repetitions and descriptions that need not be there. Had “The Road” been compacted to a short story, or even a novella, it may have maintained a healthy amount of commentary without being bogged down by pedantic trekking.

The film adaptation only serves to illuminate how boorishly dull this story is. Dull, not for lack of action, but for lack of any original situations or compelling narrative. I can think of two moments in the entire story when I felt my emotions even stir: the whole scenario with the people stored in the basement, and when The Man robs all his things back from the man who first robbed him. This is not to say that a film must pull on one’s heartstrings in order to be deemed valuable, but when there are so few moments of dramatic implementation that it actually feels out of place, then something must be wrong.

I had high hopes for a powerful performance by Mortensen, but I failed to remember that there wouldn’t be much for him to work with other than the repetitive fragmented conversations that plagued the novel.

If either of the media for telling the story had any success, it would be in their portrayal of just how bleak the world in this fiction had become. Unfortunately, that bleakness is mimicked by the narrative. In a world where there is nothing, I suppose it would be too much to ask for something to happen.

Thus, as an expose on just how bleak humanity risks becoming, “The Road” is a bloated, but good portrait. As a story, it is muddled, meandering, and more than mildly disappointing.

A third of the way into the book I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. A third of the way into the film I wanted to quit, but I didn’t.

But some major resilience was needed to pull through these mires. Guess I must have been carrying the flame.

As you might be able to tell, I’m not that experienced with reviews, and the haphazard organization of this piece may reflect that. Maybe I just did not “get” what McCarthy was meaning to do with this story. Something about it just did not click with me. So now it’s time to read some more de Sade.

If you have any comments, please comment away.

Humor Me

Disclaimer: The following is a record of a series of thoughts. There are sure to be logical fallacies among the following transcriptions. I have chosen to leave it as is for the sake of providing food for thought in a provocative manner.

I have recently come across a show entitled “The Jeselnik Offensive.” Both of my housemates spend much of their time watching television, and (as a result of a combination between hot summer days and the air conditioning only working in the living room) I often find myself spending time in said living room. Normally, I simply go about my own business such as reading, writing, or satisfying my addiction for Cracked.com. However, at times I will lapse into a moment of less than stellar concentration and my eyes are lured toward the television. And this “Jeselnik Offensive” is one show that I will occasionally be dragged into watching a few segments of. 

I have learned a few things about this show through my few encounters. First, it is on Comedy Central (a channel devoted to attempts at humor, or so I believe). Second, this is a show meant to conjure laughter in the audience. Thirdly, his sense of humor is centered around taking sensitive topics and cynically commenting on them.

Lastly, I found myself laughing quite a bit throughout an episode that I watched last night. But, I am still attempting to determine whether my laughter was brought on by being humored, or as an unstable reaction to some incredulous jokes and skits.

Okay, let’s be real, I was laughing because I found these absurd jokes humorous.

And this led me to briefly pontificate on the nature of humor.

I once came across a proposition by someone that humor is merely our response to situations of incongruity. 

Evolutionary speaking, the origin of laughter is theorized to have been used as a tool for notifying the rest of our clan/tribe/murder (whatever groups of our early ancestors would be called) that there was indeed no danger lurking in the bushes.

Ah, so there’s no tiger waiting to pounce. Give a good laugh and everyone else will be put at peace as well.

Clearly this is not the exact manner that we laugh in modern times; however, there are some parallels such as laughing to diffuse a tense situation demonstrating that you intend no aggressive behavior. But, I digress.

If humor is indeed brought about by exploitation of incongruity, then this indeed explains why something as drastic as the jokes in the Jesenik Offensive (or the somewhat similar Tosh.0) can result in bouts of powerful laughter though their topic matter could be about people struggling with obesity or pretending to shoot and kill someone who was meant to represent god (this happened on the last episode of Jeselnik that I saw, and I must admit that I was roiling with chuckles).

I suppose that part of my ability to find humor in these jokes that are explicitly meant to be potentially offensive to certain people groups is that I have yet to be part of one of the people groups under scrutiny. I do not struggle with obesity, I have yet to be raped, I think religion is silly, etc. Perhaps an additional reason why I find this show to be humorous is that I take a healthy cynicism with me wherever I go. Life is, to me, a joke. A riddle without an actual answer that we could fully comprehend. Thus, the only reason why anyone would be offended by these jokes is if they take life too seriously, to a degree where one would be unable to see the comedy in their situation. Albeit, some things such as rape are tragic occurrences among our population, and I doubt that anyone who has experience such an event will be unable to take it lightly. 

But…and there is where I may cross the line…allowing something such as rape to negatively affect you for the remainder of your life demonstrates a lack of adaptability. Know that I say this having also been unable to fully shirk the negative influences upon myself of certain life events that have occurred to me, and though I have not been raped physically, I have had other events that constituted severe violations of my being. I do not allow myself to feel fully victimized by these events though allowing for me to not take it too seriously. Rape is terrible yes, because it results in a victim. But the victim has the option of shedding that label and being able to look back on tragic events with they eye off a darkly humored cynic.

Perhaps there is a reason why The Dark Knight‘s portrayal of the Joker has the famous line, “Why so serious?”

What I am essentially thinking here is that this humor operates in a manner by which it merely pokes fun at those who allow themselves to be victims. And if it does indeed cause offensive, it might be a good sign that one ought to examine why one does indeed feel offended.

Life is a joke, and it is much to short not to laugh.

“What are you reading?”

This premier entry is to serve both as a point of venting a repeating frustration as well as to give a brief biographical glimpse into the life of the author. Before delving into the subject matter I will swiftly elucidate on the latter. I am, quite certainly, an introverted individual who finds pleasure in the isolated realm of my bedroom. But, as those who are actually educated on the nature of introverts would already know, this is not my sole source of enjoyment; the company of others can be rewarding in measured doses of quality time.

With that being established, I can begin to rant mildly on the alarmingly annoying event of being interrupted while reading a book, magazine, essay, what have you. Having spent the last four years at a university, I was often surrounded by multitudes of individuals. There were a few peaceful and beautiful places on the campus that I would thoroughly look forward to sitting down at and indulging in the latest book I had in my possession. The downfall was that these places, being aesthetic hotspots, were also places where my fellow students would readily have access to. Thus, whenever I rested beneath the cooling shade of the artifice called the “Bell Tower” (though there were no actual bells in it, merely audio speakers), I ran the risk of being confronted by a curious classmate who half recognized me from some class and saw this as the prime opportunity to sloppily exhibit the academy’s cornerstone of “Community” by inquiring into what I was reading.

Now, when I see someone whom I do or do not vaguely recognize from my Intro to Neuroscience (or insert any other class here) class diving face first into a book I think, “Gee, there’s a guy/gal really enjoying a book. ,” and I walk on anticipating a possible discussion with them in the future when neither party is already occupied with a prior task, or I simply carry on enjoying my life having never interacted with said individual.

I can only imagine that this girl who vaguely recognized me from my Senior Seminar class must have had an abysmal thought process as follows, “There’s a guy who really seems to be enjoying that book. I’ve got nothing better to do now, might as well go blerch out my passing interest in what he is reading. Who care’s if I’ll forget the conversation two seconds upon its completion, my insecure need for interaction is building and this person who is relishing the shade of the Bell-Tower-That-Plays-Hymns-At-Noon is a perfect target. Blerch.”

Real quick, I have two points to make about this situation. I purposely sit in the back of classes to avoid becoming sucked into the black hole that is small talk with a bunch of people with minds stuffed with fluffy Jesus thoughts and Kaleo candy (did I mention I somehow wound up at a “Christian” institution. Might as well just name it at this point, Azusa Pacific University, the paragon of fluffy Jesus thoughts). Now, apparently, my efforts at avoiding interaction with most people is seen by others as an invitation for them to spread their buttery chatter over my face. A poor misinterpretation on their part.

Secondly, I do not always despise being interrupted while reading. A brief list of exceptions which will not incite me to a  blind (albeit quiet) rage me are as follows. First, if there is an event occurring, the likes of which were I to miss would somehow leave my life less fulfilled, and someone interrupts me by announcing it I may be initially irked but quickly placated depending on the situation (e.g. Advent of zombie apocalypse, free absinthe down the street, topless carwash. You know, the usual things). Also, were it to be either a close friend of mine or even a complete stranger, so long as the ensuing conversation was of merit I would also allow the embers of my vexation to wane. That is, the other party and myself would both have to be genuinely interested in what was being discussed (e.g. life event, the book, new developments in quantum physics) and one or both parties must part ways having been enriched with new information.

See? I can be reasonable if interrupted for the right reasons. But, if you dare ask me the question, “What are you reading?” without any intent other than to comfort your disparaging mind with the psychosocial junk food that is small talk, then I will be forced to choke back the answer I always wish to splurge all over your face, “Well, I’m not reading anything now that you’re forcing me to respond to you, you cunt.”

I might have issues.

But, I hold back my irrationally aggressive response and offer a smile as I respond, “It’s called ’120 Days of Sodom’ by the Marquis de Sade,” sinisterly waiting for her to ask, “Oh, what’s it about?”

And I smile with the knowledge that her fluffy Jesus thoughts are in for a panic attack as I respond, “Well it’s nearly five hundred pages of four guys butt-fucking and farting on everything in sight: boys, girls, women, each other…among other vivid descriptions of complete libertinage.”

I’ll actually be reading a collection of short stories by China Mieville (one of the perks of using a Nook from time to time). But it’s not nearly as enticing to explain that to her, and she’ll never know the truth (although, I did read 120 Days). Let her dreams instead be plagued of being fondled by Durcet or the Duc. It might be a bit harsh, but I doubt I will ever be interrupted by her whilst reading again. Unless she is secretly a sodomite, then I guess Karma would be quite a bitch.

All this to say, I truly and veritably do not like to be interrupted while reading. Just a personal dogma.