An Increasingly Inaccurately Named Trilogy: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Fittingly, this project exists for three basic reasons. First, having subjected everybody to eight parts of Build High for Happiness, it felt like it was time for a nice populist project. Second, I was seized by a desire to watch all seven Star Wars movies and figured “why waste the research.” But third, I was struck by the fact that, as I put it on Twitter a while ago, the bulk of criticism of the Star Wars prequel trilogy is worse at being criticism than the prequels are at being movies. The most common type is of course the brutal and sneering takedown, an approach that usually ends up committing so totally to its brutality that it gives up on making actually interesting points in favor of preening snark. The second is the counter-tendency of contrarian apologias, which are generally better (I’m partial to Rian Johnson’s “the prequels are a 7 hour long kids movie about how fear of loss turns good people into fascists. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”) but still suffer from wanting to be in conversation with the Red Letter Media shit, and also from the fact that they’re taking a provocative position at the expense ...

Guest Post: A Sober Call for Madness

A guest post from Sam Keeper, normally of Storming the Ivory Tower. Sam's great and worth supporting, and I'm totally not just saying that because she pitched me a guest post that's in part about my own work. Though speaking of Articles of Secession, the auction for the last physical zine copy ends today.

"We secede from all secession that does not secede from itself."
 
The dadaists would be proud of this line, as would, famously, Groucho Marx. Of course, it shouldn't come as much surprise that a movement that pronounced its own negation--DADA IS ANTI-DADA!--should find parallel in a comedian's words. It is after all just another way of saying we don't wish to belong to any club that would have us as members. (Whether or under what circumstances Groucho actually said that is pretty irrelevant--we're in the realm of the mythic now.)
 
This is one angle one might take in tackling the Ithica Psychogeographic Liberation Front's manifesto, a musical composition from Seeming with voiceover contributions from Meredith Collins and oh hey Phil Sandifer where have I heard that name before? It's just one angle thought--the manifesto ...

Permanent Saturday: Really big at the box office

With deepest apologies to Chris Stangl, Permanent Saturday is a semiregular critical exploration of Jim Davis' comic strips Garfield and U.S. Acres/Orson's Farm.

Garfield and Friends was well known for its referential and self-aware style of comedy. Much of the humour from the second season onward was gleaned from poking fun at both pop culture and the capitalist industry that creates it thanks to its head writer Mark Evanier. Evanier is a veteran Hollywood jobbing scribe who was born, raised and still lives in Los Angeles, so he brings a very unique perspective to Garfield. For Evanier, celebrities and entertainers were his neighbours and fellow community members, and the business of making movies was the local industry. So when Garfield and Friends makes a joke about Hollywood agents or breaks the fourth wall and treats the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show as just another piece of primetime network television, this is not the series being especially perceptive and postmodern as much as it is Mark Evanier looking for inspiration in the people and things around him, and writing what he knows.

(Indeed, Mark Evanier's secondary role as voice director is responsible for another thing Garfield and Friends ...

Build High for Happiness 8: Jerusalem (2016)

such rich centers of possibilities and meanings

There is of course no other way this could end, which is fitting given that one of the (many) things Jerusalem is about is predestination. Moore’s vision of the world is closely related to the one we’ve been exhaustively exploring throughout this series. He does not actually use the word hypercube (and indeed envisions the structure in even higher dimensions), but it’s nevertheless clearly what’s going on. And though it would be wrong to describe it as a prison (he’s ultimately too optimistic for that), the multidimensional superstructure in which he places us is nevertheless utterly inescapable. As Moore imagines it, reality is a fixed solid existing in at least four dimensions, in which all events are fixed, and human consciousnesses simply experience their lives on endless repeat, passing through their allotted portion of the structure over and over again, experiencing the same unchanging lives each time.

This poses several problems, of which the loss of free will is only one, and a fairly minor one at that. Some are acknowledged by Moore, either within Jerusalem itself or in interviews, most notably the apparent loss of any moral perspective. Moore, being a monstrously ...

Saturday Waffling (January 21st, 2017)

Two quick orders of business.

1) As part of the release of Articles of Secession (which, if you missed that yesterday, do check out), we made a 50-copy print run of the zine with the extended text of the piece. Forty-nine of these were distributed around Ithaca. The fiftieth is now on eBay, with proceeds going to charity. For the purposes of people who aren't in Ithaca, this is basically a print edition of one, so go get yourself some bragging rights and some disenfranchised Ithacans some groceries.

2) Jack has opened a Patreon of his own. If you like Jack's work here, and of course you do because Jack is fucking awesome, you should go support it. 

How's everyone holding up?

Articles of Secession

A spoken word piece by the Seeming, Meredith Collins, and myself, and the inaugural release of the Ithaca Psychogeographic Liberation Front.

Download the song along with a PDF zine containing an extended version of the text here. It's name your own price, and all proceeds will go to locally based charities dedicated to safety and opportunity for disenfranchised people. 

The Comprehensive History of Injustice

A guest post by Seth Aaron Hershman.

...the entire world might be poisoned. This, however, seemed unlikely, as the world, no matter how monstrously it may be threatened, has never been known to succumb entirely.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a book series, and currently a Netflix show, about three orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are chased from place to place by a man named Count Olaf who manipulates (and if necessary knocks off) anyone who might try to take them in so that he can have them--and their inheritance/trust fund--for himself.

Count Olaf is a rich man looking to get richer, who relies on transparent lies and cheap theatrics to get his way, casually uses and discards people, has a roughly third-grade literacy and vocabulary level, and works in entertainment.

It’d be easy to go that route, wouldn’t it?

The issue of timeliness is a difficult one for A Series of Unfortunate Events, a franchise which actively avoids setting itself in a specific era in a way that should be familiar to fans of, say, Archer or Batman: The Animated Series. Because the series goes out of its way not to take place in any ...

The Nintendo Switch Presentation: The Beginning and the End

Here's the thing about cycles. The wheel turns, but that does not imply that history will repeat wholecloth. Time, of course, does not exist. History doubly so: History is a patriarchal fiction. There are endings and new beginnings as the seasons change. Recognisable archetypes reiterate and reincarnate, but each spin of the wheel is an event of its own. Impermanence is all part of the cycle.
 
We in video game journalism appropriate some of this truth when we use terms like “hardware cycles” to describe the passing of the console generational torch (“generation” and “torch”, of course, both being metaphors taken from patriarchal master narratives). Video game consoles do not so much go out of date as they get supplanted. A history of invasions and conquests, or a season for everything?
 
Were I to do this normally, I would go through my notes and recap the Nintendo Switch Reveal Event Presentation beat-for-beat. But on this occasion, normality doesn't seem appropriate. Nintendo did indeed flip a Switch with this event, but I doubt highly it's the Switch they wanted to flip. Over the course of about an hour, my entire world was turned on its head ...

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