Culture of Illusion – The Lorax crushes Idealism.












I wrote this when The Lorax was first released because I was irritated that the characters from the film were being used to sell cars:

Admittedly they were hybrid cars but it seemed to fly in the face of everything that Dr. Seuss, his friend Theodor Geisel and the whole meaning of the original Lorax story stood for.

I have updated this post with the above comment because I am still fucking irritated by the whole concept. For those who have not had the pleasure of reading The Lorax the message is pretty clear. It is a moral warning against the excesses of Industrial Capitalism. So it fills my throat with bile, bile that has flowed up from my stomach, to see the characters for a story that is explicitly warning against the kind of rampant consumerist capitalism, that car companies have been instrumental in creating and perpetrating, are used to hawk their products.

The only way I can express my fucking irritation is in my tiny little blog.

So here I am Fighting the Power.

I am definitely still fucking irritated but I cannot deny that The Lorax commercial is beautifully animated and I am a sucker for fine animation.

Oh how hilarious The Real World is. I don’t understand one moment of it.

I must go for a drive in my air conditioned car to calm down.

Culture of Illusion – 1970s movie aesthetic and the phosphorescent tube.


I was talking with a friend about how much we love the way that American movies from the 1970s look. We rattled off a few of the macho gritty films that we loved; The French Connection, Black Sunday, Klute,Prime Cut; as much to show off our knowledge as to make our point about a particular film aesthetic. The washed out colours, the use in genre pictures of the new wave hand held camera that would become so derigeur, the location shooting outside on the cold streets of whatever city they happened to be in at the time; Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. This is how I came to know and love America before I moved here. The overwhelming of the senses through big architecture, big emotion, big human interaction. All of this, as it turns out, artificial and created for the films that I watched – but I was not to know this at the time. I had not yet experienced the boredom of America, it’s long empty roads of meaninglessness. I had not experienced it’s tired citizens and it’s angry indecision. I was ignorant of the simmering cauldron of anger that boiled below the surface; acting as threat and fuel to all the fine people of this nation. Recollecting the manner in which I watched these films I realised that I had seen most of these works, not at the cinema, with pristine new prints, but late night on British television with the volume down so as not to wake the rest of the house on a tiny set with poor colour correction, little contrast and the glow from the tubes that gave any hope of showing the directors vision short shrift. My understanding of the aesthetic had been totally false, filtered, by chance and the limitations of 1980s technology, into washed out pastels that had never been the intention of the filmmakers. It was not an America that had ever supposed to exist or an America that, now with the advent of Blu-ray and online movie stores, would ever exist again. Yet, even now, I recall with nostalgia, the hunched shoulders of Popeye Doyle as he swaggers down the street to save America from Europe’s heroine barons, the relentless stride of Lee Marvin as he tries to save Sissy Spacek from Gene Hackman, the obsessional drive of Robert Shaw to stop a terrorist attack on a football stadium. It just makes me realise that what we want others to see is not necessarily the thing that they will see and what we ourselves observe can be filtered through any manner of myriad devices, experiences, dreams and nightmares. Will anyone say the same of Transformers: Dark of the Moon? I suspect not. Then my mind wanders to a deeper problem, beyond aesthetics and something that still exists, albeit in a more subtle way today. I was watching films where white men get things done, white men strive and fail; everyone else is a backdrop to their drama, their hopes and dreams. It is not the America I live in. It is not really an America that has ever existed. The America I live in is a kaleidoscope, shifting, pulsing and alive; archetype free with a story constantly in flux pushing relentlessly on into a future it knows, deep down, it has no control over. It is a country with no easy answers and absent heroes. That is why I love America. That is why America terrifies me.

Culture of Illusion – Observations from the past…

As I happened to be reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, this Sunday morning, I came across a passage that seems to contain some resonance as regards the approaching Circus. Here I share it with you now:

For a long while before the appointed time is at hand the election becomes the most important and the all-engrossing topic of discussion. The ardor of faction is redoubled; and all the artificial passions which the imagination can create in the bosom of a happy and peaceful land are agitated and brought to light. The President, on the other hand, is absorbed by the cares of self-defence. He no longer governs for the interest of the State, but for that of his re-election; he does homage to the majority, and instead of checking its passions, as his duty commands him to do, he frequently courts its worst caprices. As the election draws near, the activity of intrigue and the agitation of the populace increase; the citizens are divided into hostile camps, each of which assumes the name of its favorite candidate; the whole nation glows with feverish excitement; the election is the daily theme of the public papers, the subject of private conversation, the end of every thought and every action , the sole interest of the present. As soon as the choice is determined, this ardor is dispelled; and as a calmer season returns, the current of the State, which had nearly broken its banks, sinks to its usual level: but who can refrain from astonishment at the causes of the storm.

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. etc. etc. etc.

Appetite for Distraction – Another Day.

He wakes up late. He does not want to get up. He listens to slam poetry on the bus. Some of it is good. Some of it is not. It was 105 degrees yesterday. That is a lot of degrees. He is tired. He goes to sleep.

Appetite for Distraction – Another Day.

He wakes up. He falls back to sleep. He wakes up again. He makes a toaster strudle and he eats some pasta and drinks some black coffee. He had one glass of wine last night or no, he remembers, he had two glasses of wine last night. His head hurts. He can’t drink like he used to. On the way into work he listens to a lecture given by Maxine Hong Kingston that is five years old. She is talking about Poetry and Peace. He has not heard of her but she seems very nice and eloquent and she reads some of her poetry. Poetry about Peace. In one ironic moment he learns that her novel about this historical figure Mulan that Disney made known to us was being used by the USAF as a foundation for the influx of women warriors they now entertain. He records a religious program. There is a lot of talk of God Guiding. The Newsroom is bereft of God. He does not have a pass to enter here. He talks about the inability to ever trust anyone because how can you trust anyone when you cannot even trust yourself. Questions left hanging in the air. Our trick conciousness filtered through eyes which only imbibe a small section of the spectrum of light of the universe and spaces that are filled in with the brain using memory that is always shown to be fallible. Our indelicate olfaction that can distinguish between only 10000 different smells. The Universe is thick with odour. What is the smell of Martian Night? What is the whiff of Lunar Dust? Trapped in our bodies. So it was, all in all, an upbeat day. So far. He goes to sleep.

Appetite for Distraction – Another Day.

He wakes up. His shoulders are sore this morning. He swam 10 lengths of a small swimming pool on Sunday and choked his way through half of them but, fueled by pride, he struggled on so that the lifeguard did not think that he was a poor swimmer. He was fooling no one. He could not find his ipod this morning. He is glad that this is the kind of thing that he has to contend with as major obstacles to his day and not guns and bombs and slaughter. He reads the end of The Grapes of Wrath. He thinks that the book is incredible. He also read the beginning and the middle of The Grapes of Wrath.

A boss was over from London. One of the many bosses. He seems the clearest so far and all does not seem doom and gloom. He will still prepare myself for the worst. The German Foreign Minister came into work. He was pleasant and had a large serious entourage. There was a lot of German Smiling. He is not sure what German smiling means but it seems to define a particular kind of smiling for him so he calls it German smilnig. He learned more things and he read about rationalism on the train home. It was hot today. The air was hot syrup.  He drank a glass of red wine. He had some chicken. He tried to watch Rachel Maddow but she was not on form tonight – too much whining about Republicans acting like Republicans. Lawrence O’Donnell was also a touch off. He had a segment where he pretended to report on the Bill Clinton/Gennifer Flowers scandal of the 90s. It was a segment that was five minutes too long. It was tedious. He goes to sleep.

Culture of Illusion – The Spreading Haematoma.

The Spreading Haematoma, that is the approaching Presidential Election, purples the skin like grape juice. The reek of rotting meat seems to darken the air as we get ever closer to the choosing of a Leader of the Free World. The Pantomime that is underway will be entertaining to watch in the same way that Jersey Shore is entertaining to watch. Mesmerising like a meeting betwixt an ambulance and a school bus.

Another Day.

He wakes up. It is 6. He enjoys his bed for a moment longer before he switches on the radio. NPR is playing. There are stories about Dominik Straus-Kahn and about Syria and about business. Garrison Keilor interrupts, as he always does, with facts about authors who are significant to the day. This section in turns fascinates and infuriates him. He makes breakfast. It is a blueberry toaster strudle, a bowl of blueberries, four rashers of turkey bacon and some pink lemonade. It meets with success. He takes a shower. He misses his beard, his beard that he shaved off on Saturday. He finishes syncing his ipod. It is now full of Spanish lessons and lectures on computers and anthropology and social studies and politics. It is interesting to him. They are all interesting to him. He prepares lunch for himself. It is a salad containing various vegetables and some cold chicken. He also prepares a fruit salad for dessert. It is very healthy. He reads The Grapes of Wrath on the bus and on the train. It is a good book. He has nearly finished it. He is reading it on his kindle. He arrives at work and He is greeted with responses to his lack of beard. This is usual when he has shaved his beard after having a beard for a long time. Many people seem open mouthed. Jokes are made. Fun is had. The day drags on. He has lunch that he have brought in. It is healthy salad and meat as he wrote earlier. The show goes well. He learns more about himself and his limitations. An important boss appears for the second show. He is impressed. He likes that. Congressman Anthony Weiner admits to lewdness on national television. Hippocritic indignation from news room and from networks and cables and everywhere. He sees what he does and he sees others do it every day. It is human and the internet is human and even though he hears that he is an asshole he hasn’t done the worst thing in the world. We want to eat and fuck and sleep. Everything else is window dressing. he returns home and eats supper, then he has two glasses of red wine which he enjoys. He reads some Naseem Taleb. It soothes him. Then he watches the Daily Show. He snorts laughter. He thinks about doing as Congressman Anthony Weiner does, as usual. Then he sleeps.