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  • 31021.0532

    Buster's five reel masterpiece was set in in the environs of a local movie theater and then migrated to the insides of a fantasy about film while Buster's projectionist dreamed of possibilities beyond 1924: talkies, transubstantiation and magical motorbikes. His onscreen/onscreen detective solves an impossible crime with impossibilities while just onscreen his lost love does the real detective work he's unable to improvise.

    Keaton films a 40 second continuous take of a refrigerated railroad escape hatched exit (trap door), then as the train takes off Buster walks opposite the train's direction, he remains centered, leaping between trains, until at the end he simply jumps onto a water chute's chain, grabs it in mid-air and takes it down to the ground, finally awashed in a deluge. He simply gets up and walks away from the camera as a hand-operated car slides into frame with two men, who are then drowned. The take is obviously a masterpiece inside one. Later, in the dream sequence, Buster is lured up a stairs and exits a trap door that's then locked. Then a wide shot from the ground, as Keaton appears above only as the villain slides into a redlight. Keaton comes to the roof's edge, and leaps on an upright railroad crossing gate, and rides it down, right into the villain's rear seat. A mimic of reality's railroad gag.

    "Keaton showed us the impossible to show that it was impossible. Distinguishing between life on the screen and life in nature - and for all that, between screen life and stage life - Keaton defined the form as no analyst had before him had done, marking out its liberties and limitations precisely. But not as theory. He made the contradiction visible. Before Buster penetrates the screen in Sherlock, Jr., he must step onto the stage in front of it."

    Walter Kerr The Silent Clowns Knopf 1975

    Below images: to prove he's inside the film of his dreams, Keaton steps into the dressing mirror without commentary, then (not shown) later he jumps first into a dress he's suddenly wearing, then (illustrated) he leaps impossibly into his assistant. From Silent Clowns.

     

  • 31011.1053

    The challenge for Mayan scholarly studies is simple: what's left to study after thousands of years, continual looting, a gripping moisture the jungle provides and the wars of collapse and then conquests. Many of these polities of Central America were abandoned for centuries, or trafficked rarely. What's survived in written form from the Americas' (it is poorly yet logically claimed) only literate civilization?  Not much, few codices (books of recorded data) and mostly what has survived the jungle in these forms of glyphically rendered stone and baked clay - a predominance of dates and what appears at first simplified deity or lordship worship verses, hymnals. As in most dominant indigenous cultures carefully studied by the explosion of graduate studies in the last century, the language is recorded in somewhat complete dictionaries per 'dialect' through spoken word translation. Although narrative myths exist in spoken Maya, some scattered in ethnographies, only a few complete narratives were recorded at the Spanish conquest, none are in their original written or carved glyphic transmission, and unfortunately thousands upon thousands of Mayan books are lost, a few hundred even burned by a fearful Jesuit as retribution for locals continuing to practice their local religions while also attending mass. Now Dennis Tedlock has achieved what might have seemed impossible only decades ago, he's brought the first study of Mayan literature to a masterful book form.  Although a blight of evidence might have hindered research, it also may have been a proverbial blessing in disguise. Scholars have had to work with pottery and monumental stela, and both have coded, expressive manners of storytelling; since stela, lintels etc. were integrated into sky viewing structures, they offer more complete understandings of the language's use of time and math, even interrelations between phases, and even some unusual keys: differing perceptions in meaning but not gesture, violating, or perhaps liberating them from the closed structure of western languages.  Using available data, some of which he's translated himself (a crucial one - an expansive take on the Popol Vuh), Tedlock incorporates his knowledge by impersonating unconscious strategies of Mayan and pools a vast array of master thinkers like Coe, Marcus, Taube, Marcus, Schele, Stuart, Aveni, B. Tedlock, Rice, Houston, and Kerr and assembles, in piles almost - into their spheres of specialty, translations of key artifacts and styles of writing, utilizing leaps with data they've already hinted at, but Tedlock makes certain overarching leaps: he states naming conventions across boundaries (a use of 'hereafter' that results in several 'eureka's). He shows the Maya possesed powerful storytelling strategies that any culture would could and should explore, both in literate and non-literate ways, and he extols visual specifities exclusive of translation.  He takes an open risk visual evolutions he's spotting are values that travel along a logical route, thus building skeletons of ideas from orchestrated proof. He includes astronomical data to many entries and it boosts his arguments since these chosen stories' shapes clearly expand into the night sky, some are cleverly illustrated with sky views and gradient milky ways including discussions of decaying orbits, spans of sky appearance, the goals of which are astounding once the language's overarching methods seep in (a spoiler that shouldn't be ruined here). A chapter about Mayan graffiti is pivotal, you can sense the literacy of non-royals, non-astronomers, thus the Maya convincingly hint that their language was suffusive, beyond any ideas (or ideals!) of literacy we cling desperately to in the west. This slight chapter even questions Western visual literacy by comparison. Accompanying the juicy textual discoveries are some exquisite visual strategies possible only in book form - the venn between anthropology, archeology and linguistics - connective starscapes, visually-based translations of both layout and deciphered mirroring. Sometimes these illustrations are maybe a bit asutere, but the gravity of shapes and forms in play and the historical correlations are proven (look below for only a hint): and above too, the cover's bare-bones stela-ish design is a preview of things to come inside. And the number he chooses as a timeframe, 2000, shows how unsensual our millenial epochal stopwatches are, how constrictingly dull our calendrical bookends can seem. Tedlock's book should be read by all slightly interested in the past and future of languages, and he's carefully prepared it for anyone without knowledge of the Maya with a run-through introductory chapter of conventional practice in Mayan dating and grammar. Tedlock's book is a time-extended lingual guide and much, much more. A must read.

    2000 Years of Mayan Literature, Dennis Tedlock, University of California Press, 2010

    A must-read 43 page transcript of Dennis and Barbara Tedlock's unedited interview for the Nova documentary Breaking the Maya Code.

  • 31010.1402

    The study of "emotion" in radically non-Western communities - the kind of places in which anthropologists have traditionally worked - throws light both on the nature and functions of emotion (and of the individual emotions) and on the relations of individuals in those places to the historically transmitted ambient forms that constitute their "culture." As the temptation to put the two key terms ("emotion" and "culture") within quotation marks suggest, both terms are problematic, and we will encounter some of the confusions of Alice's croquet game, with both mallets and balls, not to mention wickets, in eccentric motion.

    - from Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion edited by Richard A. Schweder

  • 311362.0949

    This staggering book is an archaeologist's view of religion throughout prehistory. Flooded with recent discoveries (2003), the inner and outer of the beginnings of human consciousness can be read in 450 pages. Below: A face-like rock collected by an early hominid some 4.5 million years ago in South Africa. Far Below: A Maori chiefly-feast scaffold, erected to hold food and gifts on its various levels. Evidence exists of similar scaffold structures at Stonehenge. Parallels with the west's Christmas Tree cannot be ignored.

  • 311348.2344

    Reading's must-read book examines the devolution of educational institutions and the programmatic use of catch-phrases ("excellence") to overtake our understanding of qualities, like skill and knowledge. A devastating short probe into the west's subtle, elemental collapse.

  • 311347.0320

    the kite seems to be my destiny, because in the first recollection of my infancy it seemed to me that, while I was in my cradle a kite came to me and opened my mouth with its tail, and struck me several times with its tail inside my lips

  • 311345.0800

    As the Indian Wars dialed down in the late 1800's, eastern institutions sent ethnographers to study the fallen first Americans. Alfred Kroeber, one of the early pioneers was sent to study the Southern Arapaho in the then Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), then visited the Northern Arapaho in Wyoming finally the similar Gros Ventre in Montana. His studies were published first, like most academics then, in four separate volumes of the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Kroeber's study is a masterwork and is copiously illustrated.

    These two groupings at bottom: 1) Game pieces for a memory game similar to Concentration. 2) Paint pouches.

  • 311339.0848

    Unlike Karl Mannheim, who saw ideology through a generalized lens, Bruehl viewed ideoloy as a window into archetypes, neurosis and personality; in effect, she saw the breaking down of racism/sexism/ethnicism as a struggle for psychonanlysis to bear. More 20th century front-loading, but still an involving read. There are fairy-tale abstractions in Bruehl's approach to psychonanlysis.

  • 311334.1000

    Viewed without preconception in 1995, the second incarnation of Meier's "The Shining" began at Winnie's on NYC's Avenue A and after a quick beer and a signing of a waiver (physical contact), the seven or so ticketholders boarded a bus for a surreal trip (narrated by a thrift-store cat puppet) to a then non-museum P.S. 1, where one-by-one, disorientation rising, ticketholders were led to a darkened school hallway, where we were given a very slight taste of Stockholm syndrome attitude. Screamed at, cajoled into removing our coats, we were then forced to wait on a bench while Throbbing Gristle blasted from the former school's gymnasium. Then one by one were were thrown into the gym, and told "follow the light." After sixteen years, Meier's craziness gets its revival. Should be seen. Begins at New York Arts Live and travels to an undisclosed location.

  • 311310.2235