Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Logan's Run — A film by Michael Anderson

P.A. System: Capricorn 15's. Born 2244. Enter the Carousel. This is the time of renewal [Crowd applauds] - P.A. System: Be strong and you will be renewed. Identify [Capricorn 15's show flashing crystals]


In a hermetically sealed post-apocalyptic urban environment several centuries hence, Logan 5 (Michael York) and his friend Francis 7 (Richard Jordan) lead unquestioning lives of hedonism.

Entertainment comes in the form of casual sexual liaisons and gladiatorial games in which those who do not wish to undergo euthanasia at the age of 30 vie for the illusory chance of continued life.

As "sandmen," Logan and Francis are charged with tracking down and killing "runners" -- those citizens who will submit to neither "renewal" (a peaceful death) nor "carousel" (a gladiatorial battle) when their time comes.

When Logan grows intrigued by a beautiful young woman, Jessica 6 (Jenny Agutter), who plans to become a runner, he is forced to question the fundamental principles of his society.

And when his superiors force him to pose as a runner himself to weed out Jessica's guerilla underground, Logan finds himself fleeing the city in search of a mythical place called Sanctuary, where people are allowed to live out their natural spans.


Directed by Michael Anderson. Produced by Saul David. Screenplay by David Zelag Goodman Based on 'Logan's Run' by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Starring: Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett, Peter Ustinov. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. Cinematography by Ernest Laszlo. Editing by Bob Wyman. Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Distributed by United Artists. Release date(s): June 23, 1976. Running time: 119 minutes. Country: United States. Language: English.


Michael Anderson: After serving in the Second World War, Anderson first developed his career in British films, becoming a director in 1949 and enjoying his first success with the war movie The Dam Busters (1954). The Dam Busters made good use of limited special effects and is often cited as an inspiration for the climax of the first Star Wars film. He directed the first cinema adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 (1956) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his direction. He also directed the 1968 film The Shoes of the Fisherman starring Anthony Quinn, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud.

He settled in Hollywood, California, making such science fiction offerings as Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975) and Logan’s Run (1976). Logan’s Run was an expensive box-office success, contributing a box office of $50 million worldwide and boosting sales for its distributor, Metro Goldwyn Mayer. It has gone on to enjoy a cult status. He also directed Orca (1977). Anderson’s later work was mostly made-for-television miniseries, including The Martian Chronicles (1980) and Sword of Gideon (1986). In 1988, he directed Bottega dell’orefice (The Jeweler’s Shop), based on the 1960 play written by Karol Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul II). Other films he has directed include All The Fine Young Cannibals (1960), Flight from Ashiya (1964), The Quiller Memorandum (1966), The Yangtse Incident (1956) and a film adaptation of Conduct Unbecoming (1975).

"The Assignment/Lost Years" OST; Jerry Goldsmith:


"She'll Do It/Let Me Help" OST; Jerry Goldsmith:


"They're Watching/Doc is Dead" OST; Jerry Goldsmith:


Further information here, here & here.

Phenomenology

Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of building materials and their sensory properties ... Phenomenology (archaeology), based upon understanding cultural landscapes from a sensory perspective ... Phenomenology (particle physics), a branch of particle physics that deals with the application of theory to high-energy experiments ... Phenomenology (philosophy), a philosophical method and school of philosophy founded by Edmund Husserl (1859 – 1938) ... Existential phenomenology, in the work of Husserl's student Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) and his followers ... Phenomenology of Perception, the magnum opus of French phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty ... Phenomenology of religion, concerning the experiential aspect of religion in terms consistent with the orientation of the worshippers ... The Phenomenology of Spirit, a book by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel ... Phenomenology (psychology), used in psychology to refer to subjective experiences or their study ... Phenomenology (science), used in science to describe a body of knowledge that relates empirical observations of phenomena to each other ...

"By the act of reflection something is altered in the way in which the fact was originally presented in sensation, perception, or conception. Thus, as it appears, an alteration must be interposed before the true nature of the object can be discovered" - Hegel, 1830, Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences.


Phenomenology; A term used in philosophy to denote enquiry into one's conscious and particularly intellectual processes, any preconceptions about external causes and consequences being excluded. It is a method of investigation into the mind that is associated with the name of Edmund Husserl, as it was he who did most to develop it, although when Husserl's system appeared on the philosophical scene, the word already had a long history and had undergone a conspicuous semantic evolution.

The first use of it goes back to Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728–77), a disciple of Christian Wolff (1679–1754). Lambert published in 1764 a treatise on epistemology dealing with the problem of truth and illusion, under the rather pedantic title of Neues Organon oder Gedanken über die Erforschung des Wahren und der Unterscheidung von Irrtum und Schein (New Organon, or Thoughts on the Search for Truth and the Distinction between Error and Appearance), in the fourth part of which he outlines a theory of illusion that he calls 'phenomenology or theory of appearance'. Although he belongs to a period in the history of philosophy in which the question of the intuition of essences had not yet been raised, his implicit definition of phenomenology, taken literally, does not sound odd to the post-Husserlian reader, except that to him, Lambert, an appearance (or phenomenon) is necessarily an illusion. More important, Lambert was acquainted with Kant, and Kant in 1770 was writing to him about the need for a 'general phenomenology' which he conceived as a preparatory step to the metaphysical analysis of natural science. According to Spiegelberg (1960), what Kant called phenomenology was in fact synonymous with his idea of the critique of pure reason, though nothing allows us to suppose that he specifically used the term forged by Lambert to qualify phenomena as antithetic to noumena or things in themselves.

It is, however, with Hegel's Die Phänomenologie des Geistes (Phenomenology of the Mind), published in 1807, that the term is used explicitly for the first time to label a philosophical work of fundamental importance. A significant step in its evolution from Lambert to Hegel may be found in J. G. Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre (Theory of Science), in which its role is to establish the origin of phenomena as they exist for consciousness; and in Hegel's elaborate system, its basic task is primarily historical since it aims at discovering the successive steps of realization of self-consciousness from elementary individual sensations up to the stage of absolute knowledge through dialectic processes.

The few authors worth mentioning who dealt with phenomenological problems between Hegel and Husserl are William Hamilton (1788–1856), who in fact equates phenomenology with psychology as opposed to logic, Eduard von Hartmann (1842–1906), whose studies on religious, ethical, and aesthetic consciousness were greatly inspired by Hegel's phenomenology, and, to some extent, Charles Sanders Peirce, though his work on the classification of phenomena belongs more to metaphysics than to an actual phenomenology of subjective experience. Except in the case of Hegel, phenomenology was not a major field of reflection until Husserl's monumental work.

Since Husserl's transcendental phenomenology is discussed in some detail in the entry under his name, it will suffice here to underline its distinctive features. In contrast with pre-existing philosophies, it is no mere, closed, abstract construct that theoretically allows the philosopher to pronounce on the conditions of principles of experience; it is rather an endless attempt to stick to the reality of experienced phenomena in order to exhibit their universal character. In order to succeed in the endeavour, Husserl has to discard the classic dualistic view, according to which the knowing subject reaches the world only through representation — a position typical of rationalistic and idealistic systems. Hence he refers, after Brentano, to the intentional character of consciousness, and condemns psychologism (the theory that psychology is the foundation of philosophy) in view of the contradiction it brings about: that the supposedly universal laws of logic and mathematics would be dependent on the concrete functioning of psychological mechanisms.

The Husserlian standpoint is thus a radical one, since it aims at 'going back to the things themselves' by claiming that there is no reason to suppose that phenomenon and being are not identical. In other words, the noema (object content) and the noesis (knowing act) are directly related by the intentionality of consciousness, so that every phenomenon is intuitively present to the subject. However, phenomena, as they are grasped by the subject, are always given under a particular profile. No object whatsoever is given in its totality as a simultaneous exhaustible whole, but every profile conveys its essence under the form of meaning for consciousness. In order to reach the essence of any object, one is bound to proceed to unceasing variations around the object as thematic reality, i.e. to discover the essence through the multiplicity of possible profiles. This procedure applies to all phenomena, ranging from current perceptual experience to the highly intricate constructs characterizing the various fields of knowledge, such as physics and psychology.

Every phenomenon belongs to a regional ontology by virtue of its essence, as revealed by the so-called eidetic intuition, the essence (eidos) being the sum of all possible profiles. In the course of this process, consciousness operates as a constitutive moment, i.e. its activity in grasping the essence of phenomena is, perforce, part of the process of their emergence. Thus Husserl overcomes the classic dualism of subject and object. Reaching the universal essence of an object through eidetic intuition, i.e. discovering the basic structure implied by its very existence, is a process which Husserl calls eidetic reduction. This being granted, the next step consists in referring phenomena to subjectivity without falling back into psychologism, since the empirical subject, as referred to psychology's own regional ontology (or Descartes' res cogitans), belongs to a realm of contingent being, which cannot furnish by itself the necessary foundation for the organization of the absolute principles governing universal essences. Husserl is therefore bound to exclude belief in the natural world as the ultimate reference of all our intentional acts. This process is termed phenomenological reduction. It presupposes, in Husserl's terms, a provisional 'bracketing' (Einklammerung) of the natural and a description or explication of our intentional acts as referred to pure noematic structures. The final accomplishment of this process is the transcendental reduction, by which the fundamental conditions of every possible meaningful intentional relation must be elucidated. This is the core of Husserl's theory of transcendental subjectivity or transcendental ego.

Thus Husserl's phenomenology reconsidered the philosophical problem of consciousness in a radical fashion and contributed thereby to the placing of psychology — and the human sciences in general — within a new epistemological framework. Criticism of the one-sidedness of both empiricist and idealistic standpoints could be developed so that the shortcomings of dualistic views, with all their derivatives such as mechanicism, parallelism, and phenomenalism, became more apparent. As a fundamental theory of phenomena ranging from perception to creative thinking, it has provided a firm starting point for the integration of concepts of the subject at different levels: hence phenomenologically inspired hypotheses such as those that guided F. J. J. Buytendijk and V. von Weiszäcker in anthropological physiology. The French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty's analyses of the experienced body (1942) and perception (1945) were phenomenological works that contributed to the transforming of the classical standpoints in psychology.

Georges Thinès, 1987, Oxford Companion to the Mind.

Further information here, here & here.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Solipsism

“I cannot transcend experience, and experience is my experience. From this it follows that nothing beyond myself exists; for what is experience is its [the self ’s] states” - F.H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality (1897).


Solipsism is sometimes expressed as the view that “I am the only mind which exists,” or “My mental states are the only mental states.” However, the sole survivor of a nuclear holocaust might truly come to believe in either of these propositions without thereby being a solipsist. Solipsism is therefore more properly regarded as the doctrine that, in principle, “existence” means for me my existence and that of my mental states. Existence is everything that I experience — physical objects, other people, events and processes — anything that would commonly be regarded as a constituent of the space and time in which I coexist with others and is necessarily construed by me as part of the content of my consciousness. For the solipsist, it is not merely the case that he believes that his thoughts, experiences, and emotions are, as a matter of contingent fact, the only thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Rather, the solipsist can attach no meaning to the supposition that there could be thoughts, experiences, and emotions other than his own. In short, the true solipsist understands the word “pain,” for example, to mean “my pain.” He cannot accordingly conceive how this word is to be applied in any sense other than this exclusively egocentric one.

Image: 'Solipsism I - Part 2' by Diogo Balan.

Gorgias (of Leontini): Solipsism is first recorded with the Greek presocratic sophist, Gorgias (c. 483–375 BC) who is quoted by the Roman skeptic Sextus Empiricus as having stated: Nothing exists; Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it; and Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can't be communicated to others. Much of the point of the Sophists was to show that "objective" knowledge was a literal impossibility. (See also comments credited to Protagoras of Abdera).

René Descartes: The foundations of solipsism are in turn the foundations of the view that the individual's understanding of any and all psychological concepts (thinking, willing, perceiving, etc.) is accomplished by making analogy with his or her own mental states; i.e., by abstraction from inner experience. And this view, or some variant of it, has been influential in philosophy since Descartes elevated the search for incontrovertible certainty to the status of the primary goal of epistemology, whilst also elevating epistemology to "first philosophy".

George Berkeley: Berkeley's arguments against materialism in favor of idealism provide the solipsist with a number of arguments not found in Descartes. While the latter defends ontological dualism, thus accepting the existence of a material world (res extensa) as well as immaterial minds, Berkeley denies the existence of matter but not minds, God or the world.

Further information here, here and here. Video content here, here & here.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ah Pook Is Here — A book by William S. Burroughs

"Death needs Time for what it kills to grow in, for Ah Pook's sweet sake you stupid, vulgar, greedy, Ugly-American Death Sucker!"


"Ah Pook, the Mayan god of Death, is the presiding genius of this new novel by William Burroughs - his first since the publication of Exterminator! in 1972. In a ruined temple in Mexico the evil Mr Hart, a searcher after immortality, discovers the lost books of the ancient Mayan religion which contain the secret of absolute control over all other human beings. Having murdered his only friend and fellow explorer to win all power for himself, Mr Hart extravagantly squanders his reserves of hear, hate, pain and repression - the instruments of control - finally becoming so addicted to his power that he believes he can cheat death itself..."

Ah Pook Is Here was a collaboration between author William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill. It began in 1970, when Burroughs was living in London and McNeill was in his final year of art school. It first appeared under the title The Unspeakable Mr. Hart as a comic strip in the English Cyclops. When that magazine ceased publication, Burroughs and McNeill decided to develop the concept as a book. After a year of research and preliminary design the text of the book had expanded from 11 pages to 50, and a complete mockup had been produced. By this point, the work had been renamed Ah Puch Is Here in reference to the Mayan Death God. Straight Arrow Books in San Francisco agreed to publish the proposed work in 1971 as a "Word/Image novel" which was to comprise 120 pages, some of integrated text and image, some of text alone and some which featured only pictures.

In 1973, McNeill moved to San Francisco from London to finish the project. However, the small advance proffered by the publisher made any more than a few months of working full-time on the project impossible, and when Straight Arrow Books closed in 1974 the book was without a publisher. Nevertheless, McNeill moved to New York in 1975 to rejoin Burroughs and continue the work. They were unable to find another publisher and after seven years on and off, the project was finally abandoned. It was subsequently published in 1979, by John Calder, in text form only under the original title of Ah Pook Is Here.

After 30 years the original visual works were resurrected and restored by McNeill for their West Coast showing at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, April 4th to May 2nd, 2009 and a December 2008 showing in New York at Saloman Arts Gallery.

Burroughs reads from Ah Pook Is Here on the album 'The Doctor Is On The Market', Les Temps Modernes Recordings V:XX 1986. Album Coordination; James Grauerholz, James Neiss. Tapes Edit; Jon Hurst. This album is dedicated to the memory of Brion Gysin.


Ah Pook Is Here and Other Texts; The book of breeething; Electronic revolution by William S. Burroughs.

John Calder Publishers Ltd & River Run Press Inc. 1979. ISBN: 0714536830.


Further information here, here & here.

"Question: Is Control controlled by its need to control? Answer: Yes"

Friday, 1 June 2012

Quintet — A film by Robert Altman / Montréal's 1967 International and Universal Exposition or Expo 67



Much discussed, yet rarely seen, Quintet is indeed a strange addition to Robert Altman's canon, not to mention Paul Newman's. Many will tell you that the film is a failure, on almost every level. This is not so. As an idea, it's simply not fleshed out to a standard that we would consider it a finished film. This is frustrating, I'll concede, but this is it's only fault.

Inconclusive as it may be, each player (in every sense) is clearly absorbed in both their individual characters and the reality in which their characters exist. The vision may be blurred (in every sense), but the vision is holistic. In many ways Quintet plays more like the pilot episode of a TV show, that never got picked up, than a motion picture. Ultimately, this is no bad thing; Images and ideas, like the snow, drift in and stretch out, to, and beyond the horizon.



The story takes place during a new ice age. The camera tracks a blank, frozen, seemingly deserted tundra- until two blurry distant figures can just be made out...

They are the seal hunter Essex and his pregnant companion, Vivia, the daughter of one of Essex's late hunting partners. They are travelling North, where Essex hopes to reunite with his brother, Francha.

Essex and Vivia eventually find Francha's apartment, but the reunion is short-lived. While Essex is out buying firewood, a gambler named Redstone throws a bomb into Francha's apartment, killing everyone inside, including Vivia. Essex sees Redstone fleeing the scene and chases him to the sector's "Information Room"; Essex witnesses the murder of Redstone by a Latin gambler named St. Christopher. When St. Christopher leaves, Essex searches Redstone's pockets and finds a piece of paper with a list of names: Francha, Redstone, Goldstar, Deuca, St. Christopher, and Ambrosia.

Puzzled by the mystery, Essex discovers that Redstone had previously checked into the Hotel Electra, a gambling resort in another sector. He visits the hotel and assumes Redstone's identity. Immediately after checking in, Essex is given an unexpected welcome by Grigor, who is the dealer in the casino. Insisting that he means no harm, Grigor invites Essex (as "Redstone") to the casino, where gamblers are now heavily involved in a "Quintet" tournament. While there he meets Ambrosia, who always plays the "sixth man" in the game.

St. Christopher: "You'll never understand the scheme until you're part of the scheme". Essex: "Are you telling me I will be?" St. Christopher: "Yes, at the exact moment where it will be too late"



Essex is unaware that the current Quintet tournament is a fight for the survival of the fittest. Those who are "killed" in game are executed in real life. Grigor and St. Christopher are aware that Essex is not the real Redstone, so they ignore him and focus on the other players.

Goldstar is the first killed, followed by Deuca, until the only two players left are St. Christopher and Ambrosia...

Ambrosia, however, insists that Essex be counted as a player in the game since he has assumed Redstone's identity. Grigor agrees and informs St. Christopher that he has to eliminate Essex before he can face off against Ambrosia.

Essex and St. Christopher have a showdown outside the city, where St. Christopher is killed in an avalanche. Essex returns to Francha's apartment and finds the same list that Redstone had. Ambrosia follows Essex to the apartment. Essex slits her throat just before she is about to stab him with a hidden knife. Returning to the Hotel Electra to cremate Ambrosia's body, Essex confronts Grigor to demand his "prize", since he was the winner of Quintet. But Grigor reveals that the only prize is the thrill of the game itself. Although Grigor insists he stays and participate in future tournaments, a disgusted Essex condemns Quintet and leaves the hotel for good. The film ends with Essex taking a long walk out into the barren Northern distance.



20th Century Fox, 1979. Directed by Robert Altman. Writing credits: Robert Altman (story), Lionel Chetwynd (story) & Patricia Resnick (story). Frank Barhydt (screenplay), Robert Altman (screenplay) & Patricia Resnick (screenplay). Leon Ericksen (Production Design). Wolf Kroeger (Art Direction). Scott Bushnell (Costume Design).

Cast: Paul Newman as Essex. Vittorio Gassman as St. Christopher. Fernando Rey as Grigor. Bibi Andersson as Ambrosia. Brigitte Fossey as Vivia, Essex's Wife. Nina Van Pallandt as Deuca. David Langton as Goldstar. Thomas Hill as Francha. Monique Mercure as Redstone's Mate. Craig Richard Nelson as Redstone. Maruska Stankova as Jaspera. Anne Gerety as Aeon. Michel Maillot as Obelus. Max Fleck as Wood Supplier. Françoise Berd as Charity house woman.


Video content here, here & here. Further information here, here & here.


Quintet was shot on the site of Montreal's Expo 67 world's fair. However, some twelve years later and the many futuristic structures are now abandoned and in a state of disrepair. As sad as this is, it only adds to the films post-apocalyptic atmosphere...


The 1967 International and Universal Exposition or Expo 67, as it was commonly known, was the general exhibition, Category One World's Fair held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, from April 27 to October 29, 1967.

It is considered to be the most successful World's Fair of the 20th century, with the most attendees to that date and 62 nations participating. It also set the single-day attendance record for a world's fair, with 569,000 visitors on its third day. Expo 67 was Canada's main celebration during its centennial year. The fair was originally intended to be held in Moscow, to help the Soviet Union celebrate the Russian Revolution's 50th anniversary; however, for various reasons, the Soviets decided to cancel, and Canada was awarded it in late 1962.


The project was not originally overwhelmingly supported in Canada. It took the determination of Montreal's mayor, Jean Drapeau, and a new team of managers to guide it past political, physical and temporal hurdles. Defying a computer analysis that said it could not be done, the fair opened on time.

After Expo 67 ended in October 1967, the site and most of the pavilions continued on as an exhibition called Man and His World, open during the summer months from 1968 until 1981. By that time, most of the buildings, which had not been designed to last beyond the original exhibition, had deteriorated and were dismantled. Today, the islands that hosted the world exhibition are mainly used as parkland and for recreational use, with only a few remaining structures from Expo 67 to show that the event was held there. Canadians from that time still regard it as one of the country's finest cultural achievements.

Video content here, here & here. Further information here, here & here.