Infinite Apocalypse SessionA little over a year ago, Blaze, a mega-shooter, asked for a story to go with this image. I rediscovered this request while archiving email in Outlook. And now that the Blog Bug has bitten the English-language writer in me, I will take a weak stab at it. Sad but true. Captives of an empire are not supposed to work for themselves so attending to an imaginative task like this can be counter intuitive.

Let’s set the scene. Let’s borrow from the less spectacular imagery from Kazuaki Kiriya, his 2004 movie Casshern. You have someone from the upper castes touring the wastes. Her retinue of guards and transport are just out of frame. She is pulled to this place for reasons beyond her consciousness. Something that will help her form her identity as a mature person draws her to this place. No special effects… No super manga hero pyrotechnic martial arts…

And the soundtrack? Well let’s bring in the Roach Messiah! Well, maybe something a bit more subdued—for this particular scene. …And, of course, that relatively blue sky and the telephone poles will have to go!

That’s all for now… captivity! Arrggh!

I’m writing a script for two actors, one male and one female—both descended from Africa, raised in America. You can call them ‘African Americans’ but you might want to call them American Africans after serious world travel and sensitivity. These two meet in a Caribbean resort for six days of talking—no sex… just talking. This is a play of dialog—a play of revelation. This work has been dismissed by a noted professional actor of color—that will go unnamed—as a play with no plot, that evidently does not interest her at all.

So I look at films like My Dinner with Andre and I just finished watching Before Sunset—the sequel to 1995s Before Sunrise and I see plays of dialog with no plot. I see only revelation and the implied assumption that the audience are interested in these characters because of the popularity and talent of the actors (in that order). Now we go back to our dismissive actor of color with my implication and I conclude that this seasoned professional is finding yet another way to say that a North American audience is not interested in subtle plays of dialog between people of color in a structure that is not reinforced with the concrete storytelling of a giant mason like August Wilson.

My next grocery bill does not directly depend on my writing—for humans (for machines is a different story). So I will go on without the validation of ‘humanity’ and experiment with the possibility that someone other than myself wants to see work with real adult contemporary themes for English-speaking people with strong African features. And when the African features are strong, the following concepts in fiction are questioned:

  • The superiority of romantic love and the assumption that it is a desired destination.
  • The desire to preserve individuality to the exclusion of any form of collective responsibility—providing, say, escapism in a time of war.
  • The assumption that regular sexual activity is a grand prize of the privileged few instead of a lifestyle activity necessary for human health.
  • The isolation of sexual behavior from a larger system of human interaction. (This fails to blur the line between sexual intercourse and social intercourse between consenting adults to make it all just one big intercourse.)

Unless I am writing about hippie free love in some drug den, most of these assumptions are accepted in fiction as real life forever—the ‘human condition.’ My fiction would remind the audience that these ‘assumptions’ are peculiar problems—by-products—of patriarchy based on a dominator culture founded on the Greek concept of the individual. Don’t assume, English-speaker, this is ponderous pretension that will weigh down work with ‘heady’ academic dogma. Just remember that when Kurasawa does a dialog scene as a two-shot instead of a bunch of over-the-shoulder one-shots he is trying to ‘teach’ you about the collectivism being equal to individuality (among other things). This is very important in our contemporary American “ownership society.”

So artists go to art school and they learn about art. Sounds harmless. Right? However, when I show my African features—when I am not compelled to hide my heritage in order to make others feel comfortable—then I no longer see artists and I no longer see art. I see creative people learning how to express themselves using tools and techniques that come from a specific culture. My theory of relativity comes in to upset the classical model of the mechanical universe.

I am sure that my colored actor friend would pat me on the head, agree with me and then get on with real life. She might go see a play on Broadway—and that play might be The Lion King. But we should agree that director Julie Taymor and choreographer Garth Fagan are drawing on sources outside of ‘normal’ artistic sources to make a ‘respectable’ commercial success.

Further readings around this context can start with two articles: “The World Wide Floyd Webb 2004” and “Blazed Up with The Undefined”—both at of course.

Here is a quote from Duff Johnson during his interview, “Duff Johnson: First Impressions of Acrobat 7.0”:

Acrobat 7.0, while adding power features galore, is not a lens for thinking about document management. The documentation offers no real perspective on user needs, and predictably shies away from meaningful workflow recommendations.

This guy has articulated the feeling I have when I work with PDF documents. But he goes on to suggest that Acrobat is trying to take on SharePoint by slowly but surely improving upon PDF-related server technology.

news from Saturday, January 22, 2005


::: Ann Menebroker: Ernest Hemmingway Is On My Mind

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JOHN BENNETT sends me email. I am pretty sure that this John Bennett is the noted poet who would call his works shards—not prose poems or short stories as in Fire in the Hole—but just about any arrangement of words. Such is from the following email:

“Last night I read Ann Menebroker’s book of poems, Tiny Teeth, cover to cover. I don’t do that very often with a book. I think it is well worth a read, and so I am going to email a poem a day for the next week or so.”

“If you like what you read and want the full experience, you can order the book through but preferably from the publisher for twelve bucks at:”

R.L. Crow Publications
PO Box 262
Penn Valley, CA 95946

“For those of you tuned in to the Small Press, all the poems in the book appeared over the years in Marvin Malone’s Wormwood Review, a classic of the small-press literary world.”

::: Book Review: Nice Guys and Players

::: :::

Offer me the choice of being with a woman that is my helper and my equal, founding our communal vitality with grace and strategy or the choice of being an award-winning poet, a disconnected individual that is respected at a distance by some and feared and despised by many. I will take the woman. I have three children now. I have had three times to choose the woman and somehow failed.

Enter Rom Wills with his large-print book so that the page count can meet a perfect-bound press run. The first rule in his book sets me straight in 14pt font: No, Bryan. You don’t choose the women. The women choose you! I admit, since I do have quite an impressive university education and a successful technical career, that this book appeared to me more suited for my eldest son, the fourteen year old. However, don’t let the simple package fool you: this book is short and sweet and startlingly insightful for English-language readers of all ages.

::: bell hooks: Connecting Self and Community

::: :::

THE MASCULINE OPINION HERE is that this bell hooks speech presented by Toronto Women’s Bookstore on May 15, 2004 at Bloor Street United Church, places bell hooks at the edge of the radical, leftist universe. This speech, titled “Love: Connecting Self and Community,” takes us up right up to the boundaries of what radical public individuals of color can do as an individual. Here we have a refinement of the yearning theme in her work: a call for a connection to community, where the systematic cultivation of a nurturing collective is equally important as achieving as an individual.

I deeply respect the honesty of bell hooks: she does not hide behind the deceptive illusions of her fame, academic standing or financial status. She is honest about a political assassination attempt by a former colleague clawing in a barrel. She is honest about the shadow side of the mythical “strong Black woman” by sharing intimate details about the psychological state of her mother. She is honest about the limits of unlimited individuality in an artificial commercial society, a “dominator culture.” It is this drive to be candid that provides information for our young people so that they have the choice to listen, learn and not repeat all of the negative moments of black history.

At bottom, she is honest about the need for a community of resistance. This resonates with me because we people who call ourselves African will only be an entertaining memory—only an intellectual and materialistic fantasy—without the revival of African matriarchy through a vital, restoration culture. My vision of sustainable community cannot begin without wise women, powered by a renewable energy source—and bell hooks courageously questions the vitality of materialistic individuality, tearing down toxic structures to make space for renewal. This 2004 speech should not stand alone. It should be side by side with the recent work of Professor Wangari Maathai and Vandana Shiva so that we can be reminded of not just what the problems are but have some idea of how to develop solutions.

Note: during this speech, bell hooks will reference Dorothy Roberts, author of the book Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. As of this writing, her Ms. Magazine interview is online.

The Sister with the Anime EyesThat one photo was a whole lot of photo. So I had to respond with another one from the same camp of shooters. Look at her eyes! I can’t remember her name but I did speak to her briefly and have nothing unpleasant to say about her.

She’s got anime eyes, which are like Betty Davis eyes but from a source that is most ancient. This appeals to me because I intend to be more old fashioned and more conservative than any CEO lobbying capital hill in a Fox-News, TBN power suit.

The great creative forces of Japan behind anime hold that large eyes in the leading characters is symbolic of the depth of spirit, the purity of their spirit. I sincerely believe that this description of a symbol system is sincere. However, it must be said that so many upper-class eastern Asians are taking symbolism literally and undergo cosmetic eye surgery.

I am not aware of what eastern Asians think of my photo here. I just know that this image is live action—all natural. It’s no cartoon and no product of a cosmetic surgeon. Let’s say a prayer for her and expect her voice and grace to match the power of her physical appearance.