Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dollhouse



".... aufreizend leblos ..."
--  Robert Musil, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (vol. I: 1930)


Someday, I may have something substantive  to say about this.
In the meantime...

Françoise Hardy / Non, ce n'est pas un rêve
[ok, the Blue Meanies have zero'd that one;  try this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aazFGKz_b1o
(and, with different visuals):

And this, from Polnareff at his best:


Plus (more fetishism than satire -- it just gets weirder and weirder -- along with the unplaceable accents):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUFOzvVrqEg&feature=related
(A very creditable cover.  Giveaway:  "vraiment joli" statt "tellement joli" -- a retrogression syntactically, in terms of "distanct dependencies.
BTW ...  all very fun but ... some guys have willingly gone to prison,
for a very long time,
in pursuit of such visions ...) 
Cf. 

(No! No!  Not the one for kids !!)

Omigosh, even weirder ...
[Update Jan 2016:   Okay, the Illuminati managed to zero that one.
But the international Riemann Conspiracy  retorted with this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUZYqWd5qNU
Warning:  In certain countries,  you could be imprisoned  even for watching this. ]


Are we *all* living in the Dollhouse ???
["Wild Thing", the Troggs; non-album]
[Update Jan 2016:   Dang.  The Illuminati have trashed this one as well.
OK -- here's a replacement.   Not very good, though:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWcw6GEPBkY
This one's better, and very Retro:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEOM0Lw-TFk]

"Dollhouse" plus "Persona":
("Il y a deux filles en moi")

The Japanese are the world champions of doll-fetishism.
E.g.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N94i1qRMUFM&feature=related
[update Jan 2016:  zeroed by the speech-police'
(And if this turns you on ... well... don't tell anyone ... ... ...
[Update Jan 2016:   O! O!  O!])

Nipponese Robobaby:


*
For a cool dude
and a hot dame,
check this out:
*

~     ~      ~

Attempting to make sense of any of this, I stoop to copying an e-mail  I sent out a while ago
to some friends, concerning the then-running (and soon-canceled) television series, conceived and directed by Josh Whedon, and starring many of the actors from his previous cinematic and televisual ventures.

(not proof-read; not vetted;  probably nonsense;  but what can you do ...)


In Defense of the Dollhouse

OK – admittedly – so far – as storytelling, as television -- it isn’t actually any good.  But as analysts, we abstract from that, and tease out the reality behind it.
*

This series, I would suggest, is not like most, which is simply a series of car-chases or what have you; or like a basketball game, a sequence of near-identical mini-climaxes, signifying nothing.  Indeed, the metaphor of the memory-wipe  would more appropriately apply to the audiences of the latter, than to Echo.  The episodes never build; you are always back to square one.
Dollhouse is – so we speculate – more like a chess game.   It begins in a leisurely fashion;  this is positional play.  Pawn to King’s Four; reply in kind; Knight to King’s Bishop three – who can get excited about that?  But it needs to be done.  And later, in a seemingly innocent move…

It is not given to many, to create a ‘verse; the Buffyverse, in the present instance.  And having seen where such things may lead, presumably Whedon et cie. have blocked this thing out from the start.  Michaelangelo did that, for the Sistine Chapel; he didn’t bother to get the colors just right  until much later.  What you’ve seen so far is basically just people bringing on the scenery, while the actors foozle around like a diva doing scales before the opera, or an orchestra warming up.  Then some fool captured that on film, and…

*

Consider the following, recently read:

George Williams, Adaptation and Natural Selection (1966), p. 197f:
From the standpoint of … this book, there is no more important phenomenon than the organization of insect colonies. …The most remarkable development is the permanent sterility of a large proportion of the offspring (workers and other servile castes)… Nevertheless, they [the genes that, 99 times out of a hundred, would make the carrier a sterile servile] would continue to be favorably selected if they increased the success of the reproductives by more than a hundredfold.”

This passage, with its talk of “the reproductives”,  was brought to mind by a linguistic trick of Dollhouse: the nominalization and pluralization of adjectivals: “actives”.  Both venues gaze upon living creatures  clinically, as acting out an assigned role, as playing a part.  Yet neither smugly assumes the coherence of what is beheld; each is amazed by what it sees.  Each says:  What I see here, calls into question  my basic principles.

*

The Dollhouse premise is, on the face of it, so creepy,  that one well could wonder  how the show could be noticed, by anything other than invective, by anyone calling himself a Christian.   But in fact there is an assumption at the core of the series, which is precisely Christian, and without which the whole thing would fall apart:  namely, the absolute and inviolate integrity of the human individual, an inner identity so strong that it can survive these repeated and violent “personality wipes” – a Something which we may style:  a soul.  On Materialist assumptions, the series would be mere gibberish, with no interesting story to tell.

One is reminded of that famous sequence in the film, American Beauty: consisting simply of a lone plastic bag, against a nondescript background, blowing about, and about, and about….
[You can behold the spectacle  here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDXjnW3nIWg  ]
It was quite memorable, and moving, to many people.  Why?  On Materialist assumptions, the episode was absurd, even degraded.   The actual effect was quite otherwise, because it reminded the viewer (unconsciously, in most cases) of his own – forgive me for saying this, it is not mentioned in polite company, but logic impels – his own: 
immortal soul – alive and aloft, and wafted about, though incarnated into so vile a receptacle as the contemporary secular plastic-wrapt American Consumer.  --   What – this is a stretch?   You have an alternate explanation?



Okay! – look! – so it sucks! – so what? --- A baby sucks.  Give it time.

(Somewhere in Platonic heaven, there floats a fine series, called “The Dollhouse”.  It just hasn’t been incarnated yet.)




The enigma of a woman’s heart,
finally espied  by a Private Eye,
for less than the price  of a Valentine …
This Rose
[Kindle]  [Nook]

=================

(And then this -- a random e-mail ... to which no-one responded.... so probably it sux .... but What can U do ???)
--
Post-Mortem on “The Dollhouse

In his short story /sotie  “Ministers of Grace”, written during the Edwardian era, Saki posits a lad who can replace the selves of quarrelsome Members of Parliament with angelic succedanea (the original personalities being displaced into the bodies of handy animals – a Gadarene swan, for example).   At first the improvement is marked, but then things go awry, and by the end, we have the old moral “Watch what you wish for”.

Modulo a century of social and technological development, we have seen a similar idea embodied in the television series “The Dollhouse”, whose own swan song was sung last Friday.

In a post that marked the beginning of the series, I remarked that, if the show was to turn out  any good at all, it would have to cultivate the positive Faustian thrust of the premise, rather than dwelling on the aspect of tawdriness or victimization which was most remarked upon among the generality of viewers.   And indeed it partly took this path.  In the final episode, one of the dolls, released from her contract, actually thanks the Dollhouse as she leaves, saying that time has flown by;  Echo – with Buffy-like bravado -- remarks that she now has 38 brains; and Alpha actually alludes to Nietzsche and the Uebermensch.   But alas – he is rather an Untermensch; for  in a motif reminiscent of Frankenstein (in which the doctor, meddling in the Creator’s role, inadvertently implants a criminal brain into his golem), before becoming a doll, Alpha had been a homicidal sociopath; and, well, breeding will tell.  With that, the plot takes a disastrous turn.  Instead of Spartacus, we get just one more d***ed serial killer.   That is not an interesting kind of evil.  Topher is an interesting kind of evil. 

-->

*     *     *
~ Commercial break ~
Nook lovers are book lovers!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled essay.

*     *     *
 
*

The headlines, and the upswell of history, underlying the conception as it originally appeared, is that of artificial enhancement: cosmetic, athletic, psychological, and now intellectual.   (These are, by and large, at presstime, respectively:  legal; illegal; legal with prescription; in a gray area, involving off-label uses of prescription drugs.) The serious journal Nature recently had an editorial  somewhat nervously defending the growing fad of cognition-boosters among the younger intelligentsia – to placate the wrath of the Boeotians, the editors suggested that the less gifted will benefit relatively more, thus leveling the playing field rather than widening the gap between the intellectual haves and have-nots.  (Don’t believe a word of it.  The typewriter did away with the advantage of people with good penmanship, and computers made obsolete the skills of those who can do sums in their heads; but both enlarged the field of feasible achievement, and the gap widens apace.)

But “The Dollhouse” eventually went off in a slightly different and unexpected direction: emphasizing, not the simple bionic beefing-up  enjoyed by both vampires and slayers in the Buffyverse, but rather the presence, in a single frame, of numerous personalities-cum-capabilities – at first merely sequentially, but then increasingly co-present, and raising the crucial necessity of Integration.   This latter theme received its classic cinematic treatment in “The Three Faces of Eve”, a really bracing and anagogic work.   It seems a much more arcane topic than mere Artificial Enhancement (anyone who has ever drunk a cup of coffee has experienced that), but perhaps there are some everyday analogs.  Indeed, as I get closer to the end of a life of ceaseless study, and as the old brain increasingly feels crowded, I am faced with the problem of somehow integrating a number of different imagos that I have successively been, or at least retaining random access to them.  Each, at one time, defined who I was; and each is largely incompatible with each.  There is the Poet; the Activist; the Chem major; the Math major… and lest the latter seem like close kindred, they are more like antipodes:  the chemist dicks around with particular bits of physical equipment, and deals with actual objects, and numbers with decimal points; the mathematician considers the entire physical universe to be at best a smudge upon the lens.  I actually spent last weekend re-reading my freshman chemistry text; it’s like The Past Recaptured.

Now, Alpha is hopelessly unintegrated; he’s not a polymath, he’s more like the octomom.   But if Echo ever manages to get those thirty-eight brains truly working in harness, she might have a shot at the Riemann Hypothesis.  Now there’s a good idea for a TV show!

 

*

An entertaining blog  floats the idea that perhaps everyone in the dollhouse is a doll:

http://io9.com/5246901/why-everyone-in-dollhouse-may-be-a-doll

That conception reaches back as far as the Myth of Plato’s Cave (or in its modern incarnation, the Brains in a Vat).  There is a widespread modern nervousness about that theme: an anxiety that can only increase, with the spread of teleconferencing, telecommuting, crunching numbers rather than growing corn, and the metastasis of the virtual online world.  In fact, the only known defense against being imprinted by Them, is to line your beanie with aluminum foil.




*     *     *
~ Commercial break ~
We now return you to your regularly scheduled essay.

*     *     *
[Another e-mail.  
At this point, I'm not even editing.
After all, I might   die  tonight ...]

Further Adventures of Balloon Boy

There’s a Levantine proverb:  Taali` yaakil, naazil yaakil.  Literally “It eats going up, and it eats going down.”  The literal reference is to a handsaw; metaphorically, it refers to extravagance.

Such, now, is our media.  First they pump up ratings with the latest pseudo-event; then they pump them up again on the rebound, “debunking” it.

            Omigosh, it’s Joe the Plumber, speaking truth to power!
            Omigosh, he isn’t a plumber!  Omigosh, his name isn’t Joe!
            Olookoverthere – a balloon!

Whereas, an alert spectator could do some pre-debunking.  Take again the Acorn case.  A video appears on YouTube; Seeing is Believing; Case Closed.
Yet little logic is being applied – not even everyday emotional logic.  Thus, imagine that you yourself are in your office, and a couple of creepy-looking strangers bust in out of nowhere and offer you their criminal proposition.  What do you do?
Probably it’s just Borat in one of his disguises; but possibly this seedy pair  really are involved in what they say they are: setting up a brothel – or maybe a Dollhouse – in downtown D.C. staffed by underage white slaves kidnapped from Latin America…in which case they are tied in with some very scary Mexican or Russian mobsters, and it would be a poor career move at this point, in terms of life expectancy, to say: “Scoundrels!  I’ll have the law on you!”
(And as Keith’s reply to my earlier post informs us, something like the above did actually happen in one instance.)

                                                *

Time was, Hollywood would cook up these fantasies; they would stay safely off to the side.  The problem is when reality itself starts looking like Reality TV.  Thus, Sarah Palin was Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington.  Fair enough; a female remake of an old favorite.  Only, all it would have taken would be one (possibly manufactured and imaginary) well-timed scandal in the Democratic campaign, and a later heart attack for McCain, and Moose Lady would literally have been President.

            Joe the Plumber Speaks Truth to Power!
            Milfy Mooselady Speaks Truth to Power!
            Tragic Victimgirl is tragically victimized!
            Ooh…ooh… balloons!!!

In earlier generations, the quality press set tacit limits on what they would print – discreet, even to a fault.  Things that now would be milked for all they were worth, were not even mentioned: FDR’s shriveled legs; JFK’s amatory escapades.  If you wanted “I Cut Out Her Heart and Stomped on It”, you had to go to the tabloids.
Later we developed a feeder system: the National Enquirer or the Drudge Report  would pick up a story  -- in the important cases, a true story – that the quality press normally wouldn’t touch; this was fanned into a frenzy among the masses, until that frenzy itself became news, and it seeped into everything.  So we wound up with All O.J.  All the Time; All Monica  All the Time;  All BalloonBoy  All – woops, on to the Next Big Thing.
That would be problematic enough (though not without its redeeming features; arguably, the public has a right to know if their President is consorting with Mob molls).  It becomes more worrisome when the residually responsible media at the top of the chain – the CBS of Cronkite days, the Washington Post – disappear, or shrivel, or are decreasingly heeded.

                                                *

Oh, God, here’s another one.  This just in.  Pour yourself a stiff drink, then click on it.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-movie17-2009oct17,0,4123180.story
==========
(... beggars description:)

Balloon Boy Nabbbed in Trafficking Scam

To the surprise of no-one, Balloon Boy has been unmasked as the mastermind behind  an Acorn/Illuminati joint venture, bankrolled by Bill Gates and Donald Trump, to smuggle  pre-teen Latinas into the U.S. via  high-altitude balloons, thus outwitting border security.   The girls were destined for a notorious D.C. dollhouse, located twenty-seven stories beneath the Capitol building.  INS has raided the location and seized its client list, reputed to contain most Congressmen and all Senators.

The LA Dollhouse is still open for business, however.
Place your orders  here:

(AL-AMAR? AL-ASLAMI?)

===
A-and ... (tragically  too late  to matter ...)
:

 It you didn't watch "Dollhouse" on Friday,  I don't blame you a bit.
The show had been going nowhere, or going unpleasant places, for some time.
But all of a sudden....

Here is an excellent assessment of what happened:

http://blogs.pioneerlocal.com/entertainment/2009/12/dollhouse_review_stop_loss_att.html
 ========

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