This transitory home is domicile
To gas lamp buildings lit like bric-a-brac—
And, blazoning scripted signage, its track
Of squiggled neon sings its beacon style.
Backlit by night, the city’s surge decrees
The surf and wash of California dusk
And beauty visits with a thousand vacancies.
The hotel’s silent windows blindly ask
The passing sun to make each pane a bed,
Each frame an invitation and each sill
A resting place where passing fancies perch
Like gulls that gather faith in wind to spread
Their wings. So San Diego’s pilgrims will
Divine each door a way, each room a church.
Archives for June 2016
This transitory home is domicile
It’s ridiculous to say there are amazing visuals here – of course there are – most of them familiar, or as it now needs to be said, “Malickian”. I’m looking forward to seeing both versions, the IMAX narrated by Brad Pitt and the feature narrated by Cate Blanchett. I have to admit, I’m somewhat more excited about the latter, as I’m looking forward to knowing more about the content. To say nothing of Blanchett’s voice.
Regarding the content, we know Malick was/is fairly interested in Heidegger (which may well have been what drew him to Percy, if not versa-vice), author, of course of Being and Time. He has an early book called “The History of the Concept of Time”, and it’ll be interesting to see if Malick draws on this at all, or deals with the chicken-and-egg question of whether it is Time or Being that is primordial (Heidegger’s big question in B&T).
If we speak of Time (as primordial), do we not assume that Time “is”? If we speak of Being as primordial, does Time then become illusory (or perhaps even non-being)? In short, why the voyage “of” time, rather than “through” time? If time itself is the Voyager, through or by what does it actualize itself (or become actualized)? Well, Being, perhaps. I would like to see if/how Malick will reveal these questions visually.
As I’ve noted here before, film and music are mediums uniquely fit for exploring these ideas, as they themselves exist (rather than simply being represented, à la Dali in The Persistence of Memory) in time.
And of course Augustine. What a treat to hear Cate Blanchett read from chapter 11 of Confessions!
The dispute over maintaining the construct Seattle occupied the mind of Syndicate Engineer G9 Anna-Maria Cannoli as the bunny with enhanced intelligence stared at her pensively in the rearview mirror from the bunny modified car seat as she drove to the Syndicate elementary school. If she was going to lower herself by allowing her daughter a pet, it would be a pet with enhanced intelligence. Good thing baby bunnies were receptive to bio-engineered modifications.
The Mercedes S Class was self-driving and not really a Mercedes at all, rather it was technology from what in essence was 200 years into the future, by construct standards, self-driving with a small kitchen and a sensory deprivation panic room and sleeping quarters in addition to a complete command and control for emergencies.
And the bunny? It was easier bringing animals into the construct than bringing people out. Even Syndicate children were difficult to deprogram. They would know the construct as their only home and it was a painful decompression period during the mandated mid-teen extraction, adding to an already confused pubescence. However, the consensus among syndicate engineers was that growing up construct prepared them not only for a career in construct management, it was a valuable accomplishment in a general sense, like achieving Eagle Scout. The goal was to keep families together. Family was important.
Children love animals, especially housetrained pets which understand up to 1000 words of English. Children also have a unique ability to network with other children and help them detach. Adults were the real challenge and multitudes were lost to the Billionaire Cartel. In the past, a syndicate engineer could stage an event such as a biking accident or a pretty sunset. The billionaires were making those kinds of breaks in the fabric of mass delusion more difficult due to social media and the expanding light rail. Many of Anna Maria’s associates even started to murmur about a quarantine scenario.
The cartel was aware of the presence of the syndicate in all but name, although they didn’t know the identities of the members or the meaning of the syndicate in the general scheme. The excruciating pain accompanying such knowledge kept minds closed. The cartel only sensed a threat, not as a concrete menace, but a threat to the construct.
The Cartel had succeeded in neutralizing the tactical advantages of the syndicate, and what was once considered a plum assignment was viewed by most engineers as a career dead end. Andre David, one of the principle Cartel adversaries, maintained firm control over The David Hive, that area of influence wherein he was the sub-conscious referent in subject’s minds even among husbands and wives. David was aware of the control dynamic and the vital importance of reproductive choice in keeping subjects tied to the construct. Anna-Maria was often asked by her children if the construct was real and she replied that it was mapped to a real place called Seattle, a quiet midsized city in the northwest United States. Mass delusion warped physical reality along with moral reality, and construct currency had no real existence and was easily synthesized. Anna-Maria selected an expensive residence next to David posing as the wife of an affluent derivatives broker. The selection was made in anticipation of a gracious invitation to the annual neighborhood Christmas party at the David estate, the gala event of Mercer Island featuring reindeer and elfin clad waitstaff. Her children befriended the David children who agreed to care for the bunny while the Cannoli’s were “out of town”, and it escaped the notice of the David estate that the Cannoli’s hadn’t actually gone anywhere due to the electrostatic brain cloud surrounding the bunny. There was no suspicion that the bunny understood human speech and could communicate telepathically, a factor that combined with the extraordinary rabbit hearing to provide the Cannoli’s with a reliable stream of intel.
The Orb, the most powerful weapon the syndicate possessed, needed to be presented to David via a trusted 3rd party named Ali, a shadowy figure who supplied the billionaire’s periodic contraband needs. The Orb was delivered to Anna-Maria from reality via Ospry per SOP, causing a major wind storm extending as far as the Portland construct and collapsing the power grid for tens of thousands of homes. Anna-Maria felt the density of the softball sized sphere as it was placed in her hands. She had been in the construct for such a long time.
The Orb would be introduced to Ali using a delicate tactical operation by another syndicate operative posing as a narcotics dealer. The Cannoli’s knew that Ali would sycophantically introduce it to Andre David even before using it himself.
David felt the weight and density of the sphere which Ali identified as a rare polished meteor. He could also feel the wholeness as he caressed its smooth surface. It made him feel like his true self was calling him from a faraway place, and would become addictive to everyone who used it. An inspiration at first, it became a trap of despair owing to the dissonance between the delusional life and the life intimated by The Orb. The David compound, his wardrobe, his cars, his chef; he had the best of everything and everything became squalid.
He stopped grooming, but he couldn’t stop holding The Orb.
The Cannoli family continued to be “out of town”, as servants in the David household continued to feed the bunny and clean its cage.
The goal was to cleave souls from the loop. Most individuals in the construct believed their thoughts were their own. In fact, they were fed collective thoughts by social media and talk radio sustained by a cycle of trivia, fear and wrath which had the most tenuous and random interface with reality. They might see real things like their own precious children, but the cartel immediately smothered these perceptions with sentimentality and the weeds of self. As long as the children were diverted themselves, any regret or fear would be contained. Everything was pre-scripted and Andre David was the playwright.
Anna-Maria Cannoli accepted the invitation to the annual Christmas party after returning from being “out of town”, such was the power of lupine enhanced intelligence and telepathy that no one asked when the Cannoli’s would take the bunny home.
Now, a bunny is different from a rabbit because it is a pet. At the David sponsored institute for sustainability, the “One-Week Wonders,” rabbits grown to half-size in rectangular containers to optimize protein yields relative to BTUs. Brains, a source of vitamins and fat for the supplement industry driven by the increasing demand for a low carbohydrate diet, were genetically enhanced to grow to an unusually large size without enhanced intelligence and telepathy.
At the party, Andre casually sat on the custom Teak decking in a state of quiet psychosis. He fixated on Anna-Maria’s large breasts across the crowd and ignored the other guests. No one else dared to approach him, but Anna-Maria walked across the deck and extended her hand.
“Mr. David, I’m Anna-Maria Cannoli from next door. Thank you for the lovely party.”
David allowed her to take his limp hand and opened his mouth in a manner which acknowledged the social obligation of replying, but was lost for words, and the couple stood for a moment of what would normally be understood as awkward silence, but in reality gave Anna-Maria time to mentally prepare for what would happen next.
“Beautiful evening for December, don’t you think. How did you ever arrange it?” Anna-Maria playfully asked. “Is there any limit to your power?” David seemed to acknowledge that Anna-Maria said something charming in the way a penumbra might acknowledge its core.
The couple stood on the deck and appeared to survey the party in a manner of casual sociability.
“Smile,” she said, “look happy.” David obeyed, happy neighbors. “Come with me,” she said, “I have something to show you.”
Taking Andre by the arm as if he was a child, Anna-Maria escorted him to a bench under a Japanese Maple tree where she removed her phone and showed him a You Tube video of Kristy and Jimmy McNichol performing “He’s a Dancer.”
A telekinetic opiate fell on the guests as waitstaff bobbed and weaved through the crowd with trays of crab cakes, Copper River salmon and Moet Champagne.
And Andre David became transfixed by Kristy and Jimmy McNichol.
“You’re dying,” Anna-Maria said, “It’s all a sham and it’s time to go mad.”
It might have been the pained choreography, the expressions of beautiful pain, or the sense of the parasitic violence of celebrity which David had nurtured and grew that made him truly see. He saw like a blind man whose sight had been restored, and he began to understand the paralyzing horror and sense of ugliness and sadness of a race of new creatures not worth ruling or manipulating or even existing.
David suddenly stood up and observed himself for the first time in his life. He observed himself observing himself, and observed himself crying and screaming, a crying scream really, as he rent his clothes like a demoniac from The Bible.
Now screaming like an animal, David jumped six feet from the deck onto the perfectly mowed checkerboard lawn below. It was at that point that The Hive, Ali and many other guests, began to wake from their trance and started to tear off their own clothes in the belief that Andre David was initiating an orgy of violence and sex. Many screamed themselves as they assailed the neighbor ladies in a rape frenzy.
Severed from the world of power, David ran from the estate into the streets of Mercer Island, running for miles and falling to the ground in exhaustion. It began to rain and the wind began to blow. The Ospry set down invisibly due to its perfectly reflective surface. A ramp opened and Mr. Cannoli stepped out of the Ospry and knelt on the ground beside Andre David. “Are you ready to be loved,” he asked. And Andre boarded the Ospry never to be seen again.