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Monday, May 2, 2022

Squid Man VII

Episode Two Hundred Ninety One: Squid Man VII.
In which we funge.


1 comment:

  1. Watched 'The Parallax View' (1974, dir. Alan J. Pakula), and was surprised I'd never been drawn to it before. It's a real mishmash of influences: the weird associative stream-of-consciousness film that enforces and then subverts iconography (Frady is shown the film as an entrance exam to the deep-state & it's reminiscent of Kubrick's '71 'A Clockwork Orange'); the breathtakingly futuristic, alienating architecture (Tati gone evil); the conviction that all values are dictated through image, and are mutable (for some reason this brings to mind Frankenheimer's '62 'The Manchurian Candidate', though I'm not sure why). There were plenty of others.

    Criterion has a few essays associated with the film and I watched an interview with film critic Alex Cox, who pointed out that one year earlier 'Executive Action' (Burt Lancaster) was released. This was a thriller that dramatized the JFK assassination, and apparently ends with an onscreen list of eighteen material witnesses to the Kennedy assassination who had died in mysterious circumstances...which, Cox points out, is essentially the theme of 'The Parallax View'.

    Cox also notes that in '74, Coppola's 'The Conversation' was released. Both are about the privatization of Intelligence. Also in '74, 'Chinatown' was released, which is a period piece about true events involving government corruption, murder, and urban planning in California in the late 30's. 1971 saw 'The Mattei Affair', a film about Italian utility conspiracies. So, these Hollywood films were explicitly exploring cynical motivations behind the institutions (law enforcement, politics) that had traditionally been portrayed as pure at heart.

    That's what struck me about 'The Parallax View', anyway. The deeply cynical nature of the storyline, unflinching unto the end.

    Also in this strip is the exasperation I feel listening to people discuss NFTs. This week's This American Life was a story about an IT nerd stumbling upon a gold mine in the NFT world. Patrick Smith, creator of Vector Park, has eloquently vented his anger about the NFT phenomenon on Twitter, and he can tell it better than I. Essentially, though, the entire venture seems like a crass attempt to generate large amounts of cash through the process of de-valuing artists, and the art they make. Every argument I've ever seen in favor just makes me feel gross.

    So, there's the theme of the privatization of (capital 'I') Information combined with the process of commodification of human worth. When investors are speculating on the most intimate aspects of individual's lives, humanity itself is drained of its soul.

    Squidman, of course, the voice of censorship and undeserved authority. Or, rather, the part of my brain that can't let go of projecting those attributes on people in my life. Here, of course, the first frame is essentially repeating the phrase 'sit down and shut up', which still echoes from my last job.

    I had been floating aimlessly for several weeks with my comic, generally, and somehow decided it was time to again invent another five of the originals. (The initial concept for Latent Oats was to create a collage strip of four unrelated fictional comics.) As soon as I made that decision - to draw four new original strips (Squid Man, The Soap Strip Folk, Pharm Life, and Art & Guy), followed by a collage of four of their panels, my brain was yanked out of a rut. It's returning to a form, and it's also a puzzle I always seem to relish taking on.

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