Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Facebook, consciousness and connection: Theodore Twombly has found "Her".

Single meets Singularity
Director and tastemaker Spike Jonze is getting plenty of press for his new movie 'Her'. A new age love story that asks questions about "real love" in the Digital age. In an interview with James Bell for 'Sight & Sound' (Jan 2014) Magazine, Spike explains that on the one hand we as humans are afraid of not connecting but afraid of connecting also. Afraid of not being seen but afraid of being seen.

This touches on a similiar theme Comedian Pete Holmes discusses with guest Harland Williams on his 'You Made it Weird' podcast.
You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes: #127 Harland Williams
HARLAND WILLIAMS: (27m 45s) Let me ask you this? Maybe people have shifted their focus from - I don't think people on a daily basis think about rocks and twigs but maybe people have injected a little bit of their souls into their cellphones and their computers because all these things become very personal now.
I've literally gone out to lunch with my cellphone instead of calling a friend because I want to be with my cellphone and I want to read USA Today, I want to play a game. I want to spend time with my cellphone, so maybe inadvertently we've shifted some of our soul into these belongings but its sad because its not real. They're not part of the earth.
PETE HOLMES: Its a synthetic. We're mainlining a fake type of social [interaction]- but its better. It feels better, like a drug. Like a synthetic drug. It feels better than actually conversing with somebody because you can control it. Its a little bit more private. You read your tweets, you look at your Instagram, you look at your Facebook, you play a game, you read your -- Its all very controlled.
Whereas when I'm talking to you, I can offend you...
Other posts on Technology
- Being truly free [with the help of Robots?]: 'Whatever You Wish' by Isaac Asimov
- Technology VS Human instinct: From Inuits in Northern Canada to Jungle Guides in the Amazon
- Comedian Louis C.K. on what Smartphones are taking away
- Comedians Pete Holmes and Eddie Pepitone on the phone as a "Life Companion"
- Dan Harmon talks Television with Marc Maron on GT4: "Hamburger" Art and living in a "concrete, Orwellian Honeycomb"
Other posts on Consciousness

Update:
Single meets Singularity (Hurt Edition)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Let's Get Real - Episode 7 preview: Losing Yourself

'Let's Get Real' podcast -  Episode 7: Losing Yourself
Its interesting listening back to the expectations had before a trip. My 7th conversation occurred a week before my 6 month jaunt around South America. It was also recorded after a particularly colorful evening that doubled as a farewell celebration. The unforgettable night reminded me of the "Elysium Intentional Community" featured in David Wain's 'Wanderlust' (2012). Naked people frolicking, outdoor bathtubs in the rain with a warehouse rave in between. "It was quite a trip".

VIDEO: 'Wanderlust' (2012)

These festivities provided a great leadup as it made experimentation less urgent for my trip. Its true that if one seeks Drug Tourism in South America, it can be found. In some places its common to see locals indulge in the lifestyle, in other places "plant medicines" are linked to the indigenous heritage. More often than not I found locals who resisted drugs of any form and lamented the shallow impression foreigners were being exposed to.
Practising phrases in Spanish Class
English: Where are you going tomorrow?
I need to relax all day for the ceremony.
In Ecuador I had an opportunity to go on a Sacred Medicine Journey with the San Pedro Cactus. Whilst waiting for the weekend ceremony I did a homestay with a Spanish Teacher. She gave me an insight into how the Economy of the neighboring town was skewed by Cocaine traffickers. My Ceremony never transpired, at first it was postponed then cancelled altogether as the shaman was worried about a "negative energy in the air". I was at peace with her decision. I'd spent time with a disproportionate amount of Conspiracy Theorists in Ecuador, I was aware of how precarious reality could be and was not going to risk it if conditions weren't right.

The Shaman educates visitors of their traditional culture and
the unique process of what he does
My only contact with Ayahuasca besides the countless conversations about it was in the Amazonas of Ecuador. We were able to ask questions of a Shaman who regularly took the plant to diagnose and assist his patients. Interestingly the motorista of our boat was the Shaman's brother, their departed father was considered one of the tribe's best shamans. They were following in his footsteps.

Our motorista and the Shaman's brother
Our motorista who began consuming Ayahuasca at the age of 14 gave up this path to be with his love, a Christian tribemate who didn't approve of the tradition. It highlighted the tussle between indigenous tradition and modernism coupled with foreign influence.

Further reading:
- The representation of Ayahuasca in Hollywood, Ayahuasca: What Jennifer Aniston May Not Know About the 'Spirit Vine'
- San Pedro Cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) wiki
- Ayahuasca brew wiki

Friday, January 3, 2014

'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty': Ben Stiller on hyperreality and losing yourself in the moment

Australia's Movie Guy, Marc Fennell dubbed 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' as "the best 2 hour Travel Agent ad you've ever seen". So its only fitting that I found this Ben Stiller feature on the Delta Airlines inflight magazine 'Sky'.

Delta Airlines' Magazine 'Sky' (December 2013): The Ben Stiller Magic
The profile written by a forgivably gushy Steve Marsh, injects some psychoanalysis of Ben Stiller
The Ben Stiller Magic
Stiller, at least in the movies he directs, has always seemed obsessed with reality --specifically with how reality is shaped (or warped) by the stuff we watch when we’re on the couch... 
"So why are you so interested in this notion of reality? It seems like your entire career has been obsessed with this idea."
"Wow," Stiller says. "I never really analyzed it. That’s interesting you say that, because I’ve never thought about it that way." He pauses.
As someone drawn to Dreams and Reality this was right up my alley.
I ask him if he ever daydreams. "No, not really," he says. "When you're making a movie like this, or any movie really, you're so in the moment, you’re not really daydreaming. But I do try to take time to appreciate the experience of doing things you wouldn't normally get to do."

He remembers one moment on the set of Mitty: "This wasn't really a daydream, but it was just kind of a moment of realization. I was in the water and we had to do a shot where the Zodiac boat is approaching me to pull me out of the water, and the only way we could get the shot was to put the camera in the boat, because it's like a POV of the boat coming at me. We were a mile or half a mile out to sea in the ocean off Iceland, and the swells were pretty big, so they dropped me in the water and just drove away. It was just a funny, surreal moment. Cause I'm really in the ocean here by myself. I couldn't see anything; the boat went far enough away that it was gone, the swells were at four feet. And I was like, This is crazy, this is actually... this is happening. I'm really in the ocean. If that boat doesn't come back... I mean, I know they know I'm here but... It's like the funny crossover of reality and movies, where you do real things but somehow you think because you're doing it for a movie that everything is OK. And, actually, the weird thing that you're doing is as dangerous or weird as it would be if there was no camera there; you're still really doing it." 
Whether its an Astronaut going about his routine or a backpacker off to his next destination there is an element of being outside yourself that is necessary to accomplish "extraordinary" things.

'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' (2013)
Whilst walking around Cartagena I spotted this perch by the water. Not being scared of heights and with my fondness for climbing things I decided to scale it. I could be like a Pirate of the Caribbean.
Only at the top did I realise how precarious and foolish the endeavour was. What was I thinking?
From Below: Crow's Nest in Cartagena, Colombia
From above: Probably not the best idea 
We "get into the zone" or are under so much pressure we forget to appreciate the moment. When you're caught up in the moment or swept by momentum, things you never thought possible can be mundanely achieved.
We just have to remember not to appreciate them mundanely.