Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First they came for Limbaugh, then they came for

nighthunter04

Right now he's on the trail of others, but he's got his sights on you.

Re: Rush Limbaugh is facing the consequences of the buffoonish, offensive cartoon persona that’s made him a gazillionaire: The controversy-averse brotherhood of NFL owners harrumphed disapproval of Limbaugh’s role in a bid to buy the St. Louis Rams, and within a few days the group Limbaugh was part of dropped the radio bully from its bid.

I’m sure the snub is causing Rusty to relive childhood traumas, and I feel a little sorry for him. It must be awful to be kicked to the curb by guys who used to admire you, and the deep pockets you brought to their bid. And Limbaugh sure got angry that his bid ran into choppy water. “This is not about the NFL, it's not about the St. Louis Rams, it's not about me. This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative." (Joan Walsh, “First they came for Rush Limbaugh,” Salon, Oct. 15 2009)

Rush is being "discontinued" precisely because he so well embodies a child's anger, mistreatment, alarm. We project all our anger at ourselves having been left alone, into him; we dispatch him; and we feel absent agitations -- more at peace. He feels/ expresses so we don't have to. Process will continue, on the right AND the left. Remember what you've had to say here about Limbaugh, because you are something of the passionate crusader yourself. You might suit.

Those who will do well as we go on are those who appreciate AND are well able to mimic Obama's composure, his controlled, near dispassionate manner, all the while hordes (40, 60, 80 thousand!) of young men and women are sent into the maw of Afghanistan. That is, zombies -- or better, nazi-types: that is, people who are in some ways dead to themselves, who can spend their days humiliating / torturing people, disown what they do, and return home for staid dinner with the wife and kids.

Link: “First they came for Rush Limbaugh” (Salon)

Photo from "Night of the Hunter." l'eclisse

Yukon U: 'Cause antlers give you reach, too

Want Cheap Tuition? Try Yukon College

Classes are small, and now it's a key outpost of climate change study.

It seems an unlikely place for a college, serving a territory the size of Sweden and with a population of only 35,000. But Yukon College has made an advantage out of its smallness and remoteness. And on Wednesday of this week, it became the home of the Yukon Research Centre of Excellence, dedicated largely to studying the impact of climate change on the north.

[. . .]

Yukonners are famous for multi-tasking: running gold mines and tourism operations, or B&B's and security companies. Yukon College, too small to survive with a single specialty, is doing the same thing. In the process, it may teach survival skills to colleges in southern Canada as well. (Crawford Kilian, “Want Cheap Tuition? Try Yukon College,” The Tyee, Oct. 23 2009)

Guys, remember to compliment you antler-head U training, with at least some courses from Princeton and MIT at itunes U. They're free, and there is now talk of the inevitable: professors okaying your results, acknowledging your competency, without the 60 000 fees, deference-registering perfect "A" gpa, and perfect SAT scores.

Remember, Kilian is not your friend. He delights in the idea of an aristocratic (high-order thinking) few governing the plebian many.http://thetyee.ca/Views/2009/02/27/PostSecondary/ He likes the idea of university being restricted to the few really worthy of higher learning. He's much more Plato Republic than he is Dewey democrat.

Let's not encourage people to see the world through a trade school point of view. Leave the nut-gathering stuff to squirrels.

talk of the inevitable?

hey patrick, wondering if you could elaborate on "there is now talk of the inevitable: professors okaying your results, acknowledging your competency, without the 60 000 fees, deference-registering perfect "A" gpa, and perfect SAT scores"

I'd be curious to read more about this conversation (steveo, response to post, “Want Cheap Tuition?”)

This is a good link to get a sense of just what's going on right now with itunes u. Right now, people are both stunned at just how many courses from top universities are available at itunes u, and just how many downloads they're getting. Millions of them.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6869552.ece?print=yes&randnum=1151003209000

There is an article out there written in the last week or two about professors discussing grading, or acknowledgements, and itunes u, but can't find it just now. Some universities are already playing defence, though: Oxford is arguing that its education is tutorial, mostly about advisors, not lectures, and thereby distinguishing itself from universities which are mostly about lectures -- and which are therefore now competing rather inadequately against the very best lectures available out there for free. Inertia can keep things going for awhile, but soon enough we'll get some big names endorsing just downloading Princeton, Oxford, MIT lectures, and completing their coursework (MIT has made their coursework available, I believe), rather than taking undergrad at any old. Smarter universities are going hybrid, loadly proclaiming how their students can attend classes physically, or just use their ipods and download. Helps them seem with it. But in sum, itunes U is gradually making most mid-level universities seem rather PC redundant. Old style university attendance could end up seeming fit for fobs, slow-moving sloths. Mightn't you already see the (devestating) commercial?

Steward Brand did Whole Earth Review as an alternative to university. He, Rheingold, Jobs, all very non-placative attitudes towards university, but were huge on learning. Itunes U fits with that attitude, at a time when the talk at universities is all about raising tuition fees and closing doors. University's public image is not that much better than wall-street right now, really. All parents want their kids to do "Harvard," though, and in face of being told that while they can't do/afford UBC, hey, there's always Yukon U, they'll want, THEY'LL PUSH someone like Steve Jobs to make Itunes Princeton a legitimate way for their kid to participate in the ivy-league and seem of the now. As more savy, in fact, than the next door who thinks it's all "so" that their kids attending UBC.

The very best, wherever they're to be found, and all for free -- that's itunes U.

Link: Want Cheap Tuition? Try Yukon College (The Tyee)

photo by tommy forbes

Obama towel-smothering tantruming child. Tucker complains.

The number one rule of American politics: the greatest, most insatiable need of the standard conservative is to turn themselves into oppressed little victims. In The Daily Beast today, Tucker Carlson devotes his entire column to complaining that Obama is "bullying" Fox News, absurdly claiming that the White House and liberals are trying "to use government power to muzzle opinions they don't agree with." Needless to say, Carlson doesn't say a word about the endless -- and far worse -- attacks by the Bush White House on a whole array of media outlets, ones that went far beyond mere criticisms. (Glenn Greenwald, “Tucker Carlson and the right’s perpetual self-victimhood,” Salon, October 23 2009)

Towel smothering, to the delight of the perpetrating left.

What I hear mostly is talk of the far worse efforts by Bush et al. Obama is the entranced parent calmly smothering a towel over the tantruming child. Salon helps serve particulars on the right up as cry-babbies, and Obama silences them. It's a very brutal tag team, which will eventually turn on the very best, the most out-spoken, on the left.

Greenwald seems to especially dislike Tucker and Brooks -- two of the most free-thinking, most resistant to "party" cues, on the right. I hope you don't end up -- in effect -- becoming an Obama agent, who vents loudest against those who actually managed to remain independent.

This is brilliant parody, Patrick McEvoy-Halston. Thanks for the laugh!Comedy gold here:

Greenwald seems to especially dislike Tucker and Brooks -- two of the most free-thinking, most resistant to "party" cues, on the right. I hope you don't end up --in effect -- becoming an Obama agent, who vents loudest against those who actually managed to remain independent.

Okay, now that you've had your fun, did you have a genuine point or what? (Iokannan in the Well, Response to post, “Tucker Carlson”)

- - - - -

Patrick McEvoy-Halston

Greenwald seems to especially dislike Tucker and Brooks -- two of the most free-thinking, most resistant to "party" cues, on the right.

Anyone who considers Tucker Carlson a free-thinker also considers High School Musical fine American theater. (Karla_1960, Response to post, “Tucker Carlson”)

Karla 1960

re: Anyone who considers Tucker Carlson a free-thinker also considers High School Musical fine American theater.

From Wik article on Tucker Carlson:

Carlson initially supported the U.S. war with Iraq during its first year. After a year, he began criticizing the war, telling the New York Observer: "I think it’s a total nightmare and disaster, and I’m ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it. It’s something I’ll never do again. Never. I got convinced by a friend of mine who’s smarter than I am, and I shouldn’t have done that. No. I want things to work out, but I’m enraged by it, actually."[18]

In 1999, during the 2000 Republican Presidential primary race, Carlson interviewed George W. Bush, then Governor of Texas, for Talk magazine. Carlson reported that Bush mocked soon-to-be-executed Texas Death Row inmate Karla Faye Tucker and "cursed like a sailor." Bush's communications director Karen Hughes publicly disputed this claim.

Asked by Salon about the response to his article on Bush, Carlson characterized it as "very, very hostile. The reaction was: You betrayed us. Well, I was never there as a partisan to begin with. Then I heard that (on the campaign bus, Bush communications director) Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard—that I watched her hear—she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane. I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness. They get carried away, consultants do, in the heat of the campaign, they're really invested in this. A lot of times they really like the candidate. That's all conventional. But on some level, you think, there's a hint of recognition that there is reality—even if they don't recognize reality exists—there is an objective truth. With Karen you didn't get that sense at all. A lot of people like her. A lot of people I know like her. I'm not one of them."[17]

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tucker_Carlson

- - - - -

Patrick McEvoy-Halston

I appreciate your response. But my wider point is this: I find there is something is seriously wrong with the fact that other media companies simply cannot call out Fox for what it is. In fact it’s downright disturbing.

The media’s corporate owners are making it increasingly difficult for journalists to dispense with false equivalency and simply call it as they see it. The amount of daily misinformation is staggering and is hurting us at a time when we need straight, truthful news to help make critical decisions. Carlson is entrenched in the business of spin. I take your point that he plays the maverick from time to time, but make no mistake, he serves his corporate masters very well. (Karla_1960, Reponse to post, “Tucker”)

Karla 1960

My read on Tucker is that he's about the same as a Joan Walsh or Conason. He has the capacity to remain independent, remain wholy sane and good, but can be drawn to occupy himself with the outrageous claims, advancements made by the other side. Nothing to do with party bidding with any of these good people, though. All of them need our support, most especially when they buck the tide, make themselves vulnerable to taking huge hits, something they are each capable of doing more than just every now and then.

As far as Brooks goes. I like the way Mark Shields speaks / thinks of him. Shields sees when Brooks is slipping, but also understands he sits across from a decent human being who often has relevant, very helpful things to say. He can do damage, but he's a good person we can't allow to see crushed.

Link: “Tucker Carlson’s perpetual self-victimhood” (Salon)

But Rush ain't no footballin'

News flash! Climate change is not only a fraud and a hoax, but it is a sinister conspiracy of the "left" to create an unelected eco-dictatorship that spans the globe. Millions of the world’s poorest will die, and civilization as we know it will perish unless we stop this plot before it is too late.

That remarkable message was delivered this week by the flamboyantly pompous Lord Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, at a lunch time talk hosted by the Fraser Institute, and sponsored by the so-called "Friends" of Science. [. . .] Let's start by pointing out that Lord Monckton is not a "lord" at all if by his title you assumed he is a member of the British Parliament's House of Lords. In fact, he received no votes in 2007 House of Lords Conservative Hereditary Peers' byelection. (Mitchell Anderson, “Why are oddballs like this guy winning?,” The Tyee 21 Oct. 2009)

So long as our opponents look the part of clowns (but what's more clownish -- fake lords, or "real" ones in the 21st century?), we're okay. The left will know its opponent, and be able to unite against it. More worrying will be when the emotive clowns are dispatched (this always happens at some point -- McCarthy and Gingrich were everywhere one day, and nowhere the next), and sober respectables (read: Ignatieffs) carry the day. Respectables, that is, who are no nonsense, into self-sacrifice, environmentalism, localism, and who will claim the support of at least half the current left AND the right. If environmentalism goes hand-in-hand with militarism, youth blood sacrifice (oh, the spoiled youth of today!), punishment, and loses all connection with peace, love, ease and happiness, the right will embrace it in a way which will astonish. Watch for it. Here and in the States.

They (i.e., the right) primarily are interested in seeing people suffer. They'll use whatever at hand for righteous cover -- God or Nature, will do equally well. Jesus and flower-power, not so well.

Link: "Why are the oddballs winning?"

Something rather more wasting

On Saturday, Tyler Perry, who executive produced the Oscar-buzzed forthcoming movie "Precious," spoke on his Web site of being something else -- a survivor of physical and sexual abuse. [. . .] On his Web site this weekend he wrote about the mother of a childhood playmate. “I was at the front door trying to get out, when she came in and laid on the sofa and asked me if I wanted the key … She put the key inside of herself and told me to come get it, pulling me on top of her.” [. . .] It’s a brutal, heartbreaking, unflinching litany of more pain than any child should ever endure. [. . .] Though accurate data is hard to come by, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation estimates approximately 15 percent ofsex abusers are women. (Mary Elizabeth Williams, “Tyler Perry’s House of Pain” October 6 2009)

Just a measure?

re: It’s a brutal, heartbreaking, unflinching litany of more pain than any child should ever endure.

How much pain should a child be expected to endure?

re: Though accurate data is hard to come by, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation estimates approximately 15 percent of sex abusers are women.

One of those 15 percent women bad / 85 percent men beyond awful stats women are using to justify their upcoming hegemonic dominion over mankind? Or is this a "maybe a little bit" that might blossom into "actually quite a lot," once we're ready for ready to engage something rather more wasting than the drunken dad with lust in his eyes for little boy "Tom"?

Maternal incest occurs earlier, is more ongoing, and leaves a vastly larger imprint. In most abusive families, children spend way more time with mom than they do with daddy. They learn very well, though, never to speak a bad word--mom made sure there'd be none of that. So we go after dad. It's an avenue we know; it's one we're allowed, even encouraged, to go down; and it makes dad present -- even if brutally -- when for the most part he never really was.

Link: “Tyler’s House of Pain” (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

Same Old Song

Half a year after brutalizing his then-girlfriend -- by hitting, choking, biting and threatening to kill her -- Chris Brown is still following the script of domestic abusers everywhere. He loves her, he really does, it was totally unlike him and he promises to never ever do it again. That's the tune the R&B crooner sings in a clip from his pre-taped interview for "Larry King Live," which airs in full this Wednesday at 9 p.m. [. . .] CNN also reports that in as-yet-unseen footage, he announces that he still loves Rihanna. The declaration of love, the shock at being overtaken by such uncharacteristic rage and the promise to never do it again -- it's straight out of a domestic violence PSA. The only difference here is that he's telling this to us, the American public, the fans he's trying to win back, instead of his lover. I can only hope -- for his sake and that of his worshipful young fans -- that the full interview reveals Brown as being ready and willing to confront in uncensored detail what he did and begin to work at truly healing himself. (Tracy Clark-Flory, “Chris Brown: Same old dance and song,” Salon August 31 2009)

It's a bit disingenuous to set this guy up as someone who's coming pretty close to trying to get away with murder and then finish with your hopes that he come to heal himself. You write as if what you most want is for him to wake up one morning with his own dick in his mouth ("try singing that same old tune now, dickhead") and a knife-wielding ex-girlfriend grinning by his side. Only then should therapy be considered -- but, really, who's to be bothered with stitching-up when there's so many other bad boys out there to be spotted for totally awesome comeuppance.

Guys who go beat up their girlfriends are taking revenge upon them for abuse they suffered from their own mothers (who themselves were so unloved they could not help but use their boys as anti-depressants). That's where the anger originates. Feminism want to try taking on that "angle" again, so that we can stop essentializing young men as evil

Link: Salon (Tracy Clark-Flory)

Search for a way of being

cuppateahaha

— The Search for a Way of Being —

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner

By Patrick McEvoy-Halston

November 2001

Ridley Scott has recently told us that Decker, from Blade Runner, is in fact a replicant. There are several reasons why I think this a disservice to fans of the film. My primary concern is that it substantiates “takings” of it that focus primarily on the characters at the expense of, as a cover for, explorations of our own responses to Scott’s ominous city-world and its subjected denizens. The choice to create a city-world so reminiscent of our own today, was certainly not an arbitrary one. We have been offered a cold simulacrum, replication, of our own cities—designed, surely, to bring to conscious awareness likely feelings of ambivalence many of us have towards them. I believe the reason we are interested in Decker (a response so natural, logical, in us that the camera’s interest in him mimics our own; it becomes our own viewing eye) is that his movement, his explorations, seem like they might attend to and help remedy our ambivalence. This is why we follow him, and why we pay close attention to what he (also Gaff—but Decker in particular) attends to. This search for our own identity, for a “right way of being” in this simulacrum of our own city-world, is well captured in this sequence through camera-placement, camera-movement (or lack there-of), and choice and timing of certain cuts to key props in the mise-en-scene.

Certainly not all sequences in the film are well suited for self-reflection—there are ample sequences that are either “tense” (and thus encourage us to self-protect, not self-explore) or “exciting” (where we are apt to mimic the polarized mindset of the chaser or the chased)—but this one actually is. The opening shot draws us to feel relaxed, tranquil. Camera placement, lack of camera movement, and the particular nature of the mise-en-scene in this shot, produce this effect. We are offered a level, extreme long-view shot of the environs, where we “float” above most of the city. The scene is near picturesque, with its clear field of black space, wherein we encounter a protagonist to key in on, at a quieting remove from all other objects in the mise-en-scene. The movement in the mise-en-scene is the predictable, slow, curving of the flying car, as it moves away from us through broad space. Knowing the camera eye not fixed to the potentially unnerving proximity of the close-up, and knowing the action to be something we pursue (i.e., we are closing in on the car), the next shot—a following shot with low-angle framing, situated at a building across the street, several levels above street level but much closer to it than we were to the car—seems guided by our own interest. The probing, inquisitive camera “eye” has become, for all intents-and-purposes, our own, and will remain so through the rest of the sequence.

After the second shot, where we look down on Decker and Gaff via high-angle framing, we cut to a shot where our interest is drawn upwards, via a low-angle framing shot, to a sign flashing “YUKON” on top of the building nearest them. It is almost as if we are presenting ourselves with a choice—the same choice we had in the first shot of the sequence: Should we direct our interest to the flashing neon-sign and the message it cannot help but present us with, or do we continue to attend to Decker and Gaff? The camera looks back to Decker and Gaff (switches to the previous high-angle frame), and follows its present course. Anticipating their destination, it reappears in the replicant’s apartment—and here it surely reflects our own “decision” when confronted with a choice away from a giant flashing “Coca-Cola” sign that announces DRINK! while referring to but a drink, and a “YUKON” sign so bespeaking of the artificial we have to fight to keep our known sense of the Yukon (i.e., its muted brown and green tundra-terrain) unadulterated upon sight of it. Surely what will most interest us will be something we must search for and find, not something openly presented and available to us amongst the city’s flashy skin.

With the next shot we are inside the replicant’s apartment, looking at Decker and Gaff from the apartment’s perimeter. We know the bright neon lights we briefly attended to failed to present us with “answers”: mightn’t Decker or Gaff manage upon something more relevant and satisfying? We focus on the two, via a long shot that lasts until both Decker and Gaff have entered the apartment, as if considering for a moment, the preferable candidate. We choose Decker, who in his movement across the room mimics the familiar, accustomed movement of the car in the opening shot. Obvious choice, really, for Gaff presents us, with his city-immigrant racial “flavor” and his Old South bow-tied, country-gentleman attire, the same feeling of uncertainty, incongruence, and self-confliction we felt upon sight of the “YUKON” sign. Moreover, Gaff in his stillness, with his dandyish attire and muted expressions, seems to us imperturbable: he not only seems immune to inconvenient emotions but primed to mock any of our own that might come into play. Though we will cut back to him while Decker is in the bathroom (much as we did cut to the “YUKON” sign, after our encountering Decker and Gaff), Gaff, no doubt, is our second choice.

We do not exactly follow Decker: we do not trail behind him, looking over his shoulder. Instead, “seeing” in the previous shot that he was heading into a chamber (bathroom), anticipating his destination, we cut to a shot where we are inside the chamber, looking at him from the same vantage point we assumed in the previous shot. However, we will follow him, the camera will come to situate itself just over his shoulder, as he spots and finds something that captures his interest. The movement reflects/embodies our eagerness: What has he found? Is it fit for our consideration, too? We, the camera, now cut to an extreme close-up of his hand cusping a scale he has placed in a small plastic bag. The scale, in conjunction with the hand that holds it, are key components of the mise-en-scene: one of three groupings we will be presented with in this sequence, through the explorations (with Decker) or manipulations (by Gaff) of two “people,” who, through their actions and their interests, are showing us how they themselves exist within this simulacrum-world. This is our own keenest interest—how to involve ourselves in this world, what to make of this world—and we show this in our switch to extreme close-ups when we spot objects like the scale that may afford more self-understanding than could possibly be afforded by commandant neon-signs.

The scale, though, in the same way as the Blade Runner city-world is and is not a city of our own experience—is and is not “us”—is a discovery of part of ourselves which too proves both cold and coldly self-implicating. Though neither we, nor Decker, have scales, bathrooms, via the tub, sink, or toilet, have traces of our body surface that are as disquieting to our sense of what it means to be human as are the skins of our cities, and involve us in uncomfortable self-questioning. Is the body just enfleshment? Mightn’t it be (or somehow come to be) beyond essential, necessary?—itself possess, rather than just embody, essence? This a consideration we are more likely to make in regards to humans than with replicants, not because they are obviously all function down to their wholly wired core (in fact the point of the film is to show them the very opposite), but because our souls have winnowed to the point where the most brutal, dispensable, dead aspects of our bodies seem to occasion the truest account of who we now are.

Troubling—so we cut to Gaff, who, for a moment at least, may actually seem the more “attractive” of the pair. We cut to an extreme close-up of his hand putting down something he was making—an origami stickman—on a table. Momentarily, this feels reassuring. He is not finding anything: he is exerting himself, making a comment on—we think—the essence or current behavior of Decker. Gaff, through this simple, confident action, provides visual evidence that one can avoid being “self-implicated,” adversely affected by one’s actions, if one places oneself on the perimeter, almost exterior to the motivations of the plot, making comments about someone more vulnerably situated. Gaff might be making an honest appraisal of Decker, but not one likely shorn of irony or irreverence (we notice the stick figure’s erection). This brings to mind a dissonance-incurring question: If we are uninvolved like Gaff, do we truly live? He may not be vulnerable—but does he live? Unlike us, he has a hand, and what a hand represents—an embodied existence in the film world—but through the action of his hand we understand he really exists more like a removed, disembodied eye—that is, like us—than one enfleshed. Thus reminded of a “way of being” similar to our own, which was unsubstantial, unsatisfying enough to motivate our search for a more satisfying way of being in the first place, we choose to once again follow Decker, hoping he might find us something just as interesting but more satisfying to contemplate.

We are not disappointed: Decker’s subsequent exploration leads to an object which, though it will likely bring to Decker’s mind questions pertaining to his own identity (notably, is he a replicant?), suggests for us, and potentially for him, a way of being through a choice of what and what not to value which makes these questions, if not moot, potentially nowhere near as vital for our self-understanding. Decker does not fear being a replicant because this would make him one of the hunted. He fears it (if we trust what we learn from Rachael concerning her own memories) because it makes his experiences, his own treasured memories, an implantation from some disinterested other person—because it would make him seem more someone else’s agenda than someone himself ensouled. But what cannot be an implantation is his experience of the here-and-now; and his choice, whether to make for himself the kind of experiences worthy of photos, is under his control—subject, only, to his decision on how to relate to the people he meets, objects he finds, the environments he finds himself within.

The third prop we will focus on, then, are the replicant’s photos, hidden under several layers of shirts and sweaters. Unlike with the tub, wherein Decker found evidence in miniscule form but bare to view, the photos are not found in the empty first drawer we focus on—they are instead “concealed” in the second drawer. Scott, in choosing to place this prop under shirts and sweaters, offers us an encounter with a replicant’s “home life” which actually suggests a human(e), warm (or at least a desire to be warm) persona. The replicant is “protecting” “his” photos, keeping them distant from casual observance—what you are supposed to do with intimate, private treasures. But this isn’t all he is up to: Here is “someone” who is not so sensitized to, determined by, the threatening environment so as to feel the need to take it into consideration in his every judgment. The placement is appropriate for someone who values an object enough to hide it; but by hiding it in a dresser, under shirts and sweaters—a place so suggestive of human warmth and “closeness”—he reveals so much about himself. The nature of their placement amounts to him telling himself, telling anyone who happens upon them: “The experiences these photos embody matter to me: they are the very core of my being, therefore to be placed in the most homey compartment of my living quarters.” (Shortly following this sequence we will hear Batty, half-teasingly, ask Leon, “Did you get your precious photos?” Leon had obviously been harping on the importance of retrieving them.)

In a cold, threatening world this kind of self-exposure is actually quite astonishing. In the close-up of Decker leafing through the photos (where we see, and Decker will focus on, a house interior we later recognize in Rachael’s treasured memory-photos), we have moved from a state of safe remove (in the initial long shot) to situating ourselves in close proximity to most precious vulnerability. But unlike with the scales, whose discovery is threatening to us because they involve us in an act of self-definition which makes us more animal than human, the photos are threatening because in a dangerous-seeming world they are disorienting, way out of place. They are evidence that we truly can, whether the memories they are supposed to represent are real or not, value the intimate human world they represent. To know that someone thinks like this, could value being open and vulnerable over sure protection, is itself a source of strength. It presents an option, a way of being, so ludicrous to not be possible, yet so wonderfully is! Within a drawer of folded clothes, within an apartment, within a building, within a city of endless numbers of buildings, we have found something powerful enough to suggest an eventual unfolding of a macrocosm of a different kind—a humane world of intimate proximity and touch, that could well matter to us, and that may just be within our reach.

This is a find well worthy of our search. It is a critical placement in the mise-en-scene of a prop so significant we replicate the replicant’s gesture and move to protect our experience, to make it secure for future consideration and contemplation. Thus, as would be the natural reaction to a discovery of something so surprisingly, so suggestive of human warmth in a world where we possibly accepted connection something broadly advertised but nowhere really to be found, we cut to a shot where we are no longer in the apartment (though we “hide” our memories there). We cut to a shot similar enough to the opening shot of the sequence to suggest—like Decker’s exploration of the drawers—an opening and a sealing-off of a discovery. The camera is still; we have a view of the city-environment (though now at street level); and there is a vehicle moving in the frame. However, this time, not tranquil—the scene is instead very tense: We find ourselves in the ominous position of being in the path of a police/army-like vehicle advancing ever larger, ever larger, ever larger, towards us!

Perhaps surprisingly, this last shot also feels a product of our own volition; it still represents our own eye. We use “our” freedom of movement to place ourselves in view of the most threatening image we could imagine and know to afford a true sense of what it can feel like to exist in this city. Unlike in the first shot, we choose to be grounded at street level, and we engage in a long-shot of the environment rather than an extreme long-shot. After asking ourselves, “Can we explore our human need for a warm community, or will this make us feel all too intolerably vulnerable to the dangers in this world?” we cut to a danger that comes to mind, and see. We ask ourselves, in the teeth of this menacing encounter, “Will we learn that faith in privacy, our home, family, friends is a source of strength to resist, endure, the most fear-inspiring experiences we might encounter in this world?”

These are questions that are not settled or answered for us (or for Decker) at film’s end. They are questions that should not ever be quieted by us, lest we ignore their importance and relevance in our own post 9 /11 world. We have seen and explored how Decker, Gaff, and the replicants exist in their world, and imagined how we might too: Now how do we choose to exist in our own world? What assumptions do we make of its nature? Is our world inevitably a hostile one of hunters and hunted? Or is it something that can be re-made, and thus, potentially, peaceful and humane? What are the consequences of this decision for our own behavior? Do we arm ourselves and “hunt,” though this means encountering and shaping life experiences with the “mind-forg’d manacles” of polarized thinking? Do we protect ourselves and avoid encounters that make us vulnerable, though this will narrow our range of life experiences? Or do we involve ourselves—imagine one another—as warm-hearted neighbors and help, rather than hunt, reach out, rather than isolate, even if this puts us in harm’s way? These are explorations we involve ourselves with in our encounter with Scott’s creation, and should continue exploring long afterwards.

Ridley Scott makes a mistake in telling us that Decker is a replicant because he thereby privileges the firm certainty in conclusions over the uncertainty of loose inquiry. In a sense, he is mimicking denatured Gaff, not inquisitive Decker. Yet Blade Runner surely represents the creation of a questing and questioning soul, born of an impulse to loudly reject the kind of closure urged upon us by impossible-to-ignore neon-signs, in favor of a more open project. Reflected in, and produced by, its choice of camera placement and movement, and in its offering, through close-ups, of three key props for our consideration, the film involves us in a search which presents us with choices, not necessarily with answers. Blade Runner really is an existential film; its glory is its uncertainty. Scott rightly eliminated the rosy ending of the initial release from his editor’s cut. He should have remained mute as to whether or not Decker is a replicant.

Work Cited

Blade Runner. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perf. Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young. 1982. DVD.