Sunday, March 30, 2008

The perils of youtube

During the lonely last leg of a PhD thesis youtube becomes an invaluable friend. Trudging through footnotes and proofing great swathes of text, I've found myself making all sorts of curious bargains with, well, myself. Another ten pages, and you can watch that classic Stone Roses clip again. Another fifty footnotes, and you can search for alternate versions of 'Tangled Up In Blue'. I've become so dependent that even when I'm working on the dirty screen of this faltering laptop I'm often using youtube as a de facto radio. Let's face it, you don't lose too much by not watching Dylan stand on the same spot for seven minutes in a ridiculous hat while he whines his way through an obscure version of his greatest song.

As the hours go on and the footnote count rises, my aesthetic standards tend to crumble, and I succumb to simple nostalgia. Who'll know, at this hour, if I turn the sound down a little and revisit The Beastie Boys doing 'She's On It' in 1986, or that guy with the funny name doing 'Axel F' on the '80s Eddie Murphy film? And what was really so bad about 'Born in the USA', anyway? It sounded good when I was twelve, didn't it? Gaddamit, I've got a right to revisit cheesey '80s music - we're talking about my cultural heritage here!

My big mistake has been to succumb to the desire to revisit another part of my '80s cultural heritage - Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World. When I was twelve I was transfixed by Clarke's marvellously unexcited investigations into exciting semi-imaginary things like Bigfoot, Nessie, and UFOs.
At two o'clock in the morning, with one hundred and fifty footnotes to go and a supevisor waiting impatiently for that final draft, I was once again transfixed. And you can't listen to stuff like this:

That's 'Patty', the sasquatch a couple of dodgy Yanks caught on film way back in 1967. Clarke made the gal a star of his doco series, and when I was twelve I engaged in passionate arguments about her existence with family and schoolmates. Now I feel strangely ambivalent about the subject. On the one hand, I find the notion that a massive bipedal ape is roaming around North America almost too ridiculous to consider. Where did the critters come from, given that the Americas have no indigenous species of ape? How could they possibly evade capture? Why hasn't some redneck hunter ever ended up with a sasquatch rug on his cabin floor? Isn't it obvious that the 1967 film must be a hoax?

At the risk of inviting ridicule, though, I want to suggest that there are some aspects of the clip of Patty which are quite difficult to explain. Consider the length of Patty's arms relative to the length of her legs. Consider the muscle movement which can be observed in one of her legs:

Consider also the fact that decades of attempts by sceptics to recreate the 'hoax' have yielded embarrassing results. Here's a recent BBC effort:

Alright, I know what you're thinking: why should the BBC be able to do special effects? Haven't decades of Dr Who episodes shown us their limitations? All the same, one would expect the Beeb in the noughties to have a better chance at creating a convincing hoax than a couple of broke good ol' boys in the late '60s.

At this point, I'd like to ask all you highbrow literary types scoffing at the pedantry of cryptozoologists to take a look at this clip of a rare beast of modern American letters being analysed by a truly obsessive fan:

With guys like that on his trail it's no wonder Thomas Pynchon prefers to avoid the limelight. Here's a much better tribute to Pynchon, which puts a series of images from Gravity's Rainbow to the music of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, the world's first psychedelic band. Listen to that electric jug rockin' out behind the young Roky Erikson's spiralling voice:

OK, a couple of footnotes to go...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No god is greater then space.
If I were to believe in anything, it would be chaos.
Why, well for something (EVERY THING) to be created, some thing must break.

4:06 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

U Tube is great - we just watched some speeches by Hitler ... history and power and glory!!

But I have never been able to listen to Bob Dylan for more than 5 seconds...

But then I'm not very interested in "pop" music...even as a teenager.

But he seems to me to have a terrible voice and very tedious songs.

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

POLITICAL PIG! He a monkey and YOU the zoo!

6:37 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"There is no construction without destruction." Mao Tse Tung.

9:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said... yr friend Richard is a follower of Hiter AND Mao?

10:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only you had used ENDNote from the start you could have your feet up, your thesis in and be watchng whatever you liked :) Good luck with the final run in.

8:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard Taylor IS Hitler and Mao! not to mention Aristotle and Shakespeare, this is the hidden agenda of the great work 'The Infinite Poem' towards which, all of human history has been leading..

12:14 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"Richard Taylor IS Hitler and Mao! not to mention Aristotle and Shakespeare, this is the hidden agenda of the great work 'The Infinite Poem' towards which, all of human history has been leading..."

Yes - in a sense - comes closer to the phenomenological nature of my "work"
of course I cant "be" anyone else - in a simpler sense all writers need to be able to imagine what it is to be - whatever - anything from a rock to Hitler; to a boxer or racing driver; to be dying; to be winner; a loser; a criminal; a spider, and so on, some things "go too far of course"... (or do they?)

All writers are all writing and a part of the massive construct that is the Universe...or the Multiverses

But if you study EYELIGHT carefully you will see that I try to encompass the entire spectrum - also Alan Sondheim (sure - rather a different approach or "sensibility" ) talks of such things as "plasmatic neoplasm" (of course he loves the words themselves apart from anything else or as well as) and so on and gives two beautiful images (which I have put up there on EYELIGHT) - this is a continuation of his process - but if one pays attention to what he is doing - he too is looking at "everything", as, in fact; 'neoplasm' is living tissue - either a benign tumour, a "static" (precancerous) tumour, or cancerous...and so on...his focus is inward however much more than mine...the "tumorous tissue examined (he once worked with scanning electron microscopes) and 'deconstructed' (or 'restructured') by him appears startingly beautiful...but he also give beautiful images that are "conventionally beautiful" and so on..

So he is more toward the body/mind complex - the internet (philosophy of and of communications on there) and so on and deeply into postmodern concepts - I owe some debt to Barthes etc but also some to Marxism - but we both seem to look almost anywhere... (if with quite different views of the world)...

Of course - I was being (a little) silly buggers - my son just happened to find a U-Tube of Hitler ... it is quite fascinating to watch BTW though.

BTW "And so on" is method of phrasing I picked up (or copied) from reading Vonnnegut's "Breakfast of Champions"

11:03 pm  

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