Friday, 27 August 2004
Avoiding Chewing Gum Of The Mind
CREDIT: © Godfrey Reggio/Koyaanisqatsi.org
WHERE: the modern world. WHAT: a film makers examination.
Thumbnail  pop-up larger images.
Television programs seem to be denigrated in direct proportion to the number of people watching. Better to be disparaged than to be ignored, though, especially in something rooted as much in commerce as in culture. Oddly, many of the denigrators are the people watching the programs. As happens to junk food, some member of the chattering classes will occasionally write a humorous piece singing its praises.
Looking for pithy quotations, we saw Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, credited with 'chewing gum for the eyes'; Richard Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome, so an architect/engineer, with 'chewing gum for the mind'; Karl Albrecht, management theorist, was a co-contender for that last one; and Groucho Marx, film maker, with 'I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.' When did that last happen?
Chewing gum is not all bad, however: Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, was credited with 'Chewing gum: the national anthem without words'. The single quotation marks absolve us from any responsibility to track down reputable sources for the attributions.
We rarely chew gum, having made a firm stand against any pretence of anthem singing many years ago. Much like searching for a restaurant that suits one's budget and preferences, we went looking for a source of cultural nourishment with more taste and satisfaction than chewing gum. Through the wonder of the web, and the service structure that brought you… well, chewing gum and television… even as we speak two DVDs are winging their way here for our enjoyment.
We thought we would examine the expectation, as a sort of compare and contrast, with the final experience. Our first choice was 'Koyaanisqatsi', which is not just a film, but part of a trilogy with its own web site. The word is from the Hopi language, a nation culture-locked within the Navajo nation, which is in turn culture-locked within the EuroAmerican dominance of the United States. The word means 'life out of balance', and has even generated its own fan site. Explore the web site and read the pitch to form your own view. We found the notes from producer and director Godfrey Reggio helpful in deciding if we were interested in viewing this film.
For the purposes of this web site, of course, the film gains a feature here by offering a still images gallery. We picked five from the forty on offer. How relevant, or insignificant, they transpire to be in the overall context of the film remains to be determined. If nomen est omen, there may be trouble ahead:
* ko.yaa.nis.katsi (from the Hopi language),
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)