1. i foolishly abstained from gin on Wednesday – actually from all booze – but gin, i now realise, was the only thing keeping me robust amidst coughing sneezing Germands, for i have been ill since Thursday, mostly just sleeping and thinking. i had several fiction ideas in this time, but didn’t bother writing them down, because i’ve now grown so dispirited about my oddly sporadic stop-start imagination – i have notebooks full of what i think are good premises for tales, which i am unable to develop; that is, when i try they quickly become formulaic, merely repeating tropes from extant works. It could be that my imagination only works in spotlit moments, and utterly fails when i try to join the dots. It’s not that the results, if i wasted hundreds of hours writing them up, would be terrible; rather, mediocre, passable:
i hope my projected next novel – which i haven’t even begun – will be its own beast, but am not optimistic. In one sense, i am a product of my age: an exhausted civilisation (the culture being by now long extinct) which can only mimic or denigrate the achievements of the past.
2. The decline of our arts is, for me, clearest in cinema, and the Star Wars franchise in particular. The Viking saw Rogue One recently, and wrote glowingly of the visuals, the special effects, but had nothing good to say of the characters and dialogue. The vile prequels are notoriously dreadful in every single aspect, to the point where they seem to have been written and directed by a 5-year-old. The Force Awakens is okay, a passable film indeed, with good special effects and visuals, not really much good about the dialogue or characters – and i dare say the sequel will be more of the same.
It’s by now to be expected, that big budget films like Rogue One will have great special effects and a lousy script. Avatar, for example, cost 237 million dollars, and was for me deeply tedious: again, it seemed that a 5-year-old child had written the script, for example the precious mineral the bad guys could only obtain on this furry blue planet was called Unobtainium.
Is it really so hard to get a decent writer, with the money Hollywood can throw around? Seemingly so. Or perhaps the studios and directors think the writing is irrelevant, that all you need to do is throw a lot of exploding robots and jiggling tits on the screen, and it’s a film.
3. The Force Awakens looked great, physical and kinetic:
– but for me, the only interesting character was Han Solo, the others being too much the standard Hollywood tropes: the tough Feminist girl who can do everything men can do but better, with perfect skin and lips despite living in a desert; the wise-cracking negro who bumbles comically about; the angsty emo etc. i didn’t really care that the heroes were all Diversity Quota Selections, nor did i care that Daisy Ridley’s character proved able to beat enemies down (she seems to have grown up alone on a desert planet, so would either be raped & murdered by Sand Peoples or learn to fight), or could use the Force so easily (for me, it seemed that the psychic altercation with Kylo Ren provoked her own innate talents, that the hostile symmetry of his powers inadvertently awoke her own). But i found the characters fairly dull; vaguely likeable, and forgettable.
Some of the dialogue was good; there were some good moments. The whole was however riddled with major plot holes, some so glaring i wondered if an explanatory bridge had been edited out. i wasn’t too bothered that it was a pastiche of the first Star Wars film, since that could be done with wit and depth (it wasn’t); but i found the plot holes gratingly frequent & coarse – best expressed in this review:
3. i’m willing to ignore the odd plot hole, but The Force Awakens was more hole than plot, to the point of meaninglessness. Meaningful character, motive, causality, were clearly of no importance to JJ Abrams. That absence of meaning is now the norm in modern cinema (as indeed, in our dead-end civilisation) – we are presented with things which make no sense, with flat, lazy characterisation, with characters who do things for seemingly no reason but to advance to the next special effect. Typically, modern films are full of meaningless spectacle. All the money and creativity goes into marketing and special effects; there are truly skilled cinematographers and technicians creating stunning moments – but moments without meaning.
This is, i would guess, why modern films can be so easily made into trailers – for a trailer is usually nothing more than a meaningless spectacle. Even modern fan-tributes of older films – up to the 80s or thereabouts – are usually lacklustre compared to trailers for worthless dazzle like The Matrix 2 or Man of Steel. There seems, indeed, often an inverse correlation between spectacle and meaning, so for example Butch Cassidy & the Sunshine Kid, or Jaws largely eschew the former. There are, of course, good films where spectacle is at the service of meaning: The Empire Strikes Back, From Russia with Love, Lethal Weapon, and some modern films like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and Inception.
i find it telling that even Nolan – who creates interesting characters, with good dialogue, seems content with glaring plot holes, e.g. the Joker apparently planned to get caught when nothing in the film supports this rather extravagant explanation. That even an artist like Nolan wouldn’t, i suppose, see anything wrong with these plot holes is suggestive of the widespread rot, the insensitivity to meaning. When i say “meaning” i’m not talking about any kind of religious or spiritual factor – just some basic continuity from moment to moment, the kind of continuity we find in our waking reality and not in our dreams. i find this indifference to meaning also in politics, which has descended to Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia levels of nonsense: so Trump (i think guessing from his own polls that he would win the Rust Belt) says that if he loses the election it will be because it’s rigged; Obama tells him to “stop whining”; the so-called Intelligence communities say it’s impossible to rig the US elections; Trump wins; the Democrats and so-called Intelligence communities claim the election was rigged, and if you deny it then you’re deplorable because the elections have always been riggable, and we have always been at war with Russia. The evidence? Well, it’s complicated, you wouldn’t understand it, like you wouldn’t understand where Saddam hid his WMDs, or why we had to destroy Libya, or why the billions of dollars spent on the so-called Intelligence communities seem billions largely wasted. But trust us, there’s evidence.
The collapse of meaning, into spectacle, into politicians crying on camera, merely moderate political parties labelled “far Right”, Islam as “the religion of peace”, is so far advanced that i’m not sure it can be reversed; most likely not.