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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reading Cronenberg and eXistenZ Through Baudrillard

"I suppose I'm still a bit of a modernist and not a post-modernist." (eXistenZ p. 103) Is that really what you think David Cronenberg? Of course he said this around 1999.

I'd rather be seductive (magic Baudrillardian term) than confrontational with an audience. In that sense it's kind of a
many at amazon for under 50 cents
collaboration with 
the audience to bring this world into being and to believe in it, because you're required, of course, to believe in what's going on without wanting to spend a lot of time with the usual sci-fi explanations about everything."(e p. 103)

"One of the excitements of course about getting into the game in the movie is to find yourself questioning what reality is: to what extent are we all characters in our own game and all do play certain roles and can alter them and shift them to a certain extent, and as you get older you begin to realize __ it becomes a very strong and palpable thing that people define their own characters almost as if they have written them. Game playing __ when you are an actor in your own game in particular __ would put your nose up against that, having to deal with what you are as an actor and someone who has written his own role." ( e  p. 95)

David Cronenberg

"Certainly, I've seen the effect of the movie__when people come out of it they are not sure where they are basically, they are not sure what they touch is real or who they are is really who they are, or who is playing a game or who is not." (e p. 95)                 

".... I think people are fairly overwhelmed by the Hollywood mode which is fairly straightforward in terms of characterization. It's very narrative driven __as they say__and the approach to character, I think, is fairly simplistic.... We're not getting their backstory, we're not finding out about their childhood, because we don't know them that well." (e p.96)

So what he is saying is that he avoids interpretation and hermeneutics. He stays with the surface.  This is Foucauldian and Baudrillardian. Not modernist.

... at one point it (eXistenZ) was at MGM and it was being developed there. They decided not to make the movie at MGM and the reason was it wasn't linear enough. That's exactly what was said, it wasn't linear enough, which is very interesting. I took that as a compliment, actually, because to just go from A to B to C and end is linear, and eXistenZ is much more complex than that. (e p. 97)
beautiful man, eh

You have no idea how beautiful you are going to be when you get older.
Again non-linear is post modern as the world is no longer in linear time, so why should books, films, etc continue to be in linear time. History is in linear time and we are no longer in historical time. This is more Foucault and Baudrillard as well as numerous others.
Stick it to them!

On plugging the pod into the bioport which has been inserted into your body:

"... because, for me, the primary fact  of human experience is the human body. That's the first fact and the basic fact in order to make one feel physically, bodily real. It seemed natural to me and obvious to me and I'm surprised no one else has quite done it this way __that you would plug the game into your body."(e 99)

.".. the outside world is invading our bodies in many ways. I think, in fact, that's part of human existence, but we are now controlling and modulating that with our own technology..." (e 100)

"I don't see why someone wouldn't undergo that for a really extraordinary mind-altering , life altering experience, and so I think it's quite conceivable__psychologically." (e 100)

"I think one of the basic yearnings of game players today __the whole virtual reality world__is to get closer and closer to reality and to get closer and closer to an experience that is indistinguishable from your day to day reality.... But the feeling is that you want it to be realer than real. (hyperreal as Baudrillard would say-my insertion)You want to be right in the game." (e 101)

Q: "... but I'm wondering where in your mind did this world come from?"

"This world and the other interconnected one seems to be very innate for me. It didn't take a lot of effort for me to expand to it.... It just seemed to be there when I looked for it and that always seems to be the way it is. Why that should be or what the psychology of it is, I don't know, but it seems very natural for me."(e 102)

He is speaking about the interface between eXistenZ and his mind. Like the interface between the screens and Eric Packer's mind.

...__it's a present future, it's a future that's implicit in the present and of course that's what I write out of because I'm in a certain present and anything that I'm inventing is somehow implicit in the present....and have their be a floating version of time because I felt it was important to bring the audience into that, to detach them from the place they were before they walked into the theatre. It's really to dislodge the audience from their clinging to reality and to take them out of that ...." (e104)

"... but there is something of the computer approach to thought that is dealt with in the movie and certainly to computer gaming but not in a very obvious way. It's very subtle, subliminal, I think."(e104)

Q: Now, the actors__Jennifer Jason Leigh__what made you think she was right for the role? 
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And now he discusses the world thinking him:

"I thought of Jennifer Jason Leigh for the lead role of Allegra Geller almost the instant I knew I was writing a woman for the main character. I mean, that surprised me (writing a woman for  the lead character). But it just happened. ... and she was ecstatic and desperate to do it. She had just recently, at that time, been converted to computerdom__herself becoming involved with Apple and becoming an Apple Master, and of course it dealt with role playing and acting really.

Jude was a surprise because I didn't know about him... and of course it's always exciting to feel that you are sort of either discovering a new face or involved in the beginning of a wonderful career and I certainly felt both with Jude."(e105

Anyone who has been reading my blogs will not need me to explain anything here. It is obvious we are listening to a director who is Other. You can read Eric Packer through eXistenz here.

A seriously amazing essay on Cronenberg and eXistenz and Baudrillard here.

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