Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Haruki Murakami's "A Folklore for My Generation: A Pre-history of Late-stage Capitalism"

One way into Murakami's short story "A Folklore for My Generation: A Pre-history of Late-stage Capitalism," in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, is to consider it in conjunction with Giles Deleuze's notion of the time-image (in addition to Ernest Mandel's three stages of capitalism: stage 1: market capitalism; stage 2: monopoly capitalism; stage 3: late capitalism/globalization).

To do so, one might watch (the entire documentary, but at the least...) the first ten minutes of Monterrey Pop (Pennebaker, 1968) when reflecting on the idealism and enthusiasm associated with the late 1960s in Murakami's short story, and then watch the Radiohead documentary Meeting People is Easy (Gee, 1998) when considering Murakami's articulation of postmodernity.

Deleuze's notions of time provides a helpful vantage point for the text, for the movement-image (briefly summarized: in which time is measurement) can to an extent be applied to Monterrey Pop, in which the historical moment is documented/measured narratological-ly, chronologically, and linearly; in contrast, Meeting People is Easy arguably depicts time itself, the time-image, as the subject of the camera/ object of inquiry. Meeting People is Easy, like Murakami's depiction of the present in "Folklore...," places past, present, and future in a strange co-existence in which a new form of (cinematographic) reality is realized.   

Murakami has stated that "experience itself is meaning" and, perhaps, just as we learn little about (the "point" of) Radiohead in their documentary, but might understand the experience of that stage in the band's existence; similarly, we might learn little about what postmodernity means/is within Murakami's folklore, but we experience it for the duration of his important short story.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blue Line (2012)


Awesome skateboarding clip, movement and speed. Thanks to Dillon Kane for sending me the link.
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Info cut and pasted from Youtube:
Published on Nov 25, 2012
Created by Brian Lotti and Nathan Factor Sacharow
Music by badmammal
Short concept film exploring various ways of tracking and shooting skateboarders moving through the landscape. Skateboarders include David Bowens, Cooper Wilt, Derek Fukuhara, Adrian Adrid, Ronnie Sandoval, Riley Stevens, and Robbie Russo.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Li Hanxiang's 李翰祥 The Winter 《冬暖》 (1969)


Love in the Time of Industrialization:
Representations of Nature in Li Hanxiang’s The Winter (1969)

Perhaps the most exquisite, artistic, and well-crafted film of Taiwan’s so-called “Golden Age” of cinema (1964-9) is none other than Li Hanxiang’s (李翰祥) 1969 film The Winter《冬暖》. In their book Taiwan Film Directors, Emilie Yeh and Darrell William Davis briefly describe the film as a “sad, sweet story about a mainland émigré” in which Li “exhibits a stunning, fluid studio craftsmanship in his re-creation of a vernacular, parochial Taipei” (44-45). My paper -- an aesthetic analysis of Li’s landmark film -- presents primary sources from late 1960s Taiwan, focusing my study within the film’s historical-material context, and uses the lens of ecocriticism in order to reveal the ways in which Li’s fragmented images of urban Taipei generate a sense of anxiety and tension that is ultimately resolved by contrasting representations of nature. The images of nature also correlate in interesting ways with archetypal imagery of the Buddha as a peaceful, transcendent source of liberation. 

Li’s aesthetic sensibility is significant not only because his imagery provides apt metaphors for both the narrative conflict and resolution, but, in terms of Taiwan’s economic development, Li’s film seems to foreshadow the environmental destruction that would result from rampant industrialization in the following decades. And in terms of Taiwan’s film tradition, Li’s depiction of nature is unique when compared with his contemporaries; moreover, his aesthetic strategies foreshadow the imagery found in New Taiwan Cinema directors some 15 years later (including the work of Hou Hsiao-hsien), and fifth generation directors of China (including Chen Kaige) who similarly recognized that representations of the natural world could convey a sense of freedom impossible to realize during political repression.

Preliminary Bibliography:

Lim, Song Hwee, and Julian Ward. 2011. The Chinese cinema book. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lu, Sheldon H., and Jiayan Mi. 2009. Chinese Ecocinema in the Age of Environmental Challenge. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Rust, Stephen, Salma Monani, and Sean Cubitt. Ecocinema Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.
Yeh, Emilie Yueh-yu, and Darrell William Davis. 2005. Taiwan Film Directors: A Treasure Island. New York: Columbia University Press.
Yip, June Chun. 2004. Envisioning Taiwan: fiction, cinema, and the nation in the cultural imaginary. Durham: Duke University Press.

San Diego Asian Film Festival, November 2-4, 2012

It was a pleasure introducing Taiwan films at the San Diego Asian Film Festival's Taiwan Film Showcase, presented by the San Diego Asian Film Festival, UCSD Taiwan Studies Lecture Series, UCSD Chuan Lyu Endowed Chair in Taiwan Studies, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles.

During the opening night, I had a chance to ask questions, along with/and thanks to SDAFF Artistic Director Brian Hu, to Producer James Hsu and co-director Jim Wang after the screening of their debut film CHA CHA FOR TWINS.

Photos here.

The Aesthetics of Transnational Analysis

“The most interesting and difficult part of any cultural analysis, in complex societies, is that which seeks to grasp the hegemonic in its active and formative but also in transformational processes.” -- Raymond Williams

Taiwan Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s


There are fewer more fascinating methods for investigating the ways in which Taiwan’s Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang, KMT) Government defined itself as the representative government of all of China in the 1960s and 1970s than to consider its state-sanctioned film industry. The films produced by the state represent ideas of national unity and a glorious “homeland” during decades that witnessed the most intense of transformations in many areas: in film with the rise and eventual decline of the popularity of Taiwan cinema in Southeast Asia, in literature with the xiangtu (nativist) literature debates, in the economy with the emergence of factories and small business replacing an agricultural infrastructure, and in politics with the end of the Nationalist’s international status after losing its seat in the United Nations in 1971. 

At each stage the state propagated its ideal of “free China” for all to see on the silver screen -- an ideal made all the more complicated by competing regional and cultural influences: from the east by the People’s Republic of China, from the north by the heritage of Japanese colonialism, from the west’s concurrent military and economic aid, and from the south where a vast capitalist market was governed by lines drawn during the Cold War. Thus, situating these multiple discourses involves both a historical analysis, that is to bring the material and historical moment to light, and a cultural analysis, that is to consider how it is that the state believed images produced in a pop-medium might bolster a government’s political status as its films competed on the open market.

Surfing and Skating

Free time activities...