Review: Inferno (1980)

 

I first saw Inferno on late night TV, maybe somewhere in the 12-14 age bracket. It holds the distinction of being one of the very few films that ever genuinely scared me.

 

 

Later in life I rediscovered it as one of Italian horror legend Dario Argento’s masterpieces, a companion piece to the absolutely sublime Suspiria, one of my all time favourite cinematic experiences. They both feature the same bizarre mythology around the Three Mothers, Mater Suspiriorum, Mater Tenebrarum, and Mater Lachrymarum. They both feature the same insanely lurid colour palette and utterly dreamlike narration. They both use striking music to excellent effect.

 

Along the way I had came to regard Inferno as the lesser of the pair, neglecting its own magnificence, and hadn’t watched it for most of a decade. Rewatching it recently was a real treat.

Gorgeous, incredibly atmospheric and dreamlike. Very little actually happens in the story; it is an intense exercise in style in the telling. The action is simultaneously grounded in simple moments of reality that extend out forever – how can he hold the shots so long, and make them so gripping? – and a surreal inescapable nightmare layer, a world of constant descents into weirdly lit labyrinthine spaces.

What scared the younger me was not being able to work out what was happening. Atmospheric whispers, hooded figures, old books, malevolent cats, strange women, not quite human hands…. It was just so weird. Something is clearly going on, people are being killed horribly, but the motive and murderer is generally unknown; perhaps simply the power of evil itself unleashed.

As an adult the film barely makes sense, even on multiple viewings. It almost coheres, but is most effective on an unconscious, metaphoric and symbolic level. The encounter with a genuine archetypal force beyond us, working through us and the world, will not be a rational one.

And ultimately the forces at work in Inferno are transcendent. Death itself, present as a purposive force. There is no escape. Triumph is an abeyance. The flames change nothing.

Beyond its immediate visceral impact, Inferno remains a work of art with depth that rewards repeated consideration.

 

tinekaamos – the northland sessions vol 1: experiments

 

A few years back I had a home studio and did some recording. Naturally, the dozen or so solo tracks I had ready to record didn’t come out at all right on recording.

While I was doing those recordings, I spent some time messing around. I would lay a track of something down, and then improvise over that, laying in new tracks, including vocals on the spot. None of these took more than part of an afternoon, and they were kind of fun experimentation.

Naturally, a handful of those worked out more satisfactorily than the proper songs. These recordings come from those sessions. Stylistically they are all over the place. Experiments is an apt name.

I am under no illusions about their quality; proceed at your own risk. Mostly they are pretty short. The setup was ultra lo-fi (battered old synth, coupla guitars, various hand percussion, one mic) and I was learning how to record. At charitable best they could be considered evidence of some raw musical instincts. I suspect I have enough distance to no longer be actively embarrassed by them. At any rate these are the ones I still listen to sometimes. Now you can too.

If you are interested, you can download/listen free via bandcamp

Track by track comments:

Om Nama Shivaya This phrase is a mantra to Shiva to banish evil, which was written on a square of telephone paper and was lying around the house, so became the (probably mispronounced) lyrics. Easily the most disco and upbeat track, and it is pretty good spirited.

Ghost Harvest Sad, lonely and fragile. Probably the pick of the litter musically.

The Kids Fairly unclassifiable, one line repeats (“Hanging with the kids and they are, so beautiful so damaged”) over a bassline, until it all sort of evaporates in a swirl of digital effects that turn hand drums into weird insects. Mercifully short.

Bears Discover Fire Mysterious lurching bassline, very silly vocals, lots of odd noises. Bears Discover Fire is the name of a famous SF story I never read. (This track is dedicated to Ed, my patron from the Northland era, as it is somehow very Ed. Heh.)

Epic Bass Drone Most genre identifiable piece, ambient experimental weird ass synth drone. Pretty much what it says on the tin. Maybe a bit John Carpenter on this listening.

For Reasons Unknown Easily the most normal and songlike of them, which makes the haphazardness of the recording all the more obvious. The one I would most like to rerecord the vocals to.

( Tinekaamos is a word that came to me in a dream. No idea what it means.)

 

watch Combust in Unity free online

 

You can now watch Combust in Unity free online at www.combustinunity.com

Where you can also buy the DVD for cost price, US $1.75 + post to wherever you are in the world.

 

It has been a long strange ride.

80000 words

is what the current draft clocks in at. Just finished typing it up.

back online, batman

 

Have finished the hand-written redraft of Mosaic, so will be a bit more online again. (Though frankly the less online life has its appeals.)

Won’t know what I have got until I type it up and read it, but my sense of it is that the story is all there now, and hopefully from here it will be shaping and polishing and going deeper rather than construction and surgery. So, progress in the process, which is ongoing.

*

In other news, just looked through the Film Festival guide. Much awesomeness therein.

*

The new Batman film is interesting. Nolan consistently manages to make films with content capable of many readings within the confines of blockbusters. Makes me want to rewatch the films as a trilogy to evaluate its moral perspective as a unit.

My non spoilery tip would be remind yourself thoroughly of Batman Begins before seeing Dark Night Rises.

 

going offline

Righto. It is time once again to refocus energy and attention on writing, and cut away distractions.

I will be basically offline for the next however long while writing the new draft of Mosaic.

What this means:

  • I am not reading your blog
  • I am not checking facebook or twitter
  • I may blog occasionally, and do an hour of mutants trawling.
  • I will check email occasionally.
  • If you want me to know something, tell me. Txt or direct email.
  • I will actually be available in meatspace to interact. Just not online.

Cheers.

 

relocated

I am living in Wellington again, so am local once more if you are also in Wellington…

returning to NZ in a couple of weeks.

Hey all. This mad and beautiful dream of travel will be ending soon, for now anyway. I will be back in NZ just before the election. Will be great to catch up with familiar faces again, and deeply fascinating to see NZ anew.

Also, I will need to replenish the war chest, which has been mauled by the past six months, so am interested in any random job stuff that is coming up that people know of. And any options of places to live, be it a flat, or a house sit, or even a couch or a backyard for a while, anywhere in the country really… everything is wide open. Surprise me. 🙂

Travel contact details

Holy shit. Flight in a few hours.

Email is probably best way to make sure I get a message, or Skype (billydancingmoose). (If you don’t have an email for me, there is one linked on the sidebar.)

I will probably update the blog/tweet a bit but not sure how much.

http://twitter.com/#!/billymoose

At a guess, probably won’t read much facebook, or most of twitter, or people’s blogs. If you want me to know something, send an email or direct message of some form.

My local cellphone will be left behind. Will have various new simcards on the road. Will try to let folks in each relevant country know those.

 

top nonfiction books, according to me

Have been meaning to do this for a while.

I have had the privilege of reading widely and in depth during a prolonged period of self-education. This is a rare thing, and I am very grateful for it.

So: here is a list of the non-fiction books that are most highly recommended by the moose.

This is a really hard list to make. I want to get a sense of what has most influenced me, and what would be most useful for others to read. The real challenge is what amazing mind-blowing stuff to leave off; what entire disciplines don’t even get a mention.

I could rant at length about each of the books listed, and someday mean to, but for now the list and a brief precis will suffice.

Over time I have found the one of the most important laws of scholarship to be “always read the original”. Reading these volumes will repay truly great dividends. In some cases I am picking authors rather than books, as it is difficult to fit many thinkers into one volume.

-=-=-

Robert Anton Wilson: Quantum Psychology.

Wilson is like the Irish Buddha. Compassionate, funny and wise, with an uncanny ability to explain complex things in ways that make you feel much smarter than you are, as he teaches you how to think for yourself. His books are wide ranging and profound, and totally unique.

QP deals with quantum physics, language, the mind, and how we make ourselves a reality tunnel to live in; it is gentle and funny and unspeakably brilliant, and will free up your view of things by stealth with its mix of theory and practice.

Prometheus Rising, and Cosmic Trigger Vol 1, are the other two must reads of his non-fiction. They are both also pretty indescribable, but totally worthwhile. (Also recommended is the audio set Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything, particularly the 2nd and 3rd lectures.)

His humour, and staggering originality and clarity of communication, make him the best entry point into the world of ideas that interests me.

David Bohm: Wholeness and the Implicate Order; Thought as a System.

Quantum physicist and philosopher whose thought touches on the most fundamental questions of existence. Bohm is much more than a physicist. In my eyes he is quite possibly the most important philosopher of the late 20th century.

WATIO is about his take on quantum physics, and relativity, and their implications for everything else. There is one long chapter with many equations that will be over most people’s heads (sure was over mine), but it is interesting to read along the development of the logic. Also discusses language and philosophy, putting forward fascinating and brilliant stuff as he grapples with the deepest issues of meaning and existence.

TAAS is much easier going, taking the form of a weekend long dialogue he led, and covers analagous material in a completely non-technical fashion. Both are very brilliant.

(I often feel much of my own work is covering ground that Wilson and Bohm covered better.)

PD Ouspensky: In Search of the Miraculous; Tertium Organum.

Russian philosopher from the early 20th century. Genius in his own right, while perhaps best known as a disciple of Gurdjieff.

ISOTM introduced me to the best, most lucid, most grounded and practical model of human psychology and spirituality I have encountered; a genuinely life-changing experience.

The first ten pages of TO are still probably the most comprehensively mindshattering thing I have ever read; in fact, in many ways that is where my journey began, and the return was being able to say what had already been said, but from myself, in my own words.


Buckminster Fuller: Critical Path

Visionary genius, design scientist, humanist; original thinker par excellence; world-system thinking at its finest; one of the most optimistic paradigm shifting thinkers of all time.

Want to save the world? Start here. Not easy reading, but off-the-charts brilliant. Written the year before he died; a summation of his life’s work. Almost impossible to communicate just how powerful, joyous, and uplifting this work, and Fuller’s vision, is. (Actually, we wrote a – frankly awesome – song about Bucky in Idle Faction: right click to download Go Bucky Go, which maybe captures some of how rocking this stuff really is 😉 )

-=-=-

Those four, in particular, are giants whom I am standing sheepishly on the shoulders of, feeling out of place.

Now two which are just things any intelligent person in the West should have read, or the equivalent thereof, in answer to the basic questions of where did we come from, and how our current world and ideas about the world came about:

Richard Tarnas: The Passion of the Western Mind

The best one volume history of western thought I have encountered. A truly incredible performance, weaving together the many strands of thought into one amazing narrative.

(An excellent Eastern complement to this is Heinrich Zimmer’s “Philosophies of India”.)


Arnold Toynbee: Mankind and Mother Earth

The best one volume history of the world I have encountered. Written the year before he died, and after his mammoth 12 volume history of the world, here Toynbee brings it all together, revealing the patterns of things across time.

History, in general, is vital for any understanding of what we are. Though also a highly problematic, impressionistic art. A discipline I wish I was better read in.

-=-=-

While I could go on and on listing many great books, with vital insights, I am also aware they form part of my process, and may or may not be essential to anyone else.

Honestly, the above would keep most people going for quite a while, and would gird you well to take on the world; the first four in particular feel essential, and have done a lot to shape my thinking and experience.

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