Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stranger Song

He is so gloriously depressed...


billoo said...

Alok, as someone who writes: "Even for those of us who aren't well-read and don't know the meaning of these big words.." I've got to say it's mighty strange that you're writing about a 'Kantian defence of prostitution'.

That cracks me up :)

Alok said...

Haha... I love the phrase "late capitalism" very much too.

It is all very pseudo and amateur stuff, it won't take you long to notice that.

billoo said...

Er..alok, I thought you said we shouldn't be judgemental?

("But if someone reads a highfalutin essay on say, "the problem of alienation in late capitalist societies" and it strikes a chord with him, I don't think we need to be judgemental there")

Alok said...

Ah, that was just a response to Kubla's outright dismissal of all theorerical-academic writings. I meant that such concepts can carry personal and authentic meanings too. I am a very judgemental person otherwise :)

I need to be aware of my footprints in the blogworld. I just had a spat on Antonia's blog too.

Alok said...

And now that we are at it, how is it that someone with serious philosophical problems with melodrama can love Devdas?

billoo said...

Thanks for the clarification, alok. I see what you're saying now.



billoo said...

Oh, I dunno, alok, don't think that the old Devdas is melodrama.
That's real acting. The melodramatic, being a drama queen, is going over the top (which is not to say that there is *never* a time and place for it..after all, as Kubla says, if it's an expression of how one feels at the time then so be it)

Once saw an interview with Richard Burton and someone asked him, do you completely absorb yourself in the character? and he said, no, I'm still me. I think the melodramatic can be, on the other hand, just such a forgetting of the self-which is why it comes across as fake.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

billoo said...

Oh yeah, they're not "philosophical" problems!! :)

Alok said...

It is not just being a drama queen. The problem with Bollywood melodrama is the absence of irony and lack of self-awareness because of which it ends up being "fake" without knowing and telling the audience that it is "fake". Audiences are similarly expected to show passive subservience and consume it without any conscious reflection.

At least I am glad you didn't say the new shah rukh khan version. May be the old one feels sincere because it is old -- an authentic product of a pre-capitalist/pre-modern society. I have not seen it in many years.

billoo said...

You make a fascinating point. I see what you're saying and on the whole agree with you, alok. But, but, I still think this "awareness" thing is overblown. First of all, Hollywood, perhaps all films, aim at mesmerizing people to one degree or another.

Secondly, whilst passivity is certainly related to consumerism in many instances I think we could think of it in other ways. To accept what is 'given' for example, to let it just 'sink in' and work its way on one's imagination, one's sensibilities, can be a different way to understand things. (Levinas says the infinite is *placed * in us ).

Yes! you could be quite right. Never thought of it in those terms before. I guess one of the reasons I like the old version is that it is old! It seems to reflect a slower pace to life, when everything didn't have to be said.
Quite the opposite of the melodramatic!

"conscious reflection"
Hmm. Don't know that I fully agree with you there or why that is important in art/films. All depends, I guess, on what means by these words, I guess.
Still can't help think that there is, sometimes, too much reflection, analysis, "awareness".

Alok said...

The main reason why one should distrust emotional involvement not mediated through detached reflection is because the way emotions are commodified and reproduced in our culture (we are again into "late capitalism" territory here.) Hollywood is the same, they have even better technique to disguise the essential concoctedness of reality and emotion and that's why it is even more pernicious than bollywood. The alternative I had in mind was someone like Fassbinder. In his films people openly express heightened emotions but you can't engage with them in a totally passive manner... and through this mediation it makes you think about institutions and social structures which are at the root of so much of people's miseries. It is no longer just the vicarious thrill or masochism of experiencing emotions we are too dull to experience for real.

billoo said...

Can't say I agree with you alok. If I want to learn something about social institutions and what not I'll generally read a book, not watch a film!

I don't see Hollywood in this negative light. I think the emotional engagement is what makes it better than so much European pretentious crap:the hypertrophy of the mind. It's like story telling of old in many ways. Have you seen Elmer Gantry , for example? Or The Night of the Hunter or 'The Dead' or even Planet of the apes?

i've only seen Fassbinder's 'ali' (which I thought was very good) and four Seasons which is absolute rot (in my opinion).

I think part of the appeal of Hollywood is NOT about a thrill but, rather, that we actually do recognise those emotions as real, as relevant to our own world.