Friday, 2 September 2016

Exploring Frankenstein and Prometheus: From Greek Myths to Ridley Scott

The original, complete title of Mary Shelley's masterpiece is Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. We all know what Frankenstein is, although many of our conceptions are wrong (seeing the creature as Frankenstein, for example, or thinking that the community rises up and destroys the creature as a way to defend itself, popular misconceptions derived from film versions, particularly the 1931 Boris Karloff version). Yet we don't know much at all about Prometheus, the other half of the title. The title itself tells us that Frankenstein, the doctor, not the monster, is the modern Prometheus, but what does this analogy mean?
A great essay would compare Frankenstein with the Prometheus myths and explore how Mary Shelley reconceives the Prometheus myth to create a modern Prometheus. As Harriet Hustis points out, there are two primary versions of the Prometheus myth: Hesiod's The Works and Days and Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound. Hesiod's version portrays Prometheus as a trickster while Aeschylus sees Prometheus as someone working to help humankind. However, there are many treatments of the material, from Sappho to Aesop (yes, as in the Fables).
If you're not familiar with Prometheus at all, you have probably at least heard the idea of "stealing fire from heaven." That's Prometheus. But it goes beyond that simple description. In Hesiod, Prometheus is a trickster who challenges Zeus, but in other versions, such as Aeschylus, he is the savior of mankind. Zeus actually wanted to destroy humankind and create his own humanity, but Prometheus stole life and fire back from Zeus and allowed humankind to live on.
Prometheus was the son of two powerful Titans, yet he helped Zeus and the other children of Cronus-the Olympians-overthrow the terrible mad Titan king, their own father, Cronus. But Prometheus took pity on humankind after seeing that Zeus would destroy them. In some accounts, Prometheus actually created mankind out of clay, gave them civilization through writing and science, and then allowed them to live by stealing fire back from Zeus.
His punishment for defying Zeus, though, was to be chained to a rock, his liver eaten by a giant eagle over and over again, every day.
Mary Shelley sees Frankenstein as Prometheus, the man who steals the secrets to create life and puts himself in place of the creator, God. He creates life, but it leads to disastrous consequences. The very name of Frankenstein when used as an adjective describes the creation of something that gets out of control and and becomes destructive or that is used for destructive purposes.
But we can now move into something even more interesting, how Ridley Scott uses these same concepts in his 2012 Alien prequel Prometheus. There, we see the creation of life at the beginning. The aliens (the apparently good ones, not the evil alien creatures from the first movies) create mankind. They cannot foresee what will happen, however. They cannot see how destructive mankind will become. But the destructiveness of mankind really isn't the issue. Instead, the movie focuses on the aliens (again, the good ones) as versions of Prometheus. They continue to play the creator role as they experiment and create the other lifeforms, the typical aliens from the first movies. They create the aliens as a type of weapon, but the creations become too powerful and eventually overcome them. Their creations-the aliens from the original Alien movies-destroy their creators.
But then humankind comes along and meddles yet again in the affairs of these gods, and then humans have to destroy the created aliens over and over again. In a sense, the never-ending alien franchise is the punishment of Prometheus himself. The alien creatures (from the first Alien moves) are implanted inside humans and then gestate and presumably eat their hosts before they burst out. It apparently keeps happening, too. First, there is the movie Prometheus (the prequel, after all), then it happens again in Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien: Resurrection (1997), not to mention the Aliens vs. Predator franchise. Aspects of the Prometheus myths are all over the place, from the creation of life, to the dangers of science and experimentation, to eternal punishment, as the creatures are seemingly immortal.
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus teaches us about the destructive powers of science, and Ridley Scott's film franchise continues this theme by again and again showing how creating life can lead to destruction. And humankind's punishment is felt even now, hundreds of years before the events in the films take place, as we are subjected to more and more films in the franchise, where each one seems worse then the one before, although Prometheus, admittedly, wasn't that bad.

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On Marking Books

Some teachers and mothers say, "Don't mark your books. Marking them is a sign of disrespect for the book and the creator of those books." This is wrong. How can one appreciate those books if they wouldn't savor and taste the thoughts, and play with the words if there is no interaction between the writer and the reader? Marking the books is interaction between the reader and the writer. Books must be absorbed in the bloodstream to be of long and good use.
One writer says (Book of Essays) that "There are three kinds of book owners."
The first has all the standard sets and best-sellers unread, untouched (this delude individuals owns wood pulp and ink, not books).
The second has a great many books, a few of them read through, most of them dipped into but all of them as clean and shiny the day they were bought.
The third has a few books or many. Every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back (this man own s books).
How people mark their/the books intelligently:
1. underlining of major points, of important or forceful statements
Most students underline with red pens, especially those the teacher asks to memorize.
2. vertical lines at the margin to emphasize a statement already underlined
Many researchers do this, also those who study for a thesis. They write in the margins and make explanations.
3. star, asterisk, etc. at the margin to be used sparingly, to emphasize the ten or twenty most important statements in the book
In my case, I do this and draw many stars. If it is starred, the text/illustration is very important.
4. numbers in the margin
This helps to show how important the facts are. Numbers usually correspond to text explanation and meanings.
5. numbers of pages in the margin
This can be a list for review pointers and homework.
6. circling of keywords and phrases
I usually do this. This helps a lot.
7. writing in margins for the sake of recording questions
Writing in margins can be reminders if there are questions, and more facts needed to support data gathered from the reading material.
8. shading with different colors
With colors or no colors, shaded texts mean to be important. This is easy food for the memory, like creating images.
9. The use of markers like post-it, colored sheets, and tags
This is popular in this present time; there are varied sheets/posts for reminders.
10. Rewriting important words in the empty pages of the book, and getting a support notebook/pad to collate the most needed/important idea.

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Creative Writing - Spilling Colors Across the Written Page

The first box of Crayons was released in 1903 and sold for a nickel a box. All right, cool trivia tidbit, but is that all? Originally, only eight (8) colors were in the box: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, and black - limited, even dull by current standards and certainly not enough to enhance the reading experience for today's visually-bombarded reader. Colors have blossomed and bloomed in the past one-hundred years, and writers, just as Crayola did, need to expand their 'color' vocabulary.
Crayola has utilized buyer's input to add, eliminate and re-invent color choices. Prussian Blue gave way to Midnight Blue in the 50s. Flesh became Peach during the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. Even Indian Red changed to today's version of Chestnut. Each of these colors is a part of history and brings images to mind.
What about these colors?
Cotton Candy
Deep Sea Blue
Purple Heart
Fire-engine Red
Head-light White
Sunshine Yellow
Is there a heartbeat-flash memory? A lightning-strike of recognition? How many have never eaten Cotton Candy? Or at least been to a fair or a carnival and seen the sticky stuff? Word of caution: if the creative writing is destined for heavy distribution in overseas markets, not all of these words will apply. For most readers, however, Cotton Candy is universal and provides instant color association. Even in a 95,000-word work of fiction, no writer wants to spend ten words to produce color recognition, when one or two will do. Consider options when detailing shades. Use personal references to deepen the shades when completing creative essays, persuasive and narrative writing, short stories and novel fiction, even articles. Each of the above images belongs to my background. Writers should reflect on their own personal history to bring vibrancy and uniqueness to their color list.
Still grappling with sensory perception to dramatize better writing? Here are a few more examples to get started (the last listing in each line belongs in my Crayola box):
Purple: plum, violet, lavender, lilac, Purple Mountain Majesty
Pink: orchid, fuchsia, shrimp, carnation, rose, blush, salmon, Wild Strawberry
Gray: steel, slate, iron, dove, metallic, silver, Timberwolf
Blue: sky, aqua, Bluebonnet, navy, periwinkle, Denim
Green: lime, sea-green, kiwi, celery, emerald, grass, avocado, leaf, Granny Smith Apple
Yellow: sunshine, lemon, banana, mustard, dandelion, SunGlow
Red: crimson, blood, Christmas Red, auburn, scarlet, apple, terra cotta, Brick Red
Black: coal, ebony, asphalt, midnight, tar, ink, onyx, Outer Space
Here are a few extras thrown in:
Ghost, talc, straw, carrot, sienna, blueberry, blackberry, ocean, aqua, ruby, topaz, school-house red, fire-engine red, cinnamon, sand, clay. Be careful with 'clay'. If you live in parts of west Texas, the color would be red clay (and dust - just ask a west Texan); if you live in north to east Texas, it would be the notorious black clay that dries to the durability of cement; if dealing with modeling or sculpting clay, the color would be slate gray.
Are you getting the point that many tangible items come with inherent color recognition? By employing this simple writing tip, any writer can immediately strengthen the reader's enjoyment. Loss, sadness, joy, anger, and even love are images and emotions that can be enhanced by selecting the right color word. Purchase a box (super-sized) of Crayons, or an enlarged color wheel. Walk through the nearest market, the winery, the flower garden. Color descriptions will spring to mind. Spend a few moments reliving the past and thinking of shades that not only produce emotions, but bring back clear memories. Make a list of the combined efforts and keep it by the computer. Readers trust a writer to provide the most vivid journey into the world of make-believe possible. By choosing the right color word, writers can paint brilliantly hued words across the page and deepen any reader's experience.
So spill the Crayons on the page, and color your writing!

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There's Something About the Balut

There are certain foods out there which can evoke different emotions within our self. A waft of our favorite childhood dish brings a feeling of comfort and transports us back to a happy time or place. When you are prodded by a friend to eat a balut, either your heart pounds with anticipation or your face cringes in horror. Eating one though can give you the much desired 'star' point from the locals when you travel to a South Asian country where this egg is a delicacy. They are ecstatic to receive you in their inner circle and you feel mighty proud to join them.
What is really a balut?
Balut is a fertilized egg of a duck or chicken. The duck egg is the one famous as balut though. Its name could have originated from the Filipino word 'balot', which means "to wrap".
At the start of the balut making process, only the egg with thick shell is chosen to ensure that it can withstand the stress of continuous egg removal and placement in containers. The balut maker would lightly tap the egg with his fingers and then listens. A thin-shelled egg emits a brittle sound while an egg with a cracked shell produces a hollow sound. The balut maker would then anxiously monitor the incubation process for he knows that a slight change in heat temperature could affect the embryo development of the duck egg.
The balut which is often sold in the streets is a boiled duck egg between 17-18 days old. One balut vendor that I talked to proclaimed with pride that his balut is the most delicious because it is 'balot sa puti' (wrapped in white) and is 17 days old. What he means is that it is at a stage where the duck fetus is still wrapped in its white embryonic membrane. The embryo is weak, thus, the beak, feathers, and bones of the duck are not yet fully developed. It is an ideal stage for eating balut as there would be no feathery bits getting stuck between your teeth.
When a craving of balut hits me, I would wonder why I always need to wait for nighttime for the balut vendor to appear in our street. From the essay, "Balut: Fertilized Duck Eggs and Their Role in Filipino Culture"Margaret Magat discusses that some local people makes the connection on how we eat balut with the way an aswang sucks the lifeblood out of a human fetus through its mother's womb. Aswang is a mythical creature in the Philippines folklore, preferring to eat the flesh of dead bodies and unborn children in the cover of darkness. I am thinking that this could be one possible explanation why our ancestors started the tradition of eating balut only at night; it could be from shame or fear because they are going for an unborn fetus even if it is of a duck.
When someone has the chance to throw salt to an aswang, it is a common belief in the Philippines that it would cause their skin to burn. A sprinkling of rock salt on the balut may also stem from the same belief of the purifying powers of salt. If you can successfully eat balut with salt without burning, then you are not an aswang or would never become one. The plus factor is that the salt enhances the taste of balut.
There is something about the balut which creates excitement just by simply being in its warm presence. You know that you are in for an unforgettable experience when you get the chance or gather enough courage to eat it either with salt or spiced vinegar. It could absolutely terrify one person but it could also bring unbridled joy to another.

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What Is the Function of Editing Services?

Number of agencies provides professional editing services for reasonable cost. Basically these services are widely used by high school children and college students. The agency also offers correction of research papers and dissertation for the benefit of university students. Editing and proofreading of essays involves concentration and dedication towards the subject. The output would be of high quality with perfection and that is why they charge you some fees towards hiring their services. You can be assured all your essays and research paper will be free of any grammatical error and punctuation errors. That apart the proofreader will check for coherency and logical formation of the sentence. A professional proofreader or editor will do the work of checking your notes and essays and would provide you with the required style or format.
When you hire a person or agency for doing the editing or proofreading of your article ensure that the man you hire has expertise over the subject. In practice, the service of editing demands high profile in vocabulary and English grammar and the person should differentiate between the poor writing and great writing. The entire output of your essay depends on how well he edits the matter and he is the man who changes your essay into outstanding piece of work. Only if all the inaccuracies and mistakes are corrected the student can score high marks in the subject.
There are plenty of such services available online and you can choose the right agency or service provider you like. Usually the editing company has number of such proofreaders who can very well transform your essay into professional creation. The paper is tuned to its maximum reach and you can have the stylish and accurate output at the end. Very often the students will ignore the editing part of the essays and articles or thesis since they do not have sufficient knowledge to edit the same. As a result, they would lose marks on the assignments and would also suffer criticism from the professors.
There are number of editing styles such as APA, Harvard and MLA styles. You have to tell about your requirements to the proofreader who does the task of editing services on your essay. He would then meticulously scan the document for any mistake and errors in terms of language and sentence formation. You will have to pay only reasonable cost for hiring such services. They give special attention to dissertation papers on the aspect of structural consistency of the paper and logical formation of texts.

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Character Creator To Die For

Many novels involving murders begin with the victim already deceased. At the discovery of the corpse, the hunt is on for the killer. Depending on the plot, who the victim was, and how he related to the other characters, it may or may not be important to develop a character sketch. In the story we will be working on, a character creator, or worksheet, will be instrumental in bringing everything together.
The victim will be attacked early on in the story. However, she will live on for some time as a point-of-view character. Knowing how she interacted with the other characters is vital. It is her relationship with one of these characters that ended in her death.
To be fair to the readers, and make it more fun, we are going to use a character creator list to help us get to know her on an intimate basis. We'll start with a sketch of her appearance and basic personality traits.
In the next article, we'll go into her back-story to learn how her experiences drove her to the desperate situation she finds herself in at the beginning of the story.
Name: Brandy Callahan
Character Type: Victim
Connection to Lead: Neighbour, friend
Story Goal: To get over her fear of being hurt or abandoned and to connect emotionally with a man in an honest relationship.
Gender: Female
Age: 32
Height: 5 ft. 5 in.
Body Type: Curvaceous, sexy, wears short, form-fitting dresses and skirts. Low cut shirts and blouses.
Hair Color: blond, long - mid back, thick, wavy.
Eye Color: pale blue
Mannerisms: Throws her head back when she laughs. Touches people playfully when she speaks to them, especially men.
Distinctive Speech Pattern: Soft and airy.
Personality: Has trouble trusting men. Acts completely confident and self-assured. Inwardly, she's afraid of being alone and being hurt.
Personal Life: She lives with a man to save herself from being alone. She knows he's desperately in love with her. She has no feelings for him other than friendship.
Private Life: She takes kickboxing classes. Has a kickboxing bag hanging from a beam in her basement. She uses it often when she feels sad or lonely.
Work Life: Stripper/High end call girl
Strength: She can instinctively attract men without even trying.
Weakness: She doesn't know how to hold onto a committed relationship.
This gives us a general outline of our victim's appearance and personality.
Next time, we'll dig down deeper. We'll take the character we've developed here and give her experiences that will bring forth the pain in her damaged soul.
We have to know, and see, and feel her pain so that the reader will be there with her. Then, we put a mirror in front of her so she comes face to face with the fears she holds about herself. We want to frustrate her struggles as deeply as possible.

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The Ancient Walk-About Way Of Adi Da Samraj

Adi Da Samraj is a distinctive spiritual teacher, philosopher, and artist. His divine teachings are a light to humanity. He is not an orthodox teacher who leads people through sheer superstition; rather he is one who awakens. He is a contemporary Buddha; in him the Divine manifests in its uttermost glory. In his individuality one finds manifestation of spiritual, philosophical, literary, and artistic genius. When he asserts that he is the One, that divine guru who awakens, then he speaks the ultimate the truth of Vedanta. His writings throw light on his wisdom and the truth he inaugurates. In the very beginning of the essay, "I Am The One Who Would Awaken You" in his book The Ancient Walk-About Way, he proclaims the truth that is also known in Vedanta, "The world itself is not Truth-nor is life, nor psyche and body, nor death, nor experience. No event is, in and of itself, Truth. Everything that arises is an appearance to Consciousness Itself, a modification of the Divine Conscious Light That Is Always Already the Case."
In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad sage Yagyavalkya says to Maitreyee the same truth, "vacha rambhano vikaro namdheyam" of which the intended meaning is "all this manifestation of form and name is of truth only". Adi Da identifies truth with consciousness that is always awake and is said to be the seer of everything, every happening whether it is happening outwardly or inwardly. "There is One Who is Wide Awake while He Appears in the dream," he says. Remember once again the Brihdaranyaka Upanishad Yagyavalkya - King Janaka's discourse on truth, "(in dream state) after enjoying himself and roaming, and merely seeing (the result of) good and evil (in the dream), he stays in the state of profound sleep, and comes back in the inverse order to his former condition, the dream state. He is untouched by whatever he sees in that state, for this infinite being is unattached." This consciousness that is absolute, wide awake and already the case is He. This is what is called realization in the sense of absolute 'I'. This Uddalaka taught to Svetaketo 'thou art that' means that absolute consciousness which is wide-awake albeit awareness 'itself' is 'thou'.
In his teachings Adi Da employs two methods-first, with his sharp philosophical truth he removes superstitions, beliefs, and false ideas; second, he convinces one to embrace reality itself leaving behind childish notions of God that are based on the principle of dependence. He writes in the essay "Moving Beyond Childish and Adolescent Approaches to Life and Truth" in Religion and Reality: "Traditional Spirituality, in the forms in which it is most commonly proposed or presumed, is a characteristically adolescent creation that represents an attempted balance between the extremes. It is not a life of mere (or simple) absorption in the mysterious enclosure of existence. It is a life of strategic absorption. It raises the relatively non-strategic and unconscious life of childhood dependence to the level of a fully strategic conscious life of achieved dependence (or absorption). Its goal is not merely psychological re-union, but total psychic release into some (imagined or felt) 'Home' of being." Adi Da does not propose being in an "imaginary" home or an historical one searched by many western philosophers. His concept of 'ousia', the house of being, is not any imaginary category, but rather is the already existent, unborn, given truth. This is the very truth in which we are living, in which we are being born and in which we do return.
Adi Da in the essay "God as the 'Creator', God as 'Good', and God As the Real" in Religion and Reality writes, "Real (Acausal) God-or the Transcendental, Inherently Spiritual, Inherently egoless, and Self-Evidently Divine Reality (Prior to conditional self, conditional world, and the ego-bound conventions of religion and non-religions)-Is the One and Only Truth of Reality Itself, and the One and Only Way of Right Life and Perfect Realization." The way to realize this truth is the way of Adi Da, since in him the absolute is manifesting in its uttermost glory. He teaches how to transcend the views or ideas that are by and large formed and based on beliefs. One's belief in God and one's belief of God is based on some thought, some imaginary notion. Therefore, the first step towards truth realization is getting rid of all the hitherto notions of God-Ideas. Adi Da says that, "true religion requires the utter transcending of all views". He is very clear in his approach to religion and it is very much akin to Vedanta. His sole philosophy of the spiritual is in the likeness of Vedanta, but by proclaiming himself an Avatar who has come on this earth to liberate beings, he offers another way of self-realization.
Adi Da shatters false intellectualization and philosophies. By teaching devotion to the Realizer he reveals that love is the highest and most far reaching divine principle. It is this divine principle that humanity is forgetting. Regarding this, Buddha said that the fragrance of faith goes beyond all since it carries with it not earth but divine intelligence. Adi Da Samraj's world is full of mystery. He is not only a spiritual teacher but a distinguished artist too. I have never known any artist in my life or read about any artist who unites philosophy and art. His works of art are not simply visuals but rather are truth statements; because of this truth-the visuals appear.
In his art spiritualization takes place because philosophy and art converse. This is contrary to Picasso who did not believe in philosophy. As for as modern art is concerned, only Kandinsky believed in the philosophy of art and criticized Picasso saying, "He shrinks from no innovation, and if color seems likely to balk him in his search for a pure artistic form, he threw it overboard and paints a picture in brown and white; and the problem of purely artistic form is the problem of his life." Because Picasso did not believe in the spiritual, he worked from reason. Therefore, one rarely finds visual purity in his work. Adi Da is very close to Kandinsky, he too believes in the Kandinskian theory of purity of color. In The World As Light: An Introduction to the Art of Adi Da Samraj by Mei-Ling Israel, he writes, "The colors should be pure colors, not colors that are the product of mixing a particular color with colors other than itself. A pure color is a vibration. This can be measured on a spectral graph."
As both a distinguished artist and philosopher he asserts in his book Transcendental Realism that to create spiritual art one must transcend "all perceptual and conceptual means themselves, through the Tacit Self-Recognition of the Intrinsically Self-Evident 'Non-chaos' (or the Always Prior Self-Unity, Indivisibility, Indestructibility, and Inherent Egolessness) of Reality Itself."
Adi Da is the one and only artist whose art is beyond idiom. In idiom the artist often encloses himself by repetition; he neither finds the truth content of art nor language of art itself. In idiom the artist dies. Regarding idiom, Derrida says that 'those who have faith in idiom supposedly say only one thing, properly speaking, and say it in linking form and meaning too strictly to lend itself to translation' thus mystifying an art work on the basis of falsely created form-meaning dialectics. An artist who has enclosed himself in idiom and style falsifies the truth of art by saying 'see the form I have created and search for the meaning in it' that he himself does not know." Derrida, the great philosopher and grammatologist, summaries by saying that, "Form fascinates when one no longer has the force to understand form within itself. - That is to create". It rejects idiom and style centric trend of art that is by and large prevalent world over.
Adi Da is postmodern from this point of view because he knows the very locus from where things appear. Images are things and they do appear on the surface carrying multiple messages of the locus. In this sense, he does not express rather he creates. The way Adi Da creates his art is very intricate because of the demand from the truth content of the image; it searches its own body, its own form to appear. Perhaps this is why for each and every 'truth content' he has a different language. When creating he must be very sensitive to the creative process because the image he is making will change the participant's 'point of view'. Hence his images need to be appear 'as it is'- an expression of Reality Itself.

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Jon Jost, Independent Film-maker - Stagefright

Jon Jost, independent film-maker. The early films
9. Stagefright
'Stagefright' (1981) is very different from the other early Jost films. The reason for the difference is two-fold: firstly it was originally made (in shorter form) for German TV, and Jost has adapted his methods to suit the medium, and secondly the subject under examination, the theatre, is examined in close-up, rather than, as in the pervious two films, through its effect on society at large.
The film looks different because it is all shot in a studio with actors performing against a black background. The emphasis, therefore, in on expression through the human figure, which both suits the TV medium and reproduces the methods of the theatre. In fact, since we are made constantly aware that we are watching actors performing, and since the camera does not move, watching the film is almost as much like being at the theatre as like being at the cinema.
The film has no plot, and like 'l, 2, 3, Four' and other early shorts, the sub-text is in essay form. The argument has four stages: an introduction, an exposition, a climax, and a conclusion. The introduction is a short history of human communication, and, like everything else in Jost's films, it can be read on more than one level. Firstly we are made aware that the subject being illustrated is communication as part of the evolution of mankind. Secondly we are aware that the story is being illustrated by actors, and that developments in communication have also taken place in the theatre. And thirdly we are aware that what we are watching is a film, another area in which developments in communication have taken place.
The film opens with a dance representing birth. It can be seen as the birth of mankind, and, in the way the dancer communicates through the use of her body, as the birth of human communication, and of theatre. The following sequences illustrate, visually and aurally, the refinement of this process towards communication through language. First we see the human face, which communicates states of mind through its expressions, then we close in on the mouth, and the extraordinary range of sounds it is capable of making. Then comes the addition of vocal sounds, and finally, as the image cuts back to reveal the full-length naked figure, we hear the first word of the film: 'Human'.
The next sequence follows the development of language, first with a figure clad in a toga reading Latin from a book, illustrating the birth of Western civilisation, the written word, and costume, and then, as letters proliferate wildly on the screen, the arrival of printing. The latter scene is the first with no human figure in it, showing that language has now taken on a life of its own; and the power of this new medium of communication is shown in the next scene: we see a close-up of a text, and, as it is read aloud, drops of blood-red ink fall on the pages, eventually obscuring the words.
So far, other than "Human", not a word of English has been spoken; we have been looking at forms of communication in relation to their source and raison d'ĂȘtre - the human being - without being distracted by meanings.
The next scene, in which a cabaret hostess welcomes us to the show, marks the beginning of the exposition. We have followed the evolution of language into an important arena of communication: the theatre; in other words, as we sit there watching the performance, into our immediate situation.
The film then takes us through a medley of theatrical entertainment, while at the same time entertaining us with a medley of trick photography. The emphasis in these scenes, in both form and content, is on trickery, illusion, and falseness, showing how, in the world of show business, actors are used to create characters and images which effectively prevent any real person-to-person communication from taking place.
In a scene commenting on cabaret we watch conjuring tricks, while the camera is performing its own conjuring tricks by showing two characters, one shot from a low angle, and one shot from a high angle, simultaneously.
In a scene commenting, perhaps, on psychological drama, we see a young actress, in full-face and profile simultaneously, standing dumbly and nervously as two men, perhaps the director and producer, smother her with advice and instructions. The actress has no voice of her own, she is being manipulated by others, and the only thing which is genuine about the whole scene is the thing they are trying to eliminate; her stagefright.
In a scene commenting on the theatrical performances of statesmen three actors don masks of politicians and act out the kind of hand-shaking routines we see in TV and newspaper pictures. This scene makes two points: it exposes the public image-making of statesmen as a branch of show business, and it shows actors having to act out roles imposed on them by people with political power.
Every now and then during these scenes an actor doing an absurdly exaggerated James Cagney impression walks across the screen saying: "No wonder there are so many casualties." And every now and then a hand holding a camera reaches down from the top of the screen and takes a photograph of us, the audience in whose name the whole bag of tricks is being performed.
The film's climax is a sequence in which the cheapest trick in show business, the custard pie in the face, is rendered grotesque and terrifying by being shown in extreme slow motion. We see every detail as the pie flies through the air, hits the actor in the face, and begins to fall away. This is a very long take and its effect is deeply disturbing.
The action which is normally supposed to make us laugh is now seen as a vicious and humiliating assault on an actor whose suffering is all-too apparent. He looks as if he is being injured, and, indeed, psychologically he is. As with the scenes of the exposition we are being asked to question the relationship between actors and ourselves. Who are actors? What is being done to them, and, through them, to us? Why are we sitting watching? And who is controlling it all?
Then suddenly the film cuts to the famous newsreel footage of a Vietnamese peasant being shot through the head. We see more of it than is usually shown on TV: the man falls to the ground and blood fountains from the wound. At the same time there is a scream on the sound-track, and the film jumps out of alignment, as if it is about to break. The effect creates a powerful shock, a shock which should make us think and force us into an awareness of the film's message.
The meanings are many. The sudden intrusion of a chunk of reality throws into perspective the artificiality of the rest of the film, and, by implication, of all forms of show business. While people, including ourselves, flock to theatres and cinemas to be entertained and distracted by artifice, wholesale slaughter is going on every day in the real world outside.
The fact that the film appears to break, or come adrift from the screen, both adds to the visual shock, and suggests that the medium of film cannot accommodate reality. It also disrupts our attachment to the screen, reminding us that this is no mere cinematic event.
Finally, a parallel is being drawn between the actor being 'shot' with the custard pie, and the peasant being shot with a bullet; a parallel which suggests that both men are being manipulated and made to suffer by forces beyond their control
'Stagefright' ends with an explicit statement of its message, or at least, part of its message. This is presumably because, being originally made for TV, Jost saw an opportunity for his film to reach a wide audience, large numbers of whom would probably not make head or tail of it.
The message is delivered by the actor doing the exaggerated Cagney impression: a device which reinforces the message by its conspicuousness as a means of holding our attention. The actor, who has already been established in a choric role with his repeated line: "No wonder there are so many casualties", comes close to the camera, as if taking us into his confidence, and says (approximately):
"You see, to communicate you've got to entertain. The great playwrights, like the Greeks, and Shakespeare knew that, but today intellectuals seem afraid of it, as if to entertain was to cheapen, and this leaves the way open for cheap entertainment, I mean entertainment with cheap intentions.
"Those with access to an audience have a tremendous responsibility, which is often abused.
"Everyone wants to be somebody, and in this wonderful world of the theatre they get a chance, but as often as not they betray it to someone else.
"They say theatre holds a mirror up to society, but as often as not it's a vanity mirror.
"The bard said, 'All the world's a stage', and maybe it is, but what they don't tell you is that all of life is stage-managed. You got your TV, radio, theatre, films, and pop music; it's all divertimenti kids, all divertimenti."
Then the actor, obviously thinking the shot is finished, relaxes, drops characterisation, and takes his hat off. Then Jost walks in front of the camera and speaks to the sound man: "Did you get it?" "Is the camera still rolling?" says the confused-looking sound man. "Are you still filming?"
Then, one by one, Jost turns out the studio lamps and the film ends in darkness. This ending, of course, breaks the cinematic illusion, reminding us that everything we have seen on the screen has also been stage-managed, by Jost himself.

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