Sunday, February 2, 2014

Decoding Dystopia

Linear narratives, in any media (i.e. books to digital tablets), trace query ideas that logically link each factual corroboration into thematic usage. 

Short brimmed hat.  Sharp pine covered peaks.  One quarter horse.  Hatchet.

Large brimmed hat. Creosote brush dotted with cacti. Three wild horses.  Pick-axe.

You might expect an 18th century trapper somewhere approaching a Shallotte of the Rockies in the former, but a 19th century ranching-cowboy in the second.
In each instance, common attribute traits, born from a habitat's necessity, lend credibility to a character's pursuit in relation to nature.
Film series such as "Back to the Future", Memento (1999) and Sixth Sense (2002), are serious attempts at audience simulated time travel via narrative.  Elliptical editing omits portions of the action... with the purpose of startling viewers [with guesses] about what occurred in the missing stretches.  (see Thompson & Bordwell, 820). 
Sharp pine covered peaks.  One quarter horse.
The omission of any character costume (i.e. Short brimmed hat) or prop-tools (i.e. Hatchet) leaves the reader with few guesses into what narrative they view: possibly a nature documentary? 
How about this? 
A zoom out of the close up hatchet, into medium angle, reveals the male in a short brimmed hat.  There's our 18th century marauder/trapper (Readership, please choose your preference).  But this is a logical thematic expression in timely narrative.
Ellipsis, in narrative, is the omission of certain scenes or portions of the action.  Ibid.  It is from a purposefully disorienting omission of today's day-to-day, or reasonable expectations, that a discussion of the last four years' "serious" attempts at science fiction portrayals may begin.     
Decoding Dystopia intends to analyze four recent years of "Sci Fi" (or Science Fiction) (but see Rickels' Psy Fi, V. 3, beginning at p. 3) genre films with a niche in dystopia, they are:
Inception (2010)
In Time (2011)
Loopers (2012)
Oblivion (2013).
As I have written what I have written, (IV Gospells [sic]) it may be worth a read to review "In Time" here_________. I will pay an abstracted aphorism or two to it below, only where relevant.
Telos, as a philosophical semiotic, assumes that time evolves into a better state of being (relative to mankind's desires and minimization of burden).  In contrast, atrophy is a scientific label that characterizes time as either becoming more ordered or chaotic.  In the former, a general anthropological valuation can be discerned with common sense.  In the latter, numerical charts, tables and formulaic equations assert empirical hypotheticals asserting truth within esoteric schools of thought.  By denser explanations of theory, the (esoteric) "expert" attempts to cloak them self within some damask of authority.
Once again, time commands front stage as each film elapses, integrating elliptical discovery plot facts; but of course DiCaprio, Timberlake, Hewitt and Cruise are all the recognized stage talents that attract what's possible, as plausible, in these Sci Fi (Psy Fi?) motion pictures. 
Inception's unique technique exhibits a medication that intoxicates its patient into an immediate somatic unconscious (sleep); simultaneously, the user's mental state can both delay and suspend their biotic time, or "our" bio-chemistry and physics of time, simultaneously, in a seemingly alert, awake state of awareness (such as the, still relevant, colloquium of a "day dream").  
              "Ten minutes can get me two hours."    -Inception.
What it should read, is: "Ten minutes (of induced sleep) can get me two hours (of equivalent fact finding discovery)."  In essence, each character lacks the economic  opportunity, in a gulag-casino system (Keiser), to seek to realize what outcome they quest after: such as in a Command Economy (Quigley).  They seek Telos, but atrophy is assumed sans this drug induced mental state where concentration can reveal pertinent facts in the natural, chronistic world.  Heavily inveigled by foreign finance capital, no mockery is intended at its American consumer audience; rather, only vicious maliciousness of a portending corporate espionage: which DiCrapio's character "Snowden-style" waives to finally be... a family man.
But d' encore!
To fulfill his performance to his patronizing, foreign client, DiCarpio, passes hour one (minute five?), and medicates himself with a second dosage within the second dream state (risking brain hemorrhaging - or irrevocable coma - a modern death as a matter of law).  
In each instance, Inception characters stupefy themselves with said depressant-medication (Barbiturates?  Opiates ? Clearly not an analgesics) so that they might better explore their discovery's efforts. The complex crafting of graphics and ellipses obfuscates the main plot of the film.
This team of "medicinal-ingesting-experts" is hired to facilitate foreign espionage on American companies.  DiCaprio expresses a Stockholm sydrom succumbed idiot ex-patriot with success.  He acts somewhat bewildered and mildly motivated, but totally overcome with confusions throughout his scheming.  More than willing to sell out his native land with a skeptical zeal as to the consequences, his personal pursuits are impliedly sanctioned (a theme that aligns in each of these films; namely, the breach of loyalty to a citizen's sovereign).  In total, nation-state means nothing, your obligation to it is strictly economic.  By selling your tradition, accepting extortion, imprisonment and civil rights usurpations is wrapped in some twisted mythological value: you might be allowed to be a family man some day. 
In this film's (patriotic) defense, the foundation shot, acting also as a closing shot, reveals reasonable doubt that the agent may have permanently inveigled his patron client into the dream state, from which he might then return to his family in America.  Was it not truly the unlicensed pharmacist-doctor-corporate-raider who turned the tables of control?
Filled with allusions to Penrose and Escher, checkerboards and British inculcated "commonwealth" system, is this complex technology ([controlled?] drug medication) a subliminal hint that it can return its viewer to a phantasmal, often stigmatized, nuclear family (hetero with offspring)?  Or perhaps it's a plain ridicule of whatever has proven to be anti-Malthusian; so un-B. Shaw (see "Population" in About Marriage
In Time
A maximum 25 years of life is the guaranteed life span for the characters of "In Time."  Depending on their obeisance to their pre-destined role as economic cog in Dayton's inner-urban police-state, do they receive extra time; notwithstanding the nominal time they're permitted to trade (or collectively thieve). 
A neatly dystopic, part Communist, remainder Fascist system, where both the ownership and control of manufacturing is vertically integrated to "immortal" managers living in Greenwich only quickens the gloom of any viewer within orbit of any airport frequented metropolitan city.
In contrast to breaches of sovereignty and its nation-state identity (Inception above), In Time contrasts class struggle from national loyalty.  A century and more ago, the template cultures were recognized: ruling elites (Czars) versus Bolsheviks, or Bourgeois versus proletariat; here, immortals from Greenwich versus inner-city Dayton residents. 
Not unlike Brad Pitt's character Tyler Durden, from Fight Club (1999), a stark contrast between managers versus the many-managed does not taunt the audience in subtlety. 
Fight Club's American terrorists, of no particular political or religious affiliation, demolish multiple bank high-rises with an overall scheme of causing data deletion of previous debtor accounts (as though destroying recognizable commercial buildings would cause the erasure of such financial data, simultaneously bankrupting its merchant owning-partners and associates, the film does date itself as last millennium). 
Indeed, one only need reference the September 11, 2001's attack on the World Trade Center in NY, NY.  That owner, incidentally, obtained an insurance policy a year before its tragic demise, in which the current, "new and improved" Freedom Tower was prominently displayed on 2.2.14 halftime talk where one team was the hero with a 22 point lead to zero).  Lots of American flags were waving, and recognizable propagandists gloried on about the Declaration of Independance whilst Americans were denied access to the very buildings placed on this year's Super Bowl for part of 2013!  Does Freedom have a cost?  A fee of "no cost" to said insured.  Lucky him.  A close up of First Lady Obomba saying "Civil War" was no veiled joke during the Super Bowl's "half time"; neither was Lewis' White House performance as Linkcon [sic]... based in Richmond, VA (poetic justice cannot, and should never, be marred in irony; but you can't teach a liberal to read.  They only know how to recite)
But unlike the physical violence implicit in a film with a title such as "Fight Club, "In Time" resolves the plot's conflict via distribution of a million years of genetic life is successfully misappropriated from the Philippe (time-banker of In Time).   Hence, little more than a decade later, the MPAA "green lights" that class struggle can be resolved peacefully, through cultural revolution, as opposed to social unrest or " to day fighting in a theater of war[, though it] be [sic] an expanding concept."  (See Youngstown, J. Stone).
9.11.11, incidentally, made its own record as it saw and sawed a peak in precious metals valuation.  To date, 5.5.13, their metrics have seen a 34-44% drop in average price decrease. 
The same year, "Loopers" (2012) was being filmed. 
In it, "blind" mercenaries murder victims fantastically appearing before them.  How?  Through time travel!  (of course)
This is confusing, let me explain.
Assuming a narrative based around 2050, a small cadet of mercenaries are permitted to live, and to live a life of, apparently, incentivized privilege (cars, female liaisons, medically induced intoxications of grandeur) their dystopic urban mass of contemporaries lack.  Their employers are from the future.  (or are they?)
Said employers expropriate bullion bars "from the past, into their future" via said remote assassins through strapping the treasure to the chest of a victim.  They are only then "timed travel" them back to this 2050 setting.  Their homicidal patterns implicate city-state authorized mercenary brigades.   
Unhinged by any national Constitution (notice the Declaration of Independence was emphasized in 2014's Half Stime, not the US Constitution), any local employer's racketeering passes under color of law via futuristic-looking, unidentifiable firearm (rail guns?). 
By later delivering the criminally obtained booty of bullion to a non-descript, highly guarded grimy concrete office barrier, the murdering-block of mercenaries are paid a fiat wage (the currency exchanged has writings clearly Hong Kong Mandarin in content).
They murder for bullion, but obtain a life of privileged hedonism through the exchange of this currency. 
Noone.  None.  Know what their final job will be.  Suicide!  Never expressed, but through reason observed, sufficient time and clues lead to an awareness that time is their most valuable commodity; but the price of their suicidal tendencies is presumed, much as BF Skinner's fowl would learn to tap at flashing colors to be rewarded with more feed in his laboratory.
Their metropolitan home-city remains in grimy, soot covered destitution, where only the law of nature, homogenized anarchy, appears the lasting vestige of order in this dystopic film.  The film's autor feigns no mistake about his emphasis that a lack of a uniformed police implies para-military mercenaries will be necessary.  As though most developed nations aren't already blanketed in so many other layers too.
So once again, money changers are a theme.  Economics is a lynch pin, and the absence of a police state implies a chaotic city state of renegades as the final outcome.
Unlike Inception, a potential respite to an American nuclear family is not an option; rather, there is no sovereign here.  But in line with In Time, Loopers presupposed nation-state existence reminds us of a pre-19th century renascence to ancient civilizations where there was no idea such as a province or nation-hood united; rather, these Super Cities are the loci from which the impressed characters seek a currency of... time... of a life-line... elongated (In Time) or exchanging such notes (for precious metals - Loopers).  In each instance, death is presumed, but premature death could be prolonged by cunning, whereas a certain suicide was crassly overlooked so long as debauch was provided.  Cleverness and a turn of luck permits each character to seek telos, to perhaps, change what their cudgel carrying employers intend to pawn them into. 
This broad leap, from a nuclear American family, to the absolute obliteration of national or familial  identity has been perfected in the 2011 and 2012 versions of these Sci Fi (but see Psy Fi, Rickels). 
Rickels' identifies the historically close relation to all propagandist mediums, implicating no demarcation in viewers' immersions process.  Witnessing oppressive absurdity and violent offense in organized groups constitutes as governmentally sanctioned therapy (i.e. censorship approved - "green lit" - MPA imprimatur of approval) and consent by mob rule to the traumatic experience that National Socialists like Nipkow invented.  It is now referred to as television, or any film, or media, study.  
The veneration, or glorification, of hallucinogenic-induced exalted states is carried on with In Time onto Loopers.  In the former, pharmaceutical usage is a necessitated, if not prescribed[?], as a means to rectify an escape from any return to the nuclear family. In the latter, drug usage (i.e. eye medication) heightens the dynamics of the character's interactions with the world, where motions of floating and rotating (an absence of gravity) is emphasized by the cinematographers and editors.
Throughout all three movies, two elements are intentionally raised to the viewers cognition:
              1) Destruction of nation state identity and family)
              2) Glorification of drug usage (and the implied permission of violence sans any enforcement of       the rule of law [aka Anarchy managed via oligarchy and technocracy]).
The penultimate paragraph's conclusion segues, fittingly, into the most recent oveur d'expression dystopia: Oblivion (post-civilization. See Popper, Wittgenstein and Lord Russell's writings - or Wittgenstein's Poker in particular for reference).  
Depopulation and genetic replicants have been the golden bone of military obsession (no homo). 
Movies like "Replicant", inter alia, deal with transmutations with technology, but not of the derivation Darwin studied and pontificated about.  Oblivion utilizes ellipsis to integrate that a final drone technician, Cruise, was once destined to marry and have a family life in New York.  His up state life is tranquil, much as his previous "Minority Report" debut ended in, with an absence of a matricized systems approach that his code, inevidbly, becomes obligated to manage on behalf of his Big Blue-esque chess-like competitor employer.  Why?  Well.  Cruise cannot remember, and really, we the dumbed down masses are never really offered an explanation.  But his marriage to a Russian fiancĂ© was to be grande; instead, he finds himself literally in the sky (floating around somewhere in the stratosphere, with a stepford-like "robiotic" wife [sic, reminder, contact PTO] -  a red headed Shannon Bream - sorry Shannon, you're my type too) 
Not unlike Hawk's brilliant and memorable performance in Gattaca, the world is once again revealed to be limiting, the population has moved off to a water blessed moon here inside our intrastellar system. 
Here, however, the major revelation begins, the elite, of which Cruise is a genetic pawn who perpetuates a machine operated pyramidal space station, operates the machines at the cost of the few remaining human populations (who survived under grown and wear protective armor from excessive radiation exposure).  Cruise's character believes himself to be a saver of the planet, to be repopulated once again; yet the people and the machine-alien employer know all about his genetic encoded purpose.  That is one, namely, of a non-unique, obedient servant.
The most bizarre iconography is not the pyramid, nor the ruined Liberty statue, but the camera-like Univision that interviews the seemingly free willed, empowered Cruise and Freeman Trojan Horse visit to the "Mother Space Station" (for a lack of better description). 
It was, rather, the embryonic filled pods of Cruise replicants that replace their human robot that Cruise "might" overcome.  A mixture of Foucoult's impressed ponoptocon is measured with a Goddard like self reflexivity.  For an actor seeking saint-like visiage as a Sciontologist, we wonder what other omissions were not publicized during the making of Kurbik's "Eyes Wide Shut," which spelled the final act in Cruise's marriage to Kidman.  Resembling The Matrix's pods, its different when a human cannot only remember what was to be his nuclear family, but cannot facilitate a deliberate choice to go off line. 
In contrast to the first three films, Cruise, or a some replicant of Cruise, gets to have a human-like nuclear family experience, but the threat of alien-machines in intrastellar space remains (much as in the class based Elysium dispolic Psy Fi). 
Dicaprio's wife is dead forever, the reason giving rise to initially fleeing America in "Inception."  He escaped from a frame job, and committed the corporate espionage against fellow American citizens who are lit in a vortex of compromised, energy-greedy interested lobbiests. 
Timberlake's never settling down with the banker's daughter from whom he stole a million years of time.  In most metro areas, that's maybe an extra year of life for its inhabitants.  He may get to live a few extra years, but the regulators can still change that with immunity of a governmental authority.  What changed in time there?  Perhaps only that the rich suitor should never cohort with inter-city scum (sarcasm intended)         
Hewitt's enlightened self, Bruce Willis, stubbornly chastizes the younger-blinder Hewitt from predicted suicide; but the break results in a long evasion from local corrupt government and definite murder of a child who is expected to be a tyrant. 
In all these scenarios, the hypotheticals bombard their audiences with the obliteration of the nuclear family, except Oblivion, maybe.  2001 - Odyssey, dealt with man's overcoming via HAL, who I-Beamed control over human inventive design and extinguished males as a scientific character in telos.  From there, degenerate entertainment morphing as hallucinogenic exhilaration crosses into confusion, from which few but those trained in articulating the designs can point out and decode. 
The one incident of interest to me remains the absence of flat-screen self-reflexivity (anti-Goddard).  Blade Runner and Running Man would be exemplars in which our apparent heroes can both be human, notorious and, finally, victorious through the usage of photos and publically viewed flat screens. 
With a HAL like beam of light, Oblivion's pyramidal space station indicates technology offers no mental state of privacy.  Further, that not even our genetic code is not our own property; and American jurisprudence, often lauded as a pillar of impartial arbiter concurs.
Perhaps a variety of Science Non-Fiction would be more fitting, as though the technologies revealed in the film medium have not already been developed. 
But how do we decode the future as it is revealed?  Would it be dystopic to do so? 
Processing thought.  Tired eyes.  Camera embedded computer.  Smart phone vibrates. 
A chip off the old block?  Another brick in the wall?  Is it in the cards, or is the writing on the wall?

You're a 21st century character.  Indeed.

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