The Liminalist # 152.5: The Straw of Identification (with Gregory Desilet)

Part two of return conversation with Gregory Desilet, on cognitive dissonance of critics, morality vs. taste, the benign effects of art, Taxi Driver, Fight Club the book and film, the critic’s role, Pauline Kael as midwife, the quality of response, an absence of contrapuntal characters, a circle of victimage, John Hinckley, Jr., the need for self-confrontation, advertising to the 1%, Natural Born Killers, movies as triggers, The Sopranos, Paul Schrader writing Taxi Driver, shared male issues, the experience of alienation, the straw of identification, movies as signs of decadence, Tarantino and movie sadism, exposing the pernicious narrative, how to have a positive effect on the culture, modeling vs. lecturing, the rigors of academic writing, liminality & the benefits of being lost, moving outside one’s area of expertise, honing skills, postmodernism and Jordan Peterson, misunderstanding Derrida, Lyotard, postmodernism as diagnosis vs postmodernism as solution, postmodernist metaphysics, oppositional relations, Newton, Einstein, quantum mechanics and postmodernism, contextualism, modernity and postmodernity as continuum, Derrida’s spirituality, the new atheists.

Songs: “I’m Going Insane,” “15 Bistro 2” by Lee Maddeford; “Head On String” & “Rest My Bones/Diablo” by the Blacks.

3 thoughts on “The Liminalist # 152.5: The Straw of Identification (with Gregory Desilet)”

  1. I enjoyed this talk, it seems there’s a nice brewing measured respect between the two of you and I respect Greg conceding things here too. I want to read and have yet to read your blog posts back and forth on Taxi Driver, a movie that greatly impacted me when I first saw it. Out of curiosity after having watched the amazing Blow Out again recently: What about one of the most polarizing directors out there, Brian De Palma? He seems to be a particularly interesting figure and one that greatly intersects with the topics you both are discussing. Someone who has been labelled “irresponsible” and a “visionary” (sometimes in the same paragraph). If I get the contrapuntal character correctly, I get the feeling that Greg might need someone in DePalma’s movie to provide more of cue to the audience to maintain distance from the violence that is occurring. I don’t know if I see Greg on that, though there are some dramatic structures that could utilize it. I think it’s evident that DePalma is the “moral”contrapunctal director in a way. In Blow Out you see he is rebuking cheap slasher movies (where the knife is primarily the phallic symbol Jasun mentions in part one), John Travolta goes though a young adult rite of passage in seeing deeper political realities while at the same time feeling things emotionally he hasn’t before in his life. He moves from implicitly seeing the connections between his job life doing sound for destructive fantasy slasher movies and the potential real world consequences of their dissemination. De Palma essentially asks “What is the sound of true scream?” in the most cavalier way (through some sleazy director trying to monetize emotion) and proceeds to slowly gets more serious. He answers it in one of the most stunning tragic endings I’ve ever seen. Obviously I’m more in the De Palma camp. I’d be curious if you have seen “The Fury” as well Jasun because that seems to overlap with your work.

    • Blow Out is def. my favorite DePalma movie, along with Casualties of War, which is also a moral commentary on ritualistic violence. I agree it would be interesting to hear Greg’s thoughts on these movies and DePalma in general, whose oeuvre is seriously erratic.

  2. It came to me quite by accident this week through a classmate that it was historian Arnold Toynbee who coined the term postmodernism way back when. John Michael Greer is a big fan of Toynbee.

    My own sense is that it is a trickster and an oceanic goddess both , a sort of biblical flood of ironic dissociation that marks a transition from one age to the next. Perhaps you guys are passengers on HMAS Noahs Ark onto which has been loaded as many oppositional binaries as possible , needed in order to repopulate the new world when the waters recede, and the baby in the basket is fished out of the river.


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