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Felt-tip Faerie

Mod Pop KlashkaTse: Nietzsche and Bakhtin


Aesthetics and Renaissance was as an art history course I took in grad school that covered comparative theology and philosophy through art. It was the basis of Superficial and In Between Days and served the story well. For KlashkaTse, Modern Art and Pop Culture will provide the subtext.

Unfortunately, I lost most of the notes from the class. However, I have been able to glean the two basic themes of the course via memory and of the later quizzes: Social hierarchy and Semiotics using Frederic Nietzsche and Mikhail Bakhtin as the guiding philosophers.

Many may find Nietzsche offensive. Truth be told, he was a misanthropic shut-in with only one real friend in his formative years, what do you expect? Richard Wagner was endless source of contradictions for Nietzsche to study. Wagner was a brilliant artist with a cosmopolitan lifestyle of opulence who hated the very people who were his teachers and peers. Wagner was an anti-semite. This bothered Nietzsche to no end, for what would Wagner be without his teacher, the great composer Mendelssohn? Mendelssohn probably merely gave his arrogant pupil a critique on proper editing and the miscreant flew off the handle cursing Jews as a whole. Yet one must separate the flawed man from his art, just as Nietzsche had done until he couldn’t stand it anymore. Frederic got what he needed from his study of Wagner who’s life provided the material for Will to Power and subsequent works. Unfortunately, Nietzsche’s long association with Wagner sullied his efforts. Hitler admired both men, using Wagner’s preservation of Norse mythology to cement nationalism and twisted Nietzsche’s Will to Power into the foundation of Nazism. Nietzsche who wasn’t innocent of perforative remarks, but was not a full on anti-semite refused to be the chief philosopher of the Nazi party, but died in 1900 and could not assure that his work was not used for evil i 1930. From what I’ve read, Wagner wouldn’t have been too happy about his work being appropriated as a dirge for genocide either. Or would he wax a complacent position? Regardless, both men were products of their time which was anything but P.C. They may have not been as extreme as Hitler, but perpetuating negative stereotypes and derogatory social mores are often just as harmful.
“No one sees everything, but no one sees nothing.”
-P.Kreaft

We all have controversial thought in our sub-conscious diaries that we don’t want exposed for we know that they will be harmful to the people we love. My inner Machiavelli battles my virtuous Plato. I have classist tendencies toward my own race and sexist leanings. I suffer from Black Shame at the Black criminal class that presently has too much power and have no tolerance for the human frailty of sexual desire which so often overpowers human virtue. However, I dare not write down, for I know that my personal philosophy is evolving and I don’t mean to insult the people I respect and the very circles I am so critical of. Humility is a virtue I must strive to achieve and retain consistently thought life and Diane Cheetum keeps me real.

Although, much of Frederic’s writings were gleand from the observation of one person, he did notice an important social pattern and it wasn’t pretty. Nietzsche himself often feared that his words would be misinterpreted and should not be released to the world until a later time when they could be properly understood, but chaos theory found a way to cringe them to light. What was discussed in class was a theory that is nearly impossible to find on the internet outside of academic circles: the social classifications of Noble, Priest and The Herd. Whether you agree with it or not, it exists in social engineering, then again if you read the entire text of On Morality, you will find the concept is much like Buddhism’s Ten Worlds. Just like a person’s life condition can vacillate between Hell and Bodhisatva, anyone can find themselves in the state of Noble, Priest or The Herd both mentally and socially.
You can be from money and think like The Herd i.e. Edina Monsoon who represents the bored housewife obsessed with chasing trends to retain her fragile social position.
You can be poor and have the talent to organize and govern people like a Noble.

Or live the life of a Priest and be content with being educated and avoid the perils of being rich and powerful with many enemies like the Noble or vulnerable to change like The Herd. Yet, being in the middle is not without its pitfalls. The educated Priest is prone to conceit and contempt and often finds himself manipulating the impressionable with falsehoods. The artist lies in the category of The Priest and although what as artist produces in subjective, he must take responsibility for his influence. I interpret Robert Maplethorpe’s installation Piss Christ as a positive work of conceptual art. I provoked outrage as well as realization; using symbology, urine can either cleanse or corrupt. The corruption was the interpretation of Christ’s philosophy of inclusion, for The Church excluded and Other’ed groups since it’s inception, then urine purified image, the effigy of the The Church for the dormant Christian Left entered the media to counter the Christian Right to state that they don’t hate anyone. The Christina rock band, Ravioli, appeared in NPR and stated that they’re Christian and they don’t hate anyone and they were embarrassed by the rhetoric of the 90’s Christian movement. Finally balance was restored when Pope John Paul II declared an apology for the injustices the Catholic Church committed during colonialism. How nice.

Now what would you call this series of events in semiotics? This is where the second philosopher comes in.

Semiotics in the study of symbolism through phrasing. The dictionary definition is:

The study of signs and sign processes (semiosis), indication, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication. Semiotics is closely related to the field of linguistics, which, for its part, studies the structure and meaning of language more specifically. Semiotics is often divided into three branches:
• Semantics: Relation between signs and the things to which they refer; their denotata, or meaning
• Syntactics: Relations among signs in formal structures
• Pragmatics: Relation between signs and the effects they have on the people who use them
-Wikipedia

I’ve lost many an argument by not being able to summarize my position semiotically. I still have trouble. I speak in metaphors and aphorisms. I also tend to poetically dance around points. The right side of my brain tends to fall asleep if I don’t pretty up a statement. There’s a rhetorical term for this habit that aggravates my friends, but I forget what it is. Kennings. I’m a troper and schemer!
Antiphrasisfrickenfracken….

Below is a list of Bakhtin semiotics on popular film.

1. The Seven Year Itch – Billy Wilder – The valorization of Eros and the disruptive power of sex

2. Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola – Concatenation of life and death, ritual sacrifice

3. Some Like it Hot – Billy Wilder – Bisexuality and transvestism as release

4. Pink Flamingos – John Waters – Celebrating the grotesque, excessive body and the orifices and protuberances of the lower bodily stratum

5. Black Like Me – Carl Lerner – The foregrounding of social overturning

6. Being There – Hal Ashby – Crowning and uncrowning implying the permanence of change as the source of hope

7. Vertigo – Alfred Hitchcock – gay relativity and Janus-faced ambiguity

8. Woodstock – Michael Wadleigh – Oceanic feeelings of union with the community

9. The Wizard of Oz – King Vidor and Victor Flemming – The space of the sacred and time in parentheses

10. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut – Trey Parker – Valorization of the obscene

11. Animal House – John Landis – The rejection of social decorum

12. Plan 9 from Outer Space – Ed Wood – Anti-classical aesthetic emphasizing asymmetry, heterogeneity, the oxymoronic and mésalliance

13. Rocky Horror Picture Show – Jim Sharman – A participatory spectacle which erases the boundaries between spectator and performer

1. The War of the Roses – The valorization of Eros and the disruptive power of sex

2. Schindler’s List – Concatenation of life and death, ritual sacrifice

3. The Crying Game – Bisexuality and transvestism as release, i.e. gender identity

4. Trance – Celebrating the grotesque, excessive body and the orifices and protuberances of the lower bodily stratum

5. Mississippi Burning – The foregrounding of social overturning

6. Being John Malkovich – Crowning and uncrowning implying the permanence of change as the source of hope

7. Puck and Co. – gay relativity and Janus-faced ambiguity

8. Matchstick Men – Oceanic feeelings of union with the community

9. Alice in Wonderland – The space of the sacred and time in parentheses

10. Dogma – Valorization of the obscene

11. American Virgin – The rejection of social decorum

12. Carnival – Anti-classical aesthetic emphasizing asymmetry, heterogeneity, the oxymoronic and mésalliance

13. The Rocky Horror Picture Show – A participatory spectacle which erases the boundaries between spectator and performer and performers.

All of the scripts of KlashkaTse will have a semiotic theme to help solidify the story. I have already outlined the series, so it’s just a matter of identifying themes. This should be fun, confusing and insightful. Studying for this series should be fun and I will probably need another closet for all of the books and recordings I’ll need for the series. I’m happy that I have found a work around for the now $3600 course. However, I still wish I had the vocabulary list and midterm and final quizzes. They contained some really great fu facts to discuss at parties.

Q: Who is responsible for the notorious hash brownie recipe?

A: Alice B. Tolkas.

Recommended Books:

Postmodernism and Its Discontents: Theories, Practices (Haymarket) (Paperback)
by E. Ann Kaplan (Editor)

Subversive Pleasures: Bakhtin, Cultural Criticism, and Film (Parallax: Re-visions of Culture and Society)

by Robt Stam

On the Genealogy of Morality
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

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