Videotherapy

Posted 10 March 2009 by ktismatics
Categories: Ktismatics

So I was on my afternoon run, thinking about what to do with this blog, when I came upon another guy running toward me. There’s nothing unusual about that of course, except that as I approached this other runner he waved, turned around, and began running in my direction. Then I saw that we were both running toward another guy who was standing in the middle of the street. This third guy was holding a videocamera, apparently filming both of us running. It didn’t take me long to realize that the cameraman was watching this other running guy, and that I just happened to be running onto a movie location. The other runner stopped, and the third guy stopped filming. “Sorry for getting in the way,” I said. “That’s okay,” the filmmaker replied, “you’re good background.” I asked if I’d get paid when the movie came out, but what I really thought was that this other running guy was a local politician or business tycoon who was demonstrating his fitness in some sort of autobiographical puff piece.

“No, it’s PT,” the now-stopped runner said. “Ah, so,” I remarked to the cameraman, “you’re evaluating his stride, seeing if he’s favoring a leg or something.” He nodded and gestured over his right shoulder: “I offer free video assessments, right here in this building.”  So I guess after this little videotaped running session the physical therapist takes his potential client back to the office, he sticks the video into a TV set, and while playing it back to the potential client he points out little tics and glitches that indicate some sort of muscular or skeletal imbalance. Then the PT proposes a therapy plan to correct the problem. This is a very competitive town for runners, so I’m sure he’d also help people train if that’s what they want.

I was curious, so I asked the PT-trainer how he gets people to show up at his office for this free evaluation. “I’ve evaluated thousands of runners over the years,” he said; “I’m a professional.” “That’s great. So,” I asked him, “would you say that you have a passion for your work?” “Well,” he replied, “I love being alive — how’s that?”

As I continued on with my run, I wondered what it would be like to videotape people responding to questions about their passions, their sense of calling and purpose, what they think of themselves and other people, etc., then play back the video to them. I’d pause the video to point out not just interesting verbal responses to the questions but also little tics and hesitations, unusual inflections and sudden gestures, incongruous affects and expressions. Then I’d use these observations as diagnostic indicators of where a person is off stride or off balance or underdeveloped. This isn’t a particularly remarkable procedure for certain kinds of psychotherapist to adopt, of course. But I do like the video playback idea.

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We Don’t Need No Thought Control

Posted 3 March 2009 by ktismatics
Categories: Ktismatics

A week ago I put up a video describing an act of suppression, then at the behest of someone who is presumably trying to make things right I suppressed my own video. I’ve since confirmed what I already suspected, namely that this suppression is systemic, affecting not just a few individuals but an entire community institution. That institution is the government-administered secondary school, or what we in America call the public high school.

Suppose a kid is enrolled in a creative writing class here in Colorado and hands in a short story that involves sexual assault or parental abuse or suicide. The teacher is obligated by law to ask the kid if there’s an element of truth to the story:  have you been assaulted; are you being abused; are you considering suicide? Teachers who have been in the system for awhile explicitly warn their students in advance: if you address these topics, I will have to investigate. The implicit message to the kid is clear: I shouldn’t write about certain topics.

Suppose a kid, enrolled in a filmmaking class here in Boulder County, makes a movie that depicts sex or drugs or violence. This kid will not be allowed to show the film during class or in any other official school-authorized function. If the film depicts illicit activities being performed at the school, the filmmaker will be questioned by the authorities to ascertain whether this kid has perpetrated or witnessed events similar to those shown in the film. Again, the message is clear: don’t make movies about certain topics.

It’s clear what motivates the high schools to impose these restrictions on students’ self-expression: fear. Next month marks the ten year anniversary of the Columbine massacre, which here in Colorado isn’t just a media spectacle but a local tragedy. If a teacher has any inkling that a student might be involved in anything dangerous and fails to act, then the teacher and the school are held legally responsible for their inaction.

But we’re talking about fiction here. Don’t these dangerous themes — sex, anger, depression, alternate states of consciousness, rules and their violation — occupy the subjective realities of high school kids? Aren’t these the themes that dominate the TV shows and movies these kids watch every day? Doesn’t the transition into maturity demand that kids come to terms with these themes in their own distinct ways? Isn’t the creation of fiction one way to explore dangerous alternatives experimentally, without actually putting oneself in danger?

It’s hard for me to argue with my kid when she says she doesn’t want to take creative writing or filmmaking at her high school. I can see why she’d rather do this sort of creative exploration on her own time. In the short novel she wrote last November the body count pushes a hundred: I hate to think what sorts of repercussions would have ensued had she turned that thing in for a writing class.

As a psychologist, I’m interested in how creative passion is either amplified or short-circuited by the responses one’s work elicits in others. In my view, this systemic suppression of self-expression is part of what’s wrong with the schools and the lawyers who run them. Somehow I doubt that many parents would agree with me.

Animated Video: Case Study

Posted 1 March 2009 by ktismatics
Categories: Filmmakers

This isn’t a local undertaking, but it illustrates in spades some techniques we witnessed in Josh’s and Ingrid’s movies. Thanks to Alexandra via Kenzie for this link.

It turns out that an entity called Groupusqule is responsible for the video part of this production — here’s another one of theirs I found via Google:

Now if could just track down Groupusqule itself, I’d see if whoever did this work would be willing to subject itself to online questioning by me and others who are intrigued by this sort of thing. However, the Groupusqule website seems to have vacated itself — perhaps this entity has disintegrated.

Freedom of Suppression

Posted 26 February 2009 by ktismatics
Categories: Filmmakers

Here’s a report about some missing interviews with [deleted] and what’s preventing me from conducting them.

So now I’ve been asked by someone close to the situation to take down the video describing this situation. Despite serious skepticism — censoring a post dealing specifically with censorship strikes me as something straight out of 1984 or the Bush White House — I’ve decided to accede to this person’s wishes. Maybe there’s more to the story than lawyers clamping down on freedom of expression in this American town.

Tim Gritsevskiy: Student, Teacher, Writer, Reader

Posted 24 February 2009 by ktismatics
Categories: Writers

The other day’s post featured Tim Gritsevskiy’s prose-poem. Today Tim discusses life as an MFA student on his way to a PhD in creative writing, as well as what he learned by being a public poet at the local “open mic.”

Tim is in the process of putting together a poetry publishing venture — here’s the link to the website.

Tim Gritsevskiy: 30 Seconds

Posted 22 February 2009 by ktismatics
Categories: Writers

I first met Tim at a public reading featuring a number of local writers presenting their short stories and poems.  In the accompanying video Tim and I enjoy a cup of coffee at the Caffè Sole while talking about selected stanzas from his 30-part “segmented prose-poem.” I’ve printed only those stanzas which we discuss in the interview video.

The 30 Second Love Affairs

5.

Our relationship was y=mx+b, where I was x and you were b.

M was the willingness to commit factor.

Spatially represented on a two dimensional graph, it stretched forever in both directions.

It was just a straight line.

9.

The problem was that we both liked sleeping on the same side of the bed.

There were few options.

Stacked one on top and one beneath, like herring in a can.  Or maybe side by side, or chest to chest, or back to back – a sweaty stream down spinal riverbeds.

It didn’t last long.  The empty side’s indignant glare, like a stern parent, overshadowed all we tried.  There were few options, maybe 30, maybe less.

12.

In the village, I got a room on the 30th floor, above a barber shop.

A stranger everywhere, I got an affair as a hypnotist.  It was only after I mesmerized myself with line patterns that I noticed:

People are always turning around.

I saw a woman who closed her eyes – implied rejection – so I had a good idea: feet walking without people, and people walking without feet.

Can’t sleep.

14.

I took a book of 30 dirty cartoons off the shelf of my favorite bookstore.  Becoming aroused, I set the book back reverently with my trembling hands, hauled ass to the bathroom where I stretched out on the floor with my pants around my ankles and, skinny butt cheeks coldly sweating against the tiles, proceeded to masturbate fervently, dreaming of flat paper women with flat paper breasts and flat paper lips and flat paper legs.

For months, all I could think about was my book of 30 dirty cartoons.  They chased me – like night mares – even to my sleep.

Then I met my first girlfriend and realized what it was all about.

Words poured from my mouth and hands like a sieve.

I paused my pen.  Remembered:

the paper’s still flat.

21.

I sat naked by the phone, hoping for your call. You didn’t call.

I stood naked by the door, waiting for your knock. You didn’t knock.

I walked naked in the street, looking for your voice. You didn’t speak.

I came naked to your house, searching for your face. You called the cops.

22.

He had a big head and a small computer.  His thumbs were grotesque, bulging with muscle and adept at finding the tiniest of buttons.

Of her, the ears are worth mentioning.  Delicate and gracious, they were made of a fibrous tissue, with tiny cilia that constantly caressed the small white speakers placed within.

Together, they were unstoppable.  When they held hands, nature receded away from them, like a hairline.

25.

She complained because he compulsively read David Copperfield in the bathroom.  She said, pitching her voice to carry through the locked door, “you don’t have the maturity level necessary to carry on this relationship.”

He got out of the tub, yanked open the door and, throwing the Dickens to the tiles, ran naked laps around her, waving streamers and confetti.  She tackled him to the floor and sat on his chest, pinning the flailing arms with her knees.

The poor Dickens classic sighed from the cool moist floor, thinking Great!  Just when I had finally made a friend! and began reading itself to itself for the 30th time, quietly, so as not to disturb anyone.

In the next post Tim talks more about himself as writer, “open mic” performer, MFA student, and teacher of creative writing.


What’s the Point of…

Posted 20 February 2009 by ktismatics
Categories: Ktismatics

I wonder “why” about lots of things. Sometimes other people see meanings and purposes that elude me completely. Sometimes it’s the other way around, and I see the point where others don’t.

Here’s today’s “why” question, stimulated by offline conversations with a fellow blogger: What’s the point of a movie that doesn’t tell a strong story? Now I personally have no difficulty answering this one: if a movie operates as a portal, then it’s valuable. A portal is a bridge or tunnel between one reality and another. Does the film reveal some aspect of the world to which we’ve become inured or that has eluded our attention? Does it reveal some aspect of the filmmaker’s inner world? Does it reveal some alternate reality? If so, then the movie is worth watching.

The characters and story are a way of demonstrating the cinematic portal’s efficacy, showing that people can go there, can make things happen and have things happen to them. A filmmaker can point through the portal to the other side, drawing my attention to the contours of the reality that s/he is trying to show me, showing me the way in. then. If the portal is working, then maybe I can be a character who steps through into that other reality. It’s there, inside that other reality, that some story of my own might develop its own arc, an arc that carries me along even after the movie isn’t being projected any more.