We are like machines?

Cover of "The Cyborg Experiments: The Ext...

Cover via Amazon

I am writing a 10,000 word Dissertation about the cultural and psychological effects of technology [Embodiment, Prosthesis, Cyber Culture]. I’m adopting the attitude of an author, just acting like I’m releasing a book soon, and my publisher has tightened the deadline. And who knows, maybe if it’s good enough at the end I can make it an Internet PDF eBook that you’d like to download?

On my reading list, number 8), the author Joanna Zylinska, is the lady I met last week to discuss my writing. She will be personally supervising my Dissertation, so it’s nice to know I have the advice of a well published author. Her topics on our relation to technology, as well as the ethics and issues, are completely relevant to my interests. But I want to attempt a fresh angle, not mimic the authors below.

My reading list so far:

1) Materializing New Media: Embodiment in Information Aesthetics (Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture) – Anna Munster

2) Facebook and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy) – Dylan E. Wittkower

3) How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics – N. Katherine Hayles

4) TechGnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Age of Information – Erik Davis

5) Internet Culture – David Porter

6) The Body (Key Concepts) – Lisa Blackman

7) The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future – Marquard Smith and Joanne Morra

8) The Cyborg Experiments: The Extensions of the Body in the Media Age (Technologies: Studies in Culture & Theory) – Joanna Zylinska

9) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man – Marshall McLuhan

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

You think Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is just hype?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Image via Wikipedia

I deliberately resisted reading the whole book before watching; I read enough chapters to love the book, but avoid clouding my judgement of the film. I was hoping for another Swedish gem, something I could enjoy as much as I loved Let The Right One In (not the remake).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (“Män som hatar kvinnor“), was directed by Niels Arden Oplev and based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I loved the story telling within the film, the tale itself is irresistible, as is the heroine Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace). But again that is mainly credit to the book, not necessarily the filmmakers.

I admit the film was atmospheric, held my attention, and the story seduced me. But some chunks of the tale felt like they were included only to appease the book’s fans. For example, we probably didn’t need such routine intervals of Lisbeth’s past. Her past is vital of course, it grants context, but so much of it added nothing to the plot, and felt like it was there just to break the pacing between sub-plot and main-plot.

We could have instead been teased with briefer hints and flashes to her past. But I suppose they wanted to find a balance between her tortured past and tortured present. It felt too prescribed, too calculative, trying too hard to force us to see everything of what she is, rather than letting us interpret. I suppose I found it mildly patronising.

I was not offended by the more graphic scenes, which I won’t reveal as I don’t like spoilers. I actually liked the fact that she was portrayed as a strong, independent female. Her dynamic with the journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Michael Nyqvist) was effective, and there wasn’t anything startling wrong with the film. It just wasn’t everything I had hoped for.

I should refer back to the film I mentioned before. Hoyte Van Hoytema was responsible for the cinematography in Let the Right One In, his style is subtle but irresistible. Whereas The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, despite not being poorly filmed, certainly had no distinctive style or anything visually new to offer.

I think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is living proof that the books are always better than the film. But I am glad they made it into a film, because it means more people are encouraged to read the books, which I have found to be excellent. I would recommend watching this film, but don’t do so if you’re expecting something groundbreaking or revolutionary.

Seven Deadly Sins, I must be purified

Last night I knocked back a few gins and stumbled across Seven Deadly Sins, the Canadian mini TV series that first aired on Lifetime Movie Network. Set in two parts, it’s meant to be based on the popular Seven Deadly Sins novels Lust, Greed, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony, Sloth and Pride by Robin Wasserman.

I have to admit I was expecting to hate it, and part of me does. But overall I just can’t resist the comedic indulgence into their teenage “highschool” dramas; love triangles/pentagons/octagons, especially where the twists got dark. If I had been the director I would have loved to have made it darker, like when *censored* character dies, I would have them haunt deliciously like in a Japanese horror movie.

Rachel Melvin was great as Kaia, and Dreama Walker worked well as Harper Grace. Overall Seven Deadly Sins was well cast, nicely made and paced, and it isn’t trying to be anything that it is not.

If I had to sum up the mini series with one description  I would say it’s a very loose hybrid of Mean Girls meets Murder by Numbers. Remember I said very loosely! This is really not my usual style, but it’s worth a watch when there’s time to kill and you’ve had a few drinks.

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‘Knots’ – By R.D. Laing

(Sorry for posting so much today, keep finding old bits on my computer that never got published)

I read a really good psychology book today (March 19th, 2008): ‘Knot’s by R.D. Laing. Some parts I felt were sexist, but a lot of the book is cynical, insinuative, and intelligently ironic, so I concluded that maybe the ‘sexism’ was in fact just mocking sexism…thereby rendering it free of sexism. It’s a book full of delightful moderate contradictions, and explores the cycles of thought in a typical human mind, it does so through poetry and formulas of wording. It’s basically a case of ‘she knows that he knows that we know that they know that he doesn’t know that they know’