dreamland_david_randallAdventures in the science of sleep, indeed. David K. Randall’s book, is the usual pop-sci romp through a topic of interest, but a fun one. As he states many times in the book it is a subject many of us know precious little about and it is just the same for the scientists even thought we spend up to a third of our lives sleeping.

I think the most shocking part of the book was regarding the fact that it is possible to murder someone while sleepwalking. And not just accidentally for example a hit and run, but actively murder them without knowing what happened. The legal system is a long way off from understanding this, and in fact different jurisdictions will treat a sleepwalking murder completely differently – Randall has examples of being acquitted and also put away for murder.

Miguel Gutierrez – MCA

I was so excited to finally be able to see Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People in Chicago. I was a huge fan back in nyc, but was itching to be able to see him since my move here. It’s been a while since I’ve even posted in the performance category, I was sure I would finally have tons to say regarding And lose the name of action.

No beginning. Stargate SG-1. Parachute. White Room. Seance. Asylum. Useless Room. White. Black. Tableux. Garbage bag. UFO. Chairs. Acting. Play. Madness. Reading. Sci-fi. Mask. F*&K YOU! Video. Repetition. No end.

The list of seemingly random words goes on. The source material is very deep and very personal to Miguel, so I was surprised that the execution came across as very superficial to me. I’m guessing confusion is part of the piece but unfortunately I feel like it kept me from enjoying it.

Technically the dance movements were excellent and even the “non-dance” parts were obviously meticulously rehearsed and executed. These were the parts I enjoyed the most. The play acting, the speaking, the singing, the running about the stage – and especially the chair knocking over. But at the same time I felt like, these parts knocked me out of dance mode, and kept me from enjoying the more “pure dance” parts. It felt unbalanced to me – now we’re doing dance! now we’re doing speaking! now we’re watching a video in a useless room!

According to the new york times “Miguel Gutierrez’s ‘And lose the name of action’ seeks to demonstrate facets of a mind that has come apart.” I think he has accomplished that. Quite literally. But I think in many ways pure chaos is easy to accomplish, a little harder to do as an artistic rendition. A little editing, a little balance, a little more interpretation? Maybe that was missing? Or perhaps, I was just not prepared for a raw assault this time, and that is exactly what Miguel was exploring.

A few moments, made feel – now this is performance! But none made me feel – now this is dance! It was still amazingly awesome to see Miguel in Chicago, even more amazing to be mere inches away from him – convulsing, singing, undulating, and regurgitating white fabric/plastic.

For the record I came expecting something like this:

While most of it looked like this:

On second thought, I think those images beg more questions than answer – so, uh, nm?

some interesting interviews:

and lose the name of action
miguel gutierrez and the powerful people
january 31 – february 3, 2013
museum of contemporary art
chicago, il

Valis Philip K. Dick

Something tells me this is not the best starting point to enter the Philip K. Dick universe. By that I mean, the written book universe, I am familiar with the film adaptations of his universe. Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly. Hard to find a through-line in those, perhaps because each director had a strong vision of his own?

That was one reason I never picked up a Philip K. Dick Novel, the other was his extreme popularity. Can’t trust an author who is too popular. I was also under the impression that his vision fell more in the fantasy camp than hard-core sci-fi, and I was absolutely sure (based on his popularity) that he could not compare with my all time favorite sci-fi author, Stanislaw Lem. I like as much science and philosophy in my sci-fi as possible, a popular populist fantasier just won’t do. Maybe too, I had always thought of Philip as a hippie for some reason. Not a big fan of new-age fantasy I am.

So why did I pick up this book? I think of myself as open minded, and I need to act on that if I am to continue to do so. Also, I never actually read one of his books so I can’t continue to judge them. I picked it up, but the back of the book was no help at all:

“What is VALIS? […] a beam of pink light begins giving a shizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip K. Dick) visions of an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire still reigns.”

If that doesn’t sound hippie-dippie enough on it’s own, you can also add historical fiction to the mix? Ordinarily I would say no thanks!, but to uphold my personal creed, I disregarded the back and dove right in.

Mostly I kept reading, because when I started, there was no science fiction to be found. Just a story about drug addiction and a character named Horseloer Fat, which is intriguing in it’s own right. It was well written and the story pulled me in, but where is the sci-fi? This is the famous sci-fi writer? And then it got dense. Really deep (bit new-age-y, but intriguing) sh!t, hard to slog through and make sense of, started assaulting me. And it kept going like that, alternating between a well written story that pulls you in – intertwined with grandiose world cosmological answer to the universe type stuff. Then there was the pesky fact that Horselover Fat and Philip K. Dick might be one and the same, meaning the author is in there, certainly elements were autobiographical. Suddenly it was intriguing, fantastical, and philosophical. And I kept turning the pages. And suddenly it was over.

So all this, is just part one, of a trilogy? Also this is one of his last books? written right before he died? Perhaps they are just rantings of an old man? Also, this dense theologically-bent drug-inspired conspiracy rambling is the stuff super popular science fiction is made of? Ergo, my conclusion at the beginning of this post.

Maybe some of my assumptions re: Philip K. Dick were not that far of, but I won’t pass judgement until I read one of his other novels, and even then—just like my feelings about the book based on reading the description on the back—maybe the assumptions are correct but the conclusions are not.