I am grateful to you. I'd appreciate a live in-person interview with you for 90 minutes. But in the meme time, please send me your answers to any of these following questions. Please type into the body of an email, or send an audio or video file. #1 - #53 most important.
Laughtears.com 310-306-7330 March, 2020
1- What's the best thing for a human being?
2- What is your favorite form of information?
3- Why do we collect/gather information?
4- Is this need or want to collect information learned or hardwired?
5- What is your earliest memory?
6- Is memory a curse or a blessing? (Please note that we are trying to get beyond either/or, and deeper into the meta-cognition of it all. We know it involves the context and/or the specific situation, but what is this question really about?)
7- Who were your earliest role-models within your immediate family, and how did they specifically influence/affect you, briefly?
8- Who were/are your role models outside your immediate family and how specifically did/do they affect you, briefly? Earliest, and/or later in life.
9- Were you raised a particular religion? If so, are you still practicing? Do you pray?
10- Do evil people exist or does evil use people as a vehicle?
11- How do you advise someone to deal with an enemy? Consider - Alan Watts: "If you acknowledge your enemy, you empower them." Coppola stole from the Mob and Samurais: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Frenemies. JFK: "Forgive your enemy but don't forget their name." Fellini: "I need an enemy." Chinese proverb: "He who cannot agree with their enemy is controlled by them." Levi-Strauss: "Cannibals boil friends, and roast enemies." Also, please comment on the first quote.
12- James Joyce was the first projectionist in Dublin over 100 years ago. He checked out and asked, "Why should I go inside a building and see a movie of a tree when I can go outside and see a real tree?" Years later William Faulkner said that the best fiction can be more true than journalism. Why do we have to recreate/reproduce things in order to get them? Why do we go to a theatrical play of people acting out life? Why don't we just live life?
13- Lewis Hines published photos of child labor in newspapers, printed matter. Upton Sinclair wrote the book The Jungle. They both have been credited as the tipping-point to change laws. Can you tell me of any music, theater, art, or film that actually was the tipping point to change laws?
14- A screenwriting teacher told me a great film is when you can clearly see the intention of the maker. Stanley Kubrick says the opposite: great art is when you can not see the intention of the maker. What role does intention play in your creative process?
15- What first attracted you to pursue filmmaking? (and/or writing, activism, painting, etc)
16- If clothing is an extension of skin, and knife & fork are extensions of teeth, what human sensorium does the moving image camera extend? (or the pen, paint brush, musical instrument, etc)
17- McLuhan said there is no such thing as a good or bad movie, it's a good or bad viewing experience. Any comment.
18- Peter Greenaway said that cinema is much too rich a medium to be left to storytellers. Are experimental filmmakers telling stories a different way or doing something completely different? Is Tony Conrad's The Flicker storytelling?
19- If you and I were starting the Ann Arbor Film Festival with George Manupelli many years ago, would you want to be more inclusive or exclusive? Keep in mind that it's featured a fraction of animation and documentaries, but mainly is experimental films. Chick Strand was starting Canyon Cinema around the same time in the SF area. She told me they were trying to recreate their 11 cent movie-going experience by showing a feature along with a newsreel, a cartoon and then added an experimental film. Stan Brakhage told them to just show experimental because those other genres have venues. And what are the possible motives and consequences of being more exclusive or more inclusive (which means showing all genres: animations, documentaries, experimental and mainstream movies too)?
20- What are the services and disservices of the ghettoization of experimental film? When Jackson Pollock was on the cover of Life Magazine in 1949, regular folks could start developing an aesthetic on experimental painting. There was no Bruce Conner or Maya Deren Life Magazine covers. Generally it's the privileged (alot of rich art kids) who develop an avant garde aesthetic and dominate the experimental film world. Any comments.
21- When I asked Michael Apted years ago why rock video makers feel so obliged to edit fast, he told me "because we have learned to take in information faster." Martin Scorsese also said that he edited his films faster because of MTV. Can we indeed learn to take in info faster? Is it literally possible to multi-task?
22- "Film as an art form has been swindled by capitalism." Any comments.
23- Jean-Luc Godard told Michael Moore his film Fahrenheit 9/11 was going to help Bush get elected. With the slew of political documentaries over recent years, do they more activate or more passive?
24- Marcel Duchamp said there is no art without an audience. What role does the audience play in your creative process (during the making)?
25- What was the motive of the cave artists?
26- What is more important - conviction or compromise?
27- Is ambition based more on fear or joy?
28- Is loyalty based on reason?
29- T.S. Eliot said that poetry is outing your inner dialogue. What language is your inner dialogue in? What form is your inner consciousness in?
30- George Manupelli says "Ignore yourself." Jonas Mekas says there is no self-expression. Cecil Taylor says he is a vehicle and it comes through him. Is art making more self-expression or more vehicles for whatever dominant technology or culture is currently present? Can art-making be egoless?
31- Is perception reality?
32- McLuhan probed Finnegans Wake by James Joyce: artists dream awake. We all have creative powers we use to dream while sleeping, but artists also use them while awake. Dream awake. Have dreams played a role in your creative process? How? Please recall a dream. Consider- "It is a film-maker's privilege to be able to allow a large number of people to dream the same dreaming together, and to show us, moreover, the optical illusions of unreality with the rigor of realism" - Jean Cocteau
33- McLuhan reworded Browning's "Our reach should exceed our grasp or what is heaven for?" to "Our reach should exceed our grasp or what is a metaphor?" How and why do you use metaphor in your art?
34- Why is it so difficult for humans to consider the possibility that life may be pointless?
35- Lewis Carroll said "I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Have you believed in any impossible things lately?
36- What elements (one major element) of your art have changed and what have remained the same since you started creating art?
37- Moshe Feldenkrais said that it is literally possible to identify a weakness and incorporate it to become a strength. We are normally taught to overcome a weakness. Please tell me a weakness that you have turned into a strength.
38- The American Indians and Eastern culture respect their elders. Can you explain Western culture's disdain for old age?
39- Why would Joseph Beuys say "Make the secrets productive." Lew Welsh said, "Guard the secrets, constantly reveal them." Thorton Wilder (1928) said, "Art is confession; art is the secret told. . . . But art is not only the desire to tell one's secret; it is the desire to tell it and hide it at the same time.” What are you really all about? What role do secrets play in your creative process?
40- Fill in the blank: Anger be a productive emotion when ..............
41- Can satire be destructive? Swift compared satire to a mirror in which people could see every face but their own.
42- Is human progress cyclical or cumulative?
43- What the most significant difference between women and men, physical aside? Why do women live longer than men?
44- "You create what you resist" and "You are what you hate" Any comments. James Joyce wrote, "It is a curious thing...how your mind is supersaturated with the religion in which you say you disbelieve." "Thank God I'm an atheist" - Luis Bunuel
45- How do you find peace of mind?
46- If you were walking down the street today and you met yourself as a 12 year old, what would you say to your 12 year old self?
47- Should toilet paper go over or under the roll? Why? ( "The silly question is the first intimation of some totally new development" - Alfred North Whitehead)
48- If a publisher was to release your autobiography, off the top of your head, what would the title be? They want to scent the glue in the binding. What smell would it be?
49- If a statue was built in your honor, where would it be displayed and what would it be made of?
50- Please tell me something good you never had and you never want.
51- If you were in a vat of vomit up to your neck and somebody threw a bag of shit at your face, what would you do?
52- What is the healthiest cultural shift you see developing today?
53- What gives you the most optimism?
54- What is the most overrated idea ?
55- Please answer the 4 questions of McLuhan's Tetrad for:
One= the most dominant invention of all time,
Two= the most dominant invention in your lifetime,
or any human invention (tangible or not)
A: what does it enhance or intensify?
B: what does it render obsolete or replace?
C: what does it retrieve that was previously obsolesced?
D: what does it become when pressed to an extreme, what does it flip into?
56- Any rituals or routines in your creative process?
57- What is the function of poetry? music?
Kenneth Rexroth said, "The purpose of poetry is to woo your lover and subvert the bourgeois"... Leo Bersani's Mallarme study: "The very crisis which threatens the writing of poetry sustains poetic composition." ... Gary Snyder said: "My task as a poet entails the work of seeing the world without language and then bringing that seeing into language." ...
Consider- John Cage learned that the function of music was to "to sober and quiet the mind, thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences".
58- What questions remain unresolved for you?
59- What is it about your art that audiences resonate with?
60- Larry Jordan: "Human beings conduct their lives from much stronger sources than the rational mind." Name other sources? How do you navigate and understand their relationships. What about the spaces between the sources?
61- Put in order what the most important "W" words are for you: who, what, when, where or why.
62- Summarize your life in three words, all starting with the same letter.
63- Are we hardwired for blaming? storytelling? violence?
64- Consider: TV is light through, like stain glass window, right brained, more female. Film (movies) is light on, like a mural, left brained, more male. Movies present reflected light ('light on') to the viewer, while a TV picture is back lit ('light through'). McLuhan said the cinema image, typically a 35mm frame, is made up of millions of dots, or emulsion, and is much more 'saturated' than the lines and pixels of the TV image. He argued that the TV screen invited the audience to 'fill-in' a low-intensity image, much like following the bounding lines of a cartoon. That made TV more 'involving' and more tactile. The high-intensity film image allows for much more information on screen, but also demands a higher degree of visual perception and cognition. In that sense, he said, film is a 'hot' medium, TV a 'cool' bath. Hearing is related to the associative thought attributed to the right brain, while sight is connected to the left brain's rational structuring. "The phonetic alphabet forced the magic world of the ear to yield to the neutral world of the eye. Man was given an eye for an ear." -McLuhan. "What can't be coded can be decorded if an ear aye sieze what no eye ere grieved for." - James Joyce Finnegans Wake (482.30-36). Any comments.
65- What is the worst thing for a human being?
66- What artist would you want to do your portrait?
67- If you were a chair, who would you want to sit on you?
68- Who started it all? Are we going to make it? Where do we put it? Who's cleaning it up? Is it serious?
69- Are we making it happen or watching it happen?
70- "I am trying to get more control over my spontaneity." Any comments.
71- What moment (memory) in your life were you absolutely totally loved?
72- Introducing Andrei Tarkovsky to an audience at the 1983 Telluride Film Festival, Stan Brakhage declared: "I personally think that the three greatest tasks for film in the 20th century are 1) To make the epic, that is, to tell the tales of the tribes of the world. 2) To keep it personal, because only in the eccentricities of our personal lives do we have any chance at the truth. 3) To do the dream work, that is to illuminate the borders of the unconscious." Any comments. What are your 21st century's updates?
73- What qualities must an artist bring to their work regardless of the era, medium or technology?
74- What is that thing in art (and what causes it) that makes it transcendent and flips consciousness? Why is it often elusive?
75- What guides your decision making? Allen Ginsberg says first thought, best thought. Jonah Lehrer (How We Decide) says fast-blink decisions are not always useful. Malcolm Gladwell (Blink) recommends gut-decision making.
76- "Whatever happened to letting kids stare out the window?" - George Carlin (updated to "Whatever happened to letting kids stare at their cell phone?" - GF) Any comments.
77- Will there ever be silence?
78- What is going to be after the Internet?
79- "A person's identity is a socially induced hallucination. There's no such thing as a person. There's only a bundle of consciousness that's constantly in flux." - Deepak Chopra. Any comments.
80- If you were an experimental film, what would your subject matter be? (or a novel, painting, etc)
81- Are the laws of nature cruel?
82- If you were the ruler of the world, what would you do on your first day?
83- Are we hardwired for competition? "Games were created to give non-heroes the illusion of winning. In real life, you don't know who really won or lost, but you can tell who is a hero and who is not." - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
84- On what occasion do you lie?
85- "It's not what you are that counts, it's what you think you are." Any comments.
86- Is that a real question?
87- Thelonious Monk said there are no wrong notes. Agree or disagree. Any comments.
88- Miles Davis spoke of the space between the notes. Any comments.
89- "The key is to bring the audience up onto the stage and into the scene with you. It is they who must give you even more than you give them in way of imagination and creative power." - Ruth Draper. How do you accomplish this?
Consider - Augusto Boal & Paulo Freire (The Theater of the Oppressed), who use theater as a means of promoting social and political change. The audience becomes active ("spect-actors") and explore, show, analyze and transform the reality in which they are living. Judith Malina & Julian Beck promoted: "We believe in the theater as a place of intense experience, half-dream, half-ritual, in which the spectator approaches something of a vision of self-understanding, going past conscious to unconscious, to an understanding of the nature of all things." Nadia Boulanger told Quincy Jones "Your music can never be more or less than you are as a human being." Any comments?
90- Please comment on-
A= Copland's 4 elements or ingredients of music: melody, harmony, rhythm, tone color (what is tone color?)
B= Dave Liebman's 5 elements: melody, harmony, rhythm, form, color
C= Dave Liebman's tenets: (to balance) hand, head, heart
D= Another musician's 3 tenets: taste, technique, theory
E= "Song is slowed-down speech. The reason cultures have different musical tastes is ultimately connected to language difference." - McLuhan
F= Name an instrumental that makes you laugh? (other than Spike Jones)
91- What is the difference between rights and responsibilities?
92- What is the difference between rebellion and revolution?
93- "Anarchy is making rules for yourself, not others." - Utah Phillips. Who is entitled to make rules?
94 - "Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty."- John Basil Barnhill. In the 2005 film V for Vendetta, this quote was paraphrased "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." How do you personally handle false fears (such as "the war on drugs") ?
95- Are you for or against the death penalty (capital punishment)? How do you qualify your decision? If you are against the death penalty, what would be a satisfactory resolution?
96- Discuss "them or us" and "divide and conquer." "In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant." - Charles de Gaulle. Baudelaire wrote that the devil's greatest achievement was to have persuaded people that he does not exist.
97- Does life require a meaning beyond itself?
98 - If we did not have nationality, how would it affect you?
99- Regarding life expectancy, the age of death has climbed a great deal in the last 60 years. What role did meds play?
100 - Can we think without language?
101 - "How about technologies as the collective unconscious and art as the collective unconsciousness?” - McLuhan
102- From Orson Welles unfinished film - The Dreamers : “There are only two things it is ever seemly for an intelligent person to be thinking. One is: ‘What did God mean by creating the world?’ And the other? ‘What do I do next?’” Also consider Gunther Anders: "Human beings are ashamed to have been born instead of made."
103- How do you determine what is true? Consider - Luis Bunuel: "I am for anyone who seeks the truth, but I part ways with them when they claimed they found it." "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. - Schopenhauer. "There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying." - Robert Evans. Shelby Foote said, "A fact is not a truth until you love it." Agree or disagree?
104- How do you rate these three elements in regards to your accomplisments: ambition, luck, talent?
105- How do you deal with stress?
106- How do you deal with failure?
Consider: "I am a failure, but not a miserable failure" - Zappa. "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. - Beckett. "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." - Churchill.
107- Are you more afraid of new ideas or old ideas? Consider: "I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones." - John Cage. "People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones." - Charles F. Kettering
108- Does punishment work? If not, what do you suggest? When a criminal gets caught, do they think "I have done something morally and socially wrong?' or do they think "My criminal skills were not up to snuff?" Consider Gregory Bateson's Double Bind as the human condition. "Don't notice I am lying to you." "Forget that you are forgetting." "Pull the wool over your own eyes." James Joyce, said "Remember to forget." He deepens our feelings ala Marcel Duchamp and Alan Watts, who said that Double Bind has long been used in Zen Buddhism as a therapeutic tool.
109 - Do you believe in life after death? Any comments on these: "What if we forget to die?" -Jean Baudrillard .... "Objects are unobservable. Only relationships among objects are observable. So if you think that the question, "Will we ever learn?", implies a goal, a particular point and time we will arrive at, a particular object, we will never know that. Because objects like that do not exist, only relationships among objects exist. It is like asking, "Will there ever be silence?" It's like, "Will you ever die?" Well, you'll never know because to be dead is a specific experience that seems to imply isolation which could not be known. Because nothing exists in isolation, you will never experience death. You will only experience those things that involve relationships. The end point of time, death, cannot be experienced because it's not a relationship among events." - Robert Dobbs.
110- What does courage mean now? Consider: "Discovery cannot be purely intellectual but must involve action; nor can it be limited to mere activism, but must include serious reflection." - Paulo Freire
111- Can you forget to die? Can you learn to die?
112- Can we imagine we are free? Sartre wrote that becasue we can imagine, we are ontologically free.
2019 Jan - adds
1j- Tell me a stupid mistake you made and the story about it.
2j- What is the most important question in life?
3j- What is the most important activity in life?
4j- Tell me one quality that makes you feel your life is worthwhile. (tangible or nontangible)
5j- If you have it, what does it allow you to do in life?
6j- If you have it, and know it, how does that make you feel inside?
7j- What has the greater impact on you: friend betrayal or values betrayal?
8j- Can you hate the sin and not the sinner?
9j- What do you worry about when you go to bed at night?
10j- If the journey is more important than the destination, why do we have to seek (or name) a destination?
New additions May 2015
1m- Do thoughts create emotions ?
2m- Do you more pursue happiness or meaning ?
3m- Does the brain more detect or create consciousness ?
4m- What is faster - the speed of light or the speed of thought ?
5m- If god exist, what do you want god to tell you after you die ?
6m- "You can't dismantle the masters house using the masters tools." - Audre Lorde. Yvonne Rainer responded "You can, if you expose the tools." What new tools can you suggest?
7m- Why are most artists liberal?
8m- McLuhan learned from Pound that artists are the antennae of the race, broadcasting the hidden psychic effects of what we invent, so we can learn to cope with them. McLuhan probed how we can look to the artists to uncover these hidden effects, but we ignore them. Why do we ignore the hidden psychic and social effects of our inventions?
9m- Basically, are we more feeling beings or thinking beings? In general, I know it's both and it depends.
10m- "Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior." - McLuhan. Any comments.
1g- Where have we come from?
2g- What are we?
3g- Where are we going?
1w- Who started it all?
2w- Are we going to make it?
3w- Where do we put it?
4w- Who's cleaning it up?
5w- Is it serious?
1p-What is today's most important unreported story?
2p-Should we have the right to choose where we live?
3p-What are the basic dignities that each human being deserves and why do we let so many people go without them?
4p-What if all Chinese people want a car?
5p-How does consumer culture actually influence the personalities, the ways people live, the way they think within a given culture? How does it become part of us and what does it mean to be able to resist that visual and verbal culture that seems to me is always reducing and simplifying reality into something that can be easily bought and sold?
6p-Does our wealth depend on the Third World being poor?
7p-Is there a modern version of colonialism?
8p-Why do we still believe more in nationality than in humanity?
9p-How do we stop our governments from going to war?
10p-Why is there no peace in the Middle East yet?
11p-Why is an Iranian nuclear bomb supposed to be more dangerous than an American, Israeli or French?
12p-Between non-violent resistance and armed struggle where do we go? What is effective? What is the right thing to do? Do we need a biodiversity of resistance?
13p-What does courage mean now?
14p-What can I do, and tell others to do, to stop global warming?
15p-Can a person be perceptive enough to see our planet in a way that tells them that they too are part of nature?
16p-What is God's religion?
17p-What are the myths that we need to create to change the world for the better?