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Walking wide awake into a fantasy world

Many of you would remember an extraordinary film from the early seventies. At a time when the lives of the Baby Boomers was reaching the explosive years of their twenties … LSD, cannabis, other illicit drugs and good ol’ reliable booze had reached epidemic proportions among the itinerant youthful population … WE … were the “sons and daughters that were beyond your command” … of the Bob Dylan song. Into this world of lived freedom of thought fell several films of what could be described as “The Fantastical Genre” … Films like “Zabriski Point” (official trailer), with the accompanying music of Floyd (“Careful with that axe, Eugene …”), The Grateful Dead, Patti Page: (The Tennessee Waltz), The Stones and others. Then there were the Fellini films; “Satyricon”, “Cassanova”, “Roma”, all played out in voluptuous settings and peopled by the most bizarre characters in a fantastical dialogue.

And also there was this:

“A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick , based on Anthony Burgess’s1962 novel of the same name. It employs disturbing, violent images to comment on psychiatry , juvenile delinquency, youth gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian near-future Britain.

Alex (Malcolm McDowell), the central character, is a charismatic, antisocial delinquent whose interests include classical music (especially Beethoven), committing rape, and what is termed “ultra-violence”. He leads a small gang of thugs, Pete, Georgie, and Dim, whom he calls his droogs. The film chronicles the horrific crime spree of his gang, his capture, and attempted rehabilitation via an experimental psychological conditioning technique by the Minister of the Interior, named Ludovico. Alex narrates most of the film in Nadsat, a fractured adolescent slang composed of Slavic (especially Russian), English, and Cockney rhyming slang.

The soundtrack to a clockwork orange features mostly classical music selections and Moog synthesizer compositions by Wendy Carlos. The artwork for the poster of A Clockwork Orange was created by Philip Castle with the layout by designer Bill Gold.” (Wikipedia).

A most visually assaulting on the senses experience for those times … and even for today (though somewhat dated in production), it can be a strange fruit. Here is the original trailer.

And here, Thamesmead South Housing Estate where Alex knocks his rebellious droogs into the lake in a sudden surprise attack.

But these trips into the fantastical world of make-believe were tempered in those times by the hard reality of having to get to work on the Monday morning in at least some sort of state fit for the job … a level of expectation sometimes way above the possible! … So they resided in the mind’s eye still as little more than a visual experience.

Now, in this post-modern, super-sized world of CVR (cinematic virtual reality), anything seems possible … fantasy becomes “reality”… and the world of the everyday melds very quickly on the screen to a world of illusion with seamless ease: “Unlike traditional VR (virtual reality), CVR limits the level of control users have within the environment to choosing viewpoints rather than interacting with the world itself. This means that CVR production arguably represents a new type of filmmaking.” … (Journal of Media Practice). The film maker now has the control of how the viewer will interpret the film … no longer through attachment with lived experience, but through psychological infiltration and interpretation.

Social Media; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all allow us to create our own identities. If we don’t want to be seen as one person, we “construct” another identity … We attach pseudonyms and “Gravitars” more in keeping of what we want others to see us as … and perhaps as we want to see ourselves … we have moved a little bit closer to the abyss of lost souls. We seek out the camouflage that hides our real person and from behind these ‘hides”, we take pot-shots at whatever riles and annoys our perceived notions of the world.

Also at play has been the falsifying of history in regards to Australian settlement … a confected illusion replete with heroes and villains, the righteous civilisers and the barbaric natives … in any land, any colonising situation … This illusion of reality in history is no better manipulated than the “ANZAC myth” … played upon the heart-strings of jingoism with the deft touch of a master propagandist … all that is needed is another Leni Riefenstahl to complete the picture. The national history has been one long lie that is now fast unravelling at the same pace (coincidentally?) as a false reality of CVR film (can it be called “film” anymore?) is becoming such an integral part of our everyday entertainment. The online streaming availability of these visual creations filter into our living rooms nearly every day, as do the online “games” and click-bait sensuality. Our eyes have become a direct link to our wallets … the cost of digital technology a necessity budgeted into household “outgoings”.

There is more than a danger of us walking wide awake into a fantasy world. I think we are already in it! We see many lash out on Twitter and other social media against these or that “harridans” and “whores” … ”pr#cks” and “a#seholes”, unrestrained by any form of decency and modesty … indeed, there are those of unbridled nature who go even further and call on past atrocities of the most repressive regimes, the likes of Joe Stalin and use them as examples for a “deserved treatment” for a favoured victim of their animosity … We have truly crossed into the fantastic when such dire reprisals become imaginatively possible!

I suspect a point has been reached where the social cost of realisation of witnessing ultra-violence on screen that has all the reality-like structures conjured up with CVR imagery, IS leading the first-world down a rabbit-hole to fantasy so much more dangerous than anything that original first-tripper; Alice ever went down:

“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw round, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here.”


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  1. Joseph Carli

    Here’s one for Miriam English..: If and when Artificial Intelligence becomes ” personality programmed” , so the robot has all the appearance/personality of a living entity, do you think there will there be scope for laws “protecting” the “person” of that AI bot?

  2. Miriam English

    Okay, posted my short error note. Now I’ll try editing that, inserting my actual post. Ahhh, that worked. Read on…

    Joe, eventually, yes, but initially artificial intelligence (AI) will merely be owned. In time they will be recognised as entities with their own rights. But I’m pretty sure they won’t generally want those rights in the way humans want them though. I expect they will have been designed to love us unconditionally. This will be the greatest gift we will receive from dogs: the knowledge of how to design unselfish love into our AIs. Also there will be a certain amount of selection going on. Any AI that is unable to prevent its human from dying or being injured will be wiped.

    As for your fears about virtual worlds, I wouldn’t worry. People are becoming much less violent and much more moral. I’ve long felt that virtual worlds would be the perfect place to put people who are socially dysfunctional; they couldn’t hurt anybody there.

    Also, it doesn’t matter how realistic virtual worlds are, they can never match the most efficient and most effective virtual reality device: the written word. Stories played out in our heads can do so much more than the most technologically advanced VR system. I used to build virtual worlds, and had (still have) a fascination with the idea of building immersive story worlds, but no matter what kind of world you create you can never do what simple text in a novel can:

    Jane looked at him and felt a kind of tender pity. She didn’t show her feelings. She knew he wouldn’t understand. Memories of their childhood involuntarily flooded back. He was riding his pushbike on the smooth edge of the dirt track while she was riding hers on the other side. The sun was warm and low in the sky and they were telling each other knock-knock jokes. The wattles along the side of the road were golden, humming with bees, and filling the air with scent. “Hello? Earth to Jane.” She was pulled back to the present. He was leaning against the table, looking quizzically at her.

    Just try depicting that in any other technology than written word. 🙂

  3. Joseph Carli

    Thanks for your considered reply, Miriam…many thoughts worth pondering…but the notion persists ; that if an idea, no matter the nicety or the abomination, can be conjured up in a human mind, then that idea is surely only an action away from implementation?

    Here’s a tweet I just this moment saw …:

    ” Patrick Schroeder
    ‏ @Schrotime
    Jul 31

    A sex robot is gonna shoot someone with a 3D gun in my lifetime
    1,069 replies . 27,615 retweets 156,667 likes”

    So someone is already thinking of it…now it just needs programming?

    (nice paragraph of imagery there btw.)

  4. Joseph Carli an aside, Miriam..and I mean no dismissal of your conclusions in your comment…but there is an awful lot of presumption of a “playing fair” ethical and moral environment in the programming intentions of any future AI bots…after all, there is the Military Industrial crowd to keep in mind, surely?….and THEY have already shown their “hand” at robotic programming.

  5. Miriam English

    Agreed. The three real dangers with respect to AI are the military, the spooks (spy agencies), and the spammers.

    Almost all the researchers in the field have signed onto a resolution not to help the military develop AI. That won’t stop the military, of course, but it will slow them.

    The spooks are a threat that really worries me. If they got ahold of AI before the rest of us do they could possibly lock us all into a very tight surveillance society. The only antidote to that is for us all to have AIs.

    Spammers are a lesser worry. They could break the internet, but I think their effect would be merely temporary.

    We have many prominent AI researchers so concerned about misuse of AI that they have formed ethics committees to watch over the field and jump on any dangerous developments. The field is actually a lot safer than most people think.

    We have a lot more to fear from malicious people using “narrow” AI, than from rogue “general” AIs. It is unlikely general AIs will be developed for some time, but we already have narrow AI and it is being used for very bad things, such as Cambridge Analytica and the Russians via facebook. When we finally get general AIs I think they will be as weak as kittens and likely be utterly devoted to us.

  6. Joseph Carli

    Here..a bit of a cameo for you cheerless lot :

    Toothless wasn’t really toothless…it’s just that she had a plate that filled the gap of three missing front teeth, that she would click and clack and sometimes push out with her tongue …an unfortunate habit that gained her the nickname of “Toothless”.

    She was ahead of her time for those days, as she didn’t carry a purse with her and kept her money in a wallet like a bloke..she had a comb that she would now and then pass through her page-boy hair cut and replace to a back pocket of her jeans. But she did seek out the company of males, which would contradict any presumption of ; “batting for the other team”. But hey!..who cares..

    But she was a hell of a drinker!…Christ!…could she knock ‘em back…and she wasn’t above shouting her round. I sometimes wonder if she was a kind of “neuter” in the sexual stakes…a sort of “neither here nor there” kind of do get them..I remember one such young chap in my experience..he never dated, and would spend more time admiring his own looks in a mirror or passing glass window that even consider anyone else…I think he worried about getting his hair mussed up.

    Bruce got on quite pally with her and he even scored a date to meet at her flat for a few drinks.

    “I’ve got a half dozen long-necks , a flask of Bundy, and a packet of weed!” He announced gleefully…”If that doesn’t soften her up, nothing will”…he informed us frankly.

    Actually, such a volume of narcotics was a big investment for Bruce, seeing that he was on unemployment benefits at that time, so it must have eaten somewhat into his savings.

    “Wish me luck!” he winked to us as he headed out the front bar doors.

    You can consult the archives of the “Seacliff Hotel Sports and Social Club” for a report on that night’s events…the short of it being that Toothless drank, smoked and kicked Bruce under the table!…She not only polished off all his booze etc. , but then pulled out a supply of her own and proceeded to tuck into that! Bruce confessed that he gave it best when she played that unbeatable hand. ..and it took him a week to recover both his sobriety and manly pride from such a beating!

    Toothless hung about for a while until she tired of the wimpy blokes there and moved on to greener pastures…She was last heard of ripping through the male egos of the northern beach hotels…; The Henley, The Pier and Larges Bay….and good luck to her I say!

  7. Miriam English

    It always struck me as odd, this idea that being able to drink enormous amounts without passing out was some kind of badge of honor. It’s simply the mark of an alcoholic. They are the ones whose liver has massively ramped up production of enzymes in the losing battle to detoxify their system of that poison. They are the ones whose brains are so habituated to alcohol that without it their nervous system cascades into fatal overload (convulsions are a horrible way to die) — they require alcohol to restore some semblance of normal activity, and then more to achieve the numbness they seek.

    The real hero is the person who drinks a single glass and ceases drinking, already sensing impairment of their judgement, leaving their befuddled and loudly obnoxious, stumbling, stupefied companions, for more stimulating activities.

    I don’t understand why people consume a substance to make themselves less intelligent. I’ve had many frustrating conversations with people who have imbibed moderate amounts of alcohol, who then become convinced that it makes them shining sources of wisdom, when in fact they merely become unable to see the clumsiness of their thinking. People who previously were adept and agile thinkers become blunt and stupid while believing the opposite. It is very strange.

    But there is another, much darker side to alcohol.

    Years ago, a beautiful, talented woman I loved turned herself periodically into a wicked, hurtful person by drinking alcohol (she thought it made her witty and fun). Recently I was horrified to find out she’d drunk herself to death some years after we split up.

    Over the past several years my sister has become an alcoholic, now having fits of uncontrollable rage in which she blames her feelings of unhappiness upon everything and everyone around her instead of on the toxic chemical she drinks.

  8. Joseph Carli

    ” It always struck me as odd, this idea that being able to drink enormous amounts without passing out was some kind of badge of honor. It’s simply the mark of an alcoholic. They are the ones whose liver has massively ramped up production of enzymes in the losing battle to detoxify their system of that poison. They are the ones whose brains are so habituated to alcohol that without it their nervous system cascades into fatal overload. . . ”

    All of what you have expressed there, Miriam, is the unfortunate truth..but it is a wisdom that unfortunately takes some years of living through …those youthful years…to learn that truth….and it seems that those who do not “sow their wild oats” (gender neutral!) in their young years are sometimes doomed to; a) not have that accrued knowledge of “what NOT to do” or how to behave as they age.. and b) live to a state of regret of life missed….and perhaps we can add a ; c) Lack that accrued insight from lack of a certain kind of “lived experience” into another’s personal struggle…

    But the saddest thing of all, and I’m sure many here will concur with this opinion…: To stumble into old age stone-cold-sober has to be the most frightening portend of all!

  9. Miriam English

    I’m stumped by your statement that to enter old age sober is frightening. Looking around me, those who are most frightened by it seem to be using various drugs. Those who are sober seem the least worried by it.

    For myself, old age is more of a surprise than a worry (how the hell did I get here so quickly?). I’m a little pessimistic about the probability of being eaten away by Alzheimer’s (my Mum has it and both her sisters died of it), but I am doing my best to prepare for it, if it does strike. Staying sober and relishing maximum use of my mind, while I still have it, is part of that. Organising my computer so that I can always find things is another. Attempting to build an AI to help me is yet another part.

    I don’t wish to keep disagreeing, but I’m not sure how you can feel that habitually getting drunk translates to gained experience. I never liked alcohol — I tried it when I was a teen, but never liked the way it made me stupid. I went through a period of using opiates (because my girlfriend at the time did), but never really enjoyed it. The experiences I value the most are those of learning things, and understanding other people and other animals. None of those were ever enhanced by drug use. Alcohol, in particular clouds the ability to do any of those. Oddly, it does so while often making people think it enhances their ability.

    I’ll never forget the time this was brought home most strongly to me. I, and a few other girls and one guy went out to a pub to see a particular band. When the show had finished I was sober because I don’t drink, and the other girls’d had almost no alcohol, but the guy was clearly drunk. He owned the car, which he insisted that he was sober enough to drive. We couldn’t argue sense into him. He was absolutely convinced he was capable. In the end we left, preferring to walk.

  10. Joseph Carli

    Miriam…YOU..are one person I INVITE to disagree with me, as your “disagreements” are a welcome exchange of ideas…I could, I suppose send you a flippant reply replete with obtuse witticism and exchange banter on the subject for a period of posts and time..But perhaps this is the time we..and others here give some thought to the subject of what constitutes a well-lived life.

    Your attitude promoting a certain level of sobriety in life can be seen as noble..perhaps even inspirational…but speaking personally..having “sailed thru’ the storms of vicissitude” on life’s seas, and now reaching 67yrs. in a reasonable state of body health and sanity (touch wood!)…I have held most dear to myself those memories of many “wasted nights” of boozy behaviour shared with those many who have fallen by the wayside, and it could have been me, some through alcohol abuse that led to motor accidents and other disasters…some through failed health through the over use of the drug..some through plain bad luck..but still, of all the times I harbour regret from my own inebriated state and my actions within that state…I could fairly say that the path trod was a worthy one with little remorse…NOT necessarily with saintly I have demonstrated here on this blog..and along the way I have gathered from the verge of that most perilous road, a veritable armful bouquet of the most beautiful flowers of observed experiences..many of which I share with strangers on here as elsewhere…and as for the lessons of sober experience over drunken foolishness…I lean toward the latter…because a fool at least has a chance to redeem themself by the gaining of wisdom, and folk will praise him for his endeavour, just as a drunk has of getting sober…yet the wise person, having fallen into foolishness (a state easily gained and sometimes readily accepted!) will forever be tainted by the memory and the reminders of those around him, of the height from which he may have fallen…of the “person they used to be”…

    There are many parables and examples of the pitfalls that lead any one of us into the dreaded perdition of scandal and abuse…off the top of my head as universal example we have that movie : “The Blue Angel” with Marlene Dietrich …and of course there is the always handy the biblical “Parable of The Pounds”…

    Of course, exemplar society and graceful manners will back your position everyday to the hilt..I..have NO social claim to legitimately base my case upon…for “success in life’s pursuit” is STILL measured in the cut of one’s cloth and the fatness of one’s portfolio…even clever Oscar Wilde, a genius in every respect of his writing, did, I believe die in a gutter..but then I never was one to bow my scruffy neck to the rule of social order and good manners..Besides..I would never have gained this repertoire of yarns without some sort of skewed outlook on life.

  11. Miriam English

    I certainly don’t consider myself a wise person… more a fool who loves to learn. I strive to be less the fool, and this is one of the main reasons I reject drugs in general and alcohol in particular. I have a large store of good and bad memories to draw upon — I’m only 2 years behind you on time’s treadmill. In the end I have nothing except memories and friendships… no money, no house, no children, not even a lover anymore, but I’m nevertheless probably the happiest person I know of. Regrets? Yes, I have many, but I also bask happily in many warm parts of my past. For this brief time I exist and have left a tiny mark, “I was here.”

  12. Miriam English

    I’ll read your story later… a bit late for me right now. I’m off to bed.

  13. Joseph Carli

    “goodnight, sweet prince..and let flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”….thus spake Horatio..

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