A Trillion Bits of Distracting Noise

A blog on popular and literary culture, social justice and activism.

C.G. Jung was a master explorer and deep observer of the human psyche, of the complex relationship between conscious daylight life and the vast darkness of the unconscious. The former is the place of control, planning and mastery. It is the zone of wakefulness where we direct our lives, or think we do. The latter is the storehouse of memory, instincts and emotions and forms the structural basis of the psyche. It is pure nature within us. These two aspects of our inner lives must live in accord with each other. Often, they don’t.

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Early in David Mazzucchelli's graphic novel Asterios Polyp, there is a page with a grid of six panels which, viewed as a unified whole, shows a warehouse office space, filled with zig-zagging partitions; students sit at desks or stand before walls, sheets of marked-up drafts paper before them. The main character proceeds to walk through those panels, in each one firing off acerbic comments directed at his architecture students — “You call this an entrance? I’d need a speculum to get inside!” — until his angry verbal momentum carries him right off the page.

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“Life to me is sadism, self-torture and masochism,” notes Kim Ki-duk in his 2011 film Arirang. “Torturing others, getting tortured, and torturing oneself. Eventually, most people wish to settle for self-torture, right?” A darkly provocative thought. An instigation. Such is the nature of Kim and his work. Arirang, his 16th film, is an oddity, a break from the string of purely fictional provocations that have challenged and moved his viewers over the last dozen or so years.

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