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Dear Intergalactic DKS Friends and Supporters,

Welcome to the program. As you know Christmas is coming up, and things are a little slow in the art world. However, I thought I would this time to explore what I call LaMo Cinema, or late modernism cinema by jumping on the bandwagon of Avatar, which opens tomorrow and is a science fiction action adventure epic film written and directed by James Cameron whose other films included; The Abyss, The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, Titanic, and Spider-Man and Dark Angel.  It is an off world film genre that uses science fiction: speculative, science-based depictions of  theoretical phenomena unrelated to science, such as extra-terrestrial life forms, alien worlds, esp, time travel, and stuff like spacecraft, robots, and corny dialogue to focus on, in an un-threatening way, are on contemporary political or social issues, and philosophical issues like the human condition. And I thought I would do it again in my inimitable Wikipedia links style. D isikipedia- Where I mix and match and copy edit many fields, both real and imagined, mashing up the theoretical with the purely biased, but providing some related links to help clarify what I expect is the complete confusion.  Please note, I have not seen this movie, so this is conjecture at its worst.

From Dikipedia, the insane LaMo encyclopedia

Avatar Plot

In A.D. 2154, the story’s protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a former U.S. Marine, wounded and paralyzed from the waist down is selected to participate in the Avatar program, which will enable him to walk if Jake travels to Pandora, a lush inhabited jungle-covered world, with incredible life forms, both beautiful and terrifying on satelliteAlpha Centauri A, 4.3 light years from Earth.

Pandora is also home to the Na’vi, a sentient humanoid race, who, although considered primitive, are more physically capable than humans. Standing 10 feet tall, with tails and sparkling blue skin, the Na’vi live in harmony with their unspoiled world. As treasure hunting Earth creeps encroach deeper into their forests in search of space booty, the Na’vi, formidable warrior, counterattack to defend their homes.

Jake has unwittingly been recruited to become part of this encroachment. Since humans can't breathe on Pandora, the Marines create genetically-bred human-Na’vi hybrids known as Avatars. So on Pandora, with his Avatar body, Jake's able to walk again and is sent deep into its jungles to scout for his fellow off world imperialist storm troopers. In the jungle Jake encounters many of Pandora's beauties and dangers, but none more lovely than a young Na’vi female, Neytiri of the local clan he us infiltrates. Over time, Jake finds he likes the Pandora lifestyle and falls in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña). As a result, Jake finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth and the Na’vi, forcing him to choose sides in an epic battle that will decide the fate of Pandora. A trailer for it is here:

Plot Analysis

Generally, it looks to me as if James Cameron wishes to continue to build on his utopianist view that  cooperation can reconcile humanity with technology (as seen in Aliens, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day,) when two protagonists, each who face impossible odds, work together to achieve their goals, with strong female characters. (Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley being the most famous.)

"Philosopher Stephen Mulhall has remarked that the four Alien films represent an artistic rendering of the difficulties faced by the woman's "voice" to have itself heard in a masculinist society, as Ripley continually encounters males who try to silence her and to force her to submit to their desires. Mulhall sees this depicted in several places in Aliens, particularly the inquest scene in which Ripley's explanation for the deaths and destruction of the Nostromo, as well as her attempts to warn the board members of the alien danger, are met with officious disdain. However, Mulhall believes that Ripley's relationship with Hicks illustrates that Aliens "is devoted ... to the possibility of modes of masculinity that seek not to stifle but rather to accommodate the female voice, and modes of femininity that can acknowledge and incorporate something more or other of masculinity than our worst nightmares of it."

Avatar also seems to seek to cash in on the current popularity of Superhero fiction, a genre characterized by beings with much higher than usual capability and prowess, such as Jake the Avatar and the Na’vi, who are generally inbued with a natural desire or need to help their fellow citizens. Think Stan Lee (co-creator of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk) and Marv Wolfman, the creator of Blade for Marvel Comics, and The New Teen Titans for DC Comics.

The Na’vi's home is a fantastical magical realist Utopia that finds itself smack up against the usual  colonialist corporate militarist dystopia out for profit in addition to, the benefits of increased power and authority. As seen in the serializations of Alien, Resident Evil and RoboCop.

But I'm not sure how it will play out in the end, but what I hope he adds in, addition to these traditional science fiction genre lines will be an exploration of, how can I say this discreetly?

The Mind F#!k Genre

The leading exponent of which is Philip K. Dick (Dec. 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist whose published work during his lifetime was almost entirely in the science fictionsociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works, Dick's thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences and addressed the nature of drug abuse, paranoia and schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.

"I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards," Dick wrote of these stories. "In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real." Dick referred to himself as a "fictionalizing philosopher."

In addition to 36 novels, Dick wrote 121 short stories, nine of which have been adapted into popular films including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly and Minority Report.

Dick's stories typically focus on the fragile nature of what is "real" and the construction of personal identity. His stories often become surreal fantasies as the main characters slowly discover that their everyday world is actually an illusion constructed by powerful external entities, vast political conspiracies, or simply from the vicissitudes of an unreliable narrator. Alternate universes and simulacra were common plot devices, with fictional worlds inhabited by common, working people, rather than galactic elites. "There are no heroes in Dick's books," Ursula K. Le Guin wrote, "but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people."

Dick was heavily influenced by the work of Carl Jung, who was a self-taught psychiatrist and expert on the unconscious and the mythological foundations of conscious experience and was open to the reality underlying mystical experiences. The Jungian constructs that interested Dick were his archetypes of the collective unconscious, group projection/ hallucination, synchronicities, and personality theory

Mental illness and drug use was a constant interest of Dick's, and themes of mental illness permeate his work. The novel Clans of the Alphane Moon centers on an entire society made up of descendants of lunatic asylum inmates. Dick was a stimulants user for much of his life.


The Mind Control Genre had its roots, I believe, in Cold War propaganda about North Korean success at brainwashing, which helped spawned a film and literary boom in paranoid novels about spies, saboteurs, and double agents which stoked the cold war's " have." The most paranoid feature of these plots was their circularity of developments, wherein the protagonist comes full circle only to find out that in uncovering his true mission and identity, he had been just executing the very mission his tormentors had  implanted in his brain from the beginning, negating the concept of free will or action.

Invariably the Mind F@*k Genre centers on areas dedicated totalitarians, corporate technocrats, or secret agency villains whose power/control quest is to create perfect robot soldier/assassin zombies, who can still function as they traverse a treacherous landscape that roams from total paranoia to schizophrenia to narrative realism to surrealistic subjectivity after their brains, their bodies, and their souls have been tortured into submission by both low to high tech brainwashing machines.

The Bourne Series cover Matt Damon’s existential quest of to discover why, when given certain Pavlovian commands, he turns into an unstoppable assassin. The Manchurian Candidate, Frank Sinatra’s 1962 movie that foreshadowed the JFK assassination is a early example of this Genre.

It's as if Karl Marx’s theory of the social alienation gets morphed into full scale schizophrenia with both heroes and villains being converted to subject commodities to be redrawn for profit and prestige, while commenting on issues such as xenophobia, propaganda, and cognitive dissonance. I would call Avatar a LaMo non-magical realist science-fiction adventure film with themes of imperialism and biodiversity.  I'm only guessing now but I think that Avatar could be a pastiche of five different highly enjoyed science fiction films.

Thank you very much and good night.

Sincerely yours,


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