August 30, 2004

Kurt & Ramtha had nothing left to offer the school...

In my previous post, I said that What the Bleep was a spiritual recruitment film. I didn't mention that one of the talking heads in the movie is JZ Knight. JZ Knight is a spiritual guru who channels a 35,000 year old warrior from Atlantis named Ramtha. She also sells a line of elfin capes and brooches.

I avoided the whole Ramtha thing because the movie was a failure regardless of the wackiness of one of its participants. Also, everytime I read a skeptic debunking of someone like Ramtha, I usually end up not liking the debunker very much. It's hard to be a likeable know-it-all and not end up just being a smarmy ass. I should think.

The thing is tho' ... it turns out that What the Bleep is an actual recruitment film for Ramtha. While there's probably no financial relationship between Ramtha's School of Enlightenment and the filmmakers, the ideological ties help explain why it's such an uncomfortable movie to watch.

The filmmakers address this in their FAQ in which they reveal that they are all students of Ramtha. In answer to the question "Is this a recruitment film?" they say "The short answer is No." Which makes one wonder what the long answer is. I feel the longer version is that they sought to create a movie influenced by - but independent of - the spiritual school they follow. But they failed and created a propaganda film instead.

The influence of Ramtha over Bleep is significant. Mark Vicente, the director of Bleep, has also directed Where Angels Fear to Tread, a self-described rockumentary about Ramtha. Two of the other talking heads in the movie are associated with Ramtha - chiropractor Joseph Dispenza, whose book is for sale on Ramtha's site, and Amit Goswami who collaborated with JZ Knight in 1997.

Additionally, the filmmakers and their production company are headquarted in Yelm, Washington - home of JZ Knight's school. The company's publicist, Pavel Mikoloski, (who also appears in Bleep as a priest) is also the spokeperson for RSE. Even the production company's name, Lord of the Wind, comes from one of Ramtha's teachings in which he recounts his enlightenment.

All of which helps explain the relentless tone of the film ... as well as the soft-focus, ultra close-ups of JZ Knight. The film is not an exploration of spiritual ideas - it's an indoctrination. From someone who charges $1000 per retreat and sues in Austrian court for copyright infringement should anyone else claim to channel the spirit of Ramtha.


August 28, 2004


Halfway through watching What the #$*! Do We Know?!, I realized I was seeing a spritual recruitment film.

The movie promulgates a worldview based on eastern mysticism and quantum mechanics through a combination of talking head interviews, a loose narrative starring Marlee Matlin and CGI.

It was a really uncomfortable movie going experience. I'd been very petulant about going to see it in the first place and I realized that leaving in the middle would definitely cross the melodrama threshold. But still - I was squirmy, largely because I agreed with what was being said, but was dying at the way in which it was said.

Part educational filmstrip and part instructional video, the movie posits answers to the mysteries of life by invoking precepts such as be here now, visualize peace, see the divinity within and so on. These ideas are presented in short soundbytes from talking heads and go largely uncontextualized. (Well, the narrative part of the movie tries to shoulder some of the load here. But it's like the story in a health class video - it is slave to the message. Also, this whole part really sucks eggs from an execution standpoint.) As a result, these ideas come off as slogans or tips for happy living rather than what I feel they're meant to be - pointers to a transcendent truth.

The filmmakers make matters worse by poorly contextualizing these spiritual ideas in the study of modern physics. Throughout the movie, quantum mechanics is invoked as a talisman to bridge the gap between mysticism and reality. On the whole, this is, again, a line of thought to which I'm very sympathethic having really dug on Fritjof Capra's whole deal. But the Tao of Physics puts a lot of effort establishing the traditions of both eastern spirituality and western physics - as such the associations are rich and meaningful. In What the Bleep, they are completely superficial.

Of course, Fritjof had a whole book - maybe this stuff just can't be done in a movie. I don't think that's actually the case. Instead, I feel the film fails because it ends up flying over the propaganda line.

But, then again, Fahrenheit 9/11 was a propaganda film and I enjoyed it as such. What the Bleep is, similarly, an activist movie but the whole thing ends up eating itself precisely because of the spiritual truths it attemps to convey. The movie hammers away with soundbytes and hand wave-y science until the tone is one of pure dogma - which is just an awful thing to do to a philosophy that is completely un-dogmatic.

This post has been cross-posted to Flicknut

August 22, 2004


The clouds in Dolores Park were amazing today.

August 21, 2004


The New York Times online is frequently infuriating, largely because they're so close to doing amazingly cool stuff. The Al Hirscheld Archive is a good example.

The drawings are incredibly cool and having them all compiled in one place made me realize how great Hirschfeld's work truly is. However, the browsing kinda sucks and, most annoyingly, there's no way to see larger versions of the pictures.

This one of Fiddler on the Roof looks phenomenal but how's the NYT not gonna let me see more detail on Tevye's crazy beard?

August 16, 2004

Queen of Slime

Last night, I dreamt I was attending a music theory lecture at some Hogwartish fancy pants school where you have to wear a tux and tails, like, everywhere.

The Beatles, as the guests of honor, were exempt from the dresscode and instead wore their Sgt. Pepper's outfits and chatted cattily as we watched a movie on renaissance music composition.

Apparently, the style back in the day was to use a needle and thick, red thread to sew the notes into thin sheets of burnished plywood. The demonstration in the movie - a quick hand effortlessly looping through a dozen quarter rests - was really striking and I very much wanted to take a picture that would capture both the screen and the regalia'd Beatles.

(At the time, Ringo was saying that the symbol for the quarter rest was taken from arabic. Unsurprisingly, Ringo is full of shit - I didn't know it at the time, but the crooked symbol is called the crotchet from the French who also named a style of needlework)

Sadly, the light was too crappy to get a good picture and I was nervous about using the flash and going all paparazzi on the Fab Four who, I'm sure, get that all the time. But I do have this nice one of some slime in Golden Gate Park.

August 13, 2004


Originally uploaded by evhead.

The cap totally worked! In the last inning, we came back from a 8-5 deficit to win the intra-Blogger team kickball game.

August 11, 2004

Exit Light / Enter Night

Steve and I, having been prevented from seeing baseball at PacBell due to the insidious trickery of the US Naval Observatory, reveled in good-seat glory last night in Oakland.

One of the great pleasures of baseball is that its slow pace gives you time to contemplate the mysteries of life with good friends. For example, what would your intro music be if you were a major league closer? My list:

  1. "Isolation" by Joy Division
  2. "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails (probably only in New York)
  3. "The Centaur" by Buck 65
  4. "It's the End of the World as We Know It" by REM
  5. "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode

"Personal Jesus" takes it for me by a wide stretch because of the salvation themes. But it's clear that there can be no worse choice than "Dancing Queen" ... maybe the PSB version of "Go West."

August 10, 2004

So is it over?

As widely reported:

"Kerry said he would have cast the same Yes vote in Congress that he did on Oct. 11, 2002, to authorize the president to launch a pre-emptive war that began March 19, 2003, even if Kerry had known that Saddam Hussein had no ties with Al Qaeda terrorists, no weapons of mass destruction and posed no real threat to the world."

How is this anything less than Kerry slitting his own throat? Besides just being wrong in principle, it makes no sense politically. If Kerry can't distinguish his stance on Iraq from that of Bush, he's nowhere.


August 09, 2004

Barack Obama: Still Awesome

Today, Alan Keyes said the following ridiculous thing about abortion:

"I would still be picking cotton if the country's moral principles had not been shaped by the Declaration of Independence," Keyes said. He said Obama "has broken and rejected those principles he has taken the slaveholder's position."

Obviously, the point was to have the quote picked up. He's said something similarly preposterous in a number of other interviews - for example, arguing that Barack Obama (by supporting gay marriage) has turned his back on everything decent in the world and that Keyes, like Lincoln, must defend our fundemental principles of Union.

Will Barack Obama, the greatest thing to happen to Democratic politics in a generation, be sidetracked like so many others by the social issue sideshow?

Fuck no.

"As I travel around this state, I don't get asked about gay marriage, I don't get asked about abortion. I get asked, 'How can I find a job that allows me to support my family.' I get asked, 'How can I pay those medical bills without going into bankruptcy.'"

Alan Keyes, Barack Obama is a righteous political whirlwind. You are but the cracked out trailer park in his path.

August 08, 2004


There's nothing remarkable to say about David Mamet's Spartan. It's Jack Ryan with staccato dialog.

But seeing it did make me check out what Mamet's up to next ... apparently he's working on a Will Farrell vehichle called Joan of Bark: The Dog that Saved France.


August 07, 2004

More miraculous

If you've ever wanted to experience the awe of someone from the 19th century gazing upon our modern world, go out and get an AirPort Express. Sending audio from a laptop to your stereo without wires! All hail the future!

August 01, 2004

Modern Miracle

jew-paySick of being bald? To cheap to buy a real hairpiece? Help has arrived!

Now you can own a homemade toupee in just 5 easy steps:

1. Find a friend with a thick head of hair. The thicker, the better. Take Eugene, for example. His hair is so thick he gets it cut every couple weeks ... with garden shears! (buh-dum-bum).

2. Next, go over to said hirsute friend's house when he's getting a trim. Try not to salivate as you watch all that luscious hair pile up on the floor (the spit would make the hair clumpy).

3. After the haircut is over, get a couple strips of wide, transparent tape. Packing tape is perfect. Duct tape, not so much.

4. Dredge the the strips of tape through the piled hair clippings.

5. You should now have a couple chia-esque strips of tape. Plop those suckers on your noggin and you can hold your head up high from now on!