Posts Tagged ‘Blue Velvet’

Blackpaint 684 – Psychopaths, Severed Ears, Alchemists – and Art

January 21, 2021

Ice Lines, Blackpaint

 

Crazy, not Insane – Sky Documentary (dir. Alex Gibney)

Ted Bundy and Arthur Shawcross

Staggering programme about Dorothy Otnow Lewis, a psychiatrist who has interviewed and analysed a number of America’s worst serial killers – are there any that are not all that bad? – including Arthur Shawcross and Theodore “Ted” Bundy.  She seems prone to finding that these persons are often in the grip of “multiple personality disorder”; that is, when they kill, it is some malign other personality that takes them over (and is therefore responsible for the crimes).  The doc contains film of her with Shawcross, who is “taken over” during the interview; it appears to me that Lewis must be one of the most gullible people on the planet, to be fooled by Shawcross’s pathetic charade.  Reminds me of James Randi, the conjuror and illusionist, who died recently ;he said repeatedly that he loved doing his stunts before scientists because they were the easiest people to fool.

Journey into Darkness – John Douglas

Read this book as an antidote to the above.  Douglas,  one of the founders of criminal profiling, and author of “Mindhunter” has unequaled experience of these types of murderers – Kemper, Manson, Bundy, Wayne Williams, dozens more – and demolishes the “multiple personality” nonsense roundly (in the case of multiple killers who develop these traits AFTER arrest and sometimes trial, that is)..  He makes an unanswerable case for the reform of the US legal system to render justice to the victims’ families, specifically in the area of multiple and/or specious appeals against executions.

Blue Velvet  (David Lynch, 1986) 

I finally got round to seeing this;  I expected a dream-like atmosphere and some difficulty in comprehending the plot – and yes, both expectations fulfilled –  but not TOO baffling.   The violence – Isabella Rosselini gets hit by Dennis Hopper’s psychopath, Frank Booth, several times – is nasty, but nowhere near as horrifying as that in, say, “The Killer Inside Me”.  The dream thing is exemplified for me in the exchange between Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) and Laura Dern’s policeman father, when Jeffrey shows him what he has found in the meadows; “Why yes,” says the policeman, “you’re right – it IS a human ear”… as if it were an interesting fungus species.

Great ending shot of a clearly mechanical bird with a large (mechanical?) insect in its bill, against the saturated colours of a suburban American garden.

I was going to write, the only Lynch film I understood all the way through was “Eraserhead” – although that’s wrong, because he did “the Elephant Man” and “The Straight Story ” too.  And “Wild at Heart”…

What Painting Is, James Elkins (Routledge 2019)

Back to art.  I was bought two art books for Christmas with these pleasingly symmetrical titles:  “What is Painting?” by Julian Bell and “What Painting Is”, by James Elkins.  The first is a fascinating, but reasonably conventional work on art history – more next time.  The second, by a professor of art history from Chicago, is a real surprise, to say the least.  It gets right down into the paint on the canvas, the marks, the pigments, the process.  The comparison is with alchemy and he goes into the subject in great detail.  I thought “Oh no, this is going to be tedious” – but I was wrong.  Elkins loves to be down in the sludge with the alchemists, trying to extract and separate; but then he’s there with Jackson Pollock, with the domestic enamels, hairs, cigarette ends, describing Pollock’s characteristic marks in detail.  Highly recommended.

New Paintings (and one collage)

Finally, I’ve got round to doing some work again – mostly re-working old pictures, with oil over acrylic.  Some examples below and at the top:

 

Catch the Wave

 

Swe Dea (Collage)

Happy New Year – no irony intended

Blackpaint

21st January 2021