Episode 070. We’re here to wrap 2016, and then talk about the upcoming Crowd Completion. First, a tangential rambling disguised as an introduction.
What’s the reasonable person’s take on the imagination? I was listening to Radio Lab’s episode about the concept of reasonableness in law, and perhaps like me, you have also adopted and fed some arbitrary standard for what appropriate human behavior and thought looks like, and tried to conform.
The episode related how the idea of the reasonable behavior started out as a defense against the abuse of police power, but ended up sanctioning that power.
A moment ago, I caught a glimmer of how powerful the imagination might be, and then immediately bumped up against the idea that a reasonable person might not think what I was about to think. But fuck that, where did reasonableness get us in prosecuting trigger happy cops? I now gently relax my reasonableness, and perhaps in the context of this podcast, my desire to entertain and even making sense.
What if imagining is as practical as algebra and as pragmatic as a spatula? What if the imagination could do stuff, what if imagination was an interface, analogous to a steering wheel or web browser? What if imagination is all there really is, what if everything was a symptom of imagination? From a metaphysical perspective, that’s old news.
I’m gonna play this way meta, because I think that might be fun. Let me incarnate another character to propose the anti-thesis of imagination as agency, a Reasonable Man.
I agree! Imagination is very important. We pretend, tell ourselves a story of how a situation could be other, better. I’m not a cognitive psychologist, but probably our brains run simulations, and the smarter I am, the more variables I can include in my simulation, the more likely my imagination can produce a valid prediction about reality.
However, whatever insights we gain from our simulation, nothing happens until we take action. We have to do something to realize any changes in the real world. Imagination alone cannot change circumstance.
We live in a universe of consistent physical laws. Gravity comes to mind. I’ve never heard of anyone flying just because they imagined they could. The Wright brothers had two things – a dream… and a bicycle shop. They needed both imagination and action to fly the first airplane.
And that probably was what most of the people I know were brought up to believe and espouse. Any suggestion to the contrary usually meets with stiff resistance, because believing should coincide with observable replicable reality, else you’re labeled a kook, fanatic, insane.
People can’t just believe things real. If they could, reality would be chaos, nothing would make any sense, cause and effect wouldn’t apply.
Yet my childhood was packed with the mystical and make believe, stories of talking rabbits, emerald cities and the force. For most reasonable people this is perfectly fine, harmless, sweet. Clearly an argument could be made that fairy stories mislead children about real life, but in practice only the most dogmatic zealots get bent out of shape by fairy stories, and that’s usually because they’re advocating a different species of fairy. So maybe make believe isn’t misleading kids, but providing a gentle transition to theme park Earth, where imagination doesn’t seem to work the way they are familiar with back in that green room up in the sky, before the big show, the human game. Isn’t the prevalence of fairy stories a pretty obvious clue about what we are?
Stephen Speilberg’s ET is basically a fairy story with a scientific veneer. I rewatched the other night, it hasn’t aged very well. ET, a visitor from elsewhere in our universe, is accidentally stranded on Earth and taken in by Elliot, a preteen boy. One scene in particular stands out. ET is peering through the closet door at the mom reading the story of Peter Pan to her daughter. In the story, the ailing Tinkerbell is brought back to life by belief alone. The mom and daughter both get very engaged in encouraging Tinkerbell. ET finds this fascinating. Why? ET is a placeholder for an advanced civilization that gets the power of imagination, and love. Spielberg can be pretty heavy handed, but this was a nice moment. ET’s quiet fascination invites the audience to focus on what’s going on, to ponder why he’s fixated.
The Reasonable Man seems quiet now, so let’s run a thought experiment. What would happen if we believed wonderful things on purpose? What if I got really good at supplanting conditions that don’t really appeal with grand and gorgeous fantasy?
In Daughter of God the young girl, Christina was taught by her Uncle Joe to give more credence to her imagination than present circumstances. He armored her against the traumas of apocalypse and the collapse of civilization by helping her build a rich inner life, a fantasy life. Uncle Joe is also “wizard of the deep canyons, the king of the flying saucers”. He’s able to summon ET technology. Uncle Joe is a master of the imagination.
If imagination is a simulator as proposed by the Reasonable Man then so is our reality, but I doubt we’re not being simulated by our future descendants. This is an ongoing massive multiplayer game simulating limitation and we are the players, pulsing energy clusters packed rather tightly into biology. We’re wearing human suits.
Fully identifying with our imagination is how we integrate with this reality, remake reality. Even though we designed the rollercoaster, every plank and bolt, we can still be thrilled by the ride. That was the point of making the ride. My little spark today, what I got intrigued by is this. I can trust my imagination and indulge in the rich pleasures of imagination as a decisive act. Action in the world as expression, as play. Alan Watts said musicians are required to play on purpose, on command. To play with the intensity and focus of a child in a grown up world. What will happen? Stay tuned.
In Episode 006 and 016, we introduced Toe Socks, the short Lauren Discipio had written and directed back in 2002, inspired by an aesthetic conflict with our pal Shoal Southworth. I was the cinematographer and support for Lauren, her first time directing. We edited together and wrote and performed the theme song, Beans and Rice. Since Lauren and I didn’t really know anything about film festivals back then, Toe Socks never found an audience, we just sent the link to a few friends and moved on.
Starting the story of the Daughter of God implied I might eventually revisit my entire origin myth, every project and experience that informed my perspective as an artist, shaped me as a maker of movies and as a human. On August 31 I wrote to Lauren and asked her permission to post Toe Socks on Youtube. She replied that Toe Socks deserved to be seen. I tossed out the idea of sending it to a few short festivals and she was game. She created an IMDB page and we uploaded a screener. We tried top tier festivals and a few regionals, but our genius went unrecognized. We were and clearly still are, decades ahead of the curve.
Toe Socks Vimeo or YouTube
Some geekiness. A megabyte is a thousand kilobytes, a gigabyte is a thousand megabytes and a terabyte is 1000 gigabytes. 1 terabyte can store about 2.5 hours of 720p HD video, at 30 frames a second. Since each second of video has 30 frames or pictures, here’s another way to think about 1 TB. 2.5 hours x 60 minutes x 60 seconds x 30 frames = 270,000 pictures. That’s how many pictures you can save on 1 TB.
Over the course of the project I had grown my project archive from ~20 TB to ~100 TB, most of which was stored on 1TB bare 5.25″ SATA drives which could be slotted into 2 bays, the trusty Venus T5’s I’d purchased in 2008. By 2016, the drivers for the Venus T5 were antiquated and my SATAs would no longer mount reliably. In June of 2016 I hungered for way more storage, a vasty virtuality that would give ready access to all DOG’s media. After some research I went with OWC’s Thunderbay RAID and the super convenient Startech 4 bay SATA toasters. In english, this meant that I could have 18 TBs of super fast RAID storage and an additional 4 TBs of removable SATAs or 22 TB available total. That’s room enough for almost 6 million pictures.
As the years have rolled by, significant chunks of Daughter of God’s technological infrastructure have obsoleted, Final Cut Pro 7.0 being the most significant. I so appreciate that most of my archival files are still accessible after all this time.
At a random party, I met a real life Uncle Joe, a deep state operator, long retired. In his day, a political prodigy. Now living in a shack somewhere in Manistee, a random acquaintance of the party’s hosts. He displayed a casual disregard for his top secret clearance , happy to tell me whatever I wanted to know. I asked him how he could get away with that, and he said no one would ever believe me, and if I outed him as my source he’d just deny everything.
Later, I made inquiries in my network and his story pans out, he could be the real deal. I’ve since meant to visit him again and ask him a series of tinfoil hat questions. Especially now with the advent of the slightly hokey To the Stars Academy and the official release of the Hornet UFO video last week, what can he tell me about the fedgov trysting with ETs? My Uncle Joe is the “Wizard of the Deep Canyons, King of the Flying Saucers”, so any information this dark operator provided could easily be woven in, Uncle Joe’s backstory getting eerily accurate. Or I might be making this up.
Michigan Movie Makers
After the podcast was well underway, I briefly revived M3. Who was out there still, making movies? Recall that In 2010 I’d returned from NYC and sailing around Lake Michigan to discover Traverse City’s movie making boom, driven by the Michigan Film Incentives, see episode 028 and 034. I re-cofounded the Michgan Movie Makers and attempted herd that community of cats. By 2015, the incentives were gone and my motivation to herd cats faded away. Now in 2016, I was channeling all that energy into my own projects and curious about what local movie makers might be left standing.
I emailed the list and asked for updates. from our 200 or so members, Matt Dayton, Bill Latka, Arron Dennis, J Mark Eiden, Tom Emmot, Vince Hancock, Robin Pearson, Cody Stowe and myself were still local and active. I knew there were a few others out there, like Ben Busch, Cat Muncey and the godfather, Rich Brauer. The last of the Jedi.
In episode 008, Ann Loeding DOG’s line producer visited the podcast and gave her recollections about our 10 days aboard the big boat, Alexander Henry. Two weeks earlier I had emailed 4 other members of the Daughter of God’s cast and crew asking for their remembrances. Nobody responded. I was slightly disappointed at first, but then I realized that I had plenty of story to tell all by myself. Perhaps when DOG had legs, these prodigals would come home. After 10 years, Steve could now legally re-enter the USA, see episode 005. Maybe we can live stream his episode.
Wordcamp Ann Arbor
I attended my first WordPress Wordcamp in Ann Arbor with my new uber ally, Milagros Parades. Every conference has a unique culture, and I did my best to adapt rusty geek tribalism from past SIGGCHIs, SIGGRAPHs, and even Worldcons, the World Science Fiction Convention. I returned staring up at learning curves, but at least now I knew what I didn’t know, and that’s a start. I attended my second Wordcamp with Joe Cissel a couple of months back, see episode 060, more present and itching to poke and prod a little.
After a month or two of podcasting, I was revising and upgrading my motivation almost every episode. This was both exhilarating and disconcerting. I thought I knew what I was doing, but history is just a list of surprises. Here’s a peek at my transformation in just two weeks.
What's the mission of dog.movie? To magnetize 100k people to Daughter of God. To give Daughter of God's audience easily access Offering audience access to the longest little movie ever Preparing Earth for the coming of Daughter of God A laboratory for Dan to build the new movie making paradigm Dan's homebrew venue for global art and awareness Dan's channel of connection to decisive collaborators
Doesn't matter how many people are watching or listening. What matter is 1) Am I having fun and 2) Am I making something super cool? The rest will follow.
[snip] Is the podcast a success? My god, last night I was organizing the master podcast file and seeing all the sound effects, and that reminded me of the crazy stuff I've done so far over the last 12 weeks. and I am like, wow, this feels good.
To sweep up the last crumbs of 2016, here are a few links from the extended family with commentary.
In October James Schaberg sent, Johanna under the ice is a sweet short about an icy freediver. I was certified FII Level 2 Freediver that August with Mark Lozano in Alpena and of course Wim Hof would come later. That James is a little prescient. He also sent me Favorite Podcasts of NPR 2016, in December and predicted Daughter of God would be included for 2017. Ya never know.
Shoalie Southworth sent some dweebs overdub of Geordie Rose and Dwave Quantum Computing. I was annoyed by the Mandela Effect commentary and sought out the original talk, where Geordie makes predictions about super intelligent AI not unlike Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity except without any mention of humans integrating this technology and upgrading. Milagros had already turned me onto Micheal Brown’s practical time travel with his Presence Process, so when Shoal dropped this video on10/08, I was prepped to riff about alternate universes around episodes 080 (10/25) and 010 (11/03).
I can’t help thinking that godlike super intelligence running on quantum computers is pretty much a description of us. According to Prof. dr. Dirk K.F. Meijer PhD and other researchers, human brains do their processing outside of the skull, in other dimensions, we are fleshy, bone-y quantum computers. WE are already godlike super intelligences, instantiating in duality for fun and profit. We’re sneaking up on ourselves.
Back in April, when Matt Kern and I were tinkering with tracking and 3D scans, he sent me this link for Lytos, a camera system for capturing a scene not as values of light and shadow, but as spatial data. This means once a scene is captured, anything can be changed because all the elements, actors, props and set are discrete data, no longer baked into one image. Rotoscoping was used extensively with DOG and is a method of unbaking elements so as to add to or subtract from a scene, a Lytos shot would make rotoscoping as obsolete as handcranked film cameras.
Quantum computing and the Lytos together imply that technical details are moot, DOG is going to be an antique right out of the box. All that matters is the spark of joy in the making, my delight in deploying a Toy Universe, emphasizing the quirky performances on the big boat and remembering how the making of this movie made me. My operating principle for completion is relishing and delighting in the making, loving the great big canvas, primed and ready for paint. I have the spark, the madness, the vision. Letting the joy flow steady and strong, that’s all now. I am pretty clear the movie is soaking up and embodying this energy. The final cinematic experience will convey what I am living now, now, now. A deployment of the highest technology. Who’s making who?
all this jazz I’ve been spouting is wanting a manifestation, a happening,
Wow, what a rambling podcast this has been. I just listened to the last 5 episodes and there’s hardly a thread to cling to. I guess the only constant is you and me. Isn’t that all we need, you and me? Self and other. Phenomenon and observer. Cat and catnip. Peanut butter and banana.
. My teacher, Swami Bua, started his career as a yogi in the United States in his 70s, that was his beginning. A mere child at 54, I
I confess! I’ve gassed hard about this project for a year and maybe your like, dog, fucking shut up already! No, that’s not true, your hanging on my every word. Somewhere between those two extremes, I see you.
You talk and talk Dan Kelly and like Deepak Chopra, a grain of wheat in a ton of chaff. There’s no secrets here, we all know that I didn’t really know what I was doing when I got started podcasting, my gosh – we learned to podcast together. I’ve probably made a hash of this, but that’s the beauty – I’m just being me, as me as I can be, week by week. Whatever reason your listening, I don’t have to pretend to be anything other than myself. If the podcast gets more listenable and compelling, that will be because I am expanding and blooming as a human. Talk about interactive!
Alright, enough jibber jabber. I do have a yearning for concise prose, short and sweet. In 2018, we might even cut episode length way down, to 3-5 minutes. I’m liking this connection, sharing all the levels of this experience. We’re going to stay in contact.