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Is the genetic code a language?

Is it true that "the genetic code has nothing to do with a language"?

Deleuze and Guattari: "First, there exist forms of expression without signs (for example, the genetic code has nothing to do with a language)."
They go on (for context, though only what I've highlighted caught my attention):
It is only under certain conditions that strata can be said to include signs; signs cannot be equated with language in general but are defined by regimes of statements that are so many real usages or functions of language. Then why retain the word sign for these regimes, which formalize an expression without designating or signifying the simultaneous contents, which are formalized in a different way?

Signs are not signs of a thing; they are signs of deterrirotialization and reterritorialization, they mark a certain threshold crossed in the course of these movements...

(Thousand Plateaus, all I can say is p. 476/4093 in the ePub version on my iPhone, landscape mode).
I thought our genetic code was a particular and unique mapping of us, and I'm thinking of our DNA code, which is a definite identifier of our bodily genetic history and presence (and immutable evidence in a court of law), and hence a language of our bodies.

Isn't our genetic code the language of our bodies? Isn't our DNA a sign of us -through a mapping and reading of our bodily fluids- that we were here? Isn't DNA, which I'm using as a synchedote for genetic code, a 'map' of our unique individuality, a 'text' that can be read by experts? A genetic text that identifies us, hence signifies of us? Isn't our genetic code a sign of us?

What am I missing here?
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'Festival of the Trees' Submission Deadline this Sunday, May 29th

The deadline for the Festival of the Trees 60 is Sunday, May 29th.

Send your tree-related submissions to me (brenda [dot] clews [at] gmail [dot] com) for inclusion in the Festival held at Rubies in Crystal  on June 1st!

Talk to the trees! Send me links to your recordings of your arboreal conversations. While I'd love video, all  poems, stories, photos, are most welcome. Read the call for submissions for details and inspiration.

Remember: you can send more than just your own links.

We invite you to share your May tree discoveries too.
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A Floral Opera

A Floral Opera is a nature poem. An ecosphere of mind and nature. A portrait of a woman singing in a garden. Quite hallucinatory, combining Deleuzian philosophy, surreal images.

My plan is to add this poem to the poems I'll be reciting in my long videopoem, Tangled Garden. If you'd like to read it, and offer response or feedback (I'll probably start recording on Friday, so before then if possible) email me for the password. (brenda [dot] clews [at] gmail [dot] com).

Encrypted poem:


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Black Moon Reigns


direct link: Seraphic Tears by Catherine Corelli on Jamendo


In the second track the Russian artist, Catherine Corelli, sings, "From the hidden depths of you I come…" and we know we are in shadowland, in the world of the black moon, what we've negated, hidden, repressed is returning with fury and grief.

An occult album of secrets. Of madness and sexuality.

Lilith (whose story is told in the album's introduction) is a threatening, powerful archetype of female creativity, power and sexuality, and feared in the dominant male culture of politics and religion (which is falling away, which is falling away at last). The black moon, in astrology between the moon and earth, is always prominent in the charts of creative, powerful women. Catherine Corelli is such a woman.

Lilith is made to suffer for her beauty, strength, passion, fire of creativity. Born equal, equally out of the earth with Adam, she won't bow to her partner, won't surrender herself to become subordinate to him. Faced with his angry resistance, she flees instead. Adam complains to G-d that his wife has gone. Angels are sent to find her and bring her back. She refuses, knowing she has been relegated the hideous task of harming infants for her claim to equality which is seen, by G-d and Adam as insubordination.

This is how the album opens for me. The horror of Lilith's life on on the edge of existence. The infants who must be protected with the names of angels in the amulets they wear. The creativity and sexuality of women that is hidden, cast aside, used. Ladders is a beautiful riff, Catherine's vocals contain much complexity, yet there is horror, too. Lilith knows horror in a way that Eve never does. Lilith is the true and ancient Babylonian Biblical goddess who reigns with the power of unfettered womanhood.

Lilith became queen of the witches through the centuries as her mythology was twisted into demonic proportions by the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. She came to represent unbridled lust, impossible-to-resist seduction, a burning of sensuality, unbridled lust, dangerous sexuality.

I hear all this in the neoclassical-metal of Catherine's voice. The passion, the screams, the tenderness, the horror, the love. Whatever Catherine Corelli has done to train her voice to traverse the range she does in the album, and it is an emotional experience to listen closely, whatever determination to reach beyond her range and still further brings a vision alive to us as we listen with rising indignation, and a fury of understanding in our hearts.

In some of the songs we get the sense that Lilith, in her degradation, the disrespect she received for her powerful creativity, her insistence on equality, is sexually abused. That throughout history perhaps the story of Lilith, the lamia, the whore, the lustful sinner, the one who is disobedient and poses the greatest threat to the dominant order, the succubae, her licentiousness, which is blamed for the death of infants (how outrageous!), perhaps these twisted labels justified the rape of women.

One of the most disturbing, and paradoxical pieces on the album, "amJZZ (HR Giger. Erotomechanics IX Fellation)" reads one way, as a seductive invitation, and yet is sung the opposite way, as a woman who is trapped in something abusive, who has to please her tormenter. It's a double-edged 'come hither'; like the two-tongued serpent she must swallow. She takes on the passion of Lilith, indeed:

i no longer fear.

kitten's noses burn,
your blood pressure's high,
i know all you yearn,
nothing i'll defy.

slide it down my throat...
push it down my throat...
slide it down my throat...
push it down my...
push it down my throat...

that's what i like,
that's what you want.
slide it down my throat,
lemme drink your 'am' jizz...

This is a dangerous, furious album, the dark beauty of Catherine's voice will make you weep, the strength of her scream will echo in your ears, the indignation of the injustice done will leave you shaken with recognition.

In the final song, "Adieu (Coherence Dissolvation)," she leaves Adam, the world of a repressive hegemonic dominance, in the last track, "Listen, you! /What I say’s, adieu! /Fucking… /Listen, you! /What I say’s, adieu! /Adieu!"

She gives us a volcanic album. Of grief, loss, abuse, fury, beauty. Of a woman who is in her creative power, who is on fire with inspiration, who is achieving as an artist a magnificent realization of her vision.

Here is our true Lilith, first woman of creation. Full with occult power. Sexually, sensually, creatively alive. The genius of women. Lilith is not madness but fertile sanity. Mother to us all. Lover of the world.

She rises in consciousness with a perfect title, "Seraphic Tears," written backwards on the album's cover over the sign of the black moon.
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Tangled Garden in-process

Recently I shot some footage that I really liked. The camera was on a monopod and held quite still, so the movement (other than the slow lateral panning) is the wind. Because the footage of the leaves is in shadow, it's a slightly fuzzy recording. I did everything I could think of to sharpen it up, and a few of the filters required a 13 hour render! I saved that render as a Quicktime file, and continued working with it.

Recently I have also discovered Catherine Corelli on Jamendo, a Russian musician, artist, writer, a brilliant young woman whose music range, as described in a biography in her blog, is "from nu-metal or death-metal to pop-music, jazz, rap and even symphonic and chamber music."

On her album, Seraphic Tears, and you should click the link and go and read the mythic story of Lillith she has written for the album, and listen to and download the album if you like it, and donate something to the artist if you are in a postion to do so. The lady should be platinum (all her records, I mean).

Anyway, there were a few tracks in Seraphic Tears of Catherine singing without words. I don't know what you call that - extended arias, the semiotic of songs, from before where it began, travelling from the intensity of note to note, transforming, a deterritorialized voice, the substrata of language, where the rhythms and pulsations are, glottal vibrations expressed in a continuous balance between breath, voice, muscular contractions and expansions of the diaphram, the emotion of the heart that becomes the singing of a neoclassical goth angel.

So I worked for most of two days last weekend, mixing three of the songs with the footage, oh they are so beautiful, and then doing a minor bit of splicing and mixing since the clip, at 21 minutes, was longer than the sum of the songs.

I uploaded my effort to YouTube, kept the video private, sent it to Catherine. Since I couldn't see where to include a long note, I wrote it in 'info,' where you can read it, along with her generous response.

Every day for the last week I have recorded something on the track, it's very difficult for me to create a videopoem of 20 minutes when I am used to 3-5 minutes. I have two poems that work, 'Tangled Garden,' and something I wrote when I was 27 called, 'In the Hands of the Garden Gods' (unpublished, and written after I had successfully overcome bulimia by myself, my own transformative journey to healing, and it contains some darkness for sure, but it works surprisingly well with the neoclassical metal of Catherine's singing).

But these poems are not long enough for the full length of the video, and I'm not sure I can hold a viewers attention for that long with a few poems, and some dream talk recorded watching the video. I think it needs a narrative, a story. I am not a narrative poet, however. My poetry is not anecdotal, does not contain little stories with profound or quirky endings. The stories are there, but they are included from another level of realization, another layer of consciousness embodied in its languages. Anyway, it is quite a task to consider weaving a story into a long poem.

I'm also finally reading Deleuze and Guattari's, Thousand Plateaus, in an ePub format on my iPhone (the pdf from the University of Santa Cruz converted from pdf to ePub by an open-source program called Calibre) - backlit is beautiful, small screens of this dense work is a marvelous way to read it, and with the app Stanza I can bookmark, highlight any lines or sections, and create notes that hang out like stickies. So the piece I am writing is *very* Deleuze. That is ok, I've been coming to Deleuze all my life. (Saying this even though I've owned A Thousand Plateaus since 1994, when the translation was published in English, and read the intro chapter on Rhizomes at that time.)

Last night, finally, finally, I wrote a few pages, by hand, but it is process and still no story to entice and interest you. Perhaps I can embed a story in sentences of process? I may put what I wrote last night in another post but password protect it since it's still in gestation (you'd have to email me to get the password).

Here is the video, a 363MB quick-show version of a 14GB original. After Catherine gave her permission to use her music in the video, I changed it from private to unlisted (it won't appear on my public site or in any search engines). When I finish it I will upload a higher resolution version for public viewing, though it will still be a little fuzzy - which is okay, this works beautifully with Catherine's voice (and to my eye the organic dream weaving of the clip works better than, say, electronic colors and shapes generated by a computer when playing music).


direct link: Tangled Garden play at 720p for best viewing (an early version, without title or credits yet) (the very fuzzy first 25 seconds or so are where the title will be)

The footage is of the middle, where the grass bends. Neither the roots nor the sky. All the things that appear in the fluttering leaves, twigs, branches, with light breaking through. I love it.
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Birthdance (updated)


direct link: birthdance

A few weeks ago I composed another version of this video slideshow of my birth paintings using iPhoto. Then I gave the reading of the birth poem a little reverb, and added a background of chanting (taken from a section of the poem and layered and looped) birthdance but sometimes it sounds like earthdance. Each painting is held longer and is therefore clearer than in the Picasa version I did last year, though of course I am also pleased with the Picasa version.

Paintings and poem may be found at my website: http://www.brendaclews.com/birth-paintings.

On the paintings:

THE BODY IS FOR BLOSSOMING

...pigment of flesh flowing under my fingers, magenta, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, cyan green, cadmium yellow, dark violet, colour so rich it's almost edible, bodyscapes of colour, landscapes of fertility, erupting in the swirl of water and paint...

When I was pregnant, my body changed in fundamental and drastic ways. It was a crisis: the freedom of an old self was dying to make way for the mother I would become.

The "Birth Series" paintings became a visual journey of my changing body, a way to comprehend what I was undergoing in the tumble of hormones as my belly grew. The paintings focus on the woman who conceives and carries a baby into life, who nourishes and awaits the child who will hopefully emerge from the nine-month gestation of her body like a dream become real.

In reaction to an increasing invisibility in the world: the averted gaze, perhaps arising out of a cultural discomfort with the swollen belly, I wished to present the pregnant body as sensual and sacred. Despite my desire to confound the categories of alluring woman and maternal body, I found myself deep in the mystery of creation itself.

At the beginning of the series, the body is portrayed clearly; as the forces of labour, birth and then breastfeeding unfold, the clarity shifts into flowing colours suggesting the transformative experience that carrying and delivering and breastfeeding a baby is.

These paintings are about a rite of passage, about the strangest body on earth, about the mind-blowing transformation of skin, belly, heart and perception of the self, as a woman ripens and delivers her fragile and beautiful fruit, the newborn, a miracle of the world.

On the poem:

BIRTHDANCE took two years to write. In 1987, after my first child, my son, was born, I tried to write about birth. At the time, I was unable to find any poetry or literature by women on what giving birth 'felt' like, on their inner birthing experience, and I wasn't sure how to express those powerful birthing hours. It took some years, and many revisions as I worked towards how to express this powerful moment of my life, and finally chose to allow the stages of labour to structure the poem. Each woman has a different experience of birth, the many stories, poems and artwork by women in the last decade or two have been an important sharing of what was previously hidden.
__
The Birth Paintings and BIRTHDANCE were painted and composed from 1986-1989.
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Hands that Are Birds

Feel birds fluttering in the room.
Yet I have no footage of seagulls. My
hands flutter. I shall matte them, same
background, same video, colour is
right, and flutter them in the clip.
Works with sculpture created by hands,
by touch. The feel under the fingers.
Fingers liberated, fluttering like birds.


(ok, shhh, I wrote this about a year ago)

Currently I'm working on a 20 minute videopoem,
and it requires total focus. Meaning I'm
around, but busy. Distract me if you want,
though. :-);))
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Lacemaker: An Early Draft and Sketch


(5:16min)

I wrote Lacemaker in July 2007. A week ago I recorded it on my iPhone, a quiet reading, and added a track in the background from the Music Text Composition Generator that I had entered the poem into. While the midi file that the MTCG created is layered a few times, the poem is its own music, yes.

A few days ago I was tidying my desk, and came across a notebook from that year, and found a drawing I did in Starbucks during lunch and a draft in pencil of part of the poem. Click for larger size.




You can read the poem here: Lacemaker (it'll open in a new tab or window, which won't interrupt the recording if you're listening to it).
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Call for Submissions: Festival of the Trees 60

Talk to the Trees!

If you're inspired, write, paint, compose, perform your communion with a tree or trees, post in your blog, or Picasa or Flikr , or YouTube or Vimeo, or SoundCloud or Jamendo, wherever you hang your on-line hat, and send me the link, and I'll include it in the round-up on Festival Day! I'm hosting the next Festival of the Trees at my blog, Rubies in Crystal, on June 1st. Any and all entries welcome!

Call for Submissions: Festival of the Trees 60

Host: Rubies in Crystal - here!

Deadline: May 29

Email to: brenda.clews [at] gmail [dot]com — or use the contact form on Festival of the Trees Submit page

*Important! Put “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line of your email


Theme: Trees in sound and motion: arboreal conversations



The Festival of the Trees 60th edition is all about expanding your arboreal horizons. This month the Festival is hosted here, at Rubies in Crystal. Share a conversation with trees. We are asked to observe our own engagement with trees, and record it—with video, audio, slideshow, or any other creative composition we can dream up.

Consider this your Director’s License, complete with the big high chair (wooden, of course). When you create your tree submissions, be conscious of the role of the spectator. Each viewer will have a different experience from your own experience with the trees. Share something which invites your audience to take a seat, listen, and reflect on the different ways that humans perceive trees – or become more aware of their own regard for trees and forests.

Here’s a little multimedia arboreal inspiration to kick things off:

cherry blossom haiku (who else is listening with you at dawn?)

The Beauty of Denmark, Botanical Ecosystem (does the camera follow your eye, or does your eye follow the camera?)

Ecology: Forest Canopy Freestyle Rap (what’s more to explore than the eyes can see?)

Tree Bird Moon Ghost (what do you hear in the forest? how would you translate it?)



All tree-related submissions are considered, so as you wander the web this month, keep the Festival in mind and send us links to any tasty trees you find! Submission deadline is Sunday May 29th.

Festival of the Trees (home site)
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When Actors Deny their Best Performances

[Wrote this, it looks like, on November 8, 2010, but never got around to posting it.]

        

Last Tango in Paris (1972), re-watched 30 years later, contains a disturbing aspect. Researching the film, I discover the two main actors, Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando, both felt, in Bertolucci's final film after editing, raped by the director---even though this film was probably the 'performance of their life' for both actors.

Watching Breillat's, Sex is Comedy, in which a director elicits a moving sex scene between an actress and an actor who hate each other in real life, and Breillat is perhaps notorious for not using stand-ins, dummies, tape, but filming actual sex in her films, opened these questions for me. In Sex is Comedy the film becomes an obsession of the sex scene which, when it is finally filmed, is unforgettable, the camera held steadily on Roxane Mesquida, and we see her vulnerability, anger, shame, pain and defiance in her success as an actress as 'the act' is performed. Though it occurs under the sheets, and we see no nudity, we are watching a real scene; this is not make-believe.

None of Breillat's actors or actresses have turned against the performances they achieved under her brilliant eye as far as I know, but seeing the breakthrough of life in a scene, a moment clearly not acted, made me aware of moments in other films where I've seen actors cross the line from acting to revealing themselves on screen.

It is an intimacy that can be shocking to the performer. There is no gloss, nothing to hide under. Naked and revealed. As Maria Scheider was in the infamous 'soap scene' in Last Tango, of which she later said she had no idea was about to happen, there was nothing in the script, nothing was explained to her, and when it happened, and it was, of course, simulated, her response was real. She carried her anger over that scene all her life, apparently.

I remember it as a memorable scene, sudden, with a threatened violence, it was a moment when we left cinema, sitting in our seats in the dark, and witnessed a kind of rape of a 20 year old woman, albiet one who was willingly having an anonymous affair with the mad, grief-stricken character Brando plays.

Why it contained the hue of reality is because Schneider wasn't acting in that moment.

Is that what frightened and infuriated her later on? The jokes about that performance afterwards too close for comfort?

When actors who give superlative performances turn against their directors, the film they have starred in---is it because there are moments when they weren't acting in the performances elicited from them?

Does it disturb an actor not to act?

After Basquiat (1996), directed by Julian Schnabel:
...was released, the actor Jeffrey Wright said that "I think my performance was appropriated, literally, and the way I was edited was appropriated in the same way his [Basquiat's] story has been appropriated and that he was appropriated when he was alive. [...] Julian made him out to be too docile and too much of a victim and too passive and not as dangerous as he really was. It's about containing Basquiat. It's about aggrandizing himself through Basquiat's memory.  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basquiat

Yet Schnabel's film opened Basquiat to me. Jeffrey Wright's performance, superlative. I fell in love not with Schnabel, but Basquiat. How can this be appropriation? Schnabel includes himself in Basquiat's story. It is his lived experience, his truth. How could it be otherwise?

When I saw Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, a documentary by Basquiat's friend, Tamra Davis, with real footage of the artist, and his actual art, my love deepened (the Basquiat family declined to allow Schnabel to use Basquiat's real work in his film and so he had to create facsimiles, which certainly decreased the power of the film).

Others.

Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights (1997), starred as a porn director named Jack Horner, for which he received an Oscar nomination. Reynold's sacked his agent, divorced himself from the film, said no to a sequel.

Not talking about actors responses to bad movies they've been in, of which every actor has a story.

Talking about actors denigrating films in which they gave realistic performances that are recognized as great performances.
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