Neg Sparkle #2


The second edition of my Chiseler column, Neg Sparkle, is up.

Also up: a letter from David Amram, composer (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS) in praise of the first column. I am moved and humbled.

7 Responses to “Neg Sparkle #2”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

    So great to see that letter from Amram. He’s a great composer and even at 80 One Fabulous Babe. His score for Kazan’s “The Arrangement” is exemplary.

    Writing music for “The Manchurian Candidate” is a real challenger for a composer, for while it’s objectively a “thriller” it moves about and shifts in tone so many different and unexpected ways.

  2. Amram and his crew played at a pig roast on the farm where I work this past October. They didn’t play anything from the Manchurian Candidate, but the waltz from “After the Fall” was a 3/4 time knock-out. I’d say they blew the roof off except there was no roof. A delightful man and a mensch.

  3. I’m tickled to death!

  4. bensondonald Says:

    Faintly recall a classroom discussion of Plato’s cave. It was noted that a man who escaped and saw the reality would be thought a madman if he returned to try and explain it. My own thought was, how could anybody in the cave tell enlightenment from insanity? In real life we all know people who, on matters great and small, are persuaded that they alone have seen beyond the shadows.

    Film is, as you note, a physical object that creates shadows. We can hold up a strip and see the shadows, even though we need a machine to create the illusion of motion. And it may be theoretically possible to learn to read an optical soundtrack, although we also need a machine that turns it into a mimicry of sounds we can hear. What does it mean when it’s no longer possible to look at a piece of media — a videotape, a disc, a download — and see even a shadow of the images and sounds extracted by a machine?

    You know, this sort of thing sounded a lot deeper in freshman year.

  5. One very practical difference between the old media and the new is that a strip of film could be figured out by alien visitors, post-mankind. It would be possible to back-engineer a machine to play at least the visual part, fairly simply.

    With a DPT or a tape or a file, any damage renders the thing unplayable, and just looking at it will give no ideas of how to interact with it…

    So when aliens try to work out what happened to us, the clues will mostly stop in the early 21st century.

    Well, Tarantino still has prints made. I can imagine the sky people looking at his works and saying, “Ah, no wonder.”

  6. bensondonald Says:

    Read that Ray Bradbury, pre-digital age, wrote a short story about aliens discovering a single reel of film, and building a massive body of scholarship based on this solitary relic of Earth civilization. The payoff: it was a Donald Duck cartoon.

  7. You could do worse.

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