Friday, December 4, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Most people think that mathematics is not spiritual or creative. My experience, however, is just the opposite. The one place I have found completely unbounded possibility and spiritual awe is in mathematics.
Did you know that there are different "sizes" of infinity? The natural numbers are infinite, but they are a "countable" infinity, meaning that each element in this infinite set corresponds to a natural number (1,2,3,4,5... and so on). However, as the mathematician Georg Cantor proved, the real numbers are an even LARGER infinity, an "uncountable" infinity. And there are larger, and LARGER infinities beyond that one: an infinite number of infinities, nested inside one another like an infinite number of Russian Dolls. Cantor gave each infinity a cardinality, designated by the the Hebrew letter Aleph. The infinite series of infinities he listed as...
Huh? What? Uh... How exactly is this spiritual or creative? Well, consider this...
Imagine God has a book with an infinite number of pages. He decides to put the name for every object, concept or action into this book, with each name having its own page. He calls this book, The Book of Names.
The Book of Names is has a "countable" number of pages (each page has a page number) that goes up to infinity. This should be enough for every possible name, right? But God discovers he has a problem.
Collections of names can be gathered together into subsets, some finite and some infinite, and all these subsets are called "Stories." God realizes that each of these stories will themselves have a title (or name), which will need to go into The Book of Names.
But (as the mathematician Cantor has proven), the book with an infinite number of countable pages is too small to contain all the possible stories made up of collections of the names (words) on it's own pages. As it turns out, God needs an infinite library filled with and infinite number of books, each with an infinite number of pages to contain the names of all these stories.
He calls this The Library of Names.
Is he done now? No, he is not. He soon realizes, as Cantor did, that this library itself has an "index" of all the books in it. In fact, there must be an index for every possible library filled with a subset of books from the main library. Each of these possible sub-libraries must have a name, and the index of this infinite number of sub-libraries is too large to fit in the original Library.
God needs a CITY with an infinite number of infinite libraries. The City of Names.
Which leads him to realize that this process naming, storytelling and indexing is never ending. He discovers he will need a PLANET of Names with an infinite number of possible cities, then a SOLAR SYSTEM of Names with an infinite number of possible planets, then a GALAXY of Names with an infinite number of possible systems, and then a UNIVERSE of Names with an infinite number of possible galaxies...
It goes on and on, with multiplicities stacked on multiplicities, until god realizes that there is no limit. No concept of infinity is large enough to contain itself and all possible names. Even God cannot possibly understand and name himself, for he would need an infinite number of infinite Gods just to name all of his own possibilities. God is not "one." God is pure multiplicity. God is an infinite number of infinite names, unknowable in its totality, even to himself.
Chew on that,
- Sean Hood
(P.S. If this subject blows your mind, read The Library of Babel by Borges, or The Library of Dreams in Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Being and Event by philosopher Alain Badiou, and of course the work of mathematician Georg Cantor)
(P.P.S. Oh and also try Arthur C. Clarke's "The Nine Billion Names of God." With the creepy ending, "Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out." This one was suggested by computer genius, Kai Lui.)
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
A Filmmaker's Life: Swing For The Fences!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
This morning Marcus, who is shooting a commercial in Mexico, responded:
Just read your blog about me feeding you tongue sandwich. Hilarious! I can see how that might strike you as unusual. I'm actually in mexico right now sampling some local cuisine...
Maggots, grasshoppers and ants!
Friday, February 13, 2009
I’m sitting in the beachfront
The sandwich is made of blood sausage and sliced tongue.
The sandwich is made of blood sausage and sliced tongue.
One of the never ending challenges of being a screenwriter is the necessity of collaboration. In the past, my collaborators have asked me to write startlingly ridiculous and insipid things. They have asked me to write about puritan ghosts who haunt freshman dorms. They have asked for nurses to take showers in asylums at midnight. They have concocted “satanic, chollo, midget priests” and “goats with shark teeth.” They have changed my male protagonists into lesbians and my heroines into werewolves.
It’s my job to eat the sandwich.
Before this meeting, I was told to prepare myself for the worst. Marcus, they said, is difficult to collaborate with. His mind jumps quickly from one idea to another, one inspiration to the next, and often these bursts of insight seem confusing and contradictory. His insistence on managing minute and seemingly irrelevant details, has given him the reputation of being eccentric and even crazy. But as I sit there, watching his eyes grow wide with excitement as he recounts his favorite scene from The Thing, I can’t help thinking, “is this man any more insane than the other genuinely creative people I know?”
Is he crazier than the artists I knew who would build found-object sculpture out of rubber ducks? Is he crazier than the mathematicians I knew who would wouldn’t eat or sleep until their proofs were not just correct… but “elegant?” Is he crazier than my friend the Prop Master, who spends hours in his garage designing and constructing absurd, robotic “inventions.” Is he crazier than my own father, rising every morning at 6 AM to do the same mouthpiece drills he practiced at age 11?
Is he any less sane than me?
No, in fact, his rants and inspirations feel frighteningly familiar. So I take a second look at the sandwich, the thinly sliced meat, and decide that I am actually sort of hungry. I take a bite, and realize that blood sausage and sliced tongue may sound like a horror film, but it actually tastes more like bologna.
So as we take out the script for Subterranean, and as we outline sequences, flesh out characters, and argue over dialogue, I eat the sandwich. I eat every last bite. And when I am done, I politely ask for another. I do NOT eat it just to humor him. As it turns out, he couldn’t care less whether or not I eat the sandwich. I eat it because I want to.
Because it tasted good.
P.S. And yes, I got the job.
You can read Marcus Nispel's response to this blog here.
For other Genre Hacks stories try reading these posts:
How NOT to Pitch A Studio
Why YOU should write Stigmata 3
Just Listen (A love letter to cinema sound)
Friday, January 2, 2009
The Shadow, a term introduced by Carl G. Jung, contains all the impulses and desires in our psyche that are repressed, undeveloped and denied by our conscious mind.
Examples of the male shadow abound in genre movies, from Mr. Hyde to Tyler Durden, the Wolf-man to the Hulk. The civilized man has a double, another side of himself, also male, who acts out his darker, animalistic, selfish, aggressive, violent, or sexual urges.
Recently, in my own work, I find myself investigating the shadow side of the feminine. And by this I don't mean a woman as a stand-in for the repressed impulses of the male psyche. I'm looking for what eluded both Freud and Jung - the unconscious she.
It’s easy enough to find movies with typical female shadow figures: the vamp, the femme fatale, the creepy-pubescent-girl. What I'm looking for our stories about ordinary women encountering their own shadow-sides directly.
Two examples come to mind...
One is the novel, Come Closer, by Sara Gran. In this shockingly disturbing story, a perfectly ordinary, happily married, successful young woman finds herself inexplicably acting out impulses that are violent, obscene, and self-destructive.
The other is the film Swimming Pool, directed by François Ozon, in which an uptight, well-mannered, middle-aged, English novelist encounters a lascivious, crass, teen-aged, French nymphomaniac, who may either be a murderer or a figment of the older woman's imagination.
Hours after publishing the first draft of this blog, Richard Lowry, a producer friend of mine, reminded me of the best and probably most obvious example, Bergman's Persona.
However, I'm looking for more examples - stories of Ms. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. Any thoughts on the female shadow? Any examples in film or literature you would point me to? Please leave them in the comments section.
I should add that Jung believed that The Shadow contains not only those parts of ourselves that we would rather keep hidden, but also our greatest strengths, similarly bottled up to suit the needs of civilized culture and our ordinary world…
… which is why it continues to fascinate me.