Saturday, December 21, 2002
Good exposition of Esalen's history and future
Ambivalence and feelings of irrelevance nearly closed Esalen, but what truly threatened its existence was the El Nino storm of 1998. Only Mother Nature can crush serendipity so well, and four years ago, on Feb. 6, 1998 Esalen was crushed near to death.
Lashing storms cut off Big Sur from all points north and south when landslides knocked sections of Highway 1 into the sea. All local industry was starved of cash flow and reduced to three months of feeble survival. Esalen, always living for the now and not the future, took an additional, stunning blow: Tons and tons of earth slid into its famous hot springs, destroying Esalen's crown jewel and fountain of youth. As if that wasn't enough comeuppance, three months of isolation bled the books until the institute was awash in red ink.
"We exhausted any reserves we had and we went into debt," Price says. "That opened us up to a new vulnerability."
A fundraising staff and office has been set up in Novato to pay off the baths, find the money to bankroll Esalen's massive $15 million design makeover and the extra $10 million for cash reserves and more programming. To be asking for money now, in what are less than boom times, is bad timing.
"It's new territory for us in thinking that far ahead and asking for help, and it's new to the 300,000 alumni to be asked," says Nusbaum. "There's some trepidation from all of us. How will this affect the nature of Esalen? That's a consciousness we're very aware of. We're doing it in a way that protects the things that make Esalen what it is."
As it is today, there are generally 250 people at Esalen at any one time: 110 seminarians or short term guests; 38 work scholars there for a month at a time; 34 work scholars there for extended stays; and 50 gardeners, cooks, administrators, instructors and "bodyworkers." Where Esalen used to slow down in the winter, much like resort towns, now it hums year-round.
Under the new designs, human capacity won't grow but its capacity for sewage must. Although there have reportedly been no leaks or spills, the septic tanks and leach fields are full.
12:36 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Family360: management seminar as family therapy [Undernews, see last post]
Yes, it's that bad.
The Family360 process starts with the executive's spouse, children and in some cases his parents and siblings filling out a detailed questionnaire in which they evaluate the subject both quantitatively -- scoring him from 1 to 7 on, say, how well he "helps create enjoyable family traditions" and "uses a kind voice when speaking" -- and qualitatively, listing "three to five positive attributes" and "two things you want this person to do less." The data are then analyzed by LeaderWorks, and the results are sent to the executive in a "growth summary" report that presents his family's concerns in the form of bar graphs and pie charts and identifies "focus areas" for special attention ("paying attention to personal feelings," "solving problems without getting angry"). And you thought J G Ballard was being coy proclaiming that business memos were the literature of the future in A User's Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews.
The next step is for the executive to convene a Family360 Council around the dining-room table, an "upbeat and constructive" feedback session where the executive expresses "gratitude for everyone's help" and invites the family "to jointly create a Development Plan to strengthen family relationships." The company also provides an "investment guide" with hundreds of specific actions that let you connect with your family as efficiently as possible: buy a speakerphone for the home so that you can join in on family game night when you're on the road; go for a walk with your child every day, even if it's only to the end of the driveway; create "communication opportunities" while doing the dishes with your spouse or waiting in line with your child at the store.
Anthropologists will study this stuff. First they'll shake their heads, jaws wide in amazement. Then they'll splatter tears of laughter on their digital notepads and, eyes blurry, note how the Knights Templar/Business Coven model of social interaction persisted through the turn of the 21st century, as the Dark Ages of Monetary Servitude and Mind Control finally lurched to a close.
2:29 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
By turns abrasive, hilarious and just plain weak and unfair, the List of the 50 Most Loathsome People in America by the former eXile team, now in Buffalo (which I'm sure will improve their pleasantness index) [Undernews Dec 16]
16. ARI FLEISCHER
Misdeeds: Wherever he ends up placed on this list will not be high enough. This motherfucker carries G.W. Bush's demon seed in his anal womb, gestates a fresh offspring a couple times a day and produces a few Rosemary's steamers at press conferences with all the non-chalance of a Spot Coffee latte jerk. Fleischer is the very bold assertion, by the powers that be, that Americans and their media representatives are too whip-shy to just say, "Wait a fucking minute. You're telling a goddamned lie, Fleischie." He is a brazen challenge from the tri-laterals and Bildenbergs, etc., that they know that we, as the TV umbilical-cable-dependent, won't do anything to jeopardize our little no-compulsory-military-service, double-mocha-under-a-self-contained, climate-controlled indoor-suburban-shopping-theme-park-with-a-Botox-safety-net dream.
Aggravating Factor: He is less life-like than every other who has stood in his rank. Within weeks, there promises to be empirical evidence that Fleischer was produced by the same laboratory that gave us Nixon tron John Dean.
Aesthetic: C3PO melded with Carson Daly operating off a modified Charles Grodin chip.
1:55 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Thursday, December 19, 2002
From Undernews Dec 13 (archive unavailable right now)
SASHA ABRAMSKY, CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION - In 1999, the British Home Office conducted a study estimating that the United States now plays host to close to one-quarter of the world's prisoners. The only countries that have an incarceration rate approaching that of the United States are Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. "In tandem with this, a strange cultural 'normalization' of prison and of the process of arrest and prosecution leading up to prison has been occurring. "Epitomized by the content of much rap music, by the HBO series 'Oz,' by Fox TV's 'Cops,' or in a more nuanced vein, by the various NBC 'Law & Order' spinoffs, this has gone beyond traditional voyeuristic fascination and media preoccupation with crime and punishment that America arguably inherited from the 18th-century English, with their broadsheets touting public hangings and epic crimes. We have come to accept as normal incarceration rates that would have seemed the unlikely progeny of a dystopian fantasy a mere generation ago. And we have come to regard arrest, prosecution and imprisonment as fundamental props of our mass culture.One of my cardinal rules of TV watching is no shows with cops, lawyers or doctors. Americans are fascinated by watching people get punished and/or judged on TV. The connection with UK history mentioned above helped me understand the obsession.
It still seems to me like a weird kink to enjoy this stuff. I supposed people didn't have respectable authority figures in their lives and needed the guidance, but the spectacle of the Scapegoat goes way back, right?
The Big Dog needs the Sacrifice, once again. . .
The incarceration levels in the US and the whole private prison thing is a whole 'nother thing.
11:25 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Online Eno Shop opens [Nerve Net/Tom Boon of EnoWeb]
Offering recent limited release pieces from installations etc., the Oblique Strategies card set and the catalog from the I Dormienti collaboration with Mimmo Palladino
And a new collaboration with his brother: a set of organ exercises on piano, with alterations.
Mp3 samples of some tracks included. Discs run about $22.38 including shipping for the US.
2:24 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Monday, December 16, 2002
L.A. Film Critics' Awards
More along expected lines: About Schmidt got Best Picture, Nicholson and Day-Lewis shared Best Actor. Julianne Moore won for Far From Heaven and The Hours.
Pedro Almodovar picked up Best Director for Talk to Her and Edie Falco won Supporting Actress for Sunshine State.
Spirited Away won Best Animation, which from what I hear is well-deserved.
Y Tu Mama Tambien got Best Foreign Film from both groups.
2:01 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
New York Film Critics' Awards
Surprises: Best Actress -- Diane Lane (Unfaithful); Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York) over Nicholson (About Schmidt) for Best Actor (surprise for me anyway, and that just on hearsay). Of course, Nicholson has his share of Oscars, etc.
Far From Heaven got 5 awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
1:33 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
How to be a philosopher [Undernews]
Begin by making a spurious distinction. Befuddle the reader with your analytic wizardry. The reader will enter a logical trance, from which she will be unable to recall the initial spurious distinction and will feel strangely compelled to accept your conclusions.
1:07 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Sunday, December 15, 2002
Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark is "one of the most dazzling movies ever made" according to David Sterritt
On the 23rd of December an unprecedented event will take place in St Petersburg. Inside the Hermitage the film director, Alexander Sokurov, will shoot a feature-length film, The Russian Ark, in an hour and a half of real time. The camera will be switched on and ninety minutes later switched off after proceeding through thirty-five rooms, crossing four centuries, and re-enacting history on the grand scale by means of an array of sophisticated effects. As many as eight hundred and fifty actors and extras will take part in some of the scenes in this unique production.An hour and a half in one take. Yikes.
I doubt it will play in these parts, but it could be quite an experience. Maybe the Sedona IMAX?
9:10 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
BBC 7 starts today
With The Goon Show, Dr. Who, and audio books like The Shipping News.
4:25 AM - [Link] - Comments ()