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Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2002 18:18:38
Subject: Life on the Inside
From: simonsaysthis@omphalos.com
To: skipvskip@hotmail.com


I spent the last three days watching the first season of OZ, the HBO original series, which gets away with all sorts of shit that you never see on TV, ranging from man-on-man rapeassfucking, swastika-ass-tattooing, shooting and snorting smack (tits, they call it, tits), to your brutal depiction of capital punishment (they've gone through lethal injection, electric chair, and firing squad -- what would you choose?). Anyway I've got to say that I'm deeply impressed by this writer/director Tom Fontana. He's managed to create an entire world that echoes in my night-terrors.

Also, I think it says something about the benefits of a tight frame. Most of these characters are locked up tight, they aren't going anywhere, they're in for 8 years to life, which has this strange effect of moving their conflicts more swiftly towards resolution. The Irish guy who talked the African into setting up the Italian has to make sure that both the African and the other Italians get whacked before he does -- it's a matter of survival. Because while there are plenty of secrets in the joint there are no secrets that stay secrets because word flies quickly around those enclosed quarters.

The brutality makes for some great storytelling. The cage is the stage. The only times the story moves outside the penitentiary are when, once or twice per episode, we review the inevitably violent crimes that landed the inmates in Oswald State Penitentiary. I think I'm learning a lot about pacing that I might apply should I ever write something resembling a story again.

Sorry to hear about the prying eyes. Because you write your email in front of your machine, in the solitude of your own company, you come to think that you own it, that the communiqués you author for the eyes of those you list on the to: cc: and bcc: lines will go there only, but the fucked up fact of the matter is that there's no real inside here, it's all outside, these messages we post bounce off who knows hundreds, thousands of machines before the reach the private recipients for whom we intend them. And there are plenty of opportunities along the way for the sniffers, the carnivores, the spooks, to piece your packets together. They say the Net's an ephemeral medium but in fact it may be more permanent than the leaves of paper we used to use. It's a post-Benjamin Baudrillard Xerox network, constantly archiving thousands of copies of our thoughts, through which one could piece together copies of our inner lives, were they only to look hard enough.

Fucked up.

Can you imagine how insane these thousands of email messages we shed like dead skin cells will drive the biographers of the future? Haystacks filled with fragments of needles.

So anyway understood about all quiet on the e-stern front and I hope that this is nothing serious.

Who knows who's fingering us right now? Spooky.


P.S. Did you know that Hitchcock and his screenwriter came up with the idea for North by Northwest only after deciding not to do a suspense novel that they were under contract with the studio to do, and that they in fact lied to the studio about what they were doing until they started shooting, and that the whole story started with Hitchcock saying that he'd really like to have an action sequence in the UN, and the director of photography saying he'd really like shoot an action sequence on Mount Rushmore, and the writer saying that he'd like to do a love scene on a train, and the rest of the story was just filling in what happened before and after those three things? How's that for latitude in the creative process? And they say the result was one of Hitch's best films. Which makes me think not only make no small plans but also in fact forget making plans altogether -- just go.