Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 2010 No-Budget film contest

It occurs to me that a lot of films don't actually benefit from a high budget, but actually end up being worse because of it. To test this hypothesis, I am starting the first annual No-Budget film competition.

1) Your film must be yours. I won't accept mashups of other people's video (well... I might, but you will have to impress the judges a lot more). Likewise, don't do anything illegal in the films, or pornographic -- I don't want to get in trouble.
2) You must not buy or rent anything specifically for this film (with an exception for a camera, if you don't own one). You also cannot have any paid actors. In other words, no budget allowed.
3) You may do it in live action or animation. Really, you can do it with any method you choose.
4) Submissions start January 23 and end February 13. If you send your submission in outside of this time slot, it might not be considered.
5) I will announce the winners by March 15. First prize will be $5 transferred via paypal. The top three submissions (judged any way I like) will be posted on this blog, and will get the titles of Best No-Budget Film of 2010, Second Best No-Budget Film of 2010, and Third Best No-Budget Film of 2010. They will also get a picture of a golden coin trophy.

How to submit:
Upload your finished films to youtube or vimeo (or some other streaming video site), and send the link to The films may be of any length, and you can enter as many times as you like.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Esotericism: A Pascal's Wager

The Straussian theory says that for every text, there is an exoteric (or obvious) interpretation and an esoteric (non-obvious) explanation. Of course, postmodernism has taught us that we can interpret a text any way we damn well choose, given enough time and cleverness. So, there is a theoretically infinite number of esoteric interpretations of a given text.

If we assume that there is an intended esoteric meaning, then the text has an intended esoteric meaning with a given level of esotericism and an exoteric meaning that is likewise intended -- and most (if not all) meanings in-between will probably have been considered by the author. Since the number of intended meanings are finite and concentrated towards the most obvious, while the unintended meanings are more esoteric and infinite, the more esoteric an interpretation the less likely it is to be intended even in the context of an esoteric text.

Of course, esoteric meanings are important outside of author intent. For the most part, it has never really mattered what meanings were and were not intended within explicitly esoteric works, since the goal of esotericism itself is largely the multiplication of meanings within the interpreter. A pleasant experiment that is difficult to dogmatize is to use a text source from which there can be no intended meanings, and assume the existence of an esoteric meaning.

In the end, this is a dual form. One may assume that a given meaning is not intended and lose nothing, and one may assume that a given meaning is meaningful regardless of intent and likewise lose nothing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Shadow over Norway

Fortean types have been busy recently, analyzing the odd spiral of light that greeted Obama's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize. The skeptics (not in quotes here -- some are real), starting with Bad Astronomy, claimed that it was a broken missile; recently the russians have admitted to illegally launching a broken missile (presumably, Just To Watch It Die). Other groups have called BS on that explanation, and Moscow has its own weirdness to deal with.

To the man on the street, this may seem like a bit of a Warren Report situation -- the official explanation isn't convincing, but the alternates are pretty out-there too. Well, I have here harvested the diamonds in the ash of the other Oswalds, as far as I'm concerned.

First explanation: the Norway Spiral is a thoughtform created spontaneously by a society. Now, if you accept the idea of thoughtforms then this is a prime explanation; ghost rockets and foo fighters were all over Europe during the end of World War II, and between the ripening mainstream already primed for high weirdness and the paradoxical phenomenon of a charismatic and unusual leader being simultaneously getting the Nobel Peace Prize and requesting an increase in troops for fighting a war his nation is terribly divided about being meaningful in the first place, there would be little better place and time in the present day for such a strange phenomenon. The problem is, according to my personal sources, by and large Norway was not "shaken" by this -- most people were paying more attention to Obama's visit and speech than anything funny in the sky.

That said, as the tabloid headlines and tweets indicate, Norway is no longer the business of Norway alone. If we posit that this is some kind of supermassive tulpa shaped like a portal from an alternate dimension, then the manic tweeting and posting and discussion may in fact be changing the form of the entity all along -- overnight a relic of cold war paranoia becomes a real-life reenactment of a Half Life fan video. Let's hope that the men in gas masks don't show up, or else the market for crowbars may experience a bubble worse than that of zombie movies.

Explanation two: something DID come through the LHC, and it wasn't a seagull from the future with a baguette. Quantum mechanics is pretty odd, and non-expert interpretations (as well as some expert interpretations -- for instance, Max Planck's famous bout of solipsism) can be terribly misleading and inspiring. The LHC is running now, and so the God Particle hasn't succeeded in its Grandfather Paradox project -- about as doomed as Skynet, obviously -- but that doesn't mean the quantum weirdness ends here. Recently some scientists unaffiliated managed to teleport some information between atoms faster than the speed of light, supporting Bell's Theorem and paving the way for the now uber-hyped age of quantum encryption (which purportedly can be broken just by the potential for interception), and someone else worked out a model by which negative thermodynamic entropy could exist on the quantum scale and yet still uphold the second law of thermodynamics (hint: the negative entropy is required by the laws of physics to go back in time and erase itself). The LHC is trying to make black holes, and we have very little idea what that singularity (the physical one, not the Kurzweillian one) hides. If the LHC indeed let something through, there would be no real requirement (as far as I am aware) for it to be in the LHC -- nonlocal effects could have transferred it elsewhere.

My personal favourite, though, is partially of my own design. Recently, someone came up with the idea that the past crystallizes out of the future due to waveform collapses -- a waveform that has collapsed is an eigenstate, and so the future is solid in pattern. The 'present' is vaguely where most of the crystallization happens. Now, if some event happens in the near future (a singularity in any given sense, but screwing around with the still-liquid waveforms significantly and violently), the closer we get to it, the more obvious the manifestations of waves of high weirdness will be: things crystallize in a particular way under normal circumstances, but this event would be the quantum equivalent of throwing some ice-nine into a half-melted ice sculpture. It will change the game, and the sudden and abnormally crystallized forms may seem totally out of line with the way things have gone down in the past.