Monday, January 19, 2009
The amazing collaboration supported by the internet and user-created content never ceases to amaze me both in the inane and profound. The growth of video sharing sites has unearthed numerous media clips that would previously been lost to the ages or only held in the memory of a few people. A hat tip to Scott Lake for forwarding this clip titled "You're Going to Die" to me.
Anyway...to the clip itself. I find it to be an exercise in opposites. Go ahead and watch it first and then I will demonstrate some off those points of opposition. (Note the meat of it doesn't start until after 40 sec in). (For email subscribers click the title above to go to the web page to view)
The narration is done by Vito Acconci , a NY-based performance artist, and the entire work is often credited to him, although the words were written by Timothy Furstnau, and the video itself was done by Dennis Palazzolo.
Furstnau explains on his site his "text uses a strategy employed in much of my textual work of exploring one monolithic idea ad nauseum bonum, but with a bit of a children’s story tone." I could not find any reference to ad nauseum bonum, so one assumes it means an argument by repetition for a good cause. The calling to mind a children's book also strikes an opposing conventional eisdom to the subject of death. The narrarator does set up a pretty even cadence as you listen to the video more.
Some of the text appears to be condescending to those who 'say nice things to you, or tell you wild stories.' But the narrator is only trying to demonstrate his world view which is true to him. The comments on You Tube devolve into: the existence of heaven, the atheist/agnostic vs. Christian debate, how this is depressing to watch. The great part about the dismissal of the 'stories' we tell ourselves, is the narrator usaully says 'But this is OK too."
The deep montone voice of Acconci is devoid of any emotion. He statements are meant to be as such to emphasize these are the facts. I would imagine most people see discussions about dying as emotional and here Acconci plays it to the opposite extreme.
In the end this potentially depressing video strikes a completely opposite tone by stating the knowledge of death makes life meaningful. Which is really the important message here. Some more learned readers might pick up on some Buddhist references in this clip, so feel free to post your insights in the comments.
Piece: You're Going to Die (2000) (video)
Text: Timothy Furstnau
Narration: Vito Acconci
Directed by: Dennis Palazzolo