Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Author: JonBar (Page 1 of 2)

Jonah Barrett – Week 9 Journal: Making up for lost posts with excerpts from Tumblr ramblings

Every third chapter of the book—we’re calling it the Book now—is basically an essay about something related to what’s going on in the story. Except for this first essay I have to write about rockets and space shuttles and that’s cool at first but now we’re getting into the nitty gritty details about the world of engineering and it is so motherflipping boring I gotta say.

Y’know if I wasn’t so dumb and had more time to [procrastinate] study for this project I would’ve eventually figured out that instead of researching shuttles, which in real life have been discontinued for 5 years and I had to “reintroduce” in my story because I’m too lazy/stupid to invent my own vehicle, I could’ve researched Soyuz spacecraft–which is basically what Russian cosmonauts have been using since the damn 60s because who needs to invent new things if the old things work amirite??

Technically NASA is working on a new spacecraft called the Orion. Plan: since this is the future, Orion spacecraft have been proven to be unsafe and NASA has fallen back on using their old shuttles for missions. Yeeeaaaahhh…

Jonah Barrett – Week 7 Journal: Masculinity

Poor Anton, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to torture you soon. You’ve cheated on your husband and lied to your mistress, and now both lovers think the worst of you. Quite awkward, really, considering you’re all stuck up there in the void of space huddled inside what is essentially a glorified tin can. What’ll we do with you? (I’m getting a little sadistic here.)

I got it, we’ll tackle your masculinity, or really just take it away. Your two lovers feel quite humiliated at the moment. The goddess Arianrhod was humiliated once, accidentally giving birth in front of an entire court. She soon put a stop to that however. What does one do when a baby or two accidentally pops out in public? How does she handle that embarrassment? Punish the child, naturally. He should have stayed in there until she was somewhere a bit more private. Curse him, Arianrhod. Take away his name, his fighting abilities, and any change of love. That will show him, tiny offender. So, Anton, now it’s your turn. “Chief Flight Engineer,” you say? Not anymore. Let’s strip you of your title. Mission Specialist McCune—your husband—has just been promoted to Chief Mission Engineer. And your weapons, your tools? That robonaut project you’ve been working so hard on? In suspense. There are more important objectives anyway than just playing with ourselves. (Not that you can play with yourself, or your two ex-lovers, anyway, what with the blood flow problem in a micro gravity environment, hah!)

And as for your chances of love, oh Anton, I think you’ve already blown that one yourself.

Pissed a Paley: The Essay That Caused a Lot of Juicy Discourse – Jonah Barrett

Grace Paley is a vital voice in recent American literature, or at least that is what I’ve been told. She also happens to be an author I have never heard of until the beginning of this year. That is not to say she is unimportant, but the circumstances in which we met have been most unfortunate. I selected to review her work because The Collected Stories is the only anthology we are reading in this class. I love anthologies, sadly I think it’s because of my dwindling attention span due to the iPhones—bite-sized dabs of fiction for the casual writer to digest in one sit before checking Snapchat for the hundredth time. It’s in my big red chair, at the end of another long day, that I finally crack open the used edition I have purchased. I try to ignore the $2.99 Goodwill sticker hidden under my college’s $11.99 one. Paley stands triumphant in the cover’s photograph, a small crow to her left as she sticks her thumbs down her cardigan pockets in the midst of what is likely a public park. With a number of Hallmark-ish story titles littering the table of contents—“An Interest in Life,” “The Little Girl,” and “Listening” being a brief sample—I am already preparing to brace myself for a slew of cliché tales about warm memories and garden reflections.

“In 1954 or ’55 I decided to write a story.” Dear God. The urge to check my snaps intensifies. “I had written a few nice paragraphs with some first class sentences in them.” Something could have happened on the social medias within the past three minutes. “But I hadn’t known how to let woman and men into the language—“ But there, there is where I actually pause for a moment. Perhaps it’s just been Evergreen’s reconditioning of my mind, or fourth wave feminism, or all the nonbinary friends I have made along the way; but something about this doesn’t rub right. “Women and men,” the gender binary, a thing that is beginning to become a thing of the past, all the way back to the far off year of 2011. But surely, this mindset of opposite genders is just a slight bump in the road on the path to enjoying Paley’s work, so I think as I luckily end “Two Ears, Three Lucks” for “Goodbye and Good Luck.” My hopes are quickly crashed. Because this is second wave feminism, girls vs. guys, paving the way for further waves down the road. While we should honor the past, we have moved past this mindset, probably.

“Boys are disgusting,” my friend Lynda says. We are sitting in her living room sipping tea, and she has caught me picking my nose. She dramatically stares at the ceiling in a huff.

“I’m sorry,” I say, wiping the armrest. “It was too painful to ignore.” Lynda looks down at her tea with a self pitying glance, stirring the hot liquid a bit with her finger.

“Men and boys… I suppose I don’t understand them,” she sighs. I can’t help but stare at her current hairdo. She has been experimenting with pompadour hairstyles. Combined with her black swing dress and the antique furniture scattered throughout, I can’t help but feel as if I’ve stepped back in time.

“Girls are so much nicer, and cleanlier. Like this one actress I know!” she snaps her fingers. “I have to show you.” She turns toward the Xbox by the television, and the act drops a little. “D-d’you know how to put Netflix on that thing?” she asks.

I shrug. “Don’t you? It’s your home.”

“Yes but… Kevin is in charge of the TV things.”

“I… guess I could try. Where’s the remote?”

“I-I don’t know… I don’t work the television, that’s a dude thing…” We sit there in silence for a moment. Lynda breaks it. “We’ll have to wait until my boyfriend comes back so he can turn it on,” she says. I take my turn to look up at the ceiling and I can hear her sigh. “I hope he gets home soon, he needs to fix the fridge too. I don’t want the milk to go sour or the corn beef to go bad.”

Lynda’s life is filled with pies, a cat named Faith, and a handsome boyfriend. She tells me how she hates her cashier job, and plans on marrying Kevin in her goal of finally becoming the suburban housewife she’s always dreamed of. Paley often wrote about this archetype, and variations of it, providing fresh insight from the at-the-time modern woman’s perspective, dealing with misogynist men whist simultaneously trying to find love in others. I finish “Goodbye and Good Luck” with a sour look on my face. The heroine has finally been chosen by her dream man, at the end of his life and at the fresh end of his marriage. A woman should have at least one husband before the end of her story, and Aunt Rose manages to squeeze one in, just in the nick of time, before morality knocks on the door. Thank God.

But this way of thinking—the necessity of romance, the binary divide between men and women—can I really blame Paley for writing about it? For writing just from the perspective of her world, that world of yesteryear? Perhaps “A Woman, Young and Old” will be a little more progressive. Paley is a feminist, her writing’s been called feminist, at least. Google “Grace Paley Feminism” and the first article will report that she had said to find the label confining. She still credited the movement though, saying “Every woman writing in these years has had to swim in the feminist wave, no matter what she thinks of it, even if she bravely swims against it, she has been supported by it—the buoyancy, the noise, the saltiness.”

“It’s very damp, clammy. You don’t want to go down there. Trust me. You’d get sick. Suffocating. Very nauseating. The smell of the clamminess and the mildew and everything. Whew! Smells unbearable. Gets in your clothes.”

We are entering the second hour of The Vagina Monologues. It’s terribly uncomfortable and I’m horrified at the thought that I might be the only one in the room that feels weird. I can only manage one hard swallow between monologues while everyone is clapping. Lynda turns to me before the next one starts up.

“This is so great,” she says.

“Oh, yeah,” I say.

She slaps my shoulder. “You just hate it because you have a dick.”

“Probably.” But why do I feel weird? The third wave of feminism is strong in the night air and I wonder if I do just hate this because I’m a man. What would that say about me? Perhaps I’m no different from all the other piece of shit men discussed in the play. I thought I was different. As a gay man vaginas aren’t actually a turn off for me, but the aggression in the play still makes me pee a little. I’m disappointed in myself; I thought I’d be better than this.

“I love women. I love vaginas. I do not seem them as separate things,” an actor recites. But of course this is the 90’s. Trans people are not actually people yet, in the mainstream eye. We can talk about damp cellars and coochie snorters until the sun rises but we are always only talking about women. My school—the same school that charged me $11.99—tries to change this with an additional series of student-written monologues slapped on the back, because Eve Ensler will sue everyone if we disrupt the pre-established flow of her play.

“To everyone who says my gender isn’t ‘real,’ FUCK YOU!” an actor shouts. Snaps applaud from all around in agreement as the actor goes on. If we include this one trans-inclusive monologue at the end of this problematic production maybe the damage will be undone. Another actor steps up.

“To all the ‘allies,’ of the LGBTQIAA community, FUCK YOU!” More snapping. More discourse. Another actor.

“To anyone who uses ‘gay’ as a bad word—“ and it keeps going. The audience continually expresses their approval and agree with one another as racism, police brutality, intersectional problems within the queer community, and every other conceivable social justice topic is swiftly blanketed over in a monologue that lasts a total of ten minutes. It’s okay that we’ve shown The Vagina Monologues because we have just undone all Eve Ensler—her transmisogyny, her binary views on gender, her apologist approach to a statutory rape—did over the past two hours. But why did we have to show it in the first place? Why are we reading Grace Paley? There is something off about all this. Perhaps Paley’s characters are comfortable in their gender binary, and perhaps others are trying to break its mold.

I couldn’t hold my desire down, and I kissed him again right onto his talking mouth and smack against his teeth.
“Oh, Browny, I would take care of you.”

“Oh, sweetie, please take care of the fridge,” Lynda tells Kevin as soon as he comes through the front door. He is carrying several bags of groceries on both arms, the blue handle of something poking out from one of them.

“What’s that?” she asks from her chair.

Kevin breathes deeply and sets the groceries down by his feet, taking off his jacket. “We needed a new broom.”

Lynda climactically crosses her arms and pouts. “I hope you don’t expect me to be the one sweeping, seeing as I’m the woman here.”

Kevin pauses from hanging his jacket on the coat rack. “…No?” he says.

Lynda blinks a few times, she seems let down. Another long ironic speech on equality lost to chance. “Oh…” she says. I peer at my friend as Kevin walks into the other room with the groceries. Maybe Lynda isn’t giving into the heteronormative lifestyle like I thought. Maybe she’s just lazy.

“The fridge, Kevin!”

“I’ll do it!”

Lynda has her problems, but we all do. I still like her. I cannot really get into Paley, still. Her writing is less “bouncy and fresh” to me and more akin to a pile of dry leaves, as brown as her photo on the cover. She is an important voice, but her words should probably be taken with a grain of salt. It’s easy to fall into the trap of forgetting that stories are not timeless, and they are bound to their respective eras. Paley is a piece of history, but perhaps her stories, among other pieces of work, should be kept in mind as relics and not held up to the progressive ideals of the modern day when we read them.



Bernstein, Adam. “Grace Paley; Acclaimed Short-Story Writer.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company, 24 Aug. 2007. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/23/AR2007082300858.html>.

Paley, Grace. “Grace Paley, The Art of Fiction No. 131.” Interview by Jonathan Dee, Barbara Jones, and Larissa MacFarquhar. Paris Review. The Paris Review. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

The Vagina Monologues. By Eve Ensler. The Evergreen State College, Olympia. 13 Feb. 2016. Performance.

Paley, Grace. The Collected Stories. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994. Print.

Segal, Lynne. Once a Feminist: Grace Paley. Thesis. Birkbeck University of London, 2010. Print.

Jonah Barrett – Week 5 Journal: Lunch with an Astronaut

So I was gone Tuesday because I was up in Tacoma attending this presentation from former astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger at the Evergreen Tacoma Campus. Afterward, thanks to some handy emails, I got to have lunch with the astronaut and conduct a lil’ interview (along with my friend Kela Kealakai and faculty Dr. Francis Solomon). Below is a recording of that. But also, because I was so dang nervous about talking to a real spacewoman, I totally stuttered and slurred a lot of my words. Bless Metcalf-Lindenburger for actually understanding anything I said during this interview; goodness me I’m a shit journalist. Anyway, here are the questions in case you have trouble figuring out what the hell I said in that restaurant…

1. I read that things always go wrong on a spacecraft. 99% of the ship is working perfectly, but there’s always that 1% where there’s something to fix. I was wondering what was one of the most unexpected, possibly scariest problem that you encountered in the fifteen days you were in space. Was there fear, or were you prepared enough to be like “I can handle this”?

2. Can you talk about what it was like to look out the window and see planet Earth below? But also at the same time I’m interested in what it’s like to look out another window and see Nothing. To see the void. What existential thoughts go through you when you’re looking at the planet, and the abyss?

3. I’m interested in the relationships about teams of people in confined quarters. Whenever I read anything from NASA they’re always like “We were this really positive team.” But for a storyteller, conflict is a big thing. NASA teams seem to be these super efficient groups of people, but there are examples of expeditions back on Earth that are a lot less promising than that. (Biosphere 2, Antarctic expeditions, etc.) How is conflict dealt with on a space station? How do you avoid dealing with it?

4. You said there was a little bit of privacy on the space station. I was wondering if an introverted person would make a good astronaut.

5. Do you know NASA’s stance on relationships in space? Was there ever a class in “How not to fall in love”? How might they feel about a pre-established couple going into space?

6. What might a typical scheduled day look like in space?

7. Would you immediately go to sleep or were there times you were kept up at night?

8. What did you dream about?

9. What changed for you forever because of your time in space?

Abby Geni on Research (Jonah Barrett)

Here’s a super short essay from an author I dig. I’ve found that I’ve really swamped myself this quarter with the process of research, and I keep thinking back to this quote by Abby Geni: “Some people say that you should write what you know, but I am driven to write what I learn.”

Anyway: the essay.

Jonah Barrett – Week 4 Journal: A Brief Correspondence

Email to Dr. S from Jonah Barrett


My name is Jonah Barrett, and I am currently enrolled in Olympia Evergreen’s program Eye of the Story, which is a class about storytelling and narratives. For my big class project I am writing a science fiction novel, taking place on a space station and an artificial biosphere on the moon. This project has led me down various rabbit holes during the process of research, and I have been busy learning as much as I can about various subjects, including life in space.

I recently heard that you are coordinating a lecture on February 2nd with Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, a former astronaut with fifteen days in space under her belt. I plan on attending, because it’s the perfect coincidence and is just in time before I get started on the actual writing process. However, I am writing today because I was wondering, if at all possible, if I could possibly interview Metcalf-Lindenburger before or after the lecture? Or maybe on another day if that would be more convenient for her. Could you help me out with this? It would be very beneficial to my project, and it isn’t every day you get to meet an actual astronaut!

Thank you so much!



Email response to Jonah Barrett from Dr. S

Hello Jonah,

Your class project sounds very interesting.  I am glad that you can attend Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger’s presentation at the Tacoma campus on February 2.  I will ask her if you can interview her immediately afterwards or that afternoon. and will get back to you.

Dr. S


Email response to Dr. S from Jonah Barrett

Dear Dr. S

Thank you so much! It means a lot to me. Hope to hear from you soon!



Email response to Jonah Barrett from Dr. S


Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger would be happy to talk with you immediately after her presentation next Tuesday morning. I am sure that you will enjoy meeting her.

Dr. S

To Dream of Beaches: Jonah Barrett Viewing (Did I put this in the right place?!?)

There is a boy running down by the shore, in search of something he has lost… or longs for. It’s hard to say at this point. This is just but the opening shot, after all. The possibilities for the film are still numerous, slimming down a bit as the second shot cuts in. A panning track of feet by the water. A dreamy, ethereal mood sweeps over the viewer as they soak in the presented images that depict a sunny day at the beach. Clips of rushing waves, gasping marine life, and running boys flutter against the screen. The boys stop for a moment, catching their breath. James, the one in the pink shirt and terribly dyed hair, looks up.

“You never told me your name,” he says. The other boy smiles at him and laughs. He wears a blue button-up, hair slicked back with a tight undercut that’s all the rage in the 2014 gay community. His name is Jasper.

“Is it important?” the other boy asks.

“I think so,” James replies. Jasper just laughs again, and continues running down the beach, James calling out to him and running to catch up; past the choppy brown waves of the muddy beach, through the barnacle-encrusted posts that litter the sandbar, and the terribly disorienting “bloom” effect added in post to indicate that none of this is real.

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The other week I had the pleasure of viewing my professor Caryn Cline’s short film “Perchance” in class. The work consists of found footage salvaged from two different films from the 1960’s (or 50’s?) and features a small boy dreaming of another reality, a blue-tinted world where he is free to roam the beach of his dreams all day, forever until the end of time, accompanied by a menagerie of frightening seagulls and hungry sea urchins. Of course, as a filmmaker myself, I did what every other filmmaker does when confronted with another director’s work: I compared it to my own. “Perchance” however, reminded me immediately of a dream sequence I shot myself two years ago. The production was an eight-part web series about dreams, titled Wake Up!, and the opening sequence featured two boys running through a beach together. The similarities don’t end there.

So what is going on here exactly? These aren’t the only two examples of a dream sequence taking place at a beach in the world. What is it about beaches that present a surreal dreamlike quality to Cline and myself? Something about chasing after someone you lust for in a dream screamed “BEACH” to me, and viewing large amounts of found beach footage screamed “DREAM” at Cline. Does this say something about us? Our subjectivity?

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“The process of assembling images and texts strongly involves the artist’s subjectivity in ways that constantly recompose possible narratives across associations between disparate fragments,” says feminist scholar Giovanna Zapperi (27). Cline’s subjectivity is called into question when we look closely at “Perchance.” What led her to arrange the film in this particular montage of images and sound? “Perchance” is without question an artwork, an avant-garde film, but perhaps the artist’s personal subjectivity should not be bothered with when reviewing these things. At least, that’s what Russian-American experimental filmmaker of the 1940’s Maya Deren believed. Everyone has a subjective. Big whoop. Deren wrote of the collective subjective, the “communication of art between these elements common to all people” (208).

Deren herself includes a few (non-personal, of course) subjective beach dream sequences during the course of her production “At Land.” (Deren referred to the setting in her film as a “relativistic universe,” where locations shift all the time and distances are shorted or stretched out. So… basically a dream.) “At Land” opens with a black and white shot of the ocean, waves crawling up onto the sand and washing over Deren (or the nameless character which Deren plays). She coughs, appears to wake up, and the waves swiftly retreat in reverse motion at the sight of her awakening. Deren proceeds to stare up into the sky at a flock of seagulls, reach around her, climbs up the root systems of an upturned tree that wasn’t there seconds before, and discovers a dinner party at the top. Adventures ensue. This relativistic method of moving about the dream world, combined with the reverse footage of waves retreating, grants “At Land” a dreamlike status, henceforth I am counting it as a filmed dream sequence.

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It is totally curious to note that out of these three beach dream sequences, it is only Deren’s that actually exhibit any physically impossible happenings in her film, and yet she is the filmmaker that does not specifically reference her work as a dream. While Deren’s character flits through an eternal space of doors and cliffs that lead to other realms, Cline and I mostly represent our films’ dream aspects through filters. “Perchance”’s dream footage soaked in an array of cyan hues, contrasting from the magenta “reality” footage, while Wake Up!’s dream sequence has been run through the aforementioned “bloom” effect in Final Cut Pro. (It looks weird, I know it looks weird. But we all must get the “bloom” effect out of our systems at one point or another. This was my time.) I use the word “mostly” to describe this filter method as there are a scant number of other surreal qualities that Cline and I use. The closing shot of “Perchance” features the ocean, much like Deren’s opening shot, except for the slow wanderings of the camera as it’s gradually tilted upside down until the scene fades out. Likewise, James finally catches up with Jasper after playing an almost dragged out game of cat-and-mouse, holding each other in their arms.

“Why won’t you tell me your name?” James asks. (I, like Deren, have starred in my own films sometimes. James was me, and I was James, forever until the end of time.)

“Because this isn’t real anyway,” Jasper, whose real name was Sonny Nguyen, replies. Instead of showing anything surreal, like a good filmmaker would, I simply had the characters state what was happening. A common rookie mistake that I am probably still making in my work, let’s be honest. The most surrealist aspect of Wake Up!’s opening dream sequence, perhaps, is when I kiss Nguyen on the mouth (which would have never of happened in real life)—reflective water of the Puget Sound behind us, uncomfortably embraced in reality, but looking hot as hell on camera; so it was probably worth the shot.

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But still, why the beach?? Why are we filmmakers dabbling in the dream genre? Photography and filmmaking are already surreal experiments in themselves. In her book On Photography, Susan Sontag stated that “Surrealism lies at the heart of the photographic enterprise: in the very creation of a duplicate world, or a reality in the second degree, narrower but more dramatic than the one perceived by natural vision” (52). Have Cline, Deren and I given into a kind of filmmaking trope? “Dreams on the beach”?? All three sequences have spooky similarities. Each features motifs of running (James chases after Jasper, Cline’s child protagonist runs freely by the shore, Deren’s character rushes with her hands in the air down the beach into the distance at the end of her film), marine life (dying barnacles litter the rocky beach in Wake Up!, seagulls and pelicans fly about in “Perchance” along with an urchin that tries to eat the child’s finger, a flock of seagulls that I already mentioned make a cameo appearance as Deren looks up into the sky in “At Land”), and a common theme of escapism and exploring (James dreams of the perfect boyfriend, the child a life away from school where he’s free to adventure, and Deren… who knows what Deren’s trying to find). Do these motifs and themes mean anything though? After kissing Jasper on the beach, James wakes up to an alarm clock to find that everything just experienced was all a fantasy. (He was told this anyway…) He calls his best friend, Nicole, and asks if she can look up “beaches” in a dream encyclopedia she owns.

“To dream of the beach represents a time in your life when you are facing uncertainty, it may also represent a transition from a familiar setting to an unfamiliar one,” she says.

“This is not a scientific fact, by the way,” Wake Up!’s narrator cuts in. (The show has an omnipresent narrator.) “No dream interpretation is.”

James gasps. “What do you think that means??”

“Probably nothing.”

Probably nothing, indeed. In a world that attributes meaning to everything in its narratives, Maya Deren dared to argue that symbols might just… be symbols. Already an advocate against personal subjectivity, Deren wrote “If one assumes something is a symbol, one must be prepared to answer why the artist has substituted at all; why one should assume that every image is a mask for meaning . . . The face that image has fallen into a second class in symbol is apparent. As, ‘bird in flight.’ Well, I mean bird in flight. ‘Oh, you mean that is not a symbol for something else?’ No, it is a bird in flight. ‘Oh, it’s just a bird in flight?’ It is all a bird in flight might mean.” (209-210).

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Deren did not seem to be a fan of literary interpretation, going against people attributing their own or the artist’s subjectivity on a piece of work. Rather than “What does this mean to me?” Deren preferred the question “What does that mean in terms of thing?” (211). There is a tendency in our culture to look into the meanings of our dreams, relating these meanings back to ourselves. Can we really call these sequences dreams though? Even with “At Land”’s relativistic setting, all of these “dream sequences” actually make sense, unlike actual dreams, where characters and objectives always seem to change on a whim. In attempting to appropriate the surreal language of dreams, maybe filmmakers have created a new form of subconscious exploration through art in itself. In speaking of another of her films, “Meshes of the Afternoon”, Deren stated that her short “establishes a reality which, although somewhat on dramatic logic, can exist only in film” (204). Giovanna Zapperi describes the process of montage in film as “produc[ing] a form of non-linear, anachronical temporality, in which images migrate from one context to another, and time is understood in terms not of continuity but of returns that engage the artist’s subjective desires” (28). Of course, Deren would disagree with the last subjectivity part, but she would agree with Zapperi on the subject of non-linear temporality. Throughout her career Deren’s quest as an experimental filmmaker seemed to be trying to discover the logic of film form, and not the form of a narrative (212).

So these aren’t really “dreams,” so to speak. (And Deren never called “At Land” a dream anyway.) What we call “dream sequences” may just be a form of play with our own subconscious in a narrative language. (“What particularly excited me about film was its magic ability to make even the most imaginative concept seem real,” says Deren, who I will keep quoting forever until the end of time.) I believe we call them “dream sequences” because dreams are the only other form of narrative subconscious exploration that we know. Again, for the last time: Why beaches? Why??? I have still yet to explain this. Why aren’t James and Jasper running through a forest, for example? Or how come Cline didn’t just create a narrative that involves a boy going to the beach and getting his finger caught in a nasty sea urchin? The answer could quite possibly lie in a filmmaker’s subjectivity. (My apologies to Deren as we promptly throw everything we have just discussed out the window and into the darkness below.) Beaches, typically, are reserved for “vacation days.” “Beach trips,” we call them. For me at least, beaches absolutely represent escapism. A place where I travel to and sit for hours, staring into the endless void we call the ocean and letting go of my problems, at least for a day. There’s a reason I chose a beach for the first dream sequence in Wake Up!, some setting of carefree bliss where James is allowed to pursue his subjective desires, much like a filmmaker. I imagine Cline has experienced similar carefree beach experiences herself (I could be wrong, of course). Her protagonist idolizes the beach, somewhere he is free from the confines of his claustrophobic school and (hinted at) overbearing father. Beaches are conceived as places of relaxation, of refuge from the real world, much like dreams. What better form of artist to portray that than the filmmaker, the creator of artificial, parallel realities?

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Wake Up!: Introduction to Dream Interpretations. Dir. Jonah Barrett. Self
Released, 2014. Web Series. Vimeo.com. Web. <https://vimeo.com/91951318>.

Perchance. Dir. Caryn Cline. The New School, 2008. Short Film. Vimeo.com. Web. <https://vimeo.com/19257195>.

At Land. Dir. Maya Deren. Self Released, 1944. Short Film. Youtube.com. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVMV0j6XVGU>.

Deren, Maya, and Bruce R. McPherson. Essential Deren: Collected Writings on Film. Kingston, NY: Documentext, 2005. Print.

Sontag, Susan. “Melancholy Objects.” On Photography. New York: Picador, 1973. 208. Print.

Zapperi, Giovanna. “Woman’s Reappearance: Rethinking the Archive in Contemporary Art–Feminist Perspectives.” Feminist Review 105. 21-47. Feminist Review. Palgrave Macmillan.

Jonah Barrett – Week 3 Journal: God and Cryptobiosis

The tardigrade—or wasserbär—is a little bastard of a microbe, and I have spent the past three days trying to track one down in one of the two petri dish samples I collected. Perhaps it is safe to say that I have failed as a pseudo-scientist. The writer has fooled no one and it is time to put the microscope away. I don’t know where I went wrong; I scraped off several moss specimens from various locations and appropriately drenched them in distilled water. The closest thing I got to a wasserbär was an amoeba, scurrying around in the water, laughing at me. Maybe this is the wrong altitude for tardigrades. This is what I’ll keep telling myself.

But tardigrades, fearless survivors having at least graced our planet since the Cambrian age, are truly made in God’s image. There He sits up upon His heavenly cloud, not exactly watching down on us since he is one of the varieties of Tardigrada that lack eyes. He moves His six stubby legs, and an extra pair of dumpy back limbs, in excitement; for even if He cannot see He can surely sense the rocket His children have sent from the planet Terra on their way to the smaller Luna, a batch of Homo sapiens hitching a ride as well. But humans are weak, they exhibit no abilities in the process of diapause, a form of dormancy initiated and controlled by the organism in question.

I am drawn to the process of cryptobiosis, a form of diapause where your metabolism slows to such a crawl that it can’t even be measured. You literally curl into a ball, a Tun, and wait life out as the hydration in your body quietly converts to trehalose (two sugars joined together, with a molecule of water being removed). Inside a Tun you are almost invincible. Even time has difficulty reaching you (this must be why God is eternal, He spends most of His time curled up on His cloud, converting Himself to sugar). The Tun can survive dehydration, extreme pressures, the vacuum of space and cosmic radiation, heartbreak; who wouldn’t want to live in a state of cryptobiosis? What pure bliss God and the other tardigrades must have, hiding away from life’s countless miseries.

But on a more positive note, via my dearest friend Jacob Earl…

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