Friday 14 July 2023

From zero to a hundred, real quick.

"This is not a period of depression; 
this is a period of decisive action."

Gail, again, these are good questions.

You may be disappointed at how depressing are the answers.

Re: "The concept of cinema I thought is so you could improve the attractiveness of your already successful presence on YouTube and other media to earn more money on it."

With cinematography, keep in mind: we're not talking about an abstract concept.

We're talking about particular institutions, particular people (instructors), and a sacrifice of a particular number of years of your life (and many thousands of dollars) for a particular outcome.

These university programs CAN be worse than nothing, and THEY ARE worse than nothing: I know it's easy for you to agree with me about that in an offhand way during a casual conversation, but it is NOT EASY to really live with the implications.  It is not easy to think through "what now?" and "what next?" while really remaining rigorously aware of how bad these university options are.

It is possible to learn absolutely nothing in an M.B.A. program: I directly asked the professors of at least two different M.B.A. programs, "What would I learn salient to the stock market in this program?" and the answer was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  They said that to me: they admitted it.  That wasn't my analysis of the program: it was their confession.

Likewise, a program that purports to teach you Chinese can be worse than nothing.  A program that purports to teach you baking can be worse than nothing.  It is really (seriously) fair to say, of these university programs, "I would be better off just renting an apartment in China (or Taiwan, or Hong Kong, etc.) and learning the language on my own than enrolling in this university program" —even if the total cost were the same for all options.  Options like baking and language instruction are unusually pragmatic: they have measurable outcomes and deal with "hands on" (real world) skills.  If you're talking about courses in political philosophy, everything gets worse.

What we found with cinematography was basically a mix of what we'd found with baking and political philosophy: these university programs are scams, and they're scams attached to a dying industry.

The other factor here is: WHO IS IN THE CLASSROOM WITH YOU?  Whether you're looking at Lansing, Michigan, or Ottawa, Ontario, the actual people you're sharing the classroom with (both professors and students) are losers: you're better off hanging around a strip club in Los Angeles or an open mic comedy club in New York to make contacts who could actually collaborate on a youtube video with you —let alone take on a filmmaking project more ambitious than that (fiction or nonfiction, documentary, comedy, action or otherwise).

I am not joking when I say that: there are strippers who would be interested in getting on camera and acting, and there are aspiring comedians who'd be interested in playing any number of roles —perhaps even flying to Libya to make a documentary about Khalifa Haftar (etc.).  The college and university cinematography programs are a dead end within a dead end: you're spending your time with people who are struggling to reach the intellectual level necessary to film a shampoo commercial.

Most of what we'd need to know about Cinematography is contained in one book that we have on our desk right now: you can pretty much read that one book (it's a long book!) and then get out and learn from experience (what angles work with what kind of lighting, etc. etc.).  The crucial variable is knowing the right people to work with: that's why I was so interested in "agenting" (being a talent agent, being a booking agent, etc.).  This would lead to knowing a network of people ("who to call") who can take on all the other roles in a filmmaking project (again: fiction or nonfiction, documentary, comedy or otherwise).

This, also, presumes a locus: if we're not living in New York or Los Angeles, it's all impossible anyway.  Is Tokyo an option?  Maybe.  Maybe Tokyo is the last place on earth where there are actually enough talented people around for us to make something positive happen.  In absolute numbers: there are definitely more people who speak English in Tokyo than there are in Montreal.

However, we do not have a single friend in Tokyo (nor anywhere in Japan).  And my knowledge of the Japanese language is the result of just two semesters of education (and education of an extremely poor quality, although I worked very hard at it).

Re: "Please remember that you are resilient, strong and brilliant."

I'm not: I was brilliant ten years ago.  Now, I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier.

I say again: there is nothing left in me to give.  I have given and given and given for all these years, and nothing positive has come from it.  Today is the day I crossed seven million views on youtube (and that is just counting my main channel, not adding up the smaller ones); even if people who were worth talking to were one in a million, I'd have seven of them by now.  I don't.  I need help and nobody is going to help me.

How I wish I was in Sherbrooke now.

Re: "This strategy could also work for Greece."

Okay: how many intellectuals are there in Greece?

How many of them speak English, or would have anything to do with us?

If we move to Greece, we'll be living TOTALLY ALONE, FOREVER.  There won't be a single stand up comedy event for me to ever participate in (or perform at).  There won't be a single person who ever collaborates on a youtube video with me.  There won't be any political movement we're a part of in any sense.  Nobody will publish my books there, nobody will illustrate the children's storybooks I've written, etc. etc.

The problem with Greece is, in brief, that it's worse than Thailand: we're better off living like millionaires in Thailand (i.e., my implicit point being that $1000 is worth much more in Thailand) than living like paupers in Athens —and Thailand would have all the same disadvantages (we'd live in an oubliette).

I'd just like to state again, briefly: we're anti-Communist and anti-Anarchist.  Politically, we're close to the mainstream center in Greece today, and in most of the western world today; this does not make us any friends.  We'd probably have more friends if we were part of the lunatic fringe in one political ideology or another.  Within veganism, obviously, many people hate me precisely because I'm not a Communist (within Chinese language studies, too, I might add!).  Politically, you can be isolated in the middle, and you can have a ton of colleagues and contemporaries on the extreme fringe (and this is one reason why people become extremists).

The unabomber had more friends than I do: his pathetic imitators (like John Zerzan) have more friends and followers than I do.  I'm further to the right than Bernie Sanders (and, thus, closer to the center) but I'm completely alone "here".

Re: "I understand that The impossibility of the US option has been devastating for you both because you counted on  that for so many years."


Re: "I fear that it has thrown you into a depression…"

No, Gail, I'm not depressed, I am simply running out of time, and running out of options: WE LITERALLY NEED TO DECIDE IF WE'RE BUYING AIRPLANE TICKETS TO JAPAN OR NOT THIS MONTH.  And, yes, one of the reasons why I'm talking to you is that I do not remotely have enough money in my bank account to buy those airplane tickets outright (out of my youtube earnings, etc.).  This is not a period of depression; this is a period of decisive action.

Re: "…and that this depression is preventing you from having the confidence to move and start again…"

Nope, you're thinking of some other guy: I have the confidence to move to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Japan, Israel OR ANYWHERE ELSE ON EARTH.  Self-confidence is not the problem.  OTHER PEOPLE are the problem: the reason why I couldn't get a university degree in Chinese (for example) is OTHER PEOPLE.  The reason why I couldn't get a college degree in baking is OTHER PEOPLE.  How many more items should I add to this list?  It wasn't a lack of confidence, talent, brilliance or anything else that stood in my way in these (numerous!) fields (including political philosophy, Buddhism, Cree-and-Ojibwe, etc. etc.) it was —simply— OTHER PEOPLE.

Guess what?  Opening a comedy club involves OTHER PEOPLE.  Comedy itself involves OTHER PEOPLE.  Filmmaking involves OTHER PEOPLE.

You heard me say this many years ago, Gail: there is nothing more terrible than relying on something that cannot be relied upon.  OTHER PEOPLE: that's what I cannot rely upon.

Just think about what happened at UVic: I had such low expectations, but the reality of that institution (and the people within it, comprising it) was SO MUCH WORSE than I possibly could have imagined.  I could now repeat this for a list of other institutions, including the baking school.

No, Gail, my problem isn't a lack of confidence: I taught myself the Laotian language (NO TEACHER, NO HELP FROM ANYONE) while sleeping under a mosquito net and chopping my own firewood (to boil non-potable water) every morning.  Getting on stage and doing comedy: my problem isn't a lack of confidence.  Writing, researching, etc. —my problem is not a lack of confidence.  My problem is other people —and, sometimes, the concatenation of cabals of other people in institutions.

It absolutely never occurred to me, ten years ago, that I wouldn't know a single person (in the whole world) with even a shred of talent or brilliance, but here I am: I have no contemporaries, I have no colleagues, I have no rivals, I have no equals.

There is no talent in Canada.  There is no talent in Montreal.  Canada is a dead end.  Montreal is a dead end within a dead end.

Is Tokyo a dead end?  Are there dissident intellectuals in Tokyo?  If it's not gonna be Tokyo, then where?