Richard Kern Is it art?: Richard Kern

By Spider on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 09:24 pm:

    I am a frequent practitioner of metacognition. My own mind is quite fascinating to me. I am rather hesitant to really and physically involve myself in "risky" situations, but I make up for that by trying to learn about every kind of strange way of life / way of thinking / experience that I come across. It is interesting to me that I am very cautious about exposing myself in person to things that I have no qualms about exposing my brain to. And all the while I have always held that one of the worst feelings you can have is in knowing something you wish to God you didn't know. Strange.

    Five minutes ago I placed a bid on three R. Kern films, and I don't know why. The auction will end in 3 hours. I think I had in mind that this would be an educational purchase. I can tell you that I will probably watch them alone, in a dark room, with wide eyes. I do know that one of the films has a scene of a man wrapping a wire around his chest tighter and tighter until he bleeds. I predict I will watch that and feel horror and nothing at all at the same time. The part of me in the front will be horrified, and the part in the back will watch without feeling anything.

    That kind of dual-ness happens frequently, I've noticed. In October, my brother and I got into a mild car accident, and the woman we hit fell unconscious although we didn't hit her car hard at all. Half of me was very upset and very afraid for the lady, and the other half was reflecting on how interesting it was that half of me was upset and the other half was reflecting on...and so on.

    On Christmas day, my mother gave me a tongue-lashing in front of my entire family about not having direction in life, and half of me was very angry and embarrassed, and the other half was sitting detached in the back, giving comments on the situation.

    My uncle and I had a talk about my future career plans, and I told him that if psychology didn't exist I would have to invent it myself because it is perfectly suited for the way I think. What I mean by that is that the way I think is geared towards solving mysteries, and what's more mysterious than the space inside a human? You take something -- behaviour -- that you don't understand, and you try to get to the bottom of it by inducing the internal states that could have inspired such behaviour.

    The thing is, I think I take my analyzations too far. I think I engage in thinking when I shouldn't. It's impossible for me to ever be "in the moment," whatever I do. I could be having the best time of my life, or the worst time of my life, and I never fully abandon myself to the experience. There is always a piece that's looking at everything from above and saying, "Look at this. Isn't it interesting how you're [x] instead of [y]? Why is that?"

    There's a line in a W.S. Merwin poem: "I am never all of me unto myself." I think that's a good way of putting it. Someone (I'm flashing on Dostoevsky for some reason) calls it "hypertrophy of conscience." That's also a good term.

    Check this out:

    "Depersonalization Disorder


    1. Persistent or recurrent experiences of feeling detached from, and as if one is an outside observer of, one's mental processes or body (e.g., feeling like one is in a dream).

    2. During the depersonalization experience, reality testing remains intact.

    3. The depersonalization causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

    4. The depersonalization experience does not occur exclusively during the course of another mental disorder, such as Schizophrenia, Panic Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, or another Dissociative Disorder, and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., temporal lobe epilepsy)."

    That would explain a lot if that's what is going on. It does cause me social impairment, because I'm so extremely self-conscious. I can't pay attention to *you* because too much of my attention is focused on "Look at yourself. Look at how you're sitting. Look at what you're doing. Why did you say that? You should have said....oh, now you're blushing. Hope he doesn't notice."

    It's very annoying. But how do you stop? As soon as you become aware that you're doing it, you've given in. How do you teach yourself not to pay attention to yourself?

By Gee on Thursday, December 30, 1999 - 02:39 am:

    I thought everyone did that. Seriously. I'm very aware of myself and the things I do and say. I almost always have a third eye outside looking at myself.

    I've thought about it before, and I think that's what being *shy* is. Horrible, over-analysis of yourself.

    or maybe I'm just crazy.

By Patrick on Monday, January 3, 2000 - 12:36 pm:

    the films exemplify the nihilst undertones in NY punk in the 80's. They are indeed "shocking", at least for their time, there is a lot of gore, the scene you refer to is one of many like it. The sound tracks kick ass, kenneth anger, sonic youth (ever seen the cover of Evol?, thats a still from Fingered)

    The films are extremely gore, a lot of it obviously fake and hilarious. The dialog is so over the top, it's hilarious, you will laugh, and i think thats the point. There is a subversive sense of humor amongst his films and anything else he tries to pass them off as is utter bullshit. Fingered is my fav

By Spider on Monday, January 3, 2000 - 02:45 pm:

    Good. Funny is good. Now I don't feel so grimy.

    It's interesting that you mention SY's Evol, because a friend of mine in high school copied that cover for an art project because she thought it was so cool. Little did we know it was a Kern photo.

By The Dinner Lady on Friday, January 21, 2000 - 05:27 pm:

    I have the same thing - half in half out of body. I think it comes from watching TV too much as a child. Now everything is like a TV show. Disconnected but connected. I also notice people who are air signs report this more frequently (Libra, Aquarius, Gemini) - they're very mind centered people.
    Unless you feel that your inability to be in your body for some things is a negative trait I wouldn't let it trouble me. I find that in times where I should be experiencing more pain (breakups, deaths) I find it hard to be totally present. I'm always outside looking in and seeing the irony or the Television quality of life.

By Spider on Friday, January 21, 2000 - 05:54 pm:

    That's exactly how it is for me, too. Hmmmm, I never thought about the TV're right: we get so used to watching people in difficult situations from such a removed point of view that we revert to this distance when we ourselves are in such situations. Makes sense.

    I got the Richard Kern films in the mail this week. I haven't seen them yet...I'm waiting for a time when no one will be in the lounge so I can watch them without company. Maybe tonight or tomorrow night.

By Spider on Saturday, January 22, 2000 - 02:40 pm:

    I watched the films this afternoon. I found them alternately hilarious and boring. The only really disturbing part was in "Right Side of My Brain," where Henry Rollins chases Lydia Lunch through the woods and then finds her in a house and kisses her violently and then sees a little boy hiding behind the bed, and he picks up the little boy and shakes and throws him around roughly and the boy is crying and Lydia's smacking Henry, and then Henry puts the boy down and pounces on Lydia on the bed and repeatedly bangs her head against the wall and the metal headboard (hard, looked very real). She slumps over and he leaves, and the little boy comes back and lies down next to her.

    I found that very unpleasant and I was worried that no one had properly explained to the little boy that this was just acting.

    Then there was one, "The Manhattan Love Suicides," that was very difficult to understand. It starts with an artist and his girlfriend walking down the street, and they're followed by a man (who looked like Hugh Laurie of "Blackadder") who's walking like a monster and grimacing. They don't notice him, and the girlfriend goes into a store (and is not seen again in the movie). The artist goes to an ATM, and he turns around and sees the guy behind him, but doesn't look surprised. The scary guy smiles broadly, and then you see the two of them walking down the street together, talking, and the scary man is clinging to the artist's sleeve and stroking him and stuff. Then they're in the artist's studio, where he's working on a painting, and the scary man is trying to get is attention and acting very clingy, which is annoying the artist. So the scary man starts bleeding and the artist looks bored, and eventually the scary man's left arm falls off and he falls on the floor (presumably dead) and the artist picks up the arm in disgust, puts it in the sink, and starts sketching the fallen body of the scary man while laughing. The end.

    I didn't get it. Who was the scary man supposed to be? The credits called him "The fan," but then why wasn't the artist afraid of him, and why was he angry at the artist at first but then weirdly affectionate toward him after the ATM scene?

By Spider on Saturday, January 22, 2000 - 03:20 pm:

    Oh, and the scene I actually wanted to see, where the guy wraps a wire around his chest until he bleeds, was a disappointment. First, the wire went around his face. Second, it wasn't very realistic. Third, it was only about 20 sec. long. Hmph.

    And fourthly, it was hard to tell what Kern's point was with all of this gore, all of those scenes of people mutilating themselves. There was no voice-over or anything (this was "Submit to Me Now")...just people hurting themselves and others to the music of Foetus. Atonal, percussive music, too. Were we just supposed to be shocked? But it was kind of funny. So were we supposed to laugh? But it was boring. So....what?

By Patrick on Monday, January 24, 2000 - 03:41 pm:

    there is little point to be had spider, don't kill yourself looking for meaning........they are just silly art films, so subversive, so personal who knows exactly what he meant. Sometimes artists aren't trying to say anything at all.

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