36 Chambers of Death

So one of my favorite albums at one time was Wu-Tang's Enter the Wu-tang (36 Chambers). The influence for the album title comes from this movie.

Later, thinking me melancholy, my friend Matt would tell me I was deep into the 36th chamber of death.

I became better acquainted with the 36 chambers recently. At work, we have a machine that cuts a blob of dough into 36 portioned, rounded dinner rolls. I routinely cut and rounded these rolls on this machine for months without thinking about the significance of the 36. Then recently, I took over my co-worker's task of cleaning the machine at the end of the day. This involves flipping the top up and then pulling a lever so as to expose the interior of the 36 roll chambers. Water cannot be used to clean this machine as it is so old the metal will rust. Instead, I take a small, sharp paint scraper and scrape the bits of dried crusted dough off. This is a painstaking and time-intensive task. To remain zen while scraping dried dough, metal on metal, has taught me the meaning and value of the 36 chambers.


so i've done a good bit of reading on film.

i'm interested in film periods and periodization.

i feel like at the end of the millenia, and going into the 2000's, a genuinely new film period was formed. it was not the result of new technology, although new technology emerged.

we are in a postmodern age. whereas movies generally in the 1900's were about "things", U.S. movies thus far in the 2000's have been about our now-fractured identity.

Famous and high-grossing films like these all revolve around the central tension of the protagonist wrestling with questions of identity:
  • Harry Potter
  • Bourne Identity
  • Star Wars, episodes I-III
  • Avatar
  • The Dark Knight
  • Fight Club
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Spiderman
  • Shrek
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Inception
That is not to say that this theme did not exist prior, but it appears that the lens of discovery for U.S. filmmakers has turned inwards almost permanently, and become an abstract fixation, the plotlines becoming what the scenery once was.

The U.S. has been a nation of discovery, re-discovering and re-defining itself incessantly since its beginning. Does it seem predictable that this thematic period would be the stable state of a continual exploration of our existence through film?

[Think about the themes in this list by means of comparison to the identity-centric films.]


Thanks, josh. I enjoyed both the treat and the old-school packaging.


In a final and desperate effort the smiling gaze of Legrandin struggled to the extreme limits of its tenderness, vagueness, candour, and distraction; then feeling, no doubt, that there was nothing left for it now but to answer, he said to us: "I have friends all the world over, wherever there are companies of trees, stricken but not defeated, which have come together to offer a common supplication, with pathetic obstinacy, to an inclement sky which has no mercy upon them."

Proust, from Swann's Way


"The feeling of adventure would simply be that of the irreversibility of time."

- from Sartre's Nausea


The poet is not a "little god". No, he is not a "little god". He is not picked out by a mystical destiny in preference to those who follow other crafts and professions. I have often maintained that the best poet is he who prepares our daily bread: the nearest baker who does not imagine himself to be a god. He does his majestic and unpretentious work of kneading the dough, consigning it to the oven, baking it in golden colours and handing us our daily bread as a duty of fellowship. And, if the poet succeeds in achieving this simple consciousness, this too will be transformed into an element in an immense activity, in a simple or complicated structure which constitutes the building of a community, the changing of the conditions which surround mankind, the handing over of mankind's products: bread, truth, wine, dreams. If the poet joins this never-completed struggle to extend to the hands of each and all his part of his undertaking, his effort and his tenderness to the daily work of all people, then the poet must take part, the poet will take part, in the sweat, in the bread, in the wine, in the whole dream of humanity. Only in this indispensable way of being ordinary people shall we give back to poetry the mighty breadth which has been pared away from it little by little in every epoch, just as we ourselves have been whittled down in every epoch.

from Neruda, http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1971/neruda-lecture-e.html
No booksellers, no books
No books, no learning
No knowledge, no wisdom
No wisdom, no ethics
No ethics, no conscience
No conscience, no community
No community, no bread.
-- The Talmud