Monday, December 17, 2007


Decades ago a demon infested the world of man. It was a demon well versed in the practices of deceit, trickery and illusion. It garnered its strengths at man's expense, living in his words, moving from ear to ear, lending power where it willed and tipping otherwise balanced scales to those who worshipped it, learning its language and voice to hail it as master of all reality.



A lot has been written or performed now, by 2007, with this basic idea in mind. 'The devil hides in the law' or 'lawyers are evil'. Whatever. First, I don't believe in the devil, not the one so many people are so frightened of anyway. But I do believe in demons (again, not in the way most do) and so I'm interested here in tightening up some of these ideas, if for no other reason than to get me through my first legal experience in screenwriting, which combined with the hangover of a weekend of sick cat-scares and little or no sleep, not too mention a raging sinus infection, is currently making me want to throw something with a decent amount of weight to it through a window for no other reason than to hear the sound of breaking glass somewhere outside my fucking head for a change...

Looking back at forbidden or sacred rites of the past; ceremonies and rituals and the languages they were written in, Law definitely appears to be a continuation of that tradition in the modern age. In these past times, in many instances (even holy fucking christendom) Latin was the language used, so as to exclude the everyday people from having any part in what the priests of the various faiths and cabals were up to. The 'common folk' were not trained in this language, and so the ideas and operations those that used it were pursuing were veiled from the scrutiny of society. The lairs of sacred orders and black rites were hidden. 

Now, think about it, might a metaphor to Hollywood not be made?

Stretch with me...

As a future generation of these 'common folk', many sit back and consume what is offered, via HBO, Miramax, NBC, whatever. These are the representatives of a reality we imagine as so grand and unattainable it seems the literal other side of the rainbow. Most people would never dream of entering the 'know' of the machine that is the grand temple of celebrity, because either A) they have no interest in participating or B) it seems like a dream and what do most adults tell children? Abandon your dreams, get a normal job, etc.  Now, among the aforementioned people who 'have no interest' I would argue a fairly large percentage of them actually do, thus explaining why magazines such as People, Heat, Us, Star and all the other celebrity rags inspire so much reading. People find stars they are attracted to for one reason or another, joining the ranks of their fans* and living vicariously through them. Let's face it, everyday life for many must seem pretty boring, otherwise how the fuck do you explain people watching things like Dancing with the stars or walking around and shooting each other because of the colour of their skin, clothes, boots, whatever.

So anyway, here we are then with this grand temple of 'Celebrity' (again, etymologically speaking, celebrating - an idea steeped in divinity). So the whole world lays at its gates and waits for glimpses from behind the temple curtain, just as in religion, whatever form these glimpses take. What is the medium between the two worlds? What navigates and calculates these glimpses? Why? the Priest of course, the speaker of the divine and celebrated tongue. How can they navigate this temple of celebrity, with all of its wants, needs, snooks and crooks? The answer of course, is by speaking its language, the language of legalese.

I received this contract yesterday and in looking at it found that even though the words were steeped in an alphabet I had known all my life, they were in many cases nearly unintelligible to me. Some of you out there will have had experiences reading contracts - they are actually everywhere now, and in fact do not only guard the sacred temple of celebrity but permeate our world in more places than not. Sign up for an email account lately? Chances are the last step was the ol' 'Agree/Disagree' terms and services piece that you probably zipped the scroll bar past to check the 'Agree' button. Why? Because if you tried to fucking read half of what it says you'd collapse in frustrated bewilderment. Now, in terms of this contract in front of me, how could I not be overwhelmed by the type of language we're talking about when it's something I've created on the line?

Of course part of this is laziness, admittedly. Just as ancient conjurers, sorcerers and priests had to meditate and hone the attention and powers of their minds in regards to learning cryptic languages, bolstering their concentration (something we all lack more and more of these days) and performing their sacred initiations and rites, I realize full well I should, at the outset of attempting to enter this grand, modern Otherworld I could, nay should set about learning the attributes that will make me one who can traffic the tricky and perhaps even perilous dimensions of it. But, laziness. Do I really want to take the time away from my writing, my art, my life in this world, or investigating any of the others I've encountered to now start at the ground floor of this new one?

Maybe some day, but not now. I'll just do like all the others and hire me one of these priests to navigate it for me.

* Fan, from Fanatic. Look fanatic up on Merriam-Webster online and you get etymology for fanatic: Latin fanaticus: inspired by a deity, frenzied; or also from the Latin fanum: temple.


Amy said...

We just finished watching the first season of Rome last night, so I've been thinking about Latin a bit lately. The conclusion I came up with was that basically, British geeks are to blame. They're the ones who revived the dead language and attached it to all of our legal and medical terminology. And I'm not sure think their intents were so malicious as to exclude the lower classes - I think it was a geek thing. Yesterday's Klingon.

Shawn C. Baker said...

'yesterday's klingon' - that was always my favorite carpenters song.

Big In Day-town said...

I was hoping this would end with "and them I'm gonna get one of them bitches to transcribe that shiz-nit for me so I can continue with what I do best." Your Phil Collins is waiting for you here in D-town. -Mel