Let’s Discuss Dark City

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The rose-coloured glasses of nostalgia: a natural part of life?

Romance and memory: ‘She’s not my wife, I don’t know who she is’.


Post #66

Let’s Discuss Dark City

Published 14-Nov-2019

Call time

To be decided.

I had wanted to set aside the weekend of November 22/23 for this one.

However, there’s a strong chance I will be otherwise predisposed on that weekend (TBC).

Therefore I’m considering bringing this one forward to this weekend i.e. Saturday 16-Nov / Sunday 17-Nov.

Alternatively we can set it for the weekend of Saturday 7-Dec / 8-Dec.

This post is intended to gauge interest in this film.


What do the Members want to discuss?

There’s only two more films left on my list for 2019: Dark City and Waking Life.

After these, we can reassess.

The last three film-based Calls have seen two, one, and two participants respectively, suggesting that — as far as active participation in the Call itself is concerned — the film-based Calls may not be as popular at this point in time as I had hoped.

Perhaps we can revert to a set topic style of Call schedule, as per the Member Skype season, or maybe it is time to revert to the Open House format, as per Season One of the Discord Calls.

In the ideal world, I’d like to have a mix of the formats: one week a film, one week a set (non-film) topic, one week an Open House.

If there is interest in an Open House before the end of the year, I’d be happy to schedule one.

For now, my main interest is in completing the Total Recall -> Matrix -> Dark City -> Waking Life quartet.

There’s a few reasons why I wanted to cover these films in relatively short succession.


Potential discussions arising from Dark City

Below is a list of thoughts and questions which went through my mind upon revisiting Dark City recently.

These are the kinds of things I’d like to discuss on the Call about the film.

Alternatively, I’d be interested to read your thoughts in the comments section below.

What did you take away from your most recent viewing of Dark City?

Let’s get the discussion going.


Spoiler Alert

If you haven’t seen the film yet, best to leave this post for now, and return once you’ve had a chance to watch Dark City for yourself.

It is, imho, a brilliant and thought-provoking movie, right up there with The Thirteenth Floor and other classics we’ve reviewed on this site.


Angles / Scenes

a) The significance of time

b) A simulation to learn about humans?

c) Are your childhood memories ‘real’?

d) Why do some of us ‘wake up’?

e) There is no time for romance

f) The night lady – 1984 revisited?


a) The significance of time

Youtube: Opening scene

In the opening scene of the film, we see a pocket-watch.

Clocks are shown throughout the film, and also on the movie poster.

I mentioned in the latest Member Call that I have lately been thinking a lot about ‘time’.

In some ways, ‘time’ is not real, and yet it dictates the way we live, day by day, and across the course of our lives.

What should I do tonight? What am I doing this weekend?

Where do I see myself in ten years? Do I want to risk being alone in my old age?

How can something so immaterial take up so much of my (our?) conscious thought and energy?


b) A simulation to learn about humans?

Youtube: Second encounter with strangers.

From about 1:20 in this clip.

We fashioned this city on stolen memories. Different eras, different pasts, all rolled into one. Each night we revise it, refine it, in order to learn.

-Learn what?

About you. You and your fellow inhabitants. What makes you human.

-Why?

We need to be like you. I understand you now.

I’ll be as brief as practical here: Is it so absurd to think that something is using this realm to study ‘us’?

Skynet (‘Legion’) in Terminator.

HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The audience at home watching Truman in The Truman Show.

Etc etc etc etc.

Artificial and/or organic ‘intelligence’ watching and learning as the unsuspecting subject lives its life.

Do you ever wonder if maybe your existence is part of one gigantic study of the ‘human’ condition?


c) Are your childhood memories ‘real’?

Youtube: Secret of Shell Beach

Start of this clip.

You still don’t understand. You were never a boy. Not in this place.

Your history is an illusion, a fabrication, as it is with all of us.

I remember a lot of things about my past. Thousands of memories available for recall at a whim.

Oftentimes I don’t even want to remember things, I just have flashbacks. Dozens if not hundreds per day.

I know that these memories are ‘real’ and that the events in question really happened.

After all, what else could explain the existence of these memories in my mind?

How much do you remember about your childhood, how much faith do you have in those memories?

Why do the ‘strangers’ call their craft ‘tuning’?

Is there any relationship between this, and the frequency of ‘mandela effect’ examples being based on television and film references?

As in, once upon a time we tuned our televisions, if you get where I’m going with this…


d) Why do some of us ‘wake up’?

Youtube: I figured a way out

Once in a while one of us wakes up… while they’re changing things.

It’s not supposed to happen, but it does. It happened to me.

The recurring question: why do some people seem to ‘snap out’ of the programming, while others remain stuck forever?

Dark City doesn’t appear to attempt to answer this question directly, but it does provide a basis for exploration.

Walenski went mad while investigating the case — or was he mad to begin the investigation in the first place?

Note also the appearance of the subway, reminiscent of Ghost and The Matrix, Walenski’s ‘way out’.


e) There is no time for romance

Youtube: Ending memories

At the end of this clip.

There is no time for romance. The world can be what you make it. What have you done?

You have the power to make anything happen… but you must act now.

This one may be less relevant to many of the Members of this site, who are happy in long-term (and even permanent) relationships.

For those of us not yet committed, the question may arise from time to time: what is the best path forward?

In Donnie Darko, there are two films playing at the cinemas when the portal opens:

‘The Evil Dead’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’.

The latter stars David Bowie as Pontius Pilate (or, as he prefered to be called, Ponteeus P’lartee).

At the risk of spoiling the film, it is revealed that Christ’s ‘last temptation’ was having a family.

That’s right: he avoided all of the other potential pitfalls, but fell for the wife+kids meme, revealed at the end to be the work of the devil after all.

These aren’t my opinions, by the way. This is what happens in the film (apparently).

Personally I still suspect that being responsible for and raising children is probably the single most effective way for a regular man to find purpose, meaning and contentment in life.

I still daydream of doing exactly this myself one day.

In the streets of Vietnam I see happy kids, happy mothers, and even happy fathers.

These are fleetingly rare sights in modern-day Australia, a place so spiritually and psychologically poisoned that few flowers still flourish through the weeds.

Here in Asia my faith — and that is all it is — in the ‘family unit’ has been somewhat restored.

Sometimes I allow myself to dream…

However, I’m open to the idea that this is not the best way forward after all.

Was John Carpenter trying to tell us something in They Live?

‘John Carpenter’. What a name!

Remember what Jesus was doing for a living before he married Mary Magdelene?

Speaking of MM, in The Last Temptation of Christ, before Jesus married her, she was a lady of the night…


f) The night lady – 1984 revisited?

YouTube: Dark City final hooker scene

(This is a much funnier version, an amateur reenactment of the original scene)

We see that Winston in 1984 has flashbacks to his experience with a lady of the night.

Although not a film we have looked at yet on this site, there is also a key scene (or two) with a night lady in Eyes Wide Shut.

Might be too taboo for a Member Call but possibly worth listing here if anybody is interested in the discussion.

Should prostitution be legal? Is it immoral (as either worker or customer)?

Is there anything to be read into the use of night ladies as the victims of the killer in Dark City?

Recall that ‘Jack the Ripper’ (an obvious hoax) also supposedly preyed on night ladies.

Now we see the protagonist of Dark City being programmed (?) to murder night ladies.

What is it with fictional stories, night ladies, and death?


What now?

i) Leave your thoughts and comments below. Let’s get the conversation going.

ii) Let me know if you are available for a Call this weekend or alternatively on the weekend of Dec 7/8.


Recent Member Calls now available

S2 E11 | Twelve Monkeys (13-Oct-2019)

S2 E12 | Total Recall (27-Oct-2019)

S2 E13 | The Matrix (10-Nov-2019)


Production notes. Post #66. Published 14-Nov-2019. 1,500 words. Available publicly.


 

6 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss Dark City

  • 15-November-2019 at 3:10 pm
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    fwiw, there’s summat about this post i really ‘vibe’ with – it’s an exciting initial agenda and i would be happy to discuss any/all of those topics – especially, as TNG says, if it will help bring together multiple ‘generations’ of membership here at JLB.com.

    but also, fwiw, i am available 12/7 and/or 12/8, but not this coming weekend.

    cheers!

  • 17-November-2019 at 9:12 am
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    i cannot join tomorrow morning, but would love to listen to and / or participate in a discussion about the film and themes you’ve published above. (obv would only commit if i know i can make Dec 7th / 8th. but presently unsure of time zone i’ll be in at that time, notwithstanding sound proof venue w/ good wifi)

    perhaps a bye week (or two) / ‘halftime’ could offer quality prep time for all interested parties. (e.g. i’ve only seen this once, but would want to watch again…same with waking life)

    “the last three film-based Calls have seen two, one, and two participants respectively,….at this point in time as I had hoped.”

    With approx 2 hours allocated, I’ve stated this in the past when prompted, but i – for one – still prefer calls when there are >/= 4 participants. Gives the host and each interlocutor more time to flesh out opinions, introduce new ideas and not feel rushed to get through the topics. *i also like hearing new voices – noobs or audibly virgin ogs (BB/BMS!!!) so my preference on optimal time:speaker ratio should def not discourage anyone from participating.

    “Oftentimes I don’t even want to remember things… flashbacks…dozens if not hundreds per day”

    indeed. despite ‘knowing’ better (intellectually / viscerally / spiritually), how much healthier it is to live in the present, ‘one can’t change the past’ etc.. it too oft haunts me like a dark, zombied version of the christmas carol. even to the point of physiological effects in the present when reminiscing on failures, former friends, foes, and the like. almost as though the playback loops are involuntary : /

    “snap out”

    i like to think i’ve ‘snapped out’, but how much has really changed? other than my inner thoughts and reflections about the experience here. ultimately, i still ‘wake up’ and approach each day more or less the same as ‘pre-conspiracy’ me.

    “ladies of the night”

    i’ve see-sawed on this topic for a long time. lately, despite the costing benefits, i have felt no carnal desire to ‘engage’ like i once did …not even @ gentlemen clubs (which are often the gateway drug). is it moral rectitude? is it budget constraints? other variables / health markers? idk. the transactional element curbs my enthusiasm and enjoyment, but i’m sure this will shift back in the other direction – to some degree – at some point in the future.

    from anecdotal experience, ive seen / felt women who looked spiritually broken. they did not want to be doing what they were doing. one particular encounter put me on a long hiatus from the trade.

    yet others were incredibly enthusiastic, resulting in some of the best sexual encounters i’ve ever had – both sober + sauced.

    using the NPC framework, are maidens in medellin homegrown organic sex dolls far more willing (and able) to please men (for a price) than 99% of women who look down on short term sexual encounters with me … while looking up – in more ways than one – at taller men? or those who barely couch their transactions (try having a sincere conversation with any professional, attractive women in manhattan that doesn’t involve a wallet autopsy) *no judgments. if a horse isn’t suitable to a jockey, it doesn’t ‘deserve’ to be ridden. more or less everyone – male or female – chooses from best options. the market is king!

    in short, i haven’t reached any firm conclusions on this matter : )

    *re: Mary Magdelene – I shared this pic with DaibpDaibp on Discord…one of two paintings i’ve always liked from George de La Tour (the other being The Fortune Teller)

    a whore who is looking into the light (spirit? immortality?) while realizing death looms, and perhaps judgment day cometh (bible on table). lots of interpretations …

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalene_with_the_Smoking_Flame

    • 18-November-2019 at 5:38 am
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      With approx 2 hours allocated, I’ve stated this in the past when prompted, but i – for one – still prefer calls when there are >/= 4 participants. Gives the host and each interlocutor more time to flesh out opinions, introduce new ideas and not feel rushed to get through the topics. *i also like hearing new voices – noobs or audibly virgin ogs (BB/BMS!!!) so my preference on optimal time:speaker ratio should def not discourage anyone from participating.

      If I am reading the above symbols correctly, you are saying 4 or more callers allow for more time to flesh out opinions?
      I’ve always felt the opposite. Efforts to involve more people typically result in a less “in depth” discussion.
      I do agree, however, that there is more of a chance at differing perspetives being brought up.
      In general the subjects discussed seem more “surface level”, though, imo.

      As far as virgin voices, I’m afraid I can’t wear white to any upcoming calls.
      I have participated in 2 (apparantly unmemorable) calls. 😉
      It has been quite a while though, so perhaps I can be a “born again virgin”… talking for the very first time.

      indeed. despite ‘knowing’ better (intellectually / viscerally / spiritually), how much healthier it is to live in the present, ‘one can’t change the past’ etc.. it too oft haunts me like a dark, zombied version of the christmas carol. even to the point of physiological effects in the present when reminiscing on failures, former friends, foes, and the like. almost as though the playback loops are involuntary : /

      I agree that living in the “present” is healthier, but I don’t disparage my thoughts of my past. I tend to think of myself as the sum of everything that I’ve experienced, so even the “bad/uncomfortable” stuff was “necessary” to get me to who I am.
      I guess it helps that I am comfortable with who I am in the “present”.
      I think it is beneficial to have some grace when looking back on one’s past. I figure that everyone is basically doing the best they can with what they got, at any given moment, myself included.

      “ladies of the night”

      I’ve never been interested in paying for sex, though I 100% believe it should be legal.
      (I believe most everything should be legal)

      Knowing that someone is with me because I’m giving them money is a turnoff for me, personally, but I realize I’m a bit unique in that respect.
      (I’ve never made much money, so I feel confident that my relationships have never been based on that)

      • 18-November-2019 at 5:55 am
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        As far as virgin voices, I’m afraid I can’t wear white to any upcoming calls. I have participated in 2 (apparantly unmemorable) calls.

        https://www.johnlebon.com/podcasts/member-skype-30-the-library-of-babel-by-jorge-luis-borges/

        https://www.johnlebon.com/podcasts/jlb-member-skype-25-jan-irvin-of-gnostic-media-1-jul-2018/

        According to my spreadsheet, there’s been about 63 Member Calls, totaling around 120 hours, featuring 36 participants.

        Even I have forgotten some of what has been discussed on the Calls, especially that Borges episode, will have to go back and listen to that one again soon. Argentina is on my radar, bigly.

        Also worth noting that about half of the current Membership of the site joined in September 2018 or later, meaning that your most recent appearance on the Member Calls was before half of the current Members were here.

        It has gone quickly, hasn’t it?

        Might be time to dust off the old microphone and join in another Call, soon 🙂

        P.S. The esteemed Brandon Berry joined the site in November of 2018. If we are ever fortunate enough to be joined by BB on a Call, he can be BB, or Brandon 2. Personally I’d go with BB.

  • 17-November-2019 at 11:10 am
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    “Do I want to risk being alone in my old age?” This is a question I grapple with constantly. I go back and fourth, but I think it is worth the risk. I would probably rather be alone than with someone who doesn’t make me happy. How could I expect to find someone who I am truly happy with if I haven’t risked being alone?

    What is in a name? A theme that keeps coming up, but has yet to be discussed and explored properly.

    I found a link on archive.org? https://archive.org/details/Dark_City

    12/7-12/8 would work much better for me too.

    • 21-November-2019 at 12:26 pm
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      How could I expect to find someone who I am truly happy with if I haven’t risked being alone?

      I think that that statement is quite profound.
      I’ll go further and suggest that more than just risking it, but being ok (or even happy) with it, is important.
      What complicates things is, that I also think that you must find a potential partner who is content with being alone.
      So, suddenly, the pool of potential partners is reduced dramatically. (not to mention the impulse to even be in a relationship)

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