cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values


Master Filmmakers on the Craft of Film

Not able to use the new version of WordPress yet, so the link will just have to be out there instead of embedded under the title, as they usually are.

This very good on editing as it has a set of videos with the some of the best around.

COTA has a collection of editing posts, both because I early on realised to write a script you really would need to know how it might end up and try to write accordingly. In a photographic analogy: framing in the camera.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

FILM The Conversation

‘The Conversation’: A Brilliantly Composed Symbol of Watergate America

Cinephilia and Beyond Another longform form this wonderful film site. Please if you use it make a small contribution.

As an added treat a pdf of the screenplay, by Copploa, written in 1973, which is downloadable, but if you want it not to be popping up up as a webpage but as a file on your PC, make sure to save it as such.

The centre-piece is a facsimile of an interview in Filmmakers Newsletter, 1974, with with Brian De Palma and Coppola getting into the nitty-gitty of The Conversation’s conception and making. De Palma going on to make Blow Out in 1980, starring John Travolta.

NB. Coppola mentions Blow Up as an influence.

Also, for the real enthusiasts: Drew Morton’s video essay, Cross-Cut, looking at Blow Up [1960], The Conversation [1973] and Blow Out [1980], here embedded in this Indewire page with a short intro. It’s only 6 mins long, a true video essay made up of just video, doing the job of comparing and contrasting – film explaining film – not one of those video clip/slide-show type-thingummies with lecture tagged on. Though many of this type can be good, there is that thing about whether such a detailed lecture might be better as a separate essay/paper. That debate about video essays is probably still going on. Now the video essay, a well-thumbed subject in itself, has evolved a lot since the early days, with academics pouring over them in various ways.

If you know your three films well, and you’re into film-making, can’t fail to be impressed by Drew’s brilliant editing.

Before coming across Drew Morton’s essay when he first put it up, had myself spent inordinate amounts of time taking screen grabs of all three films, hoping to construct a slide show doing the same thing, lacking the wherewithall to do clips, again with no audio essay superimposed on the visuals. Having seen Drew’s, the idea was soon dropped, but mine would have gone into a lot more detail of all three films. Self-evidently video essays are not ideal for anyone who doesn’t know the film or films. And one of my pet hates, trailers giving awy too much information, even Drews sparse choice of clips would give too much away, in my extreme trailersist view.

A trailerist of course almost kicks in TV screens while shoutung, No, No, No! trying to stop it when the next episode of a series is laid out in such detail as to provide a clear impression of the whole plot, even if it’s a bit jumbled up.

Drew’s vimeo page shows he’s not been a slacker, producing many classy video essays.

Drew has put up earlier shorter versions of Cross-Cut, linked to below, which each have two intercut quotes, but no voice-over, which point to film essays and the video essay form, rather than directly to the three films.

As he puts in his comments on v .5:

“What began as “A poetic introduction to the fiction film as videographic criticism that seeks to illustrate the works of Raymond Bellour and Laura Mulvey through BLOW OUT, BLOW UP, and THE CONVERSATION” eventually became a more modest experiment in exploring the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT. This is the first – thumbnail – version.”

and v .75 :

“What began as “A poetic introduction to the fiction film as videographic criticism that seeks to illustrate the works of Raymond Bellour and Laura Mulvey through BLOW OUT, BLOW UP, and THE CONVERSATION” eventually became a more modest experiment in exploring the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT. This is the second version – made before the theoretical framing device was ultimately jettisoned.

Differences from Version .5: I realized that I needed to begin intercutting between the three films earlier to establish more of an aesthetic rhythm and conceptual dynamism. If I had stuck with the structure outlined in draft .5, I wouldn’t have introduced THE CONVERSATION until almost 2 minutes in (and BLOW OUT probably nearly three minutes). In short, it was becoming a piece dominated by discrete thirds without really doing much intellectually.”

CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version .5)

CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version .75)

And again for convenience, v. 1.0 :


September 8, 2018 Posted by | Antonioni, Blow Out, Blow Up [1966], Coppola, De Palma, The Conversation [1974] | , , | Leave a comment


The Lovely Month of May

A documentary film by Chris Marker and Pierre LHomme, 1963

July 2, 2018 Posted by | film documentary | , | Leave a comment

PHOTOGRAPHER David Goldbatt 1930-2018

‘Colour was too sweet for apartheid’: the austere genius of David Goldblatt

~ The South African photographer, who died this week, caught apartheid’s grotesqueness without ever letting anger take over. His portrait of a place and a time is without equal in modern photography

South African photographer David Goldblatt dies aged 87

~ Documenting the racial divide during apartheid, he was credited with bringing a strong moral and ethical dimension to his work

David Goldblatt, the photographer who was South Africa’s conscience – in pictures

The big picture: Shop assistant, Orlando West, Soweto, 1972

~ David Goldblatt captures a defiant private moment in apartheid-era South Africa

June 28, 2018 Posted by | photographer, photography | , | Leave a comment

FILM Plariarism v homage

Imitation Game: The Difference between Homage and plagiarism

~ Homage is not a lesser form of filmmaking — let alone a form of theft — but a natural part of loving and making cinema.

Meg Shields, Film School Rejects 12 Feb 2018

“Either a filmmaker transparently deploys a reference, or a filmmaker knowingly passes off someone elses’s work as their own.”

Though of course this would not be such an interesting subject if it was that easy.

Shield notes ‘…Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet accused del Toro of plagiarism. According to the French director, the sequence in The Shape of Water where Richard Jenkins and Sally Hawkins dance in unison while seated as an old musical number plays in the background was “[copy] and pasted” from Jeunet’s 1991’s art-house hit Delicatessen.’

But hold on a minute,

‘Shape of Water’ Hit With Plagiarism Allegations Following 13 Oscar Nominations

~ Paul Zindel’s son David says celebrated film is “obviously” based on late father’s play ‘Let Me Hear You Whisper’

Joyce Chen, Rollong Stone, 26 Jan 2018.

So this one alone is well-travelled:

Everything to Know About the Shape of Water Plagiarism Controversy

Eliza Berman, Time 3 March 2018

Film plagiarism accusations go way back, as have literary ones.

Any fule kno when accusations of plagiarism fly, it’s the writer not the director at the root of the problem, though when they do fly, it’s the investors and film production company that gets it in the neck. There are all sorts of cover-one’s-arses and insurances built into filmmaking, so maybe there’s one for plagiarism that thought it was homage.

My interest lies in how film writers are usually very knowledgeable about films. So many writers and writer-directors say they learnt their craft from obessively watching films from childhood. It’s part and parcel of films to refer to those that came before. Then there’s what you think to be some original storyline that disappointingly turns out to be close to something else as the writing progresses, which has to be ditched or turned into an artful homage.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | homage, plagarism | , | Leave a comment

FILM film vs digital

by kat2nist

by kar2nist [Shanti-Savera Ernakulam, India]

Analog/Digital Comparison: 35mm vs. Arri Alexa vs. Arri Alexa with added grain

Several short test videos in Vimeo

Generation Film

The rise of digital technology has meant tough times for people shooting on film, but against the odds, a new wave of filmmakers are turning to celluloid…

Film VS Digital | Video Essay

March 20, 2018 Posted by | celluloid, digital cinematography, film technique | | Leave a comment

TV DRAMA Frozen Sky 2011

Frozen Sky

All 4 – 90 min x 2 part German drama

Frozen Sky 2013

February 4, 2018 Posted by | Frozen Sky 2011, german tv | | Leave a comment

FILM pan and scan

Lawrence of Arabia, David Lean, 1962

Scorsese, Pollack, Mann & Hanson on How “Pan and Scan” Ruined Films for Decades

5′ video ~ short introduction

* Look out for Scorsese mentioning 4:3 increases the size of the frame and so reduces resolution.

November 27, 2017 Posted by | film technique, film [its techniques], pan and scan | , , | Leave a comment

The 15 Basic Elements to Know to Better Your Film’s Mise-en-Scene

Blade Runner 1982

The 15 Basic Elements to Know to Better Your Film’s Mise-en-Scene

Filmmaker Michael Hall of Shohawk, in Mentorless, filmmaking blog.

+ 15 diagrams. Who wants text when you have graphics? It’s a visual medium! Have a thing about mise-en-scene? Don’t even know what it is [but it’s in French and looks interesting..]? This is for you and you.

Michael has done another mise-en-scene:

7 Ways Mise-en-scene Will Make You a Better Filmmaker

which also includes the same 15 diagrams at the bottom.

Pinched the Blade Runner header from this post.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | film, film technique, film techniques, film-making | , | Leave a comment

FILM Ed Wood 1995

‘Ed Wood’: Tim Burton’s Beautiful Ode to a Fascinating Filmmaker, From One Outsider to Another

Cinephilia and Beyond

The ever magnificent C & B presents one of its majestic longforms on Tim Burton’s Ed Wood [1995]

Oozing with images and a handful of YouTubes. Plus a Q & A with Tim Burton

As usual the screenplay is embedded for reading in place, plus a downloadable pdf. If unfamiliar with their downloads, a click opens it in another web-page. But of course being a screenplay person, you want it on your HD. So, once downloaded, Go to File location, right mouse and and then open it with your pdf viewer. Save As [change the file name if you want to here] and Bob’s your uncle.

As I normally do, this screenplay is to be found in the right side bar under screenplays of which there is a small collection.


Cult films to see before you die: Ed Wood

James Oliver, Reader’s Digest

Of course the web is full of Ed wood reviews and essays – but just one extra for good luck.

The DVD can be found pretty cheap.

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Ed Wood [1995], Tim Burton | , , | Leave a comment

SCREENPLAY Christopher Nolan Screenplays

Christopher Nolan Screenplays

Inde Film Hustle, 13 Sept 2017

All downloadable pdfs, not dialogue transcripts

Dunkirk (2017)
Interstellar (2014)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Inception (2010)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Prestige (2006)
Batman Begins (2005)
Memento (2000)
Following (1998)
The keys of the Street (1997)

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Christopher Nolan, screenplay, screenwriting | , | Leave a comment

FILM ADAPTATION How not to adapt a novel

How NOT to Adapt a Novel

Christopher Osterndorf, The scriptlab, 7 Sept 2017

Well, it’s the title isn’t it? Buy the book and then find it’s nothing like you imagined between the covers.

Short but for me not so interesting – despite the tips – because the films discussed are not the sort of thing I would watch, but novel to film is something I return to again.

In any case who can resist films about writers trying adapt novels? Plenty? Oh, well they fascinate writers. And that’s what counts. Though of course we’re on writers adapting novels here. Whereas, what happens when the script gets into the hands of the production team is another matter.


The Novel or the Film?

Siobhan Calafiore, The Artifice, 6 Feb 2014

Borrowed her header for my header.

Novel or film is what follows from film adaptation anyway so this is one to stimulate the juices on that topic.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | film adaptation | | Leave a comment

SCREENPLAY: The Myth of the Three-Act Structure

graphic from: A History Of The Three-Act Structure

The Myth Of The Three-Act Structure

Bill Mesce, at ShoreScripts

Chatty. Lot’s of examples.

Well, you’ve done a course or two, got the books, …and you can find as many of these things as there are actual script, but here’s two

Save the Baby! On the Benefits of the Three-Act Screenplay Structure

A History of Three-Act Structure

September 2, 2017 Posted by | 3-act structure | , , | Leave a comment

FILM sound

Having just completed an online film course which included doing some practical exercises on adding soundtrack, and coincidentally watching Takovsky’s The Sacrifice for the first time, it seemed a good time to collect together a few links to film sound. This is both how sound is used in film and films that have sound themes like Coppola’s The Conversation. The links centre on Coppola’s The Conversation and Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice.

* Sound Upon Sound: The Conversation

Clair Norelli, PopOptiq, 10 Jan 2011

This is the work of Walter Murch editor and sound designer. Just re-watched it for about the 8th time and the more you watch it the more you see things, or see things you’ve had pointed out..

* “He’d Kill Us If He Had The Chance”: Coppola’s The Conversation and Film Sound

Post from Phillip Brophy, The Seventh Art, 11 Feb 2008

* The Conversation 1972 Francis Ford Coppola
– under the category of : Distortion and Misperception

He’s done a set of film sound posts on different sound themes, which can be found here:

* Historical Markers of the Modern Soundtrack

* Listening to The Conversation

David C Ryan, Identity Theory, 10 March 2012

An essay on The Conversation which does not deal how sound is used in the film, but here just the same.

* The Sound Film Man

FilmSound.0rg does Walter Murch

* With The Conversation, Walter Murch made the editor the author

Charles Bramesco, The Dissolve, 20 April 2015

Which links to other The Conversation posts and a forum discussion on The conversation’s “…sound, music, timing, and more.”

* The Power of Sound and Editing (The Conversation and Psycho)

Wael Khairy, The Cinephile Fix, 17 Nov 2009

* The Act of Listening #16: Tarkovsky and mystery

Rob Szeliga, Sound designer, 17 December 2016

* Sound in Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice

Interview with Owe Svensson, Swedish Sound mixer

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Musical offering: the law of quotation

Julia Shpinitskaya, Proceedings of the World Congress of International Association for Semiotics, 2014

* Essay by filmmaker Dimitar Kutmanov on how the use of sound creates narrative space

* Compositions of Crisis: Sound and Silence in the Films of Bergman and Tarkovsky
Phoebe Pua, August 2013

Thesis, 145 pp.


This thesis examines seven films from the cinemas of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei
Tarkovsky—Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957), Through a Glass Darkly (1961),
Winter Light (1963), and The Silence (1963), and Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979),
Nostalghia (1983), and The Sacrifice (1986).

These films were chosen as they represent the deepest periods of two directors’
engagements with the possible death of God and the subsequent loss of intrinsic
existential meaning—topics with which this thesis is principally concerned.

As a starting point, this thesis argues that the films present the silence of God as the primary indicator of God’s absence from the human world. Becoming aware of this silence thus causes one to interrogate religious certainties which have hitherto been taken to be timeless and true. This thesis then contends that, when faced with this silence and its implications, Bergman desperately sought evidence of God’s existence while Tarkovsky unyieldingly maintained an attitude of faith.

The directors’ progressions toward these contrasting positions are evident through the uses of sound elements in their films. As Bergman unsuccessfully pursued evidence of God’s existence, the soundscapes in his four films become increasingly minimal. The sparse use of sound reveals Bergman’s conception of a Godless void. On the other hand, metaphysical silence in Tarkovsky’s films was not perceived as emptiness. Instead, “silence” in his films was, paradoxically, often depicted through complex layers of sounds. Presented as manifestations of the metaphysical, the sounds of “silence” in Tarkovsky’s films consequently become affirmations of faith.

Through this sound-based approach to film analysis, this thesis sets out to explain why Bergman and Tarkovsky understood metaphysical silence so differently by examining how they portrayed literal silences.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | film sound | | Leave a comment

PHOTOGRAPHY topology meets typology

The Topography of Tears: A Stunning Aerial Tour of the Landscape of Human Emotion Through an Optical Microscope

~ From Blake to biochemistry, “proof that we cannot put our feelings in one place and our thoughts in another.”

* Maria Popova in Brainpickings takes a look at Rose-Lynn Fisher’s The Topography of Tears.

Does a photographic topology come under typology? Topology meets typology?

There are a couple of previous post on typology written when I first came across the subject in 2009: various links. The names to look out for are Karl Blossfedt and Bernd and Hilla Becher, mentioned in Typology {1} Links to their work in there.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | topology | , , | Leave a comment

FILM The Conversation 1974

The Conversation looked ahead to a world without privacy

Scott Tobias, The Disolve, 21 April 2015

Forum: The Conversation

Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve, 21 April 2015

Why The Conversation Should Be Required Viewing at the NSA

~ Francis Ford Coppola’s psychological thriller, which turns 40 today, may be the best exploration of the dangers of surveillance that pop culture has ever produced.

Alexander Huls, The Atlantic, 7 April 2014

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Coppola, surveillance cinema, The Conversation | , , | Leave a comment

FILM Fellini La Dolce Vita 1960


La Dolce Vita

The Magic Widow 6 November 2015 ~ film blog by Kristoffer T notable for the quality film stills

the cinematography of la Dolce vita: that’s deep, man

Brandon W. Irvines’ Underplex film blog, 20 June 2013 ~ always plenty of stills

La Dolce Vita: Lessons not learned

Kate Fitzpatrick, Brattle Theatre Film Notes, 24 June 2103

Search Brattle for other La Dolce Vita posts.

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Antonioni, film, film directors, La Dolce Vita [1960] | , | Leave a comment

FILM Tableau shot


The Power of the Tableau Shot

David Goodman, The Beat, 30 November 2015

David Bordwell discusses tableau in these posts starting at the top with Murnau before NOSFERATU

Bit confusing because he doesn’t just use headings tableau or tableau vivant but persevere and it all become clear and where the links are.

Came back to this by accident when this interesting clip from an Estonian film by Martti Helde, In the Crosswind [2014] came into view.

wiki: In the Crosswind

Distributor Pluto Films for all the details

In the Crosswind
8′ 58″

In the Crosswind
1′ 40″ trailer

Risttuules (In the Crosswind) – Through the window
7′ 15″

Risttuules (In the Crosswind) – Winter photo (letter)
5′ 18″ ~ YouTube captions kept just to distinguish the links.

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Estonian films, In the Crosswind [2014], Martti Helde, tableau shot, Tableau vivant | , , , , | Leave a comment


The book is so much better than the film..

The book is so much better than the film..

BRIAN sitting at his desk behind his laptop. Bookshelf behind him. Jar of pens right. untidy papers/books left.

He looks down to type. Clicking of keys. Stops. Looks toward camera blankly. Sound of door opening and shutting. Brian continues to look at camera.

Cut to:

Angled view of BRIAN. Door to right. JENNY enters backwards.

Cut to:

Back to 1st shot.
JENNY stands behind him looking at the screen. Smiles.

Very good. Two sentences..

Brian continues to look forward impassively.

Jenny moves to Brian’s left side. Shows both hands in fists. He touches the right one. She opened her fist. It is a small red tomato. She opens the other fist: it is a grape.
Brian cranes head to look up at Jenny. The looks back. Types.
Jenny moves behind Brian again. Looks over his shoulder.

There you see! It just needed a tomato.


You know I’m right…

Brian starts reads from the screen:

“She opened the door and moved towards him, standing right behind him, bending to look over his left shoulder. That’s one more sentence than at 9 O’clock” She says, smiling. He can’t of course see the smile, but he feels the warmth of it on his neck. He continued to look forwards impassively……

Cut to:

Back to shot 2

………Margaret moved to the side presenting him with two closed fists. “Which one?”. Peter reluctantly chose the right hand. Jenny opened her fist to reveal a small red tomato on her palm. Then the other hand: a green grape. He started typing furiously quite oblivious to her presence. While Brian typed, Jenny has moved silently to the door and left the room. In a corner of his mind, a millions miles from his creative effort, he hears the click of the door shutting.”

Cut to:

Closer view of door. The door is just shutting. Click.

Fade out.

February 6, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FILM Compassion in film in a time of Trump

Nicola Hilliard-Forde

Nicola Hilliard-Forde

Canadian casting director, producer Nicola Hilliard-Forde writes on compassion in film

Hooray, a film and Trump. Well, she says she’s motivated to write because of evenements. Don’t think I’ll be able to slip a Godard in here, but who knows. See what transpires. Oh, I just did.

Her current film, directed by Joey Klein, “a dark romantic drama about a young woman with bipolar disorder and a young man with PTSD who fall in love and struggle to forge a simple life together, is The Other Half, due for release 2 Dec 2016.

In these piece she reviews filmic narrative of compassion, chats to three film chums, Mark Rendell, actor, Mayuran Tiruchelvam, writer/producer, and Natasha Lyonne, actor and filmmaker, about films, suffering, and empathetic storytelling.

At this point, I feel obliged to say as people sit back [or lean forward, suddenly stand up, enraged..] to consider who their next president really is and what he actually might do, is someone somewhere is going to make that movie, In A Time Of Trump. In social media and MSM, the satire, plain old-fashioned mockery and distain being in full swing, where is there else to put one’s creative energy, positive or negative, but film or music….why yes, who is up for the Trumpet Concerto?

One bright spark pointed out Trump – or Fingers von Trumpf [strictly it should be Drumpf..] as I am prone to call him – Finger’s for short – is a man blessed with empathy, but he carefully adds it has little or no emotion attached to it, except where it might impinge on his own hurt about what other people say about him. He susses you but does not feel your hurt. But gets hurt himself very easily. And responds to all slights with full force to defend his fragile ego [presumably]. All complicated by also being in possession of many other features of those who we can terms as living in The Borderlands of Personality. The major current opinion is he’s a narcissist of high order, with possible NPD. I think it’s worse than that. He seems very much a sociopath as well. Though as far as we know not a psychopath. A careful study of DS-5 will help if you can be bothered.

Here, for those who feel at this point that this doesn’t seem like the correct description of what empathy means, some more. First, empathy is too often taken for or thought of, or used as the same as sympathy, which it isn’t. Though the two come together under normal circumstances. One can cause the other? Contingent? It’s a debate.

A recent very interesting medium-form by Ed Young in The Atlantic, 6 Dec 2016, Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self, is a quite a good primer for looking back at empathy, or even considering it seriously for the first time. Though he does lead you beyond this basic idea into further fascinating realms.

Empathy is where we get to say TOM. Theory of Mind. Human minds evolved to be able to work out what other minds are think even or might be about to think. Feelings and so forth on the are as well, but you know. That is we pick up on other’s feelings and use these and what we think guess they might be thinking and how it’s all connected as a view of that particular person. Say your life partner for simplicity. You get to know the language of this person’s mind, the emotional machinery, through long years of experience. Some can finish the others sentences. That must be infuriating. How far can you push this before tears or rage appear? Etc., et al.

Anyway, it’s not as easy as big on empathy successful, or massively empathetic, really nice to know. You might have 4/10 empathy which would carry you though life, while you might be 9/10 and be a complete failure though you could clock very easily what they were thinking and feeling. or thinking through what they seemed to be feeling. Etc. Et al. It’s not the only mental equipment you possess. The man with high empathy might essentially be a sociopath. And that is bad news for empathy which so many write about as a positive feature of life which ought to be encouraged. It can be taught, in one sense, just like a sense of fairness or what society regards right or wrong, or the oughts and should. It can be pointed out to anyone, empathetic or not, what being empathetic means. But you’re pretty much born with high or low empathy. The rest are adds ons. That’s called parenting and education.

Thomas Markham in, Why Empathy Hold the Key to Transforming 21st Century Learning, at Mindshift, 16 Nov 2016, gives his take on what empathy is. He says,

‘the feeling of being able to understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.’

But take his piece right through to the end. It’s a very good way to get up to speed on the wider aspects of empathy.

Add in there the autistic spectrum with, say, your Rain Man type totally unable to think about anything but his own thoughts, let alone figure out what might be in the minds of others. In Justin Hoffman’s case he’s an idiot savant. Well, not Justin….That doesn’t mean unable to work out to some degree some things people might be up to, but largely it’s a self-contained world, where things come into the brain, things go out, but they’re not seen in terms of other people. Your upset at a severely autistic person’s behaviour does not register as, I have hurt you, but more this person is annoying me. The severely autistic person is at the end of the spectrum of brain difference, with we might suggested things like dyslexia on the left end and autism on the right. I have no idea id there have been scan studies of autistic people, but I don’t think it is hard even without a detailed understanding of the brain, to see that whatever inputs simply doesn’t get finally channelled to those centres which allow for the ability to read other’s minds [which means form guesses about essentially…]. Certainly not to the frontal lobes where the cognition and the control of impulses lie [epileptics with frontal lobe foci are known to be impulsive, though this does not impair things like creativity. it may enhance it. Then there’s all the writers who were epileptic the famous e.g. being Dostoevsky.

With bipolar we’re in a similar territory, but its a lot more complicated and not understood that well at the brain module interaction level .

So strangely, but understandably, severe autists can get upset when the world impinges on them in a way they can’t cope with. They can get up set but it’s like there is a nasty echo which they can’t get rid of. It’s just they don’t notice when someone else is upset, apart from when it has the effect of making them upset.

And so. So it must go. Ought. Must. Segue to Trump. No one’s saying so far he’s autistic, just lacking in empathy and narcissistic and some other stuff. They’re all working feverishly on what it all amounts to I’m sure. A man who can suss and order and organise his world, manipulate it, but who doesn’t especially feel for the world he so manipulates. A man who has been ruthless, for example in imposing stingy pre-nuptial agreements on all his wives. Treating workers badly. Slinging out tenants from buildings he wishes to re-develop. But just this single thing, empathy, should go a long way tell you what sort of a man he is, before getting on to the rest.


Manic-depression. Bipolar doesn’t really express what it is in the same way. There are not enough films about not famous people bipolar sufferers, I the sense of making it clear that is what this character has. The characteristics of behaviour might be shown, but rarely does anyone inside a movie declare what it is.

Plenty of films about mad composers or artists, though mostly they did not say Van Gogh or Mahler or Munch or Schumann were bipolar. [Amadeus strikes me as showing a bipolar Mozart]. Reckless, self-destructive behaviour, suicidal depression, yes. Though bipolar is a spectrum with many who cycle rapidly or slowly between elation and blackdog, but who are never in need or feel they need medication. Or, from a dramatic way of looking at it, they don’t get into deep enough trouble to merit books or films being written about them. There are quite a few books by bipolars who got into deep trouble but were lucky to escape total disaster and lived to tell the tale. One, I recall a successful British accountant, who suddenly started buying expensive cars which even he couldn’t afford.

Interestingly, there is a wiki listing bipolar suffers, historical and alive, from which one could conclude, knowing little about what bipolar consists of, that there is a strong correlation with creativity. Susan Redfield Jamison herself bipolar, wrote the classic book on bipolar and creativity. There is also: The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

That rough territory of human life between mental illness and those borderline personality disorders, seems has always been, a fertile one for the writer. This film, The Other Half, out now [this post was started weeks ago..], is mental illness meets chronic stress.

I’ve a great affinity for the manic-depressive. So many of us could be mildly bipolar and not realise it. No one would question too deeply someone who was intelligent, funny, imaginative, whose behaviour is, unknown to them or even the person himself, rooted in an inherited condition such as manic-depression.

The strangeness is that so many inherited problems like dyslexia, seem to persist in populations when a modest understanding of evolution would suggest they would be selected against. Why would manic-depression come through so many generations – who knows when it first appeared in populations. The advantages that the manic phase gave to groups as a whole rather than the individual may explain why it has persisted. Homosexuality according to some evolutionary psychologists – they of the theories without any real dat to back up their ideas folk – suggest a gay man or women might have been of benefit to the sort of small social group way back in the mists of time, because of their role as additional cares who didn’t have their own to worry about. This is commonly observed in the animal kingdom, where a dog might tend a kitten, say.


I think this essay was wandering towards conservatism low empathy – leftism high empathy, but it didn’t quite get there. Never mind. That’s the beauty of the blog post: it’s not being published and hasn’t got to pass through editorial filters. All there is the blogger’s sense of proprietary, morals and ethics and that dastardly self-censorship. Though we know full well, as is exhibited by all the nasty things that have crept out of the woodwork since Fingers was elected, the last can often be in short supply once the cork pops, the genie’s out of the bottle. Etc. Et al.

December 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment