How systems theory and modern entertainment works: Don’t know much about history? Don’t know much biology? Me neither. Or so I thought. I bet you know more than you realise about a lot of things, maybe you just had a bad teacher. I bet you know more about music you like than I do, or football or geography or even the french I took. Because your passions often become the knowledge of a closed system. Building a rocket or laying a brick, as Einstein might have said down his local “It’s all relative”. The End
Now, if I can sit through half an hour of post match analysis as to why Chelsea beat Man Utd, then I don’t feel so bad about thinking deeply about something else I enjoy. I like to call it learning something you didn’t know or think about before or studying. Studying is simply looking at something in detail. Or re-looking at something over and over, from a different perspective. If we are institutionalised to see this as a task we naturally reject it. If we regard it as an activity we enjoy, well then we embrace it. It can be as complex as forensics or as simple as enjoying your favourite film, far too many times.
If you have no interest in Pulp Fiction or Tarantino I recommend you switch off now.
A mate of mine, when I was very tired one night, told me a total bullshit story of his mate sitting next to Quentin Tarantino on a ‘plane and as you’d expect it – spent the flight explaining what his film Pulp Fiction was all about. Now, I’m assuming you’ve seen the film – he reckoned it was returning Marsellus Wallis’s soul back to him. Now, if I recommend you google the fan theory because this was doing the rounds on the web, mainly reddit, a long long time ago. The interesting thing is that a lot of the theories
make sense. The story of rock and roll is a good one. I don’t believe that someone like Tarantino is going to be so obvious with his references, allegories, analogies, pastiches
Tarantino, like Kubrick is a brilliant artist. He paints the layers and lets you work out what you think is an answer, as the paint is still wet. Every time you watch his films you may
see something or change your view. Tarantino incidentally has gone on record to say that what is in the suitcase is “What the viewer wants it to be” – it’s as austere or vast as your imagination. Awesome.
I have a different theory. There are obvious undertones of music and genres in the film. There is gratuitous violence in the film. As I said, Tarantino is not about the obvious. This is a distraction to pull you into the popular. I think there are so many interwoven tapestries of the classics that it becomes a mirror to the viewer in the way Rorschach’s inkblot tests are merely a reflective state of your mindset. The film’s title is never explained in the dialogue. It’s a story (fiction) of rebirth (pulp).
Pulp being not just the nucleus of paper or a blank page but the essence of something,
a new pure form. The quest in this film becomes the viewer’s.
Now, as any great DJ can mashup any two records, you can draw a parallel with any two films (or stories) you like. Sometimes the beats match better and sometimes there’s more to match. Disney’s the Jungle book versus Prometheus for example.
Pulp Fiction is a self mashing mesh of abundant signification.
That’s why it’s so damn quotable.
It’s probably the most popular cult film of my generation.
It’s not my favourite film, but it’s in the top ten. That’s because I love film. Ever since I was a kid and I realised they weren’t taking the piss when the teachers told me Animal Farm was actually about the Russian Revolution I had my mind opened to why we tell stories. Why we learn about history. Why it’s not always great to like jelly and ice-cream and have the favourite colour of red.
If you spotted Steve Buscemi’s cameo as the Buddy Holly server taking the order for the $5.00 shake then I wonder if you just put that down to him being Tarantino’s mate. Or if you thought that it was a inter-universal switch between Reservoir Dogs and his character Mr. Pink. Which time frame are we in though, not including the disrupted chronology of Pulp Fiction itself? What if that was the zero point of chronology in the film?
I think I’d have to re-read Stephen Hawking’s book (in his voice, obvs) again to work out the relativity of time and light that those guys with that rather scary collider as so desperate to disprove Einstein with. I reckon there’s a distinct conceptual parallel between our perception of light and our romanticised view of time – i.e. the sands of time, or the silicon, or the pulp of matter. The story of time.
Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick were prophetic in their fact and science fiction. (Clarke worked out geostationary orbit for a laugh and wrote 2001 A Space Odyssey). I wonder if Tarantino is seeding the idea of time and light being interwoven as the ultimate source?
Or that time is light. If light is time then Marsellus is retrieving a case of light, or a case of regret. He is buying back time. It’s probably just a spot on his neck and he needed a plaster. Or Tarantino is making a blatant juxtaposition of the bandaid and back of his head for cinematic effect. It could be his 6th chakra that was opened or maybe its a worm hole in his neck.
Incidentally, I’m typing this from memory as I only re-watched the bit with Steve Buscemi to validate my theory. I also think the film is about defining love. Then I’m a hapless romantic, unless it’s the Texas Chainsaw Massacre I tend to think most films are.
The original intention of writing this piece was to demonstrate how something as simple as a popular film is vastly open to interpretation. We’ve all seen it. Some of us enjoyed it, some us indifferent, some of us felt the need to write a thousand word mini essay totally over thinking it on the web. And that’s the great thing about where we are now in century 21. The moral here is don’t just believe what you see or hear, research it if you want. You don’t have to agree or believe what anyone else thinks either.
I don’t think Kubrick faked the moon landings and hid messages in the Shining.
Anymore than Tarantino has worked out time travel and is working for the illuminati.
All they’re saying is think for yourself, if you want to.
The “Suspension of disbelief” is the craft of the cinematographer from the zoetrope to Spielberg. “Based on a true story” makes it scarier. “Unseen footage” makes it believable.
We, the machiavellian media manipulating marketing mafia learn at Art school the power of what happens if you place the footer “HERO” or “MURDERER” under the exact same photograph. Ever notice he got those funny eyes?
What we once believed to be true on TV or in the papers, we now get suckered into submission on Facebook or Wikipedia. We win arguments with google.
We can all be experts at the touch of a button or a voice activated thingy
You can only be manipulated if you want to believe in magic.
Maybe that’s the trick to living happily ever after.
By the way, yes, the Ezekiel quotation is a misquote from the bible. But I will tell you where else it appears. In the most fundamental spiritual song learnt as a child, “Dem Bones” – all about connectivity on one level and resurrection on another level.
We all have the ability to make connections. Art is derivative of an experience and
never void of significance. Like anything, it can be used for bad or good intention. Education, TV, rock and roll, film, art, the media, the internet, literature.
Which is why you ought never judge a book by its cover
And don’t judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover.