165 thoughts on “The George Lichtenberg Film Project

  1. With guys’ faces, clearly distressed, but eventually it occurs to the viewer that the face could belong to either penis.

  2. If you want to see monster penises done REALLY well, be sure to check out the unrated, super-extended ENHANCED version of Superbad.

  3. It occurs to me, pitifully, that my IV. Lento, moving forward post might be serviceable dialog for George.

    Also, here’s the ending for the movie: he gives up. We’ve heard nothing but fragments and hints of the IV. Lento during the movie, and finally it’s just all too much. He gathers up all his score paper, scribbled notes, etc., and puts them in a folder and stores them away. As he closes the door, we fade to black, and we hear the finished movement swell to life.

  4. Something to suggest “life goes on” before the final blackout? Not necessarily optimistic, mind you. Could be a final twist of the knife.

    Why is it in JB’s Galina letter every sentence has this sublime metaphysical quality. It’s really quite amazing. Such sentences, too, offer themselves as poetic forms. Haiku-like. That’s the fascination of the “promise of enormity” phrases. It’s a verbal thing trying to evoke a physical thing which in turn tries to touch upon the imponderables. So the scenario is not enriched, for me, by seeing some photo-shopped absurdity as an “extension” of the idea. The scenario evoked by the form is, in fact, that of some “she” (the Other, of course) confronting a cosmos somehow transformed through effects of said enormity. Only the Other should get to “see” anything. Our imaginary space should have a void in it. The verbal form should, in part, evoke that void.

  5. Yes, if you don’t mind, I think I will swipe liberally from your daily postings, Dale.

    We might also use Galina as George’s muse. Maybe receiving this Spam is what inspires him to write the symphony in the first place?

  6. I didn’t think of my proposed ending as hopeful/life goes on. I thought of it as an appalling “what could have been if only” ending. That’s why we only hear fragments and incomplete sketches in the rest of the film.

    I guess what I’m proposing is that the movie is about George’s journey as an artist from struggling with this piece to abandoning it in the face of not enough time/not enough knowledge/not enough talent/not enough support. The movie is about what makes him abandon the piece.

  7. Today’s winning spam subject line:

    Ordinary men have ordinary Prove her that you are outstaning guy

  8. We saw “Cloverfield” last night. Probably ranks as my favorite “Big Monster Destroys Manhattan” flick of all time (excluding, of course, the original King Kong). Completely faux doc style. “Blair Witch Meets Godzilla.” Acting only so-so, but that’s not why you go to this type of movie. Visceral, with numerous allusions to 9/11. Jerky camera made Barb sick. We both give it a thumbs up. But it’s not for everyone.

    Of course, it can’t hope to compete with Pussy on the Mat.

  9. For today: Be ashamed no more

    Sorry to cloud structuring discussion with personal issues. It’s over when it’s over, obviously.

    Ready for site to be up. I have Lichtenbergian game based on my experience reading Hesse’s Magister Ludi so many years ago. We need a program that makes building outlines easy. What do you savants recommend?

  10. What kind of outlining? There’s this site for brainstorm kind of outlining.

    I too am ready for the website to be up. I’m holding back several posts that are more apt for our organization than my personal site. I’ve heard from Noah, he’s alive and well, but very busy. Still, this is bordering on the Lichtenbergian indeed.

    As for personal issues, feh. I know we’re all in this together, but what do you think it’s like discussing a movie about an amateur composer of uncertain gifts who abandons his major work?

  11. Here’s a brief description of the game, and you tell me what outlining program would be best. It would great if it could be run somehow within our site. I’ll just give a bare bones description here and save the thematic justification for the site proper.

    A Topic or Subject or Title is chosen, pertaining to materials natural or fanciful or a little of both. Players set about creating an “outline” for this theme, subject, topic, or title by offering various headings, sub-headings, and other embedded delineations. The group as a whole decides when the outline is complete. The outline is to be read as a creative expression, so choice of headings and sub-headings and so on is the meat of it.

    Start by proposing some headings numbered with roman numerals. If there is a I there must be at least a II. (This rule applies at all levels of headings.) If someone proposes a IV first thing (why not?), there must also ultimately be a I, II, and III. (This, too, applies at all levels.) Further numbering is a choice; though, again, if someone skips forward and introduces an X, then V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX must also be produced. (Applies at all levels.) Roman numeral headings can then be added at any time, as can any sub-heading, etc.

    Once you have a roman numeral heading, you can choose to embed capital letter sub-headings. If someone proposes an A, however, there must be also at least a B. From there it’s up to the group, above restrictions and rules applying, as to how many sub-headings to include for a heading. You might also, as a whimsical challenge to the group, start a sub-heading by choosing an E and expect A through D to be supplied subsequently. Once you have a sub-heading you can choose to move to ordinal numbers embedded within: with a 1 and 2, at least, by the time of completion, but ultimately as many as the group wishes. Then of course lower case letters: a, b, then c, d, etc. After that you could go to lower case roman numerals, I suppose, and we could formulate further conventions. As with the Hindu conception of the cosmos, at a certain point it’s elephants all the way down. No heading need have further sub-delineations, of course

    The game would be most rewarding if players could view the whole outline as it’s developing and then easily insert either titles or further embedded headings as they see fit.

  12. Let’s not forget the Writeboard site. That’s where I’ve been piddling around with the screenplay. But I’ve been there all by myself, lately. It’s a ghost town.

  13. As aphorist I plan to include a section of statements on the giddy delights of being ADD–certainly a Lichtenbergian trait. We are not “abandoning” anything. Actually, “I never abandon anything,” might be a good general aphorism (as opposed to a truism, of course). Might shed light on questions in the script. The screenplay requires reading, of course, and thinking, and being inspired, and all those nebulous things some Lichtenbergians get very anxious about. When I’m tense, I turn to structures that leave guilt and second-guessing out of the picture. Then I return to true heroic creative striving refreshed and renewed. To plant oneself on those upper peaks for long stretches is to find out that the air is really quite thin.

    A Sherpa guide helps some, of course.

  14. Just catching up on the posts – nothing significant to add to the movie disscusion except I was thinking of a more uplifting ending than Dale suggested. Would your music not suggest the same?

    Mark: I was not posting or even reading the posts because of “personal issues”. Then I read this post by Dale: “As for personal issues, feh. I know we’re all in this together, but what do you think it’s like discussing a movie about an amateur composer of uncertain gifts who abandons his major work?”


    Jeff: I think we’ve all been waiting for the Lichtenbergian site to be up before doing anything on Writeboard. As I remember you were going to check it out for us, or so I thought. Sorry you are all alone there.

  15. I like the sadder ending. A happy ending would be too Mr. Holland’s Opus, which I’ve never seen, for me.

  16. Alright, alright, off I go at this very moment to read the Tolkien story…

    What appeals most? The arc of the story in its entirety or opening elaboration of Niggle’s dilemma?

    The magical thinking of the obsessive longs for a solution from the Other. That’s it for jargon, I promise.

    Niggle’s frustrations and his ultimate troubled, strange “journey” are a very familiar dream structure for me personally, without the final Edenic arrival, of course.

    If the rigors of reality stay in place in our film (and budgetary concerns make that a likelihood) it will provide opportunities to set up tensions through performance, cutting, emphasis, etc.

    Does George the Creator even achieve an Apotheosis? We might say, “Since there’s no money, there’s no escape.”

    Story reminds me in some ways of Gaudry’s THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP. Which everyone should see in order to have another common point of reference, I think. I’m not proposing copying that film’s solutions, however.

  17. Science of Sleep is ANOTHER DVD I’ve had languishing on my shelf, unwatched, for years. This is getting embarrassing.

  18. OK, we all know the basic structure is going to follow Leaf By Niggle, but not follow it slavishly.

    BASICALLY: George feels the urge to create, that urge is frustrated again and again, George ultimately gives up. Is it agreed that this is the basic story? It’s man vs. Void. (It’s also about, dare I say it, George’s “search for meaning.” I hate that phrase, but there it is.)

    The floor is now open for recommended story points, obstacles he will have to overcome, epiphanies he will have, etc.

    Don’t worry, marc. I haven’t forgotten about your scenes. They’ll be incorporated.

    Now is the time. Don’t be shy.


  19. Don’t forget that most of these scenes will have to be “two people in a room.” That’s our constraint. And, oh yeah — ZERO dollars. Constraint number two.

  20. Spam titles of the day:

    MamieBouffantPenis (from a series of lady’s name/synonym for large/usually misspelled synonym for penis, e.g., LaverneMonsterPhallus)


    you must be the Real Man with huge dignity

  21. Re: “two people in a room.”
    Our thinking need not be so stark. It’s not going to be an off-off-Broadway play. It’s the Cinemaaah. We don’t have to rely on continual running word streams to shape the audience’s experience. For instance, we can create a George-in-the-flow type of experience through image and sound and text and sequencing, juxtaposition. We’ll be veeeery portable, so we can grab a richer variety of images than you at first might think possible.

    In fact, I think it would be fun to use gaps in sequencing to create a few of those “Huh, what?” moments as George is lost in thinking about his piece. Make his disorientation the audience’s.

    Balancing what he has “lost” through his absorption in the piece with what he has “lost” once he abandons the piece. Oh dear, that’s dark.

    To me the story had a “dream of frustration” structure until it passed into the impossible Eden after death phase. And that very much evoked Tolkien’s obsessions and his particular flights from miserable reality. It was Frodo and Sam in a bucolic frolic all over again. Then it ended with a final revenge upon the unseeing. If we try to nod to such things in our story, George’s ultimate Eden need not be Tolkien’s. What might being within his music evoke? And then how might we relate that to his final decision to abandon the work.

    “Lost” thoughts again. In our younger days while nuturing our creative hopes and sensibilities, we often withhold ourselves from a variety of challenges life is offering over and apart from what we see as our artistic mission. We might call it “sacrifice” or “protecting and nurturing our sensibilities.” In point of fact, we then program ourselves to live such “sacrifice” or “sensibility” on a daily basis; it becomes a part of our make-up. We hold ourselves in reserve, championing other sorts of “enrichment.” The nasty joke is often that the witholding from experience eventually becomes a true deficit, and you can no longer claim any sort of real place in the real world because you’ve neglected what the world is truly offering as a way in. And the “work” you think you are about is not there. Not out there, made and in the world. It just spins around inside as so many delusional potentialities. You find that as a result of avoiding some of life’s less magical challenges, you now can’t actually offer any magic, any art, anything. I’m offering this as a thumbnail appraisal of myself, clearly, and I’m not saying this is George, but we perhaps can pull on some of this to put together George’s dilemma.

    Does Parish get into a pickle and seek out George’s help? I think that’s why I wondered about the locked door. I thought you might be setting something up that involves Parish getting himself into a mess on the computer. Does Parish come to represent the world George has neglected? And when George tries to help Parish later for whatever reason, he discovers he can’t, he doesn’t know how…

  22. Wow. That’s powerful stuff, marc. OK, I was just kind of piddling around before, but now I’m really, really jazzed to do this thing. You guys have inspired me. No, I’m not joking. Between Dale’s daily blog and marc’s Post 132 (with bits of The Buttocks Thing and Genoicide: The Musical thrown in for good measure), I have found the wellspring.

  23. If it doesn’t throw things off track, allow me to point out that my proposed ending of George abandoning his symphony is not so much an abnegation of Tolkien’s Eden as a recognition that it’s Faëry: we don’t have that option. We must, as Marc says, put up or shut up, and for poor George, all those ways of the world that Marc quite rightly suggests are necessary to becoming a productive artist are, in George’s case, overwhelming.

    Is Parish more successful with the Buttocks Thing? Maybe it’s his completion of the Buttocks Thing without using George’s symphony, he couldn’t wait, after all, even though his project is one of the impediments to George’s, that triggers George’s decision not to go on.

  24. This movie, which began as a Lichtenbergian lark, is really taking on some personal aspects of our own lives. Just to throw my two cents worth in George could be seen gulping tums or something to qualm an incresingly irritated stomach as the pressure builds for him and he feels it physically. Could it be that he has to quit or the attempt would literally kill him?

  25. Reminds me of Brian Wilson and the SMILE album. I love the whole idea of art driving someone to the brink of insanity. Of course, in Wilson’s case, it was probably more the drugs.

  26. At the risk of embarrassing the tender-hearted among us:



    and in an intriguing turn of events,

    CosmicFuckstickSergio and ObviousPenisLowell

    That is all.

  27. Where do I read to get caught up on Parish and the Buttocks Thing?

    What if there’s a character who comes in to the coffee shop from time to time, one of George’s casual, friendly acquaintances, who’s a “real artist” (and you know that because he or she has had a profile in Newnan-Coweta Magazine–maybe someone who composed an off-off-Broadway musical that got made into a moderately sucessful film a few years back–since then he or she has moved back home to become, of course, a breeder of Morgan horses). This acquaintance wears the uniform of black leather coat and sunglasses, but is at the same time surprisingly congenial and warm. And entirely non-responsive to George’s attempts to talk about music, composition, process, etc. Not disdainful or off-putting. Just responds as if George hadn’t made such remarks. Talks about installing gutter covers and the sandwiches he used to buy at some Deli when he lived in New York. He meets George’s efforts to be collegial with a void. Or something else. “Shostakovich…hey, that was the name of the guy who ran the Deli. Funny guy. Home of the Shostakovich Kosher and the Shostakovich Goy. You get a choice, always, he’d say. He may have been a Rabbi, too.”

    That laugh may be too cheap. More cutting to the bone would be the mention of Shostakovich getting not much beyond “Huh. Yeah. Did you read what the sound-off nut wrote today?”

  28. Might George’s willingness for the Symphony to be used as a “soundtrack” already be a kind of sliding into the void. He’s desperate to get something going and get an audience.

    Parish not a product maker, maybe. A deal maker, instead. A bringer together of people type. Parish “knows people.” Occasionally makes reference to “the Malaysians.” A guy who’s always talking about lucrative projects in the works. Just exactly how it works in detail is another void. Something George is never privy to. A Toyota on the curb one day, a Jaguar the next, an old Taurus the next. “Yeah, sold the Jag; had to get a little liquid kind of quick. Hey, can you loan me twenty bucks?” Something vaguely criminal? But still with the wearing of the same t-shirt for days and the cracker crumbs. Audience experiences George’s bafflement.

    Are we to be reminded of the older brother in Shepard’s True West?

  29. Yes, George would exactly sign on to the Buttocks Thing in order to get his music listened to.

    I think it’s critical to note that George is not a schlemiel: he’s a good worker, a conscientious husband, a nice guy. He’s not incompetent in any noticeable way. His easy acquiescence to Parish’s dubious requests, if that’s the direction we’re heading with that, are because he simply doesn’t think about it. The audience might be knitting its brow, but George just does what’s asked of him.

  30. Not a schlemiel, I agree. I think our audience should identify with him as much as possible and share in his bewilderment and frustrations. Or pull out their teeth when he misses an opportunity that’s right in front of him.

    Audience: “Well, the music sounds nice to me; I wonder what the problem is.”

    George: “It’s nice music. Why is there a problem?”

    Why doesn’t a perfectly fine leaf lead to something more? Look, it’s a perfectly fine leaf.

    Because George is smart, he might get a bit paranoid with his speculations. Is it conspiracy?

    Lest we make up our minds about the “artist” in the coffee shop:

    A: So I thought the idea was nuts. Who’s going to willingly pay more property tax for that? And the guy writes these things every week…Amazing…

    G: One machiado to go.

    A: Thank you, Mr. George. Mr. George Lichtenberg.

    G:Yeah…Citizen George…

    A: Kosher Shostakovich. That guy was a character…

    G: Huh…

    A: He could make a sandwich…New York…crazy days…

    G: New York…New York has gotten expensive. Last Spring we–

    A: I remember one time, though, he made this thing called the October Surprise. “You gotta try the October Surprise. You gotta try the October Surprise.”

    (Pause. A fixes G with a look.)

    G: Sounds interesting…

    A: “Gotta try it.”


    G: Did you try it?

    A: Oh, yeah.


    G: How was it?

    A: What do you think?


    G: Sounds…interesting, I guess.

    A: George, dear George…

    (Pause. G chuckles awkwardly.)

    A: No.

    G: Oh.

    A: George…it wasn’t very good…


    G: So much for the October Surprise.

    A: Yeah.


    G: Well…ah, well.

    A: …Ah, well.

    (Short pause.)

    A: Mr. George Lichtenburg. Citizen George….Alright. Got the Joe, got to go. See you, George. Represent.

    G: Okay.

    (A leaves.)

    Before JB gets testy, please remember that this is just me spewing ideas in the way I do. I practice a healthy Buddhist non-attachment with this kind of thing. If it inspires, great. If not, onward! Use or ignore or let it spark discussion. Ultimately, the screenwriter goes his own way.

  31. Here’s a ridiculous habit of mine you can give George: I work on my music using two pairs of glasses.

    The first pair, bifocals, allow me to see my computer screen. But my keyboard is on a drafting table behind me, so I have to turn around to work there. (That’s also deliberate, to force me to work with pencil and paper and not random black spots on a computer monitor.)

    Anyway, I could use my bifocals to work on the score paper, but it’s easier to use my reading glasses, so I switch.

    Of course, there’s all kinds of leaving glasses on the wrong table, switching tables without switching glasses, etc.

    It occurred to me today how ridiculous that was. Feel free to use it.

  32. It’s fun that we are nudging this forward by each of us imaginatively projecting onto the figure of George. Got me thinking about ways in which we can exploit the material we are developing and be masters of stage as well as screen.

    We enact a meeting of the Lichtenbergians including time spent discussing and planning The George Lichtenberg Film Project. Each member can assume the role of George and enter into assorted scenarios and competing variations. Sub-text: a group of miserable men passing time on the longest night of the year. Alchohol flows as members elaborate upon film ideas. Film would only be portrayed as lost cause for the sake of the created stage piece, of course. It might be interesting to live the project concurrently with two minds: film as practical and do-able and at the same time film as another peak vanishing into the clouds and carrying our hopes and imaginations upward to impossible altitudes. Just thinking about the existence of the Lichtenbergians leads to many potent incongruities with theatrical potential.

    Yes, it would be us exploiting ourselves. Another act of desperate miserable men. Plus, as you can guess,I’ve never thought it possible to indulge in too much self-awareness.

  33. Lichtenbergian Aphorism for the Week:

    If, throughout the day, you remembered to do everything you, at assorted moments during that day, thought you ought to do–by the end of the month, it would all be very different.

    Promise of Enormity for the Day:

    be very large man to her

  34. I like the idea of a play version of The George Lichtenberg Film Project. Add that to the list.

  35. Atonement and There Will Be Blood are both now playing at the Newnan Cinemark. That is all.

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