Flip Through

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mind-walk with me: dérive in Pacific Rim

Recently I've been reading a book about walking--not an exercise manual but a general collection of thoughts on the literature, science, history, and psychology of walking. At one point the author, Geoff Nicholson, attends a conference of psychogeographers in New York City and talks a bit about the origins of the movement (har har). Before beginning this particular book I was familiar with the tenets of psychogeography, being someone who walks a lot in certain cities, but I haven't read any of Guy Debord's foundational works on the topic. Nicholson quotes from "Theory of the Dérive" the following passage:
One can dérive alone, but all indications are that the most fruitful numerical arrangement consists of several small groups of two or three people who have reached the same level of awareness, since cross-checking these different groups’ impressions makes it possible to arrive at more objective conclusions.
Given this, and the fact that "dérive" translates directly into "drift," what else was I to do but conclude that the concepts of the drift and drift-compatibility in Pacific Rim derive from Debord's theory? Of course I have no idea whether this is accurate, whether Guillermo del Toro is familiar with Debord's writing and used it in his own, but the similarities are there. What is drifting in the film if not walking: in another's consciousness and memories, in your own, in the bulk of a jaeger, in tandem with another individual to whom you are closely attuned, or in the case of the Wei triplets, another two individuals? 

(the Becket brothers)

The necessary core of drift-compatibility is that the "same level of awareness" has been reached by all parties concerned. A jaeger can't be piloted alone. Debord indicated that it was preferable for groups bent on dérive to change line-up each time, and this is where the two media diverge, as Pacific Rim emphasizes that although a jaeger pilot can be drift-compatible with multiple other pilots (as in the case of Raleigh and Yancy, and then Raleigh and Mako), when you've found a person to drift with, they're your co-pilot until things go belly up. The larger goal of this drifting is different from Debord's--the hip young things of the dérive are interested in viewing the concrete in new patterns and fractured ways, while the jaeger pilots of the drift have to take broken images and tender memories and build them into a cohesive whole. But the ultimate goal of dérive and drifting is to step out, to tread familiar paths made new by trust and heightened awareness.

(Mako and Raleigh)

Friday, August 09, 2013


The Hairpin and The Toast recently featured posts about Mormonism, the latter written by yours truly. I thought I would say a few words here about why I chose that particular frame for my piece, the twelve steps. Initially, as I was scratching down my memories, I thought it might be amusing to see if some of the major ones matched any of the steps, and lo, they managed to be hammered out that way. But as I refined the piece, I realized that the core of my leaving was really coming into view--that at that time, I would have benefited from any kind of framework to show me the way out. I was flailing, with no one to talk to, no one I knew who had done this and made it and was ok. Not to say that religious belief is an addiction; however I think when it has been part of your life forever, when it has shaped and molded and convinced and guided as firmly as the LDS church had for me, when that changes it is almost on a chemical level. What do you do? With what do you replace the words of the prophet?

That's the whole point, of course, that suddenly there are more options and you're making decisions for yourself. Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom and all that. But navigating them was difficult for me, without some sort of map. A more sincere, more structured Twelve Steps to Leaving the Church would probably include things like "Make a list of people you can talk to about your doubts and decisions" rather than "Make a list of people to avoid." That would be the healthy way. These days, there are plenty of resources online for people having doubts about the church, or starting to make their exit outwards, and I hope that their journeys are smoother, but no less interesting and soul-shaking, than mine has been.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Tramping Tampa: Six Years of Tea

The place is called Kaleisia--none of us know how to pronounce it yet--and I'm afraid that there'll only be coffee and black tea, that I'll have to shuffle to make some excuse to my new friends, but once inside I see rows of herbal blends and fruit tisanes. Once seated and laughing over steaming cups, an older woman comes up and tells us how pretty we are. Gabby, with her long black curls and big eyes, is "exotic," Shauna is "like a Victorian doll" in her lace dress and creamy headband, and I, apparently, look like I should be in Channelside--a part of the city I know nothing about. Nevertheless, the odd compliment combines with collegiate chatter and aromatic tea to create my first real sensation of being out in the world.


My sister thinks it would be fun to bike into Ybor and so we set off, and by the time we cruise up Rep de Cuba we're sweating. Thankfully a cool new coffeeshop has opened recently at a squat brick building called the Bunker and now we have a reason to give it a test-drive. The homemade hummus is good, the iced hibiscus tea even better, and we feel unbearably hip, sitting on the back patio with an issue of Creative Loafing.


Record Store Day happily coincides with the opening of the better-faster-stronger-more-caffeinated version of Mojo Books and Music, and I am lost in the shop, strolling expansive stacks with an iced citron green tea in hand. It's everything I ever wanted from a used bookstore: vinyl and irrelevant hardbacks and good tea and staff just unfriendly enough to be cool and just pretentious enough to play Rumours on the turntable (but skip the best tracks).


It's late morning on a Sunday, humid as balls and bright. I am on an errand to pick up a friend from across the bay, a vastly hungover friend who requests a sharp cup of something-or-other, and so we jaunt down Beach Drive to a place I've seen but never had a chance to visit. It's there that we discover the miracles of Dr. Feelgood, Hooker Tea Company's famous detox tea, and gigantic muffins, and cush places to sprawl in the dusty sunlight and gossip lazily as the vagaries of the previous night seep away.


When Anna texts to see if I want to go study at Sacred Grounds it finally sinks in that I've never been there, despite living ten minutes away from it for the past five years. Out we roll, because it's 10:30 on a Tuesday and Kaleisia is closed and neither of us can bear to be in the library any longer. And if we study less than we lounge, if we find reasons to get refills and snoop around the shop and study the pizza options for longer than necessary, well, that's grad school.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...