KDOEMN - CHAPTER 35

072935
Com12 - A

The chapter begins with Cayce Pollard standing outside Kdoemn, the coffeehouse wherein she is supposedly meeting the maker of the footages. She begins reciting her mantra.. "He took a duck in the face…" but eventually realizes that it has no effect whatsoever. She then goes on by saying, instead, fuck it.. Probably something that would boost what little confidence she has in entering the coffeehouse. The nervousness she feels in entering the coffee shop does not lessen, rather, she resorts to storming in without second thoughts just to, it seems, get things over with.

Kdoemn is fully occupied, except for two enormous empty wingback chairs right beside the fish.

30614_1.jpg
08-0003.jpg

The fish sculpture beside the pair of wingback chairs (left) seem to have been made from Megdalia d'oro, just as Wassily Kandinsky used in his artwork (right), but in such a way assembled by Frank Gehry (bottom).

p348101-Los_Angeles-Walt_Disney_Concert_Hall.jpg

Wassily Kandinsky is a Russian painter and art theorist who is credited with painting the first modern abstract works, just as shown in the leftmost painting created by him, Harmonie Tranguille. Frank Gehry, on the other hand, is a Pritzker Prize-winning architect based in Los Angeles. His work is very post-modern, and as an architect, he allows himself to play around with shapes and contours, just as shown in the picture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall above.

Back to the chapter, a waiter suddenly approaches Cayce as she situated herself on one of the wingback chairs. He speaks in Russian, saying something in an arrogant and rude manner; however, as Cayce tells him that she is meeting someone and that she'll have coffee while waiting, he suddenly turns nice and asks her if she wants an Americano. This sudden change in attitude towards Cayce may signify the importance of the person she is meeting, or someone who is a regular in Kdoemn. A VIP, perhaps. The manner of approach, however, by the male waiter is quite understandable. He did not, after all, know that Cayce is the one who was mentioned by the aforementioned VIP customer. The disturbing thing here is the juxtaposition of Cayce's nationality and the type of coffee she would most likely want to have, as presumed by the waiter. Because Cayce is American and because she stands out from the rest of the customers at Kdoemn as an American, she is automatically stereotyped to drink Americano coffee. The current society in which we are encapsulated in always presumes this notion, that because we are increasingly becoming global, the identity of each and every single person now rests with his outer appearance, no longer taking into consideration individual preferences. Or at least, it seems to be such.

When the waiter leaves, this is the only time that Cayce is able to scan the crowd inside the coffee house. She was not able to do so as she entered due to her hurried entrance followed by immediately occupying one of the chairs beside the fish sculpture. She realizes that the crowd was wearing lots of Prada and Gucci, but nothing too off the shelf for her allergy to logos to kick in. The mod in which the people are extravagantly dressed (for a simple coffee house rendezvous) may be in line with the new capitalist Russia, with the country breaking away from the USSR and opening its doors to new capitals, no longer conforming to price controls and closed trade groups. This seems to be the environment by which Russia was once deprived of, when it had closed trade groups and such. Now that they are open to new routes, however, more and more products have been made available to them, and the concept of fashion seems to have dominated the consumerist society of Russia.

A woman enters, standing out from the rest due to her outfit - nothing that isn't matte and wearing the darkest of grays. Cayce sees her, and ends up gripping the arms of her chair really hard, so much so that her fingers start to hurt. She meets Stella Volkova.

The funny thing is that Stella and Cayce are so much alike. Stella seems to be fashioning CPUs - Cayce Pollard Units, or at least some rendition of it. Very bland, dark, and brandless clothes. She also takes coffee the same way Cayce does, black with no sugar or cream. The fact that they met each other personally just at this instance, and realizing that they have so much in common is quite startling; very unexpected.

Cayce then proceeds to asking why there are so many police cars, unmarked cars with blue lights. Stella then proceeds by explaining:

"Police cars, no! Those are cars of very important people, of the rich, or those who work for them. They have purchased a permit allowing ignorance of traffic regulations. Blue lights are courtesy to others, a warning. It seems strange to you?"

So, what does this mean? It seems as if in Russia, there are those who are above the law. So much so that they have the right to disregard traffic regulations. These may be considered to be those who are still in power, even as Russia has now broken away from the Union of Soviet Socialilst Republics. As Russia ushered in and welcomed the capitalist society, those who were in government may have stayed in power by adapting to this new system, starting new companies or buying out old ones. Since government officials were the ones, then, who decided to lift the imperialism that dominated the Russian government, it is also they who have the means and capacity to easily adapt and benefit from this change. This may be the case, or we can also hypothesize these powerful people to be those who are as said. Powerful. By this, we mean those who have connections, those who have the capacity to kill and torture without being detected, those who have underground power in Russia, and/or those who have the resources to do as they please and run the type of businesses they want. The extremities of what exactly these powerful people do is still unknown, and will be uncovered only later on in the book.

Who is Stella? Stella is the twin sister of the maker, Nora. She is the one who distributes and finds an audience (a producer, in full feature movie terms), while Nora is the artist, the one who makes the clips. They got their names from Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, a playwright in which two characters, who are sisters, are named Stella and Nora. The description of the characters in the playwright seem to resemble how Stella and Nora are in Pattern Recognition. Nora is meak and somewhat completely dependent on the people close to her while Stella is the driving force behind the two, and she is the one who takes action. This seems to be a very stereotypical perspective towards sisters, much less twins.

Stella and Nora, along with their mother, lived in Paris where Nora studied film and Stella studied business. Their father worked for his brother, who had then become a very powerful man. Afraid of the dangers, their father made it so that when the siblings got to Paris, they were to be prepared to never return to Russia. The only instance, then, that they returned was when their grandmother, who was their father's mother, died. During this supposedly short trip to Russia, however, both their parents die due to a bombing, while Nora was hurt badly and Stella suffered some dislocations. They are now situated in Moscow, where their uncle often stays, and Stella mentions that Nora needs many things.


Nora's Story

After Nora suffered injuries from the bombing at Russia, they headed to Switzerland for her required operations. During the early parts of their stay in Switzerland, Nora did not talk to anyone except to Stella - their own language. After a while, other languages return. She was shown and editing suite which their uncle had had people assemble it in the hospital where Nora was staying, and showed Nora the film that she had been working on before in Paris. Sadly, she did not react in any way. It was as if she could not see anything. Afterwhich they showerd her the film she made that was entered in the Cannes Film Festival (which won), and now, she reacted - negatively. It seemed to cause her great pain and soon enough, she began to use the equipment to edit and to recut until she had only reduced the entire film into a single frame - a bird in flight, out of focus. She alienated herself from the world after that.

The bird may represent Nora and her track towards recovery. It seems that at that moment, she did not know where she was headed, and every aspect in her life seemed out of focus. She would not let anyone in her psyche except for Stella. Because she couldn't see herself clearly, she caved into herself, refusing contact from the outside world and possibly trying hard to get that focus as from the frame of the bird in flight.

There was a fragment, as Stella explained to Cayce, that rested between the lobes in some terrible way - a complication underwent by Nora.

But then Nora notices the screen in the hallway, which showed the reception at the front of the private ward, somewhat like a surveillance camera. The doctors saw her looking at the screen, and one of them put a line from that camera to her editing suite. When Nora saw the images, she focused; but when they were taken away, she began to die again. The doctore taped two hours from the camera and ran it on the editing suite. Soon enough, Nora began to edit and cut again, until she reduced the tape, once again, to a single frame - a man, one of the staff. She was completely indifferent when the man was brought to her, and instead she continued on working on his face on photoshop. This was the beginning of Nora's new life.


They chat for a while after Nora's story. Afterwhich, Stella starts to say goodbye to Cayce, telling her that they will see each other the next day, and that Cayce will be able to meet Nora as well. Stella also provides transportation from Kdoemn to the hotel for Cayce.

Cayce then realizes that she is in one of those unmarked cars with blue lights.


I looked up the Russian blue lights thing on the internet, and apparently, there really is such a thing. Russian motorists are outraged by this, especially due to the fact that 95 people are killed every day due to road accidents and over 700 are injured. More on: Motorists enraged by elite's flashing blue lights ….This was, however, written about 3 years ago. More updated news regarding the corruption in the government transportation's sect can be found at: Russia Blog: Blue Lights: New Law, Old Problems


Com12 - Section G
060552

Cayce Pollard didn’t have any trouble finding the designated coffee shop where she’s supposed to meet the maker of the video (instead she winds up meeting her twin, Stella). Aside from having a map to steer her to the right direction, when she sees the coffee shop’s name in Russian characters, there is an amount certainty that she has finally found the right place. Now this may seem a little bit unusual-sounding at first, since Cayce hasn’t been to Russia before, to be able to read the Russian characters and be sure at the same time that what she thinks she’s read is somehow right. This phenomenon—if you can call it that—may be caused by something that is called “cross-cultural communication” (also frequently referred to as intercultural communication). Origins of this field of study, according to this, is when businesses tried to expand their market globally, they put forth an effort to train employees to have at least a basic knowledge when working abroad. In the context of Cayce Pollard and in general as well, since we’ve become aware of the fact that there is always a significant possibility of connections (even across cultural boundaries) among objects and events, brought about by the Information Society, we feel as though somehow we can comprehend something that’s not native to us and yet strikes a familiar resemblance one way or another.

During the discussion in class, we were able to point out that though in the Philippines, the primary languages we learn in school are Filipino, English, and other local vernaculars (as for other schools, they teach basic Chinese and Spanish, etc.), it’s never been problematic for us to distinguish other characters countries’ characters as intercultural communication has been taking place. To prove my point, here’s a picture of different Asian characters put together (try to identify the characters as to which country they belong):

rk8302-205.jpg

At first, it may seem hard, but once we put our brains into little work, one could see the differences: the Korean characters are the simpler ones characterized by lines and ovals, Japanese characters are depicted with elaborate strokes, and finally the Chinese characters are set apart by intricacy of the letters.

***

At the mention of Stella being the twin of the artist Nora, the automatic thought that comes to mind is that they are similar in terms of aesthetics, personality, and whatnot. Our mind assumes that because they are twins, they share more common experiences growing up and that they could pass as the other in several situations. Here’s a YouTube clip to prove my point:

The video clip is from a condom commercial in the UK, but video is SFW (safe for work).


In case the video is not working, please go to this website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JQcy5xDoPU

Prior to the chapter, there was not any single description of the maker of the video and the only visual idea we’re inclined to is the description of Stella, being a twin of Nora. It’s funny because this has already become a natural tendency for us to assume likeness between the two. This hinders us from actually getting to know the other twin. The enthusiasm of meeting the twin is somewhat diminished because your perception of the twin is anchored to how you met the other.

***

“To what extent does our “self” now last?” This question came into mind when the chapter progresses (or more like flashes back) to the day when the twins got in an accident. Prior to the unfortunate event, Nora was able to make a footage that she got an award for. However, when she was brought to life again in the hospital and was shown the same footage (to strike a familiar chord in her memory, most probably), she edited the already-award-winning footage and reduced it to a shorter version. This case may be explained by the loss of self. With that said, there have been two (and possibly more) Noras—one being the pre-accident Nora, and another being the post-accident Nora—and though they are existing in only one body, they have a difference in a sense that the full sense of being a person is either diminished or maturing, but never conserved. Either way, the same artist realized that the footage no longer defines who she is and felt the compulsion to make necessary adjustments to the video to make it more descriptive rather than prescriptive.

Most likely, when I get to read this post in say a week or two, or reread my compositions in college after I graduate, or see my art portfolio, I’ll snicker out of disgust and see to it that my future work will be anything but my previous works.

***

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twins
http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/xcolcomm.htm

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.