Archive for May 15th, 2012

May 15, 2012

Superstitious Pigeon


One of B.F. Skinner’s experiments examined the formation of superstition in one of his favorite experimental animals, the pigeon. Skinner placed a series of hungry pigeons in a cage attached to an automatic mechanism that delivered food to the pigeon ‘at regular intervals with no reference whatsoever to the bird’s behavior.’ He discovered that the pigeons associated the delivery of the food with whatever chance actions they had been performing as it was delivered, and that they subsequently continued to perform these same actions.

‘One bird was conditioned to turn counter-clockwise about the cage, making two or three turns between reinforcements. Another repeatedly thrust its head into one of the upper corners of the cage. A third developed a ‘tossing’ response, as if placing its head beneath an invisible bar and lifting it repeatedly. Two birds developed a pendulum motion of the head and body, in which the head was extended forward and swung from right to left with a sharp movement followed by a somewhat slower return.’

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May 15, 2012

Acid Western

el topo

Acid Western is a sub-genre of the Western film that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s that combines the metaphorical ambitions of top-shelf Westerns, like ‘Shane’ and ‘The Searchers,’ with the excesses of the Spaghetti Westerns and the outlook of the counter-culture. Acid Westerns subvert many of the conventions of earlier Westerns to ‘conjure up a crazed version of autodestructive white America at its most solipsistic, hankering after its own lost origins.’

The term ‘Acid Western’ was coined in 1996 by Jonathan Rosenbaum in a review of Jim Jarmusch’s film, ‘Dead Man.’ Rosenbaum expanded upon the idea in a subsequent interview with Jarmusch for ‘Cineaste’ and later in the book ‘Dead Man’ from BFI Modern Classics. In the book, Rosenbaum illuminates several aspects of this re-revisionist Western: from Neil Young’s haunting score to the role of tobacco, to Johnny Depp’s performance, to the film’s place in the acid-Western genre.

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May 15, 2012



Psychomagic is a therapeutic practice used by Chilean-French filmmaker and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky. The technique is alleged to be useful in psychotherapy. It combines art, Eastern philosophies (particularly Zen Buddhism), mysticism and modern psychotherapy to allegedly heal patients with emotional problems.

The principle relies on the belief that the unconscious mind takes a symbolic act as a fact. So a symbolic act could accordingly help solve some types of non rational conflicts. These acts are prescribed by the therapist after having studied the patient’s personality and family tree (Psychogenealogy).

May 15, 2012

Panic Movement


Panic Movement (‘Mouvement panique’) was a collective formed by Fernando Arrabal, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Roland Topor in Paris in 1962. Inspired by and named after Pan (Greek god of the wild), and influenced by Luis Buñuel and Antonin Artaud’s ‘Theatre of Cruelty,’ the group concentrated on chaotic and surreal performance art, as a response to surrealism becoming petite bourgeoisie.

The movement’s violent theatrical events were designed to be shocking, and to release destructive energies in search of peace and beauty. One four-hour performance known as ‘Sacramental Melodrama’ was staged in 1965 at the Paris Festival of Free Expression. The ‘happening’ starred Jodorowsky dressed in motorcyclist leather and featured him slitting the throats of two geese, taping two snakes to his chest and having himself stripped and whipped. Other scenes included ‘naked women covered in honey, a crucified chicken, the staged murder of a rabbi, a giant vagina, the throwing of live turtles into the audience, and canned apricots.’

May 15, 2012

Alejandro Jodorowsky

Alejandro [ali-hahn-droJodorowsky [ho-dor-row-ski] (b. 1929) is a Chilean-French filmmaker and spiritual guru. Best known for his avant-garde films, he has been ‘venerated by cult cinema enthusiasts’ for his work which ‘is filled with violently surreal images and a hybrid blend of mysticism and religious provocation.’

Dropping out of college, he became involved in theater and in particular mime, working as a clown before founding his own theater troupe in 1947. After moving to Paris in the early 1950s he turned to cinema, directing the short film ‘Les têtes interverties’ in 1957. From 1960 he divided his time between Paris and Mexico City, in the former becoming a founding member of the anarchistic avant-garde Panic Movement of performance artists.

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