Spoiler Alert!

Note: This is a rushed, unedited first draft… with Steppling Out Forever Younge playing in my head. I ask anyone who reads this to ask me about my TOSCA chess analogy… whether or not you’ve read my telegraphic sound bite of it already. What’s here is Oxman 401, not Oxman 101. I trust that the spotlight on Steppling will speak for itself. Translation of Steppling available upon request… gratis… gladly. God, it would be so easy to generate audiences and students for John’s offerings. I trust he’ll contact me yesterday.

“He is utterly without a scintilla of bullshit” — Jon Robin Baitz, speaking about John Steppling as a teacher

Spoiler Alert!
Dedicated to spoiling the ‘intentions’ of our horrid momentum
by Oxman

The initial italicized blah blah below — which I love — is the conclusion of http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/10/training-wheels-for-consumerism-us-f ilm-culture-is-psychoanalysis-in-reverse/. I was going to do something on the Wu-Tang chess blah blah from The Wu-Tang Manual and put it in my TOSCA blender, but once I glanced at the first half of Steppling’s article I went on a Pure Steppling Bender. [Actually, I went into high gear with the bender only after dipping into his http://john-steppling.com/; soon after that exposure I fired off an email to him (in Norway?).]

I’d still like to connect with Adrian Younge and his Wu-Tang youngsters — ha! — BUT… Steppling seems — I pray! — more accessible. So… path of least resistance in the name of Resistance Following a Fresh Paradigm Post Haste.

The form is white, and when Fruitvale Station or 12 Years a Slave, or Act of Killing are gushed about by that educated white 20% that Chomsky spoke of years ago in Manufacturing Consent, or when Hollywood distorts the Assange story, the content is often almost irrelevant (though the content of the latter is stunningly dishonest). For everything is filtered through a lens of white patriarchal supremacist ethos. The form subsumes the content. The entire industry is white, male, and reactionary. And Eileen Jones, and the rest of these non-critical voices, apologize for and valorize this crap, in the name of their self branded marketed identity, they are no different than FOX news. The failure to discriminate and to make not the effort to really create a dialogue about how film might operate today as art, is just intellectual laziness and worse, its a form of political cowardice.

Most fans get angry when this is brought up. I suspect Eileen Jones would get angry too. DON’T INTERFERE with my enjoyment. Art is meant to awaken, not to put to sleep. And I am reminded again, of Leo Lowenthal’s comment in the ’40s, that “the culture industry is like psychoanalysis in reverse.”

More later maybe. It’s 9:40am, 10/23/13. Anyway, you can wait, yes? Lots of homework here, yes?

Contact the author at aptosnews@gmail.com.


The practice of writing, the philosophy is, Firstly, a resistance to formulas and solutions. Writing and art pose questions, and if the mystery leaves the work, leaves the process, then usually, the work has died. Institutional forces demand standardized steps and conditions in their creative writing programs … because the institution knows, deep down, that art is there to destroy it. Even the word “creative” is probably suspect, but such are the conditions under which writing is taught. It is an intuitive and unconscious process, and even if done, for some film work, in partnership – it is still solitary.

One cannot write outlines and then follow them. This is what CPAs do, or insurance salesmen preparing their district conference sales quota speech. If one were to know where a narrative was going, one would have a stillborn project on one’s hands. The play or screenplay has within its narrative, an idea of itself. Narrative provides a space for character. The truth of a character is at once indelible and totally opaque. This idea is the reason, I suspect, we have art at all.

Art is not about communication, nor is it about moral instruction. It is about awakening. But it is also a discipline, and a practice. Those Neanderthal cave paintings, found in places where only one person might see them, at a time, is worth keeping in mind, at least when audience questions arise. You don’t write for an audience. Nor do you write for yourself. That is the paradox and the riddle.

– from http://john-steppling.com/dramaturgyworkshops/

The above might be the basis for an Arts Party in California. And it would be worth the heartbeats even if we only secured a dozen “TOSCA” votes total around a year from now.

“We cannot know what we are doing. We can only know when we are doing it wrong.

Theatre was born of the sermon, and a deep-seated need for audience. A deep-seated need for collective experience. Theatre has always been the target of religious conservatives, for it rivaled the church in its imitation of salvation.
We have to return to salvation. Theatre has to now enfold the language of allegory; that is, it has to provide an experience that entails the spectator: not the autonomous artwork of bourgeois culture, not artwork that reinforces the position of the spectator, of his social position and worth, but theatre. For theatre is inherently collective …”

I see Theatre — with the participation of one and all — in the electoral arena. With more masks and cutting-edge costumes than have ever been seen, with a Mother’s Scream for energy.