A struggling actor, writer, bibliophile, self-confessed coffee addict, lover of European and Oriental Cinema, confirmed bachelor and wannabe blues guitarist.

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    The Appeal of Nonsense Literature: A Remedy for a Mad, Mad World?

    For many of us, our first exposure to nonsense literature in general came in the form of nonsense poetry. Authors such as Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss and Spike Milligan used non-sensical verse to subvert the power of language to label and own the world. Oxford scholars now suggest the origins of nonsense literature may be found in the 11th century, although there is circumstantial evidence to suggest an even older origin, possibly as far back as Aristophanes.

    Nonsense poetry (and, by extension, nonsense literature in general) is now an officially recognised subset of the international language of literature, and elements have even crept into everyday usage. For instance, few people know that the oft-used word ‘nerd’ was invented by Dr. Suess.

    In addition to the names listed above, Ivor Cutler, James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling, Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, François Rabelais, Flann O’Brien, Velimir Khlebnikov and Sukumar Ray (to name but a few) have all used either nonsense or nonsensical structure in their works, as have Bob Dylan, David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Syd Barret (Co-founder of Pink Floyd).

    Discuss how the anarchic power of nonsense writing can be liberating, both to the author/writer and to the reader/audience. Choose whatever examples you wish and show how, by breaking the established rules of grammar, punctuation and capitalisation, nonsense can also sometimes even act as a remedy for a mad, mad world.


      Neo-Erotica or Blatant Pornography?

      Over the past decade or so there has been a none-too subtle incursion of what once would have been considered pornographic films, into mainstream cinema. Vincent Gallo’s ‘The Brown Bunny’ (2003), Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomanic’ (2013) and the recent ‘A Thought of Ecstasy’ (2017), directed by Rolf Peter Kahl, are three such examples. All feature scenes with, what is euphemistically referred to as, ‘unsimulated sex’. Experimental cinema, avant-garde, neo-erotica – whatever label is applied, it seems that some mainstream actors and actresses are prepared to have their names attached to these projects and, in the case of ‘Nymphomaniac’, even have their faces and torsos superimposed over body doubles, although in the fallatio scene from ‘The Brown Bunny’ no doubles were used. Discuss whether ‘unsimulated sex’ in mainstream films can have any actual artistic merit, or is this just another way for controversial directors to circumvent censorship and so push their own sexual fantasies? In a world increasingly bent on instant gratification, are we being desensitised to accept without question the open exploitation of sex in mainstream as ‘normal’? Where should the line be drawn?

      • It is entirely possible to convey these types of scenes in film without pushing the envelope in this particular direction, as has been the case for many decades. That said, this emerging genre, as you yourself have mentioned, is more than likely facilitating the projection of sexual fantasies by controversial directors under the guise of favoured buzzwords such as 'avant-garde'. Mainstream actors may be fine with having their names attached to such films, but what does this mean for the future of aspiring actors should this become the new norm? This goes a little beyond your average kissing scene and should not be normalised outside the realm of adult content. Mindless media consumption is a problem as is and a line absolutely must be drawn before it reaches this point. – jessicaelyne 10 months ago
      • There's honestly probably just too much blatant sexuality in the media in general nowadays, and it's cheapening the whole experience. We're so used to treating sex in the media as not that big a deal that for anything to stand out it has to be even more blatant and graphic. – Debs 8 months ago

      The Male Muse

      A muse has traditionally, and generally, been seen as female. She may come from any walk of life and need not be a ‘beauty’ in the classical sense, for it that elusive, almost undefined quality that inspires the creative male mind – but what of the male muse inspiring female creativity? For the Mexican painter, Frida Khalo (1907-1954), her husband was her muse, despite their often turbulent relationship. More recently the American photographer, Sally Mann has spent over forty years photographing her husband going about his daily life. The Dutch artist, Rineka Dijkstra finds inspiration in photographing her son as he grows into a young man, whilst the British filmmaker, Sam Taylor-Johnson describes her husband, Aaron as both her muse and soulmate.

      Familial, romantic and/or sexual relationships aside – do creative women regard their male muses any differently from how creative males regard female muses? By extension – what does a creative woman look for in her male muse? By citing examples from history (both ancient and modern) examine how creative women have found and been inspired by their male muses.

      • Wonderful topic! And I'm very curious about which examples might be pulled to support this topic. I would like to remind you however that this is a little heteronormative--what about women with a female muse, and men with a male muse? Not even in a romantic sense, but maybe as a comparison for the male/female dynamic. I'm thinking of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West for example. No need to expand beyond heterosexual muse relationships but just a thought! – Eden 9 months ago
      • Someone may run with this topic in any way he or she wishes :) – Amyus 9 months ago
      • What a wonderful topic. The art world is full of passionate women who get their inspiration in so many different ways. A male muse is not new, just described less often than female muses. I am very excited to see which examples are shared on this topic and I am looking forward to it! – Guinevere 2 weeks ago

      What's in a Non-de-plume?

      A cursory glance at the names of contributors to The Artifice shows that many of us choose nom de plumes (pen names). My own pen name is a variant spelling of a character’s name from an Agatha Christie novel, whilst other contributors have chosen pen names that either reflect their interests, their sense of humour or they serve as a personal statement. There are many reasons to use pen names. Some may be for political or cultural reasons. George Eliot (1819-1880), for example, was writing at a time when it was difficult for a female writer to be accepted simply as a writer and not be judged by her sex. Conversely, I recently met a male writer who writes romantic fiction under a female nom de plume; and very successfully too. Discuss how the invention of a ‘literary double’ might empower the writer and, just as importantly, have our nom de plumes become characters in their own right?


        A.I. and the Creative Drive

        Recently the DWANGO corporation (Japan) made a presentation to Hayao Miyazaki (co-founder of the Studio Ghibli anime house) to demonstrate its ‘Deep Learning’ programme, created to teach A.I. how to "draw like humans do," (Nobuo Kawakami, Chairman). The result was a hideous zombie like creature that propelled itself across the screen, using its head like a leg. "It looks like it’s dancing," Kawakami joked. Miyazaki was disgusted, pointing out that an A.I. has no concept of pain and human suffering: "I strongly feel that this is an insult to life itself".

        Discuss whether the ‘creative’ output of what will eventually become autonomous A.I. will ever be able to match the natural creative drive of humans. Or will it forever merely mimic its creators? Could A.I. ever ‘evolve’ to the point at which it feels the subtle touch of the muse? After all, it is, quite often, those small imperfections in human creative expression that make art (in all its forms) unique and sensitive.

        • interesting set up. yes. AI will be "creative" but not if it is limited to our perspective on what creative is. As a different species, it will evolve and find other methods of expression that we may not recognize. – billhillism 11 months ago

        Rebuilding The Future

        The year 1960 saw the release of George Pal’s imaginative production of H.G.Wells’ ‘The Time Machine’, considered by many to be a classic. At the end of the film, the main character ‘George’ returns to the distant future to help the newly liberated yet child-like Eloi build a new society, taking just three books with him to aid his venture. As his friend comments to another character ‘…which three would you have taken?’. Considering the wealth of knowledge we have access to in the 21st Century, which three books (factual or fiction) would you choose and, more importantly, why?

        • A great topic to consider as it will require addressing the roles of particular texts - do you take manuals, do you take "great literature", do you take religious texts? What is most valuable in literature in relation to history and cultural change and how do we measure this? – SaraiMW 2 years ago

        Drugs and the Creative Process

        ‘In Xanadu did Kubla Khan. A stately pleasure-dome decree…’. It’s said that Samuel Taylor Coleridge composed his classic poem whilst under the influence of Laudanum (an alcoholic tincture of Opium). Similarly such great names as Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron had ongoing ‘relationships’ with the same. What was once considered acceptable behaviour amongst the creative is now legislated against, often for good reason, but many of us today start our daily routine with our drug of choice, i.e. coffee. Narcotics have had a profound influence on the creative mind across the centuries and will, no doubt, continue to do so in the future. Consider why the creative mind sometimes requires or even craves external stimulus and why we are frequently willing to ignore drug usage among the creative when enjoying the fruits of their labour.

        • You bring up an interesting topic. I myself enjoy caffeine, I use it as a tool. Likewise, other substances such as, LSD, DMT or psilocybin mushroom are sometimes used as creative tools. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for example used LSD as a creative tool. Drug use today is looked down upon. I think that some substances can be used to help with art but within the right context and environment. – LucaTatulli 2 years ago
        • Being more specific would be useful - are you asking about narcotics/opiates only, or including psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, or stimulants such as methamphetamines, not to mention other classes of substances? What exactly do you mean by 'drug usage'?? – Sarah Pearce 2 years ago
        • Like Sarah Pearce, I was left wondering what the focus of the essay might be: all drugs? narcotics? stimulants? I would also encourage anyone who takes up this topic to consider the roles of drugs (esp. stimulants and hallucinogens) in the writings of the Beats. – JamesBKelley 2 years ago
        • I have so many questions. Are you considering alcohol as a 'drug'? If so, I don't think we 'ignore' alcohol usage amongst creatives. I would also question using the word 'ignore' - why must we ignore drug usage? The question speaks of evident bias against 'drugs' (however you are defining this term) - I suggest that the more interesting questions revolve around the role of various substances in the evolution of human culture and creativity... – Sarah Pearce 2 years ago
        • So first thought I have is that you are working off an assumption that creative types DO crave the stimuli of drugs. If you wanted to work off of that assumption you would need to get peer reviewed research and even then its a bit of a shaky premise. However I feel like your article actually has a different and more reasonable topic hidden in the layers. A lot of the people you mentioned fell into the Romantic period and the Victorian period of literature. So maybe instead of talking about drug usage in all creative types, you could instead discuss the influence of narcotics on Romantic and Victorian literature. – huntingkat18 2 years ago

        A Black James Bond

        Daniel Craig became the first ‘blonde’ Bond, but once his tenure comes to a close, a new face will be required to sip those Vodka martinis and put paid to the latest Mr Big’s plans to dominate the world. When considering the many, fine black actors working these days, perhaps it’s time that we had a black James Bond. After all, the CIA operative Felix Leiter was recast in the 2006 franchise reboot, with the excellent American actor Jeffrey Wright proving he was more than capable of handling a darker role (excuse the unintended pun). So, which black actor could become Bond and, more importantly, why? Bear in mind that it is the character of Bond that is the focus, so the choice of actor must be one who can both fills those shoes and yet be able to make that character his own. This is not a popularity contest. On a personal note – I would suggest Chiwetel Ejiofor (‘Twelve Years a Slave’. 2013). He is the consummate professional who possesses a solid, on-screen (and stage) presence. His IMDB profile shows an impressive track record that demonstrates he can switch from comedic to dramatic roles with ease (just take a look at his performance in ‘Kinky Boots’. 2005) and he is ruggedly handsome enough to raise respectful envy from male Bond fans whilst undoubtedly turning more than a few female fans’ heads. Remember, James Bond is an iconic role so your choice and reasons must take this into consideration.

        • I am not sure how many people would like to see a black James Bond, but I am one of those people who would like to see a black James Bond. However, the last time I heard this topic being discussed, there was an opposition for a black actor to take on the role. The main argument against it was that the author envisioned a white person doing this role. But, from a personal point of view, Chiwetel Elijofor would make a great James Bond, or Idris Elba would make a great James Bond. Especially if the character of James Bond is not a character, but a job title that gets filled once the position becomes available at MI6. So, if the James Bond is not a person, but a job position that gets filled up, then yes! A black James Bond would be great. However, if the James Bond is supposed to be a white person because that is the vision of the author, then I would say no because that is the vision of the creator. – nbcaballero 2 years ago
        • Wasn't Idris Elba long rumored to be the next James Bond? He has mass appeal and is a wonderful actor. I think many people would love to see a great actor like him in that role. – Mccaela 2 years ago

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        Latest Comments


        Well, I watched ‘Train to Busan’ last night…and I completely agree with you. Tired tropes and clichés by the score. There will no criticisms hurled at you from this quarter. In fact, the only thing I can say in its favour is that at least there was plenty of work for film extras.

        How Modern Horror Tropes are Revitalizing the Current Horror Genre

        Re ‘The Wailing’ – essentially you’re correct, but there are games within games being played by several of the main characters. I haven’t seen ‘Train to Busan’ yet as I generally get bored with zombie films, but I suppose I should suspend prejudice and give it a watch.

        How Modern Horror Tropes are Revitalizing the Current Horror Genre

        Stevie. I recommend ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’ (2016)

        How Modern Horror Tropes are Revitalizing the Current Horror Genre

        Korean cinema, without doubt, produces some of the best Oriental horror films I’ve ever seen. I consider ‘The Wailing’ (2016) to be pretty damn close to a masterpiece of horror cinema, although it does require some understanding of Korean folklore to comprehend the subtle layering within the storytelling. Don’t take it at face value. I wouldn’t classify ‘I Saw The Devil’ as a horror film though, it’s more a bloody vengeance story that becomes more horrific as the story progresses and the protagonist becomes what, or who, he despises.Still an excellent film though and highly recommended. One favourite of mine is Jeong Yong-ki’s ‘The Doll Master’ (2004).

        How Modern Horror Tropes are Revitalizing the Current Horror Genre

        I have to admit that I’m not a fan of western horror films in general, for the same reasons you’ve covered in the beginning of your article. You can literally count the beats between jump scares and corny lines that set up the next bout of bloodletting. Now, give me a well written Oriental horror (the list is endless) and I’m riveted to the screen, but that’s a subject for another time (or article). However, on the recommendation of a friend, I watched André Øvredal’s ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’ (2016) a few nights ago and I was pleasantly, or rather horrifically, surprised, so it just goes to show – you can’t throw all your brains in one bucket. Okay, so the script could have been a little tighter in places and I wasn’t fully convinced by the set up (I’m trying not to give away spoilers, just in case you haven’t seen the film), but it is one of the few western horrors that I’ve watched twice, simply to work out if the whole story was ‘real’ (in context) or an illusion. What I initially thought were continuity slips turned out to have relevance to the plot. Still, coming from André Øvredal (who directed ‘Trollhunter’ 2010) I should have known this wasn’t going to be standard shlock fare. Well worth viewing, in my opinion. Don’t believe everything you see on screen!

        How Modern Horror Tropes are Revitalizing the Current Horror Genre

        ‘Popular movies are loved immediately, the cult movie is loved over time.’ It’s interesting that you mention the Star Wars franchise. There is a truly dreadful Chinese subtitled version of ‘Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’ that’s gained a cult status. It’s titled ‘Backstroke of the West’ and some of its ‘translations’ have to be seen to be believed. Anyway, my point is that a group of very dedicated fans actually redubbed the original film with the Chinglish translations. It’s both weirdly amusing and somewhat disturbing.

        The Journey of Cult Films

        Thanks for the free publicity 🙂

        The Journey of Cult Films

        Fernando. As a follow-up to my previous comment, and further to Misagh’s comment, if you do wish to contact me then you’ll have to do so via the Artifice editors. Sorry, I didn’t realise that you weren’t a registered user.

        Subtitling for Cinema: A Brief History