Ding Dong- where has the Ding gone?

Here I am in Dilijan, looking out over the mountains of Armenia! It reminds me alot of Albania and, indeed, I came across a map today which seems to confuse the two places precisely: here it is-

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The Dong with the Luminous Nose

In Lear’s poem, “the Dong with the Luminous nose”, I realise there is an interesting omission. Lear must have intended, in some way, a play on the doorbell-sound “ding dong” so the natural consort of the Dong must then by rights be the “Ding”.

Sadly, the Dong has other interests and pursues a Jumbly girl.

Lear by TIM 3

There is more to this though, because Kant would go on with expressions like “Ding an sich” the thing in itself, so Dong has a much deeper meaning in the Germanic/english world. Kant would talk about the thing in itself as opposed to its actual appearance, “Erscheinungen,” what we see with our senses, something Plato would no doubt regard with suspicion. Lear’s Dong has clearly lost its “Ding an sich” and the light on his augmented nose simply illuminates the physical world and fails to get to the nitty-gritty, the thing in itself, whether this be the Jumbly girl he seeks or the missing Ding he does not know he has lost. The Dong therefore, confused by his senses is doomed to wander forever, weeping into the night.

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Spoonerism?

For luminous nose, read “numinous lose” or numinous loss- where the numinous is the spiritual- so, the Dong has lost his soul. He cannot see beyond the end of his own nose. that is a theme that reappears in the original 1964 “Mary Poppins” and leads up to Disney’s beloved song, “Feed the Birds”.

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Jane: An outing with father?

Mary Poppins: Yes.

Michael: I don’t believe it!

Jane: He’s never taken us on an outing before.

Michael: He’s never taken us anywhere!

Jane, Mary Poppins: However did you manage it?

Mary Poppins: Manage what?

Jane: You must have put the idea in his head somehow.

Mary Poppins: What an impertinent thing to say! Me, putting ideas into people’s heads? Really!

Jane: Where’s he taking us?

Mary Poppins: To the bank.

Jane: Oh Michael, the city! We’ll see all the sights and father can point them out to us!

Mary Poppins: Well, most things he can. Sometimes a person we love, through no fault of their own, can’t see past the end of his nose.

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masha and the bear

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This was the first subject I dealt with for HTV’s news programme hosted by Irada Zeynalova just before Christmas. The interview was fairly full with questions about the impact of Russian animation in a global market. The particular controversy, however, was a result of an article in the TIMES, prompted by a number of academics-  Professor Anthony Glees, of the University of Buckingham, an intelligence expert, had said: “Masha is feisty, even rather nasty, but also plucky. She punches above her slight weight.” He was, in turn, quoting a slightly obscure paper by an academic in Tallinn University’s Communication School  claiming that the bear symbolised Russia and was designed, according to the Daily Mail, to “place a positive image of the country in children’s minds.” A Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, reported this in November 2018 but Professor Priit Hobemagi had actually written his paper nearly a year earlier. I do not quite understand why it took so long to come into print at all.

Speculation elsewhere that this story is really about anxiety in the Ukraine was missing from the report on HTV and reports in the Daily Mail and the Times.

The programme is deliciously designed and the soviet details are precise – that is partly where the humour lies- the cap that Masha wears here has a blue band= the colour of the border guards.

I gave a detailed breakdown of the development of Russian animation and made reference to some current projects including the amazing Hoffmanidea and further work by Yuri Norstein who animated the Hedgehog in the fog. tWhat I said was dubbed into Russian though I could not be sure that what I was saying was actually what was being spoken and the studio would not let me have access to the original tapes. Nevertheless, the dubbing seemed to be in line with the general points I raised in the interview.

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American History’s biggest fibs

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The first of three episodes begins on Thursday on BBC4 this week. I have completed animated linking sequences and inter-titles throughout the 3 programmes as I did in the previous series (“British History’s biggest fibs”) The imagery this time is drawn from American posters and typography- the title sequence itself should remind people of the currency which is a good start!

Lucy, as ever, is brilliant!

 

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Lucy Worsley OBE

Congratulations to Lucy Worsley on her award! A new series of “Biggest fibs”, for which I have again done some animation and illustration throughout, is due to screen in January and I think is even better than “British History’s biggest fibs”.

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Meanwhile the last episode of “Inside the tower of London” airs this sunday on Channel 5. Again I did illustrations throughout.

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Rugby

https://www.rugbyschool.co.uk/news-dates/news-archive/from-bambi-to-frozen-the-deeper-meaning-of-disney-with-prof-tim-wilson/

 

From Bambi to Frozen: The Deeper Meaning of Disney with Prof Tim Wilson

The British animator and politician, Professor Tim Wilson, was the Temple Society’s December guest speaker.

Prof Wilson started his animation career after seeing Richard Williams’ Oscar-winning ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1972; then, after a year spent goat-herding in Greece, he contacted the director in hope of a job.

His love of animation took foreground for a couple of years when he helped in various animation studios in London. However, Wilson switched back to teaching as a Theology professor, with the occasional animation on the side, winning a best animation award a few years’ ago with a film called ‘How to be Boss’, an animated lecture about Plato.

The Professor’s talk reflected his life in the sense that it left almost no stone untouched: from the historical importance to the moral significance of animation, we finished the lecture with a much-enriched understanding of one of the most complex and labour-intensive entertainment forms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2Si2JA5zyM  (at the end of this, he showed how an animated Turkey moves his arm)

We heard how animation started, in a way, with the invention of Faraday’s Wheel in the 19th Century: from this came the zoetrope (1834) – the spinning wheel with slots, through which one looks to see a galloping horse or a man on a trapeze. Whilst still, the wheel shows only single images, yet when in motion the pictures pasted inside the wheel flow into one moving scene. This concept was taken (to great effect) to the camera upon its invention – Muybridge was the first, setting up a line of cameras each with their individual tripwires. Upon walking across his tripwires, each camera would photograph that split-second of his walk – when these pictures are all placed in series, a walking scene has been created or a person’s walk minutely examined.

This concept was played with in true artistic fashion by George Méliès, the creator of various silent films featured in Hugo in 1890 – by fiddling with the sequence, Méliès could make a character disappear and re-appear ten steps away, creating the illusion of magic and demonstrating a primitive form of animation. As such, animation is as focused on timing as it is on drawing.

However, it was McCay, from across the pond, who introduced the portrayal of emotion through animation: the task of the animator is to portray characteristics in a purely visual sense, and McCay’s Gertie the Trained Dinosaur was one of the first to achieve this characterisation showing a drawing that seemed to be thinking as well as moving.

It is with these foundations laid down, said the Professor, that we come to Walt Disney who introduced believability and genuine emotion into animation with feature films. Budget was a big deal for Disney, as shown by their first production of Alice, which was a mix of live-action (cheaper) and animation (more expensive).

Continuing on to the famous Steamboat Willie, Disney tied a musical soundtrack directly the animation – the same formula for Fantasia.  The first film to release a soundtrack and related merchandise was Snow White. It also promoted a clear morality: most animation that Disney creates holds a didactic function – though Disney initially denied this “We like to have a point of view, not an obvious moral…” The feature-length Disney films tell stories that reward good behaviour and punish the bad. There are five Disney virtues: the first is Kindness (such as Cinderella’s kindness to the animals), the second is Perseverance (the prince in Cinderella, for example). The third is Faith, or wish-fulfilment with its obvious connotations of religion – the only overtly religious piece of Disney, (overlooking Christian imagery at the end of Fantasia) is Hunchback of Notre Dame, but this pushes kindness combined with faith, and if Disney is interested in Belief, it is belief itself- and not a belief in a specific person or thing. Belief in self is allied to belief in a higher power. The final one is Family: Aristocats and 101 Dalmatians, for instance, display the ethos that the meaning of family can still be extended, and is not just about blood relatives.

There is, moreover, a heavy Protestant work ethic that is present in Disney films, and the most recent Frozen emphasises the dimension of not trusting appearances, first glimpsed in Gaston in Beauty and the Beast but maybe hinted at in the magical witches of both Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, who promote family values and patch together relationships that have gone wrong.

Rhian Kerslake, Secretary of the Temple Society

Tim Wilson in his YouTube video