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August 10, 2005

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Wolf

Believe it or not, this movie has never come up in any of the ARG gaming conversations I've had with other designers. He must have been pretty unknown if the ARG gods of minutiae and obscure, useless knowledge haven't mentioned him.

It's now on my list of Films I Must Rent Soon.

Bill Wilson

Ray had savings of $400,000.00 only in the sense that his parents inherited money shortly before they died, leaving Ray their inheritance and their house. The film has Richard Lippold, from Ray's point of view, his life-time partner, commenting frankly on their relationship which began at Black Mountain College when Ray was 21, and continued until Richard "ran off" with Gianni (now Johnny), the edible Italian waiter Richard met on a cruise ship. Ray had relations with at least two women, if that matters, in the period when he was expected to want to be cured of his sexuality. As far as fame goes, the last infirmity of noble mind, Ray managed to elude fame and thereby not become one of its sacrificial victims. Long after his peers died of fame, Ray was constructively creating works, and continuing his mischief as freshly as he had subverted systems fifty years before. Validation: a huge retrospective at the Wexner Center, OSU, and at the Whitney Museum of American Art. A show is planned for next summer about Ray and the fields of friendship in which he worked and played. It will demonstrate that Ray was the artist who made hundreds of works about other artists, many close friends, some of them befriending from a distance of time or space by setting examples he could follow. Any questions? [email protected]

Wolf

Having rented this film and watched it yesterday, the biggest thing that struck me is the fact that each and every person interviewed seemed to know a completely different individual than each of the other interviewees. At the end of the film, I was left feeling like I *still* had no knowledge of his life whatsoever.

It's not a bad film by any means, but it shed little real light on who Ray Johnson was and what made him the person he became, at least in my opinion.

Bill Wilson

"...each and every person interviewed seemed to know a completely different individual than each of the other interviewees. At the end of the film, I was left feeling like I *still* had no knowledge of his life whatsoever... It's not a bad film by any means, but it shed little real light on who Ray Johnson was and what made him the person he became, at least in my opinion..."


As long ago as The Ring and the Book, by Robert Browning, and as recently as Rashoman, by Kurosawa, with its four filmic perspectives on a crime, we've had artists and philosophers showing us that we have no objective source of knowledge, but at least have our own perspectives that can be compared with other perspectives. Our perceptions are always on trial, and should be granted retrials. There is and can be no "essential Ray Johnson": he was, as we all are, different things to different men and women (many people feared his spontaneities, and some self-important people loathed his puncturings of pomposities). Actually, in experiencing the style of the film, its methods of visual thinking, you were experiencing some of the qualities of Johnson's methods of both verbal and visual thinking, not going from beginning through a middle to a conclusion, that is, not moving from possibility through probability toward necessity, but maintaining possibilities full to the brim, thereby keeping the present moment level with the past possibilities, thus maintaining a sense of openness in that no system arises that could close down over itself or over anything within it. The film opens cases that it does not presume to close---the case of Who is Ray Johnson?; and what is the meaning of his drowning? (I'm writing about that elsewhere). Ray's criterion of real experience was immediacy, spontaneity, unrehearsed responses, and in general improvisations. Little else did he judge to be real. In performances, he usually worked with materials that happened to be available, at hand, which could have the effect of galvanizing everything else that was at hand into becoming potentially something to perform with. Thus some inert objects (and people) were animated by their interior potentiality, the possibilities that might have been unseen because of over-familiarities and habits of looking without thinking how to construct novel possibilities. I'm delighted that you rented the film, and write here-&-now to say that you possibly "got" more of Ray Johnson, elusive protean comedian, than you think you did: Bill Wilson

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