The Dossier

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Barb e. (et al.),

For the serious application of examination by the astute reader, the hidden diegesis (storyline-as-blueprint) to be assembled from the heaps of scattered bits and pieces that comprise The Dossier should come, in rough, to emerge.

Analytic reconstruction of what is presented as a rough composite document of raw intelligence data is our wacky, zany, a-litle-bit-different diversion exercise-in-fatality for the mean trivial intellect of the bunch!

Should, that is if only our witnesses somehow could just keep their stories straight!! That, and that this is a rip-off deal here dude - I mean, c’mon! Lateral thinking is for nerds, man. And plus this stuff is SICK. Bizarre SEX and --now I wanna go hooooome, I want my EMTEEVEEE! FUUUUU!

And THAT’s the thing that THIS reviewer, for one, just has to cry Foul about. The writers of this - THIIIING - apparently weren’t properly briefed in the Safe For Civvies protocols - y’know, STANDARDS!! What a great word I LOVE that word!! - for commercially-released popular-culture fare. All our PEOPLE are in an uproar over this! We should expect a modicum of responsible representation in ostensibly innocuous “lite reading” like this, this “Fun Book for Young Adults.” Who are these people KIDDING! My WORD! If these traitors to decency who make sly mockery of our cherished, democratic institutions y’know like, “The National Interest”; “The Official Story”; “The Spy Who Punked Me” - what’s to keep the UGLY SPECTORS of fear and guilt and shame, and even God and Superstition, from EARLY RETIREMENT...?

HUH?

Like some Frankenstein of Black Intelligence, The Dossier is sewn together from a trail of fickle and deciduous witnesses, whose only consistent aspect of any kind between them were a frustrating penchant for diegetic or narrative sabotage. (Or in some cases perhaps we’ve got “reality-issues” going on, there. In any event, we are in for a very rapid-fire turnover rate for a slew of successive “soft-stories,” to upbeat tempo of a lock-and-load rhythm. The odd swath of dried blood may be encountered, for a hint of where things ought to be going. By the time we have got up to the surveillance monitors folder toward the very end of The Dossier, we’ve endured an immersion study in the engineering of mendacity that is information war, which for our immediate purposes escalates in steep increments as Euphemia runs a relentless gauntlet of all and motley species of “shady” black/op players along the way to his mission’s objective - which, appropriately, is the termination of the history of civilization as they know it.

Agent Euphemia indeed came to arrive at his office of highest station in the burgeoning Breen black/op apparatiat through fortune of circumstance, though too (to be fair) through duplicity, mendacity, treachery and all the hard work that comes with the territory when you’re in the business of alwys having to remember everything for want of all plain human honesty, decency or any of that FAGGIT STUFF. OR, LIKE a GIRL! EEEWWWW. WHO the fok wondzdu blay widdi GUR-ULZZZ!

Euphemia is certainly a sympathetic character. His “strengths” - loyalty; devotion; perseverance - ring resonant to the best in the noble human spirit. But soon, all these have somehow come full-circle now as - WHUD - the very weaknesses -obsession, intransigence, paranoia, myopia - to precipitate his downfall:

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stranger Q.E.D.

NOW WAT GIND AW MURRAL IZ DADT!

While the schizoid, treacherous cryptologic of the story’s composite narrative come to crash and burn in a conflict of disparate, fatally-engaged narrative subtexts. These various false trails now soon embroiled in relentless triage of mutually perjurious attrition to the disillusion of disbelief itselMAAAA ! WHERE MY EM TEE VEEEEEE!!!! It is a rag-tag creation, paranoid and conflicted, a schizo-narrative of political and defense-industrial expedience to at last come blistering and irrupting through the fabric of the diegesis itself.

And then we have the ending: a wonderfully vulgar, gag-me anticlimax to fluster all acceptable convention, potent indeed to explode the p/c regime which at that time (‘96) remained overripe for a rude dose of levity.

Without breaking out one of the very last two editions of the book I still happen to have intact, however (my dog-eared’s are buried in storage for a while), a redux as such is really all that were available for me to provide here - my soft copies are altogether a swamp of revisions the final draft of which only exists in the published version to which we already refer.

I was surprised to see upon release of the first edition that both Peter Gaffney’s and Japhet Asher’s names were absent from the cover and, especially, to see my name first before Mr. Singer’s. My efforts were not concentrated in character development or even plot development so much. Rather, I applied the better part of my own involement to the scenario’s internal, conceptual gridwork and fictive cultural infrastructures; and to maintenance and reinforcement of its “subtextual continuity.” the sociocultural/ sociopolitical, “non/state/anti fluxus and the stuff of culture crash as pursuant to the proverbial dystopium. I’m the perpetrator, too, I believe, of all the “body-as-battleground/metaphor/ billboard” subtext throughout, overmuch overplayed elsewhere.

If its (subtextual or other) framework bears some signature of my design, AEON FLUX: The Herodotus File is Singer’s flesh and blood. Eric affords me a proper courtesy and regard beyond any rightfully due me in declining to “tip my hand.” Eric’s artistic contributions to AEON FLUX are priceless, and one rarely gets the opportunity to undertake the creative endeavor with the likes of such outstanding, unmistakable, signature talent. I am certain anything alse he does or has done is of similar uniqueness and raging edge and the tender minefields of a hardcore, sympathetic violence. This is very rarely accomplished by anyone. I love AEON FLUX.

AEON FLUX, one of the few unique creations in the history of television to contribute meaning to the language of its culture, loss-leader commercial embarrassment to MTV for having bankrolled true experimental and conceptual art as television cinema! Investment, immanently successful, to production of popular entertainment product good to redeem the entire genre and the medium right along with that! All to MTV’s obseuious embarrassment before The Industry - embarassment for WHAT! For having something on their resume that has registered upon the radar of modern cultural history?

Rolling Stone seems OK with retaining some pretense to being a venue unembarrassed to represent and to accommodate artistic efforts which may happen to be of recognized intellectual and cultural respectability even though such work satisfies a different criteria than that of Casey Casem. Criteria which does not necessarily answer to “cherished” (READ: TRENDOID) “Family (READ: MARKET) Values” the way yer Decent and Acceptable, Pavlovian pablum can.

Chung and Singer are two of the most serious artists with whom I’ve had serious professional business. Maybe the top two, despite being specialists of different creative areas; despite my encounters as such with both having happened to occur coincident with the same project.

I’ve yet to occasion upon any of Mr. Singer’s own prior correspondences with this website but remain particularly intrigued and look forward to his especially, because here you have one blasted mayhem of raw emotional powerhouse riot who’s a writer’s writer: one of THOSE on the case and no mistake.

As for Euphemia’s lip prints, they were originally supposed to have been “applied” in colorless lip balm, not lipstick. (Nobody asked; but hey.)

-- dangerboy (artian@earthlink.net), November 19, 2001

Answers

Wow. What an insight into the creative differences and the conception of Aeon and Trevor, like a tornado whirling about with artists and writers and concepts meshing to put out those fascinating plots. Your names definitely should've been on that book, it was a piece of artistic beauty, er how 'bout a second book???..names could be on this time...(hope springs eternal)...

-- Barb e. (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), September 12, 2002.

Flux wasn't exactly Aesop's fables. It never occurred to me to consider Agent Euphemia's personal fall from grace. Fascinating.

-- Barb e. (Suesuebeo9@cs.com), November 20, 2001.

It is 4 AM in the morning, I have to get up at 5AM, but I am awake and remembering this paragraph written by 'dangerboy' only a few days ago in another column. "Aeon Flux: Opening Title Sequence MM 12/7/? Trevor is on a balcony, watching as a long parade of Breen men in white lab coats and glasses march in step. The middle column of the corp are conducting a long, trailing kite they fly above them (the Omega/keyhole symbol of Bregna). Strange and glorious machines of huge proportion (Tessla coils, x-ray lasers, ancient pulp sci-fi contraptions) roll along with them through the square below through a storm of gray confetti..." This is so beautiful how can I sleep, haha perhaps Aeon Flux may RIP, but I can't. If Eric Singer was one of the 'serious' writers you have worked with, it must've been wonderful to have been there, when the Herodotus File was being written. When the show was in progress with Chung at the helm and all the other great artists involved. How did the char Aeon develop? Was it through writers with Peter's direction? Did you 'see' her at once? The character Trevor; the same? They are beautifully conceived.

-- Barb e. (Suesuebeo9@cs.com), November 20, 2001.

A few remarks on the genesis of Aeon and the creative process behind the show...

I created Aeon and Trevor years before I met Peter Chung... no, wait, that's not right. Actually, I came on as story editor (at the request of MTV, which had some ludicrous notion that I'd somehow keep those two lunatics Japhet and Peter in check) after Peter, working with Japhet, had done the shorts and after several drafts of "The Demiurge," the first half-hour episode, had been written. (One draft was by my old friends John Brancato and Mike Ferris, who went on to write the movie "The Game," "The Net" and, most recently, "Terminator 3." It was Mike, in fact, who first introduced me to Peter, at a time when Mike, my wife and I were all living together in Sidney Greenstreet's old house above Sunset Blvd.)

By this time of course, the whole vision of the show was in place, and I can't speak to which aspects sprang fully formed from Peter's mind and which came out of his collaboration with Japhet. Also by this time, Peter had at least some conception of what many of the episodes would be.

Around the same time I came on (as I recall), Peter brought in the first crop of writers -- including Mark, who instantly became a central part of the creative team. I don't think he'd had much script-writing experience, but he gave us some truly inspired writing. He had an incredible ability to create magnificently weird characters, and he could produce amazingly funny yet intense runs of dialogue. Eric came along a bit later. He was deranged but in a different way from Mark; for one thing, he put up a slightly more credible facade of normality, at least at first. He came up with some great characters as well, but you had to wonder whether they were entirely fictional or actually embodied his own personal twisted obsessions. The two of them had very different strengths, but they both grasped the essence of the show in a way that few other writers could. They were also a lot of fun to work with.

We assembled the scripts incredibly quickly. Japhet was in San Francisco at the time, and he'd fly down to L.A. on Wednesdays, by which time we'd have that week's first draft from the original writer. Japhet, Peter and I would get together at Peter's house on Wednesday afternoon (often with Mark, if he were around, and sometimes another of the writers) and brainstorm a little before tackling the re-write, which had to be done by Thursday afternoon in time to be Fed-exed to MTV in New York. Sometimes we were under incredible time pressure; I remember that on one episode Japhet, Peter and I each took an act and all went into separate rooms to bang out our rewrite, barely conferring at all. Surprisingly, the script came together nicely. Other scripts came in with major problems that were a real struggle to figure out, either because the writer had taken off on some crazy tangent or because we'd failed to give him good direction. The worst of all was "End Sinister," for which Japhet and I each wrote about four different drafts, each with a completely different story, over a period of a couple of months. The only thing that stayed intact throughout, I think, was Peter's initial concept of Aeon and Trevor fighting each other in the distant future.

"The Herodotus File" also had to be done in a hurry. The dossier idea was Japhet's, I believe. Japhet, Peter, Mark, Eric and I worked out the plot over the course of a couple of days of meetings, and then Mark and Eric wrote most of the initial material, which Japhet and I combined with stuff of our own and edited into the book's final form over the course of three or four days up in San Francisco. Mark remembers better than I the genesis of the various elements -- what came from him and what came from Eric. Considering the rush, the absurdly tiny budget (Japhet took a pay cut so that Mark and Eric could be paid a somewhat more reasonable fee -- but nothing close to what they deserved for their Herculean efforts) and the fact that we were given minimal support from above (Japhet and Peter had a very hard time getting them to put any resources into the art), we were pretty pleased with the results. Like the show, the book represented a remarkable collaboration between very different people. (Like Mark, Japhet and I were a bit surprised our names weren't on the cover.)

Of course, I'm sure my memory of all this isn't perfect. The short version is that working on Aeon was one of the most memorable writing experiences of my life, and I'm eternally grateful to Peter and Japhet for letting me join the party.



-- Peter Gaffney (trypsys@hotmail.com), September 12, 2002.


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