The Temptation To Zoology is a short film made in 2004 by New Weird American icons MV & EE (Matt Valentine & Erika Elder) together with Gabriel Walsh.
It offers a quirky and apparently random juxtaposition of sound and vision. Its surrealistic qualities seems tailor-made to infuriate ‘straight’ viewers accustomed to the reassurance of a structured narrative.
The psych-fuelled babble of the film’s subtitle makes it plain that lucidity is not a priority, being described unrevealingly as: “an incredible myth of things seen in the skysea concerning an animal so human and its transfiguration during a journey to the trysting place of an aeon“.
The languid voiceover near the start offers no further enlightenment. The voice refers to “reflected moonbeams” and “infinitesimal colours” in a tone strikingly reminiscent of the drawled inserts that punctuate Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band’s avant-blues-rock masterpiece -Trout Mask Replica.
The film, much like MV’s singular brand of Free-Folk, makes a positive virtue out of going with the flow and trusting instinct over intellect.
There’s an inbuilt hit and miss aspect to this approach – it easily strays into smugness and self indulgence but at the same time, if you are prepared to engage with its random design and see it as a skewed representation of freedom it begins to make more sense.
The zoology in the title I associate with the classification and characteristics of animals and finding some kinship with Nature. It is a theme analogous to the social conditioning of human beings.
Habit, as Samuel Beckett once observed, is a great deadener and when conventional choices all too often make us comfortably numb the pseudo-hippy vibe that permeates this film looks more fun than working for the man. In the words of George Clinton’s Funkadelic anthem: “Free your mind and you ass will follow”