Friday, 14 March 2014

In plastic dreams


LOST: Red plastic bag

LAST SEEN: During REM phase at around 2am, woke up shortly after, disoriented and slightly panicky. My debit card kept on being rejected. Finally it worked and I was able to purchase some clothes which were handed to me in a red plastic bag. I planned to give them to a friend but I couldn't remember which floor she lived on, and I kept on going up and down and up and down in various lifts and not getting anywhere. I later telephoned the friend to see if she had received the bag. Perhaps I had given her the bag and just forgotten? She confirmed it was lost. Then I woke up.

IF FOUND: Please hand in to the lost property department of your dream. This may take the form of grey monolithic slab of a building on a inhumane scale with Kafkaesque bureaucracy, or it may take the form of a waffle stand, depending on the level of neurosis, dream stage and the amount and type of cheese you ate before bedtime.

REWARD: Either a good nights sleep, a getting out of bed the right way or a dream where you can fly and/or wake up giggling.


There is an illustrated book coming out on untranslatable words by author and illustrator Ella Francis Sanders. As a part time translator I too like to keep an eye out for these words ;)

#Untranslatable   NΓΈdweg This is a Norwegian word for the sound that a thin plastic bag makes when the wind whistles through it in squally weather conditions. The nearest we can get to this in English is to say the sound is somewhere between a hum and the vibration of a cello string held between your teeth and bowed with a unwashed sock.

#Untranslatable Stindy A word that has come into use in Edinburgh after the introduction of discomposable plastic bags for food waste. The bag is said to be stindy when it  is on the cusp of decomposition  but still, you hope, bag enough not to split, spilling all of its rotting contents on the way to bin all over your clothes, feet and passers by. "Ye lazy besom tis yer caw tae tak' th' stindy keech oot" Actually I don't think I have yet heard anyone speak like this in Edinburgh.

#Untranslatable Tueteangst  This is a German expression for a phobia that plastic bags, especially the ones you now have to pay for in supermarkets, might take on a life of their own once stored at home and autonomously recycle themselves into a 3-D printer and fill your apartment with bread making machines.


There is no third part to this post just a selection of random film clips other people have made about plastic bags in decrescendoing/diminuendoing order of flimsiness and anthropomorphism. Flimsyness here is by no means a derogatory word:

1. This is a film called "Incidents" starring, amongst other everyday objects, a plastic bag by artists Igor and Svetlana Kopysiansky. I think this might actually be in my top 10 films of all time, although there is the "lost" film that I remember seeing many moons ago of plastic bags blowing about in the wind which was longer and involved more protagonists. Perhaps a forerunner to this one, even by the same artists, I don't know?

2. Whereas number one on my list is more arthouse, PLASTIC BAG  by Future States/ Ramin Bahrani is a blockbuster of a film. Werner Herzog provides the narration for a film about a plastic bag that falls in love, has existential crises, philosophises, and is sadly used to pick up dog shit. Herzog's German accent adds pathos to this movie, but I can imagine a Disney remake along the lines of Finding Nemo, but perhaps with the voice of Russell Brand? By the way, the red plastic bag I lost in my dream looks quite like the one shows up 10.42 minutes into this film.

3. This is a link to an excerpt from American beauty, which shows 3 minutes of a plastic bag 'dancing' in the wind. Apparently the casting agent sent the script to the plastic bag from PLASTIC BAG by Bahrani, who at first turned it down due to clashes in filming schedule. Thomas Newman wanted this plastic bag for the role so much that he put back filming of American Beauty by 6 months. An amazing make up job was done on the bag to change its appearance from orange to white, and the bag even underwent a sex operation as whilst in the Bahrani film it is an obvious male lead, Thomas Newman saw this plastic bag as very much female.

Have you any favourite  plastic bag film moments?

Film still from PLASTIC BAG by RAmin Bahrani. See that bag on the right?

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