Archive for August, 2012

Reluctant hero

August 6, 2012 Comments off

The reluctant hero participates in the spectacle involuntarily, gets caught up in the event incidentally, and propels it unwillingly. S/he does not believe in the system, does not submit to it, assumes a position outside of it, beyond it. This is where the lens appropriates all human gestures, through the formation of a consciousness that acknowledges its presence while disregarding it. This represents the ultimate shift in foundational Aristotelian laws of tragedy (the formation of the character through the progression of the plot), which until the introduction of the camera still held up. As such, gestures are predetermined, premeditated. The hero is aware of the plot, of the system that s/he is retaining, but yet does not submit to it, and thus at the same time is completely recuperated by it.

A recent example of such position is the box office blockbuster Hunger Games, where its reluctant hero, who gets caught in the event just to replace her sister, ultimately wins over all the other competitors and watches all of them perish while she survives. She not only disregards the game itself, but also appropriates romance reluctantly, simply to triumph, while initially she entered the game to lose. Here all true human emotions, from the desire to live, to love are all wholesaled to the spectacle, while the spectacle performs exteriority. This hero while retains the façade of the classic hero, has with it nothing in common. This is the American Apparel model who seems to be caught up not-posingly-posing, conscious of her lens unconscious performative. Or the “amateur” porn actors who perform caught-having-sex. This is the internalized alienation that devises an emotional distance that allows one to participate uncaringly just to be pleasantly surprised. The complete recuperation of the critical distance into a core ingredient of the spectacle.

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Formal possibilities

August 6, 2012 Comments off

The disaster at Aurora, Colorado reminds film scholars of the birth of their obsession, Lumière brothers’ Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, where, as the story goes, the audience bolted out of the theater at the sight of the train pulling into the station. A character coming out from behind the screen and opening fire seems like a dark prophesy realized, a medium’s natural development.

However, Dark Knight Rises, is not the only movie where we see bodies fall like rain, and while it fits the plot more than a movie like Ted, it yet remains unclear—and probably will remain so— why the killer chose this over hundreds of other feature fests of violence. There is nothing that makes Batman particularly different from other similar movies where the hero saves the day just before the whole planet, or America, is blown to pieces. Nor is the antagonist much more inspiring to identify with as he looks more like a failed proto-Darth Raider. But the move provides one of those instances that simultaneously represent the limits of structuralism, and the power of myth (the former’ watering hole).

While the movie clearly lacks structural cohesion, yet an obsolete form propels the drama where all inconsistencies lose relevant while remain intact. For the cynical viewer, (who watches the movie from the meta-position of being way beyond the spectacle, but just watching it to get entertained by watching the culture watching it), the discrepancies invite chuckles—admittedly this movie has the plot consistency of an alphabet soup, but yet it is shocking how the myth of Batman congeals the soup and keeps the projector running. What is yet more significant is how both the protagonist and the antagonist are masked and both are for the most part incomprehensible. One waits for the hero’s inspiring words, or his nemesis’ provocative ones, but instead hears them mumbling as if through an out of tune transistor radio. There is a gag of language, which is put into their mouths by the myth that mutes the words, while making them interchangeable, replaceable, both soaking in and drying them of meaning. It is only the gestures—the  communication of communicability in words of Agamben —that carries the film, and are these gestures what drives the cinematic form, not the words, and not the human faces behind the masked creatures. The muteness of the characters presents a kind of verbal confusion that is necessary to maintain mythic positions a place beyond words, “the gesture is essentially always a gesture of not being able to figure something out in language.” But at times, this verbal muteness might translate from words to rounds of ammunition. This by no means is to submit to one of those simulacrum theories of reality’s submission to image and such, rather, it is a question of manifestations of formal possibilities.

Transformed to tautology

August 2, 2012 Comments off

In Godard and Gorin’s Letter to Jane, the narrator notes how an image sometimes covers more than it reveals. The images of the disastrous war streaming online covers the disaster with image. The ultimate response is to re-post what is clicked on, to take “action,” to include it in another network of sympathy. There is no image that represents the ultimate disaster, that image was buried long ago under a visual inundation that has reduced the event into evidence. When buildings are diminished into rubble and city blocks into gravel, the image effaces everything that used to be and replaces history with its two-dimensional surface, blocking the access to what once was. The documentation only makes the atrocities more acceptable and accessible to vision and only asks for increased violence. The quantity of images does not increase what is known of a given situation, rather reroutes the situation into a quest for additional evidence, into the obscurity of the panorama. A mass grave documented from all angles remains a mass grave. Thus, “photography transforms reality into tautology.”

Free Syrian Army Attack A Tank Convoy, youtube still

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