[-empyre-] screen and desire

Sean Cubitt sean.cubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Mon Jul 23 23:19:37 EST 2012

A brief aside on scott's brief aside

There's certainly something psychoanalytic; and it certainly involves the
screen metaphor: but it may be that our screen architectures are more
involved with the repetition compulsion, the entropic side of the instinct
to order our environments. The repetitive iteration of pixels is noise,
like any repetition: in this it is a map of Flusser's idea of human
photographers as functionaries of the photographic apparatus; only now
each pixel is subject to the logic of running through all possible
options. The process is only abbreviated by reducing 'redundant'
differences through codec organisation in blocks, macroblocks and Groups
of Blocks. This is how to understand the screen metaphor as akin to
Freud's 'screen memories', which in psychoanalysis stand between
consciousness and traumatic repressed memories.

In some respects, screens operate on our behalf the same repression of
trauma as would otherwise be done by the unconscious. One question then is
about the socialisation (and automation) of unconscious processes

The second concerns the reaction against socialised and automated
repression. The cost of repressing traumatic memories is, as Agamben
argues in the book on Method, is to repress experience, repress in effect
the present. The reaction, from Heidegger to new age 'mindfulness', is to
return to presence. But the presence to which we return  is (newly)
anthropocentric, shaped by its passage through automation, and deprived of
both memory (because it is the fruit of repression) and therefore of the
kind of processual temporality which creates virtuality - orientation
towards the future.

In response to this reaction, screen media have seized upon a limited
conception of the virtual as their proper domain: the production of
imaginary scenarios, as ever a proper function of consciousness, but in
contemporary media presented increasingly not as possible futures but as
alternate worlds - ie without the utopian potential (which would of course
require the kind of future-orientation which produces also anxiety).

Screens screen us from trauma and anxiety, but in doing so can only filter
the imagination of perpetual presence.

(it isn't the grid as such, though that is a challenge, but the
transitions between ubiquity and universality that are the problem

On 23/07/2012 04:52, "Scott Mcquire" <mcquire at unimelb.edu.au> wrote:

>A brief aside to Sean
>"In the scanned screen, completion is permanently held out as presence,
>permanently denied -- a dialectic of the unstable attept to construct a
>permanent present."
>Sounds a bit like the screen as desire in the Lacanian of lack?

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