[-empyre-] split screens

simon swht at clear.net.nz
Tue Jul 31 10:01:45 EST 2012

Dear <<empyreans>>,

I've enjoyed this month, but I would like to reject utterly the 
implication in Johannes's question, that something "went wrong in 
western traditions" ("What went wrong in western traditions?" 27/07/12), 
and also the negativity that has characterised some of the posts 
throughout this month. For example: ..."so perhaps screens are not 
everywhere. There is hope." (Simon Biggs, 30/7/12)

For the first issue, that there is something wrong with western 
traditions - which ones? - wanting to sustain the illusion rather than 
pierce it or enjoy the complementary halves of a fore-screen and a 
behind-the-scenes look at... wait a moment, isn't this the same west 
which puts out behind-the-scenes featurettes as promotional material? 
selling these to networks cheap to encourage audiences to fork out for 
the next blockbuster at the cinema?

Behind-the-scenes has developed its own industry, multiplying genres and 
compounding or laminating illusion and reality.

My experience of Brecht - also mentioned "Brecht would be pleased" in 
Johannes's post - is a Verfremdung from the staid complacency of generic 
classical theatre, things moving in an off-kilter way made even funnier, 
farcier (and faster) for the return of the backstage repressed and its 
plays of scale, toy-cars for example where a real car won't fit.

If the Platonic dialectic of real/copy persists it is (as I said 
earlier) as an ultimately unsustainable resource fuelling the 
problematisations of academic art.

The second issue elides ubiquity with iniquity. The ubiquity of 
screenism might be iniquitous if it were totalisable, if we could show 
experience to be mediated to a dangerous degree - but dangerous for 
whom? And quo bono? (Bono?) This stance of saying escape from excess 
(screens, decadent western habits, consumerism, gadgetism, etc.) is 
needful is a stance because it invokes danger as pure titivation.

Of course in skating quickly off into moral judgement we drop the baby, 
who, I guess, is us: thus doth technoculture make phenomenologists of us 
all. But more than this. This baby is also our responsibility - ethical 
- to hold and dandle lest we lose sight of our limits, which must needs 
be entertained - but not to death. Since isn't the screen at the limits 
of our projections? Aren't our projections precisely what it shows?

Rather, what they show, since the multiplication of screens is real, if 
not the real.

My feeling is that much like an earlier issue considered here on this 
listserv, the netopticon, there is the crack to be worked: the fear is 
not the Heideggerian totalitarianism or totalisation of the tech, but 
that we fail to consider its atomic or molecular level, where 
revolutionary subjectivation processes are enabled. Or can be.


Simon Taylor


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