3 August 2015

Quote(s) of the day, yay!

"Cinemas were the dream palaces of the interwar working classes. Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo – screen sirens in ermine and pearls were rarely shown in domestic settings ... Celluloid film was made from the same chemical formula as viscose rayon. Stockings screened the flesh and giant fragments of body were projected in black and white on the silver screen.

In 1937, the novelist Elizabeth Bowen reflected on her own cinema-going habits, describing an experience of emotion, distraction, beauty, ‘unlikely energy … preposterous pattern … bright light, abrupt shadow, speed.’ She saw the cinema as an antidote for lassitude. Cinemas were built from new materials – ‘concrete succeeds stucco and chromium gilt’ – and ushered in new modes of perception. For Bowen, glamour is a key element of the experience:

'What do I mean by glamour? A sort of sensuous gloss: I know it to be synthetic, but it affects me strongly. It is a trick knowingly practiced on my most fuzzy desires.'

Knowingly subjecting oneself to glamour is not a form of stupor but a conscious fantasy. Synthetic dreaming has an emancipatory aspect. Bowen describes the bond formed between the audience and the giant stars projected on the screen as ‘inoperative love’ – a form of human intimacy that demands nothing of the spectator. In a society in which relationships are structurally unequal, entering a space where the strains of reciprocity are suspended provides respite from ‘the necessity to please, to shine.’

The challenge then is for the fuzziness of desire to come into sharper focus. A new collective might emerge from the darkened movie theatres, blinking their mascaraed lashes in the neon lights of a world that might be re-made in the image of the unfettered lives projected on screen."

-- Hannah Proctor, 'Synthetic Dreams: Gender, Modernity and Art Silk Stockings', Mute, 31 July 2015



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"The wit and sharpness of Tim Burton is entirely missing in [Christopher] Nolan's obtuse movie. Indeed, as Andrew Klavan wrote in reference to The Dark Knight, Nolan's trilogy 'is a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war'. But the similarities between the latest Batman trilogy and the ideology of the Bush administration exceed the limits of the cinema screen. James Holmes's inability to distinguish between reality and movies mirrors the attitude of Karl Rove, the master of the American political imagination during the years of Bush's Holy War. When journalist Ron Suskind defended the prerogative of others in his profession to pursue the judicious study of discernible reality, the wizard of Republican campaign strategy responded,

'That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'

Is this a symptom of psychosis? Yes, it is. But it is not peculiar to Karl Rove. The sublimation of reality to simulacrum is the quintessential feature of semiocapitalism, the contemporary regime of production in which capital valorization is based on the constant emanation of information flows. In the psychosphere, reality is replaced by simulation."

-- Franco 'Bifo' Berardi, Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide, Verso, London 2015, pp. 23-24

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