Unreal Nature

September 30, 2010

Lost and Found

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 10:59 am

I have successfully excavated the aforementioned remains.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

A Framing Disposition

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 8:22 am

… it marks a shift in the logic of the self: from aggregate powers manipulating specific contents to a framing disposition in which experience is necessarily situated — self as form, not content.

This is from an essay “Image of Self” by Peter Galison in the book Things That Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science edited by Lorraine Daston (2004):

… You will be instantly sued for unauthorized duplication of the cards, and psychologists around the world stand vigilant, ready to pounce on wrongful distribution or even casual public display of the images. At the same time this box of plates may well be the most studied object of the last hundred years: several million people have not only examined them but recorded the innermost details of what they saw. What are these cards? To answer (or even not to answer) is to present yourself. Just insofar as these cards are described, they describe the describer. Not only do these objects talk back, they immediately double the observer’s language with a response that pins the speaker on a psychogrammatic map. These are the cards of the Rorschach test; and they don’t mind sending you home, to the clinic, or to prison.

… for Rorschach, the imagination is not the principle object of inquiry, though he expected that his subjects might think so [ … ] It is true that the test aims to test imagination, but it does so among many other characteristics: “The interpretation of the chance forms falls in the field of perception and apperception rather than imagination.”

This raises a point of immense theoretical interest to those of us conversing with talking things. For nearly a century, the great centerline of philosophy of science has been the demarcation of “seeing” from “seeing as.” Fundamental to the Gestalt psychologists, this division shaped discussions throughout the long run of neo-Kantian philosophical psychology all the way from Ludwig Wittgenstein and Thomas Kuhn through recent work in the sociology of science. Rorschach’s intervention demands that “seeing” and “seeing as” be taken not as fundamentally alternative relations of perceiver to perception but as limiting tints at the edges of a full-color spectrum.

… The crucial point: Rorschach concluded that “the differences between perception and interpretation are dependent on individual factors, not on general ones; that there is no sharp delineation, but a gradual shifting of emphasis; and that interpretation may be called a special kind of perception.” For brevity I use “apperception” as a shorthand for Rorschach’s claim that perception relates to interpretation as genus to species. Setting aside for the moment the ultimate status of the Rorschach test (Is it”objective”?), it is possible to pursue some implications of this claim for apperception. First, it marks a shift in the logic of the self: from aggregate powers manipulating specific contents to a framing disposition in which experience is necessarily situated — self as form, not content. Second, using Foucault’s language in a different context and now in ways that tie them together, it means that the functions of subjectivation (how subjects are formed) and objectivation (how objects are formed) enter at precisely the same moment. To describe the cards (on the outside) is exactly to say who you are (on the inside).

… The Rorschach test presupposes a very different ontology of self. There is no atomistic separation between any of the faculties or powers. Take imagination. In Rorschach’s inkblot world, imagination simply is not a well-defined power; nothing in the test presupposes an organ, so to speak, of imagination. Indeed, for Rorschach, imagination manifests itself in the experience frame of the introversive in a way very different from that of the extratensive. For the introversive, who perceives reality more clearly than the extratensive, there is a tone of pleasure to the interpretative act: interpretations are complicated, the task is a game. For the extratensive, there is little pleasure here — perhaps a triumph, because of the brilliance of a performance as received by others — because the extratensive (in the limiting case) may not even realize that he or she is interpreting; the act may more resemble confabulation.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

September 29, 2010

Personal Anthropology

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 4:36 pm

On this rainy afternoon, I was in the process of emptying out a box of stuff from the attic that I’m trying to sort out hopefully and get rid of. Near the bottom, I found this envelope:

In case you can’t read my handwriting (I was fifteen at the time), it says, “Ground Hogs Teeth (Two top and one bottom incisor).” The date, in the upper right corner is Aug. 1971.

Yes, as a teen, I was still the same as the person I wrote about in the Rats in Hats post. And I have to tell you, that when I looked in the envelope and found that the teeth were missing, I was disappointed. Very disappointed. I hope I find them at the bottom of the box (which is still about 1/3 full of … stuff.

[A “ground hog” is a very common varmint of this part of the country; sort of like a 20-30 pound rat. They are in no way unusual, but they have really neat teeth. ]

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

Igisigo

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 8:14 am

… What makes cultural elements ‘fit’ to survive? One of the startling facts about human cultures is their sheer excess, the inordinate expenditure of energy, skill and attention on the creation of form. Many cultural forms, far from being in any obvious sense ‘naturally’ fitted for self-reproduction and self-propulsion through time and space, seem to be created to advertise the high human cost of their production and reproduction.

This is the second of two posts from an essay “Improvisation and the Art of Making Things Stick” by Karin Barber in the book Creativity and Cultural Improvisation eds. Elizabeth Hallam and Tim Ingold (2007). Continuing from the above:

… Take — as one example out of the millions available —igisigo, a genre of oral praise poetry that was part of the aristocratic court culture of Old Rwanda. It was produced and transmitted by a specialized guild of hereditary bards, and was the oldest and most rigorously transmitted of the many court genres, reputedly dating back fourteen generations. The poems were so constructed that only specialized rhetoricians could compose and interpret them, and the oblique and evasive style of the genre is signalled in its very name, the root of which, according to Alexis Kagame, means ‘to compose in a figurative style, incomprehensible on first hearing.’ What makes many of the allusions in igisigo incomprehensible on the first hearing is the artful construction of a series of departures from the initial idea, a process of ‘veiling’ or ‘making disappear ‘ (kuzimiza) through synonyms, homonyms and metonyms. A single word could require a whole sequence of steps to retrace the composer’s thought-path and retrieve the ‘disappeared’ meaning. The art of composing and interpreting Rwandan dynastic poetry involved deliberately going out of one’s way to avoid the linear narrative and vivid imagery that would make the text spontaneously memorable. Great ingenuity went into constituting these texts as obscure, and then into ensuring that despite their difficulty they would be meticulously transmitted and widely known. People went to great lengths to learn them because their obscurity conferred prestige. Associated with the Mwami’s court and aristocratic culture, their creation and decipherment could be seen as a kind of conspicuous consumption of creative energy. The powerful royal dynasty, surrounded by the Tutsi aristocracy, defined themselves as distinct and aloof by creating and perpetuating a genre that cost a lot in terms of training, time and effort to master and to transmit; and the fact that the genre was indeed successfully transmitted for long periods was simultaneously a cause, a result and a sign of its immense prestige (and hence that of its owners). Here we seem to see a deliberate repudiation of what is easily memorable in order to draw attention to the creative resources of the king’s command.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

Genre

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 8:11 am

… The recognition and recreation of all form in social life can be seen as simultaneously recapitulatory and anticipatory. To establish form is to abstract key attributes from past and current instantiations with a view to re-embodying them in future ones. Entextualization, or the art of making things stick, is therefore really the art of laying down the means for new creation.

Both of today’s posts are from an essay “Improvisation and the Art of Making Things Stick” by Karin Barber in the book Creativity and Cultural Improvisation eds. Elizabeth Hallam and Tim Ingold (2007):

…People’s ceaseless innovative and re-creative activity is often directed precisely towards making a mark that transcends space and time. Improvisation and the art of making things stick cannot be separated: we find them everywhere fused and intertwined.

Two venerable models of the nature, place and scope of social innovation lie behind current thinking. One proposes that the normal situation is inertia, stability and repetition.

… in traditional societies, stability and continuity are the default situation and are associated with conformity and a lack of originality; change is exceptional and — when it is not the result of external forces — it is associated with individual innovation and creativity.

The other model starts from the opposite assumption — that everything that happens is new, unrepeatable and not wholly predictable from what went before.

… Scientists and historians seek to find rational order and stretch this back so that the present may be seen to follow from the past; but in fact time itself is constituted out of a succession of ‘interruptions.’ What takes place does so ‘under necessary conditions,’ but these ‘do not determine in its full reality that which emerges.’ The past is ‘as hypothetical as the future’; the present, defined by the emergent, is constantly breaking new ground. The problem here, then, is not how to explain change, but how to account for the social creation of continuity.[ quotes within that paragraph are from G.H. Mead, The Philosophy of the Present (1932)]

In trying to think about how new things emerge from the matrix of the customary on the one hand, and how people go about solidifying the flux of social life on the other — issues which clearly lie at the very centre of anthropology — we find ourselves ambushed at every turn by latent binary distinctions: between ‘text’ and ‘performance’; between scripted and improvised enactment; between memorization and composition; between creativity that leads to a concrete ‘product’ and the creativity which is an end in itself.

… What is most important for the purposes of this [essay] is that perdurance is conceived as the outcome of vigorous, unremitting activity. Things do not last through inertia: they are made to last, through intense human creative efforts. Making things stick, then, is most definitely flagged up here as a practice, a process in itself.

… If understanding social life is at least partly about understanding how people give form to their activities, then kinds of behavior often consigned to the margins of social theory — dance, song, verbal art — become central … This is not so much (or not only) because … performance genres are a privileged place where there is more innovation and creativity, but because the effort to give form here has a reflexive, demonstrative dimension in which its own processes are, as it were, brought to the surface. … Performances attract attention by framing and staging creative, form-giving processes, and in doing so, they not only designate themselves for future re-creation, but also bring to view the operations by which they are constituted. All cultures, I believe, produce forms that are marked out for special attention — whether or not they are thought of, locally, as something we could translate as ‘art forms.’

… Battling against long-standing tendencies to reify and freeze [performance genres], this [performance] theory [in the 1980s and 1990s] strongly contrasted ‘performance’ with ‘text,’ declaring tha the two were utterly different in kind.

Dwight Conquergood elegantly sums up the opposition as a  war of vocabulary, where the benign forces of ‘improvisation,’ ‘flow,’ ‘process,’ participation,’ ’embodiment,’ and ‘dialogue’ are ranged against the enemy lexicon — ‘fixity,’ ‘structure,’ objectification,’ reification,’ ‘system,’ ‘distance,’ and ‘detachment.’

… But out of performance theory came its own inverse and complement, the concept of ‘entextualization.’

… Form-giving activity — of a kind that constitutes cultural entities which are recognized as preceding and outlasting the moment of their performance — always draws upon the conventions of genre, and at the same time sublty modifies them.

To hear a symphony as a symphony, to hear a fugue as a fugue — in short, to hear any music as form — is then to hear it as repeatable, and hence as independent of its realization in sound on any particular occasion. [N. Cook, Music, Imagination and Culture (1990)]

To recognize a symphony as a symphony, an epic as an epic, or a yam-growing incantation as such, requires a consciousness of genre. Genre conventions are not usually reducible to ‘rules’; rather, they are a bundle of attributes adding up to an overall impression, which is recognized as one would recognize personality. Recognition is built up through exposure to numerous instantiations of the genre; but each instantiation also adds an increment, and thus subtly adds to the genre’s range of possibilities. Genre, therefore, is like the past in G.H. Mead’s philosophy: it is continually reconstructed retrospectively, as every new thing that happens occasions a readjustment in the perception of those that preceded it. Genre, then, arises from memory — the composite memory of overlaid, overlapping experiences of individual performances or texts. But genre is also prospective: it is a set of expectations of form. Composers create in the expectation that certain formal attributes will be recognized and understood as such; audiences interpret in accordance with expectations which the genre’s conventions have aroused. Even when the composer’s aim is to rupture the conventions and generate something wholly novel, the effect depends on both composer and listeners recognizing and expecting the conventions that are being broken.

… The recognition and recreation of all form in social life can be seen as simultaneously recapitulatory and anticipatory. To establish form is to abstract key attributes from past and current instantiations with a view to re-embodying them in future ones. Entextualization, or the art of making things stick, is therefore really the art of laying down the means for new creation.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

September 28, 2010

A Kaleidoscope of Images

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:05 am

… Eighteenth-century savants tended to locate variability in the objects themselves — in the accidental, the singular, the monstrous. By the mid-nineteenth century, the chief source of variability had shifted inward, to the multiple subjective viewpoints that shattered a single object into a kaleidoscope of images.

This is from Objectivity by Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison (2007):

… To see like a [Enlightenment era] naturalist required more than just sharp senses: a capacious memory, the ability to analyze and synthesize impressions, as well as the patience and talent to extract the typical from the storehouse of natural particulars, were all key qualifications.

… [Linnaeus] would have dismissed as irresponsible the suggestion that scientific facts should be conveyed without the mediation of the scientist and ridiculed as absurd the notion that the kind of scientific knowledge most worth seeking was that which depended least on the personal traits of the seeker. These later tenets of objectivity, as they were formulated in the mid-nineteenth century, would have contradicted Linnaeus’s own sense of scientific mission. Only the keenest and most experienced observer — who had, like Linnaeus, inspected thousands of different specimens — was qualified to distinguish genuine species from mere varieties, to identify the true specific characters imprinted in the plant, and to separate accidental from essential features. Linnaeus was vehemently committed to the truth of his genera (and even to the truth of specific names), but not to objectivity, not even avant la lettre.

… In practice, the collaborations of Enlightenment naturalists and artists to produce working objects for the sciences of the eye were taut with tensions: social, intellectual, and perceptual. Battles of wills, eyes, and status were joined when the naturalist peered over the shoulder of the artist, correcting every pen stroke.

… these collaborations aimed at a fusion of the head of the naturalist with the hand of the artist, in which the artist surrendered himself (or, often, herself) entirely to the will and judgment of the naturalist. This relationship of subordination to the point of possession or thought transference frequently exploited other forms of social subordination in order to render the artist as pliant as possible: the subordination of servant to master, of child to adult, of woman to man.

… By the mid-nineteenth century, scientists themselves aspired to waxlike receptivity. They admonished one another to listen attentively to nature, and “never to answer for her nor hear her answers only in part,” as the French physiologist Claude Bernard advised fellow experimenters in 1865. The fantasy of the perfect scientific servant persisted among proponents of objectivity — but this servant was no longer imagined as the compliant draftsman who drew what the naturalist knew rather than what the artist saw. Instead, the ideal scientific domestic became an uneducated blank slate who could see without prejudice what his or her too-well-informed master might not.

… mechanical objectivity did not drive out truth-to-nature, but nor did it leave truth-to-nature unchanged. Epistemic virtues do not replace one another like succession of kings. Rather, they accumulate into a repertoire of possible forms of knowing. Within this slowly expanding repertoire, each element modifies the others: mechanical objectivity defined itself in contradistinction to truth-to-nature; truth-to-nature in the age of mechanical objectivity was articulated defensively, with reference to alternatives and to critics. Epistemic virtues emerge and evolve in specific historical contexts, but they do not necessarily become extinct under new conditions, as long as each continues to address some urgent challenge to acquiring and securing knowledge.

The problem of variability in right depiction stretches from the beginning to the end of the period we have treated here. It haunted scientific atlas makers who pursued truth-to-nature as much as it did their successors dedicated to objectivity. But different epistemic ways of life made for different diagnoses of the sources of variability. Eighteenth-century savants tended to locate variability in the objects themselves — in the accidental, the singular, the monstrous. By the mid-nineteenth century, the chief source of variability had shifted inward, to the multiple subjective viewpoints that shattered a single object into a kaleidoscope of images. The earlier naturalists had attempted actively to select and to shape both their objects and their illustrators, whereas later naturalist aspired to hands-off passivity. The meaning of the images changed accordingly. Instead of portraying the idea in the observation, atlas makers invited nature to paint its own self-portrait — the “objective view.”

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

September 27, 2010

Phantasy World

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 8:06 am

… in the main what exists are doctrines regarding expression, gestural equipment for providing displays, and stable motives for encouraging certain imputations.

… what is real … is merely a differently grounded — usually more stable and more acceptable — motive for maintaining a particular appearance.

Returning to Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience by Erving Goffman (1974):

Laing has a useful comment:

Interpersonal life is conducted in a nexus of persons, in which each person is guessing, assuming, inferring, believing, trusting or suspecting generally, being happy or tormented by his phantasy of the other’s experience, motives, and intentions. And one has phantasies not only about what the other himself experiences and intends, but about his phantasies about one’s own experience and intentions, and about his phantasies about one’s phantasies about his phantasies about one’s experience, etc.

… Our understanding of people seems to be linked to a tacit theory of expression or indication. We assume that there are such things as relationships, feelings, attitudes, character, and the like, and that various acts and postures somehow intentionally or unintentionally provide direct evidence concerning these things. But the position can be taken that in the main what exists are doctrines regarding expression, gestural equipment for providing displays, and stable motives for encouraging certain imputations. It could then be granted that certainly feelings, relationships, and attributes can be faked and that indications can be provided in absence of their proper referent. And further, that it is important to distinguish these fakeries from the real thing. But what is real in each case, it could be argued, is merely a differently grounded — usually more stable and more acceptable — motive for maintaining a particular appearance. And insofar as this is the case — insofar, for example, as a personal relationship can be defined as a coalition between two players to provide each other with expressions of the existence of a desirable bond — then, of course, two-person worlds are vulnerable indeed. The indication that each party provides the other that nothing whatsoever could break them apart is itself the substance, not the shadow, and should the motives of either or both change in this matter of supporting a particular appearance and encouraging a particular imputation, then the displays themselves can be very quickly altered.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

Mixed Natures

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 8:04 am

These bits are from a long and excellent essay “The Ancient Dream” by Vivian Gornick in Boston Review (Sept/Oct 2010):

… Neither got what they wanted — he wasn’t saved; she didn’t conquer — and neither ever got over not getting what they wanted. Each suffered an enduring humiliation thanks to the discrepancy between what had been expected of married love and what had actually been delivered. In this regard, the inexperienced girl and the worldly roué were remarkably equal. For both, a dream of fulfillment through marriage had originated in a place in the psyche that reached so deep that the dream’s failure to materialize was received as an insult to the soul.

… Millions of marriages, from time immemorial, have made their peace with the discrepancy between what should have been and what actually was, but for the Tolstoys such a truce proved viscerally impossible. The sense of loss that the discrepancy induced was, quite simply, unbearable. It is the “unbearable” that sets them apart. For them, it was necessary not only never to accept things as they were, but to remain relentless in one’s refusal to accept things as they were. To the last, one must go on shaking one’s fist at the heavens, crying aloud that the price of compromise is exorbitant.

… In the end the mixed nature of humanity itself proves the source of the great existential drama. To be mean and generous, depraved and decent, loving and murderous, not by turns but all at once — that, it seems, is the true burden of our existence. It is this humiliation that makes us rage at the heavens, this humiliation that has ever demanded of us some over-arching myth of redemption that will atone for the despair of our own self-divisions.

Read the whole piece if you have a few minutes. It’s excellent. [ link ]

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

Reality Flutters

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 8:01 am

… He flounders. Experience — the meld of what the current scene brings to him and what he brings to it — meant to settle into a form even while it is beginning, finds no form and is therefore no experience. Reality anomically flutters.

This is further from Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience by Erving Goffman (1974):

… When, for whatever reason, the individual breaks frame and perceives he has done so, the nature of his engrossment and belief suddenly changes. Such reservations as he had about the ongoing activity are suddenly disrupted, and, momentarily at least, he is likely to become unreservedly engrossed both in his failure to sustain appropriate behavior and in the cause of this failure. Whatever distance and reserve he had in regard to prior events he loses, at least temporarily, along with some of whatever conscious control he had over what was occurring. He is thrust immediately into his predicament without the usual defenses. Expecting to take up a position in a well-framed realm, he finds that no particular frame is immediately applicable, or the frame that he thought was applicable no longer seems to be, or he cannot bind himself within the frame that does apparently apply. He loses command over the formulation of viable response. He flounders. Experience — the meld of what the current scene brings to him and what he brings to it — meant to settle into a form even while it is beginning, finds no form and is therefore no experience. Reality anomically flutters. He has a “negative experience — negative in the sense that it takes its character from what is not, and what it is not is an organized and organizationally affirmed response.

… Assume that the sense of any strip of activity is linked to the frame of experience and that there are weaknesses inherent in this very framing process. It follows, then, that whatever the vulnerabilities of framing, so to, will our sense of what is going on be found vulnerable.

… the possibility that a given strip of experience will have an unapparent transformation (in the sense of a construction) provides the framework for properly understanding the concern we have for fleeting expressions. We give weight to an individual’s signs of guilt or signs of being barely able to suppress laughter or signs of embarrassment and furtiveness; and this we do not merely because of the possible impropriety of these expression themselves. For these signs are evidence that someone in our world is insecurely in it, perhaps because he is in another or fears that we are. These fleeting expressions are important, then, because they suggest that what we take to be actually going on might not be, that we might be wrong about its laminations. And as this holds for our perception of him, so it holds, we know, for his perception of us.

To be “natural,” then, is not merely to seem at ease, but to be acting in such a way as to convince others that the apparent frame is in fact the actual one. That is what is meant, functionally speaking, by sincerity and spontaneity. When we deal with an incompetent person and find it difficult not to smile, or deal with a mad one and find it difficult not to show fear, or deal with the police and find it difficult not to show guilt, what we are tending to give away is not a person, ourselves, but a frame, one that we had been maintaining. These affects and responses are only incidentally of persons; they are primarily about frames, and it is only in frame terms that one can make sense of the concern shown in regard to them. Very often, then, to suspect something is to question more than one event; it is to question the frame of events. For the suspect event can readily be seen as an exception not to an otherwise innocuous situation but to the success that has otherwise been achieved in sustaining constructions, benign and otherwise. Suspicion, then, would seem to be a universal and basic structural possibility in social life, and its analysis a best way of beginning to appreciate the framed character of our realms of meaning, including our realities.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

September 26, 2010

The Missing People

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:51 am

… The author takes a step towards his characters, but the characters take a step towards the author: double becoming. Story-telling is not an impersonal myth, but neither is it a personal fiction: it is a word in act, a speech-act through which the character continually crosses the boundary …

This is further from Cinema 2: The Time-Image by Gilles Deleuze (1989):

… in classical cinema, the people are there, even though they are oppressed, tricked, subject, even though blind or unconscious.

… In American and Soviet cinema, the people are already there, real before being actual, ideal without being abstract. Hence the idea that the cinema, as art of the masses, could be the supreme revolutionary or democratic art, which makes the masses a true subject. But a great many factors were to compromise this belief: the rise of Hitler, which gave cinema as its object not the masses become subject but the masses subjected; Stalinism, which replaced the unanimism of peoples with the tyrannical unity of party; the break-up of the American people, who could no longer believe themselves to be either the melting-pot of peoples past or the seed of a people to come (it was the neo-Western that first demonstrated this break-up). In short, if there were a modern political cinema, it would be on this basis: the people no longer exist, or not yet . . . the people are missing.

… Sometimes the third world film-maker finds himself before an illiterate public, swamped by American, Egyptian or Indian serials, and karate films, and he has to go through all this, it is this material that he has to work on, to extract from it the elements of a people who are still missing (Lino Brocka). Sometimes the minority film-maker finds himself in the impasse described by Kafka: the impossibility of not ‘writing,’ the impossibility of writing in the dominant language, the impossibility of writing differently (Pierre Perrault encounters this situation in Un pays sans bon sens, the impossibility of not speaking, the impossibility of speaking other than in English, the impossibility of speaking English, the impossibility of settling in France in order to speak French . . .), and it is through this state of crisis that he has to pass, it is this that has to be resolved. This acknowledgement of a people who are missing is not a renunciation of political cinema, but on the contrary the new basis on which it is founded, in the third world and for minorities. Art, and especially cinematographic art, must take part in this task: not that of addressing a people, which is presupposed already there, but of contributing to the invention of a people. The moment the master, or the colonizer, proclaims ‘There have never been people here,’ the missing people are a becoming, they invent themselves, in shanty towns and camps, or in ghettos, in new conditions of struggle to which a necessarily political art must contribute.

… precisely because ‘great talents’ or superior individualities are rare in minor literatures, the author is not in a condition to produce individual utterances which would be like invented stories; but also, because the people are missing, the author is in a situation of producing utterances which are already collective, which are like the seeds of the people to come, and whose political impact is immediate and inescapable. The author can be marginalized or separate from his more or less illiterate community as much as you like; this condition puts him all the more in a position to express potential forces and, in his very solitude, to be a true collective agent, a collective leaven, a catalyst. What Kafka suggests for literature is even more valid for cinema, in as much as it brings collective conditions together through itself. And this is in fact the last characteristic of a modern political cinema. The cinema author finds himself before a people which, from the point of view of culture, is doubly colonized: colonized by stories that have come from elsewhere, but also by their own myths become impersonal entities at the service of the colonizer. The author must not, then, make himself into the ethnologist of his people, nor himself invent a fiction which would be one more private story; for every personal fiction, like every impersonal myth, is on the side of the ‘masters.’ It is in this way that we see Rocha destroying myths from the inside, and Perrault repudiating every fiction that an author could create. There remains the possibility of the author providing himself with ‘intercessors,’ that is, of taking real and not fictional characters, but putting these very characters in the condition of ‘making up fiction,’ of ‘making legends,’ of ‘story-telling.’ The author takes a step towards his characters, but the characters take a step towards the author: double becoming. Story-telling is not an impersonal myth, but neither is it a personal fiction: it is a word in act, a speech-act through which the character continually crosses the boundary which would separate his private business from politics, and which itself produces collective utterances.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

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