Unreal Nature

October 23, 2014

Ghosts

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:47 am

where do these thresholds of perception themselves come from?

This is from Philosophy and the Moving Image: Refractions of Reality by John Mullarkey (2009):

… if it is always ‘elsewhere,’ how did it get to be there, who put it there, and how is it possible for us, eventually, to perceive it there? Deleuze’s own answer is to say that it is by ‘jumping’ or leaping between thresholds of perception, between different planes. By this leaping, he writes, ‘what cannot be perceived on one [plane] cannot but be perceived on the other … the imperceptible becomes necessarily perceived.’

I hope that the connection between this notion of threshold and the problem of perceiving film events is evident: what leaps must we make in order to see whan a film itself happens? What are these thresholds or planes? And what examples can we use to make sense of them? Deleuze mentions the sumo wrestler whose advance is too slow and whose holds are too fast to be perceived. But he also mentions absolute movements that can be seen at the cinematic threshold of perception, the central case for our purposes. The question of perceptibility, then, can be posed in terms of speeds and thresholds: where do these thresholds of perception themselves come from? Are they natural, cultural or metaphysical in origin?

… In 1922 Bergson wrote that ‘all the categories of perception … correspond, on the whole, to the choice of a certain order of size for condensation.’ A category of perception, or threshold, is an act of ‘condensation.’ The world we see is the level of existence we choose to condense or contain in an act of perception.

Bergson’s point is that each plane of living reality has to treat the other planes of existence surrounding it as relatively inert in order to support its own vitality. Our time, our vitality, our events, our history in other words, are formed through an act of exclusion — what produces by contrast the uneventful, the natural, the invisible and the imperceptible. The actuality of others’ events is not an ‘elsewhere’ or ‘virtual’ awaiting actualization for them: they are only virtual for us — as the ghosts appear to us and to whom we appear as ghosts (in Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others (2001)).

My most recent previous post from Mullarkey’s book is here.

-Julie

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