Thursday, June 5, 2008

While listening to Ihab Hassan

Against the hypothesis of inner life, which is the epiphenomenon of signal processing: my inner life is no more relevant to my life as a medium than is the inner life of a TV set. We are more complex than TV sets only to the extent that what we process becomes part of our circuitry. This is also why we delay processing inputs, with outputs sometimes only emerging after decades of processing. In an increasingly ephemeral mediascape, however, where reflection (processing) is instantaneous and affective rather than pondered and intellectual, we are less translators who mutate our inputs, and more like the telegraphic signal repeaters with which young Tom Edison started his inventor's career: booster stations who merely amplify signals, as when we forward an e-mail we have scarcely glanced at. Under such conditions we are more transmitters than translators. The difference between these positions concerns the greater or lesser possibility for misunderstanding, the misunderstanding on which evolution is based, the misunderstanding in which a phrase, an image, an idea mutate into something other than what they were when they arrived.


The black strip dividing film frames, the between-two-images, the momentary darkness, is not transcendental but negation. First image: thesis; framestrip: negation; second image: negation of the negation. But this is incomplete as a description because we begin in a darkness of which the first image is a negation, but which already instills the expectation of its own negation, and of the negation of that negation. To this extent, cinema is not perceptual but apperceptual, involving memory and expectation. Cinema is not perceived but apperceived.

The case is somewhat different with electronic images.