Category Archives: Love

Rilke’s "You See, I Want a Lot" Taken from "Book of Hours"

I had been looking for this one for a while. I remembered reading it as an undergrad, but couldn’t remember the title, just that it was one of Rilke’s poems that inspired me the most, and out of nowhere the title came to me tonight. This poem is amazing, and, in my mind, crystallizes for me the pinnacle of what Rilke’s capable of, but the poem also helps me understand that not everyone is satisfied with living their life happily in the quotidian, in having a maudlin desire filling their insipid lives. This poem inspires me to believe that there are others out there who want a lot too. Enjoy:

You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.

So many are alive who don’t seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.

But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.

You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.

Also posted in Poetry

Robert Lowell’s "The Old Flame" on Audio

I had forgotten how good Lowell is; I haven’t read any of his work since my senior year of college. By way of biblioklept I discovered an mp3 rendition of his poem, “Old Flame,” which is more enjoyable to hear and read at the same time, so I converted the mp3 into a movie file and uploaded it to youtube. I’ve also pasted the poem below.

The Old Flame
My old flame, my wife!
Remember our lists of birds?
One morning last summer, I drove
by our house in Maine. It was still
on top of its hill –
Now a red ear of Indian maize
was splashed on the door.
Old Glory with thirteen stripes
hung on a pole. The clapboard
was old-red schoolhouse red.
Inside, a new landlord,
a new wife, a new broom!
Atlantic seaboard antique shop
pewter and plunder
shone in each room.
A new frontier!
No running next door
now to phone the sheriff
for his taxi to Bath
and the State Liquor Store!
No one saw your ghostly
imaginary lover
stare through the window
and tighten
the scarf at his throat.
Health to the new people,
health to their flag, to their old
restored house on the hill!
Everything had been swept bare,
furnished, garnished and aired.
Everything’s changed for the best –
how quivering and fierce we were,
there snowbound together,
simmering like wasps
in our tent of books!
Poor ghost, old love, speak
with your old voice
of flaming insight
that kept us awake all night.
In one bed and apart,
we heard the plow
groaning up hill –
a red light, then a blue,
as it tossed off the snow
to the side of the road.
Robert Lowell
Also posted in Art, Literature, Poetry, Video

Batman (The Dark Knight) and Social Zeitgeist

After reading the New York Time’s cleverly but inaccurately titled article “Art of Darkness” byJonathan Lethem, I realized something about the interplay between the Joker and Batman, especially after watching “The Dark Knight” for the second time at a friend’s house and then again on a trip. In my previous post on the movie I briefly talked about “The Dark Knight’s” contingencies with current politics, which Lethem somewhat touches on in his article, but my views on the movie have been prompted by a new notion of how popular culture, the public itself, fits in with the movie. But to complicate matters more, I have found that the simple logocentric binaries that Lethem uses to analyze the movie (the left and right, good and bad, dark and light, or morally productive and immoral) are not adequate to thoroughly understand and comment on what the movie “does.” I have also been reading Derrida, specifically excerpts from his book “Of Grammatology,” which exhorts me to question Lethem’s black versus white, conservative versus liberal reading of the movie, especially concerning deriving coherent meaning from the movie.

Wishing to dispel a binary reading of the movie, and using literary critic/cultural theorist/metalinguist/anthropologist Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of carnival, I will provide a useful analysis that contrasts and refutes a few points that Lethem , the novelist and NY times author, makes, specifically in regard to the intrinsic and varying dialogical relationships between the two powerful characters: Batman and the Joker. These two characters, the Joker representing, the centrifugal, outward moving, chaotic forces of society, and Batman, representing the centripetal, logocentric order hoping to keep Gotham society in check and under control, must be examined as two mere contingencies, voices, within a closed system. The two characters exist to exemplify the range of pathos, desires, chaos, and desired order existing in a society, and their carnivalistic exchanges serve to show the audience the possibilities for chaos and disorder, the possibility for true social change, regardless whether its for the better or worse, and also the effects of stolid thinking.

In his article, Lethem initially focuses on the correlatives that the movie makes to contemporary culture, talking about fearing the unknown, the other. I think these are fine points to make as they are quite valid. I can easily agree with Lethem’s argument that Batman’s plight is that of the conservative upholder of values of what he considers to be “right.” I can even agree with the author’s reading of the dark knight’s calling card correlating with the former president (the “W” shaped spotlight the chief traces across the sky when Batman is needed); although I don’t understand how useful this metaphor might be to understand the movie. However, Lethem notes that the movie may be making a pat statement on the contrivances of society when he says “Perhaps I’m too prone to bear down on ‘The Dark Knight’ as the tea leaves in the dregs of a political season’s cup,” but then goes on to state that the movie’s final statement was its incoherence. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. I can agree that incoherence begins to seep into the movie as the movie builds towards its climax in the form of building un-reason, but what does this mean?

Noting the movies supposed incoherence and “tide of contradictions” (emphasis mine), Lethem loses the movie’s underlying comments on society’s perennial method of creating clear-cut binaries such as good/bad, right/wrong, win/lose, and so on, for the purpose of making meaning of something that is confusing or contradictory. Derrida explained this faulty method of thinking decades ago. In the end, Lethem states that Batman does not represent us as a society, but that the Joker does. This supposedly clever bifurcation does not work for me; Lethem’s assessment loses the important contingencies that attach the Joker and Batman to each other. Lethem states that the Joker does not expose his “real” face, yet he may be forgetting that the joker wears face paint which does indeed reveal his “face,” but only changes its color and causes him to look like a freak, both to the general populist and to criminals. In a number of scenes the Joker’s face paint becomes smudged and in the Hospital explosion scene he doesn’t wear any at all. In all these cases the Joker is easily recognizable, but it’s his behavior that he uses obfuscate.

More importantly, the Joker does not reveal his history. Lethem’s explanation of the Joker as as a man behind the mask does not allow for an interplay between these two supposedly allegorical characters. And interplay, especially contingency, is something that the Joker realizes to be the reality of his and Batman’s dialogical relationship. When someone like the Joker can operate effectively in a world in which he can orchestrate indiscriminate death and destruction, while also causing the most upright and code-driven citizen–Batman–to have to choose between saving two lives, those of Rachel and Harvey–thus subverting Batman’s perceived upright role in society–then we see prime examples of the subversionary ritual that Bakhtin terms carnival. The Joker obviously represents the low, grotesque, revolutionary aspect of carnival’s riotous uprising. He says while Batman interrogates him, “The only sensible way to live in this world is to live without rules.” Here, without rules, the Joker is the outward moving, centrifugal, entropic force that wishes to overturn everything that Batman holds dear to show that the threads holding it all together are much weaker than what Batman thinks.

However, the film is not a bildingsroman meant to uplift the audience to greater social awareness as Lethem expects it to be; achieving greater social awareness would be an incidental and subjective by-product. Instead, and this is where Lethem really misses the point, the movie serves as a showcase for the frailties and contingencies of systems of social behavior and supposed “rightness” that cause a specific yet purportedly permeable zeitgeist within a given society. Showing society to truly be a construct, as the Joker desires, becomes the bond connecting the two characters to each other, to drive the plot, but more. They pose as two pieces to the same contingent puzzle, and it is this interplay where we can get the most from the film.

The Joker operates within Gotham’s society as an a-histrionic castoff, a degenerate, an idealistic saboteur who does not fit with the populous’ socio-cultural logic. Batman, if one has watched the previous installment “Batman Returns,” has a fairly clear back story. And if “The Dark Knight” is the viewers first experience with Batman, he or she still has a clear understanding of Bruce Wayne/Batman’s socio-economic position in Gotham society. Batman sees his duty as the protector of people and values alike. In contrast though, the Joker’s history is not quite as clear, and the Joker himself obfuscates it by telling different stories to different people about how he received his scars.

However, despite existing outside Gotham’s stratified society, the Joker understands its cultural workings and uses this understanding to subvert it. The Joker momentarily resides within accepted roles of both power and respectability, and sheds each of these roles almost as quickly as he defines himself in each. When he sheds his makeup he becomes a nurse in the trade off, a societal role signify healing, nurturing, safety, science, all positive things. The Joker fills his role as nurse though, to facilitate and midwife Harvey Dent’s decent into madness, and the Joker uses the prospect of revenge to achieve this. Likewise, the Joker wears suits that intimate at respectability, business, capitalistic commerce, but he cares nothing for money. He views it as a piece of leverage with which to enact his pursuits in chaos. At times he is a respected criminal at the apex of his abilities, and at others he denounced as an illogical and dangerous freak.

The Joker desires for pure chaos to rise and take over Gotham. He gets at this goal by calling into question Gotham’s inherent values. The Joker assumes that people naturally wish to save themselves rather than look out for the greater good of society, that “good” that Batman wishes to uphold. We can see this in the Joker’s burning the huge mountain of money, as he says, “my half” to the mystified mobsters. The Joker may not have reached his goal of complete anarchy, but he does realize some change in his primary object: Batman. As the Joker hangs upside down in the final scenes he says, “…madness is like gravity. All it takes is a little push.” This statement implicates Batman’s (and any one else beholden to gravity) natural potential for “madness” as we witness varying shades of it throughout the movie, including Batman’s desire to be framed for Harvey’s murder. The Joker does not care if he wins or loses, whether he makes some impact or none. He does what he does simply to make noise, to create disruption, yet his illogical, carnivalistic method meets greater gains than the Joker expects.

Batman finds himself, the avenger of justice, the moral driven self-imposed outcast of the world of Gotham, which contrasts the Joker only in goals; Batman wants to keep everything together to create a safe, fair and just world at the cost of his own place in the system. Likewise, the Joker seems to be a self-imposed outcast of Gotham, and does not care an iota whether he has a clear place in the system or not. He just wants to maintain order and we can see this desire in the movie’s final scenes. After subduing Two-face, and almost getting himself killed in the process the cops show up, and as they do, Batman and Gordon must make a quick decision: how to explain Dent/Two-Face’s death. The only solution to maintain Dent’s legacy, and consequently social order, is to blame his death on Batman. Batman loses his sense of justice and denigrates his image as he says, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I can do those things because I am not a hero, like Dent. I killed those people. That’s what I can be.” Batman willingly puts on another mask, the mask of the villain, and subverts himself once more for what he thinks is the greater good, to maintain social order, to allow the populace to believe in a hero who stands for the just and the good. Batman lies and becomes a murderer, embodying the one role he never wished to embody. Gordon realizes a truth that Batman does not–that what Gotham needs is not necessarily the hero Dent, but the anti-hero Batman. He says of Batman, “Not the hero we deserved, the hero we needed,” implying that Gotham society intrinsically looks on deviousness or destructive behavior as effective. The Joker, when one examines this scene, would feel some modicum of success, as he has succeeded in toppling Batman from his rationalist and ordered position in society.

Getting back to Lethem’s appraisal of the movie, though, I must contemplate, as he puts it, “right” and wrong to understand the “tea leaves” the movie provides at the bottom of the viewer’s cup. That the movie is arguably incomprehensible at the end has an effect on making meaning. That the movie creates questions that go unanswered have an effect on making meaning. That Batman becomes the culpable “Dark Knight” by movie’s end has an effect on making meaning. However, the movie is not a math equation and easily remains unfinalizeable as the credit roll. The writers throw two characters into a situation that cause the viewer to question what’s right and wrong that possibly incite them to look at the structures that dictate such mutable and impermanent things. To read the movie as an austere display of social allegory misses the depth of thought that the movie offers. After all, as the Joker aptly queries, “Why so serious?”

Also posted in Bakhtin, Carnival, Commentary, Critical Theory, Essay, Fear, Film Review, Literature

Jean Baudrillard on Violence and the Image

Here’s a ten minute clip of Baudrillard talking about the violence of the image, the violence to the image, aggression, oppression, transgression, regression, effects and causes of violence. Interesting stuff.

It might just be me, but I find him a little hard to understand. Here’s a transcript of what Baudrillard’s saying taken from his website.
Question : do some images, some exceptional images escape from this double violence – that of the image and that done to the image ? Is it any chance to escape from the hegemonic overflow of the visual surrounding as to recover the original power of the image – the vital power of illusion ?
At first we will point at three forms of violence. The primary form is that of aggression,of oppression, of rape and spoiling : the unilateral violence of the most powerful. Another form is that of historical, of critical violence, the violence of the negative
and the transgression,of revolt and revolution (included maybe the violence of analysis and interpretation). Both are determined forms of violence – effects that are related to specific causes and to whatever form of transesendenese, be it that of power, of history or of meaning.
These are, I would say, the violence of the first type and of the second type. But now we have to deal with a violence of the third type, a very different one. More radical and subtle : the violence of deterrence, of consensus and esontrol, of hyperregulation and deregulation altogether – the violence of the virtual, a metaviolence in some way. Violence of forced consensus and interaction, which are like the plastic surgery of the social. Therapeutic, genetic, communica-tional and informational violence, but, first of all, NEW the violence of transparency, which tend to eradicate, by the way of prophylaxis, of physical and mental regu-lation, the very roots of evil, of negativity and singularity (including the ultimate form of singularity, which is death itself). Violence of a general extradition of conflict, of death. Violence which paradoxically puts an end to the violence itself, and which therefore cannot be balanced except with radical dene-gation, with pure abreaction to the whole state of things – a pure violence without object anymore, without determination.
This is the typical violence of information, of media, of images, of the spectacular. Connected to a total visibility, a total elimination of secrecy. Be it of a psychological or mental, or of a neurological, biolo-gical or genetic order – soon we shall discover the gene of revolt, the center of violence in the brain, perhaps even the gene of resistance against genetic manipulation – biological brainwashing, brainstorming, brainlifting, with nothing left but recycled, whitewashed lobotomized people as in Clockwork Orange. At this point we should not speak of violence anymore, but rather of virulence. Inasmuch that it does not work frontally, mechanically, but by contiguity, by contamination, along chain reactions, breaking our secret immunities. And operating not just by a negative effect like the classical violence, but on the contrary by an excess of the positive, just as a cancerous cell proliferates by metastasis, by restless reproduction and an excess of vitality.
That is the point in the controversy about the violence on the screens and the impact of images on people’s mind. The fact is that the medium itself has a neutralizing power, counterbalancing the direct effect of the violence on the imagination. I would say : the violence of the third type annihilates the violence of the first and second type – but at the price of a more virulent intrusion in the deep cells of our mental world. The same as for anti-biotics : they eradicate the agents of disease by reducing the general level of vitality.
When the medium becomes the message (MACLUHAN), then violence as a medium becomes its own message, a messenger of itself. So the violence of the message cannot be compared with the violence of the medium as such, with the violence-emanating from the confusion between medium and message. It is the same with viruses the virus also is information, but of a very special kind – it is medium, and message, agent and action at the same time. That the very origine of its “virulence”, of its uncontrollable proliferation. In fact, in all actual biological, social or mental processes,virulence has substituated violence. The traditional violence of alienation, power and oppression has been superated by something more violent than violence itself : the virality, the virulence. And while it was an historical or individual subject of violence, there is no subject, no personal agent of virulence (of contamination, of chain reaction), and then no possibility to confront it efficiently. The classical violence was still haunted by the specter of the Evil, it was still visible. Virulence only transappears, it is of the order of transparency and its logic is that of the transparency of the Evil.
The image (and more generally the s re of information) is violent because what happens there is the murder of the Real, the vanishing point of Reality. Everything must be seen, must be visible, and the image is the site par excellence of this visibility. But at the same time it is the site of its disappearance. And that something in it has disappeared, has returned to nowhere, makes the very fascination of the image.
Particularly in the case of all professional of press-images which testify of the real events. In making reality, even the most violent, emerge to the visible, it makes the real substance disappear. It is like the Myth of Eurydice : when Orpheus turns around to look at her, she vanishes and returns to hell. That is why, the more exponential the marketing of images is growing the more fantastically grows the indifference towards the real world. Finally, the real world becomes a useless function, a collection of phantom shapes and ghost events. We are not far from the silhouettes on the walls of the cave of Plato.
A wonderful model of this forced visibility is Big Brother and all similar programs, reality shows, docusoaps etc. Just there; where everything is given to be seen there is nothing left to be seen. It is the mirror of platitude, of banality, of the zero degree of everyday life. There is the place of a fake sociality, a virtual sociality where the Other is desperately out of reach – this very fact illuminating perhaps the fundamental truth that the human being is not a social being. Move over in all these scenarii the televisual public is mobilized as spectator and judged as become itself Big Brother. The power of control and transvisuality has shifted to the silent majorities themselves.
We are far beyond the panoptikon, where there was still a source of power and visibility it was so to say a panexoptikon – things were made visible to an external eye, whereas here they are made transparent to themselves – a panendoptikon – thus erasing the traces of control and making the operator himself transparent. The power of control is internalized, and people are no more Lt victims of the image : they transform themselves into images – they only exist as screens, ;or in a superficial dimension.
All that is visualized there, in the operation Big Brother, is pure virtual reality, a synthetic image of the banality, producted : as in a computer. The equivalent of a ready-made – a given transcrition of everyday life – which is itself already recycled by all current patterns.
Is there any sexual voyeurism ? Not at all. Almost no sexual scenery. But people dont want that, what they secretly want to see is the spectacle of the banality,which is from now our real pornography, own true obscenity – that of the nullity,of insignificance and platitude (i.e. the extreme reverse of the “There of the Cruelty”). But maybe in that scene lies a certain form of cruelty, at least of a virtual one. At the time when media and television are more and more unable to give an image of the events of the world, then they discover the everyday life, the existential banality as the most criminal event, as the most violent (in)actua-lity, as the very place of the Perfect Crime. And that it is, really. And people are fascinated, terrified and fascinated by this indifference of the Nothing-to-see, of the Nothing-to-say, by the indifference of their own life, as of the zero degree of living. The banality and the consumption of banality have now become an olympic discipline of our time – the last form of the experiences of the limits.
In fact, this deals with the naive impulsion to be nothing, and to comfort oneself in this nothingness – sanctioned by the right to be nothing and to be considered and respected as such. Something like a struggle for Nothing and for Virtual death – the perfect opposite to the basic anthropological postulat of the struggle for life. At least it seems that we are all about to change our basic humanistic goals.
There are two ways of disappearing, of being nothing, (in the Integral Reality, everything must logically want to disappear – automatic abreaction to the overdose of reality). Either to be hidden,and to insist on the right not-to-be-seen (the actual defense of private life).Or one shifts to a delirious exhibitionism of his own platitude and insignificance – ultimate protection against the servitude of being,and of being himself. Hence the absolute obligation to be seen,to make oneself visible at any price. Everyone deals on both levels at the same time. Then we are in the double bind – not to be seen,and to be continously visible. No ethics,no legislation can solve this dilemma,and the whole current polemic about the right to information,all this polemic is useless. Maximal information, maximal visibility are now part of the human rights (and of human duties all the same) and the destiny of the image is trapped between the unconditional right to see and that, unconditional as well, not to be seen.
This means that people are deciferable at every moment. Overexposed to the light of information, and addicted to their own image. Driven to express themselves at any time – self-expression as the ultimate form of confession, as Faucauld said. To become an image, one has to give a visual object of his whole everyday life, of his possibilities, of his feelings and desires. He-has to keep no secrets and to interact permanently. Just here is the deepest violence, a violence done to the deepest core, to the hard core of the individual. And at the same-time to the language, because it also loses its symbolic originality – being nothing more than the operator of visibility.. It loses its ironic dimersion, its conceptual distance, its autonomous dimension – where language is more important than what it signifies. The image too is more important than what it sneaks of. That we forget usually, again and again and that is a source of the violence done to the image.
Today everything takes the look of the image – then all pretend that the real has disappeared under the pression and the profusion of images.. What is totally neglected is that the image also disappears under the blow and the impact of reality. The image is usually spoiled of its own existence as image, deyoted to a shameful complicity with the real. The violence exercised by the image is largely balanced by the violence done to the image – its exploitation as a pure vector of documen-tation, of testimony, of message (including the message of misery and violence), its allegeance to morale, to pedagogy, to politics, to publicity. Then the magic of the image, both as fatal and as vital illusion, is fading away. The Byzantine Iconoclasts wanted to destroy images in order to abolish meaning and the representation of God. Today we are still iconoclasts, but in an opposite way : we kill the images by an overdose of meaning.
Borgès’fable on ” The People of the Mirror :he gives the hypothesis that behind each figure of resemblance and representation there is a vanquished enemy, a defeated singularity, a dead object. And the Iconoclasts clearly understood how icons were the best way of letting God disappear. (but perhaps God himself had chosen to disappear behind the images ? Nobody knows). Anyway,today is no more the matter of God : We disappear behind our images. No chance anymore that our images are stolen from us, that we must give up our secrets – because we no longer have any. That is at the same time the sign of our ultimate morality and of our total obscenity.
There is a deep misunderstanding of the process of meaning. Most images and photographs today reflect the misery and the violence of human condition. But all this affects us less and less, just because it is over signified. In order for the meaning, for the message to affect us, the image has to exist on its own, to impose its original language. In order for the real to be transferred to our imagination, or our imagination transferred to the real, it must be a counter-transference upon the image, and this countertransference has to be resoluted, worked through (in terms of psychoanalysis). Today we see misery and violence becoming a leitmotiv of publicity just by the way of images. Toscani for example is reintegrating sex and Aids, war and death into fashion. And why not ? Jubilating ad-images are no less obscene than the pessimistic ones) But at one condition to show the violence of publicity itself, the violence of fashion, the violence of the medium. What actually publishers are not able even to try to do. However, fashion and high society are themselves a kind of spectacle of death. The world’s misery is quite so visible, quite so transparent in the line and the face of any top-model as on the skeletal body of an african boy. The same cruelty is to be perceived everywhere, if one only knows how to look at it.
This realistic image, however, does not catch at all what really is, but what should not be – death and misery – what should not exist, from our moral and humanistic point of view. And at the same time making an aesthetic and commercial, perfectly immoral use and abuse of this misery. Images that actually testify, behind their pretended “objectivity”, of a deep denial of the real, and of an equal denial of the image – assigned to present what does not even want to be represented, assigned to the rape of the real by burglary.
Murder of the image, crushed by overinformation, oversignifcation,overreference. Murder of the secret of the image, drowned by hypervisibility, by unconditional transparency. In “Leaving Las Vegas”, we look at a very charming blond girl pissing and talking on and on, perfectly indifferent to what she is saying and doing. A perfectly useless scenery, but which ostensibly testifies that nothing will escape from the minion of the fiction and the reality, that all is assigned to a ready-to-see, ready-to-act, ready-to-enjoy. That is transparency to force all the real in the orbit of the visual (not even representation : pure visually). And this is obscene. Obscene is all what is unnecessarily visible,without desire and without effect. All what usurps the so rare and so precious space of appearances.
The last violence done to the image – the very final violence – is the technological one : electronic and comp terized, synthetic images issued from numerical combination, combined and reworked on the surface of the screen. It is the end of the imagination of the image itself. of its fundamental illusion, because in the syntheticoperation the referent no longer exists, and the real has not even time to take place as it is immediately produced as virtual reality. No direct capture of the picture anymore, no presence of a real object in an irrevocable moment and face-to-face, which constitutes the magic of photography and of the image generally as acting, as singular event – last glimmer of reality in a world devoted to hyperreality. Nothing left in the synthetic image of this “punctual” enactitude, of this “punctum” in time (to quote the expression of Roland Barthes) which is the caracteristic of the analogous image. While the photo testfile of an absence that something really took place, but according to Barthes now went away for ever ,today the photo, the genuine analogous photograph,would rather testify of a presence,of an immediate presence of the subject to the object- what does not happen anymore in the computerizing of images. Ultimate challenge to the synthetic order which is now overwhelming us. The relationof the image to its referent raised already a lot of problems,those of representation. But when the referent is out of the field,and there is actually no representation anymore,when the real object has disappearedinto the technical programming of the image,when the imageas pure artefact does not reflect anyone or anything, and does not even go through the phase of the negative – can we still speak of an image ? Are in fact televisual, numerical and virtual images images at all ? Our real world of images will soon cease to enist,and our consumption of images itself will be virtual.
If the image – as Plato says – is the confluence of the light emanating from the object and of the light emanating from the eye, then we will soon neither have an object nor an eye, and thus no images anymore.
The same problem for thinking. In the field of artificial intelligence, the thought does not even have time to formulate itself. Maybe the computerization of the image is the perfect mode of the image. And just the same : the computerization of thought would be the achievement of thinking. But just because of this, it is at the same time their total denegation. In the very perfection lies the violence of synthetic images and artifical intelligence. A perfect enorcism of the real, as infant malady of virtuality – a perfect enorcism of thought, as infant malady of brainengineering – a perfect enorcism of the image as infant malady of the visuality.
Bad fate for the image (and for thinking, and for the real in general !),but at the same time the chance, for the genuine photographic image, of a pathetic success, as it happens now, of an artificial resurrection, as for an animal species about to disappear. Maybe it is, in this symbolic murder of the image, an ironical revenge for the murder of the real by the image. The whole dimension of techni-cal, economical and aesthetic values, fashion, market and speculation are drowning the image under their flood.
The specificity of the image is that it is in some way a parallel universe – another world, another scene, in two dimensions – not to confuse with our universe in three dimensions, our real universe, the world of representation. This dimension less makes its magic and its power of illusion. All what reintegrates the image in the third dimension is a potential violence done to the image. Not only the spatial dimension of relief and stereoscopy, but even that of movement, of time (in the movie), or that of meaning and message – all that reintegrate the image in our world and destroys it as a parallel world.
Even worse is the absorption of the image in what we would call the Fourth Dimension – that of the Virtual and the cybernetics. We usually believe that every additional dimension is a plus, but on the contrary, every additional dimension annihilate the former ones in their singularity. The third one annihilates the two-dimensional world, that of the image. As for the Fourth, it annihilates all the others, included the threedimensional world of representation. It is a strange game. .-The new world (the Brave New World) of the virtual is a world of Integral Reality. And a world of integral reality has no place for a parallel universe, like that of the image. Then here is the final solution for image and imagination.
Something else very dangerous for the image as a paralle-universe is the fact that our whole actual universe itself is becoming image. We have to do with a general conversion of our real world in image, the most vulgar form of visibility – and then how is any parallel universe to be distinguished at all – how can the image save its singularity in a world entirely turned into image?
Now the question, the crucial question is :is there still a chance, a real chance for the image to escape this double violence, the one it exerts and the one it endures, in order to find the original power of the image again – the Evil Genius of the Image? Images that resist the violence of information and communi-cation, to recover, beyond all signification and aesthetic diversion, the pure event of the image?
Resist the noise, the perpetual rumour of the world, through the silence of the image. Resist movement, flow and acceleration through the stillness of the image. Resist the moral imperative of meaning through the silence of signification. Above all, resist this automatic overflow of images and their perpetual succession. Recover the “po-ignant” detail of the object, the “punctum”, but also the moment of acting, of taking the picture, immediately passed, and always nostalgic. Opposite to the flow of images produced in “real time”, indifferent to this other dimension of the becoming-image of the object : the time itself. The visual flux of actuality does not know anything but change, it does not know the concept of becoming, which is radically different from change : in this flux the image does not even have time to become image (as in the sphere of information thought has hardly the chance to becoming-thought).
In order for the image, and for the object, to emerge as such, it has to be put in suspense, in suspense of meaning, in suspense of the tumulluous operation of the world, it must be captured in the single fantastic moment which is the first encounter, the surprising moment, when things are not yet aware that we are here, when they have not yet been arranged by analytical order, when our absence is not yet fading away. But this instant is ephemeral : we should not be present to see it. That does in a sense the photographer, hidden behind his lens, himself vanishing, himself disappeared. For this is the price of making objects appear : the disappearance of the subject.
In this rule of disappearance and transparency as a secret rule of the image, this one has a close connection to theory. It is the silent consecration of all that which, having achieved itself in the discourse, must now metamorphose itself in something else. And the image is the most beautiful of the metamorphoses of the discourse.. It has basically nothing to do with it, but it is as if it had preceded it in an earlier life. Anyway, the theory itself, when it reaches its extrem limit, has no open face anymore – it becomes its own masque. It keeps the outlook of analysis, but it has secretly transfused to the other side, to the side the phenomena, of which there is nothing to say anymore. In this moment, the image appears with all its phenomenal power. The photographic image is born out of this phenomenal intuition of the world, following the analytical intuition – not as transcription, but as transmutat: of theory. That is,at least,my own eperience of the photographic image as a transtheoretical object. Not as an artistic or realistic activity,but as a becoming-image of the object,as becoming-image of the thought,as symbolic terminal for the analytic process,together with its resolution into an object existing for its own – neither real nor objective as soon as it becomes an image,the object raises no problems anymore,it is the immediate solution to whatis perfectly insoluble from the point of view of analysis Mutation, metamorphosis, anamorphosis maybe – poetictransference of the analytical situation : the “punctual” which is at the core of the image becomes the “contrapunctual” of the theory.
Also posted in Baudrillard, Critical Theory, Video

Alain Badiou on Love

Here’s a clip of Alain Badiou’s latest presentation for the European Graduate School on the topic of love. Kinda interesting if you can get past his accent and slow pace.

Also posted in Badiou, Critical Theory, Video