Michael Benson on 14 Mar 2001 19:10:21 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> brief note


For me this is a puzzling post. I'm not so up on deep-dish theory terms like
'terminal identity' and neo-alterioritizations like 'alterity' -- must've
missed that day at school -- but don't see Alphaville space as either inert
or, if I read you right, modern (i.e, at the modern end of your rhetorical
construct ending with Blade Runner as an example of po-mo). The texture of
the relatively unmodified 60's Paris that is Alphaville buzzes with
flickering signs and lights: it's the opposite of inert. In fact, it's so
animated that even the folding theater seats rise up and act as mass
execution tools. Godard's alchemical power is such that a standard-issue
recording studio isolation booth becomes the Alphaville uber-mind's
interrogation chamber, simply by virtue of his having some anonymous best
boy swivel and pivot the mikes from just outside the camera frame. Further,
I would say it's the first, or one of the first, example of post-modernism
in narrative film. (Compound constructions like "Figaro-Pravda" and "Natasha
Von Braun", executed secret agents called Dick Tracy, etc. Plus the film is
seemingly distilled from a kind of witch's brew of Orwell, Bond, film
noir, cartoons, Huxley, etc. Compare this to Truffaut's failed stab at
sci-fi -- Farenheit 451, which was indeed inert, and palpably behind the
incipient p.m. curve -- and the extent of Godard's proto-postmodernism
becomes clear.)

I would even say that Blade Runner, with its super-slick seamless production
values, is less a post- and more an end-product of modernity, despite being
made more than ten years later. It's Ridley Scott does Metropolis (Ok, not
exactly an original comparison; and don't get me wrong, I
love the film). I get you, provisionally, on the issue of identities, both
'familiar' and 'absorbed', but don't see that as any more inherently
postmodern than, say, the Fool in King Lear. Or Lear himself. Or, you know,
Pozzo, in Waiting for Godot, frenetically down-loaded and regurgitating a
kind of distilled 'meaningless' mediated blather.

Finally, as is made more clear in the so-called director's cut, Deckert's
identity as a human is undercut to the point where he could well be a
replicant himself -- more than enough confirmation that (what I take to be)
your point is right, that the dangerous 'humans' pursuing their only
marginally more dangerous creations are just as created in the hall of
fractured mirrors of our constructed universe. To quote the little
chess-playing Tyrell Corp. slave, "These are my friends -- I made them."
(Followed, in one of those rhetorical-plus-visual mirrorings salted
throughout the film, in short order by the female replicant calling the
Tyrellite drone "our best and only friend" -- another example being the
Alpha replicant responding to the Japanese eye-maker by saying "I wish you
could have seen what _I_ have seen, through your eyes.") But is this
postmodernism? Was HAL-9000 postmodern? (Speaking of "terminal identity.")

But probably I missed your drift entirely. Oh well -- back to picking up
in the park.

Michael Benson

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim@panix.com>
To: nettime-l@bbs.thing.net <nettime-l@bbs.thing.net>
Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 10:46 PM
Subject: <nettime> brief note

>brief note
>in alphaville, it is the inertness of contemporary space. in blade runner,
>the inertness ties to the interiority of the biological: replicants, like
>humans, die. it is this parallel trajectory which defines the issues of
>identity; if alphaville's paris is a displacement of the real, blade
>runner's replicants carry the virus of the real's grain. they are just as
>constituted, constructed, as the humans on the hunt - no more or less. i
>want to emphasize this granularity or substance as fundamental to culture
>and organism; origin and speciation in this regard are secondary.
>this is the movement from modern to postmodern: the displacement of alpha-
>ville tending towards the pervasive identities of blade runner's inhabita-

>tions. neither are productions of terminal identity - both are character-
>ized by alterities which are both familiar and absorbed as the same.
>#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
>#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
>#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
>#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
>#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net

Nettime-bold mailing list