Friday, February 23, 2007

Links For Thought

In light of all the Oscar blather that's permeated the mainstream media and many sects of the film blogosphere, it's refreshing to read film blogs at their finest, discussing important, relevant issues and concepts in and about the medium. As a responsible blogger, I therefore find it appropriate to make mention of such instances of great writing and thinking.

Johanna Custer over at The Lone Revue, a wonderful blog with a more intellectual-based approach to cinema, recently posted an insightful, provocative entry about the nature of interpreting moving images and the relationship the viewer holds with the screen which contains those images. The post is entitled Audience, Meet Screen; Screen, Meet Audience..., and I encourage everyone to check it out. Apparently, it's the first of a couple of entries she will be making on these issues. As someone studying media and culture, I find her post fascinating and deeply knowing about how cinema works upon its viewers. I will have much more to add to the discussion in future posts of my own. Right now, I'd merely like to highlight this one and encourage discussion of it. Here is a brief passage:

"It's practically impossible for me to define myself outside of my own culture without studying every last moment in my life-most of which can not be recaptured-and yet, I am captive to all of those images and words. Perhaps you can relate. Born without immunity to all of the forces that shape us, we are the products of every interaction that we have ever had. It's a little bit freaky and exciting if you think about it from a backwards gazing perspective on your own character and what has brought you to this precise moment in time. Or, as a girlfriend of mine put it after she had her first child: "I can't believe how much influence I have over this person's life. It's really scary." In a way, it seems that in order to gain any immunity to the poison, we must drink up. The hair of the dog as it were, day by day.

We have all of these images impacting us in ways that we don't understand and won't necessarily ever understand, and we don't even have to go out of our way to consume them. Between ambient sound and light, it's nearly impossible to get away from media."

On the topic of links and cinema as a form of rhetoric, one must note that criticism is inevitably always tied to it. Which brings me to another excellent post about "good" and "bad" criticism at No More Marriages!. Always one to question simple summations and categorizations to which many of us inevitably cling, Andy cites some fascinating work in bringing up a larger discussion about film criticism as it is fixated within specific media, be it print or online. I've taken a few stabs myself at tackling some troubling and important aspects of criticism, but this takes an altogether different stance, one grounded in the medium in which criticism is manfiested. I hope to incorporate some of this material in something I'm writing now about blogging, so I'll withhold the long discussion... for now.


johanna said...

Thanks for the link, Ted. My thoughts have been heavily influenced lately by Theodor Adorno, but also by Neil Postman before that...ever the skeptic he was on a society in which power is held by those who are literate, but funneled to those whose literacy vanishes in the mists of ambient visual imagery and sound bytes. Fascinating stuff to anyone concerned with why it is we place so much emphasis upon this medium.

Ted Pigeon said...

I have been reading similar material myself. Walter Ong and Marshall McLuhan speak very much to the idea of all media being extensions of other media, and ultimately ourselves, since language itself (manifested in orality, literacy, print, what have you) constitutes our relationship to "the world." The idea of power relations as it relates to this is fascinating, especially how Focoult works into this. Great post though, I look forward to rest of your thoughts.

johanna said...

Thanks...I'll be working my thoughts into at least one more essay, but after that I'll be writing a couple of feature articles on local filmmaking that will at least be informed by this groundwork...that last you mention is someone I need to read more of; our summary of him in rhetorical theory didn't even scratch the iceberg.