Machine Ghost


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So, I might be a little slow on the draw on this post, but we watched Cloverfield yesterday afternoon and I can’t stop thinking about two things. One: that is was alright. Not great, not terrible. But just sorta “eh.” Two: I feel like I missed something because I was watching the movie through everyone’s phones/cameras. Now, that I find fascinating. Aside from the mediated view we already get – the film is shown solely through one man’s perspective – it is at the same time remediated in the sense that he’s also (coincidentally) filming others’ filming the events. Which then leads me to wonder, are there ever any events that are pure, or non-mediated anymore? I guess this is a question I should tackle with my dissertation, but I’m not there yet. The event is already reproduced as it is occurring. In terms of memory, Jose van Dijck states in Mediated Memories in the Digital Age, “memory-keeping is a function increasingly assigned to the electronic media, while a new awareness of the artifice of representation casts a cloud of suspicion over the documentation of the past” (16). What the characters in Cloverfield were concerned with was not their own memories of that event (they surely didn’t believe they were going to survive), but that they had an ethical responsibility to remember for the future by documenting the event.

Zizek explores this ethical dilemma, too, in Plague of Fantasies.

The traumatic Real is thus that which, precisely, prevents us from assuming a neutral-objective view of reality, a stain which blurs our clear perception of it. And this example also brings home the ethical dimension of fidelity to the Real qua impossible: the point is not simply to ‘tell the entire truth about it,’ but, above all, to confront the way we ourselves, by means of our subjective position of enunciation, are always-already involved, engaged in it…For that reason, a trauma is always redoubled in to the traumatic event ‘in itself,’ and into the trauma (a concentration camp, a torture chamber…), what keeps one alive is the notion of bearing witness- ‘I must survive in order to tell others (the Other) what really went on here….The second trauma takes place when this recognition of the first trauma through tis symbolic integration necessarily fails (its pain can never be fully shared by the other): it then appears to the victim that he or she has survived in vain, that their survival was meaningless (215-216)

By keeping the camera “alive” (which, seriously, would the battery last that long?) was purely a survival mechanism. Hud even said as he was crossing the bridge that he “wanted others to see what went on here”–that he was already thinking of the use of his footage in vain; regardless if he survived, his film would. This last point speaks to the point that humans are outsourcing ourselves to our technical, extended memories. “We” – our physical survival – doesn’t matter. Only the digitized memory, or footprint, “counts.”


Written by kimlacey

April 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm

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