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[Xmca-l] Re: Rationalism and Imagination

Hi Ed (and others),

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

First I'd like to say that what I wrote I wrote without a totally clear picture in mind, or at least a picture that I articulated effectively. If you can imagine that!

When I wrote of your TV experience, I wrote about it in reference to the radio experience, in juxtaposition with that experience. I think point of view (POV) is something that functions so elusively, that we aren't aways aware of this being constructed.

Making art, whether writing a poem, painting a painting, making a sculpture, playing music, etc. there is a constructed reader/viewer/listener/experiencer being made by the artist through the piece, and conveyed through the medium. The artist might be doing this consciously or unconsciously, but they do it. Consider looking at Guernica without a POV. 

What is happening with more modern technology is a kind of telling of stories that dictate experiences as such. So if one has different experiences that do not compare to the story, one must surrender to the story or one is alienated, just by the pervasiveness of the medium and the message therein. Consider what it must be like for LGBT to experience a flood of stories and songs about heterosexual romance. If you can, then you have taken, temporarily, a POV, even if it's in your imagination. If you can't place yourself, then consider what a friend told me, that it's like hearing bad Christmas music all the time, wherever you go. This ability to take a POV creates human empathy and sensitivity because affect populates this POV. The affect is the answer to "What is that like?"

In old-time radio, there was more apparent freedom available to the listener, as you said the imagination has more leeway to construct images about what the listener experiences. Even in theater there is this experience because the world is represented on the stage, and sets do not simulate the world as the world actually is, so for the theatergoer, the imagination and the flexibility of POV is still possible. One can focus on one character or another. 

In television and film this seems to be less flexible. I'm not saying that it is not possible to have imaginative experiences in film or television, just that POVs are more deliberately constructed in comparison to the storytelling wizard sharing time with a group around a fire and telling stories of old, or in your case, your radio program.

When I watched Star Trek TV episodes, I myself had a "reverse" experience from yours. After, I read (somewhat campy) stories published in a book series and I couldn't get William Shatner's and Leonard Nimoy's personages and voices out of my head, or any of the other characters that might pop up. It was an uncomfortable experience, and I could never really get into the stories. I don't even remember what they were, I just remember this experience, I was probably 13 at the time. But I think it's because the associations are so strongly mapped, there's no space for an imagination to happen (Until we all become post-modern I suppose). 

My assertion is that POV is the only way we can experience a story, and it's our way into the story: we can feel affect for the characters or situations, that's how they grab us and engage us, they make us care about something. I am the one listening and thus positioning myself to the story, that is one freedom I still possess. I can even say, "I don't buy that story," or "I have a better one," and so on. I don't think taking a POV is all that conscious unless one is actually focusing upon this idea. ANd even in that case, one might ruin the experience of a film by deconstructing what the director did, or how the editor edited, or the screenwriter wrote lines, etc. Which I suppose is still taking a POV, but more as a distant observer than getting involved in the actual story. I might offer that the less aware we are of the POV that we take, the more likely we are to feel an affect more deeply. It might be why we call art art. 

I don't think I am saying your stories are or are not an instance of Mike's point. If I am (or am not), it's not planned. I was only responding to your experience of what happened and am offering a possible explanation. You can certainly disagree with me. I don't think storytelling is a delirium at all. I think we live and die by the stories we hear and share and experience through hearing and telling.

Would you say more about what you mean when you asked, "Are you saying imagination cannot be drained of effect since 'affect has to arrive first to ignite the process'?" What does it mean to say imagination is drained of effect? Do you mean is imagination killed if affect is missing?

Though I still would like to hear your reply, I'm going to say that I hope we agree that imagination is an expression of freedom. 

If there is conscious and deliberate attempts to invoke a specific "picture-making" through cultural meaning for a specifically contained response (I can't call that an imagination because there is propaganda, manipulation or deception involved), this approach, in my opinion, is not far from brainwashing, or some means for justification for group identities, what have you. The end result are adults with limited ability to be creative or imagine anything on their own. Such an imagination is a muscle with a very constrained reach and one can experience pain if asked to imagine something far beyond common experienced. This may be why conservatives or fundamentalists are so reactive if anyone strays from the flock or behaves spontaneously. In such society, one would likely be considered deluded. 

We had a marvelous presentation by researcher who visited us in the lab yesterday. She is studying the use of tablets (iPads) in preschools. One finding she made is that during interaction with the iPad (either alone or in a small cohort of others) children try to "break" the apps that they interact with, or they use it in ways that were not a part of the design. I see this as an attempt for kids to create their own POV and not settle for the POV as "dictated" or set out by the app designers. The broom is the pivot for the imagined horse only because the child is free to imagine it. That is my opinion of what is going on. Artists do this all the time, it's part of problem-finding and discovery as an art-making process.

Then I went to a different level, in considering tech with a particular generational cohort. This is what I was trying to say about new generations (as kids) coming to new tech who will have the experience where affect "begins again." It's not like that for their parents using the same new tech, who developed as children with different tech. For the parents there is an overlap of the old tech and accompanying behaviors assigned to the new one, so the approach possesses a kind of baggage, like learning a new language. Of course these are huge generalizations that can be easily picked apart. I'm just trying to describe an idea I have about it. 

In my imagination, in response to your comment about drained affect in the face of a rationalized move, it feels like you are describing a killjoy. 

Kind regards,