|more notes on the imagination
||[Mar. 13th, 2014|11:39 am]
More Mildly Entertaining (Or Not) Notes On the Human Imagination|
Re-reading various theoreticians who quarrel fatally with one another, I wish more than ever that we had a more comprehensive model of how the cultures into which we are born shape our psychological preferences. A concurrent perusal of my Facebook news feed, Wes Anderson’s new movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, my cousin Mary Stricker’s blog about fantasy Grimmella , and Patrick Leigh Fermor’s reconstruction of his youthful self’s peregrinations round the Black Sea in The Broken Road reveals parallel narrative and emotional structures that are modified by the time frame and gender-and-class conditions in which the parallel structures are being constructed by the human imagination. In other words, very different kinds of folks fall again and again for the same sorts of things, only different. And it matters very much whether we look more at the sameness or the difference, when we ought to be looking at both together, and looking both at what people love and what they hate.
We have a huge amount of academic fustian and intellectual obscuration taking place in unreadable journals, all discussing phenomena of the human condition that the academicians are examining in too small a sample, in too limited a geographical and historical circumstance, looking at too few variables.
Likewise, people in general like what they like, and know a great deal about the stuff they like, and do not think very much about why they like what they like, and why, under different circumstances, they happen to like something else.
I could try to struggle on for a few thousand more words on this topic, but you would stop reading after about one more paragraph, anyway.
This re-realization (it’s another one of those topics I rediscover about twice a week with the same sense of surprise each time) makes me feel like finally taking the time to work all the way through D. Fox Harrell’s Phantasmal Media, a new book to which I refer with monotonous regularity, simply because Harrell is trying to synthesize a good many theoretical approaches. It is possible to extract a number of different lessons from Harrell’s narrative even though his primary interest is how to make relationships of power and ethnic identity visible through digital media—or how to create politically and socially efficacious video games. Since he focuses on “how to understand and create evocative story worlds, poetic metaphors, critical conceptual blends, haunting visions, and empowering cultural experiences using the computer,” we can extrapolate beyond the “using the computer” part and look more broadly at that piquant juxtaposition of “haunting visions,” “empowering cultural experiences,” and so forth. Most of the people writing about one or two of those topics wouldn’t know the other topics if they performed the usual American-slang cliché on their posterior regions. (For my non-U.S. readership, that’s “if they came up and bit ‘em in the ass.”)