Reflections on philosophy and culture

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Future

Finally saw Miranda July's latest film The Future last night in Montgomery. Some lampshade-hanging (a girl buried neck-deep in the earth) flags the echoes of Beckett in this story, which resonate in both its dialogue (like Vladimir and Estragon, the two main characters have a strangely and amusingly tenuous grip on the ordinary world) and its theme (the human significance of the passage of time). But Miranda July's distinctive voice - the same voice she has, no matter whether the medium is film, performance art, sound art, or fiction - shines through. I think this is going to be one of the rare films I buy on DVD and watch many times over again...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lost in the Library of Babel

To anyone familiar with his fiction, it should be no surprise that Borges's short story "The Library of Babel" provides, in the titular Library, a prophetically ideal image for contemporary mass culture.  The Library contains every possible book - every combinatorially possible string of letters, spaces, commas and periods, including:

"the detailed history of the future, the autobiographies of the archangels, the faithful catalog of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogs, the proof of the falsity of those false catalogs, a proof of the falsity of the true catalog, the gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary upon that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book into every language, the interpolations of every book into all books, the treatise Bede could have written (but did not) on the mythology of the Saxon people, the lost books of Tacitus."

-Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, p. 61.

The analogue I have in mind for the Library is, of course, the internet.  It is, in the contemporary imagination, the Omniscient Archive of all human symbolic production.