"Uninterested in disciplined minimalism, a group of defining interior designers is championing England’s long-held preference for color, wit and wackiness."
(photo: Ricardo Labougle, courtesy of Rifat Ozbek)
"One of the interesting aspects of this story is that it’s an example of technological saturation having the opposite effect on culture as what was promised last century. More and better technology, particularly the social networking kinds of tech that so intimately penetrate our daily lives, were supposed to, at a minimum, make us feel less lonely and give us more and better leisure time. The results have been the opposite. We’ve never been lonelier. And never before have the most intimate parts of our lives been so thoroughly measured, recorded, and curated for profit.
As Columbia professor Jonathan Crary writes in his book 24/7, the most cutting-edge global corporations depend in large part on how many “eyeballs” they can “engage and control.” We’re now living in what he calls an “attention economy” in which corporations vie for the most efficient modes of quantification, prediction, and control of our moment-to-moment whims. This process is constant and unrelenting. “Of course, there are breaks,” Crary writes, “but they are not intervals in which any kind of counter-projects or streams of thought can be nurtured and sustained. As the opportunity for electronic transactions of all kinds becomes omnipresent, there is no vestige what used to be everyday life beyond the reach of corporate intrusion. An attention economy dissolves the separation between the personal and the professional, between entertainment and information, all overridden by a compulsory functionality of communication that is inherently and inescapably 24/7.”
"This is a widely acknowledged feature of consonantal writing (and one that is commonly observed among readers of Arabic even today), but its irreducible property as a stumbling block goes unremarked. One obvious result is clearly illustrated by the evidence of the past. As Jack Goody and Ian Watt observed in a seminal article that appeared in 1963, it’s clear from what survives that early writing was used almost exclusively as an aid to memory, such as in tax records or storage manifests, or to write down familiar stories and sayings.6The Law Code of Hammurabi, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Hebrew Bible—one way or another, early writing recorded stuff that was already out there in the oral culture. In other words, a memory device.
Vowels reversed the old way of reading. The significance of this reversal—a true revolution in reading—has also gone unnoticed, yet it had the most profound consequences for communication. Now you could read written language first, automatically, even if you had no idea what it meant. Then you could go on to figure out the meaning. You could even re-read the language of a difficult and unfamiliar passage over again, as many times as needed, until you understood the meaning, which was not possible before without guesswork. In bread terms, that tiny pinch of yeast yielded a more palatable balance of crunch and chew.
Like earlier writing systems, the alphabet could serve as a memory device, to be sure, and a very good one, but it also turned out to be something unprecedented: an innovation device. The alphabet revolution opened the door to the new. The true dividing line in human cultural evolution lies not between the spoken word and the written word, as is commonly assumed. It lies instead between memory and novelty—that is, between two very different devices: the architect’s and the stonecutter’s."
“Who said that time heals all wounds?” that disembodied voice in Sans Soleil questions. “It would be better to say that time heals everything—except wounds. With time, the hurt of separation loses its real limits. With time, the desired body will soon disappear, and if the desiring body has already ceased to exist for the other, then what remains is a wound…disembodied.”
The wounds stay—their scars are our memories. This is Marker’s predominant metaphor for memory: the cicatrix.
“Nothing tells memories from ordinary moments,” the voiceover in La Jetée warns us. “Only afterwards do they claim remembrance on account of their scars.” That film even describes itself as “the story of a man marked by an image.” (It’s a description that could, not coincidentally, also describe Sans Soleil.) Marker sees memory as the marks left upon us.
"For all our Utopian foreign policy, we have neither the wealth nor the domestic political unity of Utopia. We badly need a theoretical chastisement, after almost two decades of war, because the practical chastisement of elections (or the national trauma of Vietnam) has not taught us to be mindful of our own weaknesses. Instead, we presume invincibility, or at least invulnerability, and adventure across the globe. Even if we cannot see ourselves through our enemies’ eyes, for we concede them no worth or even serious acknowledgement of their existence—we must at least see ourselves through the eyes of friendly critics. Let’s learn from More and prepare for the possibility that progress toward Utopia is limited, for if the tragic world returns, where war ruins even prosperous and decent peoples, great prudence will be called for in the future."
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor