Re: question on Emak Bakia (Man ray, 1926)

From: Ken Bawcom (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Feb 15 2009 - 16:59:23 PST

Quoting malgosia askanas <email suppressed>:

> There might very well be a "passive" aspect to the mental posture
> you describe, but I think that the active-passive distinction alone
> is simply neither fine enough nor informative enough to adequately
> account for these kinds of receptive strategies. And "receptive" is
> perhaps a crucial parameter - what you describe is a kind of
> "receptive passivity", assumed strategically _in order_ to be able
> to receive what one is confronted with. Does it have a kinship with
> what Castaneda calls "turning off the internal dialogue"? Or
> perhaps with the Zen state of "no-mind"? Do those two in fact have
> a kinship with one another? I don't know; but simply calling all
> those states "passive" does not gain one much insight...
> -m

Of course "passive" is insufficient to describe the "mental posture,"
but I believe it is a fair and important part of the description. I
did elaborate on that particular "passive" process a bit. With the
optic nerve and the brain actively processing all visual images,
obviously nothing is really completely passive.

I believe it does have a kinship with Castaneda's "turning off the
internal dialog." In my first post, I almost quoted my favorite quote
from my favorite TV Zen philosopher, Kwai Chang Caine, "When you cease
to seek to understand, you will know without understanding." This is
another way of saying 'turn off the ordinary conscious analytical
processes, just observe.' I would agree that this is what the
Dadaists, and most experimental film makers, who present an overload
of images are trying to accomplish - a sharpened, unfiltered
awareness, bypassing "the habits of cognition."

Ken B.

> At 4:24 AM -0500 2/15/09, Ken Bawcom wrote:
>> As I am not a psychologist, I can only speak for myself, but when I
>> see a film that presents images too quickly, or too many
>> simultaneously,* for my conscious mind to process with its normal
>> cognitive methods, I find that I cease the futile attempts at such
>> processing, and attempt to observe in such a way that I can take it
>> all in. As this is absent the normal active conscious processing, I
>> think it fair to call it passive, at least at the conscious level.
>> I feel that such images are entering into my subconscious, and have
>> supposed that was generally the film maker's intent, to bypass the
>> rational mind, and enter into more subjective territory, to have
>> them dealt with there. Not unlike subliminal messages.
>> * Robert Nelson's "Hauling Toto Big," and to a lesser extent, Peter
>> Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" are examples of films where the
>> images don't change all that fast, but are so numerous, and
>> layered, that normal conscious processing isn't always possible. At
>> least, not for me...
>> Ken B.
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