Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Camera Eye

A virus of the real at the heart of all things

The poetry of internal experience, yes, and the minutes, tastes, feelings, and desires of the personal, of the subjective, of that which can not (supposedly) be caught within the lenses of the all-seeing, all-judging eye of the majority...ironic, then (but this is the ironic age and every concoction needs a bitter lacing of it to be absorbed without complaint, irony being equivalent to all-encompassing profundity, or at least as much as can be understood), in that the camera's eye (the eye of the many, yet one they do not control) constantly seeks for something that it can not capture - why? A taste, once again, for the obscure, cursed with the thought that the camera can penetrate flesh and bone, descend to the depths of the molecular level where desires are born? Enter in at the eye of the beholder (and the one the beholder-herd watches) in order to swim through the chemistry of psychology, past influencing and determining present, and present guiding the future? A hope, however futile, that life will enact itself in front of the camera, and the watchers will feel a connection to something outside of themselves? We want to know, that is, we want to pierce and rend and tear at the souls of others, we want information, we want details and diagrams of motivations, histories, past actions, prognoses of possibilities, we want to love without being in contact with the beloved, we want to control. We want to press ourselves, through the medium of the camera, against the fabric of another's life and trace its every contour with our bodies...without, of course, actually touching them - without them knowing we are there (so we witness the "true" reality, that which is supposed to be hid, the "true" character - what transpires behind locked doors, within locked hearts...but is it "truth" in the abstract we are after?), secure in the knowledge that the camera interprets our desires and satisfies our voyeurism without allowing us the individual control that would occasion feelings of guilt. As we are only a part of the mass mechanism, a portion of the viewing audience, how can we be blamed for where the camera goes (even as it so sensitively determines and directs our desires, even as it takes us into areas and spaces we may not desire to enter - but we sit passively and watch)? The "diffusion of responsibility" comes into effect, and one person's individual details of guilt or blame when in a potential (imaginary, never existing) audience of millions, of billions, can not even be determined with the most Puritan of consciences. Guilt is divided and portioned out like loaves and fishes...your debt is too small to be noticed.

The need, then, to connect with other human beings...somehow, on some level, to feel the gravity and depth, the pain, of an authentic human relationship, one's relation to others...but now so afraid to do this, afraid of the pain, in reality, afraid of the guilt, the ties, the debts, the obligations...afraid to do it on a personal level, so one does it as a consumer, one devours souls as a child begs for dolls to play with...

Still, then, the taste of the jaded camera, stuffed to the gills and sick of its own existence after 50 years of ceaseless wandering through experiences (always viewed, never participated in - unless the "actors" are responding the camera's presence and all the meanings attached to it in this culture, the never-winking, unseen eye of the eternal audience), the jaded, cynical, world-weary, flaccid crowd that finds an ability to participate only in consumerism, only in passivity, in hiding in the darkness and looking on, breathlessly, eager for one further red drop of titillation, this camera turning to irony in its desire for new negativity, running down the veins of its potential audience (it always seeks to feel out the desires of its audience, but then it also seeks to control them or dictate them in advance, in order to control consumerism - a dead loop, a maze of dead ends?)...and within the poetry of internal, personal experience, in the lust of the mass for the "real" (which it can no longer feel) it tears through bodies and minds, ravenous for something it has not seen before...or something it hopes will be at the heart of what it rends, something that will confirm the essential humanity of its audience. Of course (this is inevitable), the poetry of personal experience becomes just another competitive arena, with its participants jumping and leaping for attention, their "personalities" wholesale (everything is for sale) amalgamations of "ideas", thoughts, feelings, reflections (reflections, in themselves signs of an identity and supposed personality - a potential titillation as the subject is entered and lived through for a millisecond, their life experiences being absorbed, felt, aligned, rejected), experiences (and how quickly we, behind the camera-eye, come to determine the path of these in advance), loves, losses, desires, paltry, pale satisfactions, etc. This is, of course, a competition for the poetry of the zeitgeist...not the poetry and authentic experience of the subject - as that is still too ephemeral and the group organism can not absorb it.

The goal is the illusion of subjectivity, the illusion of reality, the illusion of the "real", while feeding everyone on the gathered minutiae of cast-off experiences that can not truly be understood, that can not be felt at all, no matter how hard one tries...

How can I, even as a part of the group organism, the web of a million shared experiences, confront and absorb the rude, utterly alien experience of a new human being? And will I...when given this obstacle, bend all my efforts towards making the life of new human beings compatible with mine so that their innermost thoughts and desires can be assimilated and understood? Will I break them on the rack of reality, of the monotony of all possible experiences, so that their minds can be linked without effort to the group audience? But the poetry of the zeitgeist still remains the target...the effort to find an internal life in a subject that is the most typical, that can reach the highest percentage of the group audience, that the largest majority of viewers/feelers/consumers can channel their desires and "understandings" through...the mass man, the group soul, the utterly typical personality, the average, the cipher, the outlet of the camera-eye, the one who is the same as all the others...

U. Amtey
21 August 2004