More things, June 14, 2011
I’m infatuated with the way Art and the Body interact, and the role of violence in that interaction. I think again that came from The Widow Party. I first wrote that play while recovering from a car crash. Everything was a little hazy, a little achy, a little jammed up. I watched a documentary about the 1960s (the widows are the black one and the white one from the assassinations of this era). And reading about our wars and so on. So the body was deeply involved with art and violence from the start: in my own body, hammered, watching acts done to other bodies. And then seeing this piece actually performed was so thrilling and unnerving; the way these violent motions and actions were brought into/onto the bodies of the actors, of the audience.
Here’s my question: didn’t Barthes prefigure all this back in 1968, when he explained that “it is really critical readers who decide and thus determine what a piece of writing means” (to borrow Wallace’s decoction)? Barthes wrote The Death of the Author not in an attempt to stop anybody from writing books, but in order to improve our understanding of the real workings of literature. My observations regarding the Expert have the same intentions.
Press X for Beer Bottle: On L.A. Noire by Tim Bissell (review essay)
(At an early point in the game, Phelps visits an old movie studio and sees a row of huge, gorgeous, discarded matte paintings lined up against a wall. It is as though L.A. Noire’s creators are saying, “You had a good run, movies. It’s over. Now stand aside.”) A work of literature, by contrast, builds its worlds more stingily, via an active collaboration with the reader. Open-world video games present us with what might be the most emphatically four-walled storytelling medium human beings have yet devised. In an open-world game, everything has to be modeled, named, and built — every gun shop and police station and park and landmark and apartment building and sidewalk and street and hydrant and garbage can and hill and shrub.
Mind Control & The Internet by Sue Halpern (journalism)
Early this April, when researchers at Washington University in St. Louis reported that a woman with a host of electrodes temporarily positioned over the speech center of her brain was able to move a computer cursor on a screen simply by thinking but not pronouncing certain sounds, it seemed like the Singularity—the long-standing science fiction dream of melding man and machine to create a better species—might have arrived.