Happy Endings and Afterimages

I’m still thinking about issues pertaining to the temporality of blogging and had the good fortune of coming across an interesting definition via Jill’s blog: In weezBlog, Elouise Oyzon writes,

Blogs are a first person narrative in real time.

Can’t wait to see how mine turns out. I do so hope it has a happy ending. Don’t we all?

I certainly like this definition and the way in which it plays with the two forms of immediacy (personal and temporal) associated with blogging. There’s an interesting wrinkle or two here, one that I keep trying to grasp. First, I’m struck by Elouise’s mention of the much desired “happy ending.” Much of the writing I do (I won’t speak for anyone else) anticipates certain conclusions (finishing an article or book, securing a happy relationship, getting a tenure-track job), some of which–of course–entail new beginnings. Then again, as Margaret Atwood reminds us, there’s really only one way of ending a story. But this sense of anticipation seems structurally crucial to my blogging, and may be relevant to others.

I’m also working through some of the contradictions raised by the attempt to capture “real time,” the temporal immeidacy of blogging, and the project of the archive. In Mary Ann Doane’s latest book, she comments on the tension in recent technologies of representation between the desire for immediacy and the wish to archive. Doane comments that

“The obsession with instantaneity and the instant … leads to the contradictory desire of archiving presence. For what is archivable loses its presence, becomes immediately the past” (82).

In this sense, I’d like to add to the notion of blogs as “first person narrations in real time” the concept of the after-image, where what appears to be instantaneous, present, might actually be marked (perhaps usefully) by delay.

There is certainly something imprecise about imposing a visual metaphor onto the textual medium of blogging, but in a strange way, I think it fits. Both film (in its original form) and blogging are characterized by similar desires–the desire to produce a stable representation of the present. Both are characterized by their sequential structure, although film’s sequentiality (24 frames per second) is much more structured than the blogger’s. And, of course, blogging is much more explicitly characterized by a subjective frame of reference than the motion picture camera, which advertised itself as an objective image of reality. Hmmm….I still have lots to think about here.

7 Comments »

  1. elouise Said,

    July 30, 2003 @ 4:07 pm

    After-image, and archive become physical memory. All moments past, are the context/the environment for the present. One need not have them forefront in the present moment (this particular frame or blog entry), though they do provide the context and inform the present if you have the key.

    Anyhoo- nice to visit these thoughts before midnight. Thanks.

  2. chuck Said,

    July 31, 2003 @ 11:52 am

    Maybe I was taking the term “real time” a little too literally before. Still, the point I’m intrigued by is the fact that both blogs and films engage this intersection between sequentiality and the archive in complicated ways.

    Also, I found it kinda cool that the thoughts you post at midnight were time-stamped at 4PM….

  3. Elouise Said,

    July 31, 2003 @ 5:57 pm

    further complicating the issue- the notion of the present depends upon where the reader enters the stream. Whatever the current entry is, becomes a frame of reference. Depending upon linkages, for example, entering the blog via a category sort, the sequence is no longer necessarily chronological. So unlike film, the story had a non-linearity.

    BTW what do you teach? Although I am a professor of information technology, my background is in the fine arts – animation, and printmaking.

    as to the time shift – that’s just freaky

  4. chuck Said,

    July 31, 2003 @ 9:32 pm

    Good point…I liked the observations you made on your blog about how the various possible reference points in a given narrative–in this case a blog–will inform interpretation.

    I can imagine some alternatives for film: perhaps an alternate-reality film with bifurcating timelines, a character either catches or misses a train, and based on that, her world changes dramatically.

    The other alternative, and a better one, would be a film on a perpetual loop. Your interpretation of the events on the film change depending on when you walk into the room.

    I teach freshman composition with an emphasis on digital studies, but my dissertation is on film, and that’s what I’d like to teach most.

  5. elouise Said,

    August 1, 2003 @ 8:26 am

    Nice. I like the notion of loop. It’d be an interesting piece.

    Given digital capabilities, a series of scenes could be played in random order. Perhaps watching the audience order the events would be informative by itself – what shakes out as preferred resolution?

  6. chuck Said,

    August 1, 2003 @ 12:58 pm

    I like both–each can do interesting things. There’s an interactive film, Tender Loving Care, that allows teh audience to make certain choices, often with unexpected results. The film is narrated by a psychologist character (played by John Hurt) who analyzes your choices.

    The random loop, of course, takes more control away from the viewer of the film in the presentation of the film, but the viewer might compensate for that in her interpretive work. Or it could be just a total jumble.

  7. Francois Lachance Said,

    July 6, 2004 @ 8:19 pm

    Two points… Elouise’s comments does read from the perspective of my very very basic syntactic processing as indicating it is nice to have such thoughts _before_ midnight and seemed to indicated a scenario where such thought were thought usually round midnight and it was pleasant to have them earlier in the day like at around 4 PM.

    …. some links to Weezblog entries that take up the after-image and loop themes

    July 31, 2003
    http://weez.oyzon.com/index.php?/weezblogtemplates/comments/on_happy_endings/

    January 27, 2004
    http://weez.oyzon.com/index.php?/weezblogtemplates/comments/providing_an_opening/

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