Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Illusion and Causality


I've been re-watching Twin Peaks. It's just as disturbing as the first time, if not more so. And for sure it's quite an absorptive aesthetics that Lynch employs.

This leads me to reflect a little on Jackson's observation about absorption (with which he associates OOO, among other things). For Jackson, the illusion has to totally take you in to work. It's sort of like false consciousness that way:

The role of the beholder is that of being entranced by the absorptive style; in so far as the viewer must behold an implicit illusion inherent within the work. The key feature of absorption is hard to pin point, for the precise reason that one cannot be ‘aware’ they are absorbed into something.

I'm not sure whether this is a flaw in Fried himself or not. But my perspective is a little different, borrowing from Lacan's interpretation of Heidegger. I'm a lot more sanguine about illusions. For me, even if you are aware that it's an illusion, the illusion still works. Thus Twin Peaks can be just as scary the second time around.

In other words, if there really is no metalanguage, even if you know “it's an illusion,” it still functions.

This isn't just about art, it's about causality, since for me causality is aesthetic.

The key for me is that the absorption is like an illusion. Notice the “like”: “is an illusion” is too strong, it ruins the the illusoriness in fact (see my previous). It's illusion-like: “What constitutes pretense is that, in the end, you don't know whether it's pretense of not” (Lacan).

For causality to happen, objects don't have to totally deceive other objects. How could they? They are prevented total access. Causality is an illusion-like play, precisely because of the rift between withdrawn essence and aesthetic appearance. That's why it works.

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