This reflux is astonishment
The immediacy of their terror short-circuiting
even disavowal?s detour–
This too is but a train of shadows.
The ungraspable phantom of life.
A strange flicker passes through the screen
and the picture stirs to life.
A vacillation between belief and incredulity–
a terrorist mood setter,
like a fairground barker,
caused women to scream and men to sit aghast.
The elephant is led onto an electrified plate,
Smoke rises from its feet and
after a moment
the elephant falls on its side.
The lust of the eyes
ending in perversions of magic and science.
Equally dubious intellectual curiosity,
lost sight of now after decades
recedes into the flat surface
and the deception is exposed.
Shock becomes a strategy
of a modern aesthetic of astonishment.
The hollow centre of the cinematic illusion.
Na?ve belief in the reality of the image–
a train of shadows
freighted with emptiness.
*from Tom Gunning?s ?An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)credulous Spectator?