Collections

Thursday, 15 July 2010

I talk about Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction too much. By too much, I mean every cou­ple of years. I re­ally should read some other stuff that he’s writ­ten, so I don’t get too pseudo-in­tel­lec­tu­ally schol­ar­ship-boy­ish. Like I’m about to.

I col­lect stuff, not a lot, but stuff nonethe­less. It used to be base­ball cards, then Tolkien books, then good sci­ence fic­tion in gen­eral and now beach glass, good movies, and lo­cal mu­sic para­pher­na­lia. I used to col­lect things as if the things them­selves were pre­cious. Benjamin would call this the aura of the art ob­ject. He posits that orig­i­nal works of art have greater value than re­pro­duc­tions. That’s the kind of rea­son that peo­ple go for mint first edi­tions, signed copies, &c. There’s noth­ing wrong with that. I would still love to get my mitts on a first edi­tion Starship Troopers with the awe­some dust-jacket, but my collector’s cri­te­rion has changed over the years.

I no longer col­lect things as if the things them­selves were pre­cious, I col­lect them be­cause of what they con­tain. So now when I’m at Half-price Books, and I see a hard cover of LeGuin’s Lathe of Heaven with the orig­i­nal dust-jacket cover art, I don’t care that its just the book club edi­tion, I care that it is hard-bound and there­fore more durable than my pa­per­back ver­sion. The dura­bil­ity mat­ters be­cause it pro­tects what is re­ally im­por­tant about the book, the story it­self. So I’ll pick up an Asimov om­nibus and get rid of my an­cient pa­per­backs (which are worth more than the om­nibus) be­cause the om­nibus will last longer.

I don’t mind that my Egon Schiele came from All Posters or that the Death of Marat in my bath­room (which never fails to make me act dis­gust­ingly smug) came from the same. If my art se­lec­tions are con­sid­ered a col­lec­tion, I have what I have be­cause I like it, not nec­es­sar­ily for its ex­trin­sic value. I try to col­lect ex­pe­ri­ences, emo­tions and mo­ments of com­mu­ni­ca­tion now, not every last edi­tion of the Lord of the Rings. (Although if you want to hook me up, I won’t com­plain).

Film Theory midterm

Thursday, 27 February 2003

i’ve a Film Theory midterm to­day.

last night was spent wrestling with con­cepts of the on­tolo­gies of cin­ema, so­viet mon­tage, the­o­ries and re­quire­ments for cin­e­matic Realism, ques­tions of au­teur­ship and genre and a lit­tle bit of semi­otic ic­ing to top it off. cur­rently i’ve some­thing akin to Walter Benjamin’s Marxist ideas of base/​superstructure (in re: to the aura of me­chan­i­cally re­pro­duced ob­jects like film) brew­ing with Rick Altman’s semantic/​syntactic ap­proach to film stud­ies and Christian Metz’s idea of de­no­ta­tive and con­no­ta­tive im­pli­ca­tions of film form. i won­der what is go­ing to per­co­late?

in the mean­time go amuse your­self at Bitter Films with Temporary Anesthetics.