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January 1998, Week 1


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"Gareth B." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Wed, 31 Dec 1997 16:59:55 -0700
text/plain (36 lines)
> Antti Selkokari made a great point in yesterday's Titanic discussion, about
> recent expensive films showing more and more technological destruction.
> But the desire to experience the edge of death vicariously--through sublime
> spectacle--also goes back to the beginnings of cinema in the romanticism
> and melodrama of 19th-century theatre.  Other than the excesses of
> technology, rather than natural disaster (and Titanic gives us the
> nostalgia of both), is this desire/fear for sublime death onscreen so
> different today?  Is it also the desire for punishment, as Antti suggests,
> guilt at the pleasure of technology (while the Third World suffers)?
Considering such entertainments as the Grand Guignol in revolutionary
Paris, public executions everywhere (at least in Europe) for centuries
until recently, and the Roman gladatorial combats -- all of which were
occasions of public festivities, I'd suggest that the penchant for
representations of violent death are transcultural and possibly built
into the Jungian substrata of human beings.
A number of newpaper reviewers have commented on the thinness of
TITANIC's story, the cartoon-like characters, none of which detracted
from the mesmerizing horror of the great ship's demise and the 1500
deaths it cost. I see this response as expected. I don't know anyone who
feels guilty about using high technology, although I know many who
reject it on aesthetic grounds. Certainly the people on this list who
are enjoying the internet could hardly feel guilty about it.
A guilt link between the pleasure of high technology and the problems of
the Third World seems a little far-fetched. One can be distressed over
the imbalance of the world's economy without invoking the *pleasure* of
Paul E. Clinco
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