First of all we are aware of problems with sevcom.com and tomellard.com dropping out and being slow and when Stephen gets a chance he’ll advise me on whether the Chinese Army are attacking or what up. I am moving online sales to an external service and will announce it when it’s ready.
Secondly – Sensible Blog is now running.
Here’s something not sensible enough:
I like television. That is, I never watch television and I don’t like TV shows or the ads or TV culture. I like television, the thing itself. That‘s hard to explain. My poor students are often subjected to my enthusiasm which seems entirely impractical for assignments and their later fame.
The only things I really like watching (apart from videos of mechanical televisions etc.) are idents and test cards, and I’m obviously not the only one. I love motion graphics, how things are designed to occupy space, colour and time. I like abstract video synthesis more than watching people.
But really I like television because it is the machine of my childhood. There are men (usually men) that are thrilled by steam locomotives, by short wave radio, by phone exchanges, tin toys, calculators … whatever mechanical fetish you can think of there will be men (usually men) that collect, debate, and play around with it in a nonsensical useless way. The epitome of this is Hi Fi, which has nothing to do with the enjoyment of recorded music and everything to do with the perfect tone arm lowered onto a pristine half speed mastered slab of vinyl. But also model rail-roads circling around a tiny landscape, shelves of unwatched DVDs arranged alphabetically and arcade machines lined up geometrically in the basement. The activity is always kept away from usefulness, and woeful is the man that gets a job in the thing he loved when it wasn’t a job.
It has to be play, or it doesn’t count.
Now one standard answer to this is ‘sublimation’. That is – man has lusts that are not acceptable to society; he therefore sidetracks the desire into symbolic pursuits, which explains the odd intensity of the activity and its overt uselessness. (Although some men do make good use of their libido in becoming CEO of something or other and dying of heart attack aged 50.) The man who is a dedicated Dwarf level 90 in some online world is no danger to society, unless you forcibly un-dwarf him, suddenly unleashing the hidden lusts kept at bay. ‘Online Addiction’ is a complex business.
(I have gone though some analysis and can pinpoint exactly where and how my own process of sublimation has taken place. I’m quite satisfied that it has validity – but you’ll have to excuse my not providing you with the personal evidence.)
That’s all very well as a recent phenomena, but what did men do before model rail roads? What sublimative technology was available to the first humans? Here is Gronk, carving his stone tip for his spear; does he have time to argue with Klonk about chipping from the bottom up? No, these stone tips were a serious business, life or death, something you would be buried with to survive the afterlife. I guess that lusts were pretty much acted on straight away until people started to settle together in groups and get the food supply stabilised with repositories and so on. A stable food supply meant there was time to wonder how the universe worked – and how to get along with the neighbours. Which gave us magic and religion.
Magic of course is the key we’ve been looking for. Magic isn’t just about why it rains. Magic is about how you can make it rain or not rain. By rituals you humbly request that nature bend this way or that, if it doesn’t work you didn’t do the ritual right. Magical rituals are interestingly similar to some of the activities of Hi Fi enthusiasts, following an internal logic, with strange repetitive processes that must be followed to avoid failure, odd components that are rare and expensive and so on. The magician believes that there is a perfect knowledge that will bring power over the world. The average enthusiast feels happiest when the steam engine has hit that perfect note, or in my case when designing a high definition playback system. Something however small is under control.
If you can cast spells, that’s fundamentally more interesting than the tedious tasks for which your spells will be used – finding lost animals, some gold coins, smite some enemies etc. The magician is intoxicated by the thing itself. I’m like that with television.
When you go out to a club or a show, you will see there are some people that immediately focus on any available video screen. Or there will be people at a VJ performance that spend the night watching the person operating the mixer and ignoring the screen. I am the former, a type ‘V’. The latter we’ll call type ‘H’, and allow that there are some in-between. These groups are really quite obvious when you run a band that uses video for umpteen years. When you teach video production you will see the students group themselves so that the V’s get the cameras and the H’s are scripting or researching. God help all H teams.
Type ‘V’ watches life through a viewfinder, where it is under control. Even better is to create a world on screen where every colour and form is directly selected. Video production and especially motion graphics satisfies a psychological need for order, it scratches an itch that’s been there since birth (if you believe in nature) or near birth (if you believe in nurture). It probably relates to toilet training.
There’s a PhD topic : Video Synthesis and Toilet Training.
I suspect certain aspects of synthetic video are somehow connected with symptoms of autism – the spinning and blinking and repetition. I can’t claim a causal relationship, and of course some aspects of synthetic video are simply limitations of the machinery – limited sample space, the low contrast of video, colour space etc. It’s just a hunch that type V is based on a complex (which is a very loose term for a structure in the brain).
The psychology of video synthesis is looming as a major issue in my research, a dangerous deviation or the key to the whole thing. I think to understand synthesis (and actually the whole European electronic music tradition) you need to read Freud, Jung, Adler et al. But for now I will keep this in the silly blog away from supervisors with rolled up newspapers. Safer here.