now i’m just free associating

but if you haven’t seen this you must.  I think it figures sublimity in a number of different ways at once:  there’s Benjamin’s eternal now, the momentary release from normal time, there’s the sublimity of the spectacle (of the Lyciusian god-like athleticism, and popcultural celebrity), and there’s also a sublimity of spectatorship, of this vast global audience and media matrix through which the spectacle gets infinitely reprocessed and refashioned.  But the real genius of the piece I think is the deep interplay it suggests between the spectacle and spectatorship:  that the essence of the sublime athletic feat was from the beginning an anticipation of the spectacle it would become, how it would be appropriated by its spectators.  The sublime spectacle is nothing but the way it anticipates itself (hence “write the future”).  By the same token, this means that what the spectators admire is in a sense nothing but their own spectatorship which the spectacle reflects back to them.  This relates to the role of celebrity in The Searchers addressed in question #3 below:  Ford uses Nathalie Wood to bring the audience’s fantasies into the action of the narrative, just as the fans’ fantasies of the soccer star become a part of the action that constitutes the star as such.

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3 Responses to now i’m just free associating

  1. Arin says:

    I think it’s interesting to also see how we immortalize great athletes, like the statue of renaldo in the vatican (at least it looked like the vatican). These footballers almost seem to become like pagan gods that fan worship, and this funnels in to the really interesting part about spectatorships. Without the fans, these idols loose their power and become entirely obsolete. This “sublime spectacle” is a unique instance in our course thus far, because it is entirely man made and is sublime because we as spectators choose to view it as sublime. This isn’t a natural phenomenon like the oceans or the mountains or another natural formation. So since this “is in a sense nothing but their own spectatorship which the spectacle reflects back to them” can view this as a narcisstic version of the sublime that exisits because of our desperate need to be close the sublime?

  2. Cristina Ciotinga says:

    I think that to look at this video through the lens of the sublime is only one facet of the truth: we must also consider theories of the beautiful, beauty, which we haven’t really discussed in this class. There is something more to spectatorship than its sublimity; and to say that “the sublime spectacle is nothing but the way it anticipates itself” seems to be a little reductionist. I would disagree with Arin, by saying that our appreciation for skilled action is part of our nature, and that our perception of the sublime (mostly subconscious) should be balanced with an awareness of our desire for beauty, symmetry, etc.
    “this means that what the spectators admire is in a sense nothing but their own spectatorship which the spectacle reflects back to them. “
    I partially disagree with this statement, because it’s only half the truth.
    I was listening to Denis Dutton’s 15 minute TED talk on beauty and Darwinian evolution, which claims that, “art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply “in the eye of the beholder,” are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.” He argues that what part of what we find beautiful are “skilled human actions”, which is a universal, cross cultural valued esthetic. We also find beauty in skilled performances: “human beings have a permanent innate taste for virtuoso displays in the arts. We find beauty in something done well”.
    So, does the “sublimity of the spectacle” have to be understood in terms of the sublime, or can there be a more accessible theory of beauty/aesthetic intertwined with it? Let’s say a person in a third world country is watching the football game in their room by themselves, do they appreciate the game in the same way if they don’t have a sense of global, or local community? What if there is a sublime athletic feat that doesn’t become a spectacle (as in, there is no one there to see it)? The fan’s fantasies of the soccer star become part of the action only because there is a movement of money, so it would be interesting to see “write the future” as “become rich” (sorry this post is a little incoherent…)

    • boearle says:

      the distinction between sublimity and beauty is definitely very interesting and important; we read and discussed it in the early class sessions. both terms are of course used in huge variety of ways though so it’s vital to clarify exactly what you understand them to imply when you juxtapose them. dutton’s use of beauty for instance certainly comprises sublimity as well, i’d think.

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