Colombo girl. Twenty something. St. Andrean social anthropologist. Cantab international development. Reader. Thinker. Film buff. Television junkie. Writer. Impulsive wanderer. Compulsive doodler. Foodie. Tangents. Foucault remains the standard by which genius is measured. Said is all kinds of awesome too.
In its most facile definition, a magic lantern is an early motion picture projector. Although I suppose, a primitive contraption by today’s measures, the magic lantern is anything but facile.
In reality, the magic lantern is an object of wonder; one that prefigured modern cinema by inspiring Muybridge’s racing horses, breathed luminous life into Chinese shadow puppets at Versailles, embodied the delusion and irrational of Gothic phantasmagoria, spun the trickery of Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon and blurred boundaries of actuality and illusion, the material and the preternatural through the deft artifice of light and movement.
This magic lantern too comprises of a series of shifting thoughts in words and images.
Walter Benjamin, an early 20th century German-Jewish intellectual and persnickety curator of extensive personal archives, maintained a lifelong project (well for an 13 years between 1927-1940, until he died of ill-fated circumstances on the French-Spanish border during the war) that deliberated the city life that resonated within the contemporaneous arcades of Paris. A significant precursor to the postmodern wit of Foucault and Derrida, Benjamin’s Arcades Project deliberated the notion of montage in everyday life; fragment and swift transformations that summed up the transient air of the volatile era. In an elaborate mosaic of cross-references, Benjamin developed a modern theory of phantasmagoria that traced connections between disparate entities and apercus contained within these steel and glass monoliths. Benjamin defines the bricolage of the arcades as fluid spaces of shifting shape and meaning, juxtaposition and contrast, never fully understood but inviting interpretation through the very enticing flux that marks its elusiveness. Benjamin also paid particular attention to the nature of the commodities that populated and delineate these spaces, causing modernity to perpetually out-mode itself. Thus, image, text, objects are constantly disrupted and fragmented in moving time creating intellectual phantasmagoria.
Bronislaw Malinowski in his parallel Melanesian universe coined the term ‘the imponderabilia of everyday life’, fragments of apparently little consequence that make up these steel and glass arcades of living. More kula rings and coral garden magic in Malinowski’s mind perhaps. Fragments. Shifting fragments of a circadian magic lantern. A virtually Foucauldian heteroptopia of static and dynamic in co-existence. There’s a quip about mirrors too but I use my academic metaphor lightly.
So here’s to a montage of society, arts, culture and the imponderabilia of everyday living.