The Parallax Gap…

‘… it is merely that viewed through the frame, reality turns into its own appearance

The Parallax View

‘… certainty is absurd’

Voltaire

The discovery of neurones around the heart and in the gut unsettles the recently adopted view that the brain is just slabs of meat and not the site of anything special, especially not consciousness. This absolute rejection is perhaps a little too sure of itself. Maybe even falling foul of exactly what it wishes most to avoid, statements of certainty… Slavoj Zizek’s book, quoted above, however entertaining, also seems rather anxious about ‘The Gap’ that metaphors are always apparently seeking to ‘close’.

‘MIND THE GAP’. Why? I do not want to ‘mind’ in any sense about the gap, I want to consider instead – THE FRAME. It is only the frame, the edges or margins, of the gap that helps us to understand that there is a gap in the first place. Also, sometimes, it is the very nature of the frame that prompts so-called reality to turn into a mere ‘appearance’ of itself; this notionally unseats what is ‘real’ because it creates a moment that is uncanny – everything is real but some things seem more real than others.

To depart slightly…

Take Alan Turing; on the one hand ‘now’ celebrated mathematician, on the other, criminalised in his ‘own’ time. Two contradictory, irresolvable perspectives, or ‘truths’, between which opens a gap, which means neither pole can become total. So, for example, the word ‘pardon’ is problematic because despite every positive intention it still enters into the original discourse of ‘wrongdoing’ at the very moment it attempts to kick it out. Also, beware the idolised, they are not ‘real’. Once vilified, Turing is now celebrated for his achievements; yet there is something reminiscent of past zeal in this movement to reclaim. Did he kill himself? Was it a ‘poisoned’ apple? These signs force the telling of a ‘single’ story about Turing’s life, his sexuality, his death – and the single story is always dangerous because it is so persuasively simple, like propaganda.

What remains is always already an effect of what is ‘left out’ of any chronology.

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About ejpollard

I was awarded my PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University, UK in December 2013. My thesis explored the notions of origin and ellipsis in the writing of contemporary British novelist Hilary Mantel. I want this blog to express the ideas I have in and around my academic writing. View all posts by ejpollard

One response to “The Parallax Gap…

  • ejpollard

    There are too many interesting ideas about difference in The Imitation Game for its length to do justice. Can a machine ‘think’? Is ‘thinking’ the right word for a programming choice based on ‘if’? What does ‘imitation’ have to do with difference? The early computers were all so human, difference engines, all humans think differently; the first was named ‘baby’, Alan Turing’s enigma code-breaker was called Christopher, Christ-carrier, after his first love.

    It is all mathematics, reason, and mechanics, and language seems to fit this machinic model – substitute the letters to ‘break’ the code, substitute the words to ‘translate’ the German, a double deferral. A code is like a virus, neither living nor dead, yet with traces of both, and shot through with deferred meaning. Yet it is the irrational within and beneath language that breaks the code, the tell-tale repetitions. As Turing says, what is the difference between codes and talking, humans can negotiate and make meaningful any binary gap, it is all ‘what if’, never simply if…

    Other ideas worth exploring: Letter cogs/wheels, distinct categories; programming – programme/virus; difference ENGINE…; ‘think’, judgement; cryptic > CRYPT. JD.

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