Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Magic of Images

The incomparable Camille Paglia has a superb article in the humanities journal Arion that is required reading for would-be thoughtful film-types like our readers. “Young people today are flooded with disconnected images but lack a sympathetic instrument to analyze them as well as a historical frame of reference in which to situate them. I am reminded of an unnerving scene in Stanley Kubrick’s epic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, where an astronaut, his air hose cut by the master computer gone amok, spins helplessly off into space. The new generation, raised on tv and the personal computer but deprived of a solid primary education, has become unmoored from the mother ship of culture. Technology, like Kubrick’s rogue computer, HAL, is the companionable servant turned ruthless master. The ironically self-referential or overtly politicized and jargon-ridden paradigms of higher education, far from helping the young to cope or develop, have worsened their vertigo and free fall. Today’s students require not subversion of rationalist assumptions . . . but the most basic introduction to structure and chronology. Without that, they are riding the tail of a comet in a media starscape of explosive but evanescent images.” It’s long. Don’t miss the ending. (Arion 11.3, Winter 2004)

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