The following is reblogged, excerpted and modified, from e²mc.
How do films deal with historical atrocities? And how might they enable them in the first place?
The Act of Killing is Joshua Oppenheimer’s chilling documentary about the perpetrators of the mass murders committed by the Suharto regime’s paramilitary death squads in mid-1960s Indonesia. The filmmakers interview some of the worst of the perpetrators and — controversially — invite them to re-enact the killings for the camera, filming these scenes in the style of their favorite film genres. This interplay between mass murder and Hollywood movies — gangsters, westerns, and musicals — is a focus of the film.
Conversation overheard between an ambitious grad student and a simpleminded process-relational philosopher . . .
Jake Wanano-Everton: Sir, where do you draw the line between what’s real and what’s not real?
Prof. Noah Fewthings: The only things that are real are the moments of experienced reality — drops of experience, let’s call them — pulsing through the vector stream of the universe right now. There are lots and lots of them, too many to count: what you and I are experiencing right now are only two, or more accurately some, of billions and billions unfolding at this moment. And this one. And this one. They are all that’s real; and they are irreducibly real.
Levi is out swinging (in the most entertaining way possible; I love it when he gets on a roll, and I do agree with him on much of it).
Of course, there’s not much new in what he says (that hasn’t been said by Left-realists for the last few decades, and by Latour more recently). But of course it still needs to be said (in some circles, like to Left anti-realists) and it’s better said by constructivist realists (like Bryant, Latour, et al.) than by anti-constructivists (on the Right or Left). Constructivist realism — a realism that avows the constructedness (enactedness, emergentness, historicity) of everything, from quarks to civilizations to universes — is where things are at. (Which is why I appreciate Levi’s philosophizing so much.)
The comments that follow his post include some rejoinders from Peircians (like Mark Crosby and Matt Segall), who don’t like Bryant’s seeming characterization of Charles Sanders Peirce as an anti- or non-realist. In response, Levi writes that “we never really see Pierce employed outside the humanities.” Here he needs to be corrected.
Continuing on the “sciencey” thread from this post… (I’ll come back to the “14 billion years” issue, since it’s been pointed out to me that my criticism of the concept of measuring time would only apply — if the scientists are correct — to the first few seconds or so of the universe.)
Here’s a question for all of you:
What does the universe look like to an objective observer?
Let’s unpack some of the assumptions and traps hidden inside this question.