Readings, and Related Inspirations

Last Night I Thought Of Benjamin

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Last night I heard a sound I immediately mistook for fireworks outside my boyfriend’s house. My first thought was that a bunch of teenagers (stereotype, I know) had set off a lot of fireworks in the street in front of the house. This is not unreasonable because kids cross the nature preserve on their way home from school every day, and you know they’re out there making out, or smoking… or setting of fireworks all the time. Expect I knew it wasn’t fireworks when the sound was followed by a loud POP! and the lights went out.

We ran to the door and looked out. It was dark out there, but it wouldn’t be for long. Following the pop was a mighty set of crackling, and then a lot of sparks up in the tree to the right of the house.

A branch from the tree ( a large branch) had snapped at its base and crashed down on the electrical wires. It was pretty scary at first. Everyone was out in the street looking. I don’t know if the lady across the street has super powers or what, but she had already called 911 and was done by the time my bf was halfway done with them on my phone, the only one we could find in the dark. The rest of the neighbors were standing around asking each other if we should all call. I know who’s going to survive the apocalypse on this street. And I know I want that lady across the street on my zombie apocalypse team.

Fortunately for us, we had just had a hot pizza delivered so we could work through the night without having to make food (not that pizza is actually food, but hey, it’s finals). Since we couldn’t work without power, and we figured walking under a tree on fire was probably a bad idea, we sat on the steps, ate pizza and watched.

The tree didn’t catch like I expected it to. “Wow,” I remarked to my companion, “If this was AZ, that tree would be engulfed in flames and we’d have to cross under those wires.”

“I know,” he replied. “Fortunately, it’s wet here and that tree has to burn for a while before it really goes up.”

That made me feel better, until more of the power lines snapped, hitting the cars in front of us. Had someone been crossing under them, they probably would have become quite unalive.

And then something funny occurred to me and I said to my companion, “you know, if we were about 10 years younger, we would be posting this on Youtube.”

He pointed upstairs to the neighbor, who was already posting something somewhere.

Since I had thought of it too, I figured I would get out the camera and join the fun. The fire department had arrived and forced us back inside and were gingerly approaching the danger. Here’s what I got:

Now… the interesting part about these photos, as they pertain to our course… is that they were much more exciting to take than they likely are for you to look at. As Benjamin might say, they have an aura because I took them, and I was there, and you all know me. But they are also digital, and so are now instantly on the internet, available for anyone to see at any time, without context. You can’t see what’s behind me, or above me. And I’ve cropped out the VERY bright light provided by the fire truck. How do you know there isn’t an elephant over there. We certainly didn’t know our neighbor was over there waiting for the power to get shut off from the wires so he could cross and get home.

I wonder all sorts of things about these visuals as they pertain to our class and what our theorists might say.

Would McLuhan have made some statement about the camera being digital, or the fact that I’m posting these on a blog? There is also a different picture I took with my phone that I texted to facebook.

What might Geimer have said about the water spots on the window that my camera has focused on without my knowledge? What might Crary said of you as the observer? Or Selfe say about the interface you are observing my photo arrangement on?

I guess I’ll never think of visuals the same way again.


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