Jun. 28th, 2016

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Revisited Walking Dead 6.16.

Starts with a 1st person p.o.v. we later learn is that of one of the four captured in the previous episode - Glen, Darryl, Rosita, Michonne. While it may prove that of the person beaten to death at the end, even if it's not it still prefigures, as an imprisonment variant, the message of that shot: "since this sort of thing happens to someone, as an experience looking and sounding something like this, it might happen to you - the most important takeaway of which Sartrean realization is not "so watch your back" but instead "so apply the self-sympathy the thought of this creates in you to those actually in that situation: just as your dismay about your own hypothetical future plight didn't exist till the possibility was presented to you with a certain degree of vividness, neither will the present pain of your fellows seem anywhere near as real as it is to you until you allow yourself to imagine being in their shoes the way, just by watching this brief shot, you are automatically imagining yourself in those of a you who will almost certainly never exist." The show's explaining how it would have us change, by edging its "FICTION" gradually into union with a sort of fiction we don't just treat as non- but find more real than many others' reality - our anticipation of a state of some future self of our own. The show is trying to explain to us why we need shows of its sort (or novels, say) to help sharpen our moral clarity, but more importantly wants to prove to us that we possess knee-jerk representational distortions that make us categorize people more or less into 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons in ways more profound than grammatically, and that this is the root of not just fascism and racism and the horrors that 3rd-seeming persons belonging to those groups have perpetrated but also every significant sin of our own me-ism and us-ism, which there are many more of than we're easily made to see. Of omission or otherwise indirect, perhaps, but nonetheless pains or terrors an I might never dream of visiting on a me or even a you.

The awakening to glimmers of light, suggestive of course of the Terminus railcar, may also suggest birth, the emergence into sensing consciousness all lights go out on at the end. (This sort of shot was readied for in the last shot of the previous episode, which - while I can't remember if it was 1st person or of his face or what - went black at the shooting of Darryl, and after which audio continued a moment or two longer, just as it does at the end of this one.)

This birth interpretation seems supported by the next shot, where the sign "YOU ARE ALIVE" points at us and not Morgan, who walks by behind it and who we have no reason to assume has read the sign. Since he immediately comes up to a horse and says "Look at you, you are alive" or something like that, we should (though probably next to none of us did) at once think, "direct message from show to viewer" and "alienation effect to let us know to think about the story AS story, of ourselves AS audience when trying to interpret that and all ensuing messages," thus, most immediately, to consider that it might not just be the horse being urged to look at itself and contemplate the glory, and perhaps other implications, of its existence.

Next shot is a dying man resolute on the trail of the woman he wants to spend what's left of his life visiting vengeance on. He carries her crucifix, which might make us think of his present disregard for any reminder of her inner life, including awareness of her own misdeeds and the desire to stop commuting them, evidence of a shared nature that one might think ought to prevent acts of pure revenge. This "you" is alive but not looking at that fact, and is instead fixated on how he is dying. He is not seeking a means to not die, perhaps because believing none is available, but instead to somehow even the score. That another's death cancels out one's own is not plausible, though it may be a superstition informing his behavior, but the man and woman also belong to two distinct "you"-groups

Addressing us as "you" may be something of an apology: the show knows it cannot really access our experience as an "I," and might have no right to if it could, but it can request the same sort of quasi-identification that addressing someone as you implicitly asks - and offers. It realizes a contract is being broken, so explains its motives, or at least that some will be found if we look (thus that we please look). People were mad about who the show did not kill, or anyway deferred the revelation of having killed, but I think the apology must be for using all the tricks it could think of to make us identify with someone who was going to die horribly - horribly not just because of the painful, grisly manner but the dawning awareness of it, through stages. "I am the I, the hero of this tale, and I must be blessed as, unlike so many others, I have never died," is the vaunt the show strips away. "You are alive" is also a preemptive reality check, saying "listen, someone is going to die, and we're going to make you think hard about what that really must be like, but please see that YOU ARE STILL ALIVE and that this is a FICTION (though we may complicate that for you a little bit later as well...)."

It does the same thing on a "you" level, of course, which is the one likely anguishing Rick and clearly Glen the most at end: you are my family, and you are blessed, as I will not let you perish even if I do. Right before the trap is sprung he is about to (protectively) disabuse his son of the illusion that this can be promised. I-thinking can thoughtlessly harm a you, you-thinking an I, both in their extreme forms can sabotage their own purposes, and of course both can harm "them," the least protected group of all. Rick is worried Carl's you-thinking will harm Carl, of course, but is about to find out the sharpness of his own in/out-of group distinctions are about to destroy a real or adopted family member.


Carol doesn't want to even kill zombies, toward the end. Does anyway, like she did with people.

As Rick falls from the blessed hero role even in his own eyes, Morgan gets a horse like his own from the Pilot, a white one. Though gives it away after having to kill.

That all the roads seemed to curve, so one could never tell what was ahead; how there were always more roads even as they proved blocked one by one, how one could even leave the road and at last did ... how night fell as this process went along ... the continuities of lighting and framing and filtering and closeup depth etc. that gave this episode a feeling of being a new show ... all brilliantly handled.

More to say someday. Phone dying.
proximoception: (Default)
Resuming on pad, so more now:

If Game of Thrones is by 1st person creators but about 3rd persons and largely for 3rd persons, excepting that brief interruption in season 4, WD is trying to tell us - Gimple is trying to tell us - that that's not how he sees his job. Presumably he feels he's an I talking to a we most of the time, but once he starts manipulating our sense of personhood (at least in untraditional ways) he takes pains to show he's an I talking to a you - something he's unlikely to forget after this year's two gigantic outcries. I think this shift may be fitting for experimental writing, though of course especially for this sort of experiment. It says, "we're going to try something here, and while we feel pretty sure it's important to, we do understand you might not, so we're telling you to look at this as a message to a person from a person who is thinking about the responsibilities involved in that act - and who maybe might fail, as you too might fail, and need the forgiveness you too must hope for."

Did Shakespeare innovate that asking for applause thing he does in Midsummer Night's Dream and elsewhere? Or do I vaguely recall it from Roman and Italian comedy, or Greene or something. His election of a feature that doesn't seem to be obligatory, as well as the concern of the troupe that the ladies in the audience understand just what a play is at least, plus the plot-nudging love poem magic, plus the speech about the beautiful but disquieting craziness that creating something out of nothing constitutes ... all these show he was thinking hard about just what the fuck he was doing, and wishing us to as well. Seems a step beyond Titus, which is an expression of despair at his audience (and what it seemed to prove about people) - someone please go tell Game of Thrones that, by the way, though that pie was an art director's triumph. Taymor's likely green with envy.

But anyway that probably has something to do with his own experimentation with pronoun "modes." Probably I'm just parroting Bloom here, who IIRC sees his meta-elements as relating to the character-change via self-overhearing that he feels is S's chief innovation, though to some extent following Montaigne's near-dialogic layering practice and (somehow) the Wife of Bath.

Probably character depth is often pursued not as veiled confession or for the sake of an ages-old verisimilitude competition but just to get us to grasp something about ourselves. Tactical depth, depth for a purpose that's shallow, or anyway elusively complex rather than tangled or unconscious-driven. Doing both at once is probably the Shakespeare way, or anyway feels like it - maybe he out-Gimples Gimple and I'm simply too simple to see.

Would I get mad at The Walking Dead, if it were literature? I don't think so. It's not being told what to do that's a problem, or even ONLY being told what to do. It's being told what to do when you already know it. Since it invents new ways of saying it, it's not saying quite the same thing we've heard before - and, since I find it rewatchable, saying it using sounds not fully hearable all at once. Passes the Stevens tests, in other words. Not always with the most pleasant of pleasures, but the artistry involved is itself a pleasure once you notice it - and how much of it and how comparatively original it is. Gimple draws clearly inspiration from moral philosophy and (defogging it first, usually by translating ot into common sense) theory, so he's Shakespearean in the fanfic sense too.

Hardly related, but I was dimly wondering if Game of Thrones might be up to something (it isn't, this is just the content of a wondering) similar to what I locate in Julius Caesar, where utility and rule-based morality are shown as incompatible, thus as two (and perhaps the only) groups of people into which the morally-motivated fall - each of them making a mistake the other would not, and both enough out of step to not cooperate efficiently. The Sansa-Jon Snow scenes suggested that, in the last two episodes, since she seemed to show good sense in manipulating him and he seemed to have a point saying they needed to trust each other, but I'm not sure if the show wanted things received that way or was interested in what that entailed if it did. Sansa's cold but successful use of her brother is followed by her accession to Sadistic Revenge and the Now-I'm-All-That expression it's unfailingly paired with in this show, so maybe we're to instead think he could still have carried out her plan, or one just as successful, if he'd been in on it. Or that if he'd refused to make a deal with Littlefinger that would have proved to be less destructive thsn the alternative will or something. Plus I don't think I recall that precise implication in other contrasted pairs elsewhere, unless there was some highlightedly missed opportunity for Sean Bean and Dinklage to connect back at the start? But Shakespeare's leaving it tragic was a stronger point, anyway: Brutus and Cassius DO work together, but the problem is their brains can't. Whereas if the show's just saying that people who never break a rule and people who think nothing of betrayal both have something to learn! then that's practically no point at all.


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