Sunday, August 5, 2012

Juxtaposition V: Reality vs. Presentation.

One hundred tons. (Via.)

Fifteen hundred tons

Winner: one hundred tons.

To me, the distinction between reality and presentation is unmistakable. The presentation edits out more information than they leave in. The main character is the narrator. The second character is the Navy, the third, Communism. Indeed it seems like the physical events they're supposedly describing are only included grudgingly, as an excuse, because they're not allowed to go full-blown narcissist.

Net result: presentations are boring, as they're all almost identical. Aside from the comparison, there's no need to watch that second video, a couple sentences of description covers everything that isn't copypasta. (See also: nearly everything on the BBC. They even have one decrying the style while still using following it exactly.)

The narrator spends a lot of time telling you how you should feel about the events. I mean, you do have your own opinion, right? Your reaction to the first movie is not, "Okay, but what does this mean?" is it?

Yet, the market consistently rewards presentation over reality. I wouldn't begrudge them that if they didn't begrudge me my reality. Are layhumans really that fascinated by stories they already know? To the point where networks deliberately edit out anything unfamiliar?

In the direct representation of reality, three quarters of the video is dedicated solely to the event. It is allowed to be itself. At least, it is allowed to speak whatever it wants to the available measurement instruments.

For me, this is well symbolized by the movie-ricochet noises. Whenever I see a detail like that, I begin to think it might not have been massaged to within an inch of its life. Which detail, amusingly, I've never heard in a movie after an explosion. Real things don't conform to the rules of drama, do not support clean political narratives, and have unexpected details. Every real event is a little surprising, every new object just a little different. It asymptotes toward zero with familiarity, but even my cream cartons are never exactly as I expect them to be.

In retrospect, I never believe in movie explosions. Before now I didn't have enough reference material to notice that's what I was feeling, but now I recognize the pattern. Movie; "There was an explosion!" Me: "No there wasn't, you're lying." Why? Because they're exactly what I'm expecting.

I wonder if 'inhuman' would be a good summary.
All real events - even real artifacts and e.g. bureaucracies - are a little alien. A little unintuitive perhaps? They don't neatly slot into instinctive concepts or causal relations. Perhaps best illustrated by the exceptions, things like one-on-one sociology. The instinctive categories work perfectly for figuring out how another human will categorize, and therefore understand, an event. Similarly, the explosion is exactly what I was expecting, which means it is exactly how I would portray an explosion - if I weren't aware of this alienness principle.

Another exception: rocks, trees, and water. (I find this especially disappointing because they could be interesting, but almost never are.) Or perhaps not; when mining or growing trees, you'll find them doing many unexpected things.

I think the key thing is the category thing. New events never fit neatly into old categories, even in combination. Real events are mind-expanding. Events I have no built familiarity with should not seem familiar. I don't usually encounter explosions, that goes double for military instead of controlled, and therefore I shouldn't find depictions of them familiar.

This is one of the reasons I think I have a solid grasp of logic. It is, by now, rare that I see an argument that doesn't fit neatly into my existing experience.

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