Monday, May 19, 2008

On perspectives, continuity and so on.

A couple of interesting posts which seemed to converge today.

First off, found an interesting blog by Errol Morris, a documentary filmmaker. In this article, he writes about continuity errors - for instance, how a director can change the actors mid-movie and most people still wouldn't notice - and how that relates to the idea of narrative overriding evidence, change blindness, and the documentary he made which helped free a wrongfully imprisoned man. Through the piece, he moves from philosophical quotes like:

If the world ceased to exist for 2/3 of a second would we fail to

to cute facts like:

Everyone knows the most famous line from the movie “Casablanca” isn’t a line in
the movie “Casablanca.” When Ilsa enters Rick’s CafĂ© Americain, she says to Sam,
“Play it, Sam.” But everyone remembers, “Play it again, Sam.” So why does
everyone remember the line incorrectly? I have a simple theory. Because the
additional word “again,” clearly captures that something is being repeated,
something is being re-enacted.

It's funny that he uses the idea of an orange at the end to give an example of image vs perception vs consciousness, and in his earlier post focusing on the documentary of the innocent man, says

The engine of uncovering truth is not some special lens or even the unadorned
human eye; it is unadorned human reason.
Because Jim Cowen's Spade of Reason (my favorite short story) uses the example of an orange to illustrate how we make models in our head as well.

The second post is from Michael Yon, who's castigating Michael Moore (and others) for using a rather famous photo taken by Yon (to him, a true thing) to illegally (because Yon owns the copyright) convey falsehoods. I still have not watched any of Moore's works (not even Columbine) and haven't really formed an opinion, but Yon was fairly critical of Moore even outside his use of the photo - which given my currently fairly high opinion of Yon, doesn't reflect too well on Moore.

But that's not the point. The point is that idea of truth - the engine of truth is reason, according to Morris, and when you apply that to Yon's post, you get a rather more nuanced version of Yon's reasoning. Which is, the photo is "true", not because it is a statement of fact ( a photo is just a capture of a particular perspective of a scene - fact, perhaps, but not truth), but because when Yon shared it with the world, the context was fully disclosed - at least as far as was possible (which I will not discuss further, because the examples I give could offend). And in Yon's view, when Moore puts it into a different context, the implication, the reasoning that follows draws a false link (and Moore should know that this is false) between the death and the politicians in the same poster.

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