4
THE CULTURED IMAGE

WE HAVE SEEN how writers have scoured the phenomenology of music, the structure of addictive perception, and the logic of the total state for means of imaging the arrest of neurobiological time. To this point, the virtual images that have arisen from this process operate by suspending the object of perception before the moment of its assimilation by habit. Another word for the habitual processes that prestructure perception by replacing intensely sensed color, sound, and shape with recognizable form is “culture.” For the phenomenological tradition that takes its cue from Heidegger, the individual’s assimilation into the world of a culture involves the replacement of the raw present-tense immediacy of perceptual contact with an awareness dispersed in time, organized according to conventional, future-directed projects, and mediated by the norms of a historical society. Given these associations, it is unsurprising that culture has not been an important term for the writing we have been exploring. Indeed, from this perspective, Orwell’s Oceania is less a culture than an anticulture, less a tradition than a means of preventing anything like tradition from taking root in the individual’s sensorium.

But in the last three decades of the twentieth century, a different kind of blueprint for the ideal image emerges. Compared with the strategies discussed in earlier chapters, the basic principle by which this virtual image operates is reversed. If earlier writing is committed to the value of turning the clock back on the known thing, certain strands of postwar science fiction and experimental poetry become interested in the value of making the unknown thing familiar. Taking

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Writing against Time
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction - Writing against Time 1
  • 1 - Imaginary Music 23
  • 2 - The Addictive Image 57
  • 3 - Big Brother Stops Time 87
  • 4 - The Cultured Image 115
  • Conclusion - From Representation to Creation 139
  • Reference Matter 149
  • Notes 151
  • Bibliography 171
  • Index 185
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