Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quantifying the Amorphous in Sleep Dealer

The quote “in a world in which numerical calculations are being done and redone continuously, so that static representations become subordinated to flow (not least because ‘the image, in a traditional sense, no longer exists’) , the nomadological movement becomes the natural order of thought.” (Thrift 590) is partially reflected in Sleep Dealer’s imaging of the act of selling memories.  
                The most obvious analogy which we can extract is the new amalgamation between an image and a story. This non-image is the very essence of this flux, down to even when they are in their static holding pattern before selection they are still in constant movement. These memories are further delineated from the traditional image in that they cannot be falsified or opened for interpretation, as they are narrated by the author who is rebuked to tell the truth, which is tempting to bend to create a more enticing story. However, this recording of memories is a form of quantifying the incalculable, partially because the very form of memories is not as fixed as the film would lead us to believe. Discoveries in neuroscience have proven that each time we relive a memory consciously or not that neural connection is recreated so memories adopt a quantum state where the very act of observing them can alter them, and these changes can compound with time, so the idea of a static memory is inherently false. However this calls into question Thrift’s analysis that movement-space is an entirely new phenomenon. Our individual existences and perceptions have always existed in a kind of flux, thus is the process of maturing and learning, but it is not just limited to the conclusions we draw based on internalized information, but also that the internal data-set which we use as evidence is also subject to change. However, changes in type of mass communication which allow constant revision (even in non-numerical calculation) rather than static informational media, such as the written word have made this state of consistent change much more apparent.
                Despite this overly simplified view of memory which the movie portrays it does have other parallels to the Thrift text. Although Sleep Dealer references much larger system, it really only focusses on three characters it can only represent a simplified microcosm of unfathomably complex calculatory systems, furthermore since complex mathematical models don’t make ideal cinematic fodder I must use loose analogy as a form of analysis. I interpret each characters decisions and intuition as “co-ordination and activities respond to the projected reality in which participants become oriented. The system acts as a centering and mediating device through which things pass and from which they flow forward” (Thrift 591). This mediating device is the memory marketplace, which can share subjectively ‘true’ information from virtually any walk of life – ie the ‘projected reality’. As Rudy strives to learn about Memo’s true character he communicates through Luz who is his, albeit somewhat unreliable gauge of Memo mirroring the way that numbers are often used to quantify but abstract from the desired truth in that they can reveal too much, and like Luz’s ‘writings’ often gloss over the important facts. Nonetheless, as Rudy persists in his search for understanding with Luz as his proxy shares more memories (or takes readings) he gains further lucidity about his job. So, these memories made static retroactively affect his job loyalty and his actions. . The memory’s continuously flickering rotations and transformations and projections hove into view” (Thrift 591) makes Rudy evolve his perspective on the role he plays in the social structure, and ultimately shifts this role when he goes rogue and turns against the private water company which previously held his loyalty. The special abstraction of remote drone piloting allows this misunderstanding, and only through temporal abstraction is Rudy able to reconceive his duty as a reprehensible deed, but the main cause of the trauma is qualitative abstraction: when the water company notices Memo’s listening dish they immediately assume that it is based from a terrorist organization – a safe assumption some might say, but it too broadly generalizes a world into threats and allies. This world doesn’t let things merely exist but forces them into confined categories which can overlook the nuances of our complex existence.

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