Double Vision

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Thinking Tools / Information / Macroinformation /

Information is a product of difference, where unpredictability counts. Macroinformation emerges from juxtapositions of different informational (and existential) types. Data is simple; macroinformation is complex: information, the whole set, covers the diapason.

Dozens of earlier files here at Macroinformation offer the familiar cultural artifact Jesus Christ as a piquant example. A once common human name is paired with an attribute not only of divinity, but of infinite numinosity, unique divinity … God, messenger, heir, hero, savior … a bunch of things are lumped into a phrase that can easily be said by anyone with exposure to a language that has the phrase. Jesus Christ is an oxymoron, a paradox, a koan … The name-plus-title is a macroinformational dynamo.

The other evening I had the special pleasure of viewing Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress (Toho, 1958) on DVD: my first viewing since the Toho Cinema in New York City screen it briefly in the early 1960s. The incomparable Toshiro Mifune plays the surviving general of a defeated clan. Disguised as a wood cutter he labors both inventively and heroically to rescue his princess, the last repository of his clan’s royal blood, and what remains of the clan fortune: embodied by a few hundred gold bars.

This is a movie much of the tension of which comes from discrepancies between the audience’s view of the heroes and the heroes’ fellow characters view of the heroes. We see how artistocratic Princess Yuki Akizuki is, even as she’s pretending to be a mute peasant girl. We see how gorgeously heroic is General Rokurota Makabe, how puissant, how brave … even as he’s pretending to be a commoner. (If you’re not willing to believe in differences (information-issuing) of class, of blood, of heritage … of magic, of nobility (as in a Shakespeare romance) for a couple of hours of theater, then don’t bother to see this wonderful film.)

An army buddy who mocked my religious inclinations when we were twenty-three, by thirty was telling me how marvelous the New Testament was in portraying how Jesus’ twelve disciples failed to perceive their master at all. They didn’t understand a word he said, hadn’t a clue who or what he was, just didn’t get it: even when he cured the blind, raised the dead … And, of course, once he gets into trouble with the authorities, simply flee. The faithful, hearing the story, hear it with double vision, double hearing: their faith was lacking; ours is true …

Note the complexity of all of these differences: macroinformationally rich meta-differences every one.

According to that story the Temple of Jerusalem turned on its own god, broke its own laws to sandbag that god. But of course we faithful would never do that. (Wittgenstein asked how we could be certain we’d never been to the moon (way before anyone actually had been). What, he asks, have we never been asleep? never had a moment’s inattention? when some demon could carry us there and back, unknowing? Kafka has his K. declare his innocence to unspecified charges. Even if he knew the charges, how could he possibly be sure of his “innocence”?) (Oedipus diligently sought out the murderer of his predecessor, never guessing, till it was too late, that he himself was the killer. Yet, hadn’t he known that he had killed? How can the killer possibly know that his victim wasn’t the god, the hero, the king: in disguise?) (How do we know that the person we interrupt, the person we push aside … wasn’t about to give us a winning lottery ticket? the philosopher’s stone? the solution to all our problems?)

The reader familiar with will recognize those last points as typical I beg the Macroinformation visitor to see them as important tangents to the informational emphasis which we now resume. Indeed, as we proceed, I hope to demonstrate that such tangents are informational: macroinformational in particular.

The audience for The Petrified Forest sees Humphrey Bogart and knows that the pre-rational, inarticulate brute on the screen is really Bogart: the matinée idol. We know that Bogart is an actor, not a thug. But, when Bogart’s Sam Spade, in The Maltese Falcon, tells Sidney Greenstreet’s Fat Man to keep Elisha Cook, Jr.’s Wilmer off of him, because he’s “taken guns away from punks before,” the audience, over years of such movies, comes also to believe that matinée pretty-boy really is tough, can face down guns in his face. We question whether Sarah Michelle Gellar (or Christy Swanson), as Buffy, can really jump backwards over ten foot spiked iron fences or kick vampire heavies around … ’cause she’s a girl … but don’t question the ability of Bogie, or the Duke … or Toshiro Mifune.

The next draft will be tighter. Right now I’m letting materials string.

The Hidden Fortress takes a princess as being different from a peasant girl as given.

@ 2003 10 23
See Macho Fille.

Thinking Tools Information, Macroinformation Menu Mi Views

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
This entry was posted in information, pk Teaching, thinking tools and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s