Posts tagged ‘frame’

The act of storytelling is in essence a linear mode of expression. There is a before and after, a beginning and an end. It is a consequence of the writing revolution, and a model from the universe that existed prior to electronic media. It functions in a way where certain things are hidden and slowly revealed to build tension and excitement, with a payoff in the end to finally sum up the whole story, which in most cases try to tell you some sort of moralistic view. One could probably trace such practices back to its roots of the Shaman or ‘campfire’ stories, where people would gather to hear the tales of the unknown.

Does this still work today? By ‘work’, I mean, will people still find this interesting and convincing? With the presence of electronic media (internet, mobile phones, video, etc), things are starting to change. I might be getting ahead of my argument here, because I’m not giving enough background on how the media is changing the way our minds work, i.e. the way we construct our thoughts and understand the world. To start off, all stories, whether visual or audio, have a frame implied; by that i mean a start and an end, whether it’s a physical frame (like the ones we see on paintings), or a time-frame. Human beings like to see things in that way, because we are affected by notions of life and death, and as such we try to make sense of our short span on Earth. So stories are convincing because they frame a moment to the benefit of their point, but have people ever wondered about what happens after ‘they lived happily ever after?’ What happens to Snow White and the Handsome Prince after they fall in love and get married for many years? Isn’t there a possibility that she might get old and ugly too and turn into the wicked witch that sought to wreck her? Would that, then, change the premise of the story, and set a new tone for its point of view?

Storytelling provides a framework for fragmented viewpoints, all making sense in their own little universes, without consideration of others, which is what makes crossovers interesting. When two worlds collide, we have a juxtaposition of ideas that form new relationships and therefore new ideas. Imagine a movie where Spider-man meets The Dark Knight, how would that play out? They probably already did a comic on that already, and that’s simple enough as they have much in common, with a clear definition on who’s good and evil. ( on a side note, the notion of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is also a concept that only exists within a certain ‘frame’, although this should be left for another essay.) But what if it was say, Spider-man meets Terminator? Not the most predictable combination but even so, would be a bizarre but interesting one to watch, if such a movie was ever made. The concepts that hold each universe together must find a way to merge and make sense of each other. Spider-man projects a thriving civilization that is threatened by some crooks with the likes of the Joker, while Terminator speaks of a dystopian and crumbling vision of the future at the mercy of machines. When civilization is threatened by a greater evil such as the Terminators, would the baddies like the Joker put down their petty goals and fight alongside Spider-man to save humanity? Or, if the Joker lives in a world where time machines exist, would he try to take over one and travel back to own Skynet, and perhaps even assassinate Spider-man’s mother? Whichever the case, it requires alteration and compromise of both sides, sometimes leading to new consequences unforeseen by the authors themselves. In essence, they are two systems conjured up by different creators being put together to co-exist, and the lines that shape their features will also be the ones that cut each other down.

Or what if it was a mash-up of a China war film on the revolution and a war film from maybe Taiwan? Both sides would have different points of views on who is the good and bad, because they have different ‘frames’, and it would be interesting to watch how it pans out, if ever made. Propaganda, is in effect also another function of storytelling, and with the introduction of electronic media, it is hard to keep their story intact with so many other interferences. Electronic media makes information fluid, joins pieces together, even those that weren’t meant to be together (not unlike the new combinations of couples across the globe thanks to sites like match.com). It is difficult to censor information from people today and to convince people of a story that only exists within borders.

Yes, there is life after death; it is continued in our sons and daughters.

“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
lol i talked to one prof that was giving the tutorial class
singaporean fella
Nelson says:
wat class
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
then i asked him how in hell he managed to plow through the books
some engineering thing
then you know what he told me
last time no sms no internet
Nelson says:
lol true that
our perception of time and space have changed too
we used to be able to wait for months for a single letter to arrive
now with email, its instantaneous
people are less patient with everything
let alone go thru a book
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
Nelson says:
ur ebook site is blocked in China
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
Nelson says:
obviously China still doesnt believe in the ‘information’ revolution
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
Nelson says:
in my article, i wrote about something called a ‘frame’
and essentially, it is the part where you cut off to bracket your thesis/story
censorship is propaganda’s ‘frame’
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
we can’t parallel process that’s the problem
we can only adopt one frame at a time
Nelson says:
u must not talk about certain things (or assume) in order for your thesis to be true
fragmented thinking
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
well if you could think in parallel
you are close to being He
Nelson says:
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
mere mortal minds will never be able to do so
Nelson says:
which is why the internet promises a ‘fluid’ model of information
no ‘brackets’
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”   says:
it promises
but we can’t adjust to it
so in the end its just fragments
Nelson says:
yes coz human life has brackets to begin with…life and death

When one thinks of the codified world, as Vilem Flusser describes, one starts to think of their cultural heritage as a set of codes. For me, I have come to define ‘culture’ as the methods of survival for a given civilization over time (this probably warrants a whole other article in itself.) Culture is something that grows out of the necessity to survive, and over time, develops into ritualistic practices, and then their intentions are sometimes forgotten because they are so old. As such, because each civilization has lived differently and undergone different circumstances, they have sought different ways to overcome difficulties, and of course the ones that succeeded survive. Now, Flusser will argue that culture shouldn’t be explained, but should be interpreted, because it is a humanity. For him, culture is something that is fabricated by people to give meaning to their meaningless lives in the face of death, a very existential approach, but for the purpose of this article, I am concerned only with the aspect of culture as a form of code, not its purpose.

What’s interesting about different cultures has always been about how different their codes are; even within China, the different provinces each have their own cultural practices. They might all speak mandarin, the common language, but until you have lived in a place and learned the local tongue, you might still not understand some of the terms and phrases that they use. Such symbols are not a matter of language, but a common understanding that is brewed over time within a certain frame. By frame, I mean both physical, such as geography, and metaphysical borders, such as time. People only start to accept you as one of them when you have acquired an understanding of their local culture, and if you have truly mastered it, might even confuse you to be one of them.

The tricky issue comes when a person has more than one set of codes imbued in him, although in today’s world, we already have many of such people around. I once watched a documentary where a Japan-born Korean found difficulty in being accepted into Japanese society. What’s weird is if she doesn’t tell you she is ‘Korean’, one will never know she belongs to Korean heritage because she speaks perfect Japanese and understands the culture fully. The only difference is that she has a memory which had been ingrained into her from young that she has a connection to the Korean civilization. One might argue that being ‘Korean’ is more biological than cultural, but I beg to differ. One must consider the factor of time and, once again, the notion of the frame (this will go in another article). But even if one simply looks at cultural identity, for example being Korean, as having both biological and social codes, then maybe it is not so complicated. For how a civilization behaves in social terms affects how it biologically breeds, and how it biologically breeds also affects how it socially plays out, and culture is brewed in this continuous spiral. Culture is born out of a spiral between social practice and biological function over time. For example, a people living in a cold climate might cook spicy food to fight the cold, and over time, develop a biological appetite for spicy food. But because they have grown to like spicy food over time, they start developing new recipes to satisfy this crave. And hence you have an array of spicy food in say, Korean cuisine, which only further propels the spicy appetite of next generations. Over time, people might forget how it all started, and why they had come to develop so many different variations of spicy food and have such a liking for them, but by then a ‘cultural’ code would have occurred, and if you’re Korean, you eat Korean food.

As such, this model could also be brought to explain moralistic practices within a civilization. Let’s take one of Confucius’ teaching as an example, which is to respect and take care of the elderly. Now, I’m not claiming that this necessary came out of a survival problem, but let’s say it did, and that somehow the Chinese people realized their numbers did better when they took care of their old. This practice becomes accepted and understood by everyone within the community that it starts becoming a moral, where if a person who doesn’t do it is as good as endangering the whole community. Over many centuries, this group of people gets used to this practice, it gets passed down from generation to generation, and the thinking gets imbued in their blood, such that a Chinese person will naturally be in agreement with such a practice. Social practice has been converted into a biological function over time, and conversely, biological functions continue to pass down and promote such social practices. History is embedded in our blood, and one can see it as a form of code that is a part of the cultural equation. Which is why Chinese medicine believes that the body is a product of the mind, and they even believe that some illnesses are linked to a spiritual or psychological dysfunction i.e. worry. Mind is body, and body is mind. If a person’s mind is in constant worry, his heart pumps faster everyday, and over time, he is affected physically. Every intangible thought or feeling has a certain effect on a person’s physical body. There is some physiological connection between mind and body, just like how Confucius’ teachings can be codified in every Chinese person’s blood, and the Chinese believe in it. Which perhaps starts to explain Chinese people’s use of the word ‘blood’ as not just a mere biological fluid, but rather a collection of beliefs,feelings, ideology and history. Centuries of war and suffering is codified in Chinese blood. Blood plays a huge significance in Chinese culture, and if someone wrote a letter in blood, then it must be of utmost importance.

Our codified blood, blood that contains many layers of complex information, is also affected by things such as weather and environment. Again, in Chinese medicine (and i learned this via a conversation with my landlady), they believe that everyone is biologically different depending on where they come from. Because their cultural practices are different, their blood is also different. The people who live near the sea have a certain type of liver, because they have constantly been eating seafood for many centuries, and so they cannot be treated in the same way as people from other places. Word has it that the ‘bagua’ (八卦) has clearly categorized all the different types of Chinese people according to their areas, and how it affects them biologically and culturally depending on climate, diet and conditions. It’s interesting when one starts to equate biological processes to cultural practices, and vice versa, and then blood having a memory to store all these information. Of course, blood content changes all the time, especially in today’s world, where cultures are mixing all the time, and people are migrating so often. People from hot climates are migrating to colder climates and planting new roots there, hence changing the content of their blood (and also culture), while people interbreeding from different climates is also more rampant due to technological advancements in transportation.

When all these codes change, how will we start to define them?

It is easier to define a cultural code when it is consistent across a big number of people, and this consistency trickles down to signs such as language, diet, skin, facial features and religion such that we can call them a civilization/race/nation. But when everything starts getting jumbled up, and there is not enough consistency to identify a trend, will people start to lose their cultural identities? Or will they start to develop new ones based on other factors such as one’s association with the workplace?  Before it had always been geographical borders that defined how these codes developed, but one can find different codes of conduct in the same place now, even within the same building, and people in different places might even have more in common than those around them due to the emergence of new ‘frames’ and conditions.

Or perhaps all these culture (and blood) will get diluted someday to form one ultimate unified code across the globe?