Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Windows on the World

Thomas Keenan’s “Windows of Vulnerability” brought several connections and questions to my mind. First, Keenan writes, “The opening risks the more violent opening of the distinction between inside and outside, private and public, self and other” (124). I feel like this is exactly what new media, and the Internet more specifically, is doing- breaking down boundaries between different societal spheres. What was once the private domain is now public and everyone knows everyone else’s business and thoughts (through blogs, Facebook, etc.). To me it seems that this is the true reasoning behind the “windows” of the Internet (what we call the pages) and even the whole operating system Windows. As much as the “windows” allow us to “see and be seen”, they also represent the opening of borders between groups, people, and what were previously distinctly separate realms.

Keenan asks, “What is at stake for us in thinking that we look out, that we gaze (know, dominate), from a ground and through a window, and in forgetting the entrance or the ‘gift’ of that light?” (127). I think this relates to our idea how people view themselves as entirely unique and individual, and believe that most, if not all, of their thoughts are original. We often forget the huge background of cultural knowledge and prior experience that shapes who we are and how we think. When trying to understand the meaning of a text or work, it is impossible to distance ourselves from the outside circumstances that shape us. I compare this to the “light” that Keenan speaks of, the knowledge-forming entity that is always around us, but is rarely recognized or appreciated.

Lastly, another line that caught my interest was “And contemporary technologies of the image have either substituted the screen for the window altogether (‘The world constructed by the media seems to be a valid surrogate for ‘real life’ whatever that is. I decided that aiming my camera at the television set was just as reasonable as aiming it out the window.’)”(130). Clearly, this fits in with Baudrillard’s ideas of simulacra and simulation. In a way, the world you see through a window is just a simulation of the real world. If there is some sort of design or mark on the window, it is sometimes difficult to tell if that is outside or just on the window. Someone who had only ever seen the outside world through tinted or colored windows would have no problem accepting that as the truth. The interface, in this case the window, affects the message and the reality of the situation. And the way that the media portrays the world is the same way- everyone relies on the media for information about global news and the state of world affairs, so basically whatever the media decides to show people becomes the reality, and is more “real” to people than real life. Media is just another window through which people look, albeit one that has the power to selectively change what the viewer sees through it.

(Friday 11 AM Section)

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