A way of responding to life

“The science-fictional (sometimes contracted into the usefully awkward term ‘SFnal’) is ‘neither a belief nor a model, but rather a mood or attitude, a way of entertaining incongruous experiences’, Csicsery-Ronay says, a way of responding to life within the artificial immanence of technological saturation…”

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Sans soleil asks us to take this lateral drift, working associatively through a travelogue in Japan, reflections on the meaning of footage from Guinea-Bissau and a journey to San Francisco as part of an homage to the meditations on memory and the spiral of time in Hitchcock’s Vertigo (US 1958), and to listen to dissertations on the power of the image to displace or even obliterate history. All this is directed by a female narrator who is reading fragments from the letters of the cameraman who has allegedly taken these shots. Towards the end, the voiceover provides one explanation of the film’s title. Sunless is, or might be, not just the title of a piece by the composer Missourgski: it might also be an sf film. The sharp cuts and juxtapositions of images are not spatial but temporal montage. This is the journey not of an alien, but one of the Men from the Future (as they are called in La jetée) through time. He has arrived from 4001 ce (doubling Kubrick’s stake), at a moment when the capacities of the brain have been fully realised, when there is no forgetting anymore but therefore no ability to discern a narrative, the human pattern of memory and forgetting, through the overwhelming and absolute presence of memorial images. It becomes a dystopia about being overwhelmed by the melancholic blockage of memorial time, just as Scottie is overwhelmed in Vertigo…”

Text: Roger Luckhurst, Martian montage: Chris Marker’s sf. Science Fiction Film and Television, Volume 5, Issue 2, Autumn 2012,

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3 thoughts on “A way of responding to life”

  1. I can’t look!! That is the most disturbing image ever!! Love the quotes, esp, “… there is no forgetting anymore but therefore no ability to discern a narrative, the human pattern of memory and forgetting, through the overwhelming and absolute presence of memorial images. It becomes a dystopia about being overwhelmed by the melancholic blockage of memorial time, just as Scottie is overwhelmed in Vertigo…”

  2. Is there nothing I can do to make it hold still? I cover one eye, I squint, I look sideways, all to no avail: this totally lifeless 2-D image will not hold still. I am upset. I feel like my mom did when she disassembled her Rubik’s cube and glued the pieces together in “done” position after her years of failing to break the code. For the love of God, somebody MAKE ME STOP LOOKING!!!

  3. Reblogged this on carolkean and commented:
    -Hey! Incredible discovery: the image above is HOLDING STILL. That’s evenmore disturbing to me than the way it will NOT hold still if you click on it and view it at the site. What is going on here? Morris Mason is there an explanation for this visual trickery? It makes me sick. Seriously: I can’t stop looking, and no matter how I look at it (sideways, squinting, one eye closed) I can’t make it stop moving. But the image on the FB wall does hold still. My mind cannot take it. For the love of God someone pull me away from this sick, sick image!!!

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