Jejune Inversions and Interchangeablity

February 4, 2009

Robert Smithson, (digitally “preserved”) photograph of a partially buried woodshed

woodshed

“I should now like to prove the irreversability of eternity by using a jejune experiment for proving entropy. Picture in your mind’s eye the sandbox divided in half with lack sand on one side and white sand on the other. We take a child and have him run hundreds of times around clockwise in the box until the sand gets mixed and begins to turn grey; after that, we have we have him run anti-clockwise, but the result will not be a restoration of the original division, but a greater degree of greyness and an increase of entropy.

Of course, if we filmed such an experiment we could prove the reversability of eternity by showing the film backwards, but then sooner or later the film itself would crumble or get lost and enter the state of irreversibility. Somehow this suggests that the cinema offers an illusive or temporary escape from physical dissolution. The false immortality of the film gives the viewer an illusion of control over eternity – but “the superstars” are fading.”

– Robert Smithson, “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic , New Jersey” (1967)

The importance of jejune, I think, lies in the regression to a childlike state of a lack of enculturated knowledge. The jejune is a possibility-space free from the illusionistic confines of the predominant cultural biases and attitudes. Before the abuse of power enculturates a child through inversions of metaphors, calling illusions “structures”, fantasies “concrete”, etc., the child is allowed to roam free from the biased cultural confines. Sure, they lack knowledge – but this is where the play and vividness of imagination comes from. Without social responsibilities, or cultural confinement, the child’s unenculturated imagination takes control of it’s experience. It is that powerful. Haven’t you ever seen a child run around in a “rampage” interacting with apparitions of thier own imaginations, almost to the point of mentaly transforming the architecture underneath a table, into the underside of a mountain? Scale, to the child is no longer a restriction. Tables can be mountains. Mountains can be tables. The concept of a “structure” to the child is interchangeable with “illusion”. There are no fantasies of “concreteness”, or “stasis” masquerading as real. The child is closer to the entropic realities, than some adults might think themselves to be. Some children have no mania for preservation, not because they have a concept of it, but because they lack the concept of it. They evolve along with cultural attitudes, and once the threshold of free inversion and interchangeability is passed into “locked” illusionistic metaphors determined scales, they slowly die out in a cultural dreamscape, they think is a landscape. We all do.

The jejune, then – regardless if this experiment still holds true with servers, and hard-drives today – is a telling expression of the power of both the imagination, and the cultural sublimation of it through metaphorical magic tricks.

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