Volume 3, Number 1
The Nutty Universe of Animation, The
“Discipline” of All “Disciplines”, And That’s Not All, Folks!
Dr. Alan Cholodenko
(Honorary Associate, Department of Art History and Theory, University of Sydney, Australia).
It may be that universal history is the history of a handful of metaphors. The purpose of this note will be to sketch a chapter of this history.2
Eternity is a child at play, playing draughts: the kingdom is a child’s.3
[Latin.] nux, nucis…, a nut. At weddings it was customary to strew nuts on the floor:…, Verg. E. 8, 30 [Virgil’s Eclogae];… Children played with nuts, Suet. Aug. [Octavius Augustus Caesar] 83; Cat. [C. Valerius Catullus, Poet] 61, 131; hence, prov. [proverb]: nuces relinquere [literally to relinquish nuts], to give up childish sports, to betake one’s self to the serious business of life, to throw away our rattles, Pers. [A. Persius Flaccus, Satirist] 1, 10: nux cassa, a nutshell:… – Fig. of a thing of no value, Hor. S. [Satirae] 2, 5, 36…4
...I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space…5
In a nutshell, these epigraphs, these kernels, are at the “core”, the “nucleus”, of this essay. At the least, and as I shall explain, they tell us childhood and animation go together, in a nutshell. That they do so is a point I have made before – in my Introduction to THE ILLUSION OF LIFE, 7 in which I drew a privileged relation between cartoon animation, animation film and film animation, that is, film as a form of animation, and the child, the nonhuman and the object, as well as between animation film, film animation and Freud’s “uncanny” – what returns from the childhood of the individual and of the human (species) – suggesting thereby that the adult is never only adult but always child, too.8 And it is a point I made in my essay in that book, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or The Framing of Animation”, in which I proposed the disseminative, animatic trace always already/never not there of the child in the adult. For me, there is a fatality to the child, as there is to cartoon animation, seducing live action, seducing fiction, seducing documentary, seducing reality – seducing the adult, in all its forms – even fatal, like the cartoon, to “itself”.9 (Parenthetically, for me the animatic is the performance and performativity of animation – the animation and animating of animation – the essence of animation, if animation could have an essence, which for us it cannot, and is especially associated with Derridean dissemination, Baudrillardian Seduction, Freud’s uncanny and Kristeva’s abjection, processes impossible of solution or resolution.10)
Drawing upon and extending such work of drawing animation together with childhood, I want to speculate here on the animation of childhood and the childhood of animation, what we might call the universe of childhood – focusing especially on the cosmological form of the child – the childhood of the universe. But the largest reach of this essay is the figure of the child “as such”. To focus on the child “as such” is to draw upon and extend my essay “The Illusion of The Beginning: A Theory of Drawing and Animation”,11 in which I drew together drawing, animation and the notion of the beginning in their deconstructive and seductive forms as the graphematic, animatic and what I called the beginningend.
Simply put: another word for beginning is childhood. Which means, though I cannot elucidate this here, within the spatial constraints operating, that all that I said in “The Illusion of The Beginning” about the beginning, the graphematic and the animatic is also about childhood, about the child. The beginning of the universe is the origin, the childhood, of the universe, even as the universe of childhood is inextricably commingled with it, with the universe in and at its beginning, a beginning for us never simply begun nor simply ended, like that of childhood “itself”. Like the beginning “as such”, the child “as such” is aporetic, itself a haunted house, a crypt – a cryptic incorporation and incorporator – a kind of spectre, black hole, or rather white hole, even singularity. The fatality to the child “as such” includes for us therefore the childhood of the universe.
Indeed, while Freud proposes two instances of the uncanny – of what returns from childhood to again terrify, but terrify the adult who thought his childhood was over – the psychological instance and the anthropological instance – I propose a third as supplement – the cosmological uncanny, part of a cosmological Cryptic Complex – all three for me commingled, inextricably, cryptically, so.12 In all three, it is death, the fatal, that returns.
For us, what is at stake and in play in both the universe of childhood and the childhood of the universe is animation – as the animatic. And for us, to pick up the title of this essay, the animatic animation of the universe is, in a nutshell, of the order of the nut, a figure that draws together (and apart at the same time) the universe, the child, its games and toys, and animation – including the notions of contemporary “philosophers” and cosmologists, not only thinkers of animation and the animatic but animatic thinkers of them, some more than others. And for us, this nut is nutty, even as my proposals, analyses and logics will themselves inevitably be seen as nutty, a nutty profession from a nutty professor.
In referencing contemporary “philosophers” and cosmologists, I mean to indicate at the least that a key focus of this essay is the cross-faculty, transdisciplinary relations between the humanities and the physical sciences. For me, it is incumbent upon the humanities – that includes animation studies especially – and the physical sciences to be informed of and utilize developments in the knowledges of each other. Probably the overwhelming majority of scholars working in these faculties are even unaware of such developments in, by and of the other, to say nothing of having a wish to learn of, understand and utilize them. (Indeed, most of what is written in the humanities in the thinking of time and space is pre-Einsteinian!) But such refusal and ignorance do not restrain the many erroneous pronouncements and misunderstandings scholars in each area make and have about the other.
Yet, for me – and this should not be surprising – there are profound and fecund parallels to be witnessed, thought through and worked with between and across faculties, notably for this author between the notions, models, logics and processes of such contemporary French thinkers as Jean Baudrillard and Jacques Derrida and those of such leading cosmologists as Stephen Hawking and James Hartle.
I would even argue – outlandishly so to many, I think – that such
scientists might benefit from the work of such “philosophers”, and
vice versa; that, though they might wish it to be otherwise, each
faculty always already is inextricably commingled with the other,
the work of the animatic13;
and that it is “within” the “discipline” of animation studies and
around the “nutty” figure of the animatic that such thinkers of the
universe, such nutty professors, and such faculties might find
points of contact, points rich in import and implication. So, for
us, as my Introduction to THE ILLUSION OF LIFE proposes,
animation engages processes, disciplines, knowledges,
discourses, and institutions across the spectrum, across all the
faculties, across arts, the humanities, the social and the natural
sciences, including philosophy, from the Pre-Socratics on. And I
would add: animation studies needs to engage with all of them, for
all of them for me “engage with” animation.
II. The Quantum Looniverse
In my “The Illusion of The Beginning” essay, I wrote, with some clarifying additions and alterations placed in brackets here:
The beginning in the word in the New Testament would be subject to the logics of the graph as writing, as the beginning in the dividing line in the Old Testament would be subject to the logics of the graph as drawing. The dividing line is inscribed in Genesis: God draws the line, dividing the light from the dark, the day from the night – but what then is the crepuscular, the twilight time of dawn and dusk? – and divides the land from the sea – but what then is the littoral [the space between land and sea – the shore, the beach]? [See the end of my “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” essay on this.14] As with the theological cosmogonical [that which concerns the birth of the universe], the iterable [that is, repeatable] nature of the mark predicts the impossibility of cosmology finding a pure beginning of the universe and of reconciling everything in a unified theory [a TOE, a Theory of Everything]. Thus, Stephen Hawking’s and James Hartle’s “no-boundary” proposal – that the universe is a sphere, at once bounded and boundless, finite and infinite, [with and] without a beginning... [and] an end – not only puts [these] cosmologists in the line of those [Ptolemy, Copernicus et. al.] inscribed by Borges in his very history of [the thinking of] the universe as sphere, “The Fearful Sphere of Pascal”, but confirms the logics of différance and [S]eduction in that regard... Beyond this point lie two crucial ones: first, though the humanities and the sciences might mistakenly think otherwise of each other, [for me] each exhibits the same logics in play, those of such animatic thinkers of the limits as Baudrillard and Derrida and Hawking and Hartle[;] and second, [for me] the animatic operates not only at the limits of the macro-cosmos and the micro-cosmos but everywhere, a point Baudrillard and Derrida offer not only to cosmology and subatomic physics but to all disciplines.15
These words from “The Illusion of The Beginning” came out of a letter I wrote to Stephen Hawking in 1998, one responding to, including critical of, aspects of his TV series Stephen Hawking’s Universe. In particular, I noted the comment by Harvard Physics Professor Sidney Coleman that “a thousand philosophers working for a thousand years could not come up with anything as strange as quantum theory”. Coleman obviously did not know the work of contemporary “philosophers” such as Baudrillard and Derrida! (nor that of Gilles Deleuze, Paul Virilio, Julia Kristeva, etc.).
In my letter to Hawking, I proposed the existence of affinities commingling Hartle and himself with Baudrillard and Derrida, their utilization of analogous logics – logics that, as animatic, are “strange”, counter-intuitive, (il)logical, aporetic, weird, delirious, daffy(!), looney(!), “nutty”. I proposed that the form of his and Hartle’s “no boundary proposal” – at once bounded and boundless, finite and infinite, with and without a beginning and an end – is the same aporetic form as that of Derridean deconstruction: “the both/and, neither/nor, at the same time” of différance. I proposed that their “the boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary” is the same form as that of Baudrillardian Seduction: “the only x is that there is no x”, as in Baudrillard’s “the only truth is that there is no truth”.
Beyond these points, I proposed that his formulation of the implosive effect of the black hole on Einstein’s general theory of relativity as it applies to the singularity of the Big Bang can be read in terms of Derridean deconstruction – the black hole deconstructs that theory – and in terms of Baudrillard’s notions of Seduction, Objective Irony, fatality – not only is the black hole fatal to itself and to the theory predicting it but the theory is itself fatal, fatal to what it describes, fatal to twentieth century physics, fatal even to itself, making the theory for me itself black hole, paradoxically, ironically, fulfilling itself in annihilating itself, and vice versa, suggesting that all theory is so – fatal theory – that not only seduces what it produces but seduces itself, such systematic desystematizing by systems of themselves a fatality for Baudrillard integral to all systems. These formulations and notions of Derrida and Baudrillard I posed in my letter to Hawking as key analogues of his, and his and Hartle’s, formulations and notions. Alas, I got no letter back from Hawking; but I did get a nice note from his assistant. I guess Hawking regarded me as a “civilian”, which is itself telling in terms of my thesis.16
Hawking has now published a new book, enabling me to take that Borgesian lineage of thinkers of the universe as sphere further. For here, in his new book, The Universe in a Nutshell,17 Hawking provides his own pertinence to that sphere of his “no boundary” proposal by characterizing it as nutshell:
...the behavior of the vast universe can be understood in terms of its history in imaginary time, which is a tiny, slightly flattened sphere. It is like Hamlet’s nutshell, yet this nut encodes everything that happens in real time. So Hamlet was quite right. We could be bounded in a nutshell and still count ourselves kings of infinite space.18
Indeed, a reading of Hawking’s text sees the simile occasionally slide into metaphor, making the universe not just like a nutshell but a nutshell, even as Hawking would have his book be that nutshell of the universe, that universe in a nutshell.
Space prevents me from elaborating on Hawking’s nutshell here, except to say that it allows him to get past the problem for physics of the singularity of the Big Bang in real time – where twentieth century physics itself implodes. So that while the universe – our universe – proceeds in real time and space from Big Bang to Big Crunch (the arrow of time), our universe in imaginary time as sphere, as nutshell, knows no implosion of the laws of physics and allows quantum cosmologists to get beyond the singularity of the Big Bang closer to the “origin” of our universe, to postulate our universe as having “multiple histories, each of which is determined by a tiny nut”,19 even that our universe is but one universe in a multiple universe – a multiverse.
Here, let me shift gears: for me, the cartoon is the privileged example of what operates within animation film and film animation, as well as a privileged example of what operates within and as animation “as such”, that is, the animatic, even as the cartoon and the animatic bear for me a privileged relation to “children of all ages”, to the child “as such”, and to wherever that child operates, which is for me everywhere! In this regard, I bring to the reader’s attention a key article which, when I first saw it, confirmed what I had been thinking and formulating. This short piece serving as support is by Stephen Jay Gould and is entitled “Looney Tuniverse”.20
Gould argues here that “There is a crazy kind of physics at work in the world of cartoons”,21 that of quantum theory, and proceeds to develop his theory of that world as “quantum Looniverse”,22 a theory which enables “these, seemingly nonsensical, phenomena [at work in classic Warner Bros. cartoons to] be described by logical laws similar to those in our world”.23 For Gould, such counter-intuitive phenomena as quantum tunneling and wave-particle duality can be observed in the behaviour of and events befalling Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, for example, Bugs’ “tunneling out of a chained and padlocked casserole dish placed in a sealed oven”24 or Road Runner being “far more energetic and wave-like”25 than Wile E. and never able to “be in one place long enough to be eaten”.26
I would add: we find in the argument of scientists that in the quantum world nothing is real unless and until it is observed,27 and even “that in the quantum world the sheer act of observation can cause an event to occur”,28 “explanations” for Wile E. Coyote’s plummeting to the canyon below only when he sees that there is nothing but air beneath the clouds in which he has been hovering.29
Here I would list key indicative terms invoked by leading cosmologists to describe the counter-intuitive processes of quantum mechanics, quantum cosmology and chaos theory, terms such as “weird”,30 “radical”,31 “madhouse”,32 “peculiar”,33 “wacky”,34 “strange”,35 and “crazy”.36 This is one reason why “nutty” seems the more appropriate term to me than Hawking’s “simple” nutshell.37
I would now propose the extension, as well as critique, of what Hawking and Hartle and Gould say, for they keep the preserve of the normal – normal, classical physics – whereas I would say “normal”, for the beyond-the-normal – the nutty world of quantum physics – for me is never not operating in that putative “shelter” (which I would call “shell-ter”!), is therefore never not itself “normal”, that is, abnormally normal and normally abnormal at the same time. In support of this “Looney-er”, “Daffy-er” proposition, I can call upon a number of scientists, starting with Paul Davies, who writes of the “madhouse quantum world”38:
There is only one set of laws for the whole universe. Physicists believe the quantum laws are the more fundamental, and that in principle they apply to everything, including everyday objects like tables and chairs. It’s just that distinctively quantum effects would be exceedingly small on a macroscopic scale, so we don’t notice them. The challenge is to understand by what physical process an apparently classical world emerges from its underlying quantum nature. In other words, we would like to derive the laws of classical mechanics as approximations of the deeper laws of quantum mechanics, and on the way answer the question about what it takes for a system to behave in an approximately classical manner.39
For Davies, the classical laws of physics are approximations of the quantum laws, not vice versa. The classical laws are, I would say, a special case of the quantum laws, “the familiar everyday commonsense world”40 a special case of the strange, nonsensical, counter-intuitive, nutty world.
Here we see the return of the uncanny, of the (quantum) cosmological uncanny, the uncanny eruption of the strange into the familiar, making the strange familiar and the familiar strange at the same time, or in a more complex way, making at the same time the strange at once familiarly strange and strangely familiar and the familiar at once strangely familiar and familiarly strange, making the familiar a special case of the strange. Indeed, in the face of the quantum world being for him “the more fundamental”, Davies pits the commonsensical against the need to abandon commonsense!41 I would of course have to suggest that in such a light, the counter-intuitive metamorphoses into the “intuitive”, that is, into the counter-intuitive intuitive and intuitive counter-intuitive at the same time.
What I propose, in a nutshell, is that insofar as the quantum universe is “the more fundamental” and cartoons are fundamentally quantum in nature – providing singular exemplification that quantum mechanics operates everywhere – cartoons singularly exemplify and perform that “more fundamental” universe, the quantum universe – the universe “as such”. The nutty universe of animation is (isomorphic with) the nutty animation of the universe. And this has a profound corollary. The quantum, nutty nature of the cartoon and its complex, ambivalent, aporetic logics challenges any characterization or theory of the cartoon – indeed of anything – as “pure anarchy” – the standard characterization, in fact, of the cartoon. It might be said that, even as James Gleick retheorizes chaos in his book Chaos: Making a New Science42 as not pure disorder, not the complete absence of order – a retheorizing we follow and to which we shall return – we are retheorizing anarchy here in like Derridean manner, as, for example, not the absence of government but the government of nongovernment and nongovernment of government at the same time (and/or not the absence of law but the law of lawlessness and lawlessness of law at the same time). This is to say, too, that it is not pure nonsense that one has to deal with in the case of the cartoon but rather the sense of nonsense and nonsense of sense at the same time, what Chuck Jones means for me when he describes fellow Warner Bros. animation directors Friz Freleng and Tex Avery as “masters of …a kind of nutty believability”.43
III. Radical, Irreducible Uncertainty
Here I would introduce another nutshell to our formulation: John D. Caputo entitles his book on Derrida and deconstruction – well, I think you the reader can guess it – Deconstruction in a Nutshell.44 In it, he announces the aporia – that is, the irreducible, irresolvable logical contradiction – of deconstruction as the aporia of the nutshell, though his own attempt to articulate it seems at best but partial and amazingly, nuttily, never engaged with the figure of the nutshell “itself”. For me, in a nutshell, the aporia of the nutshell makes the nutshell a Derridean undecidable, even as it makes deconstruction “itself” a nutshell, a Derridean undecidable, even as, to recall it, the form of Hawking and Hartle’s no boundary proposal of the universe as sphere – at once bounded and boundless, finite and infinite, with and without a beginning and an end – makes the universe and/at its childhood a nutshell – explicitly so for Hawking – a Derridean undecidable.
In fact, there are a number of aporias of the nutshell, and of deconstruction and the universe and/at its childhood as nutshells, not only that of the sphere but that of the parergon – the shell as frame, at once inside and outside what it frames, at once a part of and apart from what it frames45; the shell as double invagination – the shell never without its kernel and at the same time the kernel never without its shell46; and the shell as cryptic incorporation47 – whose kernel would always be lost as found and found as lost – the kernel that is the spectre, the living dead, in the haunted house, the crypt, including of cinema, for which Citizen Kane’s “Rosebud” provides for me singular example and performance. And I would add: the shell as simulacrum. For shell has as one of its meanings “a mere exterior”, opening the shell up to the thinking of the simulacrum of not only Derrida but Baudrillard, as well as, of course, Plato and Deleuze.
As nutshells, the child, the universe and deconstruction are aporetic, are what I have earlier called “shell-ter” (what would be the dissemination of the shelter).48 The child “as such” – including the universe of childhood and the childhood of the universe – the universe “as such” – and deconstruction “as such” we would say shell, that is, open up as they enclose and at the same time enclose as they open up. At the same time as they draw forth from, they withdraw into, their crypts, their haunted houses, including of language, are never not cryptic, cryptic incorporations, cryptic incorporators. Wombtombs.
Indeed, even in terms of the lexical, not only is child as term indeterminate at either end – running from before birth to the second childhood of old age – it is indetermining. Its etymological root is the Old English cild, from root *kilp-, whence also the Gothic kilpei womb, inkilpô pregnant woman. So even etymologically, the child is tied to, shares the same root as, that which it comes from – womb, pregnant woman – even as it is traditionally characterized as “fruit of the womb”, such etymology and terminology knotting the child in an aporetic, cryptic relation to the womb, the pregnant woman, at once a part of and apart from it/her/them, and vice versa. Of course, at the same time as the child comes from the woman, the woman, including the pregnant woman, comes from the child, even as both are encrypted, cryptically incorporated, by the crypt, the tomb, of the womb, the wombtomb that at the same time as it gives life gives death (brings death to life and at the same time brings life to death – “lifedeath”), including to the ability to treat of them individually, outside of the inextricable commingling, the knot, of their duality – the wombtomb a figure of all that seduces and disseminates pure productivity, pure generation, pure animation, as it does pure delineation, determination, definition.
This means that the child and the womb have a profound analogue, including lexical and etymological, in the nut and the nutshell. This is especially so as one of the meanings of nut is stone of fruit, which would suggest that, even as the child is “fruit of the womb”, it is at the same time stone of the “fruit of the womb”, its very kernel, core, nucleus – key lexical relatives, along with nuclear, of nut – encrypted, impossible to access “as such”, which Cryptic Complex, including of language, I call, in a nutshell, “Rosebud” – the dark continent of not only the child but of the in-between space that is the womb, the pregnant woman, the dark continent of their relation, the dark continent of the wombtomb.In a nutshell, what we have to do with here – including in the nutshell, including in “Rosebud” – is uncertainty – radical, irreducible uncertainty. Indeed, insofar as Borges’ destiny of the sphere turns it and its history from reassuring of god’s existence to increasingly rendering it, and what would be secured by it, uncertain, insecure, unreal – fearful – I have another reason for preferring to think of that nutshell as nutty. In this sense, too, I am pushing Hawking further. A taste of what that would be like is there in the physics literature already. For example, in his book In Search Of Schrödinger’s Cat, John Gribbin notes that “In the everyday world, the same uncertainty relation [found in the quantum world] applies...”49 and offers the fearful conclusion: “...what quantum mechanics says is that nothing is real...”50
For his part, Baudrillard declares: “The revolution of our time is the uncertainty revolution”.51 He tells us that even science and technology aim at uncertainty, with “presenting us with a definitively unreal world, beyond all criteria of truth and reality”,52 thereby marking at the least the impact of quantum science on not only our understanding of but capacity to understand the world, the universe. Which would include the impact of Niels Bohr’s Principle of Complementarity (for me, supplementarity), of wave/particle duality; Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle53; Kurt Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem; and Erwin Schrödinger’s Cat.54 It would also include chaos theory, which I have encapsulated in a Derridean formulation – the predictability of unpredictability and unpredictability of predictability at the same time55 – which theory I take up, along with Baudrillard’s fatal theory, ecstacizing the former with the latter, in my essay “‘OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR’: The Virtual Reality of Jurassic Park and Jean Baudrillard”.56
In his more recent writings – The Illusion of The End, The Perfect Crime, Impossible Exchange, The Vital Illusion – Baudrillard has had important things to say about the relation of chaos theory and quantum physics to the contemporary world and its systems of analysis and interpretation, of making meaning – a world marked for him by the passage from “the conventional universe” to “a quantum universe”, from therefore a putatively determinist world (Euclidean, Newtonian) to a non-determinist one, from one where ideas of linear development apply to one where “Everything is cast into a turbulence which makes control impossible...”57 The quantum universe – “probabilistic, relativistic, aleatory”,58 definitively uncertain – governs, in short; the real and the order of rational determination are the “exceptions”, increasingly so, as the quantum universe increasingly gains the upper hand in this “realist”, “social”, “relational” area of functioning, a “preserve”, a “shelter”, in any case immersed in the quantum. He states:
In this de-polarized social space (is it still a social or historical space?), traditional analysis no longer has any purchase, and solutions worked out at this level come to grief on a general uncertainty in the same way as classical calculations come to grief in quantum physics.59
In light of this situation, Baudrillard writes of the need now “to analyze a non-deterministic society non-deterministically – a fractal, random, exponential society, the society of the critical mass and extreme phenomena, a society entirely dominated by relations of uncertainty”60 – the kind of analysis he and we bring to bear on “reality” today.
For Baudrillard, in the contemporary world – that of the hyperreal world of his third and fourth orders of simulacra – nothing is exempt from the extreme, delirious processes of the hypertelic, the metastatic, the obese, the obscene, the terrorist and the hostage, the viral, the fractal, the clonal, etc., not even the child. In fact, in his essay “The Dark Continent of Childhood”, in Screened Out,61 Baudrillard links the child with these processes. For him, the child, like the adult, has increasingly become a clone, “a technical performance”, and more – an endangered species, a “satellite...on the artificial orbit of sameness”,62 an unintegratable, non-standard product, virtual, obsolete, and increasingly wild, delinquent, criminal, enemy to the adult – a dark continent.
But as well in this piece, crucially, he allies the child with what he considers superior to those processes – their unconditional form. He associates this – the child “as such” – its “idiotie” (idiocy, imbecility, foolishness, absurdity, says my Cassells New French Dictionary), its “singularity” – with his first order of the destiny of the world, that most associated with unconditional Illusion, enchantment, play, with the game, the game of Seduction – game of challenge (agonistics) and reversibility, of duel, defiance, outbidding, leading astray – with irreconcilability, cruelty, Evil, with metamorphosis and myth, magic, dance and theatre, with the rule and the dual, while he allies the adult with his second and diminished order, that of production, and reproduction – a world of “real”-izing, where the “real”-izers seek to install the nonsensical idea that the world is real, true, meaningful, that it holds a secret that could be known by the processes of production and reproduction mobilized by its systems – a world of metaphor, Christianity, materialism, law and the polar, of the dialectic and of contradiction. An order which still exists but is in the process of disappearing into the vacuum, the void, of the third and fourth orders, into what Baudrillard called around 20 years ago – long before Morpheus quotes him in The Matrix – “the desert of the real” – a world of virulent epidemics of radical, virtual indeterminacy.63 But insofar as that vacuum, that void, of the third and fourth orders is hypothetically metastatic avatar of the first order – that of the ecstatic radical Illusion of Seduction – an hypothesis for Baudrillard by definition unverifiable – it would herald the return for him of that “originary”, singular order – the order of the child whose singularity is this idiotie, this idiocy, imbecility, foolishness, absurdity. But here I must point out that another English word for idiotie is nuttiness.
For me, to be in the sphere of
childhood is to be at the same time in the childhood of the sphere,
a fearful, fatal, uncanny, nutty, animatic childhood (and) sphere,
allied with that “originary”, singular order of Baudrillard, for
which the perfect crime of hyperreality, of virtual reality, is, as
I suggested, hypothetically but its avatar.64
The child/sphere turns, returns. But in either case – “white hole”
or “black hole” – with this sphere one faces a case of radical
uncertainty of the kinds that for me Baudrillard singularly
characterizes, including in terms of the quantum universe, and which
notably allows us to add the subatomic particle to the microphysical
figures – virus, fractal and clone – of his fourth order.65
IV. Film As Animated World, Universe
I have proposed that cartoons offer singular exemplification and performance of that animatic sphere of childhood, including of the universe – the quantum universe, the universe “as such” – singularly demonstrated and performed for me by the wacky, “screwball” (I use the word advisedly!), nutty “classic” cartoons of Warner Bros., especially those of Daffy Duck and the Road Runner.66 This is also true of certain “live action” films. I put these words in quotation marks not only because these films also employ techniques and modes of animation (including computer animation) but because all films are forms of animation, live action being for me but a special case, the reduced conditional form, of animation (like Helen Kane to Betty Boop67). Insofar as such “live action” films singularly exemplify and perform the animatic – doing so through the very commingled figures of the child and the sphere – as well as singularly propose and demonstrate that “live action” film “as such” is a form of animation, they perform for me at the least two profound functions (and serve a key goal of mine), arguing for and contributing to the reanimation of Film Studies and animation studies as film animation studies, marking all films as animated worlds, universes, film “as such” as animated world, universe, incorporated in the nutty universe(s) of animation.
Films like Citizen Kane (1941), where that sphere is figured in the snow globe shattered after Charles Foster Kane utters “Rosebud”68 – the word itself, like the globe/sphere, for us figure of the aporia of the child, even as the child is figure of the aporia of the globe/sphere and the word, even as the shattering of that sphere into a multiplicity of shards at the “beginning” of the film announces the impossibility of ever fixing upon and resolving the meaning of “Rosebud”, of the childhood of Kane, of the child Kane, of the film Citizen Kane (the film that aptly announces for Deleuze the “advent” of the cinema of the time-image, what would be for us its uncanny return to his cinema of the movement-image, announcing that the latter is never not time-image, even as the animatic sphere is never not shattered, as Citizen Kane tells us, as it tells us that narrative is never not sphere, never not so shattered, even as it at the same time performs it). Even as that sphere, containing a replica of Mrs. Kane’s Boarding House, with Rosebud’s ghostly presence therein, doubles and is doubled by the spectral sphere likewise “within” it, that of the snowball the young Kane throws at the sign “Mrs. Kane’s Boarding House”, splattering between the Mrs. and the Kane, how Oedipal that! Kane may mourn for the lost rosebud of his childhood, but it has not lost him, rather cryptically incorporated him, as he has it.69
Films like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), with the star child “returning” to earth in a glowing, transparent sphere, which child and sphere are tellingly, albeit poorly, imaged in Hawking’s illustration accompanying his quoting of Hamlet’s “...I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space...”!70 Parenthetically, such a concatenating and concatenated sphere, one likewise foregrounding the nuclear in the nut, is also figured in Akira (1988), in the sphere of the containment vessel encasing the remains of the child Akira – the sphere physically modeled on the Trinity Site Bomb the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was responsible for developing and that was detonated 43 years to the day earlier than the day of the beginning of World War III in Akira, which was likewise the day the film opened in Japan, the film’s avatar “bomb” performing that “apocalyptic” beginning on Japan.71
Films like Jurassic Park (1993), with the signature mushroom-shaped cloud demi-sphere of the Atomic Bomb here doubling the thought balloon sphere within which it is imaged, with the words “Beginning of Baby Boom” on a paper next to it, on the computer of the naughty “child” Denis Nedry – the A-Bomb the nuclear brain child of Oppenheimer, the nuclear avatar of the biggest baby boom of all that we “know” of – the Big Bang – Oppenheimer’s Bomb the baby boom that for Baudrillard initiates hyperreality – the pure and empty form of the baby, the Bang and the boom. And films like Men in Black (1997), which ends with our universe as sphere, one with which an alien, just like a child, has been playing a game of marbles and which is then dropped by the alien into a bag, a bag likewise housing other universes as spheres/marbles.
And films like The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines (2003). In the first of these time travel films, the time travel machine is not imaged, just referenced as time displacement equipment, whose use generates the experience, says Kyle Reese, of “white light, pain... It’s like being born maybe”, in other words the experience of being animated! Of becoming child! Of course, Dr Silberman nuttily diagnoses Kyle to Sarah Connor with these words: “In technical terminology...he’s a loon!”. In T2 and T3 the time machine is imaged, imaged as sphere; but that sphere is not only the literal mode of time transport from future to present but the metaphorical, allegorical, spatialized figure of time (and its) travel – the nutty, uncanny, fearful sphere forming and performing the aporias of time (and its) travel. This is what we will call the quantum cryptic incorporation, quantum Cryptic Complex, of time (and its) travel on a sphere, one cryptically incorporating the child therein, and vice versa, even as the time travel (in and as the) sphere in the Terminator films knots cryptically, aporetically, not only the child John Connor with the adult John Connor but “both” of them with “their” mother Sarah and father Kyle (and the father surrogate T-101s in T2 and T3), therefore so knots Sarah and Kyle (and his surrogates) as well, in its wombtomb.
These spheres are the animating, indeed animatic, agencies of the loopiness/loopingness in and of these films, figuring film “as such” as sphere, as loop, as Moebius Strip, as animatic – at once animator and terminator (or rather, where animator is always already also terminator, and vice versa). Time (and its travel) as sphere of quicksilver, as globe of mercury, the very protean plasmatic, animatic material of which the time travelers T-1000 and T-X are composed, for which they also serve as figures, and into globules of which the T-1000 decomposes in the vat of molten metal at the end of T2 (a vat from which not only it but the T-101 are ostensibly drawn and to which they both return). This, in a nutshell, is the very nut that the films play out: film “as such” as loopy, looney, protean plasmatic, animatic, cryptically complex time travel machine.
We must not forget Contact (1997), with its sphere within the “sphere” of the alien transporter, nutty in the least in that transporter’s being modeled on the pre-quantum mechanical, now discredited, model of the atom! It’s nutty too that Ellie Ann Arroway’s child’s drawing of Pensacola, with a beach, a sun and palm trees (no doubt containing coconuts!), becomes Vega! It’s uncannily nutty, and vice versa, in this return on and of Vega of her childhood, of death, of her dead father! Arroway – the way of the arrow of time – is cycle, curve, spiral, sphere! – not only in and of the film’s narrative but in and of that narrative’s irresolution. The nutty professor Dr Arroway’s twice said “It’s nuts!” works like Jane Fonda’s “It’s crap!” in Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Tout va bien, a nutty kernel/nucleus/nutshell in a nutshell for the film!
In a nutshell, all these films join the spheres of the child, the universe, cosmology, and animation in the spheres of the nut and the nutty, and vice versa, while all of them arguably show and perform in different ways the nutty animation of the nut – including of its lexical relatives “kernel”, “core”, “nucleus”, and “nuclear” – of the kernel, core, nucleus, of the nuclear, and of the nuclear nature – explosive and implosive – of the kernel, core, nucleus…, even as all of them in different ways nuttily stake the very future of the human in the child.
Beyond these “live action” films that singularly exemplify and perform the fatal, nutty sphere, I would mention those hybrid live action/cartoon animation films stretching back to the lightning sketches of the earliest years of cinema through Gertie, ’40s Disney, Warner Bros., and Hanna-Barbera/MGM, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Last Action Hero to Homer3 and beyond, films where live action characters are transported to a cartoon world, cartoon characters are transported to a live action world, or both just commingle. And those films of comic book heroes operating in a human world – Superman, Batman, Dick Tracy, X-Men, Spider-Man, etc. And those live action films labeled “cartoonesque”. Like Gould’s quantum “looney tuniverse” of cartoons, in which cartoons, cartoon characters, actions and effects behave like the smallest particles of the micro-cosmic world but transported/transposed to the much larger scale of the macro-cosmic world, where they are inflated, magnified, ecstacized – that is, pushed to their limits, at once fulfilling and annihilating themselves, for me telling us that the worlds of quantum physics and “normal” physics are not completely separate nor completely identical, as well as demonstrating that quantum mechanics operates everywhere – these hybrid films, like the “live action” films I have discussed, demonstrate and perform the operation of such nutty, cartoonesque processes of animation, or rather of the animatic, in the sphere of the “live action” human.
Indeed, for me the animatic nature of film animation means that all films – film “as such” – calls for thinking in terms of the eruption of the quantum looniverse – and the Cryptic Complex – into the world where adults thought it did not apply, did not operate, was sheltered from. In this regard, one could turn, for instance, to Hitchcock’s The Birds and Shadow of A Doubt, and to films like Buster Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. and Woody Allen’s Zelig and The Purple Rose of Cairo, where the world of cinema erupts into that of “real life”, reminding us that film and reality, cinema and the “rest of” the world, are neither completely separate nor completely identical but commingle inextricably, nuttily, giving thereby the world “no rest” – a commingling suggesting thereby that not only all film calls for thinking in terms of the quantum looniverse and the Cryptic Complex but so too does “real life”, “reality”, the “rest of” the world72 – a commingling marking the operation of such looniversal, animatic processes in the sphere of the “live action’ human both “inside” and “outside” “film”.
Here a qualification: those films – animation and “live action” – that can be counted as hyperreal – including for me at the least all those post-World War II ones I have named – depict and perform the quantum universe in its hyperanimated, hyperanimatic hyperform – its pure and empty, virtual, viral, fractal, clonal, metastatic form – that of third and fourth order simulacra, evidencing and performing what Baudrillard hypothesizes about the quantum universe and its increasingly evident “incursion” into the “real” world, as well as strangely returning us to the advent of film animation. As hyperanimated, such films issue a challenge to animation, including for us classical live action, saying they are more animated, more animation, than animation, including more live action – another key reason for addressing them here. In such a light, the digitally animated “live action” film animations that have come to increasingly dominate film production in the last decade continue what arguably began since World War II: hyperreal film. Hyperreal films are hyperuncanny, of the order of the hyper Cryptic Complex. They are hypernutty – the pure and empty form of nuttiness, a nuttiness more sane than sane, even as the sane morphs into the more nutty than nutty – of the order of the quantum hyperlooniverse. And crucially: even as such “films” are increasingly hyperreal – more real than real, the pure and empty form of reality – “reality” is increasingly hyperfilm – the pure and empty form of film.73
Beyond this we must add: film offers for us singular demonstration
that all media are forms of animation. While the more recent of
media – TV and the computer – issue a challenge to the earlier of
them, saying they are more media than media, at the same time all
media are complicit, their more recent forms, increasingly
hypermedia and hyperanimation, increasingly immersing the world and
ourselves in their immedia, where the media dissolve in the
immediate and at the same time the immediate in the media.
V. Child’s Play
I would further propose that – in affinity with such a Derridean deconstructive and Baudrillardian seductive theorizing of animation as the animatic – quantum theory and chaos theory disseminate and seduce all the terms, givens, values and pertinences of not only the “normal” but the “classical”, including of classical humanism, such as: origin, essence, presence, self-presence, purity, identity, self-identity, wholeness, closure, pure beginning, pure end, simple cause, simple effect, etc., as well as all built upon them. In this regard, I return to two epigraphs in my “The Illusion of The Beginning” essay, epigraphs that mark the impossibility of a pure origin, a pure beginning. Derrida writes:
Where and how does it begin …? A question of origin. But a meditation upon the trace should undoubtedly teach us that there is no origin, that is to say simple origin; that the questions of origin carry with them a metaphysics of presence.74
A metaphysics it has been the work of Derrida – and I would add: the universe – to deconstruct, as has been their deconstruction, their putting sous rature (under erasure), of the meta- “as such”, regarded as the end of play in a determinative, fixed, final ground, explanation, solution, theory of everything (TOE!). In his turn, Baudrillard declares:
One could maintain that before having been produced the world was seduced, that it exists, as all things and ourselves, only by virtue of having been seduced. Strange precession, which hangs over all reality to this day: the world has been refuted and led astray from the beginning.
Because it has been led astray from the beginning, it is impossible that the world should ever verify or be reconciled with itself... This original deviation is truly diabolical.75
Any thinking of the child – the universe of childhood and the childhood of the universe – as origin, as simple, pure beginning, is itself the nutty illusion of the child, an illusion nuttily deconstructed by Derrida, nuttily seduced by Baudrillard, as well as nuttily challenged by the quantum universe – what animates our universe, the childhood of our universe, the condition of possibility and at the same time impossibility of the normal, classical universe, including of classical physics and metaphysics.
In a nutshell, for us, animation and what it privileges – the quantum universe; the abnormal; the child; the insane; the primitive; the object; the nonhuman; death; différance; dissemination; the hauntological76; Seduction, Illusion; Evil; irreconcilability; the littoral; connotation; Deleuze’s cinema of the time-image; Lyotard’s notion of the postmodern; Kristeva’s of abjection, etc. – not only operate within, at and beyond the limits of but are at once the condition of possibility and impossibility of, respectively, the classical universe, including of physics and metaphysics; the normal; the adult; the sane; the civilized; the subject; the human; life; presence; insemination; the ontological; simulation, production, the real (and its zone), the hyperreal, the virtual, disillusion; Good; reconcilability; the literal; denotation; Deleuze’s cinema of the movement-image77; the modern; identity, etc. – and where “beyond” means, too, before, as well as after. In like manner, animation film and film animation operate within, at and beyond the limits of live action cinema. Not only is animation never not operating within live action, the expanded field of live action film is animation – animation film and film animation, whose privileged, singular form would be the cartoon, singular exemplar of the animatic.
We could express it thus, as we did earlier: live action is but a special case, the reduced conditional form, of animation. The latter is the condition of possibility and at the same time impossibility of the former – the form of which expression is applicable to each of the sets of terms I have named above78 – even as the animatic is the condition of possibility and at the same time impossibility of animation. Parenthetically, for me, that animation as the animatic not only operates at the limit and beyond but everywhere, any-place-and time-whatever, is one overwhelmingly compelling reason why animation is privileged as a “discipline”, for it applies to “everything”, is for us the “discipline” of all “disciplines”. I put discipline in quotation marks for the reason that animation as the animatic is what makes discipline – and any and every discipline therefore – at once possible and impossible. Animation thus forms the very “ground” that allows us to bring Hawking and Hartle and the physical sciences and technology into relation with Derrida and Baudrillard and philosophy, the arts, humanities and social sciences.
When I say “any-place-and-time whatever” and “everything”, I mean to extend Paul Wells’ assertion that “Animation is arguably the most important creative form of the twenty-first century”79 and Davies’ belief that “the twenty-first century will be the quantum age”.80 (As for him “The nineteenth century was known as the machine age…[and] the twentieth century will go down in history as the information age”.81) For us, animation (including as “the most important creative form”) and the quantum have never not been operating any- and every-place-and-time whatever and to everything (a point implicit in Davies’ making the quantum the “norm” and “ground”).
My work has allowed me to propose this “set” of affinities, of supplementary undecidables, of analogies, which are contagious in terms of each other: quantum mechanics; quantum cosmology, including the “no-boundary” proposal; chaos theory82; Derridean deconstruction, including Plato’s khora as framed by Derrida as the surname of différance83; Baudrillardian Seduction; the protean plasmatic, Eisenstein’s plasmaticness (as I have reconceptualized his notion84); the animatic; the child; the cartoon; and the nutty.
John D. Barrow, in his book The Origin of The Universe, notes of Hawking’s two key theses on the subject – the earlier, the singular Big Bang creation; the more recent, the quantum creation – that both describe our universe coming into being out of nothing.85 Creation ex nihilo. He states that “In neither …is there any information as to what the universe may have come into being from, or why”86; “No cause is given...”87 Charles Lineweaver concurs, declaring that quantum cosmology describes the beginning of the universe as “the Universe tunneling into existence from nothing”88 and “pinching off from a timeless quantum nothing”.89 He also notes that for the Hawking-Hartle quantum model, the universe has no pure beginning, because it has no time in which a beginning could be a beginning. The beginning of the universe is a place with no time. He states: “Not only is there no time before the Big Bang, in the Hawking-Hartle model there is no precise, one-dimensional time at the Big Bang. That’s because it was at this point that time began”.90
I would be tempted to characterize the “beginning” Barrow and Lineweaver describe as an animatic metamorphosis. Tellingly, such an ex nihilo creation has an analogue in a Baudrillardian formulation: “the only origin is that there is no origin”; or “the only beginning is that there is no beginning”. Or, to offer a formulation applying to all these formulae, these logics, of Hawking and Hartle, Derrida and Baudrillard, formulae, logics, which are themselves, in a nutshell, nutshells – nutshells of the universe and universes of the nutshell – “in a nutshell, the only nutshell is that there is no nutshell”.
Such a nutshell leads to Baudrillard’s thesis in The Perfect Crime: “The great philosophical question used to be ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ Today, the real question is: ‘Why is there nothing rather than something?’”.91 A nutty question, after Baudrillard an objectively ironical question, not of physics nor metaphysics but of Alfred Jarry’s pataphysics, the science of imaginary solutions, signaling for Baudrillard the possibility of an “ironic game of technology, of an ironic destiny of all science and all knowledge by which the world, and the illusion of the world, are saved and perpetuated”,92 not only an ironic but a seductive possibility, a possibility of Seduction, of the strange return of the radical Illusion of Seduction of Baudrillard’s first order, even as the sentence that “ends” Borges’ “The Fearful Sphere of Pascal” – “it may be that universal history is the history of the different intonations given a handful of metaphors”93 – marks the strange return of the opening sentence – our first epigraph – spiralling back to the text’s beginning – as if the text were itself a sphere – to repeat the opening sentence with a minor intonation, in so doing not only describing the process but performing it.94 In consequence, Hawking’s science might be called, after Jarry’s pataphysics, pata-astrophysics, what would be the science of imaginary astrophysical solutions. Such a “science” is figured in pataphysics’ perfect “ur” form – the sphere – singularly instanciated in the “practically spherical form”95 of Jarry’s Père Ubu, as well as in Ubu’s other signature form signifying the nature of the universe: the spiral.
Indeed, in his 2004 pronouncement, “Gödel and the End of Physics”,96 Hawking does an about face, declaring for the first time that his (and others’) anticipated and desired TOE may be by definition out of reach because the universe, as quantum, is, like Gödel’s theorem, of the order of irresolvable paradox, incompleteness and inconsistency. And this he poses as a good thing, not a bad thing, for it will maintain jobs for physicists, as that theorem did for mathematicians. He says “I’m now glad that our search for understanding will never come to an end, and that we will always have the challenge of new discovery. Without it, we would stagnate”. In other words, the challenge is itself animating, its absence deanimating. But here there is an irony, one proving Hawking wrong. In saying that there can be no ultimate theory, he forgets that, paradoxically, he is himself enunciating one of sorts: the only ultimate theory is that there can be no ultimate theory! The only theory of everything is that there is no theory of everything!
For Baudrillard, the pataphysics of physics situates the unrevealable secret, if such a secret there be, of the vital illusion, as he calls it – I call it the life of illusion – of our universe in what lies beyond the event horizon of Planck time at our universe’s origin (Planck time is about 10-43 seconds), a vital illusion and secret he likewise locates, tellingly for us, “at the core [kernel, nucleus,...] of every human being and every thing”.97 He thus not only places the quantum universe inside every human being and thing, he makes it, whose advent he postulates in terms of his third and fourth orders, also operative in his “originary” first order, for me even never not operative, including in his second order, itself for me but a special case of the quantum universe.98
The nutty universe of childhood is (isomorphic with) the nutty childhood of the universe. For ourselves, as for Heraclitus, the universe is ruled by the child and its play – its disseminative play – its seductive – do I dare say it: nutty – games, games for “children of all ages”. The universe is a child’s toy, Heraclitus tells us, what it plays games with – what it animates with its play!, its child’s play! – even as its narrative and destiny are a child’s: toy story.99 The nut was a child’s toy, too, in antique times, but something apparently considered of no value. Giving up the nut was to give up childhood for the serious, mature world of the adult. But the logics of the nut, of the nutty, mean that, like the child it figures, and that figures it, it is beyond relinquishing. In this sense, child’s play, like Michigan J. Frog’s game of seduction in Chuck Jones’ sublime cartoon One Froggy Evening (1957) or the chair’s game of seduction in Norman McLaren’s delightful A Chairy Tale (1957), is here to stay.100 How uncanny then to find, in the “zone” of the human in Charles and Ray Eames’ film Powers of Ten (1968), on the picnickers’ blanket at its “top”, nuts! – figure of the nature, process and performance of that extraordinary film on and of the universe.
In a nutshell, Hawking’s universe in a nutshell is for me looniverse, nut case – an impossible nut to crack – that drives the nutter – the one who gathers nuts – nuts. It is only apt therefore that I “conclude” this essay with this nutty thought, from The Anchoress Julian of Norwich, written about the year 1400:
He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made.101
Yes. “It may be”, as Borges “ends” “The Fearful Sphere of Pascal”,
“that universal history [that is, the history of the universe and of
the human therein] is the history of the different intonations given
a handful of metaphors”.
For Nicholas Zurbrugg
Alan Cholodenko is an Honorary Associate
in the Department of Art History and Theory, The University of
Sydney, in Australia. His most recent paper is: "Still
Photography?”, Afterimage, Volume 32, Number 5, March-April 2005.
He is editor of THE ILLUSION OF LIFE 2: More Essays on Animation.
Sydney: Power Publications, forthcoming in 2006. He is an Editor of
1 This essay was first presented at the 2002 Society for Animation Studies Conference in Glendale, California, whose theme was Childhood and Animation. On that occasion, Part I was presented. A short form of the rest of the paper was presented at the 2004 Society for Animation Studies Conference at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.
2 Jorge Luis Borges. “The Fearful Sphere of Pascal”, Labyrinths. Edited by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970, 1985:224.
3 Heraclitus. Quoted in Jonathan Barnes. Early Greek Philosophy. London: Penguin, 1987:102.
4 Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1879, 1962:1231.
5 William Shakespeare. Hamlet, Hamlet. Act 2, Scene 2.
6 Twice said by Ellie Ann Arroway in Robert Zemeckis’ film Contact (1997).
7 Alan Cholodenko (Ed.). THE ILLUSION OF LIFE: Essays on Animation. Sydney: Power Publications in association with the Australian Film Commission, 1991.
8 On the uncanny, see Ibid.:28-29; and Alan Cholodenko. “‘OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR’: The Virtual Reality of Jurassic Park and Jean Baudrillard”, in Jean Baudrillard, Art and Artefact, Edited by Nicholas Zurbrugg. London: Sage, 1997: especially note 19.
9 See Alan Cholodenko (Ed.). THE ILLUSION OF LIFE: Essays on Animation. Sydney: Power Publications in association with the Australian Film Commission, 1991:35, note 29.
10 The animatic is something Philip Brophy, in his own way, and I have been writing about for over a decade. See Ibid.:14, on that with which for me animation has privileged relation.
11 Afterimage. Volume 28, Number 1. July-August 2000.
12 On the Cryptic Complex, see Alan Cholodenko. “The Crypt, The Haunted House, of Cinema”, Cultural Studies Review. Volume 10, Number 2. September 2004; and Alan Cholodenko. “Still Photography?”. Afterimage. Volume 32, Number 5. March-April 2005.
13 As I claimed in my 1991 Society for Animation Studies paper: “Speculations on the Animatic Automaton”, on the history of the debates between the animists and the mechanists. See this essay in Alan Cholodenko (Ed.) THE ILLUSION OF LIFE 2: More Essays on Animation. Sydney: Power Publications, forthcoming 2006.
14 Alan Cholodenko. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or the Framing of Animation”. In THE ILLUSION OF LIFE: Essays on Animation. Sydney: Power Publications in association with the Australian Film Commission, 1991:235.
15 Alan Cholodenko. “The Illusion of The Beginning”, Afterimage, Volume 28, Number 1. July-August 2000:11. For an extended treatment of the animatic, see my Introduction to and essay in THE ILLUSION OF LIFE 2: More Essays on Animation, Sydney: Power Publications, forthcoming 2006.
16 If one must be the opposite of a “civilian” to be granted legitimacy to speak and be heard, what does that make both the granted and the grantor if not members of the “military”? That would secure the war/warrior aspect of association in and with a professional faculty, with the wars not only in but of, between and among the faculties – even with Paul Virilio’s notion of endocolonisation of the civilian by the military – as those interfaculty wars get played out, whether it be the hostile, self-righteous treatment of Stephen Hawking by the English literati/culturati when his A Brief History of Time came out that Paul Davies writes of in About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution, London: Penguin, 1995:184-185; or the equivalent treatment, couched in a “satirical” mode, of Social Text and cultural studies by Alan Sokal in his “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”, Social Text 46-47, Spring-Summer 1996. See too Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science, New York: Picador USA, 1999. Unfortunately, consideration of the Sokal article and the Sokal and Bricmont book lies beyond the scope of this essay and calls for addressal in its own right.
17 Stephen Hawking. The Universe in a Nutshell. Sydney: Bantam Press, 2001.
20 Stephen R. Gould. “Looney Tuniverse”. New Scientist, 25 December 1993 - 1 January 1994. Editor’s note: The Editor of IJBS apologizes for the incorrect reference of this author as “Stephen Jay Gould” [prior to March 24, 2006] which appeared in the article and endnotes 20, 28 and 36.
27 See, for example: John Gribbin. In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat, United Kingdom: Corgi Books, 1984, 1985:2-3.
28 Stephen R. Gould. “Looney Tuniverse”. New Scientist, 25 December 1993 - 1 January 1994:56.
29 Illustrating that in the quantum world the disturbance of the observed by the observer is at the same time matched at the least by the disturbance of the observer by the observed. In such a light, Wile E. can be thought of as a scientist modeled in terms of quantum theory, one who, armed with the scientific devices/toys/weaponry provided by the Acme Company, seeks to master Road Runner as quantum event!
30 Charles Lineweaver. “The Origin of The Universe”. Newton 1, September-October 2000:47. As well as listing seven key ideas that make quantum theory “so weird”, Lineweaver typically asserts the counter-intuitive nature of quantum theory. See also the back cover of Gribbin’s In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat, where Isaac Asimov declares the book to be “A gripping account of the history of quantum mechanics and a clear description of its significance – and weirdness. Absolutely fascinating”.
32 Paul Davies. More Big Questions. Sydney: ABC Books, 1998:102.
34 Paul Davies. “Be warned, this could be the matrix”, Sydney Morning Herald, July 22, 2004:11. The implication in this article that simulation is born of virtual reality is wrong; it is as old as Western philosophy itself. Indeed, Davies’ invocation of “the multiverse genie” cannot but recall Baudrillard’s theorizing simulation and Seduction in terms of Descartes’ evil demon, which he allies with the Demiurge of Manichean and Gnostic dualist thought. See in this regard Alan Cholodenko, “The Logic of Delirium, or the Fatal Strategies of Antonin Artaud and Jean Baudrillard”, in 100 Years of Cruelty: Essays on Artaud, edited by Edward Scheer, Sydney: Power Publications and Artspace, 2000. After Baudrillard, we would talk of the evil demon of the universe, and of virtual reality as a third/fourth order simulation of that demon.
35 John Gribbin. In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat. United Kingdom: Corgi Books, 1984, 1985:2.
36 Stephen R. Gould. “Looney Tuniverse”. New Scientist, 25 December 1993 - 1 January 1994:56. To which we would add Daniel Greenberger’s comment: “Einstein said that if quantum mechanics is right, then the world is crazy. Well, Einstein was right. The world is crazy”. Quoted in Paul Davies, About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution, London: Penguin, 1995:163.
37 Another word that would obviously serve is daffy! The daffy logics of Baudrillard and Derrida, Hawking and Hartle, cannot but recall Daffy Duck, including Tex Avery’s logic of “that crazy darn-fool duck!” in and for Daffy’s debut film Porky’s Duck Hunt (1937), a logic Steve Schneider describes as: “…for Avery, having no reason for a character to act in this way was the perfect reason to make the character do so”. Steve Schneider, That’s All Folks!: The Art of Warner Bros. Animation. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1988:150. This allows the daffy Baudrillardian formulation: the only reason is that there is no reason, and vice versa. As for “looney”, used by Gould, see my characterization of the looney tuniverse in Alan Cholodenko, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or the Framing of Animation”, in THE ILLUSION OF LIFE: Essays on Animation. Sydney: Power Publications in association with the Australian Film Commission, 1991:230-235, including in terms of the looney, the looney toon, the looney tunes of Warner Bros. cartoons, the lunatic and the lunar.
38 Paul Davies. More Big Questions. Sydney: ABC Books, 1998:102.
42 James Gleick. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Penguin, 1987, 1988.
43 Chuck Jones. “Diary of a Mad Cel-Washer”. Film Comment, May-June 1976:40.
44 Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida, Edited by John D. Caputo. New York: Fordham University Press, 1997. See pp. 71-74, where Caputo addresses the Sokal affair as it relates to Derrida. He points out how Sokal misunderstands Derrida and deconstruction, declaring:
A deconstructive approach to science would keep the scientific community open to the upstarts, the new ideas, the audacious young graduate students who come up with unexpected hypotheses that at first look a little funny [a little nutty, perhaps?!] and then a little brilliant... [T]hat deeply deconstructive frame of mind goes to the heart of hardball science, if it has a heart!
So, ... deconstruction would have interesting and constructive things to say about science... (pp. 73-74)
I hope my text operates in this “funny” way, a curious, ambivalent way that likewise and tellingly accords with Isaac Asimov’s comment, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny...’” (source unknown).
45 See Alan Cholodenko. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or the Framing of Animation”, in THE ILLUSION OF LIFE: Essays on Animation, Sydney: Power Publications in association with the Australian Film Commission, 1991, on the Derridean logics of the frame.
63 While Baudrillard is multiply inscribed in The Matrix, the film’s incorporation of his work is for us specious.
64 On the hypotheses of the Perfect Crime of virtualization and the Radical Illusion of Seduction, see Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime, translated by Chris Turner, London: Verso, 1996:74; Jean Baudrillard, The Vital Illusion, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000:53, 55; and Alan Cholodenko, “Apocalyptic Animation: In the Wake of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Godzilla and Baudrillard”, in Baudrillard West of the Dateline, edited by Victoria Grace, Heather Worth and Laurence Simmons, Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press, 2003, including p. 244, note 14.
74 Jacques Derrida. Of Grammatology. Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976:74.
...never has science postulated, even as science fiction, that things discover us at the same time that we discover them, according to an inexorable reversibility. We always thought that things were passively waiting to be discovered... But it is not so. At the moment when the subject discovers the object – whether it is an ‘Indian’ or a virus – the object makes a reversible, but never innocent, discovery of the subject. More – it is actually a sort of invention of the subject by the invented object.
[…] It is as if we had torn the object from its opaque and inoffensive stillness, from its indifference, from the deep secret where it was asleep. Today the object wakes up and reacts, determined to keep its secret alive. This duel engaged in by the subject and the object means the loss of the subject’s hegemonic position: the object becomes the horizon of the subject’s disappearance. (pp. 76-77)
I call this Bugs Bunny’s revenge, incarnated in his “Of course, you realize, this means war” – the revenge for me of cinema, of animation, of the animatic. As for Derrida, the process of turning on is never not operating simultaneously in its doubled implication of on as well as against as the very operation of deconstruction “itself”, a process never delimited to the subject – a process never not of the world. See Alan Cholodenko. “‘OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR’: The Virtual Reality of Jurassic Park and Jean Baudrillard”, in Jean Baudrillard, Art and Artefact, Edited by Nicholas Zurbrugg. London: Sage, 1997, in terms of Baudrillard; and Alan Cholodenko. “The Crypt, The Haunted House, of Cinema”, Cultural Studies Review. Volume 10, Number 2. September 2004, in terms of Derrida.
©International Journal of Baudrillard Studies (2006)