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Antepodean Antics
Extracts by M.T.C. Cronin

'Hayden's Serenade' by Suchoon Mo
 
Art: 'reality proof' by Peter Schwartz

'reality proof' by Peter Schwartz

CAUGHT ON FILM:
THE UTTER SERIOUSNESS OF SEEING THE SOUL

(A Micro-Essay On
Judgement & Justice,
Blindness & Appearance,
Identity & Disguise…)

‘You know, the courts might not work anymore, but as long as everyone is videoing everybody else, justice will be done.’1

A flash of light imprints a lingering image in your eye. Without a boundary, it’s hard to distinguish different shades of grey. Everyone is you and me. I am a camera. Recorda sunt vestigia vetustatis et veritatis. Records are vestiges of antiquity and truth. Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi. Truth fears nothing but concealment. Invisible eyes. A hidden camera photographs a woman in a supermarket stealing a furry object from a toy display. A private detective is hired to spy on a man’s wife whom the man suspects of adultery. With a surveillance camera hidden in a teddy bear (also available in wall clocks, light bulbs, smoke detectors, peep holes and exit signs) the detective obtains film of the woman sleeping with the bear (she probably would not have slept with a wall clock, light bulb, smoke detector, peep hole or exit sign). He did not, however, manage to photograph her dream:

‘I was astounded to see the bear standing upright on his hind legs, his back against the post to which he was chained, his right paw raised ready for battle. He looked me straight in the eye. This was his fighting posture. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming, seeing such an opponent. They urged me to attack. “See if you can hit him!” they shouted. As I had now recovered somewhat from my astonishment I fell on him with my rapier. The bear made a slight movement with his paw and parried my thrust. I feinted, to deceive him. The bear did not move. I attacked again, this time with all the skill I could muster. I know I would certainly have thrust my way through to a human breast, but the bear made a slight movement with his paw and parried the thrust. …the bear’s utter seriousness robbed me of my composure. Thrusts and feints followed thick and fast, the sweat poured off me, but in vain. It wasn’t merely that he parried my thrusts like the finest fencer in the world; when I feinted to deceive him he made no move at all. No human fencer could equal his perception in this respect. He stood upright, his paw raised ready for battle, his eye fixed on mine as if he could read my soul there, and when my thrusts were not meant seriously he did not move.’2

The wife was tired and in need of sleep and by morning there were ten and a half hours – six hundred and thirty minutes; 37 800 seconds – of film to look through. Despite the fact that she slept naked and had spent a good part of her night parrying thrusts, the private dick himself fell asleep while trawling the tape. (Government experts on security technology have noted that ‘monitoring video screens is both boring and mesmerizing’ and they have found in experiments that ‘after only 20 minutes of watching and evaluating monitor screens, the attention of most individuals has degenerated to well below acceptable levels.’3) This left 36 600 seconds for the dick to dream. But what?4 He wetly dreamed (Extreme CCTV manufactures video surveillance cameras for explosive, wet, and corrosive environments as well as infrared cameras and illuminators for total darkness performance) that he was one of three finalists vying to become chief of the city's police department when a lawsuit came to light just days after reports became public claiming that he was the subject of sexual harassment and abuse allegations from at least five women over a 10 year period. Despite the fact that a district court judge dismissed all 13 lawsuits for lack of merit, he had to abandon his ambitions and get a job as the head warden in a private prison for women offenders. There he rescinded a policy of issuing female prisoners with panties and bras. Instead, they were given one-piece jumpsuits and were forced to expose themselves to video surveillance cameras when using the bathroom.5 Which was what woke him. He needed to go. Now, he’d fallen asleep at work and his office was in a highrise that employed for its own protection all the latest security on offer. Whilst peeing he glances up and notices a small hole in the centre of the smoke detector that’s stuck to the ceiling of the commode.6 He urinates on his foot. He zips his trousers and climbs up and removes it. Inside he finds a video camera with a transmittal device. Overwhelmed, shocked and mortified he loses his balance due to his sloshy peed on boot and falls on his arse.

So what is the moral of this story? ‘God’s eyes here on earth’7 are on everyone? Look before you leak? The bored don’t necessarily make the better voyeurs? (Though they may at first be opportunistic lookers.) How about, on film the soul suffers the same fate as its owner – packs on ten pounds and doesn’t come off well unless it’s fucking the director. We all need the right lighting and a sympathetic audience. We all know that teddy bears are warmer and fuzzier than smoke detectors, so if you have to sleep with an enemy… Meanwhile, always remain suspicious and remember, seeing might be believing but error, artfully coloured, is in many things more probable than naked truth.8 (Further, we are born into a film already running,9 and no amount of study or concentration will really help you work out what’s going on.)

____________________

1 Marge Simpson, The Simpsons.

2 Heinrich Von Kleist, ‘On the Marionette Theatre’ (translated by Idris Parry), Essays on Dolls, Syrens, London, 1994 (1978), pp10-11.

3 American Civil Liberties Union Freedom Network, http://www.aclu.org.

4 The following section paraphrases and merges together some cases found on http://www.notbored.org/camera-abuses.html, the website of New York Surveillance Camera Players; notbored@optonline.net; snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998.

5 5 February 2004, Texas City, Texas: ‘Scandal erupted in finalist's former dept.’ by Alicia Gooden, 2004 Galveston County Daily News. Based on the ‘real-life’ case of Billy Hammitt and merged here with the case of Anthony Morgan.

6 11 July 2003, Atlanta, Georgia: ‘Woman claims she was videotaped in Toys R Us restroom’ by the Associated Press.

7 New York Surveillance Camera Players; notbored@optonline.net; snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998.

8 Bouvier’s 1856 Law Dictionary. 2 Co. 73.

9 Said by a woman, must hire a private dick to find her!

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last update: November 19, 2008