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Hugo


On making & making images

This is a story about the origins of cinema. The inventor of the movies says he did not invent them. That the first invention of the movies was a mere entertainment, a novelty to thrill people. He himself brought the second invention of the movies. He is a peculiar man, who turned from illusionist & inventor to moviemaker. What this man made is simply what he saw in the movies: he realized film is essentially superficial. Unfortunately, people are insufficiently superficial.

People misunderstand movies because they misunderstand the relation between objects & their images. We are told people originally mistook the moving image of train 721 for the train itself, which scared them immoderately. People did not realize that the images of the objects are supposed to teach us that we make images in our minds. Hence, people suspect poets of deception about serious things & of being unserious. People had to be convinced that the likenesses of the things we see in our world are somehow more real than the things themselves. Poets teach self-knowledge when they teach people to see things correctly. But this teaching is invisible, whereas the images they use to teach are visible.

Things seen on film are not what they seem to be. Poets make these things up in order to tell people how things really are. They must use make-believe in order to correct people’s incorrect beliefs. 3d technology is just the latest conceit of realism.

The man who made the automaton was an inventor who wanted to imitate man. When he saw the movies he learnt that it is not science, but poetry that imitates man most truthfully. – Science has something in common with how children think, furthermore: awe of power. The children believe that life is like an automaton: that every accident of their lives must be a necessity. Poets show that this is not true, but they use the pretense of necessity to persuade people through likely stories.

Automaton means a thing that moves itself: man is the being that moves itself, that is to say, man is not simply moved by other things. Man is free of necessity & science. This is the truth about Hugo’s second dream: that he becomes an automaton. He has discovered that which allows man to move himself, which is connected to man’s ability to make images of things: his soul. Hugo’s first dream is that he finds a key in a rail station & a train is coming at him. The train derails, terrifies everybody, & destroys the station. The key found on the railway is the key to poetry: only the appearance of necessity moves people in stories.

This is the first movie of the Christmas season that you must see. Bring your family, too.