No one will ever accuse Jason Silva of lacking in enthusiasm. The self-professed “filmmaker, futurist, epiphany addict” is in love, head over heels, with technology, and it’s a love infectious, as he shows us above in his short monologue, Attention: The Immersive Power of Cinema. Inspired by Diana Slattery’s essay “Virtual Reality and Hallucination,” Silva extracts a theory of cinema as a “rhetorical technology, a shrine to immersion.” His ideas are also built around a narrative and linguistic concept known as “deictic shift theory,” from deixis or “self-orientation.” For Silva, the deictic shift occurs when the “viewer assumes a viewpoint in the story,” and, in total immersion, “enters the dream as dream.” He speculates that at this point, the “pre-frontal lobe dims, and there’s a loss of ego,” such that “cinema is akin to godliness.” Hogwash, you say? Perhaps, but it’s entertaining hogwash, and if one takes the time to process the ideas embedded in Silva’s manic, form-is-content presentation, it’s even persuasive. But poor Beethoven. Fur Elise doesn’t deserve another beating.
Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.