Enthusiastic Futurist Jason Silva Waxes Theoretical About the Immersive Power of Cinema

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.

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