calin dan on Wed, 4 Feb 1998 22:38:43 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> timespace in war

All game is war game. War is perpetuated via story telling. Story telling
is a crucial coagulant for the human species: @ all levels of historical
strata, story telling overwhelms other aspects of cultural trade. And war
stories are overwhelming in comparison to others. Is that situation
generated by the importance of war @ the social level only or determined
also by structural requirements of the human species?

Timespace in war. When looking @ the dimension time, war is not a punctual
activity. Exception made by the modern period between (roughly) the
campaigns of Napoleon and WW II, warfare was mainly characterized by a flow
of violence involving/affecting populations as a whole; effective military
conflict (the so called pitched battle) was emerging from this endemic
chaos, without being always an immediate resolution for it. But the
perception of history is (mis?)guided by peak events, same as the
perception of art history. We describe/analyze our heritage by reference to
master pieces, seen as results of big streams of data that can't be exposed
without making the whole picture redundant. Scientific discourse is not
different in that sense from fictional prose.

Considering the dimension space, we have 2 be aware that wars of large
consequence were fought mainly on a punctual scale. Of course the dynamic
of war maps is fascinating, and the way that armed conflicts are sometimes
remodeling on medium-to-long term the political aspects of geography might
be impressive. But this kind of perception remains retrospective and
synthetic. On the level of individuals the vast majority of wars were
limited experiences, even when their strategic context was broader. But
strategy is sometimes invented in the aftermath of events. And basically so
are wars themselves - retrospective inventions, where the restricted misery
of battle is obscuring the endless pains of populations at war.

Timespace in media. When kids play a computer war game, they develop with
the glowing tube a relation paradoxically similar to the one we, the elder,
have (had?) with books about war. A retrospective/retroactive relation that
is, covering the substantial horrors with the veil of both distance and
exciting immediacy. Like in the routine of heroine addiction, when the
painful ritual of the shot is becoming memory under the effect of the drug
itself, the narratives of the machine (book) are simultaneously past and
present, @ close range and @ infinite distance.
The screen machines, the books, the story telling in any form are securing
us a special position in a point of ambiguity which gives both implication
and distance, intimacy & dominance. No matter if old or new, media are
about mediation - that's where their addictive fascination comes from: it
allows us to be insignificantly small and discretionary powerful @ the same
moment - like children are (should be) in the protective cocoon of their
What new media brought as really new is the capacity of combining the
zenital and genital views in one: the user can be simultaneously
controlling space from the position of the sun @ noon, and analyzing it
from the inside prospective of the womb.

Maps also have, besides their immediate utilitarian aspect, that strange
radiation of something distant in time also, not only in space - like books
and screen machines. They are actually the interface between the two, and
also an ideal interface 4 narratives of war.

Calin Dan
Akademie Schloss "Solitude"
Studio 22
Solitude 3
D-70197 Stuttgart
T: + 49 711 69 930 122
F: + 49 711 69 930 150
Receive mail: calin @ (and the present one)

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