uncanny valley


First, to digress (but not really): I’ve been wondering these last few weeks why Occupy Wall Street hasn’t moved me, even though I am sympathetic to the cause. Partly, I suppose, it’s the relatively small size of the protests, although as Castro proved in the Sierra Maestra mountains, revolution is not necessarily a numbers game. But even more, it’s a lack of focus, the inability of the movement to define itself, a failure to explain its terms. An absence of narrative, in other words — something I didn’t understand fully until, in the middle of Lawrence Weschler’s “Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative,” I came across an essay called “Waking Up to How We Sleepwalk” that cast my reservations in sharp relief. Here, Weschler recounts the experience of watching, on the coastal grounds of Denmark’s Louisiana Museum, a 1982 anti-nuclear protest-turned-performance piece, in which dozens of participants slowed nearly to the point of stillness, “moving, in suspension, maybe a few feet each minute — but moving nonetheless toward the bluff.” Over the course of a couple of hours, these people, in their slow-motion choreography, moved from dry land into the water before returning to shore. “Slowly,” Weschler tells us, “one by one, the sleepwalkers emerged from the water and filed — still trance-slow, dripping, shivering violently — through the doors of a large converted boathouse.”

more from David L. Ulin at the LA Times here.