Discover more from Fragmentary
While you were blinking
Elision: what happens in a movie when the protagonist needs to park a car. The smooth narrative vanishing of the boring bits, or the joining of separate things by omission of the wall between them.
The most heroic I can remember is in Face/Off. Nicholas Cage leaps into the sea from an inescapable prison, and we see boats full of armed men converging. A moment later, on shore, John Travolta takes a phonecall: “Have you found his body? Then he’s already in LA.” And a moment later we see this is true. How? How does he evade machine guns and swim what must be a few kilometres to dry land? Doesn’t matter. It’s elided. Travolta accepts that his enemy is just that good, and perforce so do we.
Something I’ve noticed recently is that TV shows are abandoning the more obvious flags - the grammar of images assumes a more sophisticated audience. The first season of Witcher ran two narratives side by side which were present and past; I completely missed the cues and the Witcher is ageless, so I just had no idea. Andor - which is excellent - is doing the same, and again the visual and dialogue cues seem amazingly minimal to me. I got it because of Witcher, and because the narratives in this case do feature characters played by the same actors at different ages.
I can’t figure out whether I’m just out of date, or whether there’s simply a greater tolerance for timeloose storytelling in the medium.
It occurs to me that in real life we don’t see elision often. Sleep doesn’t really count - there’s a gradient and an awareness of self involved. That sudden moment of return to oneself after the flow state has a taste of it, as does the recollection of self from meditation or soothing, familiar tasks, but there’s an experience of non-presence even there. Anaesthesia is the only truly elided time I can think of: the abrupt “cut to” and the knowledge that the world has acted in your absence.
Although… there are theories of time which imagine life as the constant elision of discrete moments rather than a flow; I find that odd, because I’m not sure what else a flow is, if not that. I was - am - lousy at the philosophy of time, and in turn I tend to consider it guesswork on a closed question; the discipline over-reaching because, misunderstanding the full power of the physics, it sees a gap for philosophical dispute where none exists. (Though what the physics may mean about how we understand the universe and our own consciousness is perhaps more interesting.)
From Star Wars to Temporal Physics in less than twelve parsecs. (IYKYK.)