Posts Tagged ‘Mikhail Bakhtin’

American Factory

February 15, 2020

The Oscar winning documentary, American Factory, will be screened this coming Thursday eve, 2-20-20, at the USWA Local 244 Union Hall, 350 Hudson Avenue, Newark Ohio. It begins at 7 PM with an open group conversation to follow its airing. This is the February feature for the Third Thursday Film series sponsored by The Freedom School In Licking County. When informed of such group gatherings to watch a flick, the knee jerk response usually runs something like: “I can get that on Netflix. I’ll be sure to watch it.” Analysis determines this pretty much misses the point. In the first half of the 20thcentury a Russian literary critic, Mikhail Bakhtin, introduced the idea of a dialogic reading or viewing. For Bakhtin, when a work or text is considered by more than one individual, a richer, fuller, more complete sense of the work is available to those assessing it. Simply put, an individual person can’t see the back of their own head. But they can see the back of their friend’s head. Together, in conversation, the two can arrive at a richer and fuller understanding of each other’s makeup, which is incomplete when assessed individually. The same can be said for watching a film or reading a book. Dialogical consideration enhances the understanding by filling in the blind spots. Along with countless others, Newark News Analysis has written of the demise of the commons, and the detrimental impact it has made on social interaction in America. The pre-industrial age commons was an open space available to area residents for leisure, congregating, gathering, celebrating, play, etc. The voracious need for workers and consumers by the captains of industry exorcised the state sanction of the commons, essentially eliminating them entirely. Vestiges of this space for communal (common) interaction can be found with neighborhood parks and some city squares. These of course are subject to regulations, hours of admission and limits to interactions (permits). Netflix could be considered as antithetical to the space of the commons. Along with the demise of the commons was the fall of festival, the communal gathering of play, usually located in the space of the commons. Comparisons of play designated within the communal space of contemporary parks and the play found within the notion of festival would be akin to comparing New Orleans Mardi Gras and the NFL or MLB. True, there is a sort of competitiveness found between the tribes or the crews sponsoring individual lines or parades. But this is not the designated and deliberate (specific) competitiveness incorporated within the layout of most parks (individual or group sports). Improving one’s individual jogging time or winning the league tournament is not the stuff of festival. Both bring people together for play but the time and ends of festival differ from that of competitive play. Mardi Gras has no beginning though it does end. Parks have designated times when they can be accessed. The play of competitive sports is predetermined, hence some are better at it than others (some play while others can only spectate). The play of festival is all inclusive and enhanced by diversity. Competitive play results in active participants (players) and passive spectators (fans). Festival play is one of open participation. Festival participants make their play while most competitive sports spectators have it made for them (are not players). Watching American Factory individually on Netflix, with personal phone distractions and preoccupations (multi tasking) is not the same as attending a common space viewing with an active conversation afterwards. Festival makes for a dialogic understanding (celebration) by virtue of its all inclusive and diverse participation. Individual Netflix perusal is incomplete. The blind spots are never even noticed.