Un réel pour le XXI sciècle
IXe Congrès de l'AMP • 14-18 avril 2014 • Paris • Palais des Congrès • www.wapol.org

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Zero Gravity
Colin Wright

Freud linked his discovery of the unconscious to the Copernican Revolution. Yet the heliocentric universe still had a centre: it was the light of the sun that illuminated Enlightenment science. The sun's mass held the modern world together through a newly mathematized force – Newtonian gravity. Though this brought a new existential heaviness, it also provided us with a place in God's recently abandoned creation. Today however, the sun has become a rather average star among myriad others. Even gravity is not the force it once was, leading subjects to suffer what Milan Kundera once called 'the unbearable lightness of being'.

Gravity (Dir. Alfonso Cuarón, 2013) captures something of the contemporary plight. As viewers, we lose all bearings: we cannot even complain that the world has been turned upside-down, since neither 'up' nor 'down' exist any more. Far from marking east and west, the sun looms at any time and from anywhere, bringing not the light of life but deadly solar radiation. With no imaginary co-ordinates to give space a liveable geometry, the astronauts spin in a vast black sea of undifferentiated real.

Yet there remains a trace of an imaginary treatment of the real. Despite bypassing traditional celluloid film, Gravity's special effects team have added 'lens-flare' as a deliberate digital glitch.

In the 21st Century, the sun no longer provides a compass – we can only contemplate its glare by shielding our eyes with a semblant of reality.

Colin Wright
UK, The Centre for Critical Theory at The University of Nottingham