Icarus falling, Lazarus rising:
revisiting reflections on The Man Who Fell to Earth
Per ardua ad astra. Through difficulties to the stars
X. Lazarus Rising
‘just waves in space’
There are indeed several actualisations of Newton occurring over several spaces. The Newton love scenes, those where he is reunited with his wife, are clearly idealised interior interludes and perhaps meant to be read in contrast to the other sex scenes which, as Sinyard observes, ‘have an obsessive ugliness and aggression’ (Sinyard, 1991, 59). In Mayersberg’s screenplay, Newton and his alien wife are in a Japanese-design hotel room, floating around each other in an action that ‘resembles a space opera’ (Mayersberg, scene 60, p36). Although we do see Newton and his wife on the terra firma of his home planet, these untimely scenes depict the gravity-free environment of his inner space. These glimpses into his interiority nevertheless offer up the tantalising quantum possibility of Newton being in two places at once, both falling and rising.
Physician John Cramer’s (born 1934) transactional interpretation (1986) may offer yet another way to think about human action. Cramer suggests that an emission is sent out as an offer wave and picked up by an absorber which echoes back a confirmation wave. Both waves are sent into the future and past thus cancelling each other out except for the quantum transaction between the two direct points. Since this happens atemporally, and not in the pseudo-time expressed by the model, Cramer describes the transaction as a handshake (Cramer, 1986: 660). Handshake! That’s a useful metaphor for foregrounding the materiality of a self as well as the bit of the other that rubs off on us. A handshake is a bodily exchange that also describes how our inner realities are effected by the outer social experiences we have. It’s a great way to think about how identity works from the outside in, and inside out, like a Mobius strip (see Elizabeth Grosz, 1994). The handshake analogy as a theoretical composite can therefore sustain the interaction of bodily and symbolic systems, or, taking it further, bodily inherence on a quantum scale. The handshake also reminds me of Judith Butler’s scene of agency (see earlier) where the law and the individual collide in the necessary act of repetition (Butler, 1999).
The untimely and uncanny repetition of dialogue from ‘The Third Man’ is just one example of quantum handshake. Another is the kinetic shock that the x-ray sensitive Newton gets from the bank of televisions, the assault of the light particles on his eyes – for, it should be noted, Newton is an effective (masochistic) relay for this affectivity. Newton is an ‘ultra-sensitive’ relay, absorbing disturbing imagery and sending it back to his home planet. And as the voice-over to the World Enterprise commercial attests, one of the benefits to World Enterprise products is their ‘ultra-sensitivity’. Like World Enterprise photographic technology, Newton has a visual ‘ultra-sensitivity’ that leaves him defenseless even to the most disturbing identifications. In the Japanese theatre scene, which is intercut with Bryce sex scenes, Newton’s point-of-view reveals him as alarmed when one ‘multicoloured face bears down on another’ (Paul Mayersberg Screenplay p14).
Newton himself says that television is ‘just waves in space’ (Paul Mayersberg Screenplay p47). These waves in space are absorbed by Newton’s ultra-sensitivity and confirmed via his gaze. We could ask about the androcentricity of his gaze. But perhaps this would be to concentrate on him as (masterful) observer rather than (masochistic) participant. In the quantum transaction, the relay both absorbs and emits.
Newton’s response to his androcentric actualisation is both defensive and defenceless: ‘get out of my mind, all of you,’ he says … ‘leave my mind alone … stay where you belong,’ he commands the bank of images, at first demonstratively, then progressively wearily… ‘go away, back where you belong, back where you came from … all of you’.
It’s an encounter that echoes what Danish physicist Neils Bohr (1885 – 1962) argues about complementary postulates. Bohr folds together two inconsistent metaphors, the classical position on waves and Einstein’s photon particles, thereby generating an answer to the obstacle of how the nature of light would work at both macro and micro levels (Bohr in Schilpp, 1977). In regard to identity, this enables the conviction that Newton’s clamour for being is not the obstacle to his becoming. He is, after all, Icarus, the boy who plunges inexorably into the waves: ‘I came alone’ claims the narcissist of his entry into the world, adding, naively, to the other, ‘nobody saw me’, for who needs such transactions, such inconsistent metaphors, but a self?
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