The Wire | Bennett Sims
Bennett Sims's "deft collection of spooky fables"—White Dialogues—is officially out today! In celebration, we bring you a quote from an interview he did with Derek Heckman at the Iowa Review about film, the undead, and his title story, "White Dialogues":
DH: Film and film theory seem to play a large role in the book, as well as in your short story “White Dialogues,” which also concerns undeath. Is there something “undead” or ghostly about film that draws you to it?
BS: Theorists have long remarked on the uncanny and hauntological and spectral properties of the film image. In Camera Lucida, when Roland Barthes is trying to figure out what’s distinct about photographs as art objects, what he hits upon is the idea that there’s a kind of death inscribed in all of them. When Barthes is looking at a 19th-century photograph of a man about to be hanged, he is struck by this: on the one hand, the man is frozen in this present moment prior to being hanged; but on the other hand, he’s also already been hanged for over half-a-century by the time Barthes is looking at the photograph. The paradox Barthes arrives at is, “He is dead, and he is going to die.”
Andre Bazin had some similar ideas regarding film. He writes about how film is a mummifying technique, how films are just these mausoleums or pyramids preserving the images of dead people, and how one can never forget that fact when watching an old film.