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Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism$
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Miranda Anderson, Peter Garratt, and Mark Sprevak

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442244

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442244.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Directionality and Duration in Distributed Consciousness: Modernist Perspectives on Photographic Objectivity

Directionality and Duration in Distributed Consciousness: Modernist Perspectives on Photographic Objectivity

Chapter:
(p.134) 8 Directionality and Duration in Distributed Consciousness: Modernist Perspectives on Photographic Objectivity
Source:
Distributed Cognition in Victorian Culture and Modernism
Author(s):

Adam Lively

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442244.003.0008

This essay begins by exploring how the “immersive objectivity” of the photographic image highlighted by the Surrealists tends to collapse distinctions between what is internal and external to consciousness. It goes on to show how, in the photography-incorporating fictions of Georges Rodenbach and W.G. Sebald, perceptual immersion in the photograph engenders a “dysfunctional” state of melancholic stasis in the viewer, problematizing assumptions about agency common in many contemporary accounts of distributed cognition. It concludes by arguing that the internalization of the photographic image by consciousness, as exemplified in these modernist responses to photography, with their topologically unstable dynamics as between that which is “inside” and “outside” consciousness, strikingly demonstrate the relevance to contemporary debates over the “extended mind” of Bergson’s argument that the mind should be conceived not in spatial but in durational terms, as a continuous evolution of heterogeneous states.

Keywords:   Distributed cognition, Distributed consciousness, Photography, Surrealism, André Breton, Georges Rodenbach, W.G. Sebald, Henri Bergson

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