Concept: ego, by way of the eyes, edits our perspective of life compared to how filmmakers edit cinema.
We edit every day, regardless of whether we work in film or TV. Perhaps you didn’t realize that you’re already a natural!
What’s become unnatural is how unaware we are that we use our minds to edit our lives. We each have fresh footage, known as daily-ies.
We direct our scenes, life experiences that fly by or slip past in slow-mo. Sometimes playback gets emotionally sticky and, like a broken record, our brain continuously skips over the choices we’ve made. We are mentally sawing saw-dust, like leitmotifs emphasizing the basic theme of a scenario that’s led us to what we’ve been left to live with. Or worse, we are playing the same shot over and over again of how much better it could all have been.
We select assemble, and recut shots throughout the day, our minds trying to put right what’s gone wrong, psychologically panning and splicing rushes in an attempt to perhaps assemble David Bordwell’s “nearly true” theory.
Edward Branigan explains how “we focus on first impressions using stereotypes and prototypes; we rely on shortcuts, templates, and schemata; in general, we cheerfully risk faulty inferences and erroneous conclusions. We do this because it is efficient and adaptive to our everyday environment.” Reassuring ourselves that we were right, pictorially the ego takes flight.
Cherry-picking, we play-back thoughts, carefully creating “forking-path” plots. Effective film transitions leap frog from one potential to the next. Sliding Doors (1998) and Run Lola Run (1998) perfect visual examples of numerous plot possibilities. Michotte (1948) explains how the cinema screen is not experienced as a solid boundary: “the viewer experiences the fictional space as his or her physical environment.” Our eyes and ears pick-up informative action, similar to Gibson’s camera movement, creating strong impressions of ego-motion into depth. Using mental impressions, we set and position our internal camera for the following day. In a BBC documentary entitled What Is Reality (2016), Doctor David Eagleman details how the brain can create its own reality and can confuse illusion with the real world. Arthur Knight also stated how “a film editor works with layers […] often re-writing the film during the editing process, honing the infinite possibilities […] of film”.
Your life is your own personal film. When you go to the cinema are you viewing, then, a film playing within a film? And if so, when we view a movie about another movie being made, do we glimpse infinite possibilities of parallel worlds? I guess I should ask how far down the rabbit hole do you choose to go? Does art imitate real life or vice versa? Time, rhythm and pace, visual and aural relationships, the mind using themes as a psychological montage. Don’t blink twice or you might miss the other person’s perspective. Daniel Dennett explains how “there are multiple drafts of narrative fragments at various stages of editing in various places in the brain. This sentence, invoking both “narrative” and “editing” illustrates how the activities of both writing and filmmaking have become fertile metaphors for the study of the mind.”
Unlike filmmaking and editing, the eye of the beholder only yields one gaze; our eyes see what the mind wants them to see. We get one opportunity to save and record, to make sense of the story unfolding. But what about our intuition? Patrick Shen discusses how an editor’s sense of rhythm and pace is developed from intuition, but this is “rarely explored in academic scholarship.” Similarly in life, how much do people believe in their gut instinct? How much do we rely upon our intuition? Surely that’s just the stuff of fairy tales. Or perhaps like Pudovkin’s parallelism, the truth about our intuition goes undetected, falling through the cracks of “thematically unconnected incidents,” and if we’re lucky one day we get to put the pieces together. We get to witness the parallels that link all of us callous brutes. Though the condemned man makes his solitary walk, as we aloofly check our wrist-watch, only he knows what we are left to gather. Parallelism, like intuition as a method, is capable of taking the viewer to considerable depths of understanding.
Editing is an art form; make your life priceless, edit your ego daily.
Written By Sarah Docherty
Welcome to Sarah as a new contributor to Personal Tao. Sarah has been a long time Awakening Dragon student.
This is her first blog post here at Personal Tao. Sarah lives in Ireland and is exploring writing, film and the ego. She’s a mom, script writer, all around amazing person and always makes us laugh!
Dancyger, K, The Technique of Film and Video Editing, (Routhledge, 2010), p.46
Branigan, E, Nearly True: Forking Plots, Forking Interpretations: A Response to David Bordwell’s Film Futures,(MUSE, 2002) SubStance, vol. 31 no. 1, pp. 105-114, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/32315/summary, accessed 2nd March 2019.
Bordwell, D, Film Futures, (JSTOR, 2002) SubStance, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 88–104, www.jstor.org/stable/3685810, accessed 2nd March 2019.
Shen, P. C, Film and Intuition: An exploration of rhythm, pace, and the moving image, (Baylor University, 2011)
Tan, E, Film-induced affect as a witness emotion, (Amsterdam University, 1994), p.11, https://student.cc.uoc.gr/uploadFiles/179-%CE%9A%CE%94%CE%92490/tan%20film%20induced%20affect.pdf, accessed 3rd March 2019.
Eagleman, Dr. D, What is Reality, (BBC, 2016), https://youtu.be/C8k-lrJrldw, accessed 3rd March 2019.
 Bordwell, D, Film Futures, Substance, vol. 31, no. 1, (JSTOR, 2002), p.88
 Branigan, E, Nearly True: Forking Plots, Forking Interpretations: A Response to David Bordwell’s Film Futures,(MUSE, 2002), p105
 Tan, E, Film-induced affect as a witness emotion, (Amsterdam University, 1994), p.11
 Knight, A, lecture slideshow, week 1
 Branigan, E, Nearly True: Forking Plots, Forking Interpretations: A Response to David Bordwell’s Film Futures, Substance, Vol 31, no. 1, (JSTOR, 2002), p.106
 Shen, P, Film, and Intuition: An Exploration of Rhythm, Pace, and the Moving Image, (Baylor University, 2011), abstract
 Dancyger, K, The Technique of Film and Video Editing, (Routledge, 2010), p.46