Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Television, Globe & Temporality Core Post 5

    In his essay “Where the Global Meets the Local: Notes from the Sitting Room”, Morley argues that television and computer technology has an effect to “erase time-space differences” (7). As McLuhan and Fiore describe, in the "global village" where we live, “time has ceased, space has vanished” (qtd. Morley 7). Morley later elaborates on the erasure of space, demonstrating how television “redefine(s) notions of social position and place, divorces experience from physical location", and "creates communities across the space” (7). But he doesn’t dive deeper into the discussion of temporal erasure. How does temporal erasure operate in our everyday life under the influence of television? How does television reshape our perception of time? These questions remind me of Bliss Lim’s book “Translating Time”. Drawing on previous studies on heterogeneous temporalities (mainly Bergson’s works on temporal contemporaneity and heterogeneity, and Dipesh Chakrabarty’s heterotemporality and anachronism), Lim argues that modernity has translated heterogenous times into a homogeneous time, imposing a calculated, linear, abstract temporality while hiding other immiscible temporalities coexisting in this world. Cinema functions as a “time machine” that turns “spatial, cultural, and racial difference” into “temporal distance”, and presents alternative temporalities outside of the modern temporality (88). In a similar vein, television is such a “time machine” too. Morley’s idea about television’s temporal erasure, is suggesting that television functions as a modern medium that helps construct modernity into a homogeneous notion — a unifying and erasing process that eliminates heterogeneous temporalities.
    However, some argue that television introduces more possibilities to disturb the homogeneous time, rather than erasing the differences. In essay “Television, Time, and the National Imaginary in Belize”, Richard Wilk suggests that television enables postcolonial Belizeans to transcend the normative homogeneous time. Postcolonial spaces are not only haunted by the past but also the future, because modernity conventionally equates with progress that postcolonial space should keep up with. But because of television, Wilk argues, Belizeans get to understand their uniqueness with relation to metropole, without necessarily considering themselves as backward and outdated. Also, because of television, for Belizean locals, the Belizean elite class are no longer "the conduit of progress and the transmission of fashion”, so the legitimacy of neocolonial political and economical order is challenged (Wilk 172). Whether television erases time or multiplies time remains a question, but one thing I would definitely agree with is, that television as an important timekeeping method is “a process of control" and "a way of imposing order” (Wilk, 176).

David Morley, “Where the Global Meets the Local: Notes from the Sitting Room”.
Bliss Lim. Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.
Richard Wilk, Television, Time, and the National Imaginary in Belize, Media Worlds: Anthropology and New Terrain. Ginsburg, Faye, Lila-Abu Lughod, and Brian Larkin, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.


  1. Great post! In relation to Curtain's and Kumar's reading, I think your post adds to the discussion of how television in its use is not just a mass tool to homogenize cultures. On the national level, I think it is important to not think of these other countries as victems of influence. However, even on the local level, one can see the battle between elitist culture and the masses and how this becomes another fragmentary result of the medium. Curtain mentions this on the second to last page in relation to All India Radio, how it originally was elitist but had to adapt to the masses when it was challenged by foreign television. This adds to the idea that not only are cultures not homogenized by western media, but even locally there are no clear mass manufactured identity produced by television.

  2. Thank you, Hui Huang! Nice discussion and Great references! Bliss Lim’s thoughts on “Translating Time” are worthquoting here. I totally agree with you that he doesn’t dive deeper into the discussion. Not only the discussion of the erasure of space and time, but the discussions of gender and class all just touch the surface. He is too anxious to demonstrate his argument that “‘community’ is transformed.”