The movie Rosemary’s Baby was directed by Roman Polanski and photographed by William Fraker. Fraker tells a story about the set-up for one particular shot. The actress Ruth Gordon, one of the “bad guys,” goes into a bedroom to make a phone call. The camera “watches” from outside, framing the shot like this:
Fraker had originally set it up so that Gordon’s entire body and the phone were visible. Polanski kept moving him to the left until he got what’s shown here. Fraker thought it was a mistake, Polanski said, “Just wait.” Sure enough, at the first public showing, when this shot came up, the entire audience leaned in unison to the right. Subconsciously, they were trying to see around the corner and find out what was going on.
Later on Marcel Duchamp brought this subconscious reaction to the fore in a way no one could deny. The vehicle was his very last work, titled Étant Donés…, on which he had worked for many years. The work is a kind of sculpture/assemblage hidden behind a wooden door in a brick wall. Well, not entirely hidden. There’s a small peephole in the door. Easier to see than describe (which I mean as a complement):
On the bottom here I show two examples of visitors looking through the peephole. On the top I show a reduced opacity image of the door, superimposed on the view the visitors are seeing as they gaze through the peephole. Human beings really want to see faces. But, obviously, there is no sightline from peephole to face.
In other words, no one peering through that peephole will ever see the face! Which is fedorkingly frustrating!! … I know this from personal experience, because my wife and I visited the museum in Philadelphia and made sure we saw the Duchamp collection. (A surreal visit to the Surrealists – “surreal” because we both were suffering big-time from a 24-hour bout with gastrointestinal disruption.)
I totally cop to being insatiably curious. So of course I wanted to see that face! Of course I leaned to my right, just like the audience at the first showing of Rosemary’s Baby.
Politically, it’s a strength of conservatives that “they know what’s right; they know all important issues have already been settled; they know that any new issue or application of principle that might come up with have no more than two facets – the correct one and the liberal one… They need not devote any energy at all to reflecting on alternative facts or viewpoints. They need not even listen to what anyone with sufficient temerity to disagree might have to say.
Now this the strange part.
That’s a perfect description of MSNBC talking head Chris Matthews! Yeah, not conservative Joe Scarborough, but Tweety, the self-proclaimed “moderate liberal.” I’d recommend considering him in the context I provide above. The audience for Rosemary’s Baby leaned to the side because they wanted to know more about the situation than the narrow visual perspective they’d been given offered would provide. Same for the visitors to Duchamp’s Étant Donés…
And then there’s Tweety Matthews. He asks a question of a guest, and then interrupts the guest to provide his own answer. He talks incessantly, in a kind of shout. He listens rarely, if at all. He knows the answer already, so why would he bother seeking additional information, or considering alternate perspectives. He’s the opposite of what we saw in the first two instances. Here’s how I visualize it.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
I have lots more info I could share, but I’ll save it. A sample? Don’t forget that Matthews is a Philadelphia guy. You know? The city whose museum houses Duchamp’s work.