“What you want, ultimately, is the mystique and the mystery of the music to preserve your desire for it.”
"Wonderful as is the magic of the prestidigitator . . . it is as nothing to the magic which we see upon the screen when we watch a motion picture. . . . Here, at last, is the magic of childhood--appearances, disappearances, apparitions . . . objects possessed of the power of movement and of intelligence. . . .
For the motion picture does for us what no other thing can do save a drug. . . . It eliminates the time between happenings and brings two events separated actually by hours of time and makes them seem to us as following each other with no interval between them."
"For a century, people had been dumbfounded again and again by amazing new devices. But when an advanced technology came along that was indistinguishable from magic and dedicated to making the pretend seem real and the basis of a big business--that is, movies--a kind of quantum change occurred in the culture. The difference between fantasy and reality narrowed suddenly, viscerally, profoundly. Movies made it easy for almost anyone anywhere, literate or not, imaginative or not, to enter a magical realm where they were teleported everywhere to see anything--not paintings of exotic places or descriptions of imaginary characters but actual people in actual places, alive and moving. No previous medium seemed so powerfully and uncannily real. Watching a movie, the suspension of disbelief was easier than watching a play; it was simply more astounding than watching flesh-and-blood people pretend on a stage. Going to the movies wasn't like reading a novel at home, privately imagining a fictional world, but more like going to church--quietly gathering for an hour or two in a special hall every week with a crowd of neighbors to experience a magical, dreamlike virtual reality simultaneously."
Power, of course, is vampiric. We enjoy it only because someone else does not. Power is what philosophers would call a positional good, meaning that its value is determined by how much of it one has in comparison to other people. Privilege, too, is a positional good, and some have argued that health is as well. Our vampires, whatever else they are, remain a reminder that our bodies are penetrable. A reminder that we feed off of each other, that we need each other to live.
∆ On Immunity by Eula Biss, reviewed for The Rumpus by Molly Beer