When I began a phenomenological investigation of digital media Kenny from South Park was my muse and talisman, a stress ball someone gave me that sat on my desk, still does. The character that died in nearly every episode, speaks to me. Ah, Kenny, how do I love you? Let me count the ways:
First, for someone who loves movies, particularly animated movies, Kenny charms me. For someone for whom the French expression for orgasm, petit mort (little death), rings true, Kenny’s little deaths resonate. For someone with epilepsy and more than one near-death-episodes under my belt: Kenny, I can relate.
Yet the relationship between Kenny’s character and lived life is not merely personal. Kenny’s storyline represents a truth revealed in digital media as a medium itself. Timely. Just as digital media was coming online, a character created in 3D animation, then reduced to 2D for aesthetic appeal, captures a metaphysical truth revealed by the medium: reality is gapped. Pixilated.
It’s not obvious to biological beings, as it might be to a rock if a rock has consciousness, and might reflect on how rocks don’t necessarily experience consciousness as having a narrative structure. They aren’t born, live, then die. They don’t get up, do their day, and sleep. However, lived life for biological beings, does have a narrative structure. We are all about beginnings, middles and ends. We sit down to eat, we eat, and then we finish our meal. We’re born, live, and then die.
It’s easy to miss the deeper structure of our own experience, that is infinite. Time really is relative, and the deep structure of the universe might not be contained within a narrative structure.
And now, there’s this: