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Ralph Ellison, Temporal Technologist$
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Michael Germana

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190682088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190682088.001.0001

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Rhopographic Photography and Atemporal Cinema

Rhopographic Photography and Atemporal Cinema

The Link Between Ralph Ellison’s Polaroids and Three Days Before the Shooting . . .

(p.119) Chapter 3 Rhopographic Photography and Atemporal Cinema
Ralph Ellison, Temporal Technologist

Michael Germana

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 posits a conceptual connection between two archives Ellison left behind after his death: a sprawling manuscript of an unfinished second novel which Ellison worked on for forty years, which was posthumously published in 2010 as Three Days Before the Shooting . . .; and a collection of hundreds of Polaroid photographs taken by Ellison over the last thirty years of his life that depict objects instead of people. As this chapter demonstrates, these ontographic Polaroids represent antidotes to the ways of seeing formalized by visual technologies that shape the identities of Welborn McIntyre and Senator Sunraider in Three Days. It concludes with an illustration of how Ellison’s rhopographic still life photographs collectively represent the author’s personal attempts to work through the same paradox that ensnares his characters: how to use a visual technology that formalizes static time in order to reveal the dynamism of becoming and the heterogeneous, durational nature of temporality.

Keywords:   Ralph Ellison, Three Days, rhopography, atemporality, photography, cinema, ontography, ekphrasis, duration, Henri Bergson

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