Still from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Riding on Chicago’s “L”, among office workers and students, two teenagers use social-media applications to record videos of the sunset as it flickers between buildings. The observer’s first impulse might be to reproach them later for how they appreciated the moment, but this reaction includes within it a presupposition about sight: that the act of looking is the most certain. Sight, however, is not an untainted reception of the perceived things, but is rather a mediated form. This belief in the immediacy of sight also arises in the pernicious character of photography. The social influence upon the act of enjoying a sunset is more apparent when using Facebook or Snapchat, including especially the anxiety for certainty and approval.
The sunset is bittersweet because we are not sure about the day.