An essay dedicated to the negative influence of cinema on young people. As can be seen by the subject matter of this writing, Ponzo’s object of study was no longer the associative perception of the single normal spectator, but the receptive experience of an entire social group (young people). Ponzo’s considerations became almost sociological as he followed the trend from individual psychology to sociology. Ponzo’s interest in the social effects of filmic reception was probably supported by his study of D’Abundo’s 1911 article, which, not by chance, he quoted in his article in 1919.
According to Ponzo, after seeing a film the spectator never retains the memory of the “complete plot of the film.” What is deposited at the limits of the consciousness are rather the “disconnected traces of multiple representations.” The fact is that these detached mnestic traces are not inert residues. On the contrary, they are able to reactivate themselves and condition the experiences of the spectator through unpredictable dynamics of mental expatiation of details.
Ponzo wrote that “many images seem to pass through us without leaving a trace; but we see them arise again when we least expect it.” In the experience of memory, the almost hallucinatory hegemony of eidetic images invites the subject to substitute the real memory of a projection with the illusory memory of a fact they never experienced. This determines a continuous precession between what is and what was seen. The images become an experience, even though they were never experienced, and what was only seen is remembered as what is or was.
A more complex problem is created by the negative social effects of this fusion of real and imaginary, which is so typical of filmic reception.
Ponzo suggested limiting young people’s access to cinemas, while D’Abundo proposed “abolishing cinematographic projections about occult subjects or that reproduce episodes of mental pathology.” Yet, Ponzo’s conclusions give the feeling that the mechanisms and the effects of this “puissance” of the image, to quote an apt expression of Philippe Dubois, are neither completely known nor, above all, truly controllable. (Silvio Alovisio)