Menagerie — The Trial of Spock
Saturday
Apr062019

Cinema 2: Preface to the English Language Edition

This is the passage in Act I, Scene 5, in Hamlet, cited in the Preface to the English edition of Deleuze’s Cinema 2: The Time Image (p xi). Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus have just seen the ghost of Hamlet’s father, their late King. The deceased king has visited the castle, and Hamlet, to see to it that his death is avenged. The phrase “time is out of joint” occurs in Hamlet’s last line, the closing line of Act I.

The story thus far: Night guards see an apparition of the late King of Denmark, and call Horatio to see it as well; Horatio sees it as a bad omen. Hamlet’s uncle Claudius has just married Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, the queen of Denmark—shortly after his brother’s (Hamlet’s father’s) death. As we enter this part of the story Claudius has been urging Hamlet to cease his overly long period of mourning for his father. Hamlet finds himself inconsolable, bitterly depressed, and even suicidal. Then he learns of the apparition that Horatio and friends have seen. When he visits the apparition himself, his father reveals that his death had been a murder at Claudius’ hands, and urges Hamlet to avenge it.

In the final scene, Hamlet urges those present not to reveal what they have seen. In the excerpt below, he also informs them that in his plot to avenge his father, he may act mad (“put an antic disposition on”); in that case, they are sworn not to reveal anything about the ghost or what events motivate Hamlet in this way—not even with shakes of the head or quiet acknowledgments of what has been untold.

HAMLET Hic et ubique? Then we’ll shift our ground.
Come hither, gentlemen,
And lay your hands again upon my sword:
Never to speak of this that you have heard,
Swear by my sword.

Ghost [Beneath] Swear.

HAMLET Well said, old mole! canst work i’ the earth so fast?
A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.

HORATIO O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

HAMLET And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come;
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself,
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on,
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumber’d thus, or this headshake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As ‘Well, well, we know,’ or ‘We could, an if we would,’
Or ‘If we list to speak,’ or ‘There be, an if they might,’
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me: this not to do,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear.

Ghost [Beneath] Swear.

HAMLET Rest, rest, perturbed spirit!
[They swear]
So, gentlemen,
With all my love I do commend me to you:
And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
May do, to express his love and friending to you,
God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let’s go together.
[Exeunt]

***

xi

The notion that “time is out of joint” is invoked in the introduction to Cinema 2 with many potential layers of detail potentially engaged—Hamlet’s immediate request for various kinds of secrecy, the ‘wrong’ timing of his mother’s remarriage, and the ghost itself as a disordering of life and death. For Deleuze, though, the phrase culminates to the notion that “time is no longer suburdinated to movement, but rather movement to time.”

To argue a narrower timeframe, Deleuze claims that in the postwar period, we have found a greater frequency of “the situations which we no longer know how to react to, in spaces which we no longer know how to describe.”

xii

“What is specific to the image, as soon as it is creative [as soon as it ‘represents’; as soon as ‘the variable present’ emerges from it (cf. same paragraph)], is to make perceptible, to make visible, relationships of time which cannot be seen in the represented object and which cannot allow themselves to be reduced to the present.”

[BLC: in other words—the time image of post-war cinema brings perceptions of time into being in representations of the present, in part, he says, because, in the world from which the images are drawn, we can increasingly inhabit situations and landscapes that bely reaction and description. Compare this to E.P. Thompson’s claim that in the world after the proliferation of clocks and pocket-watches, and after the organization of time-valued labor, we have a different relationship not only to time but to social structure and standing.]

Deleuze also makes an example of this by referring to long, relatively static takes with which Tarkovsky famously builds tension; the idea here is that audiences “lean in” to the film and build the tension througoh their anticipation of the expected cuts. 

“…we are plunged into time rather than crossing space”, i.e. in depth-of-field (or “deep focus”) shots in Citizen Kane, or tracking shots in Visconti. (For example, a shot shows young Kane in the distance, playing in the snow and fantasizing about the civil war, but with no frame of reference. Then the field of reference is revealed, as we pan out to reveal an indoor scene in which the boy’s future is discussed without his knowledge.) (Then praises Welles for characters who “occupy a giant-sized place in time rather than changing place in space.”)

(antithesis/counterexample) “…the time-image has nothing to do with a flashback, or even with a recollection.” In these, we merely refer to another present. “Flashback is only a signpost…” making possible digressions in time, or a ‘forking’ of time (cf. Mankiewicz).

(thesis/by contrast): “a…direct time-image...clearly goes beyond the purely empirical succession of time — past, present, future.” “It is, for example, a coexistence of distinct durations, or of levels of duration; a single event can belong to several levels: the sheets of past coexist in a non-chronological order.” (References to Resnais & Welles, but music is a more apt locus for this quality.)

(prospectus:) “release [temporal structures] that the cinematographic image has been able to grasp and reveal, and which can echo the teachings of science, what the other arts can uncover for us, or what philosophy makes understandable for us, each in their respective ways.”

xii-xiii.

“It is foolish to talk about the death of the cinema because cinema is still at the beginning of its investigations: making visible these relationships of time which can only appear in a creation of the image. The relations and disjunctions between visual and sound, between what is seen and what is said, revitalize the problem and endow cinema with new powers for capturing time in the image (in quite different ways…).”

 

 

Saturday
Apr062019

Cinema 2: 1 Beyond the Movement Image

Deleuze opens Cinema 2: The Time-Image disputing André Bazin’s formalist approach to film criticism. A reader of Deleuze’s film project needn’t be familiar with Bazin to make use of this passage, except to know that Bazin’s view of film is an “art-idealist” foil to Deleuze. For Bazin, implicitly at least, art begins with an abstract idea that pre-exists and pervades the experience of the art itself; the measure of film’s success is its ability to manifest an ethos, express a necessary idea, be an emblem of a world view. Donato Totaro overviews Bazin’s approach (“Introduction to André Bazin, Part 1: Theory of Film Style in its Historical Context”, in André Bazin Revisited, Offscreen Volume 7, Issue 7 / July 2003) by contextualizing Bazin as a humanist—centering the practice of art “Possibly…as a means of countering mortality”, and as a project in which a human attempts “to preserve his/her likeness”. Totaro also helpfully summarizes the idealist conception of art by characterizing Bazin’s humanist approach to history:

Since Bazin believes that the origins of an art reveal its nature, cinema’s quest for realism supports his claim for an objective and pure cinema. This “myth” which grew out of cinema’s beginnings stands as the touchstone cinema has progressively evolved toward.

By contrast, Deleuze’s philosophy is (although this is an oversimplification) either … a kind of post-Marxian (post-dialectical) materialism—i.e. a materialism in which, crudely, all that counts is flows and energies and their myriad disruptions, and not some fundamental binary dynamic/dialectic of “base” material conditions out of which ideas emerge) … or a kind of early post-humanism—Deleuze and Guattari argue in the opening of Anti-Oedipus (the first of their Capitalism & Schizophrenia diptych), that there is no fundamental distinction between nature and machinery, and that art too, and the cultures in which it is interpreted, are at once reducible to technology. (If not technologies of physical resources and their physical deployment, then technologies of sign and signifier, technologies involving the way that one concept, one idea, stands-in for another, and then is itself stood-for, ad infinitum. For more thoughts on how this is relevant to musicology, please see my essay “Desiring Machines, Desiring Production”, linked under “Resources” to the left.)

More simply: for Bazin, art technologies emerge and change from era to era out of necessity—as per the popular humanist phrase “necessity is the mother of invention”—and the necessity in this case is the expression of a new idea, a new ethos—Bazin is in that sense also something of a Hegelian idealist.

For Marx and Engels (sometimes called “dialectical materialists”), the situation is precisely the reverse: ideas and ideals are the emergent properties of material regimes^1 (and for Nietzche, too, the history of ethics and morals is not a series of principled responses to an evolving landscape of human possibility, but a series of artful justifications for the madness of society). For Deleuze—and again this is crude, for the sake of contextualizing his view of our regimes of the perception of time—neither humans nor materialist regimes are wellsprings of ideas. Humans are instead merely participants in material practices, manifesting complex mechanical relationships to a kind of ecology (Deleuze and Guattari called it a “socius”) which is neither biological nor cultural, but both. And to comprehend art as one of those material practices, Deleuze draws inspiration from Peirce: the first theorist of the technology (the machinery if you will) of signs.

 

***

Quick resources:

1. On Roberto Rosselini’s Paisá (1946)

Clip: “Her name was Francesca…” (This clip might be the most representative of the critical/philosophical problems of realism that Deleuze summarizes, but see also other clips on the TCM site, like “Everything has gone badly today…” and “Are you Italian Like Us?”) 

Thomas, Allan James. “Paisà” In Senses of Cinema (<http://sensesofcinema.com/>; Cinémathèque Annotations on Film, Issue 51. July 2009.)

2. On Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D (1952)

The link above is the entire film; here is the scene involving the young maid, Bazin’s example to which Deleuze refers twice.

3. See also resources for Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger in Donato Totaro’s “Part 1: Cinema 1: The Movement-Image” in Gilles Deleuze’s Bergsonian Film Project.

4. An effective and quick overview of Robbe-Grillet’s Theory of Descriptions is in Hellerstein, Marjorie. “One Autobiographer’s Reality: Robbe-Grillet.” In Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, Vol. XXXII: Phenomenology and Aesthetics, 1990. pp 39-48. (No need to download; the preview is sufficient for Deleuze’s reference to Robbe-Grillet.)

5. On various Yasujiro Ozu films—

Late Spring (1949)

Final scene — (to which Deleuze refers on p 14, in which a father weeps after his daughter’s wedding)

Early Summer (1951)

Late Autumn (1960)

An Autumn Afternoon (1962)

Clip: At a sake bar (sorry no English subtitles but never mind…)

Clip: “In the end we spend our lives alone

A great clip of Claire Denis (whose High Life is getting press now, and currently in Bay Area theaters) speaking on Ozu’s influence — note in particular her story begining around 3’15”.

 

NOTES

^1. Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, ed. Frederick Engels (New York: Modern Library, no date, first published 1906), p. 25.