Film-Philosophy Conference, Film-Philosophy Conference 2012

What is a birdified nature?

Luiz-Felipe Guimarães Soares


At the beginning of his Movement-image (Athlone Presse, 1986), when defining some basic terms for his theory, Deleuze proposes that, after the first attack of a bird against Melanie’s head, “The whole will be reformed, but it will have changed: it will have become the single consciousness or the perception of a whole of birds, testifying to an entirely bird-centred Nature; turned against Man in infinite anticipation” (p. 20). Deleuze, however, uses the neologism oisellisée, not mentioning a center: the participle modifies the term oiseau. Nature was humanised, and becomes birdified.

How can we understand a birdified Nature? Deleuze’s suggestion is an invitation to see film in general, and The Birds in particular, as images in which Nature itself (and not a representation of it) is created and modified in such a way that Man cannot prevail over it. It is a political invitation, in the sense that it presupposes (as well as most of Deleuze’s work) an ethics based on values which could not support the tradition of Humanism – based on the reversal of Platonism. The birdification of Nature, against Man, is operated by the camera, “the sole cinematographic consciousness (...) sometimes human, sometimes inhuman or superhuman”. So, Deleuze invites us to see both film and nature as not centred in human consciousness (as in Husserlian phenomenology) – not centred at all. It is only possible within Bergsonian durée, in which past does not pass, and human is not the result of an evolution in a timeline: there is only accumulation of images, without a centre. The open whole, which the shot refers to, is divided and reunited, as “the human and the inhuman enter into an uncertain relationship”. Deleuze and the birds invite us to such inhuman uncertainty.

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About the Presenter

Luiz-Felipe Guimarães Soares
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil

Full professor of Theory(ies) of image at UFSC, both in the Cinema Undergraduate Course and in the Literature Graduation Program. Coordinator of a group of studies on Deleuze and Cinema.