Journal | Salon | Portal (ISSN 1466-4615)

Deleuze Special Issue

Vol. 5 No. 34, November 2001



Richard Smith

The Philosopher with Two Brains




'Gilles Deleuze: A Reason to Believe in this World'

Special Issue edited by Reda Bensmaia and Jalal Toufic

_Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture_

vol. 20 no. 3, Fall 1998

ISSN 0730-1081

249 pp.


The opening piece of this special issue is not so much an introductory essay as it is an epistolary exchange between friends. Jalal Toufic, a video artist and theorist, addresses his epistle on Deleuzian collaboration to Reda Bensmaia, who in turn addresses her epistle on the question of the relation of philosophy and the cinema to Toufic. The exchange is entitled 'Recommending Deleuze -- in 1998!'. The title is as close as the piece comes to the traditional form of introductory editorial essay. The intersection of the title of the introduction and the subtitle of the edition, 'A Reason to Believe in This World', is intriguing, and suggests that an encounter with this body of work is pertinent to everyday life in much the same way as Spinoza's _Ethics_ affords a thought of life and perhaps contains a provocation to embark on a philosopher's life. A quote which Deleuze places at the beginning of _Spinoza: Practical Philosophy_ makes the point better than I can. It's from _The Fixer_ by Malamud:


'I read through a few pages and kept going as if there were a whirlwind at my back. As I say, I didn't understand every word but when you're dealing with such ideas you feel as though you were taking a witch's ride. After that I wasn't the same man'. [1]


I must admit that reading Deleuze does not have this effect on me. At times I find him impenetrable and obtuse in a way that Spinoza most definitely is not. Spinoza's _Ethics_ is one of the best books that I have ever read, philosophy or otherwise. To read Deleuze is one thing, but to study Deleuze is in some ways to be confronted with a choice between philosophy and life, or, should I say, having a life. That is, it takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, and instead of feeling a wind at your back you feel a soup in your brain. Perhaps the difference is between the work of a professional philosopher and a philosopher who works at night, outside of working hours. Recommending Deleuze is not something to take lightly. One of the cornerstones of Bensmaia's recommendation is Deleuze's last work of aesthetics, _Cinema_, which seems to have had precisely the effect of a witch's ride. There is quite a bit of commentary on _Cinema_ in this edition of _Discourse_ so I will return to this material.


This special issue of _Discourse_ features a number of 'minor' pieces by Deleuze and, of course, a number of commentaries on and encounters with various aspects of Deleuze's thought. The pieces by Deleuze are interesting in that they suggest the day to day writings of a philosopher and not the great works of philosophy: seminars (some of which are available on the internet site The Deleuze Web <>), letters to newspapers, to governments, film reviews, interviews, and opinion pieces, while the commentaries range from aesthetics, to politics, to traditional philosophy. Eric Alliez writes on Deleuze's Bergsonism (with no reference to _Cinema_, which is startling considering the depth of the engagement with Bergson in that work); Michael Hardt extrapolates Deleuze's brief essay on the contemporary society of command and control; Raymond Bellour writes an extended piece on _Cinema_; and John Corbett writes on Deleuze and music.


The minor pieces by Deleuze are quite diverse and topical. There is a set of statements about Palestine and the Palestinians: 'The Troublemakers'; 'The Indians of Palestine' (with Elias Sanbar); 'The Grandeur of Yassar Arafat'; 'Wherever they Can See it'. A set of statements about the UN action against Saddam Hussein: 'Address to the French Government', which he cosigned with Pierre Bourdieu, Jerome Lindon and Pierre Vidal-Naquet; and a statement, co-signed with Rene Scherer, condemning the bombing of Iraq as an example of neo-fascism, where the game is to 'wage war well so that we are given the right to participate in the peace conferences' (170). There is a film review from 1977 which defends _l'Ombre des anges_ (_Shadows of Angels_) against charges of anti-semitism; an interview between _Cahiers du cinema_ and Deleuze which was 'put together by Deleuze in a more synthetic, and thus denser form' (47). From his pedagogical work there is the 'Vincennes Session of April 15, 1980', on Leibniz, and the 'Vincennes Session of May 3, 1977: On Music'. And finally there is a 1977 interview with the journal _Minuit_ under the title 'On the New Philosophers and a More General Problem', where Deleuze discusses the 'nullity' of the thought of the new philosophers who use concepts 'that are as coarse as a hollow tooth. THE Law, Power (*Le pouvoir*), THE Master, THE World, Rebellion, Faith etc.' (37), and explains why such 'nullity' represents a popular resurgence of the French tradition of 'schools': 'there always is a pope, manifestoes, declarations of the 'I am a member of the avant-garde' type, excommunications, tribunals, political flip-flops, etc.' (38).


A polemical question: Is Deleuze's concept of the cinema 'course' and 'hollow'? There is the World (cinema itself), its 'Masters' (great stylists and or auteurs), there is the question of Faith which affects the very geography of the cinematic image, there are the schools of classical (organic) montage and the auteurs of modern (crystalline) montage. The books themselves are linked and de-linked by a set of grand reversals of theory and practice, and where whole systems of thought and action collapse from the inside, and philosophical overturnings which change the very relations of shots and montage and the constitution of cinematographic time and movement, there is the taxonomy of movement-images and time-images which seeks to examine the Whole of cinema in some way, or from some particular perspective. Above all there is the 'new' art of the twentieth century. Considering that the concepts that Deleuze ascribes to the 'new philosophers' are abundant in _Cinema_ (at least at this cursory level), can the volumes be characterised as molar in some essential way? Do they restrict the molecular universes of cinema for the benefit of an elegant systematicity? Is the subtle dialectic between singularity and system that Bellour identifies undone? Is _Cinema_ a 'new philosophy'?


The commentaries and essays about Deleuze's work are equally diverse. I focus here on two pieces in particular: the introductory exchange between Toufic and Bensmaia, 'Recommending Deleuze -- in 1998!', and Raymond Bellour's 'Thinking, Recounting: The Cinema of Gilles Deleuze'. The introductory 'essay' attempts to place Deleuze within world cinema and contemporary film theory. Toufic asks: 'Is Deleuze part of world cinema?'; while Bensmaia asks:


'Does cinema have *a philosophy*? Or is there a philosophy of cinema? Does philosophy have anything to do with cinema? These basic questions are worth asking because if one considers the history of film theory and criticism, one realizes that for more than thirty years cinema seems to have forgotten to *think* philosophically.' (11)


One would have to counter this forgetting with a reminder that poststructuralist philosophy has, until Deleuze, completely forgotten to think cinematically, except either critically or dismissively. Bellour attempts a very interesting excavation of _Cinema_, which takes the relevance of the two volumes beyond an interdisciplinary relation between philosophy and film theory and into general questions about writing and thinking about cinema and the cinematographic. It is also curious that Deleuze's use of Bergson presumes a set of concepts which run 'in parallel with the transformations of science'. [2] Deleuze's philosophy of the cinema may in fact compliment scientific approaches to the cinema. In the Afterword to _Bergsonism_ Deleuze argues that one of Bergson's major contributions to contemporary thought lies in the 'molecular biology of the brain'. [3] If thought is indeed molecular we would have to suppose that cinema has affected the brain, has contributed to a kind of evolution or devolution of the brain.


Toufic begins by decrying Deleuze's absence from _The Oxford History of World Cinema_ and traces it through other dictionaries and reference guides. Toufic's piece is interesting for a number of reasons, one of which is that he himself responds as a visual artist and not as an academic. It is also interesting because his response raises issues of collaboration, particularly what he calls 'untimely' collaboration (6). Toufic defines collaboration as a fugitive relation of present and future. One need not collaborate with another writer directly (when Deleuze collaborates with Guattari he is 'switching modes of collaboration' (6); he doesn't collaborate with Claire Parnet but he does collaborate with 'Francis Bacon' and 'Nietzsche') in order to collaborate. There is clearly a definition of the artist here as a collaborator with alterity, or whose collaborative enterprise is always with otherness, 'becoming'. Toufic's notion of collaboration reminds me of something Deleuze says in a seminar on Leibniz that his aim is to inspire in you (you the student, you the reader?) a love of this philosopher's work. In this way we can see what Toufic means when he says that Deleuze has affected past artists. As stated above it was Deleuze who lead me to Spinoza's _Ethics_. This notion of collaboration seems a useful point from which to approach Deleuze's tendency to write monographs on single authors. As Bellour points out, in _Cinema_ this process of collaboration is greatly amplified, the philosopher becomes multitudinous.


Bensmaia examines last 30 years of film theory and criticism and concludes that cinema has forgotten to think theoretically (despite the supreme importance given in some centres to theoretical thought as basis and proving ground of new research). If cinema has remembered to think philosophically, it has done so independently of Deleuze. There is a burgeoning field of film philosophies which have appeared in the time between Deleuze's _Cinema_ and the present. Phenomenological works such as Vivian Sobchack's _The Address of the Eye_ use Merleau-Ponty to think through the film experience. There is a lot of work around Benjamin and the Frankfurt School which presents itself as philosophical. And from other philosophical perspectives, Stanley Cavell's books on cinema constitute a scepticist philosophy of the cinema. In an interesting contrast to Deleuze, Slavoj Zizek uses not only Lacanian psychoanalysis but also Hegel (the bad object of Deleuze's thought) and Kant to make philosophy think cinematically. One of the stark realisations of reading _Cinema_ is the extent to which philosophy of the past 30-80 years or more has resolutely refused to think cinematically. Of the generation of philosophers to which Deleuze belongs, and I'm thinking here of contemporaries such as Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, Irigaray, and Barthes, not to mention the prior generation of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Bergson. Only Barthes and Lyotard write anything at all about the cinema, Barthes to reject it in favour of photography, and Lyotard who writes an essay on 'acinema', on strictly avant-garde cinema. This refusal to speak of the cinema is very curious indeed because the cinema, or better, film theorists and critics have spoken quite a lot about Lacan, and Foucault, and to a lesser extent about Derrida, (although there is more and more work around Derrida).


What is the reason for this forgetting of cinema in poststructuralist thought? My initial inclination is to argue that poststructuralism is an essentially literary movement. It is interested in textuality and writing, in the power of the artwork. One of the philosophically radical aspects of _Cinema_ is precisely that it shows the importance of the cinema, classical and modern, to the history of twentieth century thought. Kino-eye discovers Bergson's movement-image from its own perspective and turns to the service of the communist decoding of reality. It is entirely plausible to argue that the movement-image cannot be defined as Bergsonian-Deleuzian but Bergsonian-Vertovian-Deleuzian. The movement of the world turned into an image. Bensmaia herself argues that filmmakers had integrated psychoanalysis into their work and did not need to have it imposed on their films from the outside. But this argument can be taken further so that it is clear that a number of filmmakers have integrated philosophy of some kind or another into their work and do not need it imposed on them from the outside. Is this not precisely what Deleuze does when he brings philosophers and filmmakers into contact with each other, as if they were precisely the untimely collaborators which interest Toufic. Again, Zizek stands out as a thinker who makes philosophy think cinematically.


Another question begs: Why has cinema suddenly remembered to think philosophically? Why now and why from so many different philosophical positions? Is it an attempt to resurrect the cinema as a theoretical object in the wake of its technological redundancy? And why has this philosophical tendency emerged at a time when there seems to be a renewed interest in film history? Is there a connection here? I cannot answer this question but it is intriguing to go back just a decade or two and read the work which is theoretically based and activist in its approach. Many of the questions which feminist film theory raised seem to have been elided or at least reframed in different terms. For instance, feminist questions around filmic pleasure seem to have been replaced by various notions of cinematic affect. But quite often when people talk about cinematic affect they do not mention feminist works at all. Questions about radical film practice seem to have fallen out of favour as well. One of the disconcerting prospects about the emergence of a wave of Deleuzian film theorists is the extent to which a particular canon and notion of canonicity may find its way into thinking about cinematic value. I am thinking here of Deleuze's tendency to be somewhat flippant and dismissive of works that do not interest him, or which he feels are of no value. Such gestures should be treated with the rhetorical suspicion they deserve, not as statements of real value. Deleuze is partial, he is selective, and he has very particular tastes.


Bensmaia also argues that Deleuze reinvents the relation of cinema and memory -- 'to 'recommend' Deleuze is to be done with everything that pushes us to forget the history of the world' (15). Again, Bensmaia seems to be overstating the case. The question of memory is not a new subject in film theory or even one which has resurfaced with Deleuze. Much work on post-World War Two film directly confronts questions of memory and amnesia. In Australia the question of memory or amnesia is central to concerns about the cinema, but it is primarily indigenous filmmakers who are addressing these questions. Most non-aboriginal filmmakers either restrict memory to personal trauma, or to some apparatus memory of bits and pieces of other films (this is recollection in a very simple sense), or it is not much of a question at all. The road movie, of which Australian filmmakers are fond, never seems to seriously engage the question of memory (and location) when it is a case of heading out of the city and away from things. The past always seems to appear as if from the future. This does not negate the interest of the proposition that the image is in the past. But it is important not to get too carried away when recommending someone's work.


The most sustained piece on Deleuze's _Cinema_ is Raymond Bellour's 'Thinking, Recounting: The Cinema of Gilles Deleuze' which calls attention to the question of memory but also figures Deleuze as a kind of Proust of the cinema. Bellour's piece is interesting in itself and covers some prescient issues. He argues that _Cinema_ is singular in Deleuze's oeuvre because it is a book 'on an art, a domain here named Cinema' (57). Why a book on the whole of cinema, why the radical departure from the monographic tendency to work with an author or figure, to work with a single oeuvre? My answer to this question is somewhat Bergsonian. _Cinema_ is about the possibilities of a 'new' art, about the possibilities of an art uniquely bound to the forces of modernity, but also about the possibility of new art forms, or about art's relation to new social formations. Cinema is the art of movement, the art of twentieth century modernity, and there is a trajectory of argument which follows the possibilities of cinema as either an art which is the subject of the people or an art which subjects people. Hence the historical proximity of questions around cinema and fascism, totalitarianism.


Bellour's answer to this question is characteristically grandiose, and resembles much of the commentaries on Deleuze's style of philosophy, his singularity as a philosopher. For Bellour the _Cinema_ volumes are the 'bearer of a unique gesture', which is Deleuze's attempt:


'to take hold of the field of cinema in his own way. This assumes an extraordinary and very particular effort which engages the question of a relation between philosophy and cinema at its vital edge.' (57)


Much is made of Deleuze's 'own way'. My cynicism of such a gesture is due to the place of such a gesture in the new ideologies of consumption and liberal subjectivity around social mobility and spending power. Ansett Airlines (an Australian, nay New Zealand airline company) uses precisely this phrase to sell its services to customers, and much of the rhetoric around computers and the internet has this as a catch-cry. So what is different between one's own way as the philosopher's life and the traveller's life, or the consumer's life. Paul Patton, in his review of _Cinema_, insists that this is the starting point for the volumes. [4] But is it? Does not Deleuze find his way with all manner of cinemas and with many different filmmakers. Doesn't he also bring philosophers in contact with filmmakers. And doesn't he always move on, a bit too quickly sometimes, but importantly the connection is made and the movement continues: as if he were a cinematic traveller, although as Spinozist his mode is different, he can 'reside in various states, he can frequent various milieus, but he does so in the manner of a hermit, a shadow a traveller or boarding house lodger', [5] whereas the new traveller's are strictly socially mobile and have a distinctive sociability which has nothing to do with solitude, sobriety or 'the ascetic virtues (humility, poverty chastity'. [6] The connection is nonetheless intriguing as it suggests that at some level Deleuze can be read as a great bourgeois philosopher, albeit in the sense that Antonio Negri in _The Savage Anomaly_ reads Spinoza as the first bourgeois philosopher. Only here the lines of freedom have been transformed into a lines of escape.


How can philosophy insist that 'concept creation' is the activity of the cinema, when it is the 'vital edge' between philosophy and the cinema that is at stake. Doesn't the movement of the image make itself felt all the way through these books. The passages on burlesque are exemplary here. Too much emphasis is placed on concept creation with regard to these books, and not enough attention is paid to the montage-relation, a vital edge of collaboration, or mutual interest. Is such a challenge to the notion of concept creation implied in Bellour's own words:


'it will thus be a matter of thinking the cinema, in another way (*autrement*), by trying to think with cinema rather than about cinema, by writing a book of philosophy with cinema. This remains the most difficult thing to think.' (58)


A very interesting aspect of Bellour's article is his reading of the historical component of _Cinema_. Bellour, following Deleuze, characterises it as a 'natural history', 'namely a history of a purely taxonomical type' (58). This history has two great phases which are more than familiar to film scholars:


'on the one hand classical cinema, on the other modern cinema; the break being established essentially from the time of the war, from the cinema which is born after the war with Italian neorealism. It is thus indeed a matter of developing cinema from its beginnings, from the first moments of cinema, then silent cinema to the most contemporary cinema and video. The great opposition between classical cinema and modern cinema corresponds to the gap between the two titles: _The Movement-Image_ and _The Time-Image_.' (58)


Apart from the surface applicability of this natural history it is possible to take issue with this schema on a number of levels. First, it misrepresents the structure of the books. In this sense, as with a number of reviewers of _Cinema_, Bellour is moving too fast, and is not attentive to the subtleties of the taxonomic exercise. A number of reviewers talk of the classical-modern division, which turns on the crisis of the action-image which ensued from the Second World War. Jaimey Fisher shows that the German Rubble film attempted to re-establish the sensory-motor schema in the wake of the war, at the time of Neo Realism. [7] The gap certainly exists and there is also a clear distinction drawn between classical cinema's penchant for an associative concept of the interval; as opposed to the modern cinema's development of an interstitial concept of the interval. What's more there is a sense of moving through cinema from its origins to video. But how does a reading which seems to place each volume in an oppositional or progressive relation to the other account for the fact that the taxonomy of the varieties of movement-image accounts for both classical and modern cinema? How does it account for the recursive movement of the books? A brief excursion into the taxonomy will make this clear. From the six types of movement-image we can see not a theory of classical cinema but a relation of classical and modern which affects each type throughout the history of cinema:


1. The perception-image: Mitry, Pasolini, Vertov.


2. The affection-image: Eisenstein, Griffiths, but also Dreyer, Bresson, Godard, and Antonioni.


3. The impulse-image: Bunuel, Stroheim, Losey, King Vidor (not to mention a long list of near naturalists from the USA), Ray, Fuller, Renoir and Visconti.


4. The action-image is perhaps the exception to the rule as it concentrates almost exclusively on classical American cinema, though it places Lang's _M_ at the centre of the Large Form action-image in a gesture which provokes the question of the extent to which Noel Burch's formulations are not pivotal to Deleuze's concept of American cinema. But even with the action-image the taxonomy breaks out of the opposition, with remarks about Peckinpah Arthur Penn, and Anthony Mann.


5. The reflection-image has a detailed analysis of Herzog as the great metaphysician of the cinema, 'he is the most metaphysical of cinema directors', [8] and of Kurosawa and Mizoguchi.


6. The relation-image: Hitchcock, but also the burlesque of Langdon, Laurel and Hardy, and the Marx Brothers, and a section on the crisis-of-action with regard to the new generation of American directors.


How can we possibly institute a clean break between classical and modern cinema on these grounds. It is not just that each variety of movement-image has a certain continuity through classical and modern cinema, but that the relation is more complex than a rejection of action in the face of the universal terror of world war. In a revealing remark in _Cinema 2_ (where he is recapitulating his argument from _Cinema 1_) Deleuze says that we can either emphasise the continuities or the discontinuities between the two modes of cinema. He has chosen discontinuity. He then goes on to argue that in a number of ways the classical cinema anticipated modern cinema's reappraisals and reassessments of montage, that it introduced from early on all manner of aberrant movements. A final point on this, does not the Bergsonian thrust of the books also require that they be read together, or as a double whole. That is, once to understand the Bergsonian concept of duration as it is being explicated with the cinema, and a second time with the history of the cinema being used to go beyond Bergsonism, to a thought of movement which is properly that of the cinema. I am being a bit harsh here because Bellour does not reduce the _Cinema_ books to a simple progressive and opposive relation, and shows that Deleuze, in the second volume, 'carves up cinema once again, in relation to language, dialogue and more generally the soundtrack, forming three great stages that match the first division' (59).


My point here is that it is deceptively simple to read the _Cinema_ volumes along the axes of classical cinema (movement-image) and modern cinema (time-image), which coincides with classical philosophy (time as effect of movement) and modern philosophy (movement as aberrance of time). This is too neat and reductive. The work of a director such as Billy Wilder who is considered a proponent of classical Hollywood cinema simply cannot be forced into such a model. And Wilder is just one example of a director who worked within the classical system of montage (is there really such a thing?) but who has 'time' as an absolutely central component of his thought. The recursive structure of _The Lost Weekend_ is a case in point. Where does this film begin and end? It is about a binge, a bender, a spree, but this event is clearly lodged in a system of returns, and even the progressive movement of the bender, the four days of the weekend, charts a passage from the body to the imagination, from a set of spoken stories to a set of absolutely real hallucinations. As Deleuze himself argues: 'What can be more subjective than a delirium, a dream, a hallucination? But what can be closer to a materiality made up of luminous wave and molecular interaction?' [9]


Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Bellour's reading is his intuition that _Cinema_ be treated as 'a novel of the 20th century, one of its historical novels' (60). He quotes as examples Balzac, Zola, Proust, but we should not forget the important figure of F. Scott Fitzgerald (another drinker).


'If these three novelists are important here, its because they each offer a model of the development of species, families, groups, individuals, on a scale comparable to those put into play in _Cinema 1_ and _2_ using a conceptual classification and a historical plan.' (61)


The 'novelistic quality of classification resides' (61) in the montage of Bergsonian concepts and schools of montage, individual oeuvres and the great moments of cinema: 'To each conceptual innovation, to each singular form or sub-form of the image corresponds the placement of a 'school,' a work or part of a work that seems in fact to itself induce the concept and give it body.' (61) More than this the montage of Bergsonian concepts and types of image take the concept well beyond its bounds. The perception-image, for instance, acquires its own types which can and are used in combination in any number of films. There is solid perception, fluid perception, gaseous perception, and the extinguishment of all these.


This discussion leads Bellour to identify a problematic aspect of _Cinema_, 'the question of narration, or of the narrative (*recit*), in its relation to fiction' (65). For Deleuze, in cinema narration is 'only a consequence of the visible (*apparent*) images themselves and their direct combinations -- it is never a given', the only given of the cinematographic image is movement, narration 'is never an evident (*apparent*) given of images, or the effect of a structure which underlies them; it is the consequence of the visible (*apparent*) images themselves, of the perceptible images in themselves, as they are initially defined in themselves'. [10]


The substance of the problematic for Bellour comes to this: 'a desire to recommence the history of the world using the history of the cinema' (66). This desire is evident in Deleuze's insistence that the image is prior to narration. This despite the fact that 'we have always told stories', despite the 'reality of narration as a force internal to all culture' (65). Bellour then goes on to make another proposition, to elaborate another aspect of this problematic. 'My suggestion: a will to reconstruct the history of philosophy using that of cinema.' (66) This proposition arises from a sense of the change of conceptual focus that becomes apparent in _Cinema 2_. Bellour cites the comparison of Eisenstein and Hegel as 'system builders': 'modern cinema will become the analogue of modern philosophy, that which goes from Nietzsche to Deleuze passing via Bergson with anticipatory figures such as Pascal or Kierkegaard. It is in this way that philosophy finds itself linked to cinema' (67). What is more, Bellour points out how in _Cinema 2_ the sensory-motor image 'is related to classical philosophy as a specific mode of conceptual elaboration' (67).


To bolster Bellour's observation that a classical modern philosophy relation incorporates a classical modern cinema relation we need merely turn to the discussion of aberrant movement in chapter two of _Cinema 2_. In terms of cinema, aberrant movement was recognized early on and the classical cinema certainly used aberrant movements, but generally aberrant movement was warded off. Modern cinema explores aberrant movement, it becomes the most everyday movement of things and bodies. In a sense modern cinema is distinguished from classical cinema for Deleuze by the fact that it turned its attention to aberrance and thereby radically undid the sensory-motor schema of classical cinema. A description of a scene from _Umberto D_ shows the beginnings of this undoing and the first glimpses of the body of modern cinema:


'the young maid going into the kitchen in the morning, making a series of mechanical weary gestures, cleaning a bit, driving the ants away from a water fountain, picking up the coffee grinder, stretching out her foot to close the door with her toe. And her eyes meet her pregnant woman's belly, and it is as though all the misery in the world were going to be born.' [11]


It is not the weariness of the body but the everydayness of its gestures which reveal the first slackenings of the sensory-motor circuitry of cinematic actions. What does this have to do with philosophy? Plenty. For Deleuze is represents the beginnings of a Kantian reversal . . . 'we will have to wait for Kant to carry out the great reversal: aberrant movement became the most everyday kind, everydayness itself, and it is no longer time that depends on movement, but the opposite'. [12]


It must be said though that the terrain of _Cinema 2_ is more dense that the philosophy-cinema analogy would suggest. A cursory glance through the second book reveals relations between the novel and cinema, the theatre and cinema, theatrical cinema which takes its lead from Fitzgerald, and an engagement with the writing of Robbe-Grillet which, it can be said, has a place to play in what might be considered Deleuze's concept of the cine-novel. There is also a sense in which the philosophy-cinema analogy drops away in the final two or three chapters when the analysis begins again for a third time with the discussion of sound and the audio-visual relation. Finally, what seems to resonate as much as novelistic aspects is the echo of other theories of cinema. One such work which seems for me to drift just beneath the surface of _Cinema_ is Bela Balazs's _Theory of Film: Character and Growth of a New Art_, if only for reasons of structural similarity. There is a similar progression through an analysis of the components of the cinematic image, as well as an emphasis on the specificity of the cinematic image, and a search for the capacities of its newness, of its distinctiveness. One could also chart a decisive relation between the starting point of Kracauer's _Theory of Film_ and _Cinema_. Deleuze resolutely distinguishes the photographic-image from the cinematographic image by insisting on the primacy of cutting and shooting over the photo-realistic quality of the image, but the attempt to define the image in its reality remains.


Bellour goes one step further and explains the relations of the two volumes as a broad tension between systematicity and singularity:


'what sense is there in supposing that this extraordinary and singular system which really isn't one is only valid for Deleuze and that he is the one who invents it? How can we qualify in this way the only book capable of grasping the history of cinema as a whole in giving us such an impression of 'truth' in relation to each one of the auteurs it treats and which has become, if we think about it, the only global aesthetic today touching the art of cinema in its entirety?' (69)


This discussion then leads into a set of questions around the genesis of the cinema, the heterogenesis of the cinema.


'Nothing in this book expresses better the way the genesis of _Cinema_ in two volumes allows us to understand the philosophical attachments of cinema . . . than the haunting of arrest perpetually at work. It is this haunting that cinema averts in itself and progressively, passing from the ancient conception of movement made of discontinuous poses to its modern conception conceived according to the equality of any-instant-whatevers, and affirming itself in the various openings of montage. It is this haunting . . . which is the force of time itself, in a cinema of the seer devoured by his own vision, by pure optical and sound images' (71).


In the end, for Bellour, this book remains philosophy, albeit a 'book of philosophy incorporating cinema in a way that had never been done before or since' (73). But calling _Cinema_ a philosophy 'incorporating' cinema seems to be an essentially lopsided view of the work, because in the end the productive encounter between philosophy and cinema is sidelined for a reflection on the possibilities of philosophical expression. The cinema does not figure as a means to do philosophy differently but as a non-philosophical thought which nevertheless crosses over with philosophy at certain moments. It is what is done with these moments which presents an opportunity to create new relations between philosophy and cinema, film theory, and film criticism. I would argue that this principle is evident in the interview between Deleuze and _Cahiers du cinema_ -- 'The Brain Is the Screen: Interview with Gilles Deleuze on _The Time-Image_' -- where Deleuze insists that the encounter between film and philosophy constitutes the work as 'a system of relays' (49): 'The encounter between two disciplines doesn't happen when one of them sets about reflecting on the other, but when one realizes that it must resolve for itself and with its own means a problem which is similar to that which is posed in another' (49). This problem, which is similar for philosophy and cinema, is the demand that movement must be introduced into thought. 'How could there not be a conjunction with cinema, which introduced 'true' movement into the image?' (48)


To finish off this discussion I want to draw what might seem an odd connection between the cinema and Deleuze's statements about Palestine. At the time of writing this essay, Australia, and particularly Sydney, is in a frenzy of Olympic rhetoric. 'Sydney is the Olympic City' everyone says again and again as good marketers must; the site of a momentous global event. The eyes of the world will be on us: and attention, as Jonathan Beller reminds us, is value. [13] So as a counterpoint to the frenzied narrative of species domination I take this opportunity (in a context such as the _Film-Philosophy_ discussion salon) to focus attention on Sydney as a site which is also being actively suppressed, through 'Olympics' legislation which gives special police powers to the military to break up demonstrations and to prohibit access to certain areas without the proper documentation, and other means. The Sydney I am talking about is colonial Sydney, Australian Sydney (parochial Sydney), site of British invasion, and of continuing colonial processes of political and territorial domination (read urban consolidation, domestic renovation a particular passion of young Sydney homeowners). In 'Wherever They Can See It' Deleuze writes: 'The Americans made of Israel a super-production in the Hollywood manner: they conceived of the land as a *terra nullius* awaiting the arrival of the ancient Hebrews, its only occupants being a few Arab settlers keeping guard over the place's sleeping stones. In this way they were pushing the Palestinians toward oblivion.' (34)


Terra nullius is a fundamental concept of the colonial invasion of Aboriginal lands and a cornerstone of the juridical attack on Aboriginal law, custom, and existence. Sydney is founded on terra nullius. If, as Deleuze argues, the Americans propagated the fallacy that the Palestinians 'came from elsewhere, and could very well return there' (34), the British and all the governments henceforth propagate the fallacy that there was nobody here, that the people and nations never existed at all. The policy of removal of Aboriginal children from their families (the policy of forced removal now known under the term The Stolen Generations) is part of an ongoing process which is indebted to the principle of terra nullius.


At the time of writing the Federal Liberal Government has resolutely refused to apologise for this policy -- which was government sanctioned and administered, and which involved churches who removed 'educated' and 'housed' the children, police who oversaw the encampment policies, landowners who benefited from the cheap labour and who siphoned off the meagre wages of the labourers, and of course the population at large who now hold freehold title over Aboriginal lands and who renovate, renovate, renovate, like characters out of Peter Carey's _Illywacker_ -- or to accept responsibility for 'actions of the past' (strangely, though, it has no problem with claiming a direct link between the present state of the nation and the past actions of ANZACS for instance).


My question here is to what extent terra nullius is evident in Australian cinema. Marcia Langton's essay, 'Well, I heard it on the radio and I saw it on the television', [14] powerfully shows that the concept of terra nullius is particularly pronounced around questions of shooting on location, and in differing concepts of the documentary representation of events. Langton shows how film crews often stampede areas that are already embedded with cultural and social value as if they were blank spaces on which the camera can write or inscribe its own story. Her example is the filming of _Crocodile Dundee_, but she shows how the social organization of films shot by and for Aboriginal people is precisely structured by relations of location. There is an entirely different division of labour than in the standard film shoot and this division is not based on expertise but on social relations within the community and custodial relations with regard to history and the land. Location is not where the film is shot but determines every aspect of the shooting itself, who gets to do what and who is not allowed to do what.


And here there is a curious if tangential relation to _Cinema 2_. It has often been remarked that Deleuze's film history is somewhat loose and even a bit bodgy. This criticism often centers on the strange place that the Second World War occupies both in the history of cinema and in its aesthetic transformations. One explanation for this is that, although it is never stated explicitly, there does seem to appear a politics of location which affects the aesthetic trajectory of _Cinema 2_. It is clear that Deleuze is interested in the relation between the cinema and fascism, and that the interest in cinematic time is an interest in representing or rendering visible the trauma of the war. He not only chooses films and filmmakers who present images of this trauma (Rossellini's trilogy, Resnais's _Hiroshima mon amour_ -- the characteristics of the crisis of action-image seem to be a response to these historical conditions and how they affect the very geography of the cinematic image, how narrative becomes an inadequate cinematic tool), but there seems to be an interest in charting the way trauma transforms the spectatorial relation, how the image resists assimilation. It may even be plausible to divide the two volumes along the axis of a cinema of the future and a cinema of the immediate past, the cinema as the art of the new and the cinema that confronts (before philosophy and other arts) the very possibility of art in the future. My query would be to what extent the philosophising of _Cinema 2_ can contribute to a project which seeks to render visible the concept of terra nulius as it works in the cinematic image. The decision to define modern cinema with Italian neorealism indicates an emphasis on issues around location and the documentary potential of cinema. Deleuze's interest though is clearly in how the myth of action led to the ruination of numerous locations, which is of course a different inflection of the question to that of re-telling narratives that have been suppressed in history and cinema.


During the Olympics, many Sydneysiders were convinced that Reconciliation had taken place or at least been moved along by the Opening Ceremony, that *we* had progressed as a *people* beyond the bounds of the course and hollow notions that rule in Canberra (the national seat of government). Sydney now calls itself 'the spiritual home' of the Olympics. What kind of location is this? As a concept it sounds as 'course as a hollow tooth', if only because it was a collective performance for the rest of the world and had very little to do with the here and now. It also shows that the trick today is not to become a star, anyone can be a star, the trick is to remain obscure, to go about one's life but to remain obscure.


University of New South Wales

Sydney, Australia





1. Deleuze, _Spinoza: Practical Philosophy_, trans. Robert Hurley (San Francisco: City Lights, 1988), p. 1.


2. Deleuze, 'Afterword', _Bergsonism_, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (New York: Zone Books, 1988), p. 115.


3. Ibid.


4. See Patton, Review of Gilles Deleuze, _Cinema 1: The Movement-Image_ and _Cinema 2: The Time-Image_, _Screen_, vol. 32 no. 2, 1991.


5. Deleuze, _Spinoza: Practical Philosophy_, p. 4.


6. Ibid.


7. See Fisher, 'Deleuze in a Ruinous Context: German Rubble-Film and Italian Neorealism', _Iris_, no. 23, Spring 1997.


8. Deleuze, _Cinema 1: The Movement-Image_, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), p. 185.


9. Ibid., pp. 76-77.


10. Ibid., pp. 26-27; quoted by Bellour in _Discourse_, p. 65.


11. Deleuze, _Cinema 2: The Time-Image_, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (London: The Athlone Press, 1989), pp. 1-2.


12. Ibid., p. 39.


13. See Beller, 'Cinema: Capital of the Twentieth Century', _Postmodern Culture_, vol. 4 no. 3, May 1994 <>.


14. Marcia Langton, 'Well, I heard it on the radio and I saw it on the television', Australian Film Commission North Sydney, Australia, 1993.



Copyright © _Film-Philosophy_ 2001


Richard Smith, 'The Philosopher with Two Brains', _Film-Philosophy_, Deleuze Special Issue, vol. 5 no. 34, November 2001 <>.




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