Film-Philosophy

Journal | Salon | Portal (ISSN 1466-4615)

Vol. 8 No. 23, July 2004

 

 

Thomas Carl Wall

 

The Time-Image:

Deleuze, Cinema, and Perhaps Language

 

 

 

I. Cinema equals Language

II. _Vertigo_

III. _Maborosi_

IV. Sound, Mood, and Depth

V. Sense Intensified

 

I. Cinema equals Language

 

Although Gilles Deleuze's two volume study of cinema [1] is resolutely anti-linguistic, it is nevertheless an approach to that which is internal to language as well as to that which modern cinema directly presents. Both volumes are enormously innovative, rich, complex, and difficult. _Cinema 2_, which I will discuss here, is difficult because it takes us beyond the sensory-motor schema of the movement-image -- characteristic of classical, pre-war, Hollywood-inspired films. Subordinated to action, to 'what happens next', or to 'what must be found out', the movement-image is an action-image and its with previous and subsequent movement-images reduces or normalizes its original abnormality and produces narrative. [2] _Cinema 1_ focuses on what is intrinsically interesting in the movement-image (apart from its narratological role) and in this volume Deleuze invents a complex, systematic, and specifically cinematic semiotic (derived largely from C. S. Peirce) which tears cinema study away from the imaginary and from linguistics. [3] _Cinema 2_ describes the recovery of cinema's lost 'secret', the direct presentation of that to which only language, not perception, is adequate: time. [4] Beginning with Yasujiro Ozu, [5] cinema presents time, not movement, and only the fact of language is equal to its presentation. As the image is not the presentation of an action, 'what happens next' no longer matters, and that which is directly presented is not even, *stricto sensu*, seen. The sensory-motor link is broken and action becomes irrelevant. Movement no longer 'measures' time but is folded into time. The difficulty is this: the time-image is as much read as it is seen/heard. [6] That which is presented is the metamorphosis of the perceptible into the legible. More precisely, that which is presented is the metamorphosis of the perceived into a pure given-to-be-read. Because of this, paradoxically, cinema cannot be *a* language (as it is for Christian Metz and his followers), but it does come to equal language *as such*. To equal language is not, however, to be linguistic. The time-image is not a linguistically coded statement.

 

Movement does not vanish from the movies of course, but movement is now subordinated to time, not action. Deleuze describes this as cinema's 'Kantian revolution'. [7] For Kant, time is an interiority that 'includes' us. [8] Time is that in which we primordially dwell; it is our 'beginning'. Cinema, insofar as it directly presents time, 'saves' this beginning. That which is held in the time-image, I shall argue, is equally that which is held in language: the beginning, the thing *ipse*, the threshold, or the *perhaps*. The cinematic time-image, like language, is the direct presentation of *potentia*. The subordination of movement to time neutralizes perception so that that which is seen becomes readable, but not in the sense that it becomes a unit of language. Let us say that the *seen* loses depth, produces surfaces, is dis-coordinated, and must be read 'into' such that it becomes the image of language as such: the pure possibility of language or language *perhaps*. Neither a perception nor a linguistic sign, the time-image suspends a legible, an *utterable*, [9] a *lekta*. [10] The time-image presents that which language will get hold of and form into linguistic units, but the *utterable* itself is the thing itself of language and as such it refuses to be spoken just as the 'it' in 'it's raining' is not rain. (There is no actual 'it' that causes, produces, induces, or gives the rain. It is raining nonetheless.) _Cinema 2_ approaches the *it*.

 

I speak here of the 'fact' of language in order to indicate the being-language of language, language so-called, as such, or language *perhaps*. The fact of language is given the ambiguous status *perhaps* because language as such cannot simply be affirmed or denied. Insofar as language always presupposes a 'something' (an object) on which or about which it speaks, language will always have missed *itself* because in itself language is not an object but a medium. [11] Language *itself* will always have escaped the logico-temporal structure of linguistic presupposition. Language itself, in short, is non-linguistic. [12] It is not governed by any language system and its weakness -- its inability to speak 'itself' -- is its power to presuppose.

 

According to Deleuze, when the signaletic material of the sign is time presenting itself, then cinema comes to equal language because the sign must be read as much as seen. The time-image is not, however, seen/read by the subject/viewer but is, let us say, 'witnessed' by the 'seer' (*voyant*), [13] for whom reading and seeing continually exchange places, or parallel each other, or confront each other. Perception is overtaken by a reading of an infinitive, the viewer is affected by a memory deeper than memory, and we find ourselves *in* a time that has never been constituted as part of any present. Neither a perception nor a textual reading, the seer 'sees/reads' only a *that*, a threshold -- a piece of that of which it is a sign.

 

Time, to be sure, is not some palpable, perceptible thing. Its direct (unmediated, immediate) presentation in cinema will therefore not be something simply visible/audible. 'Attached' to the image, time will not merely freeze-frame a movement. Time will be that which arrests the movement of a movement into an action. A movement that will not extend into an action will remain suspended and this suspension will peel itself away from the seen/said structure of perception and language which pre-suppose some actuality prior to and outside of that which is given to me in a representation. Instead of a seen/said there will be presented strange, not-yet-actual entities born of familiarity but now autonomous signs of themselves: doubles and simulacra. Signs of themselves, these entities are already pure reflections of language. The time-image is a description, not an action. Movement subordinated to time does not move into depths but instead flattens perception into a milieu wherein the familiar scene metamorphoses into a 'that' on which are inscribed pure 'possibles'. Doubled, enacted before acted, the time-image will present, or procure, or fabulate that which will only have been talked about because it will never have been actualized. The perfectly recognizable actual situation 'leaks' a non-actuality whose being is purely in-language: [14]

 

'There are Lulu, the lamp, the bread knife, Jack-the-Ripper: people who are assumed to be real with individual characters and social roles, objects and uses, real connections between these objects and these people -- in short a whole actual state of things. But there are also the brightness of the light on the knife under the light, Jack's terror and resignation, Lulu's compassionate look. These are pure singularities, qualities, or potentialities -- as it were pure 'possibles' . . . taken all together they only refer back to themselves'. [15]

 

Taken all together these qualities are a milieu, but the milieu is distinct from the actual state of things present. It is a complex-surplus of *possible* connections. The milieu is both these auto-referential qualities taken all together and also the dissolving of itself into innumerable 'possibles'. The milieu *may* be. The milieu is the unstable, the unreliable, the infinitely questionable. These 'qualities' or 'possibles' are already expressive, already possibly legible, already, perhaps, language. The milieu is that aspect of the actual which does not exist solely for the next moment. These 'possibles' are a medium and hence already a reflection of the language which they pre-exist and in which alone they will 'live'. When the sensory-motor schema (and its compelling consequence, narrative structure) of classical cinema is disrupted in Ozu (and later, more forcefully, in Orson Welles [16]), and when sound is separated from the visual (as in Robert Bresson and Marguerite Duras [17]), then the milieu will become a 'that', a threshold on which are inscribed possible entities or time-things which form a time-image, a 'crystal' [18]: pure *maybeing*.

 

Language -- the fact of language -- is the pure expression of the time-image and the time-image conserves the 'past' of language as a pure past in the milieu (*as* the milieu), for the milieu will never have been. Not a state of things, the milieu will always have been the purely modified, the purely unreliable, questionable, complex, and problematic. Furthermore, the milieu will never have left a distinct impression because it is the medium *of* all actual, distinct, and rememberable psychological impressions. Its time is non-epochal and is heterogeneous to both the rectilinearity of progressive time and the regularity of cyclic time. It is time which always *at once* stretches from beginning to end because it is in no way constituted. It is explosive. The milieu -- which will never have been -- is the original dwelling of every actuality of which we may become conscious. The fact of language is its unrememberable memory.

 

The milieu is a gap at the heart of perception and a not-yet-read at the heart of the legible. It is the conservation of, perhaps, language and saves language from being completely codified. The milieu is a pure past which divides itself from every present, as in Bergsonian *duration* (which Deleuze recuperates as essential to his orientation in _Cinema 2_) where time is that which divides or forks the present which passes from the past it will have been (but of which it is already an image, from which it is indistinguishable, and in which it desists in a pure past). [19] It is a *perpetual* splitting or doubling, and language is its ultimate expression. [20] Hence language, at its origin or in its pre-history, is obliged to communicate a perpetual exteriority: time as the explosive complex of pure potential. Language is not originally a tool. It is, at the outset, the perpetual uncertainty of the milieu and the communication of this uncertainty. The being who is classically defined as the being who possess language is the being who, thus, *perhaps* has language. Perhaps-to-have-language is to dwell in perpetual beginning, to dwell outside any environment in pure non-organic, non-genetic, and unimaginable *maybeing*.

 

 

II. _Vertigo_

 

Deleuze is very clear on this point: 'it is this, it is time, that we *see in the crystal*'. [21] That which we see is the Bergsonian splitting or forking or doubling. It is not inferred through movement. Clearly when, in Alfred Hitchcock's _Vertigo_, Judy emerges from her bedroom dressed and with her hair done up in the fashion demanded of her by Scotty, she is split. She is both Judy and Madeleine, both present and past. (Her 'past' name is no doubt meant to recall Proust's cakes and the involuntary memory which gives his narrator all of Combray as a milieu he never actually experienced nor could recall voluntarily. [22]) Judy walks toward Scotty but she is divided into two distinct/indistinct doubles which refer to each other and chase each other in an endless circuit which forms an autonomous never-existing entity *neither simply from the past nor simply in the present*: she ('she') is crystalline. 'You love me because I remind you of her', she ('she') says to Scotty. 'Yes, but it's you too!' he says (and implies that she reminds him of herself). He does not know to whom he speaks. In his brutal zeal to bring out and complete that which in Judy reminds him of Madeleine, he succeeds in producing an obscurity. Judy emerges from the bedroom from out of time, not space. Her apartment is also the monastery where Scotty last saw Madeleine and the camera shows this to us as co-present with the actual apartment they are in. Reproducing in Judy all of Madeleine's qualities, Scotty fabulates a Madeleine-thing, a thing of time that remains perpetually contemporaneous with the present *and the past*. The Madeleine-thing is a thing of time that perpetually divides into present and past. Neither Judy nor Madeleine, 'she' is the autonomous pre-existence of both. 'She' purely *may* be. Taking into his arms the made-over Judy, he finds himself in a time which divides him from himself as present and *already* present.

 

Judy appears to Scotty in an actual present situation and she resembles Madeleine to the nth degree. Scotty searches for an end to the resemblance but he cannot find an end because at a level deeper than resemblance, historical identity, or Scotty's own rigorous memory, she ('she') is *more* Madeleine than Madeleine. 'She' is the more-than-present continuity between present and past and hence 'she' is absolutely new. 'She' is a beginning. Scotty searches for an end to the resemblance but he finds instead an unfinished continuity he is *in*. This continuity is explosive in that it dislodges Scotty from his present context and plunges him into the continuity of his still-beginning passion for Madeleine whom Judy incarnates. (When, by accident, we see an old lover on the street after some time has passed and wounds are healed, we can be struck by a burst of love and desire as that which is still beginning for the beloved in spite of all our history. This phenomenon is peculiarly intense because it is objectless and non-presupposed -- for whom do we feel this burst of love? And, even more acutely, who is struck in this way if not 'ourself', but as someone purely *in* time, someone who is not yet actually there?) In herself, Judy internalizes present and past. In 'her' all the qualities of Judy and all the qualities of Madeleine co-exist continuously. No longer simply present, Judy is the never-(yet-)present Madeleine; she is Madeleine but as Madeleine never actually was. Madeleine *perhaps*. Beyond any memory of her is Madeleine *as such*: *Incipit Madeleine*. As the incorporeality of a continuity, the Madeleine-thing remains still new. 'She' is purely legible, purely possible, purely a sign whose signaletic material is time.

 

In fact, Judy *is* Madeleine as the morning star is the evening star. Judy and Madeleine are the same *denotatum*. However, just like the morning star and the evening star, 'they' are distinct *noemata*. In the film, Judy cannot not resemble Madeleine to the nth degree and Scotty cannot stop himself from witnessing this; she cannot not be 'Madeleine' (taken as a verbality). Not merely a perception, Scotty reads into her all that is Madeleine. To put it succinctly, 'she' is all that inheres in the *name*: Madeleine. 'She' is pure seeming, pure appearing-to-be, pure *maybeing*. 'She' is she whom Scotty always already loves. Not an image nor a set of properties which can be predicated of someone in particular, 'she' the always purely continuous maybeing of his beloved. 'She' is whatever Scotty wants.

 

She whom Scotty loved was enveloped entirely in the name. The name is the moment of breathless temporality before it refers to an item in a setting. The name names that which time will have sought out and scarred in order to manifest itself. The name names the eternal maybeing of the beloved and her exposure to all of that to which language can refer. Much will have been said about the Judy/Madeleine *person*, about her character and her weakness in succumbing to a vile scheme, about her regrets and her love for the man she deceived. But originally the name names the purely so-called, the perhaps: the lovable, the vulnerable, and the utterable.

 

Suspended thus in language, maybeing is the pure 'moment' of exposure and is not a real predicate of a pre-supposed someone or something. Maybeing cannot not be exposed to all that can be said in language; hence it is a complex and inexhaustible surplus, or a threshold to that which remains still to come in a thicklessness or a milieu never presupposed, but in which we find ourselves.

 

 

III. _Maborosi_

 

_Maborosi_ (Japan, 1995), a film directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda and starring Mikiko Esumi, also concerns loss and mourning but without the bizarre theme of the return of the departed. The film is noteworthy for being composed entirely of duration shots, time-images, milieus. In this film, that which the widow (played by Mikiko Esumi) must endure is sheer everydayness. We are shown no scenes of grieving and comfort, no scenes which reveal some hidden truth about her lost husband and their life together. After his death, we are shown the street, the cafe, the bicycle, their modest apartment, the factory where her husband had worked -- all stubbornly the same as when he was alive and they were happy together. Although music sometimes accompanies the duration shots, the film remains absolutely un-musical and moodless. We are taken sometimes by a shot of great beauty as when she opens a shutter in her darkened bedroom to let in the icy winter light, but all the scenes and acts are simple, banal, and everyday. In every case, in every shot, life has already come to fill the place of the departed (and thus to empty itself of the departed).

 

The widow's mother discusses her future with her after the funeral and arrangements are made to introduce her to another man. The woman remarries and the marriage is a happy one. Her son will probably not retain any memory of his deceased father. She herself takes up her new existence step by step: the marriage must be celebrated, the neighbors greeted, the cleaning done, and her son grows up and must learn to ride a bicycle, and so on.

 

At the same time, however, a reality made up of its refusal to become present insists as if between each scene. Throughout the film we always have the feeling that something is about to happen -- something terrible perhaps, but something. [23] We may wish to see the new husband offer her some sympathy when she begins to wonder again about her first husband and his somewhat mysterious death, but the film seems uninterested in either the sympathetic capacities of the new husband or the details of the mystery. We nevertheless unquestionably sense *something* unshown which we try to read into each scene. But we sense this only because everydayness itself is a massive *potentia*. The film does not build to a dramatically revelatory scene of any kind but a surplus of purely intensive possibilities inhere in the everydayness Kore-eda presents.

 

There are few, if any, close-ups in this film because the director is uninterested in capturing either psychological authenticity or the 'star quality' of his actors. Medium and long shots compose each scene with almost always a stationary camera. The woman's new life is recorded for us as if without comment. Each step of her existence actualizes an inevitable present the woman takes on and lives in. She becomes someone-she-must-be through the sincerity of her commitment to her son, her new husband, and herself. The woman maintains a sincere relationship with the existence she takes up, but this sincerity is torn from other cloth. Her sincerity is a living-through of something else. She does not fear pain and loss, nor does she repress feelings -- such that we would want her to have a cathartic experience that would 'sweep away the cobwebs' (as Midge suggests to Scotty in _Vertigo_ during his catatonic grieving of the loss of Madeleine). _Maborosi_ does not revolve around something private and authentic that remains concealed. It is nonetheless the case that, in spite of herself, the woman is embraced by a lassitude she cannot be rid of: washing the basement steps of her new home by the sea, she grows weary and pauses. Outside any psycho-corybantic spectacle, there is pause between each of the steps of her existence, an arrhythmia which is catastrophic: Everything, continuing.

 

That the film does not revolve around a central secret or a something-to-be-revealed makes of it a dispersion rather than a narrative. Each step of her existence bites into the future and carves out a present into which the woman retreats as to an alcove. But these presents are made up of an unendurable dispersion. In each scene we do not know what is background and what is foreground. Somehow, everything the woman does seems abnormal. Depth is temporal and not spatial. Her routines, her joys, her duties, and her love for her new husband are movements in time, not space. Inside this depthless depth the woman is pursued by the vertiginous thought of her dead husband; a thought which, she tells her new husband, 'goes round and round in [her] head' and which she cannot get rid of. Unlike the little bell she keeps as a memento of her dead husband, this thought keeps her as its memento. She wanders away from her routines one day and finds herself waiting for a bus which never arrives, and then follows behind a procession of Buddhist mourners. The thought that pursues her cannot be reduced to a memory or exorcised in a catharsis. The thought is coldly indifferent to her and her present situation. It is not a voice, nor is it a calling. Her new husband speaks to her of the sea and its 'power to beguile' -- when he talks to her of how his father once saw a mysterious light in the distance while he was fishing. (We suspect that the father, who often stares blankly into space or out to the sea is also pursued by a thought -- of his dead wife perhaps.) The thought which haunts her, however, is finally nothing other than her unconditional abandonment -- her abandonment to thought, to the world, to her own flesh. In fact, her life with her first husband was already this same abandonment: with him she was unconditionally happy and abandoned to that joy. Beyond happiness or unhappiness is an unconditional abandonment. It is the always uncalled for, the unthought-of thought. She is returned to her abandonment: to her beginning.

 

The woman in this film is not robbed of her ability to act. She is robbed of her ability to subordinate her movements to end in acts. She mourns without being able to. She tends to her affairs and to her son. She remarries. The world in which she acts is the same as it was before her husband died. Yet she *returns* to it. She returns to the world she never left where everything is as it was -- *and* everything is different from what it was or ever will be. She returns to that which happens without ever being affirmed, without ever reaching up into a perception, where all is *perhaps* as it always is. What is unrecognizable in this world -- that which we try to read into each scene -- is its very sameness, its massive familiarity. The dimensions of the familiar cannot be reduced to a thought, an image, or a memory. The familiar is a milieu. Hence, the world to which she returns is not the one she remembers, but the one which escapes all memory *while remaining the same world*. There where she is most familiar, she is least present. Familiarity is always 'beguiling' because it is without a why, without a subject, without determination, and with truth. The massiveness of the familiar is a function of the forgetting, not of Being, but of *having*, of *habitus*. Everydayness is the always uncalled for and always already forgotten milieu where non-organic lives live out autonomous existences. The familiar is not nature, not culture. It is not a place but a vicissitude, a lassitude, a lapse. We cannot even say that it exists here or there, near or yonder. It is the always continuous threshold into which we routinely disappear, wandering as witnesses where we do not even recognize ourselves and where we never-have-been. [24]

 

The language that equals this familiarity is neither a mysterious, alluring silence nor idle chatter, but that which we hear 'in' idle chatter or everyday talk (such as much of the everyday talk overheard in _Maborosi_): the pure possibility of communication, or the having of language not as a property nor a product, but as a habit. [25] To have language without possessing it or being possessed by it is still to have time, but without *having* to have it. To have language in this way is perhaps to speak, perhaps to write, perhaps to read, but simultaneously to prefer not to, thus, *perhaps* to have language and thus to return to it. Perhaps to have language is to dwell in the time anterior to all being and possessing.

 

 

IV. Sound, Mood, and Depth

 

Essential to the direct presentation of time is the liberation of sound from its role as guarantor of the whole, of depth and dimension. The time-image is the 'heautonomy' of sonic and optic. [26] When sound no longer fills space with depths, then space is no longer a whole space but an 'any space whatever', and 'there is now an interstice *between* the seen and the said . . . an irrational cut . . . a continually recreated disjunction': [27]

 

'These are pure optical or sound situations in which the character does not know how to respond, abandoned spaces in which he ceases to experience and act so that he enters into flight, goes on a trip, vaguely indifferent to what happens to him, undecided as to what must be done. But he has gained an ability to see what he has lost in action or reaction; he SEES so that the viewer's problem becomes 'what is there to see in the image?' (and not 'what are we going to see in the next image?') The situation no longer extends into action through the intermediary of affections. It is cut off from its extensions, it is now important only for itself, having absorbed all its affective intensities, all its active extensions. This is no longer a sensory-motor situation, but a purely optical and sound situation, where the seer [*voyant*] has replaced the agent [*actant*]: a 'description'.' [28]

 

Instead of extending into an action and a narrative progression, the time-image presents the cut, the disjunction: the non-musical invisible. In a word, dispersion. Non-narrative, auto-referential, and auto-temporalized, the time-image is a-tonal and moodless. Rather than being a tableaux that opens a linguistic territory wherein the audience can identify with personalities and be impressed by the dramatized themes of good, evil, justice, injustice, and so on, the time-image is a crystal open to innumerable depthless, non-organic connections. The time-image is *more* open and *more* presentative than any presentation already linguistically codified. Unlike Heideggerian 'Mood' or 'Attunement' (*Stimmung*) however, the time-image does not primordially open onto a totality of beings. Nevertheless, a comparison to Heidegger's ontological analysis of 'Mood' is instructive.

 

It is in the section on *Stimmung* from _Sein und Zeit_ that Heidegger introduces the important term *Geworfenheit* (Thrownness): [29] *Das es ist*, or 'that it is', the facticity that Da-sein *must* be. But Da-sein is 'thrown-being' or is always already being (being-in, in-the-world, in-amongst-others, etc.) and mood is the primary attestation to Da-sein's not being its own origin. Prior to and beyond all cognition, mood is an evasive turning away that both discloses and closes off the pure *Da*. Prior to all experience, *Stimmung* makes possible all that is within the world to matter in some way and hence to be experience-able. *Stimmung* veils Da-sein's very self but it also 'structures' Da-sein as the being whose being it is to be its 'there' veiled-ly, hence perpetually to 'miss' its very self, its authenticity. Primordially temporal, *Stimmung* brings us back to something, back to the world. We are continually traversed by *Stimmungen* and *Stimmungen* are the very weight of our *must-be-the-there*, our exposure to being. From one moment to the next we cannot know what mood we will be in nor why nor what we will feel like doing or avoiding. Mood is the stunning fact that we are always at the limit of ourselves, that we are always, as it were, 'on the verge'. The fondness for drugs and alcohol comes from a desire to engineer and regulate our moods. If you like, drugs and alcohol allow us to personally experience our own moods, for mood is nothing if not unreliable and vaguely indifferent to us and our activities. Mood colors everything in advance, altering perception such that there is no perception that is not always already altered. More simply, mood is the fact that we are always deluded and serialized (like a soap opera!) by processions of moods we barely take note of and barely experience because another mood, just like the previous mood, is always vaguely imminent. This serializing of existence, prior to any experience, is the being-thrown that defines Da-sein: we are deeply marked, placed, or situated, such that we are always deeply *in*, or continually born into, our not-being-at-the-origin of our being.

 

In the limit-mood *Angst* however, Da-sein finds the Voice of Conscience and is 'able' to be its 'there' with ontological authenticity. Through the pure, wordless, given-to-be-understood of the Voice of Conscience, Da-sein can resolutely *decide*, and not merely be-led-unto this or that; Da-sein can open onto the totality of Being. In his study of Heidegger's Da-sein -- and also Hegel's *das Diese nehmen* ('taking the this') from the first chapter of the _Phenomenology_ on 'sense certainty' -- Giorgio Agamben recalls *Stimmung* to its root in *Stimme* (Voice), the acoustico-musical essence of 'Mood' or 'Attunement'. [30] However, *Angst*, remember, is the experience of the *un*rootedness of *Stimmung*. That is to say, for Heidegger, language is not the Voice of man and hence our *Stimmungen* are the experience that language is not our *Stimme*. That language is not the Voice of man becomes for Heidegger the origin of the *other* Voice -- the Voice of Conscience -- as a wordless (that is, a *negative*) Voice, and in this way he preserves a tradition wherein another Voice, without language, preserves and makes room for, and indeed makes possible, the groundlessness of human being. Because of the august silence of this Voice, Da-sein can act as the negative foundation of its own negativity.

 

However, Agamben argues that it is conceivable (Heidegger notwithstanding) to cancel the Voice altogether and to read *Stimmung* as the liberation of language from Voice, as the definitive cancellation of the Voice, of destiny. Liberated from its role as guarantor of Voice, of foundation -- even of Negative foundation -- the *Da* of Da-sein is the very place of language itself but without a Voice. No longer the re-moval and consignment of Voice to chronothetic oblivion, language ceases to function in a metaphysical mystery or an ontological attestation of authenticity. Human being does not necessarily have language *negatively* (as re-moval of Voice) and language ceases to be a negative route to the properly human dimension whose foundation is unspeakable. Agamben's insight here is to notice that that which is metaphysically abysmal is also *habitual*. That is, human being, deprived of Voice, is also deprived of the abysmal, negative presentation this absence would be.

 

'To exist in language without being called there by any Voice, simply to die without being called by death, is, perhaps, the most abysmal experience; but this is precisely, for man, also his most *habitual* experience, his *ethos*, his dwelling, always already presented in the history of metaphysics as demonically divided into the living and language, nature and culture, ethics and logic, and therefore only attainable in the negative articulation of a Voice.' [31]

 

In other words, human being is not necessarily an agent (of change, of progress, of history, nor even of conscience, negativity, nor authenticity). For Agamben there is a 'beyond' of Voice where human being never-has-been which is the simple 'infancy (in-fari) of man'. [32] Beyond the nihilism of the absolutely speakable and the spectacular (which massively re-defines modernity for us), and beyond the romanticizing of moods or attunements (which has become a relic of another era), [33] there is a not-yet-born of human being waiting to be thought. In the language of this paper, this entity-not-yet-being is purely *perhaps*, and throughout his career Deleuze has been articulating this maybeing as a radical *potential* outside any negativity under the rubric of the *event*. [34] Maybeing is an event and its temporality is neither the ultimately abysmal temporality of the pre-supposed, nor is it the active, linear temporality of the extensive. It is the time of intensivity: the infinitive temporality internal to language as such.

 

 

V. Sense Intensified

 

The notion of the time-image is a continuation of work Deleuze had already begun in _The Logic of Sense_ in the chapters on language and orality. [35] With the framing of sound and its heautonomy with image, surfaces are produced and depths (and their archaic terrors) are canceled. Characters wander undecidedly and exchange action for a kind of 'seeing' which is a witnessing of the event as that which an actual situation 'leaks' (as I have already discussed). Now, according to Deleuze, the incorporeal (or the *noematic*) which the actual situation leaks is also simultaneously the 'sense' which inheres in the proposition. They are the same entity. [36] What is called 'event' and what is called 'sense' is the same thing. It is the very sharing of the same thing and it is the time-thing itself insofar as it is a *continual* process of sharing. As a limit or border shared -- on the one hand, by the actual situation which leaks a *noematic* incorporeality, and on the other hand, by the language that will envelope it in statements -- this border is also completely empty because it is exhausted in its being-shared by the two sides it unites/separates. It has no being of its own. It may-be. It is the 'empty form of time' and it is the very event-time of sharing/dividing, uniting/separating the actual and language. If the actual is what language pre-supposes, the event is the non-pre-supposed, or the very event of language itself. The thing itself of language is also the empty 'form' of time.

 

Cinema, by virtue of its technico-aesthetic innovations, is able to present this directly, automatically. It is able to present that which renders possible whatever is possible. In this way cinema continually presents pre-linguistic signs and images and returns the subject/viewer to a memory (beyond memory) of infancy where infancy will be understood as the difference between the natural born creature and the being who has language and can experience and remember this or that. Deeper than memory is the 'moment' of never-experienced infancy; no longer merely a noise-machine but not-yet-linguistic, this infancy has its own autonomy. Located chronologically between birth and maturity, it nonetheless has its own power to tear itself from that chronology by virtue of its continual forgetting and its continual dispossession of its own thought. Torn from chronology, infancy does not simply sink into a past but persists as a pre-maturity and a forgetting that remains continuously anterior to the powers of the speaking-being of so-called maturation. Infancy is an irrational cut between birth and maturity. It sees and thinks . . . whatever -- automatically -- and hence shares, or connects, with the automation of cinematic apparatuses an 'ability' to not not-see. [37] The phantom which has always haunted cinema is the continuation of infancy. [38]

 

In my discussion of _Maborosi_, I said that the familiar is a massive *potentia*. It is also the case that the familiar is, precisely, the massively normalized. (Normalization is just the ceaseless postponement of the *potentia* of which I speak, hence the everyday anxiety with regard to 'what is normal'.) In the time-image, and with the notion of the event, Deleuze is able to define something beyond metaphysics and negativity, and also something ontologically ambiguous. He defines an awaiting and a witnessing for which there is no narrative content and no possible citation. This waiting/witnessing is nothing other than a politics. This politics does not take the form of a de-familiarization that reveals either hidden systems of oppression or hidden psycho-historical depths, but is rather a shattering of the normalization of the familiar, such that the familiar is intensified by being suspended prior to the actuality into which it routinely disappears. Only language as such is adequate to this suspension, for it already enfolds that which is still to come.

 

National Taipei University of Technology

Taipei, Taiwan-ROC

 

 

Notes

 

1. Deleuze, _Cinema 1: L'Image-mouvement_, published in 1983 by Les Editions de Minuit; _Cinema 2: L'Image-temps_, published in 1985 by the same publisher. This essay will quote from the translations by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam: _Cinema 1: The Movement Image_ (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986); and Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta: _Cinema 2: The Time-Image_ (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989).

 

2. '[T]he movement-image seems to be in itself profoundly aberrant and abnormal movement' (Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, pp. 36-7). It is aberrant because in fact, on the screen, one sees monstrous disproportions and impossible perspectives all the time. See also note 29 below.

 

3. Chapter 2 of _Cinema 2_ summarizes Deleuze's rejection of Metz and linguistic analysis of film, as well as his preference for the semiotics of C. S. Peirce as a starting point for defining a specifically cinematic semiotic. See also chapter 12 of _Cinema 1_ and 'Doubts About the Imaginary' from _Negotiations: 1972-1990_, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press), pp. 62-7.

 

4. 'The direct time-image is the phantom which has always haunted the cinema, but it took modern cinema to give a body to this phantom' (Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, p. 41).

 

5. See Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, p. 273.

 

6. Deleuze calls this the 'Lectosign', and it is defined in the glossary to _Cinema 2_ as 'a visual image which must be 'read' as much as seen' (p. 335), to which I will only add that, as the time-image is a sonic-optic heautonomy, it is also a framed aural image.

 

I should mention that my discussion here of a non-linguistically legible image has been studied at length by Marie-Claire Ropars-Wuilleumier. See her essay 'The Cinema, Reader of Gilles Deleuze', trans. Dana Polan, in Constantin V. Boundas and Dorothea Olkowski, eds, _Gilles Deleuze and the Theater of Philosophy_ (New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 255-60; see also her essay 'On Unworking: The Image in Writing According to Blanchot', trans. Roland-Francois Lack, in Carolyn Gill, ed., _Maurice Blanchot: The Demand of Writing_ (New York: Routledge, 1996), pp. 138-52.

 

7. Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, pp. xi-xii.

 

8. Deleuze refers to this 'interiority of time' in several works. In _Cinema 2_ (p. 82) he points out that 'Bergson is much closer to Kant than he himself thinks: Kant defined time as the form of interiority, in the sense that we are internal to time (but Bergson conceives this form quite differently from Kant)', and (p. 32) he says that Kant carries out the 'great reversal' by which movement is subordinated to time and as such it tears movement from a generality that would read movement as linguistic. When movement is subordinated to time it is divided in itself and becomes *auto*-referential, hence time originates a crystalline auto-affection and in this way Deleuze links Kant to Bergson in a manner which cannot be underestimated for an understanding of his work as a whole.

 

In _Kant's Critical Philosophy: The Doctrine of the Faculties_, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) Deleuze outlines the division of the subject into an 'Ego' (*moi*) affected by 'its' 'I' (*je*) -- but as if this 'I' were an Other -- so that 'I am separated from myself by the form of time' (pp. viii-ix) This division is crucial to Deleuze's departure from the psychoanalytic reign of the imaginary. In the beginning is neither a primal death nor the fatal Word, for 'there is no other crime than time itself' (Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, p. 37). But the most thorough discussion of Kantian time and the paradox of auto-hetero-affection is not from this volume but from the dense and stunning analyses in chapter II, 'Repetition for Itself', from _Difference and Repetition_, trans. Paul Patton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 85-91, in which he links Hume and (again) Kant and Bergson. The kernel of Deleuze's reading of Kantian time comes from a note appended to section 25 of the 'Analytic of Concepts' of the _Critique of Pure Reason_, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965), p. 169:

 

'The 'I think' expresses the act of determining my existence. Existence is given thereby, but the mode in which I am to determine this existence, that is, the manifold belonging to it, is not thereby given. In order that it be given, self-intuition is required; and such intuition is conditioned by a given a priori form, namely time, which is sensible and belongs to the receptivity of the determinable [in me]. Now, since I do not have another self-intuition which gives the determining in me . . . I cannot determine my existence as that of a self-active being; all I can do is to represent to myself the spontaneity of my thought . . .' (translator's ellipses).

 

However, Deleuze 'deepens' Kant by formulating a passivity that precedes Kantian receptivity. This prior passivity is a synthesis (hence an 'active passivity') or what he calls 'contemplation-contraction'. That which makes possible Kantian receptivity is a prior contraction of an outside which the passive *moi* is then able to be affected by. In this way, Deleuze radically, and quite colossally, 'materializes' Kant. Prior to the passivity of receptivity is an enfolding or enveloping which 'becomes' the affected self. 'In' the affected self is the outside it itself, in fact, is. Spontaneous receptivity is haunted by an always prior contact which 'produces' time as an irrecuperable past.

 

Prior to receptive sensation is a contraction of that which is to be sensed thus that which senses is already 'in' the outside it senses. That which senses is itself a differentiation from and also a repetition of that which it senses. The *moi* which senses is in-itself an alteration; its *ipseity* is a contamination. In any present sensation is hence a past (the contracted outside) and a future (the anticipation of the repetition the *moi* itself already is). This is the 'passive synthesis' which is so important to Deleuze's escape from psychoanalysis. The passive synthesis is anterior to Kantian receptivity and is also 'older' than the Freudian Ego. Contemplation-contraction produces time to which it is interior.

 

For the purposes of this essay I wish to highlight only certain aspects of the passive synthesis: 1. The contraction of an outside is simultaneously the production of time to which the sensational *moi* is internal; 2. The contemplation-contraction is simultaneous. No pre-existing Ego or subject contemplates and then contracts afterwards; 3. There is thus nothing to remember; no spectrality and no staging occurs. That which 'happens' can only be experienced *as* repetition (as past-future, as always already and yet still to come).

 

In my discussion of _Vertigo_, the 'Madeleine-thing' is that which 'in' Judy can only be experienced as repetition, and similarly the everydayness I invoke in my discussion of _Maborosi_ is entirely 'made up of' repetition. In each case that which escapes the present is nonetheless undergone as the exteriorization of an interiority, or to put it somewhat differently, as an exteriorization of an intimacy too intimate for a subject to experience within him or herself. The ontological status of repetition is pure maybeing because that which is repeated is that which is contracted: *everything*, the whole milieu within which this or that rememberable experience occurred. That which is experienced as more-than-intimate is the medium or the threshold (which is already the idea of language).

 

Let me add that a brilliant analysis of the pages from _Difference and Repetition_ I cite here can be found in Joseph Libertson's _Proximity: Levinas, Blanchot, Bataille and Communication_ (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1982), pp. 304-9. What is more, Libertson compellingly links the contemplation-contraction of Deleuze to 'senescence' in Levinas and to 'inner experience' in Bataille.

 

9. Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, p. 29.

 

10. Paul Patton, 'Introduction', in _Deleuze: A Critical Reader_ (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1996), p. 13.

 

11. In 'Integral Actuality', part of his Introduction to _The Idea of Prose_ by Giorgio Agamben, trans. Michael Sullivan and Sam Whitsitt (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), Alexander Garcia Duttmann describes language as a 'midst', a 'milieu', a '*medio*', etc. (pp. 3-6). The inspiration of Agamben for my reading of the time-image will become apparent later in this essay, but I also acknowledge that Duttmann's astute essay has helped me formulate my analysis.

 

12. Steven Shaviro comes to this same conclusion from a different angle in _The Cinematic Body_ (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993). Remarking on the Deleuze and Guattari criticism of the classic opposition of *langue* and *parole* as ultimately untenable, Shaviro says: 'Even language, we might say, isn't really 'structured like a language'' (p. 35).

 

13. Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, p. 27.

 

14. The notion of being-in-language is taken from Giorgio Agamben's _The Coming Community_, trans. Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993); see in particular the section 'Homonyms' (pp. 70-7) in which he defines being-in-language as the 'non-predicative property *par excellance*'. For a lengthy discussion of this, see my _Radical Passivity: Levinas, Blanchot, and Agamben_, chapter 4: 'The Political Neuter' (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999). The notion of being-in-language is also found in the Walter Benjamin essay, 'On Language as Such and on the Language of Man', trans. Edmund Jephcott from _Selected Writings, Volume 1: 1913-1926_; edited by Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996) pp. 62-74.

 

15. Deleuze, _Cinema 1_, p. 102, my ellipsis.

 

16. See Deleuze, 'On the Movement-Image', in _Negotiations: 1972-1990_, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), p. 50.

 

17. See Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, pp. 241-3.

 

18. The 'crystal' is one of the key terms in _Cinema 2_, and Deleuze devotes a chapter to the notion: 'The Crystals of Time' (pp. 68-97). The term is defined in the glossary as 'the uniting of an actual image and a virtual image to the point where they can no longer be distinguished' (p. 335).

 

19. An excellent philosophical discussion of Bergson and Deleuze can be found in Constantin V. Boundas's essay 'Deleuze-Bergson: An Ontology of the Virtual' from _Deleuze: A Critical Reader_, pp. 92-103. See also Gilles Deleuze, _Difference and Repetition_, pp. 71-3.

 

20. In 'Klossowski or Bodies-Language', Appendix II of _The Logic of Sense_, trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), pp. 280-301, Deleuze shows how language mimes the doubling already dividing a body from itself. Body-gesture (a movement-body which separates itself from the organic body and exposes itself to the outside) already pre-figures the language which will express it.

 

21. Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, p. 81, emphasis in original.

 

22. See Gilles Deleuze, _Proust and Signs_, trans. Richard Howard (New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1972), chapter five, 'The Secondary Role of Memory', pp. 51-64.

 

23. Steven Shaviro drew my attention to this remarkable and moving film, and made this observation with regard to it.

 

24. The notion of a never-having-been comes from Giorgio Agamben's _Language and Death: The Place of Negativity_, trans. Karen E. Pinkus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), p. 104, but my application of the term is inspired by Maurice Blanchot's essay 'Everyday Speech' from _The Infinite Conversation_, trans. Susan Hanson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), pp. 238-45. In one parenthetical passage Blanchot says: 'When we meet someone on the street it comes always by surprise and as though by mistake, for we do not recognize ourselves there.' In my opinion, Agamben's notion of *habitus*, which I will speak of later, should be read together with Blanchotian 'everydayness'.

 

25. Again, I weave Blanchot ('Everyday Speech') with Agamben (_Language and Death_, p. 94) in the sense that what matters to each is an impersonal (and, for Agamben, a non-tragic) relation/non-relation to/with language. I have attempted here to combine certain aspects of their approaches to language under the notion of 'language, perhaps'.

 

26. See Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, pp. 251-3.

 

27. Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, pp. 272 and 251-2, my ellipses.

 

28. Deleuze, _Cinema 2_, p. 272.

 

29. Martin Heidegger, _Sein und Zeit_ (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1993), p. 135; _Being and Time_, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1962), p. 173.

 

30. Agamben, _Language and Death_, pp. 55-6.

 

31. Ibid., p. 96.

 

32. Ibid., p. 91. See also an earlier work where Agamben develops at length his concept of infancy: _Infancy and History: Essays on the Destruction of Experience_, trans. Liz Heron (New York: Verso, 1993).

 

33. See 'The Idea of Music', in _The Idea of Prose_, pp. 89-91. We should be surprised to find someone today scoring an ode to joy or writing a poem on (or committing several volumes of research to the anatomy of) melancholy.

 

34. The notion of the 'event' and the aversion to (Heideggerian or Hegelian) 'being' are constants in the Deleuzian *oeuvre*. For the 'event' there are numerous valuable discussions in _Deleuze: A Critical Reader_, as well as Brian Massumi's remarkably clear discussions in _A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari_ (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992), pp. 18-21. For his aversion to both Hegelian and Heideggerian ontologies, see Michael Hardt, _Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy_ (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), p. xiii.

 

35. Deleuze, _Negotiations: 1972-1990_, pp. 62-7.

 

36. Deleuze, _Logic of Sense_, p. 91.

 

37. The passivity implicit here is the heart of Steven Shaviro's study of cinema, _The Cinematic Body_. See especially the section entitled 'Passivity and Fascination' (pp. 43-50), from his first chapter.

 

38. Deleuze has praise for Jean Louis Schefer's _L'Homme ordinaire du cinema_ -- part of which has been translated by Paul Smith in a collection of writings by Schefer entitled _The Enigmatic Body: Essays on the Arts_ (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 108-38. Schefer's book on cinema inspires Deleuze to read the movement-image as in-itself aberrant movement which is linked by Schefer to a 'suspension of the world' (_Cinema 2_, p. 168), to the anaperceptions of childhood, and ultimately to a 'primitive scene' (_Cinema 2_, pp. 36-7). Deleuze rejects Schefer's eschatology, of course, because his research takes him to a pre-history which is time itself and not a psychoanalytic crisis.

 

 

Copyright © Film-Philosophy 2004

 

 

Thomas Carl Wall, 'The Time-Image: Deleuze, Cinema, and Perhaps Language', _Film-Philosophy_, vol. 8 no. 23, July 2004 <http://www.film-philosophy.com/vol8-2004/n23wall>.

 

 

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