International Salon-Journal (ISSN 1466-4615)

Vol. 9 No. 5, January 2005







Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit


A Response to Patrick ffrench and Peter Caws



Patrick ffrench

'Potential Not To Be: Bersani and Dutoit's _Forms of Being_'

_Film-Philosophy_, vol. 9 no. 3, January 2005


Peter Caws

'Theory as Criticism: Bersani and Dutoitıs _Forms of Being_'

_Film-Philosophy_, vol. 9 no. 4, January 2005


We were particularly interested in Patrick ffrench's review, not only (we like to think) because it is so generously appreciative of _Forms of Being_, but also because it marvellously grasps all the issues -- and all the problems -- we were trying to raise. The most relevant point for further discussion is the question we ask concerning the ways in which a world outside subjectivity and circuits of imprisoning desire -- a world pointed to by the non-expressive aesthetic of the films we discuss -- might be actually inhabited. This question, inspired in large part by Foucault's call for 'new relational modes' (not yet imagined) has been at the heart of our work. To put this in terms we have frequently used, what would the specific moral, affective, and political correlatives be of the re-circuiting of individuation in the art we examine -- a re-circuiting away from the psychological subject to modes of singularity (rather than varieties of personality) defined by networks of similitudes (what we have called formal correspondences) not only among human subjects, but also between the human and the non-human? In what ways can we make psychically and socially operative the vast community of dispersed yet related being of which the paintings and the films we have studied give us visual models?       


_Forms of Being_ just begins to answer this question, one that has to be looked at (perhaps with the help of psychoanalysis, *re-defined*) through a reflection on such superficially self-cancelling notions as inaccurate replication, non-psychological narcissism, and (here is where psychoanalysis may be most relevant) impersonal intimacy. In this enterprise, there can be no opposition, or even clear distinction -- to address a point made by Peter Caws -- between criticism and theoretical reflection. It has been one of the negative effects of the exciting French thought of recent years that numerous American academics now find it difficult to see how the most detailed discussions of specific works can be not formalistic exercises, but rather absolutely identical with philosophical reflection. Close reading can be psychically, perhaps even ontologically re-creative (this is the assumption behind our analyses of paintings in _Caravaggio's Secrets_). What sort of non-unified thinking being, for example, is implied in Caws's interesting evocation of a back-and-forth reading of texts that re-compose one another in a 'readerly' version of Freudian *Nachtraglichkeit*, in (to borrow a Jamesian term) the pleasures of 're-perusal, registered'?


Portland, Oregon, USA


Berkeley, California, USA



Copyright İ Film-Philosophy 2005



Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, 'A Response to Patrick ffrench and Peter Caws', _Film-Philosophy_, vol. 9 no. 5, January 2005 <>.










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