update:::> from work on Theory of Moving Image, contd.

Today I was working from Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the ritornello as, in Brian Massumi’s translation, a territorial refrain. This is in what is in French plateau 11. 1837 – De la ritournelle. They give it three meanings, whistle a tune to yourself to keep chipper on a dark night (or day); travel with a tent, or a boombox on your shoulder, playing that tune that reminds you of you so you don’t lose track of you in the chaos of the alien city; keep that tune in mind as you open your door to whoever’s knocking and whatever they will bring. And I recalled a series of Leonora Carrington sculptures that Donna Maria Lawson posted on F___B___ that I said there I thought I liked more than the paintings, so I found this site https://www.leocarrington.com/sculptures-esculturas.html … And it had the following image:

I am writing about ritornellos for the continuation of a theory of moving image I started here: https://squarewhiteworld.com/2023/09/01/theory-of-the-moving-image-to-be-contd-pdf/ … It was interrupted by the computus that I get from Justin Ruiu-Smith’s “The Reckoning of Time.” I work the concept up further in this section, https://squarewhiteworld.com/2024/01/10/linking-the-computus-and-moving-image-a-more-direct-statement-pdf/

In practice I don’t think ritornellos are like Deleuze and Guattari say they are. It’s more like we are in the ritornello. We are like the child in the little boat. And we are sailing … from time … to time, de temps … en … temps.

The “sometimes” then, of from-time-to-time, is outside of linear time, either thought of from computus, as a reckoning and measuring and therefore of a measurable time, or from its progressive determination as it is rolled out, in Deleuze’s words in Difference and Repetition, as il s’est déroulé … This rolling-out is of course linked in with cinema, but, in an aspect I am breaking with; it is also linked in with process philosophy, or self-organising processes in the physical sciences and chaos theory: these I am breaking with too, using Bergson’s duration and bringing it back to thinking about cinema in a way, although it is thought to the contrary, I don’t think Deleuze ever did.

This is where I am going on my little boat with the paintings of Leonora Carrington. And the little boat should remind you of my son’s little car. On first setting eyes on the Chateau, Tongariro, he said: “I’ve been here before. In my little car.”

Yes, the car was real. It was plastic and he kept sticks and figurines he animated in the boot under the seat. He went everywhere in it, was seldom surprised by a new place, because he’d already been there.

luz es tiempo

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Linking the computus and moving image: a more direct statement [pdf]

The following adds to my ongoing consideration of cinematic time after Bergson’s concept of duration and alongside Deleuze’s of the time-image. Although they are nonconsecutive, they build. The first part is called Enduring Dreams, the second Plan vital, the third, Things I left out of a note on cinematic time, the fourth, Theory of the moving image, to be contd., now this is the fifth. Contact me here if you have any questions or comments.


luz es tiempo
point to point

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a more direct statement linking the computus and moving image

I feel a more direct statement linking the computus and moving image is necessary. I have considered computus, the time of computus, the old time machine, as being an obstacle to allowing what the new time machine is doing to be seen. I have considered it as an obstacle to putting across how cinema, moving image works in practice and not simply stated how cinema and computus work together, and what they do, as if this also was difficult to see.

The problem of computus, its obstruction from view of how and what moving images do arises from what happens in practice. In practice it is ever happening but this practice can’t directly be called cinema. It is computus + cinema or raised to the power of cinema.

Computus (I should say why I favour the term: because it covers the temporal calculation of modernity through computers and the counting of what counts for religious observance, the times for rites) lays the foundation for meaning. Where it lays them (more than one), whether sacred or civic, laical or clerical, whatever inspiration, power or rationale they have, is less important than the calculation, the arithmetic. The measurement less important, even its symbolic status, in its symbolic (theatrical) enactment, the belief in the measurement is more important.

Belief elicits meaning and ontological priority, the ontological priority of measurement or, straightforwardly, counting. The scientific view does not however so easily elide counting and observation as it does measurement and observation. Perhaps this is due to the technical tools, which seem autonomous and independent of human input do the counting, but it is counting nonetheless, and their autonomy is questionable.

The writer Benjamín Labatut in an interview with Adrian Nathan on the Booker Prizes website, says this about his literary project, a project that I love,

What I admire most about science is that it is completely unwilling to accept the many mysteries that surround us: it is stubborn, and wonderfully so. When it comes face to face with the unknown, it whips out a particle accelerator, a telescope, a microscope, and smashes reality to bits, because it wants–Because it needs!–to know. Literature is similar, in some respects: it is born from an impossible wish, the desire to bind this world with words. In that, it is as ambitious as science. Because for us human beings, it is never enough to know god: we have to eat him. [here]

Observation is how we know but for science arithmetic is the smashing of this world into consumable bits. Computus remains to be how we eat god because it is where we greet god. Ensuring that we have, it ensures that we do by all means possible, that the world keeps turning, that there is a season for everything, because this is what we measure, seeking by our interventions to privatise life and lengthen that of each of us, all of it, including public life, resting on the given facts of nature, of a beginning having been calculated, so that we can see where we are, to proceed.

Now something could be said about Labatut’s smashing because this could be said of the wheel. It is a mechanism, a clockwork, and the living machine once smashed into bits cannot be brought back to life. This is the fear haunting the literature of the 19th century. Then it happened, and this is what Labatut surveys, the arrival of indeterminacy, the overthrow of classical physics by mathematicians and physicists stepping into the maelstrom of modernity and the irrational.

Or, it’s not science that is smashed, and unable, like a fractured mirror, to be put back together, not science that mad no longer offers an adequate reflection of reality, but science that orders the world to be smashed. Labatut maps the going-mad of scientists, of mathematicians, since the world is only describable mathematically, separately from the Faustian pact. It is exactly as Julius Oppenheimer says, I am become Death; I am destroyer of worlds: I am (perhaps by eating him) god, and since it is only by its computation that it is known, it’s not the knower that is destroyed but the world that is smashed into atoms.

This is a strange fate, a strange kind of fatalism. Is it mad? No, the knowledge is incontrovertibly positive, the science is good, the world is broken and science is not responsible for the fact it is only going to get more broken.

Postmodernism in showing them responsible was said to have done away with the Master Narratives yet it has kept this one. It’s not the one about the neutrality of scientific knowledge, it’s the numbers don’t lie. Everything else is interpretation, except the calculus, computus, so that Badiou can call mathematics first philosophy.

Labatut admires science, not as much as Badiou admires maths. He isn’t trying, by appealing to the passional that deals with scientists, mathematicians and physicists going mad, to undercut science or undermine its truth claims, any more than he is those transcendental ones that for counting make ontological claims. He is following in the line of the factual and its necessity.

He is, trying to do what any writer tries to do, telling the truth. Pointing to these other facts, that have as much neutrality as those admitted into the body of scientific knowledge that are over the 20th century decreasingly to do with direct observation and the empirical conditions of repeatability and more and more in the nature of symbolic logics and mathematical proofs, Labatut’s project, why I love it, doesn’t moralise about the limits of knowledge. He suggests knowledge itself is infinite, limitless, unbearable and necessary, that it is unbearable is also part, like the smashing, like world destruction, of that necessity.

Science is itself the laboratory for the observation of the going mad to be repeated but only in so far as it is in the world. Now, what is the necessity of the world? What of this necessity, this strange fatalism that is routinely given by lesser writers the inadequate explanations of either a computus founded in the transcendental, in the all-important appointment, the meet-greet-and-eat of god, or of the passional, the passionate intensity preceding number and counting that drives the arithmeticians mad? and for most of us is, as Labatut points out in The Maniac, 2023, the subject of the first 700 pages of Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell’s magnum opus of 1910, Principia Mathematica, 2 + 2 = 4?

Computus + moving image = necessity, or a new determinism, the new modern determinism that at the same time introjects, takes in, consumes its own fallibility as if this were the god. Labatut points to no limits, the mad infinite and not, as said, to call counting into question but really I suppose to hold up this belief for our admiration. The limits reached are those of rationality itself, and not those of ratio, so–how does this work? How can it be determined, limited and, a work of creation, without limit? or already beyond limits, placing human endeavour beyond, over-reaching at the start?

At the start of his project Labatut has Fritz Haber. We can see him in the fateful year of 1910, fur-coated, bald and short, a pince-nez on his nose and a Virginian cigar in his mouth, on the battlefield, a Jew and a representative of German ethnic nationalism, distinct from the civic nationalism of either France or England. Upon their troops he is about to release 168 tons of chlorine gas, his invention of which he is proud, he has insisted that he be there to give the signal, from 6000 metal tanks.

Labatut points to the inhumanity wrought as a result as if this too is at the heart of the effort, an effort in Haber’s case rewarded with the Nobel Prize for chemistry, the same year as Max Planck for physics, not for the invention of chemical warfare, or the Zyklon-B that will be derived from his invention, but for saving the world by the same determination with which he destroyed his own, Europe as a European Jew. He won it for the associated invention of a method for fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.

This then is in the nature of a fallible god, saving with one hand what he destroys with the other. Without artificial nitrogen and its use, its ongoing and universal use, as fertiliser, mass starvation would have ensued. The world’s human population as it is not sustainable, by natural means or the importation of elephant carcases into Europe, which was also the practice, would be less than half what it is today.

The god is not human reason. There is no fault found with reason. The faultline doesn’t run through reason and I can’t help thinking here of the use of reason reaching its height and it can be said a point of singularity, a threshold, a black hole, in the computation of how many Jews there were and, the conjoint problem, the administration of how to rid Europe of them.

A threshold would similarly be reached and crossed on July 16 1945 at Los Alamos with the successful detonation of the atom bomb, leading, as if inevitably, Labatut covers this, and despite the letter of objection signed by many of the scientists leading the Manhattan Project, to the detonation of Little Boy above Hiroshima at 8.15am a month after and, 3 days later, to that of Fat Man over Nagasaki at 11.02am. I visited with my partner, both of us conceding that it was necessary for us, a kind of pilgrimage, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, not far from Ground Zero. It struck me how prominent a part time played at the museum.

In a glass case, stopped at the minute the blast went off, is a wristwatch showing 8.15am. Above it, on the wall of the museum as if indirectly connected, is written,

A dragonfly flitted in front of me
 and stopped on a fence.
  I stood up, took my cap in my hands
   and was about to catch the dragonfly

The insult is one to time. And the time it is an insult to is of natural transience, that is as much of a dragonfly flitting past as of human lives. These are valued in Japanese culture for belonging to nature, are beautiful and worthy of admiration for being taken up by a natural temporality. It seemed to me in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum that death and the numbers dead took second place. It was unnatural not that lives were cut short, both human and nonhuman, animals and trees suffering the same fate, but that it was the result of an un-nature or an anti-nature. The crime inflicted, an insult to natural time, was that it was manmade.

This is not Labatut’s point alone, of a limitless infinite supervening on a human threshold and a point of singularity. In fact there’s something convenient about relegating events of history and the characters compelling them to the other side of reason. It goes to their either being unable to be represented or to representation reaching a crisis, being no longer adequate, to there being as the German film-maker Werner Herzog said no adequate images, which was exactly the case of the Repräsentationskrise in post-war Germany.

Herzog says this in the short documenting the act Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, 1980. He says,

Give us adequate images. We, we lack adequate images, our civilization doesn’t have adequate images. And I think our civilization is doomed, is gonna die out like dinosaurs if it does not develop an adequate language or adequate images.

He also says, I’m quite convinced that cooking is the only alternative to film-making. Maybe there is also another alternative. That’s walking afoot. (from here)

Labatut’s other point, other than that of a transcendentalism that is extra-human, giving to number its ontological priority, and than that of an affective or passional faultline, other that is than super nature, or human nature being intrinsically fallible, plays into the fatalism of computus + cinema, concerning the necessity in order to walk and talk and deal like god of a god-like fallibility. To work at the level of mathematical genius you need your mad half hour or your half-life madness. Deleuze in Cinema 1 talks of Kierkegaard’s philosophical personae, the character in The Concept of Dread who in every other way conducts himself as a bourgeois until he rushes to the window shouting “I must have the possible, or else I will suffocate” and the accountant in Stages on Life’s Way who needs to go mad for one hour every day. (In the Bloomsbury edition, Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam’s translation, 2020, this is at 259-260, n. 17.)

The faultline then is across all of reason and necessary to it. Necessary to it, it can however no longer be explained by the transcendental occasion of computus, by right of kings, gods and superman, or the affective and aesthetic event, of what might be called the representational image. Both are shown to be fallacies.

They are not adequate. They are not inadequate. They are not conventional symbols. They are not, although acknowledged to be inadequate, accepted out of convenience. Neither the affective nor the transcendental ontological metaphysical explanations belong to space, except to that space we might, after Naomi Klein (in Doppelganger, 2023) call the mirror world or, the same thing, call after China Miéville’s novella, The Tain, 2002.

This is the static plate of registration that Deleuze opts for while on the other side there is pure immanence. It is the non-vital side of the plan vital, the screen or brain arrested in its affective movement as it is in its transcendental inspiration. No longer a moving image among images, it is the adequate-inadequate image of duration, time.

Russell in the “Enduring Dreams” section said it was inadequate but preferable to philosophical time and now Herzog says there are no adequate images, whether from language or otherwise, for our time. I say, that’s convenient. It means matters of vital importance can go sub rosa.

As soon as we return to the plan vital we should be reminded it is the shot. The plan vital, the cinematic shot is either the represented, the image of the action or the action itself. It is, not a point a view, either a static image or a moving one. That is, it is the plate, the receptive surface, surface of registration, itself.

The represented tends however to spread out in a surface and cover the gap, the crack in time that the movement of the action opens, duration. It does so, the representation, that other image with its other meaning of not moving, and therefore not cinematic, image, to the extent the contingent is always achieved by non-contingent means, the non-contingent means of the whole cinematic apparatus and the process of film-making.

Contingent motion, as Schonig puts it, is subject to a technical mediation, which produces the shot, that can include the camera, the sensor or photo-sensitive plate, and goes all the way to the director, the script and the actor’s business. In this case these are not presumed by the shot but presumed of the moving image such that non-contingent, technical, material, practical and computational means are presumed of every moving image. We might also say statistical. The scenic dressers made sure those leaves were there, the director asked for them, in fact was so insistent they belong to a particular species of tree the dressers were required to bare the branches of the leaves that grew there and stick on new ones, as was said to happen on the set of The Lord of the Rings under Peter Jackson’s direction, 2001-2003.

It’s not that nothing is there by chance but that this is inferred. How? how is it inferred? by the fact that everything in shot and every action, even what happens by chance, can be repeated exactly the same as it was. This is not a transcendental condition it’s an actual condition, planned and unplanned are necessarily equal in this.

The director kept in the actor’s slip. It was a lucky mistake. The lighting of the smoke from the burning fields was planned, the way the smoke moved was not. We had to get the gaffs with paddles to direct it. Nothing happens by chance, not even chance.

There is in other words nothing contingent once the image is capable of playback, then it can be, again and again. It will always be the same. This is the way it’s calculated to be, it is the calculation of an apparatus, a process in time.

With digital playback there is not even the degradation of the image to take into consideration. There is no more solid state for it to be in than where the image is reproduced from the numbers. Neither is there any more malleable and manipulable, any more fluid state for the moving image to be in and in this state of fluidity the calculation concurs and is coextensive not just with the parts of the image that are moving or with the viewpoint that is but with the whole surface.

In this way the digital image advances on the photos in succession that are used in analogue film but only as far as advancing a calculation that was inferred to be there, that the leaves were made to move. Analogue film, the frames are made to move from one to the next. Actual movement is an illusion and there too it’s not enough to say only the actions of the characters matter or whatever stands for the characters when in fact the image is moving and, to risk a tautology, is because it is a cinematic image.

Now this means whatever is in front of a camera at the time of filming (recall the cinematograph was a mechanism both for recording and projecting images) serves a whole (surface) that is moving, of which it is only a part. And not even with digital image processing a necessary part, the image can be generated, modelled and rendered, entirely inside the computer. As an aside, AI-generated imagery takes up this tendency further to impress us with the idea that this interiority provides proof of the beginnings of consciousness.

So for the moving images we are and the brain is what does this mean? It means our coexistence, material and spiritual, of body and thought, with a now which is calculated through and through, since it is the same now the moving image opens onto, in a present not from or grounded in this time or event by computus but as it happens. A fully determined present. Now the new time machine is running along the iron rails of the old time machine.

The image is a complex system, as Deleuze shows in Cinema 1 and 2. It is not an open system in the sense Bergson makes use of in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 1932. Just like the image we see in the mirror that is safely behind glass the cinematic image does not invade our lived reality and if it is supposed it does then that must mean psychologically only. We must be talking of the psychological force or power, of a psychological quality that this opening onto the now has, leading to the idea of a fully determined present, one that begins and ends in what is reflected and represented.

We should then look again at where it starts, with an event that could not be calculated in advance. Who would have thought before its first showing what would capture the attention of audiences would not be the charming bourgeois family taking breakfast out of doors but the indeterminacy of the background, a tree that has not been tampered with, its leaves moving and we would say, moving of themselves, because we cannot feel the breeze that moves them or we cannot see whatever force it is that does? and from this we might infer another character but one who is hiding in the leaves or is the leaves themselves, because that is what seems to be given proof in the subsequent development of a genre based around such contingent motion. In other words, audiences added something to the spectacle of waves, smoke, clouds of dust, but is this psychological? and why now? Wouldn’t the first listeners to the early phonograph, to the earliest means of recording sound, have heard the same? Wouldn’t they, besides the predictable sound of voices or of music, preferred the sound of hisses, scratches and crackles, and made of this the first genre of sound recording?

Noise, is the Wave Genre the cinematic equivalent? and does a primarily visual culture arise from cinema or predate it? Did the genre exploit what was already there? a vulnerability or a tension around visual images? There would then be caused by cinema some psychological disturbance; it would be a shock from which audiences would seek to recover: and this would explain the repression of this aspect of what I’ve been calling cinematic time as well as the coming to bear, because of a psychological motivation, of the other aspect of cinematic time, which I’m trying to establish as the sum of cinema + computus, in a new determinism and new modern fatalism and the foreclosure of any future where computus (+cinematic imagery) does not prevail, does not prevail, that is, over time.

Then isn’t time itself psychological? and isn’t this Bergson’s theme? True time is duration and duration is what the self experiences inwardly when it is alive to itself. Do we have the experience of being alive to ourselves except as moving images? and by images, by the word, we risk betraying the question, because it depends. It depends on whether we mean to foreground the image with duration, the moving image (cinema), or the incidental image, the image that is a phantasm, this being the image that derives from a strong insight of psychoanalysis, projection–we project our desires onto whatever incidentally is available for us to do so and form the habit of doing so, a habit it is the psychoanalyst’s job to recognise.

If the latter we are dealing with a psychological property and this, because it is an expression of desire, concerns the power of images over us. Neither psychology nor psychoanalysis care about the either/or here. One kind of image is as good as another for the projection to occur, although for reasons going beyond the metaphor, projection, cinematic images and films are regarded by psychoanalysis as having little to do with anything apart from desire. They are exemplary in this regard and have no bodies but are disembodied phantasms, projections of desire, where they can participate and proliferate in a kind of ecstasy… They are specially images.

By ecstasy I mean they go outside the body and some will consider the openings and some will consider the foreclosure of the body in its return to self, coming back on itself but, it is as if this is first imputed to images then transferred to bodies secondarily. What belongs by inference to images is taken up by bodies implicitly, by implication. In this case the images’ reflection says something about bodies, by inflection, as it is buried in bodies, becoming if not a primary then a defining attribute.

Images move outside the body as thoughts and ideas move within it. We have therefore three sorts of bodies, biological, psychological and… the difficulty comes with this third. Are moving images either of these? or both?

Images require what some think to be a physical substrate as much as ideas do, leading Deleuze to identify the brain with the screen, but he does insomuch as he wants to flip the two. His analysis in Cinema 1 and 2 resembles a clinic, like that he describes literature as being in the preface to the French edition of Essays Critical and Clinical about which, as he might have about cinema, he says,

These visions, these auditions are not a private matter but form the figures of a history and a geography that are ceaselessly reinvented. It is a delirium that invents them, as a process driving words [images] from one end of the universe to the other. They are events at the edge of language [cinematic or literary]. But when delirium falls back into the clinical state, words [images] no longer open out onto anything, we no longer hear or see anything through them except a night whose history, colors, and songs have been lost. Literature [cinema] is a health. (Translated by Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco, University of Minnesota Press, 1997)

A night could be a darkened room where the edges of the body are only restored by the light the screen casts on them but it is the problem of power that is the problem of the power images hold over us, whether psychological or cinematic fantasies, histories, colours, songs, which decides the direction we take, to bodies or images or thoughts and ideas in their autonomy and freedom to move, because this autonomy and freedom to move is presupposed of them. Say we take the psychological route, we look at the impact images moving, seeming to move of themselves, had privately, on an individual at the Salon Indien du Grand Café attending the screening, what will we find? Will we find a door opening on a new mode of experience or on a new mode of existence? experience will concern the inner state and existence the outer, the actions, the return perhaps to repeat the cinematic experience, perhaps in order to make of it a habit?

We should very soon have to consider what effects this has on the collectivity, and go from there to the polity and from there to the general populace. In doing so, in transiting from the individual we will have lost something as we will by mapping onto the socius what we observe in the individual. What if the power images have over us comes from the images themselves? What if a cinematic politics arises from the fact the leaves are moving? It would be at once a politics of temporality, that is the question we are considering here.

That is, it is a question of relative autonomies and the constraints on our powers of action or otherwise. I would like to demonstrate with a simple illustration. I have said the moving image opens on the now and, whether that’s the evening of 28 December 1895 or midday 7 November 2023, where cinema, the moving image, gets its power is from this opening and this has been the easiest way to say what is radical about the cinema as a mode of experience, the cinematic, leading to a new mode of existence, including the inner experience of time. We picture a door opening, a door in the present opens and it offers a view of what does and does not belong to the present but is reproduced as if it does. In fact, as Deleuze writes, it belongs to a night whose history, colors, and songs have been lost.

A door opens. We can imagine it too well. Beyond lies whatever lies beyond, usually the future. The character will step out or the camera will, its viewpoint offering a not-so-subtle foreshadowing of what will befall the character, due to the exigencies of the narrative, what is exigent then, or else exactly what is not meant to happen. Still a door opens. Space opens. Choice opens. What is meant to happen no doubt will happen. We may have afforded the character choice or withdrawn it, however we, we have no choice.

There lies the future but this is not what the moving image does. A door as Bergson reminds us opens onto space. We have turned time into space, is this what the moving image does?

A hundred doors might open and shut and we would be no closer. There would simply be their opening and shutting in succession or simultaneity, like a hundred apples being bitten as happens in a track by Matthew Herbert, on the album Plat du Jour, 2005. The door opening onto the now, the radical openness to time of the moving image, cinema, is an image obstructed by the social condition of the individual as much as the psychological condition or disposition. Bergson’s ‘simultaneity belongs to space’ whereas ‘succession belongs to time’ doesn’t get us any closer either.

We see here the image determines the effect. The door opens and it is a matter of direct perception, although expressed in words, a moving image. How is this so? or am I wrong? In words is it not an image? or, as I suggested, is an image not always of itself thought to be moving? If it is, must we put a stop to it? Is this the condition for experience, the, we might say, existential condition?

The tendency is to stop images, why? because if everything is moving always we have nothing to hold on to; we have to go to the deepest inner light and find some security in the perception that all movement is on the surface. All suffering, as Buddhists say, is on the surface. In the deep we are a calm and quiet mind but because we get there by breathing we can only sustain ourselves there for short periods and by leaving life behind. The other way is by immanence and in the now that is exactly what the moving image opens up onto, like a door we have to struggle to keep open, only to be told, or finally to discover for ourselves, the door was open for us all the time.

A door opens, not onto space, onto time. Neither Bergson’s simultaneity nor his contrast of succession with it suffice so, does his critique, time is not space but we tend to view it as such, apply to the moving image? is this the problem? A connected question: Do Bergson’s views on time survive spacetime? I mean Einstein’s theories of relativity, the Special of 1905 and the General, 1915, and Bergson’s critique which revisits the contrast between succession and simultaneity in Duration and Simultaneity, 1922?

Given leverage by cinematic time, spacetime becomes a more granular view of a general computus. It reconciles what happens in a fraction of time and at a point in space with the movements of planets and stars and with the cycles of the whole, going in to the beginning and out to the ending of the universe. Simultaneities go all the way down, of points of measurement to the points in succession in space and time, until they break down at the subatomic level. What could this have to do with apart from a writing in light?

Once again invoking, rather than cinema, photography is this writing in light however moving? (if you are reading this on screen, it will be) because this is how spacetime gets its leverage. It is given to spacetime to snatch points of measurement, lining them up in space and time, as if they were static. The state of affairs addressed by spacetime is where nothing is truly motionless, so that everything opens onto space and time, duration.

The problem is viewed psychologically by Bergson. The problem is viewed cinematically by Deleuze, since for him there is a whole, a stellar movement, which, unlike in Leibniz, whom he writes about, does not bring or need harmony, restoring it to the parts, but difference and, in its eternal return, repetition. And from the point of view of the whole lines can be drawn connecting any-space-whatsoever back to the whole and any spaces-whatsoever then to time, just not duration.

This is where Cinema 1 and 2 are less Bergsonian, belonging to a Bergsonism, than Nietzschean. Apart from the object of the whole acting as a grand cinematic unifying eye or theory, of the eternal return, there is another reason: however much Bergson rails against the psychological point of view duration is founded on it. Now, if Bergson had taken the cinematic point of view…

Deleuze that is in taking Nietzsche to the cinema looks there for the signs and symptoms and not even those of a psychological entity or of a society or world where they might play out but for a depersonalised view of the earth and a diagnosis of life, of possible life, since it goes beyond the human, for life’s sake. What is he really looking for? thresholds of intensity, singularity, the idea, like the problem to which he says any thinker cannot but help return. Cinema has this virtue, of singularity, and it repeats it, as it was at every fraction of a second; as it was, as it moved, objectively at each fraction of a second, it is and passes before us: what could be less subjective, belong less to a subject, less psychological, than the leaves moving in the trees? the breeze moving the grass in the field, in Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror, 1975?

Yes, it has a life of its own. Does this mean a subject? Bergson says “the simplest psychic elements possess a personality and a life of their own, however superficial they may be” (this is on page 200 of the Pogson translation, 2015, of Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience, of 1889). They live in duration and are a part of what Deleuze calls anorganic life.

The simplest psychic elements at their most superficial are images and these are alive. Deleuze seeks to depersonalise them. For him they are impersonal affects, and no less images. With Guattari, a working psychoanalyst, they are machines, machinic but not mechanistic, meaning they retain both the movement and indeterminacy that for Bergson the simplest, however superficial, psychic element has.

The moving image, the door, on one side is what is predetermined because it rolls out in measurable steps beyond (it has always to invoke a beyond), such is computus. It is also as Bergson says of Achilles only walking and if we psychologise, and say Achilles’ freedom of movement is only apparent, what matter are his relative positions, we do so for the reason the beyond on the other side of the door has ceased to hold. What Deleuze calls belief and sometimes utopia, or belief in utopia, ceases to hold and the psychological enters and there is no true movement and realtime resolves into a succession of scenes from life featuring significant events.

There are then two explanations of power, transcendental and utopian, psychological and personal, a belief, faith. What may be left out of the manufacture of the socius is produced in the subject, in its limited, very limited, free will to cease to believe, or as Labatut says, cease to understand the world. The culture, the society at this point can only be explained by way of the individual subject.

What does Labatut do? exactly this, but there he finds a crack, a mysterious hole in the scientist or mathematician considered. Operating like Deleuze’s idea-to-which-a-thinker-can’t-help-but-return this appears to animate them. It’s a craziness, a chronic depression, a manic energy and these figures are seen as deriving their powers from transcendental sources.

That they do or are seen to by no means explains them. The two connect. They flow into one another, the transcendental and the psychological or affective.

Do they flow into one another by a sign or a singularity? Since we are dealing with cinema we may say looking at the big picture it’s by a sign that von Neumann’s mania is conducted into the world, into its history and geography. As for the latter in the case of his work on and for the A-Bomb and the H-Bomb this is literal.

And this is the way Deleuze proceeds. When he talks about a French cinema, or a German cinema, or a Russian and American, he is really talking about a French politics, a German, Russian, American politics, drawing on their history and geography, as he could be about a Kiwi cinema, drawing on its history and geography, being a New Zealand politics. To translate actor Sam Neill’s words, it would be a politics of unease. (Cinema of Unease offers a personal analysis of Kiwi cinema, 1995.)

And if it is a sign by what means does it signify? Its conditions for meaning are not found in the history or geography of a country or nation. They are not found in the personal history or psychology, whatever socio-cultural or geographic and historical causes are invoked, of a particular individual either but in cinema.

For the moving image, cinema, we can extend Bergson’s psychic elements to the un-psychical and analyze the signs back to these elements. They are not the conceptual personae Deleuze deploys. They wear their masks and they belong, beyond the world, ego and God, to another transcendental illusion.

What animates is what gives life, so that we hear speaking the terms as much as the characters, whether they are the simplest line-drawn animation or the most perfect and perfectly relatable representation of a person, recorded in high definition and at high resolution, bit-rate or frame-rate. From these subjects we draw meaning because we see them move. The simplest animation is alive and alive to us, since it insists we do, in the sense, giving to them an inner impulsion, drive, that we psychologise.

What insists are the singularities for which we have the two fallacious explanations, one from the socius, one from the individual. Either one is given a higher power, even if it is the power of the false, or the other is. This is what is missing from either, so that Jessica Rabbit can say, in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988, I’m not bad, I’m just drawn like that.

Her words are like the door she is, opening onto a world of contingency and of caprice, like this and do we then project onto her her self-consciousness, her irony? We may say these come from her voice, from the person voicing her, from the actress, but is she present? Key and what is missing is the obedience to this present, the taking-it-for-granted, and, in some cases, the violence.

The violence says, like the obedience, the master like the slave says there is no alternative. This is the true meaning of performative, a word from J.L. Austin’s terminology, because at that moment, in that present, when it is said, there is none. Being said is a speech act, the term, performative, from Austin’s How To Do Things With Words, 1962.

Is it from our identification with the character or through our identification with the state that we obey? Then the violence, arrogated to the state’s exclusive use, does not have to be present and we obey out of a necessity that we feel, in other words the affective or psychological fallacy, a fallacy in the sense we feel it, that is also aesthetic. In those cases where it’s present the pressure is taken off, we obey because we have to, or it is violence in its withholding, its withholding of the use and application of force, and derives from the arrogation itself, to itself, of the state, a violence meant of which the state is the sign: this is the transcendental fallacy.

It is false because it too performs. Say we agree with Carl Schmitt and with the current application of his ideas in zones of exception (see Quinn Slobodian’s Crack-Up Capitalism, 2023). The zone has the shiv under your collarbone, do as you’re told or die, or be told you’re dead, dead already.

These are highly unsophisticated methods for ensuring your obedience to an unjust system. They ignore how we do things with words, the performative element. They offer narratives instead, stories. In this they participate in the power of the false where the highest illusion is that there is an illusion.

There has still to be a compelling narrative to compel us, working on our collective and individual desire. The critical politics of disenchantment must then be invoked to break the spell and end the hold of those narratives of power. It is there to show by demonstration of its analysis from one side how society, as linguistics and critical philosopher Noam Chomsky says, manufactures consent and from the other, as many others prefer to say, how the individual is produced, so that once again we are back with individual or social desire.

The social production of the individual is the political side insofar as seeking collective freedom it seeks to free the collectivity. Deleuze recognises the paradox, even the self-defeating nature of this struggle. He says there can never be a Left in power; it reaches its limit in the struggle, which is endless.

Taking individual responsibility for one’s own desire is to wrest control of its means of production from the social collectivity, or, in the narrower perspective, from capitalism. In Anti-Oedipus, 1972, Deleuze and Guattari have capitalism as axiomatic in this sense. They suggest a schizoanalysis for the socius, its anti-Oedipalisation.

Yet we are in dealing with narrative, and not performative, locked in a struggle, an ironic or paradoxical one, if the highest illusion is that there is an illusion, of power, that is discursive. It’s done with words. A cinematic politics is done, in the words of Antonin Artaud, with the judgement of words.

Against the transcendentalism of the individual violated by a power from outside or above, against the subjectivism of the violated individual, victim and slave, cinematic politics starts at the moving image. It starts at what we psychologise in order to dismiss it as no more than image, illusion, projection, or so as to blame it for our ills. We even psychologise our psychologising, the door opening is not an image moving of itself, it is a door opening on its own, which is just weird.

It starts at the principle of identity driving this identification, projection, dismissal-as-illusion, critical-analytical-struggle to free every soul from illusion, which Bergson states as follows, “what is thought at the moment we think it” (in Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience, page 207 of the translation cited). Driving identification is that mode of experience when the self is alive to itself but it is the same moment, or that moment raised to a moment, as the cinematic moment when the image moves at the moment I see it. This is the speciality of the moving image.

Cinema does not offer better, truer, the best narratives or the narratives we deserve, one for the nomenclature, one for the proletariat, arbitrated by the intelligentsia. Cinematic politics does not deal with how we do things with words but with how we do things with images. It draws from how things are with us with images a psychological principle, the psychological principle of a mode of existence.

We have not returned to a psychological explanation focused on the individual. A transcendentalism re-enters working the insistence that we psychologise, projecting onto images our desires and being driven to do so, so locating in the drives the conditions of desiring production, love and so on, or going so far as to assume these conditions socially determined. We have not then gone to the socius for our explanation but are looking at what takes us there: this is the principle of transcendental identity.

We psychologise based on a transcendental illusion of identity. To extend the narration, if we wanted to, we could say the name of that illusion is cinema but that would be making cinema, that illusion of which there is none higher, the highest illusion. Or we could say this insistence is the psychic necessity that we take up into the discourse of psychology, for as long as it persists, that it projects, as an image, onto the brain, insisting that we think it, but it does, as Bergson says, the moment we do.

In taking an image projected on a screen for one on the brain we would be making the brain an organ of light and placing it beyond the presumption of truth or falsehood, solidity or surface effect. We would be making thought move across it, a philosophia cinematica, seen from a lighthouse. This takes us far from the darkened room of the cogito, this coexistence of thought and the image, but seen at the moment I am seeing it, and from the two fallacies, the two fallacious explanations of power, we come to the transcendental illusion, I am, because I am present to myself, I am both projector and recording device.

Yet this is an illusion and as a principle is it the first? Am I? to myself? The exchange that has taken place is not Bergson’s, between my life, seen in the screening-room of my brain, and externally determined events of which I am the observer, although unreliable and although we might like to think it is. The exchange is between myself and the moving image.

This would explain how we psychologise the psychologising going on, since it explains the illusion: it is projected, onto my brain, and I enframe it, leaving quantities of it out, like an editor and also cinematographer. However, as the viewer, I must be another illusion and add a further illusion to this, that of whoever’s in the screening-room, seeing what they want to see, shutting their eyes for the scary bits but projecting them onto the inside of their eyelids anyway, for yet another observer to see. The answer might be the brain must be returned to the body, perhaps by way of the biological drives, and so take the discourse of power in another direction, because this must be specified, the principle of transcendental identity deals only in images (Bergson’s the brain being a moving image among moving image might be recalled) and so determines the image that we are by somehow separating that image from us.

It can be half dismissed, no more than an image; but as proof of concrete duration (Bergson), it cannot be fully dismissed. It persists and so does this problem, this agony that we might, in dismissing the image, be dismissing ourselves. Deleuze comes along and says but look at what is there represented, what the image presents to you and what it expresses! this can be done and undone in an analysis of our immanence by an immanent analysis.

He makes the point against representation and it is agreed, it doesn’t matter what the image represents but that it is moving. The point to be made here is against discursivity, for a performative power of the moving image that shows what it does. It tells you exactly what it is, by showing you, and that it shows you at the moment, through the long or short moments of its duration, that it does is one thing, that it does each time the same is the next.

For the first, its showing you what it is, what is represented doesn’t matter, being an image matters and is the reason we psychologise, to get beyond it. This means to get beyond the moment we think it and the image’s own moment of duration. The image shows us the moment; we scramble through the thicket of signs, all the signs of thought, to reach solid and ascendent ground; or, we eschew transcendence as a false effort of thought and stay among signs in their determined meaning, their determined significations, that are because of determined movement.

What determines movement, what causes it? the wind, or might as well, and in it we want to discern the breath of God. It will be a transcendental Signifier, but this is not true and the truth splits us. So we take up the issue with a discourse that providing narratives no matter how false disenchants us, their lesson, in the highest, at the point we meet greet eat, there is illusion, god is not there.

The next is where we get the definition of a cinematic politics: the highest illusion is that there is an illusion. What happens next is repetition, up to the highest, now down to the lowest, into the depths of the minutiae of things and their differences. So what makes a difference will be higher resolution; or, since more detail, a more granular view is required, better image-mapping, the minor to the molar of that particular political principle.

Where Bergson finds duration’s proof in inner experience, consciousness and the moment we are present to ourselves, this principle finds duration belongs to images. It can’t to words. It can’t to symbolic meanings, to signifiers and to the signifieds we might like to make of images, can’t because of the simple fact of movement.

The principle of transcendental identity comes first, before inner experience, consciousness and presents the moment we are present to ourselves, does not represent it because duration belongs to images. They move, the ground of the principle, as we move. The principle of transcendental identity involves an exchange of the experiential unity of a moving image and their voluntary determination in duration for the succession of conscious states Bergson gives as proof of duration.

Two objections may be raised. Any unity moving images have, being in succession, can only be projected. No voluntary determination can be claimed for these images: in Deleuze they express, elsewhere they are representational; products of will, the director’s, producing affects in the spectators by their passing spectacle, that can be, clear sign of the image moving of itself having no will of itself in its possession, turned off, like a machine, without remonstration, or anyone shouting, murderer! or anything but, can I see it again, one more time?

In these objections you will recall the affective and transcendental fallacies. I am projecting that movement onto the smoke, the wave, the undulations of a sexed body, a horse, a human, and the intensity it strikes me with, so that I will want to return to it again and again, is primarily mine and originates in me. Here I am voluntarily letting myself go, whereas the transcendental explanation has it that I am subject to that intensity and will insist, as its effect is on me, the affect is impersonal.

One explanation wants to override the other one. I am the subject of psychology or I am subjected to psychology. I am obedient or I am mastered, castrated, oedipalised, and so on, and so it has to be.

This imperative is naturally one of power and clearly belongs to a discursive power, to meanings that are premade and recognised because they are. Where is the place for the individual at the Salon Indien du Grand Café held captive by a moving background? so successfully that for the first movie genre the backgrounds were moved to the front? We rebound from Schonig’s primary research to the psychologism, what was going on for her or for him was all going on in their head.

Not only are the social implications negligible, the political ones are said only to go so far as saying that film is good for propaganda, as The Triumph of the Will, 1935. Film was political from the start for having a nondiscursive power. It didn’t short-circuit language but preempted the formation of speech by showing in its passing presence the present when speech could be formed. The silent films were mourned.

More than this, a wave doesn’t mean anything. Neither does smoke or a cloud, or a tree, or any other physical body, human or not. Now this is strange.

Everything remains of what happens before. Images succeed one another, not just actions, an important distinction. Their moments are not external to one another.

The succession of images is brought to signification in the actions conveyed but there was from the start so much more going on than that. The reel being played out presented a section of time with a beginning, an ending and a during that is as Bergson described duration, its moments succeeding not external to one another and, since each moment did not correspond to a frame, a photograph, not at the same time as the succession of frames, asynchronous with it and without the externality Bergson attributes to spatial relations. The moving image, despite the fact that is exactly what it is, is said to have given the illusion of movement, not to have been an image moving but an image comprising stills set in motion.

A technical truth or a physical one attributable to the technical contrivance of the cinematograph enters into exchange, an exchange which is mutual, with a psychological truth: it’s in our minds which our senses trick to think it that there is movement. Technical contrivances preexist cinema that did the same thing, most primitively thaumatropes, with two images on either side of a disc that when spun became one image, zoetropes, phenakistoscopes, praxinoscopes, filoscopes or flipbooks, others. That they were regarded as toys goes some way to explain why cinema was not given serious consideration when it came along. Among the most serious minds, a category that has since come to exclude artists, Walter Benjamin being an exception, there were few then early-adopters.

Technical contrivances have followed too making moving images but the difference between them and cinema, in particular between analogue and digital media, largely because a technical perspective has generally been adopted, of technology, is seen as greater than that between cinema and its predecessors. Cinema is a part of this change in perspective. This is not only due to its technical innovation but to something like its popularisation of novelty, its compulsion to modernity, leading to the mechanisation of life, the general mobility of a point of view documented in Dziga Vertov’s The Man with a Movie Camera, 1929, and the mass market of commodification and commercial culture, on which cinema’s mass and popular appeal across lines of class has some bearing.

This compulsion to modernity may be summed up in the present being present to itself. The now in which the train hurtles towards me is the same now in which I am alive to myself. I feel my blood pumping and remind myself it is an illusion, that the train is separate from me in space, while at the same time telling myself it’s all in my head. Later iterations add a proxy, a character who is tied to the railway tracks, so that I can tell myself my natural instincts of empathy and sympathy are to blame for the immediate physiological effects of the scene.

It would seem one remove or two is required, a proxy who takes on the job in an approximate space, in the action itself or observing it, of the initial conditions of cinema in the contingent motion of waves, of the appointed multiplicities that first characterised it, who is schematically linked to an inner duration. A character allows us to call the duration inner, allowing us to think we form an identification with the character and not the performative figure itself. The leaves got there first, were the first object of identification with the moving image and now we are resistant, our resistance from prolonged acquaintance with cinematic images manifesting mainly in boredom; unless we aspire to the condition of art cinema aficionado, we are bored with the present being present to itself.

Tied to the railway tracks in a scene in Mack Sennett’s Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life, 1913, that although it is pretty much one of a kind is taken for emblematic, Mabel Normand does not open a door that would otherwise be closed. Rather she, Mack and the racing-car driver Barney Oldfield himself, both proxy for the performative, which is the moving image not in it, and give us right to overcome our resistance. They give us the opportunity for what psychoanalysis calls transference.

Consider the time-frame, in under twenty years an established studio system, Sennett’s Keystone Cops, car chases and women like Normand doing her own stunts, her biography emblematic of cinema’s crossing both gender and class lines. Our anxieties work their way into the stars’ lives, while all the while we ask ourselves how much of a front is being put up, wanting and not wanting the illusion to crack and the counter-transference to occur, for it to reflect back on us and our disenchantment to begin that concerns our analysis.

Our analysis is a personal thing. It is laid out in the homogeneous discursive social space where its genetic conditions can be separated out and picked apart, and, with a bit of luck, dissolve and vanish, like smoke and, of course, mirrors. There is something like a pure idea here, a pure ideality of the social space constituting a unity and of us having to accept the higher illusion on which it in turn is constituted.

This is the impersonal aspect. It works together with the personal and on one side we have Deleuze invoking the whole, the link, the selection and even election affirming the higher illusion as the best, if however through a transvaluation that makes illusion best, better than negation and ressentiment (the terms are Nietzsche’s); and on the other, Bergson who founds his intuition of duration, pure duration, on the personal ego being alive and present to itself, on a psychological sense of inner experience that, since we see it spatialised in cinema, almost escapes us. Our anxiety is that we are not special.

Presents multiply in the dimension of duration the more characters that are added. Can we put this down to simultaneity? For space, public discourse, our lives with others, this is what Bergson does, but not for psychology.

For us inner experience is to dream what can only be dreamt. For Bergson inner experience provides proof of freedom. Freedom as a result is indefinable; the rider on this, in words: what about images?

We are thrown back on the other pole, of psychologism. Our personal freedom is that we can never be free of illusion. Whatever freedom we attribute to images is a matter of our own projection.

Again, the social aspect reappears in the form that we must accept personal responsibility for our projection. We must accept that it is our projection and must what follows on from that, in succession or, in a progression. We must accept to psychologise.

If we look at the sphere of our self-expression it is underpinned by this idea of a social space. We are enjoined to express ourselves in it and not against it. It is a pure idea, a form of the world where time is expressed in space, and is transcendental, and goes as much from the principle of transcendental identity as we do in our psychologising, self-expression being the personal aspect, the imperative or insistence to do so, the impersonal and political aspect.

This form, that is, of the world where time is expressed in space, is enforced. What is the violence threatened by the state but isolation, being cut off spatially from the social space that is given as the only expression time can have? We are as free in it as are images which are predetermined; they are predetermined, not in the simultaneity of certain points of order and political control with our own personal orders and self-control, in their succession.

So it’s not that identity is given in conformity with a social idea, ideal and policed. It’s that it’s formed from a principle of transcendental identity. Any more than a preexisting social space is, or the I or the world, the principle itself is not the transcendental illusion, is not the cinematic illusion of movement, or the highest or best illusion that can be chosen, of the violence or non-violence of a society in a cinematic politics: psychological identification in the social space of discourse is not real based on the illusion but illusion based on the real.

We psychologise on the basis of the empirical evidence of a geometric proof, a proof so solid as to be axiomatic. Points a, b, c, d, e will always lead to consequence C. This is the ground cinema gives computus.

The points chosen may be psychological. They may be qualitative signs of dynamic psychological processes, ones leading to indifference to what is happening in the world or to taking action, ones from undergoing the event, of for example a revolutionary becoming. Equally they may be those points of articulation of historical, materialist processes, of the data of the real given of neurons firing and of consciousness forming mapped in real-time; or of desires being worked out of a people, or geological.

They may be any points whatsoever. Given in any order, they will repeat in that order. Any order given from them will be grounded in that order.

The principle goes, we no longer identify points by their meaning but by their being in time. We no longer understand points by what they do. We understand them as dots or pixels, moving in the same moment we are, as spray or smoke particles from waves or clouds, their points chosen at random, b, x, n, d, v and t, leading to the same consequence, c, no longer capitalised, for us as for them.

What arguments arise will be in the meanings we assign them to, in the roles we give them to in what happens next. In this way we have already eaten god. We have had them perform for us their transcendental identification.

The identification is with changes in individuals as in the aggregate unrolling in the present of which they are the determining spacetime coordinates. The identification is of that present with them. So it is always in the simultaneous succession of moving images with us.

This as in Bergson constitutes both the present and its duration. It also contains the possibility we are considering here of a duration that thickens. Duration does not thicken with our attention to inner experience any more but with outer.

Simultaneities succeed each other in moments that are external to one another. We are one moment who make the identification with the other. The principle of transcendental identity names this externality.

We would be in Bergson’s situation of the psychological proof being provided of duration but for the next that audiences demanded. Firstly the natures of these points, a, b, c, d, e or b, x, n, d, v and t, are not matters of affirmation. They are confirmed, matters of calculation and, as we are using the term, of computus.

Confirmed, it is not in what may be affirmed of them that any contention should arise. If it does it can easily be put down. And it’s not a question of where else they arise; this is a question of how genre is constituted: it concerns what happens secondarily, so that what is first in the principle is always put next, deferred onto the secondarity of the repeat screening, where the wave that is identified with the present already belongs to the fully determined past.

All of the past is seen to coexist with the present in a way quite different than in Bergson. There is no illusion about the present (as we will see, however it leads to illusion), the moving image does what it says it is. This is the source of its authority; it proves its point or/and points in the next.

The repetition of the wave, the swell, movements internal to the body of water and, when the wave breaks, the extremities of every water particle of the flying spray, the whole scene, retains its authority. No matter what is represented in it, the moving image gains from the repeat that it can be repeated. No matter the word that flashes up onscreen as much as the random thoughts that we have, from a movement that is digital and so in real time or ours and biological and so in real time, comes the possibility of their repetition.

We are present to ourselves as much as we are present to moving images. In turn, the repeat does not suddenly lose whatever authority it had in the first place; it is authoritatively this present in which, no matter their meaning, the words onscreen are read. The example of text is for the sake of truth: the possibility of the moving image being repeated opens up, from computus + cinema, a new regime of time.

There is then no need for a transcendental explanation, say one that going by way of the social space and its manufacture of consent leads to the production of the subject and by way of the principle of transcendental identity sees the self, like the world and God, to be a transcendental illusion. There is no need for a politics of disillusion and disenchantment or for a diagnosis of ressentiment and a transvaluing that says, choose, create, elect your God, your self, your world; and make sure you elect the best: the highest and best illusion being that there is an illusion. And there is no need for an explanation for a then dishonest political status quo of your voluntary enslavement to it.

Next proves the principle: that the points recur at exactly the spatiotemporal coordinates we set them, and we do because such is our practice, at first iteration. Iterability enables coordinatability so that we can set them and, in the repeat, see them come back but, this time is not cyclic. What is determined in the second instance is, by the fact the moving image records it, by the fact it is there already, predetermined in the first.

It is our practice to consider all events having this deterministic function, no less political events and social ones, than individual events, happening only to us or inside us, and natural events, for example weather. We are, as Schonig pursues the matter in “Rethinking the ‘Wind in the Trees’ in Early Cinema and CGI,” 2018, most familiar with contingent motion from mapping it. It doesn’t figure in the social space as anything worth considering, the way dust particles move in a sunbeam or ice chips fly out from the saw harvesting ice, until it becomes a practical and technical problem, for Disney in the making of Frozen, 2013, in Schonig’s example, where computer-generated imagery was used to model the contingent motion of the ice.

There it had value, how the points of the ice crystals caught the light and the computation involved exists, in Foucault’s phrase, to hide the fact we are subject to the same. Our own durations are mapped equally. The models that are made rely on the two factors of succession, what is there in the real in the first place has the support of the moving image to be repeated in the second.

The data-modelling comes to life exactly like the hair on Mirabel Madrigal’s head in Encanto, 2021, also Disney. The question in both cases is, is it close enough? With the modelling of our activities and behaviours in the social space we see a tension arise that is truly digital, between the process and the processed, a static sample and its realtime mapping, digital because of the state of the digital moving image, which, whether a still is represented or a word or a galloping horse, is always moving in the present time; and it is moving in the sense that it would be technically feasible to map in realtime the movement of the individual pixels.

The problem that arises is one of adequacy between the model and mapped. Perhaps there is here something of the arrogance of Russell, that Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson accuse him of, in stating that the time of philosophy does not exist and in taking cinematic time for his model. Cinematic time was his best match for mathematical time, the time of Einstein’s relativity while Bergson’s duration misunderstood the scientific advance that belonged to science and, as we are dealing with it here, cinema.

The arrogance consists in thinking we can always get closer. In thinking so we are claiming for ourselves the same cinematic model Russell claims for philosophy as being the most adequate to the mathematical one. We populate the continuum with points and, in making the claim for ourselves, populate ourselves with points, determining the social space, since what happens next is the future and since all its conditions are in the present as the points to be mapped and modelled, to be predetermined by it.

The situation recalls cybernetics and the recursion a feedback loop but the confirmation for the actually existing conditions, the points, for the future consequence are found positively in the present. What is is in the present moving so the next question becomes are moving points more accurate than still ones? and for accurate we may read closer or more adequate. Our cinematic model would seem to indicate that they are.

For both what is required is the calculation of computus. Whether mobile or variable or not the points must either be assigned places or directions, curves and trajectories. In other words there is a semiotic overlay whereby the points are assigned; and this is the interesting part about the combination of cinema and computus: they are not linked to the succession that is without distinction but articulate it.

By doing so what now are signs, the semiotic material, not linking to the moving image, not being able to stick to it or with it, without naming it, links to a symbolic logic. We can either focus on the gap between the two, sign and signified, between semiotic and presemiotic materials, the gap, the difference belonging to time not space, or we can make this simple fact our priority: cinema opens duration to the possibility of being semiotised. What is absolutely present in duration can be repeated so that points t, f, d1, d2… will always lead to consequence c, the point being not to determine c through the computation of t, f, d1, d2… but to make t, f, d1, d2… the facts or data of that computation.

In practice no concession is made to the gap anyway between what when it comes down to it are different readings of time. The idea is not to presume there is going to be a gap and to fill it up, the breadth and spread of our semiotic overlay, by which we extract data leading to information, being a concern over either the depth of longitudinal study or the data that is most up to the minute. In practice we can have both a study that is up to the minute and has spread, that has the intensity of its felt presentness and extensity of reference.

We are in pursuit of presentness given its first outing inside the Salon, Paris, as much as were its first audiences. It’s not however its natural occurrence we pursue. Rather we pursue it for its own sake.

Now in order to achieve it the present must have total spread. It must totalise the field as a new sort of social space of the moving image that for being social we have identified with cinematic politics. At maximum extensity and intensity the map matches the territory and it moves.

If its movement is digital that goes for presentness too without all the effort of having cameras everywhere. We just have screens everywhere. The ideal monitoring system, in the sense of playback on a screen or monitor and in the sense of keeping tabs on, monitoring movements, of weather systems or boat-people, is one that keeps pace with the psychological interpenetration of states in their multiplicity and the numbers involved, how many storms? how many refugees? quality and quantity, both now open through that of their semiotic articulability to the possibility of measurement.

The ideal monitoring system, of display of the processed data and of the gathering and processing of data, is one in which subjects articulate themselves, to measure themselves against the norms and outcomes of medicine and productivity or to check in, to have numbers attached to them by choice or force. In short they must be legible. The self-existing mental states that Bergson took to show duration must be available to be taken as signs, read and measured to form the bases for control, as they would be if they could be counted on screen.

From this follow two questions, so which is best, spread or depth of analysis? and why do it? what drives not the self-monitoring but the monitors of monitors? The self-monitoring we know to be one of the conditions of productivity; it’s not enough to work, you have to show that you are; and it’s not enough for it to be seen that you are, you have to show yourself that you are: to be a self-existent subject you have to become a self-existing image. What drives the monitors of monitors is not the further tautology of control for control or power for itself but, the same as computus, for the sake of truth.

We have language and the production of signs in common with other animals. Humans are the only animals to make appointments with God. The true word is not the issue here or the true point in time when the encounter took place or will, when we eat, meet and greet, or the theatrical occasion of it that opening the possibility of being staged anywhere opens also the possibility of its performance at any time.

In the cinematic age it’s a matter of signs that don’t mean anything and points that move. How speak of truth under such conditions? by going back again and again to measurement. This is what pushes the map to the extremity of covering the whole territory, leading back to the simple question, which is best, that despite its simplicity resembles the complex, which comes first?

To measure we need a self-identical point but we can only find one on the repeat. The repeat gives us proof, demonstrates it is what we say it is. It states itself or, as we are using the term, performs; and it performs before it performs the function of being there (the place it keeps doesn’t matter at all and in this sense it is theatrical): in other words, it is self-positing, but only on repeat.

Then it can be said of any given point it only opens up the possibility of being there and isn’t until the repeat. Here’s where we invoke the transcendental dimension of self-identity: it’s not that there’s nothing there then there is. Not a creation from nothing and not a matter of becoming, the given in this cinematic ontology has no determination until after it’s repeated, not in space, in time; until then it’s succession without distinction; is not a process whereby the given is given but is interminable, indeterminable and a project of indeterminacy all at once, until we interrupt it.

We can because cinema opens up this possibility. That is, it opens up this possibility for observation, as a process. Observation changes everything in the process and now what we can say about this process is that it is mechanical, it proceeds mechanically and, without us, autonomously, or so we assume because so we assume time to be.

So we also assume matter to be and it’s just that assumption Bergson rocked in the first instance by choosing to talk about matter being image and the image in motion. Then the observer was also image, operating in and on a series of onces, of moments succeeding one another bound up internal to one another. That was before the again, the agains we operate in and on now, when we have gained from cinema that, down to the infinitesimal fractions and parts of time, moments can be repeated.

Every moment is now itself and its repetition. It has, Deleuze says it is as if it has, a virtual and an actual part. Its virtual part is unbound, unbinds it, from the present, from the present moment, again and again, automatically, unrolling, although it can be broken anywhere, in a chain; and as Deleuze and Guattari say this is how it operates, how it works best.

The breaks may be counted as cuts, edits and we may account for the shot as being the deliberate breaking up of the continuum according to a rhythm or a rule, a grammar whereby cinema talks for itself in its own language. It becomes the means of expression of a director who directs it to follow the contours of a particular space and to cover psychological states, states that necessarily social are psycho-social and, embedded in history and in politics, express their symptoms. Duration, although we found in it, finding in contingent motion what cuts and edits only bring out, the essence of the break, takes on a role secondary to this at once psycho-social, so sociological, historical and political, so anthropological, view of cinematic time.

The claim of having a virtual and actual part Deleuze applies to extension. The virtual repeat may undercut the authority of the present but actualisation takes on new determination, not as ideal but inevitable, a rolling inevitability. Even as it stops and starts, stutters and jumps back, enjoys intervals of peace broken by acts of war, the actuality is of a use of cinema that is deliberate and, made up of appointments to be kept, calculated rolling inescapably on iron rails.

Or we could say so before the move of the analogue and mechanical machine to digital but here the pressure only increases, is amplified in its determinism by the virtual repeat’s becoming, becoming intense not only through acceleration also by the iron rails’ both shrinking and lengthening to encompass the world. What cinema owes to photography, digital imagery owes to painting and there is a similar tendency to confuse the two. The movement in both cases is considered to be secondary, an add-on function, even one that has been inherited from cinema and even one that, as an autonomous art, digital-image making needs to suppress, becoming ever stiller, ever more solid and, in the case of virtual reality, tangible.

Something of the dream of computus is fulfilled by digital imagery. It points to a tension surviving the dream coupling, computus + cinema. Everything is calculable.

Contingent motion that cinema made capturable and possible to repeat is, and this is part of the dream, able to be generated from symbolic data in a computer. So it is on the outside of the computer too, a cloud may be mapped, the said-to-be 86 billion neurons in the human brain may be mapped and possibly replicated by a model. What the symbolic data gain from cinema is a sense of autonomy that doesn’t spare their meaning, which is inescapable in the roll out in the first place of the virtual repeat’s making possible the semiotic overlay in the second, that is the moving image, or is it?

We never have a complete picture of what’s going on in the brain or the cloud, or the computer for that matter, unless our image is changing in time. And in order to have a complete picture the picture or map, intending to follow what is going on and explain it, might almost be as big as the thing to be explained; or even bigger if it is to look at states before and after to plot differences and so account for change by change in the model: and this is what computation, even if it is being used to plot statistical averages and calculate probabilities, is largely geared for, to produce a double or mirror. What passes for present in the model need not pass for present in the present because of the virtual repeat; the differences themselves will pass for changes in time while the actual time of their passing, their duration, because only semiotisable under the conditions of cinema, passes for these differences.

Processes take measurable time. That is all we need to know and compute. We need only be able to say to ourselves we will come back later and validate findings that are always of the second instance given first.

What is given in the first instance in the actual is given by the virtual; and in extensity: this is the meaning of cinema. It is also the reason Deleuze’s notion of the virtual is thought by many of his commentators to have to do with the synthesis of time belonging to the future when it has to do with the present. The present cinema presents has both parts, virtual and actual in the extensity of one moment being external to the next; because of this each moment can be stretched to the limits of the world: it already was as extensive as that world, and the map we seek was already the leaves moving on the trees, mapping themselves point by point, present in the first moving image.

Our own place in this present is no longer as Bergson said of being centres of action. Where us being centres of action partially eclipsed for us any sense of our own durational self-existence, where it was, in Deleuze’s terms, the action-image hiding us from ourselves now it is the time-image. This is different from saying we are moving images among moving images as Bergson does. Moving image here is closer to symbolic construct: we are symbolic constructs among symbolic constructs; movement being super-added, the symbolic constructs we are are data-fields, aggregates, that although they resist, are pushed towards meaning.

This is also different from what Deleuze said of our place in the present of being de-centred. Although we can agree with Deleuze that it is the time-image doing the de-centring, rather than by the motion contingent on duration however than by editorial choice, by the added movement being forced, this is to push us to the same sorts of socially constructed meaning. We can no longer pull ourselves together over the gap so that the model we have is of the production of differences, lots of little I’s to plot.

Duration has the function of pulling us apart, to seed the void and we cannot resist its pull. We cannot as with Bergson act to resist it but are passive before our monitor as we are before our brains. Gaze at a plant, or listen to a bird sing.

You are in a sense playing it back, and, before it is finished, running it by yourself in an act of memory. This is the new sense the past’s coexistence has. Unlike in Bergson, where memory engages the present as the only timeline in which I can effect an action with any utility, as a memory of the present memory is that against which the present must be judged; it therefore acts as a monitor, however they come out, of present actions, outcomes and events as if they were past.

We are dealing with cinema’s psychological effects in full recognition of a lack of identity between its moving images and our own. To say of actions, their consequences and events, however they come out, means to keep in sight that these are the products of a computation, computus, going from point to point in images set side by side. The images like the actions, events, outcomes are not determined, the points are, they are in order to make sense, and a value judgement; a judgement as to meaning, which is the objective of their determination in the first (second) instance, has already been made, so whatever the action, whatever the event and whatever result and effect they have is, small c, a matter of contingency and itself of small significance. It doesn’t matter. What matters is keeping tabs on progress, making productive decisions and keeping the appointments that must be kept.

We have to contend with the fact that, unless it was recorded in some symbolic form, what occurred for our predecessors only once because it could occur only once happens for us in the mirror of its repetition. This is confused with memory. Writers and artists used to be people with a talent for showing us the beauty, truth, meaning of a singular event, now almost all of us carry such a mirror with us, some even preferring to associate it and the internet it provides us access to with knowledge.

The mirror too has changed. Bergson’s reflected back at us the actions that we took. It was how we judged their efficacy and we defined our ability to act and the utility of our actions against it.

We are more like mirrors now, monitors of action. While the mirror did not launch us into the social symbolic sphere now it does. The ideal monitoring system then belongs to this social symbolic space and is as far as possible coextensive with it. While there was a gap, an interval for self-reflective existence and we were given a break for the thought that is present to itself in order to recall certain things that might be useful now it is the moving image that is present to itself so it is with that we identify our thought.

The moving image’s own duration is the source of the transcendental illusion, of world, self, God and gods and those appointments we must keep according to their computation. They have been pre-selected for us but we can’t surmise from this their utility, only that we have to meet, greet and eat them. Hitting those points the significance of which precedes them as a quality of the virtual repeat they have a symbolic quality. They stand for something in the social construct.

What characterises the present as cinematic is the imperative, is, covering the points it must cover, its necessity, what we must do against the judgement made by memory of other pre-selected points. We must stop burning fossil fuels and turn from carbon. We must see our roles in the worldwide conflagration; we must get political say the data that are the points, and that aggregate, but not like capital, as Shoshana Zuboff has it in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the Frontier of Power, 2017, rather as little I’s, miniature police.

It would be a mistake of the transcendental fallacy kind to put them outside as much as inside, that power is exercised from the outside, because to those identified and who identify themselves with power, power’s exercise is actually autonomous. Forces roll out on order, yes but we might look to our own forces. There has not been a decline in religion. It is, as Bergson uses the word, on the order of religion that the social structure is protected and maintained.

We are at the pinnacle of it, c, at the point we reach when the others are observed. We fix them in our minds and it is far from our minds to do anything about them. The system is closed of the present being reached however that process is completed.

The best computational model is then an immanent eye in that process, a movie of the whole world, in which we in fact live. The fact of it is not a psychological fiction but a psychological truth. It is psychological because it is transcendental and goes all the way down, the highest illusion that there is an illusion.

Power being for the sake of truth, what is the truth? duration that cinema opens us onto as much as any other duration. Meeting, greeting, eating is such a great ambition. And at what point do we concede it is the map we are living in?

The map that has to account for every particle, also called particle-mapping in computer graphics, that has to curve and move in every direction, to keep up with statistical masses, in clouds and populations in motion, to render in detail surfaces and see through them, also called 3-D rendering in computer graphics, and diagramme their depths, mapping also vectors of force arising from within, also called motion vector graphics in digital imagery, at what point do we concede, in what is also called CGI, that the general computus is not mapping the territory but generating it? And at what point do we agree with the many who do and concede that we live in a simulation? Who can, at this point, that we have reached all at once and all together, say whether it is of our own making or that of some alien species? and at what point, whether we agree with it or not, or it with us, does it constitute the Singularity?

luz es tiempo
point to point

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— Benjamín Labatut, eating god

What I admire most about science is that it is completely unwilling to accept the many mysteries that surround us: it is stubborn, and wonderfully so. When it comes face to face with the unknown, it whips out a particle accelerator, a telescope, a microscope, and smashes reality to bits, because it wants–Because it needs!–to know. Literature is similar, in some respects: it is born from an impossible wish, the desire to bind this world with words. In that, it is as ambitious as science. Because for us human beings, it is never enough to know god: we have to eat him. That’s what literature is for me: putting the world in your mouth.

–from here

Really, if I’m honest, I … shattered into many pieces and became odd.

the following excerpts are from …

an interview with Frederico Perelmutter, here

My lack of roots has certainly affected my literature. Though I’m Chilean, and can’t deny it (well, I can, actually, and do so frequently, mostly to mess with my compatriots), I don’t feel identification with my country, or its literature, or nationality. But I don’t feel Dutch either. Argentine, even less so, though many people believe I am when they meet me for the first time, because I share their typical character flaws. I’d love to say (like Bolaño did) that I feel Latin American, but that too would be untrue.

I feel like Pinocchio. Not the dictator

—I feel like the wooden doll: someone unsure of who he is, but diametrically certain of what he wants to become.

–dir. Matteo Garrone, 2019

What do you want to become?

I won’t tell you. Not because I don’t know, but because I’m a superstitious man. People should not know who you are, at least not really. And more importantly, they should never know what you want. Life is at stake in desire.

I write in English and Spanish. It depends on the project. And my fancy. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d take English.

Betrayal is important for writing. For life too. One must always betray something. And since I’m unwilling to betray my parents, my friends, or my country, I prefer to betray my tongue.

I don’t think anyone, anywhere, writes like Sebald. I reread his books every year. His melancholy and humor, the density of information that they hold, the beauty of his prose—which has a deeply strange effect, somniferous and hallucinogenic, that prevents you from remembering everything you’ve read, no matter how much you try—make him a complete exception. His oeuvre is an unreachable monolith, a summit that exits our world.

Sebald’s books (about which I can say nothing negative) all have the same absolutely characteristic narrator, who is very present: though he’s talking about real events, his gaze, and a horrifyingly lucid and beautifully melancholy perspective, drenches everything he narrates. In my book, that’s almost entirely absent. I try to avoid appearing in what I write.

… with Calasso: his books are a path to enlightenment and an aesthetic pleasure all at once, but they can also be rather boring, overly cerebral, dry, and theoretical. Erudition is like that, because it doesn’t regard entertainment as the only measure of value.

I’m surprised how “entertaining” Borges is. Such a lucid, winged intelligence that extends toward transparency.

A similar thing happens with Bolaño: he never says anything clever, in the sense that he isn’t crafting a literature of ideas. And yet, one feels the talent and the genius behind every feint.

What I dislike about poetry is the author’s voice, which is usually far too present. That exhausts me. I’m attracted by the impersonal. I prefer the rare beauty one can find in a good Wikipedia entry to the cries and cackles of a poet who feels like they must always relay what lies deep in their heart.

Sebald, Borges, Chatwin, Bolaño, Burroughs: they’re all deeply Romantic writers. I dare say your work is, too…

I don’t feel like a Romantic. Nor have I ever thought about what Romanticism might represent for me. Those ideas and debates that look to categorize a writer or aesthetic movement don’t interest me in the slightest.

What I’m fascinated by is delirium, by reason’s mad dreams and the excesses of thought. I feel called toward the contradictions that at once torture and enlighten us. I’m interested in chaos, senselessness, irrationality, randomness, and infinity. If that makes me part of a 19th-century movement, well, there’s not much I can do about it. I’ll never willingly include myself into any group. Unless aliens arrive.

your literature in relation to “the contemporary” in some way, … ?

I’m interested in the past and the future. There’s almost nothing contemporary that fascinates me. The best literature anticipates what is coming or rescues some treasure from the hands of oblivion.

There are better idioms for the contemporary than the literary. Especially now, when we’re so immersed in and invaded by the present. We have to resist that. Think of other times, other ways of being human.

The past and the future are far wider than the present. Comparatively, the present moment is impoverished, practically doesn’t exist. But we’re ailing with the present, and with a present that is particularly miserable. That the contemporary doesn’t seduce me is not strange: this is my time, …



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& then a chill ran through me at her final metaphor … Catherine Keller’s Face of the Deep and, that discourse is not a two-or-more-way conversation. It is One

I’ve been reading Catherine Keller’s Face of the Deep: a theology of becoming. I came to it through Clayton Crockett’s Energy and Change (a little about which here). I went to some trouble to get the Keller. It was expensive and appears not to have had a reprint since the original imprint by Routledge in 2003.

And it was worth it. Crockett called it poetic, a poetic work of tehomic theology, introducing me to this word and concept that appears in the left index here in Hebrew, תְּהוֹם. Tehom has been a useful concept in the work I’ve been doing on cinematic time (here, here and here).

I’m currently working on the fourth section, “Theory of the Moving Image.” It’s the longest so far. It is for the reason that the theory gets interrupted by a detour that takes me around the planet and into space. You’ll see what I mean when I post it here.

Poetic. Crockett’s use of this epithet is in context reductive. It reduces Keller’s use of metaphoric association to ornamentation when the metaphors go down deep. I know, it need not. In another reading of poetic, as ποιεῖν, it would be flattering… then, it’s not a creative work, Face of the Deep but a work on creation, in the King James version, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Here‘s a nice comparison table for the Hebrew text, including תְה֑וֹם, with the transliteration ṯə·hō·wm, and terms that appear frequently throughout Keller’s book, elohim – אֱלֹהִ֔ים, which might actually be plural, מְרַחֶ֖פֶת – translated in the King James as “moved upon,” when it might actually mean that the spirit or breath hovered, shivered or stirred the surface of the deep, the deep – tehom; and תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ, that Keller transliterates as tohu-vabohu, formless and void but that might actually be chaos and chaos not lacking form but in motion, moving there, before the stirring on the face of the deep of ruach, וְר֣וּחַ, breath, spirit. I think here of Ruark Lewis, a friend although I haven’t seen him for years; an article about him here. Now, Ruark is a poet completely nonreductively,

I’m more interested in breaking language in an abject sense, so that the voice is produced between sound and noise to form a dissident and abstract outcome. Perhaps the shock of disabling something as primary as the tool of communication interests me more than some logical conceptual form.source

I have to include this because it’s such a great photo. Ruark Lewis performing Banalities / Banalitäten at Theater am Halleschen Ufer, Berlin, 2003 according to the caption. Photo courtesy of Tanzcompagnie Rubato Berlin:

Tohu-vabohu – תהו ובהו

… might mean formless and void … might mean void and waste … is a play on words making use of Hebrew’s ability to express absence without negation … so, not lacking form, not formless as anything lacking … literally, desert without water (?) and so goes from waterlessness to waterful, with the deep of the ancient sea, tehom … might mean waste and emptiness … can mean bewildered and astonished …

…then, might mean chaos not as the absence of order or form or nothing (Keller’s book is an extended argument against the notion of creation ex nihilo) but on the way, in motion, as chaos tends to be… : Keller’s endnote ::: cites Norbert Samuelson, Judaism and the Doctrine of Creation, “Finding in contemporary astrophysics a more radical notion of creation from nothing than in “the Jewish dogma of creation,” he suggests that while there is extensive congruence between the classic Jewish teaching and physics, the latter “fails to capture the sense in which this nothing is a motion towards something” … (282)

… energy itself seems to be an ordering principle …

… to electrify the boundary between eternity and time …


Centering time in Christ, the time-line at once lurches forward toward the end–and is pulled back by the power of the origin itself. “The creation” now serves less to open up a universe than to limit its significance to the timeless logos, or rather the dehistoricized past tense, the Christ event.

Creation itself, with its nonhuman multiples and materialities, continued to lose whatever intrinsic value it might have been granted, had the Church retained a greater sense of cosmological and hermeneutical diversity. Another quite formidable tendency takes over. Whatever dualism was overcome within the discourse of eternity–by eliminating any preexistent matter or chaotic Other–returns to electrify the boundary between eternity and time. The uncriticized binary of eternal being vs. spatio-temporal becoming now gets dramatized in the dominion of the purely eternal and unchanging Creator over and above the perishable world He created. But this world-stuff, as it turns out, is terribly unstable. It is constantly dissolving back into the nothing from which it came. (58-59)

Keller: … the neo-imperial orders of late capitalism foment a consuming hysteria, a greed, which indeed never rests … (79)

Keller: … the suffering of colonization and exile drove P to write a new beginning for the people … (160) [ie out of Babylon]


As the third Christian millennium slouches forward, religious terror and counter-terror on the rise, all the avant-garde apocalypses, with their unveilings of God’s and other ends, posture rather quaintly. They repeat the supersessionism they mean to supersede. (229-30)

… recalls, all the lousy little poets going around trying to sound like Charlie Manson, of Leonard Cohen.

Keller: … differences are intensified precisely by being brought into relation. (232)

… are they? … and look at the placement of, precisely. Precisely shares a root word with scissors, as Keller elsewhere points out in regard to decision. It makes a cut.

And this is precisely the reason I’ve adopted from Keller the tehom concept.

… but, isn’t the cut suppressed in or subsumed or sutured by the relation of differences? for the sake of intensification? Isn’t the cut itself sufficiently intense? Is it not deep enough?

Or being deep is it hidden? Or being deep, and from the deep, tehomic, is it as Keller all over the Face of the Deep says genetically lost? I mean in the tehomophobia she locates as operative from the 5th century of the ex nihilo interpretation of creation.

This interpretation grew, she says it did, out of an heresiology, the discourse of and condemning heresy.

Tehomic thinking can be heretical for presuming a material (mater-nal) antecedence to a dominological creation ex nihilo.

I like this word Keller uses too, dominology. Better than dominant or dominating discourse. It means the imposition of an interpretation exclusive of all others, in order to dominate and impose a dominant theology. Albeit one based in heresiology, of which Keller makes good use.

… and on this point of discursivity, I read that Jenni Hermoso did not consent to Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales’s kiss. He kissed her on the lips during the ceremony awarding the Spanish team the World Cup.

He kissed the whole team, I think. Hermoso rejects any suggestion of the kiss being consensual.

You could say the kiss plays over sexual difference, intensifying differences in an unsolicited, unwanted and nonconsensual relation.

… so the relation between differences … it could be one of force, one of fact, of an act and outside of discursivity, not within the consensus of relations and transactions that makes up the language or cultural semiotic. The relation in this kiss breaks with that consensus.

… but then it does so discursively.

… and nondiscursively.

What rules is it breaking?

Those of discourse that apply to nondiscursive acts.

… looking at it, it’s as if you can see the intensification. So that the image plays a discursive role in the moral discourse of nonconsensual physical relations … and of course there’s the dominological import of Luis Rubiales’s presidentship of the Spanish football federation. His (mis | ab)use of power.

Should Hermoso have come back at him? … should it have been plastered all over the press? … are the two things linked? Like a bad syllogism. Coming back at him > being plastered all over the press > …

Thinking these things I read these lines. A Fifa investigation was initiated. Rubiales responded with a meandering speech that railed against “false feminism” and the “social assassination” of his character (here).

And I find him fully responsible, both for his physical assault and for Hermoso’s press-powered coming back at him, because he ought simply have deferred to her.

I find him responsible because of his entry into public discourse as if it was a conversation, as if there are two sides to the conversation. When there is only one. It’s called discourse.

It’s a one-way street. Unfortunately despite all the talk about inclusion and diversity this is no assurance that it goes in the direction of moral improvement.

Claire Dederer has a good word for it. Static.

one-way static … in her Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma, 2023–about which a little here.

Static calls to mind Giorgio Agamben’s statement of its provenance in στάσις, meaning a period of civil war in the polis, the Greek city state (same root). Stasis places citizens in opposition who are fighting about either the political or economic constitution of the state. The same could be said of discursive opposition and of the constitution of discourse in general, in public and at the level of the global reach of discursive media.

Keller’s final several chapters palled on me. And then a chill ran through me at her final metaphor. The metaphor arises from a close reading of Iyyun Circle, the thirteenth century Sefer Bahir, or Book of Illumination,

The grammar of command and obedience has been replaced by an almost cinematographic montage of metamorphosis. … Its theological saturation depicts no self-sufficient and discarnate transcendence but a radical incompletion, a streaming infinity. ([my emphasis] 238)


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Things I left out of a note on cinematic time [pdf]

The following adds to my ongoing consideration of cinematic time after Bergson’s concept of duration and alongside Deleuze’s of the time-image. Although they are nonconsecutive, the first part is called Enduring Dreams and the second Plan vital, and now this is the third. Contact me here if you have any questions or comments.


luz es tiempo
point to point

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Things I left out of a note on cinematic time

How can the replay of duration cancel out duration? This is the question I left hanging at the end of the note on cinematic time where I promised to get under the hood of what is happening in the relation of life to the moving image in general. At issue was the contrast between a mathematisable time and natural processual time.

Complicating the issue is that Russell on one hand makes use of the example of cinema, of the cinematograph as a fair enough version of what mathematisable time is. On the other, I say that cinematic time is duration. It has to be, since time as duration going by what Bergson says is presupposed by mathematical time.

Mathematical time is time as measurable. Duration is not. There is time being ratiocinated and time being intuited.

I hoped to point out in that note that the tendency of spatialising time that is Bergson’s target is not what’s going on with Russell’s version. I believe Russell is picking up on what has become, since cinematographic time, a more profound habit of thought. This is, because the moving image moves of itself, to identify its time with real time.

Bergson cannot defend this thesis unless he is read back into cinema, into its early history in particular. There Schonig can help him out and help us out who read him by showing the first film genre to take as its subject natural time. I called this in the note the mystery of the shot and looking at what I said about it I don’t think I’ve been clear enough.

I feel this mystery to be at work in all of this, from the unbelievable swiftness of cinema’s spread to the present fixation with AI. Deleuze’s philosophy gives me leverage on this material but I can’t say for sure that I have lifted the hood. The reason for the present writing, the motor has not been fully revealed.

The motor is contingent motion. This is what I discover from Schonig but I hesitate to call it Schonig’s discovery. His interest is in one effect, one direction that the motor of contingent motion takes cinema.

He signals it in his subtitle, CGI. I find this to be one proof of what the motor is. I mean that cinema as it has developed since the use of computer-generated imagery, in the 1970s and 80s, has become an industry invested above all in contingent motion.

Contingent motion is running the show. It’s a bit like the hard problem of consciousness is for neuroscience and not unrelated. The problem is how to reproduce digitally what the shot naturally reproduces.

When I say the shot, I mean cinema. The problem drives the investment in a technology like Barbershop that the money is still behind and that is still being developed. Barbershop came about to animate Kong’s hair realistically in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong.

A nice 2017 article by Ian Failes, “How King Kong Movies Changed VFX History, Over and Over Again” gives the details of how Barbershop enabled 30,000 to 40,000 clumps of hair on Kong’s head to move independently. That is, in contingent motion. Hair has become an obsession on an industrial scale.

Simulation supervisor Claudia Chung and her team spent three years developing Merida’s hair for the animated feature Brave, 2012. The digital hair had to move and catch the light like real curly red hair. You might say this effort is about finding the noncontingent means to arrive at pure contingency.

The fully digital scenery currently deployed in live-action films, if they are set in some version of biological nature, multiplies the problems for CGI of contingent motion. The leaves on the trees have not only to be made they have to be made so that they are moving.

Neither CGI nor animation are under any obligation to reproduce the contingent motion of leaves, hair, smoke, clouds, nature with any realism. The commercial imperative can even go in the opposite direction. Films that offer more schematic renderings of characters and mises-en-scène can make more money for studios.

A special example is Studio Ghibli. The mises-en-scène have a high degree of verisimilitude whereas the characters are generic. They are schematised, big eyes and heads, rudimentary bodies and expressions and it is the contrast between characters and mises that holds audiences, as of two contrasting levels of time, historical time and the time of the characters’ inner experience, where what happens to them matters more than how realistic they are. This would be how the problem of contingent motion for CGI relates to the problem of consciousness for neuroscience.

The mystery of the shot has become the problem of contingent motion. For CGI the problem is deeply embedded in mathematics. It is, whatever the parameters, how mathematically to generate randomness.

Although natural processes engage entropy and entropy relates to energetic systems, the natural world being an open system, the world of digital graphics a closed one, the problems are different. The leaves moving on the trees is not about entropy, it’s about the wind, the light, the time of day and the immeasurable quantity of details both large and small that are visually captured. No quantity can be fixed for what is in the shot. It is purely a quality, and one of duration, I would say.

It is so for the digital image in a completely different way, in the contingent motion of the little lights, the pixels, that go to make it up, belonging to the screen. These are qualities of screens and eyes. The specific duration, entailing what endures onscreen, is of screentime.

In the note on cinematic time I referred to this duration as an interval and the shot, cinema, as what relates the interval to the indeterminacy of contingent motion. For this indeterminacy I said that a noncontingent time is needed. I meant the interval.

If there is an apparent contradiction here it has to do with the ambiguity of the word contingency. Perhaps I didn’t put enough stress on this in the note. Contingency means both dependent and independent.

The noncontingency of the time of the shot is its independence. It comes as a function, for both digital and analogue media, of the image moving of itself. The contingency of the motion caught on shot has the same independence, so it is contingent in that sense, but for the digital image it never can be.

Yes, the digital image moves of itself but the hair does not. The image digitally produced, the computer-generated image, moves of itself, in screentime, but the leaves do not on the digital trees. The graphics, the smoke, the particle fields, cloud, atmospherics in being digital effects are contingent on digital production.

They can only give a more or less near approximation of randomness. What is noncontingent, indeterminate and open in the digital moving image is screentime. That is, screentime shows contingency of motion as the independence not of what’s on the screen but of the screen itself, its effects of light being the effects of light’s movement, movements belonging to the present.

Are the movements of light, of the light emitted by little lights constructing the screen, confined to belonging to the present? If so isn’t any imagery shown on a screen also confined to the present of when it is viewed? I think the time captured of the natural world is open at both ends.

At one end it is open to the present of when it is captured, at the other to the present when it is viewed. This is unlike the computer-generated image that comes from a closed system and is the result of a process. The digital image is not still in process and in it since the processing has finished when we see the image that process has no duration.

It does not endure. In the terms I used in the note, upon rendering it is inert. What’s alive is the light from which it’s made.

To say it does not endure is not about durability. Although Bernard Stiegler, a philosopher of technics, links the evanescence in the present of digital imagery, its passing, to the passing of a whole regime of learning and knowledge. There is a link between the internal duration of what endures, is not inert, to knowledge, but I think it has to do with the closed loop between temporalities that contingent motion attests to, therefore to the contrast I am still pursuing between what has been made of cinematic time and what it really is.

How to figure out what it really is? The answer is always going to be the leaves are really moving on the trees. That means they are caught in the passage of time passing, that it really is and we can see it again and again, and we can slow it down, speed it up and even wind it backwards.

This is true of every moving image with the added manipulability that the generation of digital imagery by computers brings and this imagery, thanks to the little lights, the pixels, is always moving. So from it is inferred the real time we actually see in contingent motion and here the problem starts again. It is one of reference and inference.

The motor is driving nonetheless. The digital image is no less than the analogue image. What becomes apparent in the history of its development is also what has ceased to be obvious in the analogue image. This is that the passing of real time is in the autonomy of the movements, their contingency as being independent of whatever mechanism of capture is used.

It’s funny when you think about it. What fuels the obsession with simulcast, simultaneity, liveness with no lag, processing power and speed, is what the moving image refers to, time. The exorbitant wasted effort of exporting the problem to digital simulation is equally as ironic or terrible when you consider that all the Lumières needed to do was point a camera at a tree.

The digital is like a forest enchanted under the spell of contingent motion. Then we, its spectators are captive as well. I am suggesting that what we are captive to is time.

The question is what time holds us. Different dimensions of time have so far been noted. There is the time that Zeno challenges with his paradoxes. Because it refers movement to space Bergson calls it space and not time.

Then there is the time of scientific measure, the mathematical variable t. It comprises states of events in a succession one after another that is said to take up time. Bergson’s criticism is that science misses the time taken internal to any state that is like a fingerprint, a unique quality or, it may be said, image.

There is further the time challenging the independent and constant variable of t. This is Einstein’s spacetime. Now t is relative to t2 and t2 to tx. For Bergson this remains a measure external to duration of inert quantities.

It only seems to be supported by cinematic time. It is only so if the cinematic image does not have a unique quality that is like its fingerprint. I am arguing that it does and that the proof of this is contingent motion as well as the proof Bergson is right and what he’s right about is that the time of duration does exist.

Duration is either another dimension of time or is as Bergson says absolute. It would appear we get as far as cinema and, by complicating the relation between scientific and natural time, it adds a complication. Cinematic time is either duration and duration absolute or a fourth dimension of time.

Schonig doesn’t follow up on his own lead and find in the purely at random movement of naturally occurring phenomena being captured on film proof of cinematic duration. Instead he follows it up with our aesthetic appreciation of contingent motion as it resurfaces in the digital attempt to reproduce it. The other reason then he doesn’t pursue the lead he finds is that he looks to Immanuel Kant, whereas I go to Bergson and Deleuze both Kant’s critics.

Bergson’s take on Kant is that he doesn’t get past his prioritisation of space and so succumbs to an illusion. I touch on this in the note on cinematic time. The illusion is the same one that Deleuze places at the start of Cinema 1. It is the result of the evolutionary and individual-developmental idea, of the body being centre of action, that is instinct in the human.

It’s imperative for me to see my body as centre of action. If I’m going to learn to walk I have to see things the right way up and what obstacles there are. Are they things I can put in my mouth? Are they things I can pick up and use on other things? Can I climb on them or up them or do I have to go around them?

The principle of utility arranges things for us. Their arrangement arranges our senses for us. That and the actions of others who might regard themselves as centres of action also arrange our faculties for us, our sense of justice and our moral senses, our understanding and our reason. Still, we can dream and in our dreams suspend what is in our environment made imperative.

Deleuze’s take on Kant is exactly of him allowing a transcendental illusion. He does this in an entirely positive way and in this way reverses Kant. The illusion becomes both guarantor and arbiter of truth.

Any correction reproduces it. This enables duration to be covered by duration. More importantly for cinematic time Deleuze takes, says he takes the temporal figure from Kant of a broken time.

This is when duration breaks cover. For cinema you’d think it does in the cut and this is how Deleuze proceeds. He defines the shot by the cut.

The shot is what cuts and I agree but not for Deleuze as it cuts to another shot or runs out and in this running out we get an inkling of how Deleuze conceives the time-image. It’s in a long shot that can cut, by Michelangelo Antonioni or that is a long take, like those of Michael Haneke, two different eras of film but in common they have a kind of objectivity. The shot lingers or dwells regardless and also full of regard for having cuts or letting go.

It’s a strange kind of objectivity because it lets go of the mechanism, a mechanism that is inferred. It lets go of the control and the shot is then not out of control. It doesn’t go wild but the opposite.

Neither the movement of the action nor the movement of the camera are important. What comes to the fore is staying or sitting with, as if we have to hold our breath or the camera is. It’s not to see what happens because what is happening happens without our gaze mattering. Without care for us looking on the time which is that of the mise-en-scène and therefore of an historical time goes into suspension. It has then the proper dimension of the shot itself and we can infer again that we are the characters looking on or that there are no characters, actions without characters and actions without consequence.

What I am trying to get at is the problem of our and of the characters embeddedness in historical time, in sequence and in succession, being an illusion. Animating the shot is a time out of sequence and that breaks its succession with the interval. Brought to our attention and, it’s possible although we no longer see it through them, the characters’ attention, is the interval itself.

We no longer see it through the characters’ eyes, this duration inside the shot, this interval, simply because they are not what matters. They are usually what matters, in contrast, because we care about what happens to them, usually because the plan of action of the film gives access to their intentions, desires, expectations, disappointments, anticipations. These all belong to an inner duration, another interval, in the characters that is separate from the mise-en-scène.

Between mise-en-scène and character is a distinction of temporality between historical running-out time and cinematic unrolling time. To cinematic time belongs indeterminacy. It’s essential to the film holding us that it capture even if by a thread, through a window cracked open, the breath of fresh air that makes the whole thing undecidable, creating its conditions as it goes along.

I am taking note of the strangeness and unusualness, what is remarkable about when the film is not compelled by its action. What compels it then, some artistic intention of the film-maker? I would say it’s what compelled the earliest audiences that film-makers return to in what Deleuze calls time-images, the mystery of the shot.

The time-image shares in Deleuze’s cinema books something of that mystery, has a kind of mystical aura of the transcendental. I would say, paraphrasing Deleuze himself, that cinema fulfills in these books the conditions of philosophy. From Difference and Repetition on there is Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism, an objectivity about the transcendental plane, that here is the part taken up by cinema.

It is also the part taken by cinema. There is the coincidence of titles, of Jacques Bazin’s Qu’est-ce que le cinéma? with Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Qu’est-ce que la philosophie? thirty years later, where the problem recurs of what seems to arise in the earlier work by Martin Heidegger, Was Heisst Denken? in translation, What is Called Thinking? Where is this problem raised? Where does it recur but on the transcendental plane that in cinema is the shot. In French the words coincide, le plan means any one of plan, plane, shot and all at once.

My note on cinematic time linked élan vital with duration as a creativity, the creative energy of time itself. I believe this to be Bergson’s problem enlivening the three absolutes of duration, consciousness and evolution, while for Deleuze they are all relative to, relative movements or speeds of, a transcendental plane, plane of consistency or immanence. This leads me to a plan vital as an image of cinematic time that is not found in Deleuze or Bergson but is their child.

Characters work out problems that are on a plan vital unless or until there are no characters and we have shown the plan vital. What gives the greatest distinction to a plan vital is the absence of action. There is movement.

This movement is the signature of duration. It is the movement of the moving image. The moving image is a unique, temporal singularity.

It disproves our embeddedness in historical time as it shows that the shot’s is also illusory or false. The shot cuts time out of time. Where Deleuze’s bringing Bergson to the cinema to show the cinema has always been philosophical is timely, in my reading Bergson in light of cinematic time is untimely.

Being untimely is for me its strength and from the earliest instances of cinema has been, since the untimeliness of those leaves moving, that cloud of dust from a wall’s demolition, the water swirling in random patterns, the waves. These shocked audiences and so film-makers provided them with more.

The whole power of cinema is in those first shots. Does it then get lost? Does it get lost due to the narrative exigencies placed on film and those serving to advance action?

It’s lost inasmuch as it slips from both our sight and our grasp but not inasmuch as it is diminished. It increases and holds us increasingly captive. As data-cows we are milked through our eyes by the moving image.

Deleuze is not with me on this except in the way that his terms migrate. The modulation he attaches to the moving image reappears in his “Postscript on the Societies of Control.” Modulation refers to a moulding that occurs through time and is then a shaping and grooming of behaviours and a keeping score on ourselves.

This could refer to our engagement with cellphones and other devices and to the moving images on them but need not. In that engagement, in the participation with them always seeking our attention, is always a disengagement and nonparticipation. Since with them, through them we have access to the untimely, the guarantor and arbiter of our performance in a time-based world is not of this world.

It’s not of this world or its time because the time that this world avows is the time of action and the vital plane, plan or shot engages our direct participation in inaction. Our attention is actively turned to the inactive.

Belonging, in Schonig’s terms, to contingent motion, we are contingent on as well as contingent to the plan vital. This then is another plane or dimension of time. Like the day-to-day relation of events to cinema as they roll out before us, like the relation of fractal events as they fracture into pixels to the digital moving image, it is also specific to cinematic time.

The fact that we don’t grasp our own inaction as anything but the most important kind of doing-our-jobs points to the two-sidedness duration has taken on, that it has taken on through our becoming inured to it. Our familiarity means we don’t see it. We don’t see it until it breaks cover.

Now I’m trying to grasp it and hoping that you can without too much of sliding from one side to the other. Sliding however is inevitable given its filmy nature. This nature is of where Deleuze places the transcendental plane.

Not a staying with, a sitting with, Deleuze conceives the shot moving. It moves in several ways. It’s there to move us, move the story forward, advance the action, change the relation of parts to whole, where these are not so much bodies as the filmy planes or plates of the moving images themselves, and it’s there to express whatever movement the film-maker, the director, intends.

Because the image is expressive Deleuze doesn’t get into whether whatever physical attributes are inferred or imputed to them by films are real or not. He tacitly retains the distinction between the virtual and actual, the virtual being no less real than the actual, the actual no more real than the virtual. He imports it to time and it generates two-sidedness.

On one side is movement, on the other the absence of action and yet there is no contradiction. Both belong to duration but duration is not what it was before the advent of cinema. I think this is what spurs Deleuze in his books on cinema and what the problem is worked on in them.

For Bergson neither movement nor duration are divisible. Neither are the parts divisible, down to the merest thread, to the smallest particle. Deleuze starts from movement because he says its reproduction corrects the problem Bergson has with cinema, but this is the same problem Bergson has with scientific time, the same that leads Russell to cinematographic time as its solution.

In this respect Deleuze and Russell’s views converge. The way the cinema reproduces movement solves Bergson’s problem with cinema. The way the cinema reproduces time solves Bergson’s problem of putting space first, of science using space to measure time and so, thinking it’s measuring time, missing time itself.

Deleuze takes something from this other view but it is not that the movement reproduced by cinema is the signature of duration. For me the moving image’s moving of itself in itself becomes arbiter and guarantor of the truth of duration and the motor under the hood of this contrast between time both as it has departed from duration and as its underlying condition, the condition really of this parting as a movement of thought. What Deleuze takes is the divisibility into parts of a whole that is duration.

For Deleuze as for Russell these parts are correlative to the whole. They connect to it. They are unities, for Russell relative unities, for Deleuze relative unities with a twist.

The twist’s from Bergson. Parts, unities and the whole are understood under the notion of a multiplicity. The multiplicity of the shot, its unity correlative to the whole, has both virtual and actual sides to it.

Deleuze’s definition of the shot is that conventionally given in film history. The shot only comes into its own with the innovation of cutting. Only then does the camera have a point of view that it finds can be mobilised, changing angle of view, tracking and all the variations of a filmic language.

The importance of the shot however is not for Deleuze that cinema is, as Jacques Lacan said of the unconscious, structured like a language. It’s not the sense made by the shot that is a consequence of it being followed by another. It’s the thought it expresses, how cinema thinks, that is a consequence of the break in its internal continuity of the shot when it cuts.

How this break still makes sense is peculiar to film. The new thought cinema expresses is Deleuze’s target, the new brain it embodies. For thought to move then, from one thing to another, over the breaks it internalises, entails a new image of thought.

The cinema needs a new plane to be constructed for that thought so that it can move because it’s not the movement that is internal to the shot either giving it the movement necessary to thought or allowing it to move. What allows it to move is a surface and its movement can be called a surface effect. So on one side of the plan vital is a film, a surface where thought occurs, consciousness.

For Bergson the brain is an image among images. For Deleuze it is a moving image among moving images. This is the restoration of Bergson Deleuze makes and it seems to me that it is necessarily concessionary.

On the other side of the plan vital is duration. Deleuze’s version of cinematic time is not duration. Is it true?

This can never be asked of Deleuze and it doesn’t mean I love him less but it does go to his difficulty. In him everything is moving. The ungrounding in Bergson undergoes a further ungrounding in Deleuze.

What doesn’t take, from Bergson, what Deleuze gives up is duration. As conceived by Bergson it survives neither the challenge of science nor the challenge science poses to philosophy. It doesn’t survive what I take to be its proof in cinematic time.

That Bergson saw cinematographic time to be the enemy of duration, working for space and not time, is part of the problem. This is the correction offered by Deleuze, but to make cinema duration’s ally means to call Bergson out on his mistake. What aspect of an absolute can be mistaken and to what degree?

Deleuze’s answer is to keep what duration does, its ungrounding of the whole. Duration achieves this already in Bergson since it is the interval of qualitative change that any state whatsoever has. What endures is change internal to states, in the time they take to pass, as they are passing.

Deleuze allows it is change of the whole but only to endow movement to the parts, called by Bergson images. The connection between whole and parts is the crack or thread of duration. It seems to endure in itself not belong to states or events and rest on the surface, the plan vital.

It’s true that Bergson initially thought duration to apply to consciousness. The reason for this is that states cannot be compared. They are in constant flux in themselves and in relation to the whole and it’s wrong to privilege one state over any other, so they cannot be measured, although it is natural to do so.

The anthropocentric fallacy is just this privileging, and a developmental stage in the individual and in the world. Then Bergson endows life with duration. It belongs to anything that endures and that might be said to be going against the current of time by being, in self-creation, constantly changing.

He later extends duration to the whole. He has to because the physical reality is of all images including those of thought being caused and affecting all others. Duration is perpetual change and as such undoes the privileges of thought, of spirit, of life and of consciousness belonging to the human brain.

Duration ungrounds the whole. Now Deleuze in fact sets the whole on the false. Not for the sake of the false or of illusion, the transcendental illusion he assesses positively in Kant, he sets it there for the sake of thought with which he is primarily involved, for the sake of endowing the faculties of understanding with movement.

God no longer arbitrates and adjudicates and offers the guarantee of truth. Already for Kant the positive discoveries of science as well as the suppositions of metaphysics are in the position of measurement against the immeasurable. They are only correlatives of the absolute and indivisible that is inaccessible to society and man. Women don’t really feature in Kant.

They are in Kant already in a sense images that compete for our attention, that are brought to our attention and capture our attention. For these truths that are relative to the unrelatable sublimity of the in-fucking-effable, to quote the writer Samuel Beckett, God’s role is cosmic piano-tuner. It is to harmonise the whole and parts.

For Bergson, which Deleuze approves of, time-as-duration is not true because it’s absolute but because it’s creative. It is creation itself, continuous and ongoing except, as I am trying to indicate in view of cinematic time, it is the interval the shot cuts. The shot cuts out of the transcendental plane a slice that is immeasurable and indivisible, is both because discontinuous, nonsuccessive, properly inconsequential and contingent, random.

The cut only exacerbates and brings to attention what is in the shot. The detail needs to be brought out, going against the current of time. Living duration does.

Before expanding on this I’d like to say something about cinema fulfilling all the conditions of philosophy. That setting the whole on the false is upsetting can readily be seen. Why Deleuze’s ungrounding further to that of Bergson’s ungrounding, his untimely?

Partly the reason is Deleuze being canny enough to avoid the philosophical dressing down suffered by Bergson and by duration. Cinema rises, Einstein rises, Bergson falls and to some extent so does what is called thinking. It falls or fails in its creativity.

Bergson thought philosophy’s role, particularly with the scientific challenge of spacetime, was to go in the direction of true time, duration. He could not support it against the charges of psychologism, irrationalism, subjectivism. Intuition is for women.

What does Deleuze say in his book on Bergson about intuition? He calls it the discovery of a new philosophical method. Bergson’s other great discovery is for Deleuze the nonnumerical multiplicity, nonactual, virtual.

He can save these not duration, not directly. Instead Deleuze’s own philosophical untimely is the virtual, the plane of becoming. The plan vital has all the characteristics of Bergson’s time but for the fact it does not exist, that it is a screen for duration.

Cinema has a screen and images that move across it, sideways and up and down, recede into it and exceed it. That’s all philosophy needs and it too can be creative. It can create, like Deleuze and Guattari say in What is Philosophy?, concepts.

In that book from 1991 the other attribute of philosophy is of having personae. These are usually thought in theatrical terms to be dramatis personae and I’ve also tended to view them this way. Conceptual personae as Deleuze and Guattari describe them are much more like figures from cinema.

Less flesh and blood, more fleeting, with a different relation to duration, they are schematic. They are schematic specifically in Kant’s sense of the schematism, of connecting concepts to perception, to percepts in the words of What is Philosophy? and to sensation, there also, affects. The hard thing to think dealing with affects is that they are impersonal, not subjective, not guilty of psychology.

Cinematic personae fulfill the philosophical condition of conceptual personae, imposed since Bergson, of having empirical reality. Yet they are so for participating on the transcendental plane in a transcendental empiricism. They are not irrational facets of intuitive femaleness and then it is not so strange that in A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari talk of a becoming-woman being the first condition every further becoming has to pass through, through to becoming-imperceptible, that again is almost unthinkable until we think it in light of cinematic disappearances.

Besides the screen that sits on film, that enables film to be layered on top like masks, internal and external, forcing the connections that come from movement and the movement of thought, images, ideas between, through and below them, at any point whatsoever, and besides the sound that then issues from the screen but indirectly, the pointed conversations of personae in turn putting images into motion, besides these cinema fulfills the condition of philosophy for Deleuze of being outside it. This condition isn’t really discovered until his work with Guattari, whose practice it should be remembered was psychoanalysis, and writing, but who came to the partnership with Deleuze, the philosopher, with the point of view of practice. Practice is outside of philosophy, science, writing.

Although they are practices, philosophy, science and writing share the technical reliance on a reflection on them that is always outside their practice. Movement is everything for Deleuze. Time is everything for Bergson.

Time and movement, movement and time, this is the oscillation in Deleuze’s books on cinema. It makes the terms almost interchangeable. I would not say that they have there relativity.

Into their disconnect comes the screen forcing them into relation. For Deleuze this is differentially expressed. It spirals in and spirals out but they never touch.

Between time and movement is the screen and the screen is the perfect transcendental illusion. I do not mean that it itself is illusory, since we know this to be untrue. It means movement for everything else.

The shot then for Deleuze has to be defined by differential relations, organic ones, dialectical ones, as in Walter Benjamin, quantitative and intensive ones. These relations are forced onto different shots by montage, editing, cutting. Duration evaporates from the shot but, Deleuze might say, it hangs around, like a mist.

For Bergson cinema fulfills none of the conditions of philosophy, the opposite. Cinema relates movement to space. It does not dwell on or in time or reflect on it like we know it to for Deleuze.

Bergson’s aim for philosophy is to make it science’s equal by giving it an object that science and mathematics, physical and technical systems of reference neglect. He finds it in the nature of systems themselves and in Creative Evolution 1907 he distinguishes open from closed systems. Openness is a term picked up on by philosophers Martin Heidegger and Giorgio Agamben.

It relates exactly without connection to the philosophical condition essential to its practice that is outside. Evolution, creation, creation in thought as much as of physical phenomena are for Bergson open systems. They are then his philosophical themes because their openness is openness to duration.

Duration or time, unlike movement that only does so because it is durational, they break. This is the figure of a broken time that appears in Deleuze, not in the cinema books. The shot presupposes a broken time but the break is not internal till the forced relation of shots creates it.

It is in this way that I think montage, cuts between and among images, that Deleuze makes internal to the shot and not only external, exacerbates what is already in the first and simplest, the so called primitive shot. The figure of broken time is time out of joint, off its hinges. It is from Hamlet.

Hamlet enacts a critique of philosophical schools. This is something of a theme for Bergson as well. It has the famous line, There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamed of in your philosophy.

In 1601 when the play was first performed what was happening in Europe was the birth of the university and the systematisation of philosophy, into schools. The English were great anti-systematisers and Hamlet is a very unsystematic critique. It is witty and Hamlet’s line is a witty reproof against the schools’ version of philosophy not Horatio’s own.

Jonathan Rée, whose Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English, 2019, I am drawing from, tells the story there that philosophy in English doesn’t really get going until Thomas Urquhart. Urquhart was five when Shakespeare died. It gets its start with Urquhart’s first translations into English of François Rabelais’ lampoons of university philosophy as much as any work that seriously engaged with the subject.

There might be said then to be an English lineage of philosophy, witcraft, that had to do with literature and jokes, fart jokes, satirical jibes and irony, that was of the inside outsider in philosophy. The line skips the country, resurfacing in American pragmatism in the 19th century. Deleuze I think is part of it both, when he identifies himself with pragmatism, on the outside of his philosophy, and, inside it, when he enters the play of philosophical images and uses what I’m calling the plan vital to vitalise philosophy.

His difficulty is due to this since philosophical concepts jostle in him. They move, are juggled and enter into subterranean connection, disjunctive syntheses and aberrant nuptials. They metamorphose and where in one work a concept, a term will be taken to mean one thing, in another it will mean the opposite. He is he says a cumudgeonly interlocutor and in this role resists the notion of a school coming up to follow him.

What has this got to do with the figure of broken time? Well, life, the broken figure of time is the hesitancy of thought. Hamlet is nothing but this hesitancy of thought pitted against philosophy, the philosophy of the schools, of the university, that living thought always exceeds.

A time out of joint is a living time as much as duration is living duration. It is so in the hesitancy of the habit that breaks open, that witcraft makes fall apart laughing. I think an expansion on this is required, under the heading How to Hesitate.

A How-to book, it will deal further with cinematic time, as it reacts on psychological time. Thought breaks into time and stands against the conception of it being in continuous succession like a film. This is to say that life does too. It goes against the current of time.

Life, energy, these organise, form and transform, and, as current theories of energy put it, inform, at all levels of matter. They go against time thought of as knowing-what’s-coming on the basis of repeating-what-has-been-observed-before. Chaos is not reproduced but it is in this sense productive, creative.

Going against the current of time means going against the assumption that high energy tends to low energy, that life is just such a gradient, a slow passage to death. The universe is on an accelerating course to heat death. The earth is on an accelerating course to the same.

The passage to death of life is slow or fast and quick, sometimes in slowmo or speeding up or opening out on the vast and endless plains of boredom and despair, and memory’s role is replay it, to put it on repeat. These are all things that cinematic time does. They don’t belong to living duration and they don’t belong to the leaves are moving on the trees and this is also cinematic time and presupposes the other sort.

I want to come back to the force that the moving image hits the imagination with but before I do I’ll consider one after another the difficulties of the two authors dominating this text, this time taking a shorter detour. The two difficulties are linked. They are linked indirectly by cinematic time although they link directly to it, each in his own way.

The difficulty reading Bergson is that we come after the advent of cinematic time. We have lost the knack of seeing in natural time anything apart from the flow of a continuum that is absolute. This view is supported by science and by mathematics despite the paradoxes challenging it, that at the quantum level time may break down, that at the cosmic level the universe has a before-time and an after-time, it stops and starts.

Literature and all the arts engage with other views of time but these are identified with mental aberration, with states of mind that are deranged. Normalcy is hardwired to time. Start putting effect before cause and you could either be accused of having a good imagination or of being unwell.

This gets worse if we take it back to what Bergson is warning us of, that it is our bad habit to tie everything to its utility to us, to us as centre of action, including time. It is a primitive state in our cognitive and social development. We only do this with time because it works for us. Clocktime works for us and we work according to it and for it.

Break clocktime and bring on the revolution (the one that does not revolve). To read Bergson with understanding is to notice how much of what we do is grounded on the assumption of time having a flow which our organisms in their own functioning deny. They go on on their own against the current.

With the advent of screentime clocktime becomes a redundant reminder. Screentime’s spatialisation of time governs what we do and how we do it and hides that force which sustains its dominance. This is where Bergson gets going with cinematographic time.

He is drawn to it by the same pull we all are and were but his philosophical approach is to condemn it as only ever excelling at reproducing the mistake of space being mistaken for time. He has schooled himself on another line of thinking. Real time passes, endures, in, no matter how great or small, the interval itself.

It’s funny perhaps not in a good way that Deleuze approaches Bergson, takes him to the cinema, with it in mind that Bergson’s condemnation of cinema goes for all of his philosophy of duration. That it comes down to a point on it is true but the philosophy of duration is the reason. So Deleuze goes to movement that for Bergson is presupposed but not grounded by time-as-duration.

Deleuze doesn’t see the ungrounding effect time-as-duration has. Bergson doesn’t see that this ungrounding is the thought that cinema is. It is so in its hesitancy, even in movement terms it is.

Deleuze’s twist is to think time-as-duration as plane of composition. For cinema, this is the screen, plan vital, that in fact covers over duration and sees only one side of it. It sees the side that has no genesis.

I asked at the start how duration covers over duration and I must be nearing the end if I have now given the answer, that Deleuze’s screen covers over duration. From it comes the difficulty that I associate with understanding Deleuze, reading him with understanding. This is the witcraft in the movement of his concepts, in the play of the movement of his concepts over the (filmy) surface of the plane.

The genesis of these concepts in duration is covered over. Deleuze screens off duration for philosophy. It becomes a philosophical memory.

The win for science and mathematics is twofold. It gets to keep t, the time variable, in all its permutations and projections. It gains from Deleuze a metaphysics to support it.

The difficulty Deleuze gives us in reading him is deliberate and this too goes back to Bergson. They more or less see eye-to-eye on the subject of schools, although Bergson stands as something of a warning. Having risen in influence so far, his fall was rapid and for the legitimacy of his philosophical lineage devastating.

I’m thinking here of the bastardy of philosophy’s children that Deleuze introduces, specifically to break the line, launching it into a broken time. This is a subject I’ll have to leave hanging. It does still turn on an aspect of Bergson, his critique of habit, that Deleuze finds additional reasons for in the English philosopher, Scottish born like Urquhart, 100 years after him, David Hume.

Deleuze is difficult because he wants to break our reading habits. The habit is to assume logically that in philosophy one thing will come after another and that the terms used for a concept will remain constant. Not so in Deleuze, he does after all praise Bergson’s method, intuition.

He wants us to experience the forced movement of what is in play. He wants us to feel the full force of the problems he’s dealing with so that they, as artist Francis Bacon says of his paintings, come across directly onto the nervous system. The difficulty they have will be the difficulty processing them and that time of thought will be of a break in the habitual activities of the brain that it will cause to hesitate, stammer, pause or stand still in a kind of anxious overload of possibilities, before making a selection.

The shot originally was such a problem, providing such a shock it cut through all the habits audiences had until then of how time was seen. After seeing time repeated they could say that it can be. Time can be repeated.

The selection was not immediate of cinematic time. It took time to displace habitual views. In that pause audiences’ selections played out in cinemas of those films where time’s signature could be seen. It was time’s because it was nature’s.

This, early cinema could speak authoritatively about, true time. In true time what happens is naturally chaotic. It evolves.

Its energies get expended and are dispersed but that energy goes to forms, signature forms, of waves and particles, particulates in the atmosphere, or the stochastic movement of leaves, grass, hair. It’s fine to affix a cause but the cause doesn’t explain the event, it’s just terms looking for a structure, a matter of projection back onto the terms.

Now the first time you see indeterminate movement you aren’t amazed at its being reproduced. You don’t really care about fidelity to an original. What’s shocking is that it’s there in front of you and the shock is first increased by its being repeated, by that possibility it can be selected and repeated, and then it is learnt.

The early cinema spoke with the authority of true time about movements that are authentic because they could only occur in nature. So the early cinema spoke with the authority of duration. Learnt, this meant something else.

It had to cause people’s selection but more than that it had to cause people’s election to be learnt. This is the meaning, not of the commercial economy, of the democracy of film. It caused to be learnt, through the signature of its movements, what time is and once learnt cinematic time displaced time in even its philosophical dimension.

luz es tiempo
point to point

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αποίησις: on the alpha privativum

luz es tiempo
thigein & conatus

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