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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.


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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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a speech or song for Milly and Dan

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Theory of the Moving Image, to be contd. [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, the second Plan vital, the third, Things I left out of a note on cinematic time, now this is the fourth. Contact me here if you have any questions or comments.


luz es tiempo
point to point
theatrum philosophicum

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Theory of the Moving Image, to be contd.

[this file is also available here in pdf]

What have we learnt? In the first place, in the long note on cinematic time, the timely time, clocktime and the time able to be measured by reference to the points articulating it, in cinema, on film, replaced any idea of time we might have from Bergson. This was the difficulty in understanding Bergson, reading him today. We can’t get at the thing he’s best for because, I think, the mysterious aura of the cinematic image, the moving image, eclipses it.

Then in a following short note, the screen developed two sides. This was the plan vital, a mirror for the virtual. What sets it up as a mirror for the virtual is that it endures in time, again the echo of Bergson’s principal insight, the echo of duration. That’s only on one side.

On the other, the plan vital has the liveliness, the liveness, of the actual, of what actually passes. It is both, on this one side, a kind of plane where ideas can come and go, images, transcendental ideas, where they can jostle against one another, a plane connecting to the heights, out the sides and into the depths that are its own, this, as well as the shot, the shot that is more than the idea of it, that is the moving image itself. Being on this side means staying as Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson say of Russell, being in philosophy, taking cinema to provide the best, not the true, the best image of time philosophy has. They also say Russell arrogates this abstraction of time, despite its approximate nature, to be philosophical time. Bergson’s does not exist.

The plan vital note was to allow an entry-point for Deleuze who, in the next part of these considerations of cinematic time, produces his own dimension of time. Cinema, the moving image, here fulfills all the conditions of philosophy. It sets up a plane, the screen, for the play of ideas and onscreen are the characters, the personae who speak them–the shot now achieves immanence.

I would say it’s the same shot as at the beginning of cinema. The image of leaves moves at the back of the shot of the Lumières feeding the baby in cinematic time. Cinematic time is inaugurated.

Are all these steps necessary? I believe they are. We have to know what Bergson means by duration and what relevance it might have for cinema to deal with cinematic time but we have perhaps even more to know what relegates Bergson to the background, what are the obstacles, the forces at work to keep duration from view that screen it from us.

All this is due the moving image because in its essence it is screened from view. Yes I am playing with the word, screen, and yes there is an irony, even a paradox here. The very thing Bergson helps us to identify is responsible for hiding from us that identity.

A moving image in fact as Deleuze shows enables the play of images and ideas, the notions we have of it and the concepts we can form of it that act to cover it. For Bergson it was simply camouflaged. All of nature was moving images, it added nothing and Deleuze picks up on this and says that it adds something.

From him we have some confirmation of what’s at stake. The time-image although it takes a book to get there returns a hint of the mystery, a thread of what I’m trying to unpick. From it emanates a mysterious power, a power I think is already in the movement-image but that Deleuze for his purposes, for the problem he’s working on, doesn’t need.

Let me correct that. He does not affirm it, does not choose for it and select for it. I think that he does see it but sidelong so it’s not that it doesn’t suit him to pursue the moving image in light of duration. It’s that he doesn’t want to affirm what doesn’t stand up, yet.

Yet in this century there has been a great reversal. What moves the world today is the moving image. The world does not move it.

This has to do with what we want from moving images. We want them above all to stand up on their own. I have been reading Catherine Keller and what she says about creation ex nihilo, though it might sound grandiose, reflects our wants in view of the moving image.

We want the moving image to stand up on its own. To act on its own. To be an image after our own and, perhaps, love us.

She cites Jacques Derrida. Out from nothing, because the world for us is now nothing or we want it so, stands up the word, Logos. It’s just that the word’s been displaced by image, moving, moving image and Deleuze has a hand in it at the same time he recognises it.

He talks in Cinema 2 about loss of belief in the earth. This really sticks out for commentators. So the search begins in, for example Clayton Crockett, Deleuze Beyond Badiou, 2013, for what in the time-image is able to restore belief and can save us.

What is it supposed to save us from? There are two possible answers, a future without an earth or an earth without a future. Then what in the context of cinema is supposed to happen?

I mean in the context of how cinema thinks, what is supposed to happen? Now for Deleuze cinema does philosophy. I’m more concerned with how cinema does cinema.

The time-image is so attractive because it offers the temptation of a solution. It is something the moving image does after moving. After the movement-image, in Deleuze’s terms, comes the time-image.

The time-image crystallises something that Bergson shows Deleuze in the movement-image. It was waiting there. The seed is there.

In fact it responds to agency. For the time crystal, as Deleuze also calls it, movement ceases. The running around, the searching, the need to do something, the question of what is to be done and chasing what it is comes to an end.

The image moves and like the characters and alike them in their inaction we watch it moving. Nothing happens. As W.H. Auden says of poetry, cinema makes nothing happen and nothing follows but there is a feeling of opening out that is crystallised in the time-image.

I agree with this finding and want to show how it can save us but for the reason that this is not necessary. Rather, the loss of agency signalled by the time-image has been transferred as a component of psychological time from the moving image of the cinema onto us. Its affective potential has been taken up by other autonomies animating other images than those of cinema but that are images that move of themselves so that this affective potential relates to moving-of-itself being automatic and, without us, without our agency.

I think Deleuze’s diagnosis of the time-image applies to a post-war earth. What is necessary that Deleuze also concerns himself with is getting thought moving again. This is not possible in a world with no forward or backward, no past and, as could have any effect on the present, no future.

So it’s not belief in the earth that’s important. It’s that seed that crystallises. It’s movement, not in space, in time.

We have these two contrasting moments, the earth and cinema. They oppose each other and we are back to where my note on cinematic time started from, with the difference between natural and scientific time. Yet now this antinomy is figured by the difference between time and movement not time and space.

What has happened is that movement has been lost to time. Putting it another way, movement has lost its belief in time. Separating the earth and cinema what is there but the moving image?

That is the reason for the current reflection. Look at moving. The earth turns and a clock leaving it at speed will show less time has elapsed than for a clock on the ground but look at the movement itself.

Or consider that thought is only possible, as far as Deleuze is concerned and Michel Foucault commented reviewing The Logic of Sense, 1969 and Difference and Repetition, 1968, thought is again possible, when it can move. Of course this, thought moving, is harder to conceive than what’s going on in spacetime. Foucault’s review in 1970 is called “Theatrum Philosophicum” and in it Foucault makes use of the metaphor of theatre to explain what Deleuze is doing but I think Deleuze is already here doing philosophia cinematica, although cinema is a Greek compound of κινέμα, movement and the verb γράφειν, to write.

We tend to equate writing with thought and philosophy with writing to be what does not move. In Deleuze they are in play. Concepts put on masks and the dramatis personae, here the personae philosophiae, speak in others’ voices, as Foucault writes, but the movement is enabled by a surface that allows the movement so that the thought does not get stuck.

Even the idea of repetition for Deleuze is not that of a stuck record. Repetition is a moving image as much as difference is. Repetition produces difference because of that movement.

Now, here’s the trick. The idea that the image or the idea, or concept, does not move comes from the photographic still that is still supposed to be the basis of the cinematographic image. At base, getting rid of all that added movement, the image is still and movement added to it.

The phrase, moving image puts movement first but it is not first to come to mind. This was so for Bergson at the advent of cinema. He was put in mind of a succession of still images.

The true compound, as in the Greek word, is of movement and, yes, there writing, but image is… what is it? It’s not implied, rather from writing is inferred the registration of letters or images, in succession, always in succession, on a surface of some kind, where they don’t move. How to get them moving again?

Or do they have only the movement that went into their production? The stylus on the papyrus, my fingers on the keys, the whirring bits of an old-fashioned film camera, the celluloid passing through the gate, for which interestingly the Lumières used the motor of a sewing-machine, and the more ineffable movement of electronic signals caught up in the guts of a render-farm as they go about producing digital moving images. The trick is we don’t equate thought with stillness but only with the absence of movement.

Thought is fleeting, fast as light or, for Deleuze, faster. Thought is the original moving image. It occurs in a darkened room inside the skull, is held there, until capture on a surface of registration but its movement eludes that surface.

There’s a whole tradition affording spontaneous thought as it’s transmitted through speech, spontaneous speech, with priority over written words. Lightning strikes in thought and the word spoken divides the light from dark, thought passing over the deep. The image has a claim on the same authority.

Image is set before movement. We are all scientists now and can tell you that speech travels in soundwaves and that the vibrations set in motion the medium of air. As for its place in time, its belonging to the present is a convention because in fact it has a duration, it lasts only a short time.

It only lasts a short time but from it we remove the idea of movement and put it closer to thought. From it in other words we extract the image. In other words we get the idea and in so doing elevate both it and the getting.

How could it not be the same or even more extreme for the moving image? As soon as seen we get it. Even if it’s just a blank screen we get it.

What happens to the duration of speech, its vibrations passing through the air, is more extreme with the duration of the image. After all its medium of transmission is light. Even though it pass through the air, nothing, unless we are perverse like Deleuze, is faster than light.

For the idea as for the image, its movement has been lost to time-as-duration. There’s something else about thought. Along with emphasising its speed, Deleuze lays an emphasis on how fleeting thought is and he says, writing with Guattari, nothing is worse than a thought that escapes us.

I would like to break the flow and quote it in full. This is from the book What is Philosophy? 1991 in French. My translation is by Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchill, 1994.

It’s from the conclusion. The title is “Conclusion: From Chaos to the Brain.” It starts, We require just a little order to protect us from chaos. Then,

Nothing is more distressing than a thought that escapes itself, than ideas that fly off, that disappear hardly formed, already eroded by forgetfulness or precipitated into others that we no longer master. These are infinite variabilities, the appearing and disappearing of which coincide. They are infinite speeds that blend immobility of the colorless and silent nothingness they traverse, without nature or thought. This is the instant of which we do not know whether it is too long or too short for time. We receive sudden jolts that beat like arteries. We constantly lose our ideas. That is why we want to hang on to fixed opinions so much.

You see here that the movement is against fixed ideas but that nothing can be worse places thought at risk. It’s a risky business having our own ideas. It makes us want to hang on to and to come back to the ones that are fixed there that don’t run away from us but above all in this passage there is an image of thought as moving and of the moving image as thought.

The other thing to note is that the movement of thought and time don’t fit together. We don’t know whether the instant, and the instant is identified with immobility, whether it is too long or too short, for time. That’s two points against it, one that the movement of thought has been lost to time, two that the instant has been lost to movement.

It doesn’t move. It looks like time doesn’t move. Is it, as Deleuze writes in Difference and Repetition, the pure and empty form of time?

If it were this would account for the infinite speed of thought. Thought is outside of time. Now I see us coming around to cinematic time because cinema is, more than movement, about immobility.

The screen is immobile. The audience is immobile. The brains of the audience are still before the play of images and for the images that play inside them, the impressions, sensations and thoughts that the images give rise to, which elide with thought itself, replacing the inner experience of what Bergson calls reflective consciousness.

For Bergson this is a reflection, not in space, in time. It is the virtual and vital element and belongs to time. Time is coextensive with it so it is not empty but, that’s just a manner of speaking, because thought is co-intensive for Bergson with time and endures with it.

Neither a thought nor an instant are immobile. Then what has brought about the inertia that Foucault finds Deleuze has broken thought out of, bringing movement back to thought, so that thought is possible again? The inertia is the fixed ideas in the quote.

What has happened? Has it really been a disaster? In a way I think it has been and Deleuze responds to it.

With the advent of the kind of time Deleuze is dealing with in the time-image thought doesn’t speak with the authority of the unique. Its image has become fixed. It is with the advent of cinematic time that this event can be identified.

The movement of thought is no longer obvious from its representation. The movement of ideas in, as it were, flight is no longer readable and perhaps not credible. Hearing ideas being spoken about or reading them off the page the impression is not one of flight, not one of risk and not one of the speaker or writer running the risk of them escaping, as if they were a flight risk.

Why? What has this got to do with the moving image and its advent in cinema? I think it has everything to do with movement.

Simply, words don’t move and the immediate perception of hearing someone speaking does not give an impression of movement or even immediacy. Then they do. This is the digital revolution in a more-than-ever text-based world, but now that sense of immediacy is not sought in what is said but in the medium of saying it, in the moment and at the instant we receive a text message.

What is said in texts has the authenticity of belonging to either the sayer or its time, its time being the time in which it is said. This is in the nature of I-sent-that-yesterday, why-are-you-only-receiving-it-now? You-can’t-have.

No? Check-your-settings. Look-at-the-time-that-it-says-it-was-sent.

Texts on screen share the nature of all text-messages. They are moving images. Their meaning is a matter of contingency.

It is fixed to time. Time, time’s meaning then is to do with the points articulating it. Is this what Deleuze and Guattari make the contrast to with a thought that escapes itself?

A thought that escapes itself is at least credible. So is a fixed idea. What seems less conscionable is the movement of an idea that enables its flight, its escape, but, between these two extremes, of an idea stultifying in its fixity, stifling thinking, and of that disturbing phenomenon of thoughts that run away with themselves, why is there no middle ground?

The question is a moral one. It is because it’s about authenticity. Deleuze’s answer to the fixed-idea problem is to mix up the sayer and the said, with effects of masking, swapping names over, not knowing who is speaking or whether Deleuze agrees himself or not with the statements they are making, indirect discourse, mistaken and concealed identities and the duplicity of doubles, a whole theatrics of doing philosophy that is acting and fake, dissimulating, simulating but moving nonetheless, which Foucault correctly calls a theatrum philosophicum.

Then there is this question of meaning that is addressed in the book The Logic of Sense because if fixed to this or that exact spot on the continuum of time’s unrolling, meaning too is fixed and the criterion of authenticity achieved. If however the continuum itself, of the series in The Logic of Sense, is only and essentially those points and they are arbitrary or contingent, the meanings just run away with themselves, into nonsense and like Alice, we must fall through the floor with embarrassment at trying to make them mean anything in particular. The running away of meaning or thought seems preferable and it is this that Deleuze and Deleuze with Guattari are said to do nothing to stop, but accused of accelerating, to the downfall of capitalism that will be our own downfall.

Yes, it’s no wonder that in The Logic of Sense there is a philosophy of time. It’s more like a mythology however and involves what are characterised as Aion and Chronos. Time has here two faces.

This is not so much what interests me as the difference that is inserted between them. What the difference is does not seem so important as that they differ. I am leading back around to the loss of the authority of the unique.

Doubling is a theatrical trope but think of the doubling in Dead Ringers, David Cronenberg, 1988. Jeremy Irons plays against Jeremy Irons in a different role. Fantastic effects can be achieved with mirrors in theatre but nothing like this.

Simulation utterly transcends any authenticity in cinema. The question of who is the real one is not answered as it would be at the end of a play. So cinema is a thoroughly immoral art.

If morality is tied to immediacy and fixity, either the immediately new or the immovably and enforceably old, it is. Cinema’s first audiences found in the parts of the image that move of themselves the immediately new. My view is that these parts are what the moving image is.

They are not divisible. They are not, in relation to movement. Taken at no more than a few frames the slightest movement is uniquely that movement and, further dividing it, changes the quality of that movement, and can change the quality of that movement until it is no longer, unless it is a digital image, moving but still.

Even the still could not rest in early cinema. The heat from the projector lamp would cause it to melt, burn and burst into flame. Celluloid was highly inflammable and needed to be advanced in the stepping motion of a sewing-machine motor and even once safely in the can could explode.

Adding one moving image to another and another and on and on does not make the film the sum of its moving parts. It still has the quality of a single movement. It does so whatever the movements of meaning or of thought there are inside it.

What to do about the loss of authority of the unique is already answered by the leaves moving on the trees. This is not Deleuze’s solution. His is, not movement, but difference.

He is addressing a world for which, I’m saying, movement has been lost to time and the unique has lost its authority or aura. Bergson addresses a world for which the future stands in a different relation to the past and the new to the already determined or regular. It arrives through movement and for Deleuze this is not the case.

The movement-image remains important but instantiates the regular. The new cannot come from it for Deleuze and this world has lost sight of duration. It has dropped out of sight of the philosophical mainstream and for science and the production of knowledge it has ceased to exist.

What would its function be is what I am driving at, for cinema and, from cinema, the importance of for philosophy Deleuze recognises, out into the world that seems to advance ahead of its human population so that some have called it post-human. Deleuze conceives the new to jump out of the cracks coinciding with this advance. He, like Bergson, affirms the interval in itself and the leap the virtual makes to come into being but for him the movement is not continuous.

It breaks, in stutters and starts, and is a forced movement of the background. We can imagine it as what Deleuze in the cinema books calls a set, in translation, a mise en scène. Anyway, it’s the background and is disconnected from the action, like a Wiley Coyote background or the ones in Hanna-Barbera, like, for the first cartoon show to be shown on network TV in the States, for the Flintstones in their car.

The characters stay in place against Hanna-Barbera’s backgrounds and the backgrounds play on a loop, the same rocks, stones and details of grass and foliage coming back around. Meanwhile the rollers on the car, their stone-age tyres, judder and give the illusion of travel or, in the case of Wiley Coyote and Bugs Bunny, where it becomes a gag, a running character’s little legs will be spinning around against a moving background on repeat. Then the action we’re interested in, unless we get the gag, comes after, going to the quarry, taking the kids and pet dino to the burger joint or running right off the edge of a cliff, legs spinning, turning to the camera, as if there’s one there, with an expression of where-did-the-ground-go?! and dropping out of shot.

Once the illusion’s blown of actual movement we look forward to what happens next. At least, I remember I wasn’t so interested in the gags, whether of the device to create the illusion or not, so much as the problems the characters faced. How’s she, he, they going to get out of this one?

In the first place I think it was the sheer sense of momentum and kinetic action that grabbed me, amplified by the bright colours, by the movement that was simply created, out of lines, and the schematic nature of the characters, characters always at odds with their own automatism. This is where Deleuze comes in with his idea of the philosophical problem and of philosophic interest breaking with recognisable schema, with habit and in a regular world what passes for thinking. He acknowledges philosopher Martin Heidegger in this regard, thought is rare, he says echoing Heidegger.

Heidegger on his own behalf is not as interested in automatisms or habits of thought as Deleuze but he will pursue what is authentic in a post-cinematic time where things have lost it and people are like things. The ground or groundedness in time has gone for his characters and the crisis of where-do-I-go-now? and how-on-earth-do-I-get-out-of-this-one? is one, to which the answer is you don’t, of philosophic confrontation.

The point here is linking Hanna-Barbera and movement. Movement is made to appear to happen and it is always in relation to the screen, within the confines of the action framed that occupies the foreground, against the background that moves and that leads to the question the character will raise, in a new thought or movement, affect or simply scene and mise en scène. Movement leads to difference without giving rise to it.

Movement is in this case repetition. It is the loop of the background and the alternation of shots composing the spinning legs, the juddering rollers on the Flintstones’ car. Difference is made not in a movement, still can make a movement but this movement is more difference, it goes on differenciating, differing, differenting, differentiating, generating new and further differences, without end.

The relation of difference to repetition is usually where Deleuze’s readers pitch time as being but in this relation I think we are dealing with a time that is prescientific. It is the time of what Justin E.H. Smith, or Smith-Ruiu, in an article I’ve only found on Substack, “The Reckoning of Time,” calls computus. Computus is the measure of time according to festive, high and holy days, holidays.

It is concerned with when holy days should fall and calculates when sacrifices and expiatory ceremonies, invocations to the gods should be undertaken and celebrations held. The time of computus is sacred and divine, celestial and not mathematical, astrological and not astronomical, and is still there underpinning the calendars we use, the days and hours we observe, the importance we attach to them. Natural cycles present us with the signs of it but it itself is eternity and so their interpretation and its calculation have transcendent significance, it is the Great Wheel engaging all the background repetitions we experience and all the little wheels that turn inside them.

In a Hanna-Barbera cartoon show they appear to turn inside them, the little wheels inside the greater of the background, because movement here is made to appear. Although presupposed by the moving image it isn’t assumed. It could be asked, how could it be?

It’s a cartoon, a series of cels that, to cut down the labour involved in drawing them, are reused. Although the background loop of acetate might, being rotated by hand or motor, roll, each is a still image. The movement is false, is in any case an illusion.

We return to the confusion of space with time and Bergson’s criticism of cinema that it epitomised this condition, that cinematographic time had no duration but simply involved the movement in space of artifacts, their succession and their imposition one on another, so as to produce the impression of true movement and it’s what this true movement might be that I’m going to deal with but before I do a couple of points can be made. Repetition seems to be necessary to produce difference. The exigencies of movement placed on the moving image seem, from the advent of cinema on, to demand not that motion be added to the picture but that it be a trick, illusory and, more than this, the decision appears forced and nonnegotiable that moving pictures are a kind of lulling of the senses so that we don’t notice how it’s done and they move of themselves.

These points hang together on this, the forced movement and the production of the new, that is, the future. Repetition refers to the pegging of thought to fixed points and then of movement as well. The movement is forced that sort of shuffles them, a shuffling motion, detaching them, although the detachment is an indirect result of the movement, from time.

Deleuze’s idea of movement is of the movement of thought, not Bergson’s. Bergson’s idea, while for Deleuze thought has to move and escape automatism, is that thought is the interval. Each thinks the new but they are opposed in this, but the reason I am comparing them is not for the sake of comparison or their differences, it has to do with what each of them can contribute to a theory of the moving image.

They don’t however intersect on this. Bergson disqualifies himself, the cinematographic time invoked in the moving image is not duration, it is the epitome of time thought in terms of space. Deleuze produces a Bergsonism, by taking him to the movies and in the book of that name, which, by promoting virtual multiplicity and the duration of the Whole, can coincide with modern science in its support of variable intervals, as being calculable, measurable, quantities that can be counted.

Deleuze’s intervals are extensive, Bergson’s intensive but, the twist is, for Deleuze intensive quality can reach to extensive quantity. How it does this is in movement and by way of the moving image or, better, by the image moving, that is, thought. For me, Deleuze contributes the break and Bergson the interval thought of as the interval itself, no longer either occupied with or occupying the whole or filling in the break.

the social experience of time, towards individual experience

I’m now making what I think is a necessary detour and leaving the movement suspended, for one, from repetition to difference and two, of the moving image as its own deconstructor. Philosopher Jacques Derrida invents the concept or process of deconstruction in a project that may be called metacritical since it deals with the metaphysical presuppositions of, well really of putting anything first. It calls into question through autoanalysis the genealogies and discourses of origin in the dominant modes of socially constructed thought, the thought that is not private, a private philosophy, but shared.

Deconstruction is this autoanalysis. Because to be shared requires an organisation of thinking as much as of society, of writing and speech, politics and economics, language and philosophy and knowledge, that deconstruction does not target like a critical tool, used, to take apart, blowing up or surgically removing the organs, the political ones, for example, from the body of the state, because the organisation to-be-shared relies on is a movement it can never be complete but to endure must be from the start open to the future and so in this way its analysis, deconstruction, although it is intransitive, is the recuperation of time to movement. Although denied to be, it is in phenomenologist Edmund Husserl’s phrase always already at work and, in other words it’s like the trick of lulling the senses so that we don’t see how it’s done that the social construction or the organisation of society stands up at all.

This goes for the moving image as it is socially constructed. I’m making the case that it goes for the social experience of time too and the changes cinematic time brings about on social and individual experience. The moving image hides its own temporal function which is always already at work.

It seems to be one thing but it is something else. Now this temporal function I am about to say relies for its effect on a sacred function. I mean this in the entirely traditional sense and why I need to deal with it is that although deconstruction and the moving image as its own deconstructor may be said to recuperate movement to time, returning what had been lost, what that deconstruction responds to is the powerful recuperation of movement to eternity.

The moving image is then stuck and this is Deleuze’s point in unsticking it, but I think there had already been a release, for thought and for movement, that came from cinema. I think Deleuze returns to the movement-image what had already been there. Before getting to the explosive release of energy, social, political and creative energy, that cinema brought about within the first five years of the first commercial showing, I want to deal with the forces of anti-cinema which wanted to put the moving image back in its place.

Why would they want to? why they would is because the moving image could repeat what happened only once. The threat is as we hear now existential, it’s to a whole temporality, a social set-up, political apparatus, patterns of domination and hierarchies, and goes further than the scientific and philosophic views of time that I’ve so far considered. Why deal with it and then what came before after? I am coming to it or have been brought to it by repetition.

I don’t mean it in a philosophical sense. I mean that in practice what happens once can be repeated by cinema, in cinema, by moving images and in them. Cinema is the original time machine then.

No, cinema is the only time machine or was when the old one ceased working. In a practical sense, the choices that what happens once can be repeated makes available is this release of energy. It doesn’t just have political and social implications, or discursive ones for science, art, philosophy and political economy, it releases political and social energy, practical choices and creative freedom.

It’s about the old one, the old time machine I’m talking now, which resumes its function. It’s anti-cinema because it’s anti-movement, for the practice of seeing films, making them or doing philosophy or science. The function it resumes is pulling the moving image back, not reversing it but letting it be known and seen, understood and believed the moving image is an image before it’s a moving one, so that it will have an effect contrary to movement.

It will stop, yes but only because the moving image has its origin in the photo. Photography we recognise as conjoining the two Greek words γρᾰ́φειν and φῶς, writing and light. Writing although an action we can say freezes speech, while Deleuze says in Cinema 1 light is movement.

How does he get thought moving again, which is what for practical reasons we want to do with the moving image? by including it in the shot, the shot that is in French the plan, meaning plan, plane and shot, all three. This is what that earlier section, plan vital was about, where I described it as having two sides, one virtual making true movement possible, the other we can say now is photographic, still and does not contain true movement.

Difference for Deleuze as deconstruction and différance do for Derrida arises from this new temporal function of the moving image, understood, seen, thought and believed to originate in photography. Its return to photography is a kind of repetition but only a little wheel inside the great one turning on the outside, the transcendental. Isn’t there a tautology here? because we’ve made the transcendental the screen.

Deleuze does not intend transcendence, he does movement but this movement is the movement of light. It is luminous immanence and then I’ve already said the screen sets ideas and images in motion. You can readily see how this could be so, they are written in light.

Walter Benjamin I’ve mentioned. His answer to the question of the image being an image was to point to the movement of time inside it, dialectical movement, sort of retrospectively to attribute to photography what he saw at the time to belong to cinema. He fragments the image as if it contained a number of shots and said that these are traces of history, that they conjoin differing presents, they are dialectical.

This backdating of a movement to history does belong to Karl Marx so it belongs to the history of dialectics. Cinema continues this tradition in various ways, among them the representation of history in moving images, in newsreels as much as in D.W. Griffith’s historical epics. Marx didn’t foresee what effect the advent of cinema might have on historical time but he did witness the breaking down of the old time machine.

History it was thought might take over from myth. Georg Hegel’s philosophical system consists in an effort at installing a dialectical time giving a world destiny. History was to be put in command but only inasmuch as it could be represented as having to it a distinct movement and this again is a movement that is insisted on, a forced movement.

Why then this insistence? If the picture can be shown to move of itself history can claim some sort of authority in human affairs. That is the representation.

Benjamin responds to the moving picture of the cinematograph that arrogates to mechanical time the reproduction of images with the claim that the picture already moves. What’s more, its dialectical movement continues to manifest both horizons, the historical and material concerning human affairs and the transhistorical and messianic, the eternal. Eternity however has changed in character.

Meanwhile it has become a disordering principle on which human-scale history needs to be imposed. Chaos has entered the picture. Eternity has become change, it has become the rear-pro, rear-projected, background to human affairs, that they are to be tied to if there is to be any change of scene, for them.

Here, through the old time machine’s insistence that time be cyclic, mythic time, in the attempt of history to supersede its authority, and we can say its religious authority, as well as in the attempt to take the moving image, the moving picture, back to the photographic picture, we are revisiting Hanna-Barbera. I see this as happening in Benjamin’s pictorial dialectics and in Deleuze’s repetition, a repetition that retains some of the mythic quality of the old time machine.

In each some aura of its religiosity is retained. How else is Eternal Recurrence to be explained? Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept for Deleuze is the repetition of difference that difference requires.

Is the old time machine then in the background of the new? The psychological force of it I think stays active. It insists on directing thought away from a devastating conclusion, true movement and real time.

These are pushed down, pushed aside and repressed but true movement and real time are what the moving image is. In practice, in practical terms they are shown to be what the moving image is. The theoretical part, the part of theory is the psychological finding that cinematic time has replaced our inner experience of time, the time of reflective consciousness.

I can’t bring up reflective consciousness without again thinking of the virtual, that is a reflection, not in space, in time, as if consciousness and time were the same thing. Perhaps they are repetitions. Their repetitions of difference would run in a series like this, the brain, the screen, the virtual and transcendental, phenomena and noumena, what is and is shown.

Is the movement Deleuze returns to thought since it’s not true movement illusory? Is the time since it’s screen time, not real time giving rise to that movement, another illusion and if so a transcendental illusion? I think we can consider here what that movement is, what sort or manner of movement it is.

It’s not against the screen but onscreen that images, the images of thought, ideas, pictures and representations jostle and shuffle. They butt up against one another. This is to say their edges do, that they cut, they break.

They don’t break free like true movement does but they do get thought unstuck, like the characters in front of a moving backdrop. Like with Fred and the rest we want to see what they do. Are they going to quote a bit of Shakespeare at Brontoburgers?

The cut progresses us but its discovery meant that through it time passed or was suspended or reversed. In any case the cut opens us onto what is outside of the time when we are sitting with Andrée Lumière being fed en plein air while behind her the leaves are moving on the trees. If we’d cut to her it would have been to foreground her, as she does effectively herself when she holds out the biscuit she is eating to her uncle Louis Lumière behind the camera, the cinematograph, in Le Repas de bébé, 1895.

Recall she wasn’t the star. It was the leaves. All a cut would have achieved would have been to direct our attention away from what would have grabbed us if we had been there.

A cut to Schonig’s contingent motion is a noncontingent thing. It doesn’t alter what is there. Then, think of the leaves at the beginning of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, 1986, when he cuts to them, foregrounds their movement and the sound of it and think of this juxtaposed with the mechanical bluebird that appears in the window at the end.

I’m not saying the shot shows natural time and the cut mechanical time but that this is imputed to the second because we’ve been relieved of any notion natural time can be assigned to the first. We were not there and can’t go back there but do we now know different? Do we now know it’s a trick the moving image captures nature as it is and that it’s wrong thinking to give to nature signing rights on what is or is not real time?

Yet we look up from our phone and see… We see a cat doing something funny and the surprise to those who liked the clip and shared it is not that every hair is moving as it would in nature, in some kind of random order, that we could if we had the time describe mathematically, but what the cat does. In fact we can’t describe it mathematically without reference to the captured moving image.

A theatrical sense has taken over our appreciation of the cinema. It has to do with what Joe Kelleher in The Illuminated Theatre, 2015 calls the punctual. It’s the appointment, the locative function of theatre that it changes place.

Like we know that in the captured image there’s no mystery, no actual time travel, so with theatre we know we’re not actually dislocated. Except that for the old time machine we are, but it’s not for our sake or to avoid disappointment that we are. It’s to keep our appointment we are punctual, punctually there in the not-there.

Our appointment is with whoever is not there too. Might it not be enough to say we live in a modern secularised world where theatre has lost its reference points to the religious and sacred, to the ritual? In other words, might it not be enough to say we don’t go to either cinema or theatre to be transported, not anymore? but we do.

It’s just that the transport is taken on as an inner thing, is taken to be a matter of inner experience. It’s no longer or not so much (which is it?) a matter of social experience. Still less (if not so much) is it a matter of social or human purpose.

No foundation of any city, society or civilization depends on … the observation of the rite, on our attendance, sitting with it, having kept our appointment and been punctual. To unfold these connections, they relate to an obstacle to understanding duration to be what endures rather than what is inert other than that discussed in the long note on cinematic time. That the moving image changed our view of time was there what obstructed our view and made it hard to understand Bergson.

This task, of returning duration to cinema and movement to the moving image after Bergson, doubled in difficulty within several years of the cinema achieving its worldwide scope, and this was covered in the section Things I left out of the note on cinematic time. It is in the nature of moving images both to transform our apprehension of time and not to show us that they are, better to show us that they are not. How they are not is exactly the spatialisation Bergson is against and he is no help at all when he regards cinematographic time as its apotheosis, supplanting time by mobile points, their position effecting the articulation of time passing in a given duration enabling its measurement, the variable t.

The bigger obstacle is the drag back to what fixes points at all. To the sticking of thought Deleuze responds to with the moving background and the mobile edit-points of cuts, to the extent that he also, like Benjamin fragments the picture, fragments the shot. This is because he brings, since they are all changes of shot and change the image, the camera’s mobility around a subject, a set, the movements of the glass, zooming in and out, together with cutting.

What produces the fragmentation of modernity, I mean that is modernity’s own? Various causes have been put forward, that it’s due to the industrialisation of the preceding period, factory-driven, whether from the assembly-line production from parts, the endless assembly-line on which each worker only ever got to see a part and could never afford a whole, or of newspapers, the industrial scale reproduction of images of war next to ads for hair tonic, as if they were parts forming a whole. What produces the breakdown into fragments so that they belong to a series of differences, not a succession or a repetition?

After all, among the examples we get those in poetry, in painting, in music and from our apprehension of the discontinuity in our lives that although I live each day as if it is a repetition of the last and each part of each day I seem to myself the same, although even in advancing age with the passing of the years I seem to myself the same person, I understand that as pure narration and have no comprehension of the whole or of what it is for, but in other examples modernity has meant something quite different. It has not meant fragmentation in space. Modernity brings about a contraction in space that is reflected, entirely literally, in our accommodation to it.

At the start of modernity in design and architecture the fragmentation into styles and that into details of form, the folds of the baroque that Deleuze talks about in The Fold, 1988, gave way to the international style of a simplification, of buildings without ornamentation, that didn’t fold, of fashions that could be replicated everywhere, even at home. A vision of a whole seems to arrive with modernity at the same time as the opposing vision of the fragmentary, of atomisation into individuals and into smaller and smaller units, that with modernism promised universalism and went as far as to project utopias like world communism. The one utopia however, and yes I’m playing on this word that comes from the Greek for no place, was universal mobility.

Despite the best efforts of postmodernism modernity is now everywhere but that is a jump forward and there is something to be said about the distinction between the fragmented and the dialectic I see to be a kind of backdating, by assigning temporal features and historical features to the still image, of movement. The distinction jumps both forward and back, is retro- and pro-active, because of the moving image, the new time machine. Yet there’s another thing here, fragmentation into a series of differences against the backdrop of a vast, a cosmic continuity, and one made to be in constant movement so that it can be thought of as being repetition.

Once set in motion it continues to be so and that motion is unbounded. It is so unbounded it can take in the idea of a universe that bounces. It can accommodate a universe that goes from Big Bang to Big Crunch to Big Bang again.

The differences in fragmentation give way to the repetition of a succession. We see through movement and we see through movement in the moving image. The points are not so much fixed in space as fixed in time.

They keep their appointed places, but this is only because of what happened before the start of cinema. It is because of what happened before the start of cinema too that we have a theatrical appreciation of it. Before we look up again there is the drama of the cat.

In the sense of theatre we inherit from cinema’s prehistory, the cat is going to its purpose. I mean the purpose of the cat is its drama and the point someone posted the clip online. We see it creeping along a windowsill, dramatic music building underneath, carefully placing its paws between the flowerpots on the sill, past the washing set in the sun coming through the window.

This window is closed. Then the cat reaches the open window next to it. The music climaxes but for an instant nothing seems to happen before the cat resolves to and does launch itself through the open window. Legs splayed out rigid, tail sticking straight up, paws too stretched out and claws extended, it drops out of sight.

We don’t immediately look up but look at our phone for a few seconds, maybe checking our mail, forwarding the clip, sharing it. When we do do we apprehend the time of our lives to be any different from that of the cat? no we don’t. We go back to our purpose which let’s say is going to a meeting of some kind.

Has the time of nature, of any natural process, including the cat creeping and jumping, intervened at any point? If something happened we didn’t expect it would. If stepping out onto the road to cross we tripped our whole lives might flash in front of our eyes, like a film on fast-forward, but going backwards or forwards it’s hard to say, while we ourselves went in slowmo, hearing the long wail of a truck’s horn hurtling at us from out of the future.

I think of that episode as being exactly like a film and, like in a film, we don’t notice the cuts. Rather it is as if the episode comes out of a cut and the same is true for dreams. If we reflect on our conscious lives, it’s true also for the images, thoughts, memories, whether idle or directed to a purpose that skate across some surface where they don’t seem to stick. It’s when they do we know we’re in trouble but this fixity, the fixity of a fixation or idée fixe, is personalised and individual. It’s pathological and we should see someone about it if it’s not already embedded in social experience and in the social apparatus.

Fixity confirms the nature of the social experience of time. It’s there in the hopeful generation of memes, the desire just to be a part of it, the social. In this connection, theatre names the transition from one socially confirmed, so fixed, idea of time to the one I’m writing on, called cinematic time.

In other words the later notion is haunted by the theatrical sense from before and the theatrical sense owes its survival to that of ritual or the sacred sense of time. Although the ritual of going, of sitting in a darkened room, like the rituals of getting snacks in the interval, is often tellingly invoked, whether it’s purpose is to inform or instruct, entertain or brainwash and re-educate, our theatrical enjoyment and appreciation of a film is not due to us wanting to see what happens but to see what’s meant to happen. The theatre’s not even in the telling, it’s not in the performance, and not in its repetition where it’s often said most to resemble a ritual, it’s in the event or it takes the place of the event itself.

The event is just what’s meant to happen. Note, it doesn’t displace the event itself. The cat’s actuality for us is not displaced by the cat in the video. It’s jumping is, and unfriend anyone who sends you a video where nothing happens to the cat and the cat does nothing, unfriend anyone who sends you a video of you where you don’t fall into the path of an oncoming truck, and would you say in that case, well, it just wasn’t meant to happen?

Here, I would say, from within his philosophia cinematica, which is let’s face it a philosophy of the moving image, Deleuze holds to a theatrical sense of time, specifically of the time of the event. Now an excellent reader of Deleuze like Jean-Jacques Lecercle will say that the event is not specialised for Deleuze, that it can be anything that happens and we are surrounded by events all the time, which seems to put us back in the theatre, a theatre coincident with the world and with everything that happens in it, but doesn’t. It doesn’t because and in view of cinema Deleuze does not allow a supplementary or transcendent plane, only the plane of immanence.

In view of cinema what populates this plane and propagates across it, up, down, side to side, in depth and on the surface, is light. Deleuze adopts from Bergson the idea that all things including thought are moving images, including thought, because the brain is, I am a moving image among moving images, all things says Bergson, the whole in movement, the whole a virtual multiplicity. Each point in the universe has an effect on all of the others that goes further than interconnectedness because each is an event, the cinematic moving image too since it takes the place of but without going onto another plane the event itself.

Bergson’s moving images are Deleuze’s luminous events. Bergson’s whole is Deleuze’s plane of immanence, plane invoking the mystery, aura of the shot, the shooting plan and the light-plane of the screen. Bergson’s understanding of moving images, of everything being moving images is that they are not illuminated by our empirical observation, so they don’t come to light, they emit light.

Perception has for Bergson a gating effect. It reduces the number of things we are subject to and must react to. Being moving images among moving images, everything being moving images and all in movement by all being moved by all, we would be in constant overwhelm were we subject to every point in the universe, were we to feel every movement moving us and blind, were we to see every point of light, on the plane of immanence.

Perception is a reduction of what is outside of us. Selection comes, the interval important, later. Perception being a reduction of what is outside of us means that perception is everywhere outside of us, in the things, events, persons we observe because these meet us with the light they themselves emit, in the whole moving panoply.

We are unavoidably involved. Deleuze gets to the immanence of the whole in view of cinema not as Bergson does by movement. He gets there by the light that according to Bergson’s view of images each and every one gives out, so that these are in outside perception all made of light.

There they are intrinsically cinematic, moving images, you might think. Yet but for the fact light travels they are as much still as moving. The reason for this is philosophical, for ideas, εἶδον, since it’s by the light that we see, but it’s not by the light that we move.

We move in the dark, we move into what we cannot see. I’m saying the moving image does too. For Deleuze, who says that philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre has noted it as well but not used it in this way, Bergson’s reversal of the philosophical trope mediates between a universe of moving images, universal mobility, the universe of light and its immanence.

Deleuze’s luminous philosophy should then be a philosophia cinematica, a metacinema he says that precedes subjects, persons, the audiences, the whole enfolded in light, light enfolding every event on every horizon. Bergson’s cone of memory concurs with Einstein’s light cone. This too is to the philosophical effect of there being impersonal and presubjective light, light that breaks upon the philosopher, that does not issue from vision and that is there before there are eyes to see.

It’s also to the philosophical effect, without spatialising duration, Bergson’s real time, of making it consistent with spacetime, of relativising the blocs of spacetime in the various light cones, on all horizons, according to an overall plane of consistency, of the immanence of the whole, immanence. The screen and shot are as made note of in the plan vital section transcendental, reflected, not in space, in time. So if there is a clear precedence here, what is it? how does it and in what does it consist?

Keller points out in her book The Face of the Deep, 2002, a parallel between the Babylonian creation story and that transmitted from the Hebrew in the biblical genesis. It may be generalised like this, creation stories begin by saying when. Folk stories continue the tradition with, Once upon a time.

The first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis starts with the word בראשׁית. Transliterated as bereshit, the usual translation goes, In the beginning, but it can be translated as, In the beginning of, and as only implying the masculine singular, he, that’s supposed to refer to God, Elohim. So the sense is given of the event before that of its agency.

The event is speaking, writing in or into light. The first event of creation, just as all those following that are seen in the light they themselves emit, is written in its own light. It is photographic not cinematic.

I think Deleuze, while adopting Bergson’s trope of its events emitting light immanent to the whole universe, carries on the traditional attribution of agency. In his cinema books, light might be backdated to before there is an audience, but production starts from the director who says (what else but?), Lights, camera, action. Directors in these books have the first word.

Cinematic time entails the disruption of this when, in fact entailing its overturning. We get the flipside in Deleuze, where there is still creation, there is immanent creation, and it doesn’t happen once but, in Keller’s terms, the dark is left out, left out in the dark. Her word is also Hebrew, תְּהוֹם, tehom.

Deleuze’s view of immanence perhaps changes. It’s one of the most important concepts to him and that’s natural. Not only is it natural, this is part of the way he uses the plane of immanence, or the screen, the shot and plan, on which, against which, across and in which concepts jostle, up on which they almost hustle for attention, but I think immanence in view of cinematic time is more dark than light.

The cut in time continues from the time that shouldn’t be there but is. Now this is natural to the moving image. It’s not limited to but includes cuts between shots and the cuts that might seem most relevant, those in chronological time, like the cut between the bone thrown into the air and the spaceship in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, 1968.

2.6 million years of technological evolution is implied. That’s its meaning but like in a dialectical image we enable Kubrick to convey this thought and appreciate the theatrical coup he pulls off doing so by accepting it in cinematic terms and these terms aren’t theatrical. They don’t signal time’s passage, are not a sign that is accepted by being a convention of cinema, although they are this too and so the confusion, they belong to the image that moves in time.

The cut in time, between shots which index different epochs, makes solid what was already there in the first shot. I’m saying it doesn’t imply or refer to time, whether passing, reversing or ceasing, but applies to duration. That is real time presented by true movement.

In the leaves moving or the hairs on the hominids’ arms is the interval I’m talking about, the gap, break, cut, a deep and a dark. Why is it dark? because it continues from the time that shouldn’t be there but is. It comes out of the dark or better this dark comes out of the light reflected on the hairs, leaves, billows of waves and sprays of particles that are captured on film.

I am connecting immanence and tehom. I think I have Deleuze’s understanding in doing so since, aside from frequently giving precedence to the crack, cracked and disjoint, he talks about the zigzag in just this way. It comes, in the documentary of his interview with Claire Parnet made at the end of his life, as the final letter of the ABC, the Abécédaire by Pierre-André Boutang 1988-1989. Of the Z that is itself one, he says, It’s perhaps the elementary movement, perhaps the movement that presided at the creation of the world.

We are used to hearing that the new is disruptive. It forces a rethink and we have or whatever is said to represent us has to adapt. To adapt we try and become agile, adaptation requires resilience, also, its actual effects requiring our adaptation, the risks the new poses must be managed, its threats mitigated and if necessary we should be prepared to make sacrifices and suffer austerities.

We miss, heeding the disruption of the new, of some new creation, its rupture. We defer coming to grips with it in the present, that hesitation between getting the news and acting on it, and accept it as a series of appointments. It’s not that the challenges of the present are put off, but these appointments, learning to cope, preparing for what’s coming, strengthening our networks should it be so bad we will need help, are more like compartmentalisations. They occur in the future so they take place in time.

To think about a state of rupture as permanent is to take on constant change and that everything is moving. Now light for Deleuze has this immanence of change and movement when he’s considering cinema. I’m saying it does so for the sake of ideas and images he also calls singularities and in this he comes in to close proximity with the mathematically proven before they were found existence of black holes and with the science of light, which requires that light be measurable and divisible and have a wave-length consistent with the speed it travels.

Approaching a black hole is approaching the event horizon, with all sorts of exotic effects on time. It has also been said time ceases close to a black hole and that it acts like a kind of recording device, a plate registering images that were moving, that now are not. The thought experiment asks the question, from a vantagepoint close to a black hole what would an astronaut see? that is the astronaut’s own moving image would stop moving there, owing to the gravitational effect of the black hole that no light escapes it.

Is this cosmic view Deleuze’s? Following Bergson on moving images, in Cinema 1 Deleuze immobilises the receptive plate that frames and perceives. This is the facet of the subject, a word that gains importance with Cinema 2‘s introduction of time-crystals, a facet that defers reaction to moving images acting on it, those, says Bergson of pure perception, of which the universe in its entirety is comprised.

It’s as if the global mobility that is the gift of modernity, and recall Bergson is writing at its start, Benjamin between the two wars that are called world wars although war since has hardly ceased, and Deleuze at both the apex and decline of modernity, had to have something immobile. This something replaces the someone for a materialist view but for all that mobilising of global resources, through colonisation, monopoly capitalism and corporationism, there is an immobility against which it is relative. It’s photographic, written in light, yes and has the cosmic order as reference and for Deleuze, inasmuch as belonging to a philosophia cinematica, it is cinematic and gets ideas moving again.

Beyond their movement, out of the light, what Deleuze is after for his concepts is their animation, of an inner duration connecting to an outer duration. This outer duration can be cosmic, this inner that of an astronaut or a cat, outer the whole Deleuze is equally insistent on, inner the screen that is for him a reflective facet, a sensitive plate, a singularity, an immobility, a subject and a brain. The thread connecting them is properly called the schematism.

Another way to think the schematism from a cinematic point of view is to consider what we audience members gate off as being interested in and perceive, that which in us arouses feeling and affection. If the earliest cinema was animated by images of waves and smoke and leaves, we tend to like characters. Even if they themselves are schematically represented, as in animes, cartoons and allegories, they tie by a thread the timescapes of their mises en scène and what’s going on inside them, in their brains, on their personal radars, the sweeping arm of which can stand for the phases of an inner duration, almost but not quite in sync with the worlds they act in and sometimes after some small hesitation react to and that act on them.

What is repeated is the scene. It’s an immobile point, a clump of grass or a rock that comes around again, as well as a proper mise where the dramatic purpose can be learnt, where it’s set. The purpose is the moving point, the point of difference and the set the repetition. This gets us into the consideration of genre, where the repetition is recognised, and the recognised pleasure of the viewer is to see to what purpose it goes, that is, how the plot unfolds, how it is more or less motivated by what’s going on inside the characters, or, in philosophia cinematica, the concepts.

The plot, the story and its narration, depend on differences in duration, the difference in durations animated by a mobility relative to another’s relative immobility. Nietzsche as a philosopher paid attention to the durations animating philosophers, to what drove them, that came from their guts, to set up a system and its concepts. For Deleuze as much as the philosophers, writers, artists, critics and film directors it’s the concepts that do the talking, to the extent we don’t always know where the interest is coming from in saying what is being said.

Interest has an interesting etymology. It compounds the Latin, inter meaning between, with esse, being, so it addresses just this interval, between durations, but this is a difference and not itself a duration, not an interval in the terms I’ve been using it to get around the difficulty we have understanding what Bergson means by duration. In addition, Deleuze’s intention is to interrupt our recognition of the scenes he’s setting up, to problematise them, to avoid the pull of a generic philosophy but, more than that, to unground whatever, and he calls it precisely this, image of thought has taken root in us.

Why? so that we learn to think and, again more than this, that we come to think the new, so that we create. As thinkers we become his, and Guattari’s in Deleuze’s works with him (and this can really be said of all of his and their philosophic personae), partners in thought. We have however a problem.

The problem concerns the scheme of connections I’m following. Does either immanence, pure immanence or duration allow for difference? In so far as one is pure and one is absolute, how can there be two immanences to two durations, one inner, one outer?

The answer might lie in the other problem we have. This is simply the question of which is immobilised, is it the set or the subject, the subject even when a concept, the set even when it repeats, to give a sense of stability, having a recognisable style and belonging to a genre and historical period? I started off by saying it’s the subject that is immobile, immobile facet turned to the cosmos, and then went on to say the set, both mise and scene is set, immobilising the rocks that are its features, the ground on which the characters find their grounds for action in the scenes where they have their reaction shots. What would the reaction shot of a concept look like?

If we can imagine the conceptual two-shot we are back in the neighbourhood of the dialectic, the dialectical image. We will return to it. I seem to have in addition to throwing up these problems left the difference hanging between modernity’s property of fragmentation and the dialectical image, inserting movement into the still photograph or picture as if to react to it before what the fullblown arrival of moving images brings.

Simply, it’s not movement that is added to the cinematic image and to postcinematic time but immobility. Relative immobility is thought needed, I mean so that something repeats and so that the audience have something to hold onto, learning from the repetitions the tropes of genre. What is added then is not strictly immobility, it’s periodicity.

With Deleuze’s time-image, in book two of the cinema books, we see the capture on the event horizon of the character or the concept. It’s like the astronaut’s when paused on the edge of the black hole and it’s not so much that motion is halted but that time is. The character, the concept is now more than a point of view, more than an opinion, whether something or someone they are immanent, in immanence but time has ceased.

Reaction and action coincide. Deleuze puts something on the threshold between the two, affection. Affection comes between perception and sensation that Bergson calls representative because it only gives a representation of perception.

Affect, the state of affect, not only affects outcomes. It relates the flows of time that are the conditions of life and those of experience, in perception. In other words, affect takes up in a relation that interval.

Where Bergson puts indetermination and what I think of as being a gap and discontinuity, Deleuze has affect. He does say it neither fills in the interval nor fills it up and that affect rather surges up from it but it looks to me as if it determines inner duration, the inner experience of time as being both feeling and expression, its outcome. The face expresses it here and this is how we read the face.

Now the expression is fluid and faces, shots, camera moves, even cuts and edit-points share this fluidity. The whole movie flows. The whole meta-movie flows, but it does so in terms of succession, action and reaction, slow, fast, in reverse order, reaction coming before action, the two-shot of the concept.

The name for this show, this plan, both for Deleuze, perhaps Deleuze and Bergson at the cinema, and for Deleuze in the philosophia cinematica, the meta-cinema showing the meta-movie is still immanence, immanence where there is universal mobility and these kind of static affects, of which the film itself is only the expression. There is overall continuity but none of the discontinuity that I think to be prior to it, that is, putting time before space. Thought of as continuity does it make any difference whether inner time, affect for Deleuze, is not, for example, in the set?

The set would be outer expression of what may be considered historical affect. Thought of as continuity can there be two immanences? Space would allow it. It would allow personal affect and its expression and historical affect and its, and so time should too, but then if there’s no difference, only relation and continuity, what’s the point?

How to mark this discontinuity but in time? in real time, duration. The present of a character, even of a stick figure differs from that horizon that need be indicated by no more than a line. We see the stick figure turn one way, then the other and are taken up not in the relation between the horizon line and the lines composing the character but in the moment of what the character is experiencing. We have two durations and they are discontinuous, thought of as immanences they would be too.

Can there be more than one duration? Two, the number, calls on space first. Space is its prior condition, says Bergson, echoing Kant but, for Bergson the thought given of a number is indivisible first. Its divisibility, its falling into fractions of what it first was, comes after, like the series of numbers that follow each other or, like states of affect, perhaps hinting at future events of being drawn into parts or of being superseded by the next and the next again. The difference here, whether it’s sequential or not, becomes that between the series and that which is given all at once, because from Bergson’s point of view time was. It didn’t require reflection to arrive at it. Quoted by Keller, as Augustine says of the time before creation, there was no then, then.

More famously he says, If noone asks me I know but if asked to explain I can’t, what is time? Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio.

Bergson’s view is that the tendency of his time, the habit of thought, was to refer time to space, its a priori being a condition of thought in general. To know time then was to think of it as simply given, and all at once, but this conditioning is no longer the case. After Einstein we have no trouble in thinking of time as spacetime, then this is also only to go as far as dealing with time in light of its effects, with how it functions and operates in relation to space, and it’s still as Bergson maintains not yet dealing with duration.

Then after cinema what happens? Or what has happened? because neither is the tendency to think of time as being given all at once nor do we make immediate recourse to spacetime. We think of time as succession.

If we think of time as succession and not being given all at once the succession is without fixed points. However for one thing to follow another without fixed points, for the series of differences or different images Deleuze calls montage in view of cinema, requires at least the idea of points. This is also the requirement of scientific time and philosophical time since this idea, of placing points anywhere on a continuum provides both for the articulation and measurement of time so that it can become useful for action.

Does this mean, as Bergson puts it, giving up on time in favour of space? or the haunting of time by space? It doesn’t mean this so much as the haunting of calendrical time by what Smith-Ruiu in “The Reckoning of Time” calls computus and, in turn the haunting, even its stalking, of modernity by history and, for cinema, its haunting by theatre, by the theatrical sense of time, specifically the time of the event.

Events needing to take place doesn’t necessarily invoke, through the word place, a sense of time giving up on time because it’s space. I mean events can take place at any time. They need to, more than this, they need to be free to, free that is of a dominant even despotic reading, a history of the victors but this gives rise to that other freedom we decry of falsification and the loss of a framework of values determining social experience, a general loss of the symbolic.

Events need to take place at their appointed time, punctually is a rule that might sound like a pleonasm. Aren’t events those points in any case? Yes they are, but in the theatrical sense that the punctual can be performed anywhere, the sense Samuel Weber gives theatricality, as a medium, in the book of that name, 2004.

His example is of Oedipus at Colonus. Oedipus the king wants the location of his death, which is imminent, kept secret. In this way, he says, it will better protect his kingdom, Thebes than shields and spears.

His death then happens offstage and unseen, the secret of it kept by its audience each time it was staged. The spot where it happens for being mobile keeps its purpose. Its secret, since offstage, is never in any doubt and it is its significance, defense of Thebes, that is mobilised.

The point it does is pegged to the next showing and to every production going forward as it was in the first place. The social framework of signs that make up the symbolic adheres to theatre, and theatre to it, until theatricality. Like historicity, just when theatre is within our grasp, by allowing it to speak on its own behalf, theatricality lets it slip away.

Theatrically a general symbolic framework for social values can be maintained. So we have the theatre of public and political life. Cinematically, this is less and less possible and this is the challenge to which the dialectical image might be seen to rise.

It has to do with haunting and the uncanny on one side and with mystery, the aura, on the other. The terms you see are a part of the haunting. For Walter Benjamin, the decider was Surrealism.

What was decisive for him was, not in writing, inside the surrealist image, the picture, painting and collage, but it was not so much an effect of montage. This will come up, in the way Deleuze means it, to cover the interpenetrating points of view of the camera both as these cut and as they move and are mobile. Surrealist imagery struck Benjamin for engaging a form of time, although formed from it, distinct from that of premodernity, so that in it time itself became mobile.

Time became mobile through the material object taking a new path through history and this may be said of art history as well as history in general. It was material and not discursive, featuring historical objects that transported into the present gained a new quality of intensity. Benjamin could not write this off as being a matter of historical context, for example in the imagery’s juxtaposition of certain objects, sewing-machines, surgical tables, out of their original contexts, for example trains with classical objects, Greek and Roman sculpture and these in 19th century living-rooms.

Neither was he so interested in Surrealism’s derivation of its methods from Freud’s psychoanalytical ones, his work on the latent and surface effects of dreams, on the return of the repressed and on the unconscious as an up to that moment untapped resource for artists, nor was he so interested in the artistic motives behind wanting to find new ways of expression. This was what motivated the first modern art movement, Futurism, a desire translating a need to bring to poetic, pictorial and plastic expression a world transformed by machines following the industrial revolution, a world involving new speeds and new forms of brutality. Benjamin wanted in the kind of time surrealist images presented time to reach a maximal tension, the explosive tension of a material dialectic, that process that was the motive force of history and that for Marx would bring about revolution.

What was required for this tension was … the cessation of time. It is there in the other term Benjamin favoured. This cessation was astronomical and so in tension astronomical or cosmic as well, it belonged to the explosive fixity of stars in their constellation or, as the weird fiction writer and also biographer of the Russian revolution China Miéville would have it, in their moments of explosion, in their still and momentous moment of stillness.

Now Benjamin located thought along this material continuum. To thinking, he said, comes a stillness in a constellation saturated with tensions. There the dialectical image appears, how then does it get thought moving?

Its point is not to get thought moving, it’s really the Big Bang, to break open the compartments of a compartmentalised time in the issue of a Messianic, a time to come. This is just like Deleuze’s people to come and like it, in the sense of its yet-being-deferred, for the reason he also thinks true that the government can never be Left. Miéville, in The Last Days of New Paris, 2016, a book fusing Historical Materialism with Surrealism, coins for this explosive moment, specifically in view of Surrealism, the term S-Blast.

The S-Blast is the moment of maximal surrealist manifestation. It causes Paris, now New Paris, a renewal it’s also responsible for, to be placed under cordon. Surrealist manifs are roaming the streets and must be contained.

There is then for this type of cessation both a time to come and a movement to come. I identify both with the moving image at the time of its advent, when Bergson, Benjamin and Freud, along with Surrealists, André Breton, Yves Tanguy, René Magritte, Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington were all active, meeting the challenge in their own fields of what-was-to-come that-never-can-arrive-in-time. Why can it not? because the completion of any movement, the movement on your screen and the movement you look up from your screen to see, is in the future it can never arrive.

Where do we find a material dialectic such as the one Benjamin found in Surrealism other than there? in cinema. In it we find historical objects to be moving images and so taking place in the duration in which we too live and move. I mean in which contemporary audiences did, in which contemporaneity was playing itself out, at the beginning of the modern period.

It was then historical films gained mass appeal. Alice Guy’s La Fée aux Choux, Fairy of the Cabbages, presented a year after Auguste and Louis Lumière’s first commercial programme at the Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris, is regarded to be the first narrative film in 1896, while Giovanni Pastrone’s historical epic, Cabiria, came in 1914. It was set between 218BCE and 202BCE and drew its historical reference points from Livy’s literary historical epic Ad Urbe Condita, From the Founding of the City, the city being Rome, that went from from the Fall of Troy to the time of the emperors when Livy was alive.

Cabiria precedes and sets the standard for the later epics of D.W. Griffiths and Cecil B. DeMille. Just four years before that film, and four after Alice Guy’s, is the date Virginia Woolf chooses, writing in her essay “Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown” in 1924, for what is taken to be the announcement of modernism. She writes, on or about December 1910 human character changed.

It should be noted that this is the second of two assertions, the first being we, and she included her addressees, are all judges of character. It is how we conduct our business and our social relations. The change she then addresses is the change that escapes the Mr Bennett of the title, novelist Arnold Bennett, when he meets Mrs Brown, in whom his methods of literary representation fail, since what they fail to grasp is the interior life, the inner experience of Mrs Brown. They are blinkered by notions of the social conventions of character and do not get to what Bergson says is duration, which is when Mrs Brown like anyone lets herself live.

I say this because I’m coming back to character and the nesting of durations, one inside another, and how they connect or what connects them, but for now, and this is something Woolf also noticed in her essay “The Cinema,” 1926, film is a material object that shows the world without us, because it shows it to us without us there. For this there we should understand time. We are not there at this point and, she even says, perhaps film-makers have been too quick to move on to giving us dramas, particularly those taken from novels, when in fact it might be more than enough to show time passing, a wave rising and crashing on the shore where it will not wet our feet. She goes on to explore cinema in a similar way to Deleuze, in that she looks to what symbols might be available to it as an art form, in Deleuze’s terms, to what signs are cinema’s own.

The material objects of film, of the moving image, are historical but it doesn’t cast them in the past and this is not so much because it brings them before us. It’s more that they move and are alive and that their succession is not life-like but alive in the way nature is. And history doesn’t come to life in cinema, something much stranger happens, it takes on a new intensity.

This I think is a result of the us-not-being-there in time, but also it would happen without us. This means it would happen without representation. So it’s not history that’s being shown, not dramatic events, but the object that is history at the point of its greatest intensity.

This doesn’t equal an event. It’s more like the invasion of the present by the past and the past it should be noted for Bergson exists in itself, all of it. It doesn’t go away, so in this, for this invasion by the past, the past that is repressed but that doesn’t go away, cinema is the original surrealism, Miéville’s S-Blast.

The intensity history has is due to two factors in cinema. One, it’s due to periodisation, the discovery that material effects could give us a sense of time, historical time. This was the discovery of art departments, of scenic artists and designers but it would be nothing without, two, the earlier discovery and popularisation of natural effects, that of objects in nature truly moving and in particular the movement of leaves, bodies comprising many parts moved by natural energies, wind, water, fire, breaking, billowing, surging in more or less random ways. It was this that gave rise to the notion of true duration, of the moving image bearing the signature of duration taken to be an empirical proof.

One, time-periods added to two, real movement in true duration, made historical settings real and the cinema a time machine. Then there’s the question of strangeness, the additional shock delivered by the being-without-us of the technical apparatus, an eye seeing what we don’t need to see, that doesn’t need observers for it to be real. A reality, its reality is already proven empirically, signed by the passing of real time in the shot.

But it’s not real! you might say. It’s not real if it’s the work of men and women whose vocation is simply to make us believe. It’s make-believe, but isn’t this art itself? isn’t the realism of cinema actually its sur-realism? the making of and the insertion into reality of strange and intense new realities more-than-the-real but not hyper-real, surreal?

Add to this, the periodisation leading Woolf to give the date of December 1910 arrives at the same time as the new time machine takes us out of history. This time, since we are modern in our modernity, is called modernism. We are up to date from this date but with what? with the period we are in, the present, isn’t it?

It’s actually more than the present, since we have a new time machine to send us surreally into any particular time period. Just when history loses its grip on us, a fact acknowledged by historicity, the origin of all demystification, historical periods and the periodicity of history develops and each of us is now embedded in history. The loss of the Symbolic, the loss of the social experience of time is the time, being embedded in history, of individual experience.

This is not yet the fragmentation proper to modernity but it does account for the inner experience Woolf is concerned with in “Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown” and does support the change in human nature on or about the date she gives to it. Over a hundred years later we are less apt to see it as a change in human nature and more to think of it as a matter of social context, but isn’t this strange? because history has lost its grip on us. Then it has only collectively, when in fact individually, each of us with our own, each of us embedded in history, now thought historically as historicity, is stuck in its grip, embeddedness says as much and we are less likely to move towards another state.

Moving towards another state, what other state could there be? We cannot escape history. It’s as if today this has to be socially done, collectively, at least the attempt, and the attempt should concern us.

Against this whole of history which is thought of as periodicity, our lives down here, in the ‘low language’ Deleuze puts it talking about the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini, our lives simply pass. Is it chaos, this whole? It’s something like chaos and, if it is individual life is then subject to an historical order.

We are then like the historical object of Benjamin’s material dialectic. We are strangers here and our lives are pure surrealism, plus, whether they endure or don’t, dreams. We are coming close to being able to put the difference between fragmentation that is proper to modernity and the dialectical image.

Because the dialectical image responds to fragmentation it itself says more about it than it speaks in its own name, than it speaks for itself. There is some doubt among commentators about whether Benjamin ever arrived at a materially working dialectical image. Me linking it with the moving image and with the immobility it inflicts on it perhaps clarifies the issue a little, because the dialectical image, through the historical object Surrealism introduced, tries to reattach what cinema has detached, points from any historically significant appointment.

What I mean is that punctuality, that of events, where theatre detaches it from space, by cinema has been detached from time. There Deleuze restores theatre, the theatrical sense of events in his philosophia cinematica and there Benjamin raises the low language to the stars, constellations fixed upon the firmament. Woolf sees the problem, it’s a certain uppityness on the part of the low down, as if they have recently acquired their place in the narrative.

There have been two strategies for movement, against which is the individual’s desire to keep their place and, it might be said, to be a star. Then Benjamin’s is a strategy seeking to arrest time on one side while motivating it, backdating movement to photography on the other. This is because of something ecstatic, Messianic, it’s to do with escaping the embeddedness of the individual in the moving compartment of history, where time is simply the things that happen, the points along the line, and restarting history, in other words founding it.

Now this foundation remains dialectical because it is split between opposites, the problem being that history has ceased. It ceases to have a hold at the level of social experience as soon as the material objects that are historical cease to be historical and become conventions, both social conventions and conventions of cinematic representation. As stage props and features of dress, reconstructions of period and even certain characters, like Hannibal or Joan of Arc these objects participate in the flimsiness of film, are no more than images but, as images they have in the natural movement given to them on film the authority of moving in an actual duration and so they are captivating.

Benjamin’s concept of aura takes on a double meaning or stands on the threshold between two meanings. It is, wrongly ascribed to its lack of materiality, what the historical object has lost and it’s that mysterious movement belonging to real time, being both subject to pure duration, and so captured on film, as well as subject to a filmy materiality. This can be seen in the way that Surrealism is regarded.

An art movement, like Futurism, Impressionism, such as that period threw up with sociological and no real social significance, Surrealism can tell us about its revolutionary programme harnessing the unconscious but this was the dream of those individuals making it up and it says more about their own embeddedness in that historical social milieu, more about their desires and those of Benjamin to see in it a revolutionary potential, that of the dialectical image, than it can ever tell us about a realistic political programme. Part of history, it can no longer make history but my point here is that history is no longer to be made. It has become these compartments where we willingly shut ourselves into our stories.

If there were to be a Surrealism right now, what would it consist in but having no point? In it no theatrical event would occur, it would be purely cinematic, nothing more than images moving. In that way it might capture the intensity of an opposition that Benjamin ascribed too to the dialectical image as being the opposite of our own shut-in experience, exploding that experience into the social and political, restarting history.

The other strategy for movement makes use of the threshold and makes it into a screen, its two sides reflecting the two of the plan vital. This is Deleuze’s. For him the explosion is the becoming of the whole, the whole metamovie, where each thought has a speaking role and can speak from its own compartment through walls that are spread across the surface like those only notional demarcations between frames when played back in analogue film.

The mobility of the whole makes up for the multiple, the multitude of immobilities visited on thoughts and thinkers, voices and speakers. It’s repetition, Deleuze has it be, the movement of the whole. The threshold is a singularity connected by a thread, I see as an interval, to immanence, the sort of cinematic immanence of all scenes and compartments that I also understand it to be, except where for Deleuze immanence is useful to think because of our embeddedness in time, in historical time, for me immanence is only of use if it’s the open interval of pure duration against which neither history nor we can stick, nor we keep our appointments.

If it is just that, what happens to Benjamin’s plan, even if it means the cessation of time, to restart history? Is it locked in a contradiction? and there lost. Let’s say that it’s put off but, then it doesn’t come after, after for example the revolution which is a practical matter, however there can be no more practical matter than the start of history.

Keller speaking of biblical genesis has this phrase, a beginning for the people. It was so as to be an answer to colonisation and exilic survival that such a beginning was intended, she says, for the practical concern of enabling the people to endure in themselves, for, that is, the duration. Yet it demanded a point of departure, not only for creation but for means of contrast, to distinguish this people from any other, the Hebrew from the Babylonian.

Now this contrast travels with, it is with the people. It does not define them rather it is the order of history in which they move. So it’s not so much the promise, going back to Benjamin, of the dialectical image, or the hope for the future but, as it is for Deleuze, a matter of immanence.

For Benjamin the historical order is constellated. For Deleuze the order is placed in the middle. It is a slice, writing with Guattari in What is Philosophy?, a slice of chaos, that’s all in how you slice it. What you get is in accord with how not when and so the order is created from the cut and in cinema this is the shot, the plan or plane, plane of consistency or immanence from chaos.

Keller agrees but I have practical reasons not to, since the shot is imbued with chaos and what is this chaos really but a complexity that is inextricable from the fluctuating field of its creation? and that then develops internally and uniquely having no order but that given by the singularity on the threshold, on the edge of chaos? This order is then singular and irreplicable, not part of a whole but discontinuous with it. It has singularity of movement and this is where science will put the strange attractor.

It can be said of the shot that it has motion to and this motion to cannot be left out but that in the earliest instance of the wave genre it’s more a question of the singularisation of the wave, the items of spray that only this wave sends out when as Woolf says it crashes on the shore without wetting our feet. A destination cannot be fixed albeit that this is our usual concern but above all a wave as Deleuze and Guattari write in What is Philosophy? is caught in the middle by a slice of chaos and this again is not to talk of its ends but of it as Keller’s argument goes about creation not beginning from nothing. Not originating from void, it starts from like creation, breath upon the deep.

Is a destination our usual concern? I know I’d wonder what the point was but going to wave films their audiences were gratified when they saw wave films. Their generic enjoyment is a fact of social history however they didn’t then say, with Bergson, I am a moving image among moving images.

This is what the two strategies of movement, each in its way, address. The dialectical, maybe even the dialectic, backdates movement to the still image, in the case of the dialectic to the still image of history. It takes that movement out of time, like a photograph, an image captured of no more than light and not of its fracturing.

The image of movement being immanent is, too, concerned with where to begin. Since it is in time the question ends up being when. When it asks do I start and the answer comes back like an echo, now, now, now, knowing only what you do now, you can’t put it off any longer, you are in the middle of history.

We might spatialise it and say the answer comes back as where, at what point, but then it points to all points as being equal, so the action required is my own affirmation. It is for each of us different, spread across the moving image of history. I am getting to this difference, it’s a temporal one in consideration of the moving image of history being supplemented by the multiple, the multitude of immobilities comprising all of its points, and it’s also the difference my own history of becoming makes, in that I act, against all the backdrops of history of all the repeated points, against a repetition that is periodic.

It’s worth pausing to compare the differences. One is epochal. One is periodic.

Epoch comes from the Greek word or concept, ἐποχή. In view of its concept, sometimes written as epoché, it is this broader sense that I intend, epoch can be seen to refer to itself, since it means the kind of cessation being dealt with here but thought of as a suspension. What is suspended is the succession of what can be called images that interpenetrate with it, in other words it is self-suspending, expressive of the suspension or cessation it is itself doing.

Where the dialectical image by way of the Surreal one tells of historical objects displaced from their contexts while those historical contexts lose definition and become indistinct, and so suspends what might be called the periodic succession put in place by cinema, epoch’s suspension is by definition, by bracketing itself off, cutting itself out, with its own shifting contents. Epoch is free from the contexts that would define it, free from examples of use and habitual usage, to be a concept. It’s given a position of contemplation, either to be contemplated or to contemplate.

The epochal difference is that of the character against the backdrop of a changing history. All that is required is that the character too change but according to its own duration, its shifting contents. Then it is defined by its viewpoint, a viewpoint on the period, on the scene in which it’s put, the mise en scène.

Now these shifting contents, as Bergson says of duration, are of a series of interpenetrative states that cannot be put outside each other. Because a separate duration the series is not the same as those states which are also durational of the surrounding context. Durational, the two series are alike in the passing from one to another of states that cannot be put outside each other.

Although the background may be thought of as periodic, the sort of time-as-duration, the sort of difference the character has, and by extension that the concept can have, is epochal. This is the way I think Deleuze tends to use concepts. It’s also there in the line taken on proper names in A Thousand Plateaus, where with Guattari Deleuze talks about how the names of scientists, in particular those working in medicine, are used to name the syndrome they discover, or in maths, the function they develop.

Concepts tend towards a similar definition by character. I hope to show why but now the periodic difference. Because they have a viewpoint which is theirs it’s possible to say characters have backgrounds and to ask do these too have periodicity?

I mean they would have periodicity and not show it except in how they acted and reacted and there we would, trying to discern in their actions and reactions characters’ backgrounds, make judgements. We would in fact single the character out, have a name for them, a name that could be no more than the name of their role, as Yasujirō Ozu does for the roles in the family belonging to his respective characters, naming them as the daughter, the father, and nothing more. Their role then is a function of a periodicity of a familial type, mother coming before, daughter succeeding, in much the same way that the revolution produces proletarian characters, that is characters whose backgrounds are socially defined and prejudged, being matters of either the director’s implication or audience’s inference who both, insofar as characters can go off script just as concepts can, are subject to being mistaken.

The background I will give for the periodic difference is the provenance of the word period. It comes from the Greek περίοδος combining περί-, around, with ὁδός, way, peri-hodos. In the modern period, we say, although I recently heard someone say, the modern epoch, which is to give modernity agency, to allow it to speak for itself, much as agency might be given to historicity in history, allowing history to speak on its own behalf. History itself talks in terms of period which I have been aligning with immanence since to be immanent is to be embedded, not in space, in time.

So Bergson speaks to us from his and I from mine, my time that differs so greatly from his. That’s however to think of immanence in terms of history, as the limitation on Bergson’s viewpoint or on mine imposed by our respective periods. What is periodic and comes around for the background to my duration does not for his.

It’s not to think of immanence as the freedom afforded by movement. It in fact curtails our movement, constraining us individually, embedded as we are, to what can be said and done now which are of the period, but we live and move now, well, you if you are reading this, while I may not. Although to speak of it in terms of history and historical time makes it sound like we are time’s prisoners but we are not.

We are immobilised in immanence, not in time, in space. If immanence is to be useful at all I think it has to be thought durationally, in the gap, coming from the gap, of the now I spoke of a minute ago. That these words have my breath behind them, are animated by my separate duration, shifting over that deep tehomic place is this thought, of another immanence.

Just a moment, you say. These words are written, so they are in space. And that space is in time.

Yes, but if we consider what that space is we can see in it the obstacle, as Bergson saw in it, to thinking of duration. More than this, what is this requirement of space? Isn’t it only that surface of reflective consciousness against the homogeneity of which any one thing can be thought of separately and symbolised?

It’s what used to be thought of as a blank page, that Deleuze thinks of as a screen. When thoughts are crowding in on us we might say, I haven’t the mental real-estate to consider that now, as if we owned a plot of earth in danger of being sold from under us and taken over by developers. When we talk of making space for something, allowing something to be given space, rocks in a zen garden for example, and contemplated, aren’t we really representing to ourselves the interval that occurs in the present between sight and sensation? a mental interval, wherein the quantity of space becomes a quality of apprehension or asks for a quality of apprehension, as happens in a gallery (what else is a gallery for?) for an art work on a white wall.

Now it could be said the paper is never blank or the canvas, as Francis Bacon did. It’s full of clichés. That might be another story but it goes to this point, that Bacon required not space, he had the whole space of the canvas, but time for the painting to acquire the sense it needed to have.

Or consider Henry Moore, the sculpture, who became more interested in the spaces between volumes than in the volumes themselves. The forms he made reflected in their concavities and roundnesses, in the holes in them, the holes around them. He gave the stone space to breathe and what is this breathing-space that you are in now as you read this, that I am in now as I write it but a matter of time and not space?

Breathing our respective breaths what connects us is the same, is the answer to the question I earlier asked, of more than one immanence, of immanences, of more than one duration, of durations. What connects them is the sign. From signs flows a history of signs and this is the route Deleuze takes in view of cinema.

Epoch is that which is placed under the sign of, like the proper name, the proper name for modernity being modernity, but isn’t it strange, history arriving just when we have a new time machine to take us out of history? December 1910. Here the attempt to recuperate it comes in, a desire for a periodic dimension to time. It’s there in the dialectical image and how this reflects on the fragmentation proper to the modern period, it’s also there in the history of signs.

Signs now become the operators of history and Deleuze and Guattari use a very suggestive word for this. It is agencement. Unfortunately this is translated, after Brian Massumi’s translation of A Thousand Plateaus, as assemblage, and in the present context that is suggestive too, suggestive of fragments, parts that are put towards a whole.

It’s only unfortunate because assemblage focuses on the problem of construction, sometimes aligned with social constructivism, but leaves out the operation by leaving out what does it. The operator makes this difference, it constructs the image from its point of view. It’s like an epochal character then but in this case is a function of the concept.

Here two things occur. One, we get the idea of concept as assemblage, an assembly of parts from the point of view of a whole, a whole that as Deleuze says is always becoming. Two, because concepts are not in general proper names, we get the tendency, we inherit a philosophical tendency from Plato who wrote them down while Socrates did not, to see them as signs.

They are not, as signs they are operators conducting an operation, from the air so to speak, of periodising or, as is also said, of temporalising. Temporalising would be the occasion of another mistake because it mixes up the periodic with the temporal. However this is exactly the sacred view.

Thought to be operating on periodicity, concept-signs owe to the fact of their epochal nature their ability to do so. They tend towards a similar definition by character, which, as signs is quite literal. A sign initiates a period.

A sign can only initiate a period from the point of view that has the fragments coming together and forming a whole that has the concept of becoming. It is in this way that Deleuze thinks about montage, as an assemblage and agencement, when this is not what is particular to cinema. Cinema shows in fact the uselessness of signs, their uselessness to periodise, to start something.

In cinema what signs do is connect durations. Signs don’t do this as parts to whole but more like that other thing Deleuze says, as structures that exist outside their terms. They grant structure after the fact and so it is no wonder that that structure is mistaken for the facts.

Deleuze wants to use cinematic signs to start something, maybe a revolution, and so they multiply as the periodic variables of a whole that is becoming, that is in other words history. Cinema after all bears the signature of duration but this is to take that signature to be no more and no less than a sign. Following the history of cinematic signs is like following the contents of duration and speaks to the same desire as that behind the fragmentation proper to modernity.

This fragmentation only takes place from a desire to put together a whole that can’t be put together. It is a fragmentation in time and these are periodic fragments. Any structure made from them will always be fragmentary, a periodic parataxis such as those represented in the images of art and poetry, from Dada poetry to the Surreal inspiration for the dialectical image, which give of this their experimental proof.

Every term will be that of a proper noun, a concept, a character, who has that duration, who coexists with it, a coexistence of which the sign is only a simultaneity, a simultaneity, also a link but it should not be thought that this brokenness needs to be redeemed, only that there is a desire to do so. It is the desire Benjamin says of the Angel of History. The desire to put things back together, to fix things is what this whole detour is about because it takes as its inspiration, not the advent of cinema, the ongoing pull of the old time machine, which still looks for signs and installs them where, when they can only be temporary.

Periodic fragments, periods that haven’t quite set right, are the result, not history but historicity, history conceived as a succession of events, commanded by signs. So the fragmentation is somehow wanted, is preferred to the possibility of what I called in the long note on cinematic time enduring dreams. The signs are a sort of contents.

We don’t know next what is going to be a sign. Think of Le Repas de bébé and of this giving rise to the genre of films, the first one, about what Schonig calls contingent motion. Expectation led film-makers and cinema audiences to fix these signs and through them what duration did they connect to? that of nature in its random acts.

Did recognition wear them out? Or isn’t it more the case that after a while, like signs can do, they became underwhelming? Signs we know can also overwhelm, they can become overwhelming in their fixity of meaning.

Signs can be too significant, too heavy, fatally heavy and overbearing. Then in practice this is only ever temporary. A character holds us with her gaze, we then see her reflection in a mirror. What does it mean?

It means the dressing table is covered with cosmetics, talcs and perfume bottles in the old style. The mirror is oval and that its supports are turned wood we take in at a glance. We judge its period and yet she is young and we take from it some of her duration, of her inner life.

This is not in the juxtaposition. She might well fit in with her surroundings. She may feel at home but the fact that we can think about her feeling means she does not occupy the same duration.

She is like us, although embedded in it, in a way absent from her history. The sign of it forms part of the contents, part because we don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s temporary but it’s almost like it cuts the scene, no, the shot in two.

I would, as Deleuze does in Difference and Repetition, 1968, call these two parts the virtual and the actual, on the condition that the virtual is understood to reflect, not in space that Deleuze is dealing with, not like a mirror, in space but in time, on the condition that the virtual is thought of as being a reflection in time. I’m recalling the virtual, in light of the other meanings the word for shot has in French, as a plane or plan, not however one in space or else only conceptually, where space can be empty and immobile. The virtual is the part of the moving image that has yet to take place, of which we see a reflection in its present motion.

The distinction between virtual and actual doesn’t concern the sign except to make it temporary. We can see why, because the actual is always becoming. It’s not however the big becoming of the whole, of all that is, rather it’s what the sign connects temporarily, these two planes or plans, of the woman embedded in the time in front of her mirror and that time which is happening only for her that the cinematic sign allows us to see.

If it means embeddedness, these are two immanences not one split in two, two durations. So the answer to the question I asked before about whether there can be two or more durations and more than one immanence is that there can be but this does not entail their simultaneity. Historical time is absolutely not simultaneous with anything in the shot and could be only if either immanence or duration were matters of space not time.

I would even go so far as to suggest that space, not time, does not exist. That’s a matter for another note. Here I want to suggest that again it’s because of signs that we go back to space and more that we go back to conceptual space, space transcendentally conceived.

We are generally interested in this inner dimension of the shot and when we are we’re paying attention to signs. We might not even see surroundings. At least we don’t watch them actively and wonder what’s going to become of that hatstand, those blinds, instead it’s characters, their drama, their inner turmoil.

When we think of signs we tend to think of concepts, of an engagement with meaning, but this is again the pull back from duration. When we think of characters we tend to think if not anthropocentrically then in terms of anthropomorphism, because, who knows, the blinds could be locked in some inner turmoil. They could be at war with the wallpaper and when we think of drama we tend to link it to theatre.

What the durational cinema of its earliest genres introduced was neither the sign nor any meaning. These come later. Signs come from the adoption of cinema, which was extremely rapid, leading to the conventions of genre from the accord between film-makers and audiences that what they wanted was to see random acts of nature captured on film.

There is in anthropomorphism the truth, for the interval a film plays and images move on our screens, of a shared duration. Again, this is not simultaneity. It would be if the myth were true about the first response of audiences, usually L’arrivée du train en gare de La Ciotat is invoked, being to run for the exits and hide behind the seats.

We are not initially attaching signs or attributing meaning to them. We are watching them move. We are watching the animation of the characters.

In other words, we are watching what moves them and animation, from Greek άνεμος, can be added to the words applied to film, mystery, aura, advent, with a spiritual dimension. Animos, άνεμος, has Indo-European roots in the word for breath. So, watching our screens, we are both present and breathing with them, and they with us, and watching them breathe.

The train arriving at La Ciotat station breathes. Its breath appears as a thick plume of smoke that billows. These are not signs, they are signs it is alive and offer anthropomorphic truth.

We are invested, by breath, in animation in the spiritual sense. Whereas the object for me is to draw out the implications of his findings, this is the direction taken by Schonig in the essay on contingent motion and in his book, The Shape of Motion: Cinema and the Aesthetics of Movement, 2021. We are interested in the temporal sense. What moves us has changed.

This is not a move to characters, although it starts there. The attempt to impose periodicity on the epochal starts with characters and moves through to the concept. It might be said that this is the concept characters embody, but it’s in their duration and not in their body, in the duration that animates them.

It’s not yet a question of significant bodies but this comes in very quickly and is in the nature of genres, their codification generates the signs that are seen as significant. We have first to care and in caring we look for signs. We are looking for whatever insight we can get of what’s happening inside, in that inner dimension characters have and, it needs to be repeated, characters are not at the advent of cinema people, they are leaves, waves and clouds, randomnesses which assert an inner truth which is that of their duration.

Characters have to be like the concepts described by Deleuze and Guattari in What is Philosophy? They have to be remarkable to be of interest to philosophy. Well, that’s what they say, others might say they have to be of analytic utility and of ethical consequence and to address the Big Picture, otherwise philosophy and philosophers have no role, but this is to talk about acting on a world stage and belongs to a theatrical view while what I think Deleuze and Guattari are saying fits with a cinematic view. Still, while it doesn’t invite it, since the conceptual personae have to be kept moving, it involves their codification, becoming signs or Signs.

Concepts by being taken up on the plan vital, that as I said is two types of lively, durational and filmy, like on the surface of a bubble, may escape becoming regular. They are after all remarkable, they are characterful. They may escape, as theatre practitioner and writer Antonin Artaud writes, the judgement of God, and may even escape that of reason, as Kant has it, but they don’t escape that other code, the one set in place by the old time machine, its gears and wheels still turning.

Yes, they get there, to the periodicity I am talking about, by way of characters. As conceptual personae and the proper names of doctors, whether of science or medicine, used for the problems they work on, concepts have also to go by way of the symbolic medium of space, where they are symbolised. Symbolic medium of space is what Bergson calls it, for him it’s a matter of it obstructing thinking of duration.

In the homogeneous medium of space duration becomes succession. Space lets one thing after another be set out, things that as symbolic values are no longer in the heterogeneous multiplicity of duration, among leaves for example, that, symbolised in space, now are countable. We don’t normally ask where they are to be countable.

We don’t ask where the many hairs on a great ape’s head have to be in order that the mathematical model can calculate their number and reproduce it on King Kong’s. The answer is obvious. It’s in the machine, in the computer, which is only to give a noun to the act of computation, it’s in the manifold.

The manifold, the computation are somehow relegated to a space outside of duration. One pleonasm follows another, as the computation is to the computer so to the spacetime manifold is this extra space. Then Bergson’s problem is not ours.

What blocks the thought of duration for us is not the succession, that symbolic space lets happen, as succession of symbols. Cinema lets this succession take place in a wholly different way, as succession of images and I think it’s this second succession leading Deleuze to say, which he does in the Essays Critical and Clinical, 1997, “On Four Poetic Formulas …,” time is the form of everything that changes and moves that does not itself change and move. I think so since, by saying that if time were succession it would have to succeed in another time, to infinity, his infinity harkens to that extra space called for, as well as the one after and so on for all the subsequent calculations, where the calculation can take place.

What blocks the thought of duration for us is that true movement can take place anywhere but in the real time of duration. Instead we give it symbolic space where it is the movement of signs. Then, when it is the movement of signs is the durational issue, not where.

As I keep hinting, cinema goes about letting us think this autonomous space can actually exist. It sets up the idea in us. It does so for the succession of our own thoughts as well, that, no matter how much neuroscience insists on their having a material substrate, seem to take place without attachment to whatever they are generated by and, having only (as much as) symbolic existence, to supersede their material conditions altogether.

Cinematic time seems to open time up to counting in a whole new way. It doesn’t seem to, it does. The points are not just arbitrary but, this is where the seeming comes in, they seem not to be.

Something seems to be happening. Its significance is locked in itself. It seems to be.

This thing is duration, positively thought, the interval, in its decisive existence, captured on film. Time opens up to counting, cinematic time, because it’s not the hairs on King Kong’s head, it’s the movement. It’s not the leaves on the trees, the waves and billows of dust and smoke, the particulates and molecules, gaseous and liquid, it’s the movement. Cinematic time seems to open up for us the possibility and perhaps inevitability of knowing how each speck of dust and droplet travels and what forces affect it by what Deleuze will call molecular perception, in the molecular eye of the camera.

As if we have this desire that equates with complete foreknowledge of what will happen and, in such a case, the movement is already complete. There is in fact no movement here, not practically, but of thought, and no time but not because it’s space. Where is it? in the and as the origin of computus, that word again, used by Smith-Ruiu in “The Reckoning of Time,” that although it’s specific to the calculation of Easter, of when it will fall, generalises so well, evoking both the earliest astronomical predictions and modern computation.

It’s in the machine that we quantise matter. It’s in the computer and soon the quantum computer that we map the particles so as to reproduce a cloud faithfully, or a body, and that we model the weather so as to know it, to know what it is doing and to know what is to be done. These quanta, being divisions of time, are themselves intervals or they are signs, moving mathematical images and, moving, getting thought moving.

Since, according to cinematic time these fractionated and infinitesimal intervals are not in succession, the information given by energetic (and perhaps, as it’s not known what it is, energy is movement) quanta is not in succession either. How could information be in succession? but it belongs to a symbolic supersession. It succeeds by being granted autonomy, which is nothing less than autonomy of movement, in that extra space I talked about earlier, that requires the repetitive supersession of one infinity over another, because this is the way with signs.

Another way to talk about this is to come back to the fragmentation that is a property of modernity. It too involves not that one thing succeed another but that each supersedes, over another, engaging in the same repetitive supersession. Then, is it too symbolic?

In view of cinematic time I would say it’s effected by signs. Signs are what we are on the lookout for. It would be easy to say that they matter and, at least for Deleuze, they do.

Deleuze wants to find matter in the intervalic in the smallest intervals, as the quanta of quantum time, as infinitesimals, differentials, molecules, and measurable intensities. By splitting film down into micromovements he ends up with immobilities and this sacrifice is in service to the movement of the whole in the unity of the concept. Whenever he says movement, I hear thought.

So he pays attention to signs. Thought being closer to writing than moving images, signs are the part of movement that is closest to thought. From signs we get the drama and the history, and the destiny, of thought, but we need to pay attention finally to when signs are produced, not to where and of what type, because when is where they get their significance, for drama and history, from and, we might say if they were concepts, their destiny as characters.

When they get their significance from does not mean it is determined by their period, it determines their period, it characterises and defines it, in the way signs always do, with the overwhelm and the underwhelm. These too come from taking place at a point in time. The trouble we have is that the point comes to be the point, as we say of the time of an event, that the sign supervenes over the event and is immobilised for the greater mobility, as if movement had to occur at scale.

From the signs Deleuze pays attention to he does not infer their movement. Yet they are in cinema moving and when this planet-sized detour is over we’ll come back to them. To put it simply, if they are not moving they block the view, the view we might say from space.

Behind the signs, the desire to fix them and put them back together, rises the earth. I think Deleuze would agree with me, the earth is their source and Deleuze rightly I think would want to return us to the duration of the earth. It is that, he says, in which we have lost our belief.

I say simply, the view is blocked, but it is almost like we prefer it like that and this is the old time machine. It too has been swallowed by space, symbolic space. It almost has.

There is still the earth, earthrise. From it, says Smith-Ruiu, any culture that has developed arithmetic, and perhaps it’s a human thing because it’s impossible to say if any have not, has used it for the calculation of computus. Generalised, computus includes, above all the practical matters of human settlement, the best times to sow and harvest and reproduce, those times when we must sacrifice or give thanks, when we have an appointment with the cosmos.

No, it’s not the human cosmos because it’s appointed by the cosmos. In this way it’s not arbitrary. It only becomes arbitrary when the sign for it overtakes the day or time of day, time at night, when we are punctually to arrive at this point.

So it is a temporal order that the sacred sets in place and Smith-Ruiu goes back to Mādhava of Sangamagrāma’s divinations. What did these divinations prove? Did they do no more than what Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton did 400 years later, and set the terms for the pure mathematics of the calculus?

All three figures were in fact involved in quite other calculations. They are those that hold to the fixity of the stars and the potentials of the elements, cosmic, astrological and alchemical before astronomical and chemical. What drove them? was it the World Spirit as philosopher Hegel might say?

Smith-Ruiu holds that it was and is the reckoning of time, to calculate the dates that count, that the foundation stone of a city is as much a sign for as the date of the historical event. Number theory develops from calendrical time. Then calendrical time originates in the periodicity of natural cycles, so we have months, for the moon, years for the stellar orbit of the earth and the days that are marked by gods are just a throwback to superstitious times and if the old festivals are observed that’s simply to do with public will, good will on the part of the government who grants the holiday, the holy day.

Yet these dates found the social order. They continue to govern when there is work and when rest, the cycles of the stockmarket, the tax year and if they have less to do with cosmic forces there’s always the weather. It has become a focus out of our denial of natural cycles and earthly limits.

These too go to the point that Smith-Ruiu is making, of the origin of time it was arithmetic’s job to calculate. This is the invention of the cosmic dimension of time. To find it it must be established and where it is found for the city or the state, by the stone or the sign, must also be established.

Rather than a rational and linear order of time this order is irrational and religious, in the sense of a returning order. It is to Smith-Ruiu’s point that mathematics is not first in the service of reason but in the service of an irrational calculation, and that its purpose here revokes mathematics’ credentials as, what philosopher Alain Badiou calls, first philosophy. Moreover there is a moral equivalence to the calculations of computus.

It has to do with a moral quality, the event having been fixed in time, date and time calculated, to happen once and for all. This is crucial. The event is actually about having been calculated, by the highest form of reason, and if so then yes, mathematics is first philosophy, to have happened only once.

It doesn’t actually have to have happened only once. Crucial is that it have an origin in time. Computus is the demonstration that it does.

The event may even be falsified or, as with modern science, speculative. An event however is a singularity. It requires a mathematical proof.

The mathematical proof having been given, the event assumes its place as a singularity. It is once and for all this. Its repetition only announces its identity, its aseity.

After all, the event of birth is a matter of all sorts of chances. Events are accidents. They don’t have to get a symbolic value attached to them to enter the social order of social experience, they do need a name, date and place.

It’s not only the most righteous anymore who have access to the proofs of validity and, again, the proof of my identity may be falsified, it might be speculative in terms of precisely when and where I was born. I might not know. I might not know my real name and it might not be the one I was born with but I still need an origin, a name, a date and place of birth.

Even if it is an origin story I still need one. All I might have is a photograph. Then this is all I need, since it is written in time.

A photograph can take the place of computus and it is still how we prove the validity of the event because it satisfies the criterion of situating the bearer of the ID photo as much as the wedding guest there at the time and, if we think about it, it satisfies the criterion because it is not moving and so belongs to the space of symbolic representation which is that of mathematics, and even geometry, and not to the time of duration. Here a photograph might be thought, in order to satisfy this criterion that is socially set, to be a sign of a sign. Can it be a still from a film? not in this setting, and yet if digital, isn’t it always moving? in this setting its movement is not noticed, is not the value sought.

The social foundation seeks what is wrongly called grounding because, practically, it entails a value that is symbolic and governed by the proprieties of ordering. They become those of succession only with the advent of cinematic time, where the proprieties of mathematics can hold still but at the expense of starting again and again, where they are not able to demonstrate the once and for all that is selected for in order that it recur, a sign, and so we see them fragment, to signs, smaller, smaller yet, in the fragmentation proper to modernity. Before cinema, the proprieties of ordering were not ordinal but cardinal, they were of a mathematics in the service of supersession, selecting as it still tries to do for what ought to recur, a religious order founded in the sacred time of the event.

Mathematics, computus, makes sacred. Mathematics is the highest form of selection for what composes time, determining the social experience of time in its periodicity by setting the dates from which dating starts, fixing points and selecting those to recur periodically by setting the terms for periodic succession. So are governed, by the periodic turning of the governing wheel, of the old time machine, the old symbolic machine, the times of exequies and dates propitious for birth, when to feast, when the lights go up on the trees and when we take them down.

Setting the terms of succession means starting the period through the supersession of a cosmic or religious encounter. A mathematical process, a creative one, the creation of the terms produces the order of history, symbolic process to Symbolic order. This precedes the terms themselves and if concepts were gods, this is what they would look like.

If the temporal order succeeds the sacred it is inasmuch as the sacred order is itself a temporal order, an ordering. Time is of the essence of the sacred looked at in a particular way. This way in Smith-Ruiu’s “The Reckoning” essay is from the point of view of computus and it is in general for time to become a machine that it is viewed like this, fixing points to certain spots, without the intercession of humans embedded in the time fixed.

History without historicity, coming before it, is what cinematic time problematises, so we have a sense of embeddedness that follows it and this is the thing putting history out of our reach. History is the autonomous product of the old time machine. It’s why it can be said to stop and start without us but this is only in general, individually we recognise the spots where it is fixed, in fact that is all we learn.

These spots are days as well as places, sacred places. From sacer, holy, and accursed and outcast, with the Greek root σάος, safe, they exercise on us the fascination of the untimely, wrongly thought to be ungrounding when it is what grounds, and this fascination has in the case of cinema gone uncalculated. As I’ve tried to show, after cinematic time grounding becomes arbitrary, it is by points set arbitrarily, to signs in the flow.

The analogy of cinema to the sacred still works because of the experience of duration and of durations within duration, the inner durations that are animated by desire belonging to characters, that we care about and so look for the signs for, perceiving them, learning them. These signs at its most basic are those of the shot and are signs and can have that designation because in the flow they happen only once and are in accord with the once-and-for-all of the signs from which the symbolic is grown. As spots, they constitute for the cinephile a kind of divine diary.

Joseph Campbell calls attention to how they might work in the city. I’m recalling his tv show, Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth from 1988. He’s in the traffic and noise of the street and notes that the city is the least mythic or mythological place because its time is that of the speed of business, the speed from which business is supposed to profit.

He says consider a church or a place of worship such as you might find in any city in the world. It’s just a building but when you go inside you cross a threshold into another experience of time. It’s partly because these tend to be old places, that may retain the atmosphere of centuries of worship, then it’s also because of their purpose.

It’s as if the purpose is to lead you to just this discovery, that is calm, that is precisely without the excitement of discovery but that calmly transcends the everyday concerns we have over money and our families. You are taken outside of the concerns that are most immediately pressing and delivered to a mythic or mythological sense of time. This can happen in any city, the oldest architectural points of reference of which tend to be places of worship.

I would say they almost depend on them. It’s not then a question of ritual observance but of the purpose for the ritual. We are more likely to strike it in boredom at the ritual but it’s not a question of arriving at another, an authentic temporality because even if we are bored at the ritual we continue observing the terms it sets. We return to it, as the days, weeks and months return, their periodic cycles supposed to be the work of nature, of the months that in English retains the word for moon, yet of the weeks? or of the days that retain the words for gods?

We can say they’re artificial, arbitrary, their names arrived at by convention, these divisions of time but they’re not and, if they’re not natural either, what are they? To make them arbitrary makes them like the points that can go anywhere on the timeline and this invokes immediately a sense of cinematic time, that it can be broken anywhere, that between two points there can always be another point and that these points articulate time. That’s the new time machine, while calling the divisions of the old time machine those arrived at by convention ignores computus, ignores their computation.

This is the first purpose of ritual, to establish itself, by whatever signs it can, to achieve fixity, so it looks to the fixity of the stars. It’s not their staying still that’s important, it’s their positions relative to one another, the shape of their constellations that has meaning. The meaning is as arbitrary as the shape which is not arbitrary.

Star signs or better, stars’ signs, the stars as signs neither get their meaning from nature nor is the meaning in any way artificial, from some sort of creative act. The creative act I’ve already named as their arithmetic, their counting and this carries on just as their meanings do. They carry on being meaningful, since they are signs, even when we have lost our belief in their influence.

The signs important for ritual are not only stars. They are significant features of the earth too. What goes for stars goes for these, not arbitrary, not natural and not artificial. It’s not by convention that they come to have significance, we might as well say the same thing of numbers.

Neither is it because they stay where they are or keep their form for long periods. Sakura in Japan is very brief. Nor is it a question of number, the leaves are very numerous, but of counting, the number series itself fixing what is important.

First is the encounter, then the appointment, we might say its appointment as what ought to be kept and this is made in recognition of the encounter’s importance. After that importance is perceived, it’s recognised, after it’s learnt, it’s remembered. The contrast between these terms is Bergson’s.

So collectively we pass from the character of the event to its sign and to this we give duration. I’ve called this duration epochal. The point is without the process of learning there is no fixity to signs and then no periodicity.

Periodicity is not primarily in the service of history. The great pullback from duration comes from it and it is by calculation, mathematical and, since it concerns the social collective, moral, that it does. It does because it ought.

Periodicity primarily serves the calculation of what comes around because it ought to, the second law of mathematics, the first being the calculation itself, the moral imperative behind getting it right. The scene is set, the terms are set for both law and discourse, that proceed from this untimely encounter. Itself in duration, what its actual meaning is can’t be pinned down, in motion, not written and not yet in language, not yet even a word.

That must be the end of this detour. Before I leave it a question occurred to me right at the start. It’s thought now that human societies are not the only ones and we are not the only animals to have language. We may not be the only ones to have the encounter but are we alone in making appointments with the divine?

The old time machine, it’s to its fixing of dates and time, its moral and symbolic structure that the new time machine, cinema and cinematic duration, must be the threat. The danger is flow on which is imposed succession, indefinite epochs on which is imposed periodic movement. When finally there is but hesitation, the creative interval, tehomic and immanent.

to be contd.

luz es tiempo
point to point
theatrum philosophicum

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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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Plan vital: virtual plane of reflection and transcendental ideas [pdf]

The following already exists on this site, here, under a different title, with some illustrations even, but I thought it deserved to have a little independence as well as a stronger tie to “Enduring Dreams.”


luz es tiempo
point to point

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Enduring Dreams: a note on cinematic time [pdf]


luz es tiempo
point to point

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Enduring Dreams: a note on cinematic time

[please go to this link for personal document format black on white text]

In their introduction to Henri Bergson: Key Writings, Bloomsbury 2021, John Ó Maoilearca and Keith Ansell Pearson offer in answer to Bergson’s solution to Zeno’s paradoxes Bertrand Russell’s own:

A cinematograph in which there are an infinite number of films, and in which there is never a next film because an infinite number come [sic] between any two, will perfectly represent a continuous motion. Wherein, then, lies the force of Zeno’s argument?

Why does Russell use this image? Why does he choose the image of a cinematograph? An early piece of film gear, the cinematograph combined the functions of both projector and camera. By the time Russell is writing cinematographs had been in commercial use for 27 years.

Why did he not revert to Zeno’s own examples or talk about an endless succession of clouds? Why not choose a natural phenomenon? or is it to Russell’s point to use this one? Is there a reason to refer to cinema in this context?

I’ll come back to this because the point of this note lies in the contrast between cinematic time and natural time. Cinematic time is more readily understood than natural time and this too speaks to my purpose. By cinematic time I mean the kind of time that cinema, film and moving images in general occupy. Natural time is then the time taken by natural processes, organic and inorganic, whether they are themselves living or inanimate, the time they animate.

I think Russell exemplary for the contrast I am making not because he formulates a concept of cinematic time but because of the contrast between his views on time and Bergson’s. Bergson’s explanation of time is that of a duration. In duration he is dealing with the time properties of natural phenomena. For me duration is then exemplary of natural time.

The Russell quote Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson use in the introduction to their editorial choice of Bergson’s key writings is from Our Knowledge of the External World on ‘The Theory of continuity,’ Lecture V, 1922. They cite Russell because of his lasting influence on Bergson’s subsequent reputation. Russell contributed to the fall of Bergson’s star, a star that at the time had burned more brightly than any philosopher’s.

1922, the year Russell’s work was published, was also the year of Bergson’s debate on April 6 in Paris with Albert Einstein. The echoes of this event are still I would argue being heard if not felt or recognised in our contemporary philosophy, including in the philosophy of science. Einstein and Bergson debated the nature of time. It is said that Einstein won.

Although not widely discussed, his win contributes to Einstein’s rise and Bergson’s fall, the one eclipsing and outdoing the other in popularity. It is even forgotten that Bergson, particularly among women, enjoyed such mass appeal. This is another mark, in Russell’s view, against him and his philosophy.

Russell vilified Bergson in plainly sexist language. Where Einstein beat Bergson in popular culture, Russell is largely responsible for his sinking below the surface of the philosophical mainstream. We might even date the divide between Analytic, anglophone philosophy and so-called Continental philosophy to Bergson dropping from sight.

The context for the waning of Bergson’s reputation is strongly linked to what he himself considered his principal philosophical insight. This was into the nature of time. The insight into the natural duration of time is behind all his later work.

Bergson realised that in science’s understanding time needn’t pass. For science there is no endurance. There is the passage between states but in themselves these do not endure.

Science does not measure the time internal to their endurance. Rather states are measured at each end, from end to end, from startpoint to endpoint and from any point inbetween that can then serve as start or end. In the beginning a state, whether it issue out of a preceding state or not, is not and then is. The time internal, the time endured, Bergson called duration.

Science and Einstein’s spacetime of relativity rely on simultaneities. A state in its is-ness is related to another in its. This is true for the states of measuring devices. It is therefore true for the clocks of the two clocks thought experiment.

Bergson argued that relativity was not a temporal phenomenon. It had nothing to do with time. It brought into relation simultaneous states, the time-reading of the two clocks.

One clock had been travelling and one not. When compared, the one that had been travelling ought to lag behind the other. According to Einstein time passed more slowly for the moving clock and the faster it moved the greater the lag. For Bergson, these relative times were not being measured, the two states of the devices were.

The time internal to the travelling clock was not being compared to the internal time of the one holding its location. A clock does not in Bergson’s sense measure the time passing. It uses a spatial analogue for it.

Here time is not passing but, since it goes by the point it is recorded, still and present. Its relation then to Bergson’s idea of the real time of duration is given by convention and that convention rests on a spatial metaphor. A durational measurement of time is impossible to make by fixed quantity. It is a quality, an intensity, that can only be intuited by a feeling and from its experience in duration.

Time as duration is inaccessible to ratiocination. That it must be felt does not make time an exclusive quality of consciousness. It does however render it irrational and this is Russell’s finding with regard to Bergson’s philosophy, of it being irrational, intuitive, therefore nonanalytical and effeminate. Moreover, for Russell, Bergson is guilty of making philosophy over in the image of his own irrationalist, intuitivist, anti-analytical and feminising impulses. Worse, he is unapologetic in doing so.

Bergson suggested that it was not only habits of thought that stood in the way of our thinking durationally but language as well. Spatial metaphors for time were built into language. My own finding is that the greatest obstacle to understanding Bergson is not language and the spatial metaphors inherent to it.

Reading Bergson is difficult because of a set of metaphors wholly other to those found naturally in language, in fact allowing them to relinquish primacy and sink into the background. This is the same background of historical time and historical context that Bergson is seen to sink into, making it less and less likely for Bergson, in its passage, to have anything useful, effectual or relevant to say to us, his readers today. The set of metaphors displacing the ones identified by Bergson as standing in the way of thinking durationally coincide with the historical time he was writing. They come from cinema.

Before dealing with what is meant by saying that the predominant means used to think about time take their metaphors from cinema it’s important to enquire further about the contrast between scientific measurable time and time as duration. Is there really a contest between the two? Isn’t Russell right in thinking Bergson’s notion of time to be too diffuse to be useful, too intangible and, if not feminine, subjective?

Duration might have some psychological validity but no scientific validity. It is at best a psychologism, a matter of subjectivity and, ultimately, opinion or point of view. So there is no contest, is there? As Einstein is alleged to have said when Bergson presented his counterargument to contrast with Einstein’s views on time, “The time of the philosophers does not exist.”

For duration to be a contrasting view of time it has to stand up on its own. Astrophysics professor, Adam Frank, in a nice article written from his reading of Jimena Canales book about Einstein and Bergson’s 1922 meeting, asks in its title, “Was Einstein Wrong?” This is to raise to the level of contest what has not yet been determined to be in Bergson’s duration a contrasting view of time, but Frank also raises the question of whether Einstein’s spacetime stands up on its own.

Frank claims, after Canales in her book The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time, 2016, that Bergson was not presenting an argument to counter the notion of spacetime. He did not want or mean to counter the physics but the metaphysics. Without certain metaphysical assumptions spacetime is not a concept that stands up on its own. Therefore it is at the level of metaphysics that the notion of duration becomes contrastive and worth putting up against, pitting against spacetime.

Spacetime, writes Frank, depends on the metaphysical assumption of chrono-geo-determinism. This is a view of the block universe. In the block universe everything that can happen, has happened and will happen exists. Each event exists in its multidimensionality as actual and discrete.

A divisible part of its multiplicity, what happens, has and will happen is chronologically and spatially (geometrically) determined. So it is predetermined but it makes no sense to say so since the temporal distinctions of before, pre- and after cease to matter. Time as succession, however it may be physically necessary to bodies in motion, is no longer metaphysically supported in such a view.

Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson in their introduction distinguish between this kind of multiplicity, where everything possible is actual and exists, of which temporal succession is no longer a necessary part, and what Bergson calls a virtual multiplicity. A virtual multiplicity is not composed of discrete and divisible and therefore measurable and countable events but of states of duration. These are diffuse and, from being purely virtual, they come into being.

They are not divisible except qualitatively or intensively, by relative differences of intensity. These states are not discrete, they interpenetrate. They are ever in process.

Against the absence of necessary temporal succession in the first type of multiplicity, of the multiverse or block universe, the second type, of virtual multiplicity, presents the temporal succession of different qualities, intensities, states in process, that come into being and pass away. This overall process Bergson calls duration, pure duration or simply time, but the absence of necessity of succession in spacetime does not mean its necessary absence. This is what Russell is trying to show in his handling of Zeno’s paradox, that the discontinuity of discrete states of things does not exclude their continuity in a kind of time.

How does science show time? How does mathematics show the continuity of succeeding states, from one to the next? How is change conceived of? It is not common here to talk about chronogeodeterminism as Adam Frank does.

The tendency, even in quantum field theory as it has developed from complexity and chaos theory, is to show, for example in paying close attention to and taking measurement of initial conditions, that change occurs according to laws. These laws are, broadly considered, deterministic. Were they not and did they not remain so there would be little room for them in science. They would not be supported by its epistemology, that is according to its (metaphysical) assumptions of what constitutes scientific discourse and knowledge.

Since duration frees succession from predetermination, since duration saves time, so to speak, from the determinism where saying pre-, before and after, actually makes no sense, there does then seem to be something worth contesting. Bergson’s duration shows succession. It shows time to be of the order of continuous succession.

For the time of states that interpenetrate, that are always in the process of coming into being, succession is not only evident but necessary. The order of time has to be one of before and after. Time as duration, for the reason it is of a virtual multiplicity and is ever coming into being and passing away, belongs to a continuity that cannot be predetermined and is nondeterministic. It is a time adequate to both freedom of action and indeterminacy.

Does this order of time differ from the common naturalist view of time being a succession in continuity and at once able to be decomposed into discontinuous and actual states? Does it differ from the view of temporal succession able to be divided without altering its underlying nature of being continuous? This is the source of Zeno’s paradoxes relating to bodies in motion. It is also the source of Russell’s paradox of the cinematograph, where I believe Russell articulates a naturalism belonging to cinematic time.

The fact of this articulation points to another source in natural language. Language, in particular written language, gives the impression of there being a continuity underlying discontinuous discrete states of things. The letters don’t make sense without it. Then where does this sense, the sense of continuous movement come from?

Sense has the continuous movement of making sense that time has too. It is there in what may be called natural time. This naturalist view is what Zeno set out to challenge and inasmuch as he gives the sense there is a paradox here he succeeded.

All is movement according to this naturalism. All however is not in movement, otherwise there would be nothing solid to grab hold of, but, whether the movement is of sense or of water or of the particles it carries along, for this view, for the temporal continuity supposed to underlie stable appearances, movement is prescriptive. It is the way time is pegged to movement that produces paradox.

The all, of all is movement, can be divided at any point. Zeno supposes the realisation of this potential. Being broken at every point it can be brings about either the cessation or the breaking down into parts and more parts of movement and from these parts the whole can no longer be accomplished.

Time however does not cease its achievement. It carries on regardless as if movement itself were separable from time. While for science time is a function of points articulated in space, for the naturalist view these points articulate time. Stillness rules time for the scientific view, leading to the immovable chronogeodeterminism of the block universe. Movement rules time for the naturalist view, leading to the paradox of the points along it being time’s stopping points.

Bergson’s answer to Zeno’s challenge is similar to his answer to science. He answers science’s division of time into simultaneities by saying that no such division can occur without a change in what is taking place in time, without qualitative change. He answers Zeno by saying that movement is not an accumulation of movements and so cannot be composed and decomposed as if it were.

The flow of his writing gives the same sense as he ascribes to a melody in music. Were it to pause and draw out any one note there would be a qualitative change. This is so for the movement of a written thought, for a melody and for the movement of physical bodies. Movement happens at a single stroke. It is indivisible according to Bergson.

Divided, its quality changes. Achilles need only walk to prove it. What Zeno shows in his paradox, since the change in the quality of Achilles’ steps, is a race between two tortoises.

Bergson’s answer to Zeno’s challenge to the view of time being articulated by movement and therefore composed of the series of points moved through is to point back to the time that movement takes, stating that time is neither an accumulation of nor decomposable into points or discrete states. To subtract one state that is moved through changes the nature of the whole movement. It is not with quantities of time that Bergson answers Zeno but with its quality, the overall step of Achilles being unequal in its quality for the time it takes to that of the tortoise.

Russell however does not accept the terms on which either Zeno’s challenge to the naturalist view of time or Bergson’s answer to that challenge rests. Between 1922 and Bergson forming his ideas around time and his answer to Zeno a new analogue for time has come into being. It is in Russell’s answer to Zeno, the cinematograph and cinematic time.

What is significant for Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson, is that Russell answers Zeno’s paradox with another paradox. The continuous motion of time is upheld by the continuity of an infinitely unspooling number of films. There is never any next film but an unbroken stream.

The films are not, as in Bergson’s example of a melody, indivisible. They are measurable, tangible. They may be stopped at any point without there being qualitative change. Russell’s view shows a naturalism to his cinematic example, that of a cinematic analogue for time. As Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson put it, without really asking why or stating what it is, Russell answers Zeno with another paradox.

They instead charge Russell with dogmatism in arrogating to his own view a validity that is both logical and mathematical, and that does away with the need, as Einstein also says, for Bergson’s philosophical time, but what is convincing in Russell is not the logic, rationalism, mathematical and scientific validity or the truth of his view of time. It is rather in the nature of his example. It has to do with the cinematographic image.

We are more familiar with streaming media than film. We might update Russell’s image for the digital image. Its internal logic would still hold. In the stream of images there need not be any next image but between any two there can come an infinite number. It might then be asked, what is the paradox that Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson find in Russell?

They insist that Russell’s mathematical time is not like that of the naturalist view pegged to movement. It can’t be decomposed and recomposed by infinitesimal periods of time or distances in space. It has to do with continuous series where there is no next. Its failure, for Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson, is that of being an actual multiplicity and not a virtual multiplicity. The states it describes have to be actual and existing, not virtual and coming into being as with Bergson.

Looking at it from the outside and taking Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson at their word, the paradox for me resides in there being as Russell states it no next film. It’s worth noting at this point that in 1922 cinema programmes comprised successive films. Each required the loading of new reels. A feature, like The Toll of the Sea, 1922, running at 54 minutes, took up 5 reels, but typically in the 1920s a reel was 15 minutes long and held one film.

The paradox therefore is that in Russell’s “infinite number of films” there is always a next film. If Russell had attended one of over 1000 cinemas, as there were by 1914 in London, to see a particular film on the programme, he might have been very disappointed. If he had stayed his whole life, he still may have left without seeing it. However what Russell is attempting to assert, despite the paradox of each new film being the next one and yet there being no film consecutive to another, is the continuity of the series. Its continuity allows, without breaking the mathematical series, for the intercalation between any two of an infinite number of films.

That the programme plays without a break is the assurance of the mathematical series, but this, say Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson, bears no necessary relation to the actual world. Neither, says Russell, need it have any relation to actuality nor to time for it to be preferred and asserted over Bergson’s philosophical time. Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson call Russell out then on the dogmatism of the assertion of mathematical time in place of philosophical time.

What they don’t do, as it is probably beyond the scope of an introduction to a selection of Bergson’s writing, is investigate Russell’s claim for mathematical time in view of the nature of cinema and of cinematic time. My view is that Russell’s image of time, however paradoxical or dogmatic in its statement, is naturalistic. It engages a cinematic naturalism. More than this, the image given of time by Bergson’s writing, from Time and Free Will (in French, Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience, 1889) on, cannot be understood without difficulty after the advent of the image of time I have been calling cinematic.

Russell is the beneficiary of the advent of the cinematic image of time, since it is his view of mathematical time that historically has prevailed, in science and in large measure for philosophy. This image has created more problems than it has solved for our understanding of time. These problems are being played out today in particular by quantum theory, quantum field theory and in the attempt at a grand unifying theory.

Bergson’s target was a mechanistic view of life but, since the capture in the moving image of a particular kind of time by mechanical and technical means, the target shifts. It has shifted to the relation between cinematic time that captures the moment and the playing out of life. I would say then that these scientific problems ramify across our understanding and, since cinematic time captures the moment of life by capturing its movement, I would say that they radiate out over the whole of human activity. This is part of the reason for this note.

That these problems are not held exclusively by either science or philosophy, since I am expert in neither, is the whole reason. I’m a thinker not so much of thought, of philosophy, as, being on the side of cinema, a thinker of practice. Bergson’s appeal is that of allowing me and I hope you, through this note, to get under the hood of what is happening in the relation of life as it rolls out and the moving image that winds it up in the kind of continuous and unbroken succession Russell imagines belonging to the cinematograph.

The fact is he imagines it. On the side of cinema there arises a wholly different picture and image of time and, on the face of it, it looks like Russell’s paradox, of there never being a next film through the interposition of any number between this and any other one but yet of there always really being a next film, unlike Zeno’s paradoxes, is not intended to pose a challenge to the naturalistic view of time, whether cinematic and to do with moving images or, as for Zeno, to do with moving bodies. It looks like Russell espouses the view he makes a paradox out of, as if he does not recognise that he is making a paradox.

Having come this far and in light of what Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson say it might be asked whether Russell’s dogmatic assertion of a view of time in place of the philosophical time Einstein said to Bergson does not exist is the mathematical or the cinematic one. This brings this note back to what I asked at the beginning, why does Russell use the cinematograph as his example?

Is there not an example that better fits, that is closer to his only option for philosophical time? Why not talk about the infinite number of points that intervene between any two points on a line so that there is never a next point? Why not talk about an endless succession of clouds in the unbroken continuity of which there is no next cloud? or of crickets or birds in whose song there can be said never to be a next note, a next stridulation? Wouldn’t any natural phenomenon serve the purpose of showing the sense of continuity, of the compact continuity against which he proposes that Bergson’s duration does not make sense?

Even in his example, of films, there would seem to be one closer to the temporal model of mathematical time. Why not say that between two shots any number might be inserted, or between two frames there might be any number of frames? so that a movement would never be completed, a sequence or scene could never end? There would still be no next shot, no next, simply the continuity that he is trying to draw our attention to but as I’ve said, I think the reason for Russell’s choice of image resides in the transformation of the nature of temporal experience effected by the advent of cinema and of cinematograph. However there is one more point to make before getting there.

Russell would not answer a paradox with a paradox. Even if he didn’t have a good understanding of the mechanism of film, of its composition frame by frame and its potential decomposition into frames or into scenes, he would not. It’s all in this, Russell did not accept the terms of Zeno’s paradoxes. He didn’t think they made sense.

He didn’t see Zeno’s paradoxes being the challenge they were meant as to what I’ve called the naturalistic view. His own view was stated to challenge Bergson’s duration. This view, the mathematical one, is that a continuum like time is divisible, infinitely, without breaking it, without stopping its flow, as Bergson has it. It is so for as long as it lasts.

This as-long-as-it-lasts is emphasised by Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson. It goes to its nature of being what Russell calls a compact continuity. Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson are at pains to point out Russell’s continuity is not the temporal continuum as such.

In fact I have dwelt with these writers on the first part of Russell’s argument. The second goes regardless of there never being a next film, because of the infinite number coming before any two, a cinematograph “will perfectly represent a continuous motion”. Therefore, he asks, wherein does the force of Zeno’s argument lie?

Russell uses the cinematograph ironically to dismiss the terms of the paradox. His own statement does not hold with there being any. He’s not going to the movies to see his favourite film and waiting, potentially endlessly, for it to show. He’s arguing for the perfect representation of the sort of continuous motion he subscribes to as view of time.

It is passably adequate, adequate to the purpose of dismissing Zeno’s terms and to dispensing with philosophical time. It is so for its perfect representation. This has to do with nothing else apart from the nature of cinema and so the force of his example is an effect of that nature.

The nature of cinema is to represent perfectly a continuous motion. It doesn’t matter about the intervening films because this does not subtract from that perfect representation. Their potential for endless postponement of any next film is not at issue.

The compact continuity of the continuous motion represented by the cinematograph ought to be taken into account. It’s not an infinity. It’s not a slice or section of a continuum.

At issue is that Zeno’s paradoxes do not perfectly represent a continuous motion. The arrow in flight, the tortoise, Achilles, are engaged in a thought experiment that goes against common sense and the naturalistic view of time. For this view, animated by our habits and our use of natural language’s spatial metaphors for time, time is space.

Russell’s example is not about returning to this view. He wants to show it as being inadequate but this time inadequate to science and mathematics. What is demanded, unlike duration that cannot be represented, is a perfect representation that can be measured and, it is for Russell, measured without being either broken or divided. It is so without changing its quality.

Were the quality to change, the measurement would not hold. Rather than being pegged to space, as in the naturalistic view, time is pegged to the points articulating a continuous motion. For this reason Russell doesn’t go in to the frames making up a film or its scenes. He holds to the continuous motion of its imagery.

The moving image gives a perfect representation of a continuous motion. In common usage, however it is composed technically, whether of frames or pixels, the moving image is singular. We know and can ignore the fact that any continuous imagery engages a movement, of frames or pixels, of pictures drawn or computer generated, before that represented on a screen.

In the case of the digital, it might be said there is never any before. Digital imagery represents movement itself. As the digital image is always a moving image, given that it consists of moving images, perhaps it’s better to think of moving image, with or without the article, as a collective noun.

Ignoring the composition of moving image from moving image, in order to say it is the one perfectly representing a continuous motion, cuts one image out from all others. These potentially make up the moving image but they are also set in train, made by it. Where to stop the moving image in its continuous motion?

Russell’s perfect representation of a continuous motion imposes on continuity a unity. In his example the unity is integrated locally as a single film so that it arises as a paradox for Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson, the paradox of there never being a next, Russell says, while there is forever a next film, which he doesn’t say. It is no paradox for him but a proof of the terms, the terms for measurement in time and space being challenged by Zeno’s paradoxes, not holding.

It is as if cinematic time underlies the naturalistic view of time with its spatial references that Zeno uses. It is a new naturalism but one of cinema and it is here receiving its official philosophical endorsement. Russell’s view is a naturalisation of cinematic time.

How to get around this? how to get around the cinematograph perfectly representing a continuous motion? It’s possible to point out the paradox, no next one, always a next, or to translate Zeno’s paradoxes for the moving image, and peg time back onto space. The moving image is composed of moving images comprising further moving images and can be put together to unroll continuously without ever reaching an endpoint but this, I would say, is the ruling metaphor for time as commonly understood.

It’s why the Big Bang, a time before time, and the Big Crunch, a time after, are so hard to think. This view has gained currency like the spatial imagery, that Bergson points to, inhabiting and haunting language. It has become part of our language.

Time unrolls for us. It rolls out ahead of us and out behind us. In one direction time is no longer accessible to us. In the other it is not yet, not quite here. Here bears the full weight of the present.

Here is where each of us is, the now we might like to be more mindful of and to appreciate, rather than living in anticipation of the future or yet unable to free ourselves of the past and our memories. The now has the duration of a point in time. Its stretching out ahead and behind is in the form of a line that we can mark out further points on, things that are possible in the future and things that happened in the past.

To be here in the now is not to return to the physical spatial nowness of the natural order. It has been since the invention of the means to reproduce and replay moving images to be among those images, watching old movies or events on screen that are either as close to the present as technically available or belong to the past. It is to live in screentime, cinematic time and to be in some measure free of the physical continuum that for Zeno constituted the only one.

Events that are simultaneous with us we tend to consider part of the present, to be live. These events are like the simultaneous measurements of the clocks in the two clocks thought experiment. The idea of reproduction is reserved for the fabrication of events that are produced. Their production, the production of their imagery, constitutes for us, just as it did for Russell, their reproduction.

The role of time is to enable the endless and continuous succession of changes. We can replay this as energetics or use it, whether reconciling ourselves to it or not, to measure the lengths of time relative to birth and death. The role of time is not creative as it is for Bergson.

The role of the now is not in duration. The past, present and future exist in terms ideally measurable so that in the now we know where we are. The now is not able, as it is for Bergson, to be reeled up into knowledge or otherwise rolled out into action. Nothing sticks to time as it does for duration. Sticking would be a quality of duration not a quantity of time, where everything slides against a continuum, like the imagery that slips across the screen, in a film of imagery.

We know the present to have no extension not from the spatial habits that preceded ours but from the cinematic moment. This differs again from that of the still. The photo does not represent an arrested moment, like the image before us whether on a screen or here now when we open our eyes, until we imagine it to participate in a succession similar to that of cinematic time and projecting it back imagine what happened before and will happen after the photo was taken.

Mist will rise from the lake. The car was out of control before crashing into the tree. There will be casualties. There will be further effects of light. For Bergson the now of the still photo has a depth, an inner duration, but not from the time it was taken. From the time internal to the technical mechanism the image will have an inner time.

This time thickens and thins. It sticks sometimes and sometimes stutters and for intervals is still as in the still shot. It is not made up so much of homogeneous continuity as of a heterogeneous and fluid succession of discontinuities.

Like reading Bergson today, his time and the experience of time slowing or quickening, or even time stopping, seems unnatural. It poses a problem as if breaking not just with habits of thought but with conscious experience. Conscious experience, that is to say subjective experience, unreels its moments in succession.

Whatever special effects occur, like the slowmo we experience when about to fall down a flight of stairs, affect the moment. They are momentary. They pass and normal transmission resumes.

These moments are anomalous and not the rule that consciousness sets for itself. Science comes to our aid to explain the anomalies, a big hit of adrenalin, an alteration in brain chemistry, fight or flight, and solve the problem. In the resumption of normality, of memory not overcoming the present as it does for the old, of the promise of the future not taking over the present, of it not holding inestimable riches as it does for the young but merely calculable ones, conscious inner experience, consciousness has the continuity and the density of a film.

Dissociation and other pathologies, for example narcissistic lack of empathy, result from its thinness. The burnout that comes from overinvestment, broken-heartedness and fits of depression may result from its thickness. We need a happy medium to be healthy. We need more comedies. We need more hero movies.

The medium however is dictating the terms. Inner experience is subject to those terms. Time does not in fact alter its qualitative consistency. It remains in homogeneous flow. It does not thicken or thin, stick or stutter, in a normally working brain. The standard for thought, the rule for consciousness then is the same as the one for time.

It becomes so not just by Russell’s example but by open consensus. Pathologies relating to temporal experience are not even socially conceived. They are individual. They belong to the workings of the individual brain.

That anomalous experience may have physical causes, either in the development of the individual brain or in its chemical makeup is not at issue. After all, consciousness is not the brain. The proof is that we can be conscious of the diagnoses given our experience by medical science. In the moment of experiencing weird stuff we can put it down to chemical changes, maybe a misfiring neuron, being sick or high. In other words, we can put it down to its imagery.

Consciousness is the indifferent medium until we go truly psychotic and that line is expressed by taking the latter for the former and being unable to separate the medium from its imagery. Isn’t this the sort of psychosis Russell’s example exhibits? In it the cinematograph is the imagery of films and our consciousness of them.

Once time is identified with cinematic imagery, consciousness is identified with time. Once consciousness is identified with time we are stuck in the cinema unable to get at the projector. We may in fact not admit there is one but an ‘it thinks’ that ‘I am.’

The sense perception that the brain is said to be hooked up to by the nervous system provides it with the images that are projected for me. These determine my inner experience. They comprise the consciousness of which they are, no matter how much filling in is done or what failures and compromises of transmission through the medium of consciousness there may be, the imagery.

Once I conceive consciousness in cinematic terms, rather than admit to the mechanism being simply out of reach, it’s easy to picture myself being a passive observer of what passes before me as if on a screen. It is perhaps more desirable but this opens the possibility of there sitting in the cinema of myself yet another observer who is the recipient of my own observations of the screen watching the film I am projecting for myself from in myself. Further little observers, each one stuck in the cinema of sensation of the one before can be imagined in a reduction that resembles the kind of paradox Zeno uses to challenge the naturalistic conception of time.

The paradox is as well of the sort, notwithstanding the fact I don’t, that Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson see in Russell’s answer to Bergson’s answer to Zeno because once one observer comes between myself and my sensation there can come an infinite number. It follows in turn that because of the endless line of mini me watchers that I never get to see what I see. The perception never reaches sensation.

Sense never gets to arrive at consciousness. The arrow never reaches its target. It requires an equally infinite amount of time not ever finally to arrive because there is no end and no next except that of its duration, of the arrow in flight, of light first projected then in endless transmission. The medium for this transmission is the air, is consciousness and is time but for the cinematic image in particular the light bearing the image is the same as the light that makes it.

For something that goes so fast it goes so slowly as never to arrive and seems that nothing can go more slowly. If Russell’s solution is applied to this paradox we repeat the doubling up of cinematic time by thought. Later in their introduction to a selection of his writing, Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson say that what is at stake for Bergson is not whether science is wrong about time but whether the time of science and the time of cinema and of the cinematograph are the same.

In his books on cinema, written late in his philosophical career, it is said Deleuze takes Bergson to the cinema. Bergson on his own behalf has little to say about cinema but Deleuze is not about trying to reconstruct what he would say if he had given it more thought. He is not rehabilitating cinema in Bergson’s eyes. He is rehabilitating Bergson in cinema’s. He is setting Bergson in philosophical light of cinematic time.

Deleuze does so in such a way that the elision between the time of science and the time of cinema falls back both into the historical and the cinematic background that is the background of cinema’s own particular history. For him this happens before and he writes after. Neither does philosophy do cinema for Deleuze nor is one applied to the other. For him, cinema does philosophy. He tries to show what it thinks in philosophical terms.

I am trying to show what cinema thinks in cinematic terms, specifically in terms of cinematic time or of the time cinematic time is imagined to be. The history of cinema has value for this account because it shows how we wind up with an image of time that is drawn from cinema. For me Bergson’s value is in the persistence of the problems with spacetime he deals with and also in the problem he poses for his readers today.

The problem is exactly that he doesn’t have much to say about cinema and that we don’t find in Deleuze, in his books on cinema at least, what he could have said. Bergson’s examples, his images for duration are not just old-fashioned they are inadequate to the one that Russell illustrates for time. Bergson talks about a melody.

If it glitches out it is no longer that melody. Any alteration in the intervals of time brings about qualitative change. The melody no longer makes sense or it makes a new kind of sense. He talks about a bell tolling.

He hears it ring a number of times but he needn’t count them. Without attending to number he gets a sense of the number. From its qualitative duration he hears how many times it rings.

Switching to cinema Bergson does consider the effects of slowing down motion to show on film changes in natural processes that happen too quickly for the eye. He talks about film’s usefulness for science because of this. He doesn’t seem to see what’s coming, that film can be so compelling as to displace all other images of time and the assumptions made about them, that it will induce the displacement of metaphysical by cinematic assumptions.

This is the advent of cinema, the displacement by cinematic assumptions of assumptions made about time. To say they are metaphysical is to point to the elision of one to the advantage of the other being unexamined. It is unconscious and where it is a conscious choice, for example for the sake of example, gives negative proof. It covers for what is not there and only confirms the tendency, having been naturalised, being natural.

I can appreciate these examples of Bergson’s, the melody, the tolling bell, intellectually but I don’t automatically understand them, so the question is what do I automatically understand. What do I think we automatically understand? If we confine ourselves to operations in cinematic time we can’t understand Bergson.

We can understand him least when, by saying the brain is an image among images, he is closest to us. Intellectually we can come to appreciate him. To make sense of him we can remind ourselves that the image he is talking about is not a representation and it is not a representation either subjectively or objectively, neither in the mind nor in the world.

We can learn him and build up, piece by piece, the parts of the puzzle we do understand finally to complete the picture. It will take time, or we can use Bergson’s own method, of intuition. To intuit invokes a different sense of time.

Intuition goes to the interval that breaks the automatism of our continuous apprehension of the world, and of ourselves. When thinking about what I do or don’t automatically understand I thought, I don’t understand myself. I come to understandings with myself.

There is room for negotiation that sometimes involve placing constraints on myself. I constrain my behaviour and emotions to what I prefer, for myself and what I prefer to project to the world but, if I am honest, my own self-understanding seems to have more to do with reconciliation and accepting that I don’t know and what I don’t know. The flaws I find after all are in the eyes of others not flaws, whereas pride, pride is the classical flaw in character.

Humility towards oneself seems too positive to me, too much of an action, while passivity is too close to indifference. I tend to keep openminded, or I would like to think so, towards myself and what it represents, to keep open the material space that I occupy. This bodily space is probably what I least understand and to see it in the aspect of mortality, of either sex or death, suggests to me a reductive view.

I prefer to see myself in the aspect of an interval. It’s not necessarily the one where we get ice-cream and it need not be the one where we leave the cinema but it does break open what I have here been calling cinematic time. A break occurs in the continuity of apprehension either of the mechanism, for example a clock or cinematograph that is both projector and camera, or our own, the apprehension of the subject.

The idea of a continuous time lends itself naturally to the image of a mechanism for registration and playback of the moving image, the break, the interval, more naturally to subjective experience. Objective time borrows its sense of automatism and continuity from this image, I have been saying. The subject then takes up the image in its mechanically rendered automatism and continuity and idealises it to render to consciousness what belongs to cinema, the indifferent film of all our personal imagery playing in the cinema of the self.

The stakes are high. They engage scientific and philosophical, physical and metaphysical, materialist and idealist notions of time, of what time is and, by engaging objective scientific notions, empirical notions, of what can be tested for and what measured, also are at stake. This is why it’s important to point to both the mechanism and the subject as each having a time internal to it that is duration.

In neither the subject nor in the cinematograph is there really automatism and continuity. This is an idealisation. It comes from cinema. It takes in the whole field.

If cinema can show us this and we will get to it we should ask what Bergson can show us about cinema. Apart from ice-cream, what is the good of the interval to cinema? Surely the good of it is to show its own continuity of apprehension and its automatism of mechanism in order to assure us of ours, that is in order to give us the impression of a continuity matching real life and to do so without our manual intervention or suspension of disbelief? If the cinema’s continuity and automatism breaks down or our own does, and our own does, it’s not working and we are back in the pathological zone, aren’t we?

Then we are weighting cinema with our own welfare. This also I have been saying. It goes both ways.

First to the subject, when the automatism of its continuous apprehension breaks down it starts working. Outside of any metaphysical pretension to understanding, the work the subject does is to intuit from its surroundings how to adapt itself to them, either to perish or to make use of elements that are there. When the ground falls from below my feet I don’t scramble to find a reason to stand upright. The same is true for intellection, for intellectual apprehension.

When faced with the minimally unfamiliar, the next in a superhero franchise, I can go with the flow. I go with it unless it loses me or I lose it. I’m here concerned with me losing it. It losing me will follow.

I lose it and burst through to the thoroughly unfamiliar. In other words I have not adapted myself in time but I have if it is a matter of duration. An interval opens that is there all of the time.

I had not been aware of it. Now it imposes itself on me. Either all of a sudden or by slowly creeping up, these are the two modes of intuition, that it is instantaneous or follows the contour of the things happening in the film. In the second case I am travelling with a minimal subject, a subject so strung along that it is oblivious of the risk.

When I’m so involved I am oblivious I am following my intuition. In the zone, I am in the interval but what is happening is a detour. A shock may come at the end of it, the shock of lack of recognition, of the failure of recognition.

The film may come to a dead end. The problem it sets, the question it asks, continues. This is there all the time for the adaptation to our surroundings in the interval between what is sensed and its selection.

Elements are selected for their usefulness to us and their selection is largely intuitive. We have familiarised ourselves with it to the degree it does not involve an active effort directed towards trying to make sense of the unfamiliar. The selection is then for an action.

The interval of intuitive activity going on all the time in surroundings we know, in genres we have general knowledge of, Bergson puts down to how elaborate and complex the nervous system is in humans. In it, there is always delay. Even when no intellectual effort is required there is delay between perception and sensation.

Bergson says this is always coloured by affective states, by moods and feelings, and that these as well as the process of making sense are influenced by memory. What contours they are we are following in a romcom is being selected as we go by the states elicited in us by events in the film in connection with our expectation and recognition. Time is so far comfortable, unless the contour should drop away and we find we’ve pinned all our expectations on false promises.

Everything is up in the air. What does this look like? It looks like physical pain insofar as no matter how we try and recoil from it we are thrown back on the body as if, not the emotional journey we were on but, it is the source of discomfort.

Intuition engages memory, emotion and intellection. Intellectual intuition, given the normal run of things, tends to laziness. It tends to take all flows for that flow affecting everything and everyone around while effecting nothing.

Once out of the flow, I’m on my own pressed up against and having to recognise my body as its source. My outer experience goes to inner experience. Outer experience takes a detour through inner experience, experienced as duration.

Now this flow does effect something. It produces inner experience. This inner experience is neither mediated nor reproduced.

It ceases to be the flow of consciousness imagined apart from the body. It ceases to be the flow of film imagined apart from the mechanism. Either one or the other is set in the ideal light of the mechanism to be continuous and automatic.

The automatic flow of consciousness suffers a delay, is detoured by the film, comes up against itself and its own mechanisms in the body of duration. This is not usually the case. Films are usually made to escape the flow of time not in this way but the fact of that escape proves something about the nature of cinematic time. It belongs to duration.

Belonging to duration the time of inner experience and cinematic time are discontinuous. They do not approach time as a substrate. They are not asymptotes to time’s arrow.

The advent of cinema is a challenge to time’s arrow that it meets by assuming it as its own. Time runs from that advent to the point tomorrow it may run out for us. This is not to take no notice of the detour and delay in duration.

Time as the medium in which we swim does not flow. It has oceanic depths. It is even chaotic. Then film comes along and seems to put it in order.

Second, to the object, as product of history and of history as product, we might as well talk about a genesis of film. Film belonging to duration that does not flow evenly between points A and B is presupposed by the logic of time Russell finds for in the cinematograph. Its unevenness approaches to chaos and from chaos comes the order of the word.

Films are not then generally made to support the detour and delay, the deeps of duration. They are generally made to support the continuity of time and historical contingency, the historical contingency of different times. Detour, delay, escape from the order imposed on our times needs a noncontingent time.

Duration, writes Bergson, is absolute. It is also indeterminate. Its indeterminacy is absolute.

Jordan Schonig’s primary research, presented in the article “Contingent Motion: Rethinking the ‘Wind in the Trees’ in Early Cinema and CGI” (2018), gives evidence of noncontingent time in cinema. Schonig’s findings are the basis for what I’m saying here accords with Bergson’s view of time. Rather than on his thesis about contingent motion, the view I’m laying out of cinematic time, what it is as much as what it is not, is based on what Schonig turns up about the early history of cinema.

The “wind in the trees” in his title refers to the Lumière brothers’ film Le Repas de bébé that was part of the programme for the earliest public cinematic event. Taking place in Paris on 28 December 1895 it began a campaign, that although commercial was almost military in extent, to get cinema to every country in the world. Two years later this cinematic war machine had largely achieved its objective.

In 1896 the Lumières even sent an employee with a cinematograph, from what was by then their factory in France, to Russia for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II. They said to him “to let neither kings nor beautiful women examine its mechanism.” Mark Cousins, whose book, The Story of Film, 2004, I’m drawing from, notes the rapidity of the spread of cinema. It is remarkable and, like the fact the first full-length feature was shot in Australia, not entirely commercially explicable. Cousins says, “Socially, technically, politically, artistically, philosophically, transcendentally, nothing about it was yet pinned down.” (29)

Then he goes on to deal with the shot. Cousins describes it being “a piece of visually recorded action extended roughly in real time”. He adds that for us the strangeness of the shot is “muted by our familiarity with it.” (29) Just as I don’t think commercial interest is all there is behind cinema’s rapid global spread, I don’t think that this is all there is to it and I think the two are linked.

Rough or relative extension in real time doesn’t give us what is essential to the shot. Strangeness does. Cinema’s conquering of the world and the shot are linked by strangeness, by the mystery of the shot.

Cousins moves on quickly from the invention of the shot to the juxtaposition of shots forming a logical link, that was a precursor of montage and the cut. For him the unity of the shot and so its invention comes with juxtaposition. It is a later development.

The cut usually claims more attention for belonging to the language of film and not natural language. Film has a logic, worked out technically, that is all its own. The strangeness of film cuts and of montage may remain but according to this logic these are thought to be more or less contingent on the unity of the event and in the service of sense and story.

Strangeness is usually sacrificed to the not so strange, to continuity. They are put at the convenience of a view of time having the unity of a continuum and being divisible, cuttable. This continuity is the same unity of the event that Russell substitutes for temporal continuity and exists for the same reasons, to uphold the reasonable progress of our knowledge of measurable entities allowing science to facilitate that activity called human progress. It is also a view of time Bergson calls spatial. It is geometric.

That the cut is inexplicable in terms of natural language makes it strange but it is really only strange because of a view of time it is used to support, as Russell does. Moving images in general are used to support a view of time as divisible continuum where the unity of the event is relative. It has relativity, can be measured and in Bergson’s view spatialised.

Our familiarity with the logic of the cut and of montage, however illogical the juxtaposition of images is, leads us not to acknowledge a deeper familiarity, one that is engrained in us, with the cinematic time of the shot. Its mystery is occluded. The familiarity that mutes the strangeness of cinematic techniques, that go to a knowledge of its language, mutes, burying it more deeply and muting it more thoroughly, our deeper familiarity with the mystery of the shot.

What the shot shows is radical indeterminacy. It is an indeterminacy as absolute, as duration. This is what our familiarity covers or screens and, hides, the way these things go, in plain sight.

What gives the shot unity is the unextended event of duration. Although it might in space, the shot does not extend in real time but in cinematic time. Cousins says that it is a piece of visually recorded action, and it is, although this puts the emphasis back on action.

As a visual record of action does its playback amount to action? The emphasis on action, as in Russell, stays at the level of what is represented. At this level film impressed neither Bergson nor Freud.

Bergson was interested in slowed-down footage for the demonstration of natural processes not seen by the human eye but both he and Freud considered early cinema, with its chase and action sequences, for the sake of either philosophy or psychoanalysis, not worth serious examination. Philosophy and psychoanalysis would later find the complete opposite. Schonig cites Siegfried Kracauer, a friend of philosopher Theodor Adorno. Both gave serious thought to cinema from outside its practice.

History is told, including the history of cinema, from the point of view of time that has been victorious, not from the point of view belonging to audiences, the point of view I’m arguing that led to its global conquest. There are then two cinematic times, the one that can claim victory and has prevailed for a century and a quarter and the other that I support and find a basis for supporting in Schonig’s “Contingent Motion: Rethinking ‘The Wind in the Trees’ in Early Cinema and CGI.”

The window for any kind of rethinking of early or later cinema is brief but is part of the historical record. If its brevity is to blame for its obscurity so is that history. It is after all a point of view of time that is at stake. It bears on how we see history.

History then intervenes, both with filmic representation, with cinema as medium, and in terms of its relation to time. My parents’ generation learnt of the world from films at the cinema. My father saw the footage of the camps being cleared and never forgot it, so it is part of how we know. Today because of deep fakes this has never been more a matter of contention but again rests at the level of representation.

The question might better be raised of fake time, a simulation inclusive of the historical record whether filmed or not. Cinema fakes time. Russell saw this and saw in it a way to peg time on to the abstract points of its articulation.

This would be a mathematical and calculable time, a time available to ratiocination and therefore a rational time, but in the history of cinema and in the representation of history, filmed or not, Russell’s view of cinematic time gets confused with time pegged back on to movement, action, the reason Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson accuse Russell of answering a paradox with a paradox. It is then the case that we lose from the history even Russell’s cinematic naturalism, his naturalisation of cinematic time. In its place we get the idea, in the history of film, that cinema developed from other technologies that exploited the phenomenon of retinal retention, zoetropes, stroboscopes, phenakistoscopes, flip-books, magic lanterns and the electrified versions of these in the Nickelodeon.

We lose what is altogether new about film, its relation to time. Instead we get the spatialised account but I would say we know, and we know after the advent of cinema and because of it, the idea of one thing following another, one event after another, whether it cause it or not or is to an end or not, to be false. It is false but scientific, because, says the philosopher Karl Popper, falsifiable. Its falsifiability indicates that each event in time occupies an abstract point and is in fact a variable placeholder.

An event names an articulation on the time line and of the time line, so we have alternative histories and revisions of history, setting other events in the places formerly occupied by the ones that whoever wrote the histories was interested in, the visual record having largely been exempt from this process until digital manipulation and AI. There is still the confusion between what Zeno made of time and challenged and Russell’s view. What this means for cinema is in the first instance that L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat replaces Le Repas de bébé to invoke cinema’s novelty.

Coming a year after Le Repas de bébé, L’Arrivée d’un train in 1896 is still inside the window, made use of by the Lumières to conquer the world, of cinema’s unfamiliarity and of the strangely compelling nature of the shot. The responses to the two films differ as much as their subjects. In Le Repas a baby gets fed.

L’Arrivée d’un train is sensational in comparison. It is kinetic. A train hurtles towards the audience.

The angle is low and it seems like the train will burst through the screen. At least the histories tend to this view, and the audiences, immediately under its spell, are terrified. They duck behind seats and run down the aisles for the exits.

All this is meant to attest to a value, still placed on the moving image, of its kinetic energy. From this comes its sensory impact. Movement, action is meant to engage like no other spectacle and the power of cinema is its representation.

Take this forward, in cinematic terms fast forward a century and a quarter and there is the virtue of virtual reality being touted in the same way. It is not just moving images. In it we can do things.

Agency is all and this for Bergson comes from the body being above all a centre of action. It has an evolutionary explanation. A feminist critique might ask whose body and if it is the same as has historical agency and would be right in doing so.

A gender bias exists towards the active body to the point that the female body has been thought not to be one outside its reproductive function and this has brought about the compensatory claim that female bodies too must be considered centres of action. There is always the same focus on action, on performance in philosopher Judith Butler’s terms and on the engagement of women in public affairs. There has been a politics of engagement but this is to ignore what Bergson is saying prompts it.

The series of metaphysical presuppositions up to the body as a centre of action predates but gets reinforced by cinema. It is not innate to it any more than movement is the measure of time. Like that view, although for Bergson we have evolved to see things this way does not mean it is natural.

Because it is an evolutionary series it diverts from a sense of duration. Such a sense is not instinctive. Neither is that of the other major de-centrings.

The earth is not the centre of the cosmos. Humans evolved, were not created and are not set apart from the rest of creation. Neither are men set apart from women nor are they exempt from biology but are a single species. The last is of what is first for the development of the individual, the de-centring of the will that drives me and of the I that thinks it does.

These de-centrings, taken from the lessons of Copernicus, Darwin, Marx and Freud, have become like children’s stories but the way to compensate for past injustice has been to put oneself, specifically one’s body, at the centre of the action. The struggle of the anthropocene is with a de-centring that has everything to do with time. It calls on us to act in a timely fashion.

To each de-centring along the evolutionary line, from egocentrism to anthropocentrism, stopping at class, race and gender on the way, equates a similar despair, How can I do anything to change the way life exists or to ensure it does? If it has been this long in preparation, how can I do anything? How can I measure my life against geological time?

All I seem to be able to see is time unrolling in front of me and reeling up behind me into the knowledge of what will happen. For Bergson, and this is what his own de-centring is of, the brain does not have a separate evolution. Intelligence, reason, judgement and imagination evolve to serve the body that acts.

The brain is an image among images, he says, another reason to think of him in terms of cinema. However, again the obstacle to understanding Bergson, the body is too. It too is an image but, and here the de-centring, this means it has a time internal to it. It has its own duration.

Spurred by a distinction Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson make I was thinking how difficult it is still to think duration. They are talking about Bergson’s views on society as either an open system or a closed system. This is in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 1932, and they make the distinction in this context between what is inert and what endures.

It’s easy to think about them being the same. The inert is what endures, like a stone, a pyramid or a mountain. Its endurance almost reaches a sense of geological time, but they are distinct.

The inert applies to a closed system and endurance to an open system. An open system need not be thought to be one of life but is any energetic system, anywhere there is an exchange of energy. Life is just a particularly good example but in what sense does it endure?

It stays with. It stays with being open, for as long as it can. Its endurance then is not of a state but of indeterminacy.

Duration is this staying with, with the problem, for example, and it is that before we act. It has the interval and is not so much timely as untimely. It takes the time that it takes for as long as it has the energy to do so.

Bergson explicitly links the élan vital with duration. It is as if duration were a source of energy. The duration of what endures does not take but gives the energy to do so. For an open system, this is in exchange, and change.

Then along comes film and once we familiarise ourselves with the notion that the train depicted is not going to burst into the auditorium we can sit still for a whole film and not act. So the film is fulfilling the function of duration. We are sitting with it and open to it.

We are open to its indeterminacy as a function of duration but, being so is only because we are inured to the novelty of it. It is familiar not mysterious. We would have to be in that first wave of cinema to know what that felt like, the radical indeterminacy of the image and a sense made compelling because it was one of pure duration.

Back to Schonig’s findings, there we find at the start of cinema an audience response that was less sensational than a year later at the showing of L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat but more profound, and that prepared the way for it. It also prepared the way for its occlusion by the later event, for the mystery of the shot to be eclipsed by the myth, that they ran for the exits. It was the response to Le Repas de bébé.

The film shows a bourgeois family scene. Mother and father feed a baby. They are Marguerite Lumière, Auguste, brother of Louis Lumière on camera, cinematograph, and Andrée Lumière, the baby.

The action may be thought negligible. Coffee is poured. Marguerite drinks it. Louis is more involved with feeding Andrée. The film is a single take and the shot is static, one shot from a tripod and it is of course silent, but it was the first time an audience had seen it and even with such little action it might be thought that it would be the subject of the film which would grab and hold an audience.

Comment was instead made on what was incidental to the shot, in the background, that was in Schonig’s words contingent motion. This was the movement of the leaves on the trees. The comment from the audience that is preserved is the exclamation, The leaves on the trees are moving!

The preconception an audience of 1895 would have taken with them to the Salon Indien at the Grand Café, Paris, could only have come from theatre where seeing people moving about, animated by various tasks, whether mundane or significant, would have been commonplace. In the theatre the audience might even have been familiar with special effects, particularly storms, stagehands potentially shaking the scenery, a canonball rolling down a sheet of metal, lightning flashes from either flashpots or gas flares. This is not what they saw on screen.

They saw something qualitatively different and they thought it was remarkable. Cinema, a later commentator cited by Schonig said, captured nature in motion. Other writers reviewing the same evidence have said the same thing but what sets Schonig apart is his interest in the ontological status of this contingent motion that cinema reproduced and his introduction of new evidence of the effect it had on audiences.

His thesis is that CGI in trying to get hair right, in its texture and its movement, and reproduce other phenomena as they look in nature picks up on the special ontological status of contingent motion. He shows that for cinema it had this status from the start. He describes the establishment of what was the first cinematic genre as dealing specifically with contingent motion, the wave film.

Wave films have as their main subject the motion of waves on the sea. There may be people in the shot, a rowboat or spectator to the scene, but it is they who are incidental to it. What mattered to audiences and what they were into was the waves.

The same can be said of other sorts of contingent motion Schonig mentions, the dust rising from a wall being smashed by a sledgehammer, an effect accentuated by its silence, smoke billowing, leaves rustling without sound, water splashing from a garden hose. Effects that are not at all special, not to us, were the subject of discussion and comparison. It was common, says Schonig, for films featuring these effects to be repeated in the same programme, two or three times, so that audiences could take in all the details.

Their repetition reinforced for audiences their special status. It is not surprising then that film-makers and programmers of cinematic events catered for their popularity by making and showing films that dealt with these subjects. Neither is it that they became codified into a genre of film.

To say the element of contingent motion has a special status, an ontological status, as Schonig does I think does not go far enough. It doesn’t say what the charge was, where it came from, the thrill and the hit that audiences got, but key to this is I think that word, contingent. Like incidental it can mean both random, accidental and independent and also dependent, being contingent or incidental on, but trivial, and by contingent motion mean that the leaves in the trees are moving independently of the action in the scene as well as that their movement is there a part of the scene that is inconsequential.

This movement gains in consequence, so its incidentality ceases to be incidental and tangential, by being singled out as the scene’s main subject. The other meaning comes to the fore. The waves in the wave film carry the weight of the film for their independent and chaotic movements.

The mystery is, how? The audience did not need to be familiar with physics to know that waves move like this, leaves like that and smoke and water in the ways that they were shown on screen. It was not to waves in their mode of being waves that the special ontological status was attached.

The waves’ contingent motion is not an ontological mode that can be attributed to waves off screen. Contingent motion in general is not an ontological mode except on screen, in film, where somehow the physical laws of motion obtain but not those of time. The way of being, in other words, of these waves is consistent with the mystery of the shot.

Contingent motion is a mystery, has special status and a special charge, when it is shot on film. The shock of it on film is due to it being able to be re-played. Re-played, in the same programme, every detail remained the same.

In every detail of the spray off the crest of a wave its indeterminacy endured. That’s what grabbed audiences about the early cinema, the replayability. What audiences were doing in comparing the wave from one showing to the next was looking for the random details that confirmed this wave was the same as that.

How could the absolutely unique be reproduced? These were not the sort of technical geeks who looked on all this as a technical accomplishment. The interest lay for them outside of the image’s means of reproduction and replayability.

The charge was not from the technological novelty of the cinematograph and cinematography. That a slice of real time could be replayed was more than enough cause for excitement. What verified it as real time was that in it there was moving a thing like a wave or like smoke or like leaves, at random and, in nature, with a movement absolutely unique and unrepeatable.

The moving image captured the authentic and unique thing. It reproduced it, enabled it to be replayed, with the mystery of its aura intact. Aura is the word Walter Benjamin will use in 1935 for this phenomenon in his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”

Contingent motion is the name Schonig gives to it. Its contingent motion proved for its earliest audiences that what they were seeing was real. This is how it prepared for the shock of the arrival of a train at La Ciotat station, when in 1896 taking it for real audiences hid behind the seats in front and ran for the exits.

It is also how the shock from the aura and mystery of the shot gets not undermined but covered over and, although he was as unimpressed as Bergson by cinema, all it had to offer was action and chase sequences, it is in this that L’Arrivée d’un train resembles what Sigmund Freud called a screen memory, the greater shock covered over by the lesser shock that needs it for support. The lesser shock puts a screen memory, the myth, over the mystery of the shot. What compelled audiences was also what scared them, the fear and excitement of being able to see the past being replayed.

From this screening out of an initial fear comes the reversal that Deleuze takes note of in the preface to Cinema 1. Time related to movement. Then the relationship is reversed and movement is contingent on time, as in Russell’s example of a time divisible no longer by movement but by its own articulations, like a film.

The codification of the shock, the charge, the source of fear, the thing that compelled an explosion of interest globally in cinema, into a genre of films dealing with subjects moving independently, their movement free of artifice, did not occur to control and box it in, to lessen its effect but to heighten it, to attend only to this new shocking thing. Genres are like plateaux, to intensify a specific pleasure. Their codification is in acknowledgement of what can’t be contained in the box, on the screen, the uncontrollable that is surplus.

It wasn’t to relax audiences for the confrontation but to focus in on it. It wasn’t to make it so they could recognise it and know what to expect. What happens, just as for anorexics, is about directing and controlling the control.

Anorexics don’t, although they are often said to, seek to regain and assert control of bodies that are taken over by others, but of what they recognise as a control, in this case the control from mealtimes and set menus, set to control their appetites. They release them. By so doing they gain the pleasure of intensifying them.

Now in that surplus to codification of either what is eaten or what is on screen is found a production of desire that takes note of what breaks from the code. Whatever exceeds the genre, that is new possesses the thrill of its novelty, certainly but the thrill more of a break, a cut that can be said of cutting, a treating-of-oneself. It has to do not so much with transgression and the breaking of taboo as the intensification of it, of its enjoyment. Control is enjoyed, how deep shall I go when cutting myself?

Control is not the object, but the cut itself. How deep can I go and how close to the edge? How much is in me before I tip over into the chaos represented by the object? It’s not seen as death this instinct that pushes and probes towards it but a source of life, a source of life because a source of desire with which duration is explicitly linked.

Thought is not in pursuit of the unthought. Action’s not to get to a point of inaction. They are to trace out the outline of what exceeds them, reaching its edge, with everything at stake, risking everything.

That excess of desire in the object is not harnessed but aimed at and sought. Codification is for what differs. Pinching the difference until it’s miniscule intensifies its pleasures.

Not eking it out incrementally, getting it all in one tiny hit is what I would say our so-called addiction to the small screen of cellphones is about. They were not technological geeks, but these aficionados of the wave films were the first geeks. What is the essence of geekdom?

Pinching difference until it is minute and revelling in it as if it makes the biggest difference. It makes the biggest difference, the difference that is barely there, the slightest movement. This is the hit.

Deleuze’s time commanding movement is Russell’s time. All I’m saying could be much more simply put if I said, because the image moves of itself it is thought to move in real time. Bergson conducts his Copernican revolution then along comes cinema and puts everything up in the air.

Cinematic time is taken for real time but it is not even cinematic time. Cinematic time is not inert. It endures.

Psychological time, the time of inner experience or, as Bergson puts it, reflective consciousness, is taken for cinematic time. It too is not even cinematic time. It too endures and endures in the tiniest movement.

It endures in the tiniest interval of movement. There is the indeterminacy proving the image is one of real time because it has its genesis in chaos. This is what the advent of cinema brings.

It is as if because it can be repeated duration is not duration. The cinema relates the radical indeterminacy of the image to the interval. This is neither its running-time, clock-time, nor is it its subjective time but nor can it in any way be said to be objective.

Rather, like in dreams, what endures in cinematic time is time suspended, noncontingent, and outside of time. It breaks with any preceding concept and opens onto a duration. But it provides this duration with the means to be covered over, and still it endures.

[for examples of the “wave film” genre please use this link]

[please go to this link for something of a short prequel to this long note]

luz es tiempo
point to point

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