theatrum philosophicum

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.

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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.

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the free and creative play of transcendental ideas ::: illustrated with three paintings by Wolfe von Lenkiewicz

Another kind of madness, constantly wanting to draw attention to one’s own insights, like some placard-carrying apocalyptic in Time’s Square.

— Damian Lanigan, The Ghost Variations, Weatherglass Books, 2022, opened at random, p. 69

I’m writing a long note about cinematic time but, as always, encountered something along the way, only tangentially related to that theme, but that seemed to demand another note. Unless I am mistaken and as I write the note up here the tangent feeds back in again to the long note on cinematic time. The tangent was suggested–the same source as the seed for the note to come–by John Ó Maoilearca and Keith Ansell Pearson’s introduction to Henri Bergson: Key Writings.

There they write, Bergson’s Kantianism and his Berkeleyism, in short his idealism, is shallower than either Berkeley’s or Kant’s. It does not have its roots in the categories of human understanding, as with Kant. It does not originate solely in the perception of the mind, as with Berkeley. It is instead virtual.

What is Bergson’s idea of the virtual? what is it in light of his views on time? Time for Bergson is duration. The time marked out by the clock is time translated to the dimension of space, since the clock is counting spatial divisions. These divisions are contingent on conventions of counting the day and night as fundamental units, so they are broken up in space, according to a conventionally 12 hour day, but not in time.

Science tends to use clocktime. Philosophy says Bergson need not, because a philosophical understanding of time should try to get at what time is in itself. Bergson also takes duration, time as duration, to be free of the determinism that its contingency installs.

He thinks duration free of the constraints the conventions of measuring time lead to, that duration is a freedom for creativity beyond conventionalism. This creativity is neither abstract, like the geometric measurement of time as space, nor actual, like the spacetime given in relativity theory as a chrono-geo-determinism. It is instead virtual.

– Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp, 2018

What this shallower of Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson means to me is a reflection. Transcendental ideas for Bergson are as shallow as a reflection. I see a reflection on still water of the trees above, and above them, the sky and stars, but this leads me to think of another sort of reflection, one equally as shallow, as on-the-surface, as the reflection in the water. Whereas this one is in space, the other is a reflection in time.

Everything that makes up the reflection in space, in the water, is actual. The surface is an actual surface. It exists. It may only be made of light but that light exists and it is the condition for there being a reflection. I say this because of the mystery and magic, the not-quite-real quality, mirrors traditionally invoke. Their not-quite-reality is not yet virtuality.

A reflection in time is virtual. So the virtual for Bergson relates to time, time as it relates to itself and is in itself, apart from space, contingency and the conveniences of measurement. The virtual is time reflecting on itself, on its own duration.

Deleuze further qualifies the virtual as being distinct from either the possible or the potential. What is virtual is not a pool of possibilities that are held in potential. Possibility and potentiality relate to reality along that continuum going from possible reality to existing reality. The constraints of possibility are again in evidence.

The virtual in contrast relates to actuality and is unconstrained by either possibility or its potential for realisation. Freely creative, the virtual resolves, works itself out in what is actual. The virtual is real without existing in actuality.

The possible exists without being real. Existence adds to possibility what was missing, reality. The formula stating that the virtual is not yet, not quite and no longer is insufficient and misleading. It limits the virtual to complete realisation only when actualised, when nothing is missing from virtuality.

– Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, A Lady Writing a Letter, 2018

Thinking about a reflection in time I think is a better idea. It also relates virtuality to Bergson as an aspect of his insight into time being pure duration. Like the reflection in space, from it nothing is missing and everything is at the surface. This is what I take from Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson’s shallower.

It doesn’t necessarily lessen the difficulty of imagining the virtual. However, if we move from this surface or across this surface according to Deleuze’s ideas about counteractualisation I think we can come closer to understanding how the virtual works, and how usefully to think of it. Counteractualisation is to go from the actual back to the virtual.

Counteractualisation of transcendental ideas, for example, without removing their reality removes their depth or height. It sets ideas jostling on the same plane or surface. It returns them to their shallowness.

No longer are they standing in judgement. No longer transcendent, not yet subjected to a moral tribunal, they are not quite themselves but no less real. The reflection in time effected by counteractualisation reintroduces the freedom and creative play to what was thought to be determined and determining.

The question of idealism for Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson comes up in relation to Bergson’s use of the term images. All four chapters of Matter and Memory, 1896, feature the term. Bergson’s use breaks with philosophical convention and is suggestive of a link, as I said at the beginning, to cinema and to the note on cinematic time I am concurrently working on: what are images if not pictures, whether moving or not?

Ó Maoilearca and Ansell Pearson point out that in other places than Matter and Memory Bergson makes use of the word ideas to mean the same thing. The etymology of idea is from the Greek word εἶδον for to see and then to ιδέα, meaning form or (visual) pattern. Bergson’s shallow idealism more or less flattens the meanings of idea and image. Images are as much physically present as they are in play on the surface, as they are registered on a reflective surface or recorded on film.

– Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, Iodame, 2018

The note to come, that on cinematic time, will take up on the confusion of images in play and bodies in movement and what that means for our sense of time and duration. The purpose here is to go in the reverse direction, rather than from (cinematic) images to (temporal) forms or ideas, to go from images that have a reflection in time to ideas which have virtuality, virtual and transcendental ideas. Counteractualisation is not only meant for either ideas or images, ideal forms or transcendental ideas.

I think of counteractualisation as engaging a surface or plane of temporality or, as Deleuze and Guattari say in What is Philosophy?, I think of it as taking slices of chaos, and of art, science and philosophy each doing so in their own ways. My practice with Minus Theatre was to bring to the depthless surface of the stage the deepest and most intensely felt experiences where they could be brought into play, like transcendental ideas, where they could jostle against one another, free of their baggage, of judgement, of moral implication. This free and creative play, whether it is of transcendental ideas or physical bodies freed from defensive moralising, is of the virtual reflection in time or, better, is on it.

Not then improvisation, the movement in play is ex-temporised. It takes place by coming into being. The reflection in time is what makes in chaos the virtual slice.

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The Singularity and the Pornography of the Human Condition

Vernor Vinge, 30 years ago, wrote, 

The Coming Technological Singularity: 
                      How to Survive in the Post-Human Era

I'm reading it now. 

the world acts as its own
         simulator in the case of natural selection

For Vinge, human intelligence acts as its own simulator, displacing that of the world and accelerating the process of selection. It is conceivable then that the intelligence of machines will in turn displace the simulator of the human mind and further accelerate this process.

We humans have the ability
         to internalize the world and conduct "what if's" in our heads...

The Great Acceleration, in technical means, technology, following the Second World War, becomes in the event of Singularity hyperacceleration.

Developments that
         before were thought might only happen in "a million years" (if ever)
         will likely happen in the next century

Vinge says he'd be surprised if the Singularity happens before 2005 or after 2030. Interestingly, the word he uses to mean the coming to be of a world-simulator to displace human intelligence is to wake, to wake up. He proposes 4 scenarios: the supercomputer wakes up; the network wakes; the interface with humans creates in users a superior intelligence; biological enhancement leading to the superhuman. (These last two, Vinge calls IA, achieving the Singularity through Intelligence Amplification.)

The Singularity is essentially historical. It marks a point beyond which existing reality ceases, its rules no longer apply and there is a new reality. It would seem that this new reality for Vinge is defined by the ability of intelligence to simulate it. It is both Messianic and Simulacral.

Here's the problem: Any [ultraintelligent machine able to self-replicate] 
         would not be humankind's "tool" -- any more than humans
         are the tools of rabbits or robins or chimpanzees.

We will be in
         the Post-Human era. And for all my rampant technological optimism,
         sometimes I think I'd be more comfortable if I were regarding these
         transcendental events from one thousand years remove ... instead of
         twenty.

Hardware parity with the biological brain is a condition for the Singularity. In 1993, this was thought to be 10 to 40 years away. What Vinge calls the Singularity is today usually referred to as achieving Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). In 2022, Jake Cannell proposed a 75% likelihood of brain parity, AGI, being reached between 2026 and 2032. [source] 

AGI does however lower the bar from Messianic paradigm-changing event to inter-exchangeability of human and machine intelligences. What is missing from AGI is world simulation. This lowering of horizons for brain parity has also to do with the demotion of both brain and human. 

The neurosciences are in the process of explaining many of the mysteries of the brain, and showing them to be mechanisms. The brain is more distributed than previously thought. There are neurons in the guts. 

At the same time as the notion of the privilege of the brain in the organism becomes questionable, along with claims for its privilege also grounding human exceptionalism, the notion of human exceptionalism in the cosmos is less and less defensible. And as soon as we expect less from the human animal, the supersession of its intelligence no longer looks to bring about the transformation of reality. The Singularity that was source of apocalyptic fear in 1993 is among other bathetic moments in our contemporary culture of disappointment.

Commercial digital signal processing might be awesome,
         giving an analog appearance even to digital operations, but nothing
         would ever "wake up" and there would never be the intellectual runaway
         which is the essence of the Singularity. It would likely be seen as a
         golden age ... and it would also be an end of progress.

But, says Vinge, if it can happen it will happen:

... the competitive advantage -- economic, military, even artistic
         -- of every advance in automation is so compelling that passing laws,
         or having customs, that forbid such things merely assures that someone
         else will get them first.


I think that performance rules 
         [for the superhuman entity] strict enough to be safe would also
         produce a device whose ability was clearly inferior to the unfettered
         versions (and so human competition would favor the development of the
         those more dangerous models).

If the Singularity can not be prevented or confined, just how bad
         could the Post-Human era be?

The physical
         extinction of the human race is one possibility. (Or as Eric Drexler
         put it of nanotechnology: Given all that such technology can do,
         perhaps governments would simply decide that they no longer need
         citizens!)

It's hard to see either the physical extinction of the human race or the decision of governments that citizens are no longer necessary as transcending the reality 30 years on. What scares us more now, going by online newsfeeds, is loss of copyright by artists. It's ironic then that Vinge tells of the combination of competences and human/computer symbiosis in art. 

And that he talks about human/computer teams at chess tournaments after Hans Niemann. And mobile computing as being an example of IA (Intelligence Amplification), when it's often seen as the opposite. And the worldwide internet, in the human/machine combo, is where progress is fastest and it may "run us into the Singularity before
              anything else."

Ironic too, considering how the feedback loop has actually worked between biological life and computers, is that he says,

much of the work in Artificial
         Intelligence and neural nets would benefit from a closer connection
         with biological life. Instead of simply trying to model and understand
         biological life with computers, research could be directed toward the
         creation of composite systems that rely on biological life for
         guidance or for the providing features we don't understand well enough
         yet to implement in hardware.

While on the deadliness of competition, that is on the deadliest aspects of human inclinations, there is some prescience:

We humans have millions of
         years of evolutionary baggage that makes us regard competition in a
         deadly light. Much of that deadliness may not be necessary in today's
         world, one where losers take on the winners' tricks and are coopted
         into the winners' enterprises. A creature that was built _de novo_
         might possibly be a much more benign entity than one with a kernel
         based on fang and talon. And even the egalitarian view of an Internet
         that wakes up along with all mankind can be viewed as a nightmare.

Vinge differentiates between weak and strong superhumanity, the weak superhuman being the one who is enslaved to the merely human. Since it has overtaken the human in intelligence, whom it has every right to regard as a human does either its pet, its slave or a bug, the strong is the one to be feared. It is so if you are writing in 1993 and not so much in 2023.

Strong superhumanity in the end links with strong cooperation, a notion of networking as involving connectivity at higher and higher bandwidths. Vinge thinks bandwidths along both digital and cerebral axes, in terms of both computation and cerebration, so they add or superadd to intelligence. Today we tend to constrain communication even at high bandwidths to being a technical matter, of formal or linguistic representation. 

A matter of having more information, bandwidth has to do with perception considered also as representation, specifically inner representation, to have to do with how the subject, whether human or nonhuman, represents to itself the world outside it, so determining how much information it has to work with. The higher or greater the bandwidth, the more a subject has intelligence of the world in which it is situated, the more of it it can represent to itself, but this today does not equate with higher intelligence as it does for Vinge. 

For him, at the highest bandwidths networked entities share higher cognitive functions. They are telepathic. There is a general ratchetting effect of intelligence on intelligence, information on information, perception on perception, accumulating and, in Vinge's view, running away far in advance of low bandwidth entities like us. Leading back to the Singularity.

The process of accumulation Vinge is talking about is what today tends to be talked about as growth. It is inextricably linked to the process of capital accumulation. And this process is fundamentally joined to technological advance. Together they form progress.

For Vinge, technological advance means the accumulation of intelligence not capital. Intelligence embodied in computers, IA and information networks reaches a point of runaway. This progress for him was inevitable, not so for us.

Or is it? Today's coupling of technological and economic forces, accumulation and extraction and exploitation, of both smart and manual labour, means progress to an inevitable point that resembles Vinge's inasmuch as it too is the occasion for fear, if not dread. It is the deadly prospect of human extinction that will be augured by the Sixth Great Extinction of nonhuman life on which human life depends, in the interconnectedness of all life on earth.

The idea that economic and technological forces can be uncoupled appears almost to be cause for optimism. Economic forces, those of extraction and exploitation, are in this view a shackle. Economics stymies progress, leading it off in another direction which appears to be as inevitable as the Singularity. Economic forces divert progress towards planetary rather than human extinction.

Uncoupled, unimpeded by the economic restriction placed on it by the demand for demand and its supply, delinked from the process of capital accumulation (and the current redistribution of wealth, South to North, national to civic, social to plutocrat) technology had to lead, in Vinge's view, towards superhuman intelligence. He doubted that once it was achieved this superhumanly intelligent being would deign to be further constrained by restrictions placed on it by humans. He did however entertain the thought of a benign superhumanity. Its ultraintelligence might indulge humanity, oversee it and shepherd it. Out into the stars, for example, as in his and Iain M. Banks's space opera.

More likely, he thought, was that a superhuman entity should not indulge the species inferior to it. He thought it was more likely, just as humans do to other species, for humans to be squashed. The reasoning resembles that consecrated in theories of economics, of the self-interested individual. What possible self-interest on the part of a superhuman being might be served by preserving the human race?

Fun? Entertainment? Qualities that derive from our animal origins? Inputs of affect and emotion? Sex? God as the Great Pornographer of the Human Condition? ... 

All these have been considered in speculative and science fiction, and explored in the holy books of mono- and pluri-theistic religious traditions. According to how they are treated by the gods, and, whether angry, absent, indifferent or loving, the Gods, anthropos might be thought to have something going for them. And there is room for optimism in light of the literature.

When it gets here, if it were allowed to get here (and economics and technology were uncoupled), the Singularity might solve some of the problems, caused by human practices, of the Anthropocene. Or, Superman might call on the waters of the deep to engulf all of humanity as his punishment. Or... Isn't this exactly what is happening?







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theatre | …: first half in epistolary form

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sixty-eighth part, called “on movement LXVIII,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

Why is there misapprehension? is it out of malevolence? Is it out of malevolence your signals are misunderstood? that they are taken for meaning something far away from your actual desire? And the desired meanings, they have somehow been wrested from you.

Now they are being used to control you, so you should suppress them. You really ought to exercise self-control. And is it with a kind of malevolence then that you turn on yourself, practice austerities on your own libidinal economy, at least inasmuch as the messaging is concerned? And isn’t it with sadness you look at the comments, take literally the feedback, which might not be unkind, might be of the kindest sort and might have the best intentions behind it, but feeds back by a closed loop into the structured economy of your identity, exercising a control which becomes a suppression?

Must suppress internal difference, you don’t think it, you do it. Especially the most internal difference of all, sexual difference is given over to the comedy of mistaken identity. That is, it is identified with the symbol for it, with which one should, such is its morality, identify oneself.

Fraudulence—what is its source? Well, in play are the symbols, each one of which, like the smallest gesture, expresses a world. But what has happened to the choice of world? What has happened to its decision? And what has happened to the cut?

It’s a craze, a frenzy, we have said, and a froth, buried under layers and layers of similarly mobile surfaces. A metastasis, we have named it, belonging to a metastatic temporality. For each particle of the subject, all the human parts are instantaneously reassembled. And the sign itself is left outside, so each one, static on its surface, is like a doughnut. Each expands with such rapidity, internalising its outside, the hole, externalising structure, so avid for expansion, it goes unnoticed. The misapprehension of the crowd is like a yeast working from the outside and froth of oil slicking and lubricating the surface of the public comedy, the local slapstick.

Each has these three mythic parts… then why misapprehension? because the symbolic is exactly that which cannot grab hold of them, only gesture towards them, either inwards or outwards, centrifugally or centripetally …having the structure of a subjective economy: this goes for the whole socius; identity, given the economising motif of its lack, its in-the-hole-ness; and a toroidal, or doughnut-shaped feature of completion and continuity, throughout society: the famous circular economy. The famous circular economy stands here for the myth. The myth stands for the foundation. This is human in that it feeds back, to the extent that power here is circular.

Misapprehension, the flaw in the myth, goes from crowd to individual. Individual is mobilised. But this does not account for the apprehension of, the feeling of not being understood, that, introjected, spirally, becomes, I am a fraud. We might here be describing false consciousness, reinscribing the individual into the ideological state apparatus, except that what we are describing is the object of it, its outside. Where? …the hole… and if we could only join up, not the fatty tissue of inflating yeasty dough suspended in bubbly grease, but the holes, we should see fissures and cracks start to form.

Going from the crowd into the individual, in fact, all shame is from the social institution. The very same can be said of the foundation myth. So there is shame in marriage in the same way as there is shame in the self. Shame in theatre: we have seen before, in the beginning actor, in her hesitancy and indecision, as to what to do; but more powerfully in the confusion of the audience with the action onstage.

In the consciousness of one’s shame being asked to participate, or being required to, by the direction the show has been taken in, one is like anybody before, we might say, the law. But such is the mythic law, the human, and the sad; and not the natural law that would address why it is we are made sad by what should make us happy. In the unhappy consciousness, shame, turning-away, self-suppressing, desexualising at the same moment it auto-oedipalises, we see human consciousness being, acting like the rehearsal for public shaming, turning away, and so on. And, yes, this is its role, given the shape of the symbolic and thrice-greatest foundation myth that is subtractive with being contracted, signed up for the social contract. That this is its role public misapprehension implies, from which private shame draws its inference.

Yet, if the role of consciousness can be seen to be in rehearsal its place is in the invisible work, and the inaudible. Being overheard here on the little stage of the self, the void which makes up that hole, comes before structure, the structure of character, the role, the play, the show and self-display. It prepares it and comes before the production. Only confusion would lead one to invite an audience in to hear one’s private thoughts, and then to take a seat among the spectators. This human participation would be the opposite direction to go in if we want to avoid shame, sadness and misunderstanding.

Should we want to increase joy we might respect the process, attend to the production in ourselves of what is not yet a human subject, overhearing the animal cries and invisible vegetative states, the stony stares, of us, and move from one to an other. We can move by way of fractions, degrees of difference: time fractures the natural surface, it is fractal. In movement, changing the subject, the myth may be undone; because, in turn, founding the myth, we have the dream of being human: to which art is antidote.

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sixty-seventh part, called “on movement LXVII,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

The distinction we would make is not that between illusion and reality, or, as Deleuze does, between the virtual-intelligible and the actual-sensible which proceeds from it. And we are in no place to impugn artificiality, the artificiality of symbols, say, and praise the naturalness of stones. But here is the difference: the myth of the stones is charming and remarkable; the myth of symbols is always at our expense. So we would distinguish the artifice, art, illusion, the nothingness of thought and the public or private virtue, from that artifice, art, illusion, appearance of the sensible, and actual public, private and subjective powers which use the myth to maintain their power, their power and our subjection.

The power has to be doubted that needs to enlist myth in its support. And this is the strategic task we are engaged in here; not to distinguish good myth from bad: perhaps, more adequately, good theatre from bad, although the formula rests on a moral distinction. We should ask how symbolic myth makes us indebted, how it takes away from our enjoyment of life, social and individual, if this question were not already substantially answered by Marx: it does so through the medium of capital.

The change I think which has occurred from Marxist analysis is that the mobilisation of capital has led to the mobility of the medium itself. It has metastasised. From it come the metastases of the manmade, that is, the symbolic form as a subject of synthesis. This is what we have talked about in terms of synthesis contracting or synthesising symbolic entities, but we can perhaps see it more clearly in the metastases of for example plastics in the environment: the synthesis which is of plastic particles in living flesh.

Plastic—not a symbol, you will say: yes, but a commodity: the commodity form is the symbol-thing and, converting one into the other, makes them completely reversible. The non-fungible token is so through the fungibility of thing-person-signature-sign-and-symbol as an economic unit. We can’t attack mobility directly, however, and will have recourse to the symbolic reference, not in the thing, person, author, artist, meaningful sign referred to, but in the myth.

Movement changes the subject, moves it from where it has been fixed by an established power. Establishing power are what we had as three subjective powers. These have their use to power and are its founding principles, for as long as they are animated by another world, since they are at once mythic principles.

Symbols turn to face them, and we gain from these the sense of our own desire being animate, autonomous and automatic: our own desire is animated, given autonomy, becomes automatic by virtue of subjective powers made founding principles, establishing and emblazoning their power, maintaining subjection as that that we have chosen for, the three myths. They are, of a structural economy, identity, and just causation. The latter we had formerly identified, specifically because of its symbolic character, with a poor excuse.

How are these founding myths? To take the second, identity: it describes the personalisation of desire. If we consider ourselves compartmentalised, this part human, this other part too, that one sexual human, then over here, a human consciousness, a social unconscious that is human, then, in part deriding all the parts, and ruling over them regardless, no, not the limbic system, but desire, the system of desires distributing the parts, accounting for them: why am I like this? because of desire.

It was instilled in me. And, therefore, like a genetic inheritance, it is what I must choose. But is this the choice in which we found for a kind of freedom?

No. The movement here is all inside. A full inside. A bound inside, bound to oneself, and, in this way, what one is bound to do.

If Oedipus has any part in power, it is here. What we have in the myth of desire being a governing principle is not it was always like this but I am a fraud. And with all the more avidity, I will bind myself up in a destiny, not the brave destiny of Oedipus, but one of auto-oedipalisation. What else can I do?

I am bound to do nothing other than choose the soft-furnishings over the hard. And shift them around the deck, like private prostheses publicly displayed. Making myself comfortable, or, practicing austerity, faced with the inevitable.

The law of desire is binding inasmuch as it cleaves to the stage and is obedient to it. However, due to the mobility of the surface, auto-oedipalised immobility, in stasis, follows the mob—traversing desire at once in every direction. We should listen to that ‘at once’ because it is a clue to there being a static time, a time of war, of drama and movement. We don’t tend to hear it, or listen to it without hearing it. As if we don’t want to hear its judgement.

Instead the misapprehensions of the crowd, travelling in every direction, as we have said, at once, go to the individual. And the self is groundless. Or these are bits of the self demanding synthesis, demanding its contraction, of which it is no longer capable. They go to the self inside it. We have also claimed theatre to be a good way of addressing the inside.

The mobile swarm of public opinion, symbolically expressed, with the mobility of signs, across the void, out onto which, sooner and later, an individual steps, fill the space. We might consider space here to signify a time, and this temporality to occupy a pure spatium. But what do we do with all these signs, gestures, symbolic of the mythic constructions of others?

We attempt their synthesis. Hence the pulling apart of the self, its fragmentation occurs according to a time, on the timeline traced along the surface: to live each day. To endure the at times unendurable passage of the hours. Cleaving to the stage, its surface escaping us, leaving signs the only mark of passage. Down to minutes, seconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, a metastatic time: this time corresponds to the mobility of the surface, a temporality where the movement of subjects in which every bit of time is synthesised is indiscernible and there is only speed: a temporality of the metastases of synthesis. And no longer audible is the clicking of tongues, but a human hum.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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sixty-sixth part, called “on movement LXVI,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

Clarification might be needed. Clarification is always needed, not necessarily to avoid confusion. And not necessarily to avoid the confusion of what we have called misapprehensions around symbolic connectivity. Clarification is not needed in the way of a clearing made and for there to be communication. Clarification is always needed to let in a little air. …Although, the question of air is immediately perilous: how polluted is it?

First, it seems, we must clear the air. We must clear the air of what we have done to it. But look at us.

We have this pretense we speak the same language. We come to the same point on the page, presupposing we’re on the same page. A sentence runs out of breath.

And, with an intake of air, we start again. At least, we try to. What for?

What for, if not to be understood, to have clearly before us… and to ask for clarification… of the subject…? Or should it be, simply to connect? Yes, to connect fills me with apprehension. Does it you?

I mean, as if clarification were necessary, I am filled with apprehension about the task at hand, or would be, were it, if it is, for the sake of connection. Those office minds who say, You can’t write a book that noone will read! It’s like they’re infected with business.

You can’t eschew connection. Unless you at once admit—and commit to it—that you have a pathology; that you have concurrently undergone. We all feel a little that way sometimes.

How much?! How much is it just about breathing? And here clarification would mean a little life. Not such a big demand. Life seeking to expend its energies… as Nietzsche writes.

Alphonso Lingis, Al. Are you there? In a beautiful passage you are standing at a supermarket checkout counter. You are in a country where you don’t understand the language—just like us?—and you have gone there in the vacation, in a break from academic life.

You have bought the plane ticket you could afford. Your criteria were preferably a country where I neither speak, nor understand the language, and price. You don’t mind spending your whole pay, to be somewhere where you have never been before. Perhaps it’s Mongolia.

In front of you in the checkout queue is a woman. I think she has a coat on, and right now you wished you’d worn something warmer. She doesn’t look to see what’s in your basket. She doesn’t look you up and down, assessing what you’re wearing, or say You’re not from around here are you. She looks you in the face and in her eyes you see a spark of recognition. Before saying a word, that anyway you wouldn’t understand, not giving you a chance to shrug apologetically in incomprehension, you both break out laughing.

What sort of connection is that? It is one of mutual recognition but recognition of a minimal intent: you and she both intend to go on breathing, are both in this climate, which isn’t exactly hot. You’ll each need to eat at some point, and take a drink. Isn’t that why you came to the supermarket? And now you’re both standing in this checkout queue, seeing each other for the first time and recognising in each other the minimal elements, the minimal requirements of life.

It’s not a need or a desire you recognise. It’s an imperative you each see in the other, and recognise. Like a spark that each in the other you would shelter with your hands. And so you burst out laughing.

If I should seek to clarify this, it’s in that spirit: what is it at stake in the symbolic? And why ‘symbolic’? Wouldn’t a better word be semiotic? seeing as how Guattari writes about the present phase of capitalism being a semiotisation, and this semiotisation permeating social life, suffocating it?

What I have in mind is that the signs semiotics studies have a gestural part, a working part, which Guattari also calls asignifying. He is theorising a semiotics of the asignifying that for us is caught up in, is the gesture. You recall it: that gesture of which the smallest is a world.

Having a gestural part the signs, produced, reproduced through, as Guattari writes, semiotisation as the current form of capital, can be taken to be symbolic gestures, gestures with a symbolic, mythic quality, invested gestures. What Guattari calls the asignifying part, the gesture, puts the sign to work in a way that is symbolic, mythic. Causing it, the gesture-sign-symbol, to be invested, is what is at stake in the symbolic. That is, desire.

The question of the symbolic is: what then are the myths animating desire, in the current era of its semiotisation? It is in service of these myths that there is and will be symbolic production and reproduction. We know the prompting, eliciting of desire to serve production, through something which is called consumption, but that through its semiotisation has become significant, has become sign and is sign-production, or straightforward production. The asignifying and the signifying work together, in the symbol.

Yet there has to be a will to desire. For it is required a myth of the personal. For it the myth is the personal, where we can ask such questions as, Should we abandon desire? As if it is ours to be taken on its word or to be given away.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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sixty-fifth part, called “on movement LXV,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

The brain selects items for action. It is not, for Bergson, for knowledge and does not select to know. It already practices an economy. Economising as a part of the system of perception, the brain is like any other organ in this respect: it synthesises problems of the outside.

If we know anything at all it’s out of habit: Hume’s insight, from which Deleuze gains the syntheses of habit. What then is synthesised, or contracted, from habits as problems of the outside? The brain takes this to be information. It takes syntheses of habit as items for action as well. Yet they are the products of habit.

That the syntheses of habit are products of habit as well, and are synthesised for action, makes that action general. Although divided into institutions, like institutional knowledge, institutional systems of representation, structures of cognition and grammars for recognition, the general action is indivisible. It performs an indivisible mobility, engaging the whole surface in movement so as to perpetuate its symbolic economy. That is, products of habit form another economy concerned with their symbolic reproduction with institutions to take care of their symbolic production.

Perhaps for the reason of the syntheses of habit being largely concerned with a symbolic economy, for Deleuze the brain is a sign signal system. As for Bergson, however, it is not for cognition and not to represent to itself that the brain and system of perception are geared, for example, representing to itself the problems of knowledge or cognition, which it would then act to process and contend with resolving. For Deleuze, the sign consists of a problem and the signal is an action.

Symbols, as matters of habitual synthesis, are still subjects of action and meanings are actions. Yet, what other meaning can they have but that acquired from habit? And, what may be parsed from these words but the syntheses of habit?

The issue is not that of bringing new meanings or a new meaning to light. Neither is that of naming this brain the false one and that one the true, the symbolic economy the secondary, or the brain of artificial creation, and the perceptual economy, the sensible one, primary and of natural creation. We are still talking of theatre and there is still the selection of subjects and for movement.

The issue is how to move in the crowd of subjective apprehensions. How to move when their alignment, the alignment of their outsides, is given by the misapprehension of symbolic actions, on a surface mobilised overall by the habitual syntheses of others. And what is movement when it is no more than the connectivity of outsides in their symbolic interplay, already, all over. The issue is, what is doing the work of the brain now it is no longer selecting items for action, for symbolic production, but the technological means, for the reproduction of habitual syntheses, that is doing the work of selection?

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

If you would like to help it come to pass, and show your support for what I’m up to, please sponsor it: become a patron, here.

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sixty-fourth part, called “on movement LXIV,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

It has become a commonplace, the initially critical claim for the divided subject, invoking Rimbaud, or, better, Pessoa: I am bursting with others. In our agreement we lose sight of the division, and—await the explosion, or sense the slow leak, as the meanings, feelings, dynamisms and intensities leak out of us. Or, otherwise, we are forced into a condition of having to agree. These freedoms are no more and no less than differentials of movement. They are minima. And we should conserve our energies.

What we are called on to accept is the production of a subjection as a complete entity, such that the completion occurs: being is what happened. This is the view of time we have from the state of the surface we have ascribed to its mobility. So, what is the entity? What entity has survey over this concept of time?

Here time is full. It is full forever. Never trickling in from the future. Never flooded by the past. Being full, we get the impression of immobility; or, it presses on us: time is the constantly taut surface of a time under pressure.

Virilio talks of the pressure exerted on time by speed. Everything speeds up, is in competition for time, and so exerts a global pressure. The squeeze is on, for the earth and its resources. He calls this the dromosphere. An atmospheric pressure.

How is the impression static? when the surface is in motion? because we are talking of two distinct systems. It appears one leads to the other, that global mobility leads to stasis. Or is there an error of levels here? since what applies to the individual cannot be said, except in hyperbole, to apply to the globe. That is, my impression of immobility owes nothing to dromospheric pressure. But it is this creation of a globe which is completed in time, in one of them, in the time of the anthropocene.

Knowledge is this accumulation. We may concede it to be incomplete but it is under pressure to be complete. Not the past pressing up against the present, drawing from it a form incommensurable with its antecedents, in Bergson’s phrase, knowledge, complacent or despairing, neither despairs of its form nor, think of science, is not pleased with its results, and think of where these press. They press on the future, giving us the sense of it being an accomplished fact, one that human knowledge is sufficient to, or, inducing in us a false humility, insufficient. Philosophy has come to seem chiefly concerned with our reassurance.

Being is this accumulation, in a terminal time. Catatonia, as we have said, in all the parts that matter: stasis. The static system is not the one arresting movement, or giving us the feeling of arrest in time. It is rather the system coupling in us speed and stasis, at least as they are formed in impression, where we see everything moving too fast and ourselves stuck.

The problem is not to introduce movement into a static system or to arrest time. We want to allow movement from being stuck. We want to be pulled out of time, or the current temporal arrangement, why many turn to the sacred. It is into association with the sacred that we might bring the notion of sacrifice: both cut into temporality: they go outside, go by way of the outside.

The problem is physical not spiritual. It is one of physics, or, physics’ problem that it can’t get outside. It can’t leave its theatre of operations. Laruelle, in proposing a nonphilosophy, has said the same of philosophy; but he then goes about refilling the glass that he has emptied. The mystic knows emptying to be endless, until we have removed the glass.

Having said the problem is physical, then it’s clearly one of bodies. Perhaps too many bodies. As in Aristotle’s injunction to avoid the unnecessary multiplication of characters. Or, is it in an atomisation of performing bodies that we have exploded onto the screen: the necessary articulation of technological advancement, of information technology?

I once thought it was this. I don’t think so anymore. I think it’s this: the inside can fill up. And we are still inside.

We have been concerned with movements of the inside, the movement that is the event of the subject. We’ve said it to consist of minima, a slight gesture, or even a hesitancy, either an active decision or not: an active decision is still a build-up of passive ones, just as the nonstatic system, the system of mobility, can lead to stasis—but in the other direction. That is, it is unidirectional: we might reconsider what kind of freedom lies in this direction: if it belongs to space, it is of external freedom of movement; if it belongs to time, it is of internal freedom, to choose that which happens. So, in a sense, the active leads back to the passive.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

If you would like to help it come to pass, and show your support for what I’m up to, please sponsor it: become a patron, here.

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