Aleiatorytexts for Augustus

libary-babel

Borgesian library-Google Data Bank. (from here)

1. Each text is a construct: a reduction of thoughts’ pluripotentials into a well-arranged, grammatically sound signifying system.  2. To arrange a text is to intervene in thought itself. 3. Hence, the arrangement of the texts in a hypertextual environment is a political act: a will to power is involved. 4. In this day and age of informational catastrophe, the author is self-aware of this text’s complicity with the politics of the digital. 5. This act of hypertextual writing is preconditioned by another construct: an assumption that there exist an anonymous individual X who will read the excess ‘i’ in the text’s title and wonder if it is something that the author of the text intends to typogrify.


 

Text 1.


Anti-Auteur
. I am currently developing a polemical piece that seeks to critically ‘deconstruct’ the tenets of auteurism tentatively entitled ‘Parricide to the Auteur’. The seed idea came from my reading of Jacques Derrida’s book Of Hospitality where I encountered the radical word ‘parricide’ (a passage of which will be provided in a separate text below). Derrida dispenses the radical potential of a Foreigner as parricidal speculum to the paternal logos. We commonly associate the logos to the rule of law, the central structuring force of all knowledge and discursive structures in the history of thought.

This parricide to the paternal logos is very much close to my developing polemic against the celebritification and mythologization of auteur in today’s film industry. In my developing study on Lav Diaz, I outwardly criticize the signifying logos of the auteur as all-encompassing concept to my philosophical investigation of the Diaz’s cinema’s relation to time.

In one of my papers submitted in Advance Film Theory and Criticism class (Film 270) (view here), I proposed a reconfiguration of the author-function as inherently complicit with the passage of time. In a way, I was trying to re-envision Diaz as a continuing process of constitution and deconstitution, an assemblage of significations and many other things beyond his body. That, in the cultural sphere, he no longer exists as One body, but as a continuous being-in-process , a becoming-in-transition. The massive circulation of texts within and outside the stratifying machine of culture, the free play between signifier and signified, and asubjective ruptures surrounding his work, all of which participate in the constitution and deconstitution of  his ‘being’, transforming him into a ‘differential immanent object.’  To simply put it, ‘Lav Diaz’ no longer exists as purely as Diaz-in-himself but rather his body becomes reconstituted and mediatized by informational, cultural and socio-political fields.

Aside from tracing anti-auteurism from a particular Derridean parricide of the paternal logos and my insistence on the artist-as-assemblage, anti-auteurism can also be traced from a dialectical intersection point of the One (Individual) and the Multiple (Collective), which proceeds from two genealogies. The Collective can be traced from the Soviet Montage Movement (Vertov’s Kino Pravda collective) to Third Cinema of Latin America to Godard’s Dziga Vertov Collective and to the recent collective filmmaking approaches of local film scene in the Philippines like Tudla Productions and Southern Tagalog Exposure. This genealogical tracing is polemically contrast to the privileging of auteur-as-individual by Cahiers du Cinema writers, the genealogy of auteur-as-individual is predominantly French in origin.

This individualization of auteur was adapted in the Philippines during the rise of Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP) as a critical method to make sense of the filmmaking practice during the 1970s-80s. It supported MPP’s nationalist polemic. Their auteurial reading of several Filipino filmmakers instituted the canonizing of ‘Filipino auteurs’ like Lino Brocka, Mike De Leon and Ishmael Bernal. The auteur-as-individual was again revived during the rise of Philippine independent films when Alexis Tioseco and other local critics used the same paternal logos to promote Filipino independent films in local and international film festivals.

In the middle of the Cinemalibre Film Club Screening last August 29, 2015, it dawned on me that we have used the same configuration of auteur-as-individual in lining-up the program. In that moment, I was encountering a problematic and ambiguous position myself in redefining the problem of the auteur. The problem has to be restated. In doing so, I have to retrace my steps back again to Derrida and his problem of the paternal logos, an inescapable logic stratifying language and reality. Thus, it is evident that the logic of programming we have adapted in Cinemalibre Film Club Screening involves the manifestation of the paternal logos of the auteur in our ‘FILMMAKER IN FOCUS’ section. On the other hand, one cannot neglect the fact there is still a formation of radicalism within the paternal logos of auteur. What appears now to be the enemy, if ever we affirm auteurs with radical intent, is the basic problem of politics of the Canon.

Canonization of auteur seems to condition the emergence of celebritification and, therefore, individualistic approach to filmmaking. The idea of director-as-celebrity comes from the majoritarian paternal logic of the canon. The canonical system of the film industry, which also exhibits an oppressive form of visibility politics, disregards the surfacing of radical filmmakers like Adam Cooley. This canon formation in the cultural industry of film, which encircles the idea of author-as-individual, also silences the minoritarian impulse of collective filmmaking. It is not surprising that the works of Tudla Productions do not appear in TOP 10 list of best films of the year because of the canonizing logic of the auteur-as-individual.

One of the conditions for the emergence of any radical movement requires a strategizing of image-politics oriented towards the tenets of the collective – the omnibus films, the exquisite corpse, the cooperative set-up, or the vanguard set-up espoused by Dziga Vertov’s Kino-Pravda documentary collective and Jean-Luc Godard’s Dziga Vertov Collective. Aside from Tudla Productions, Cebuano filmmaker’s series of collaborative films produced by BINASAYA collective: Biyernes Biyernes (2011), Sabado Sabado (2012), and Domingo Domingo (2013) come to mind when it comes to local filmmaking collective.

Aside from the silencing the collective, there is a lack of polemical study on the authorship in pornographic films. Media studies practicioners and gender/queer theorists and researchers must also privilege the study of authorship in low-culture image-production like pornography. In websites like Xtube, a lot of videos involve creative agency from their makers. The conscious and self-aware piecing together of production elements present in pornographic videos (from their positioning of the camera to their selective process in editing) are motivated by curatorial attempts of its makers to highlight parts of the coital and post-coital event in the pornographic text.  This brings again questions of the authorship in low-cultural production:

  • Is a pornographer also an auteur in the same way that Cahiers du Cinema considers Alain Resnais an auteur?
  • Is the growing audience of visible online pornography pushing these pornographers to adjust to their audience needs, or is it a matter of self-regulation from their side in order to attain mastery in the craft of pornographic inscription?

These questions conspire again the abject subject of low-cultural production. They participate in the parricidical defenestration of the auteur.

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[End of Text 1]


IMG_0609

Image 2. Text-Image – a parricide.

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Text 2.

Parricide to the Paternal Logos. Passages from Derrida, Jacques, and Anne Dufourmantelle. Of Hospitality: Anne Dufourmantelle Invites Jacques Derrida to Respond. Trans. Bowlby, Rachel. Cultural Memory in the Present. Ed. Vries, Mieke Bal Hent de. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press 2000. Print.

In Jacques Derrida’s Foreigner Question: Coming from Abroad/ from the Foreigner (Question d’etranger: venue de l’etranger, Fourth Seminar [January 10, 1996]), he dispenses the idea of parricide in this manner:

“It is the Foreigner who, by putting forward the unbearable question, the parricide question, contests the thesis of Parmenides, puts in question the logos of our father Parmeniden, ton tou patros Parmenidou logon. The Foreigner shakes up the threatening dogmatism of the paternal logos: the being that is, and the non-being that is not. As though the Foreigner had to begin by contesting the authority of the chief, the father, the master of the family, the ‘master of the house,’ of the power of hospitality, of the hosti-pets which we have talked about at such length [in earlier seminars].”[1]

And the necessity of being inside the ‘family’ i.e. the foreigner conceived as a blacksheep, the family’s undoing: “Like any parricide, this one takes place in the family: a foreigner can be a parricide only when he is in some sense within the family.[2]

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[End of Text 2]
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Image 3. The text and the parracidical cup (P25).

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Text 3.
[A state-of-affairs text.]

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Being and Time. Yesterday (9/1/15), I purchased Heidegger’s Being and Time from FullyBooked SM North EDSA. It has been there for about a month since I last saw it.

The Unnecessary Backstory. I rarely go to the mall these days. I don’t normally buy books from expensive bookstores like FullyBooked unless it is urgent and needed. I usually order my books online. Upon sighting Being and Time in a quick stroll last July 2015, I wonder why it remains somewhat there, unmoved. I checked its price (P860). It’s not surprising that it remains there because of its exchange value. At the price of P860, double or triple the minimum wage of a laborer in a day, it remains a cultural object for rich brat kids who associate it with Nazism and Existentialism! I struggled to find second-hand copies from online bookshops and literary hobbyist groups in the internet. I even tried the row of bookstores in Recto Ave. Nada. Nada. Nada.

The Unnecessary Explanation of Necessity. But I needed the text. I have a growing library of books on ontology. I needed it badly because it is a gateway text to Jacques Derrida and Object-Oriented Philosophy. Much of continental philosophy emerged from or in response to Heidegger’s thesis of being-in-itself. If you are doing research on ontology, you cannot escape Heidegger or Kant or ancient philosophy. A lot of philosophical works these days are done under the shadow of Being and Time and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Even Deleuze’s anti-Heideggerian book Difference and Repetition looks back, although in critical movement, to main thesis of Dasein, the ‘being’ in Heidegger’s book.

Memory of an encounter. Sometime ago, when I was a freshman in college, I took a course in Philosophical Analysis. There, I encountered Heidegger bundled together with what my professor described as the Existentialist movement. My professor Maricris Acido introduced us how Heidegger’s Being and Time is somewhat a precursor to and an object of critique of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. And that was what remained in mind: that Heidegger, along with Nietzsche, is part of a group of sad existentialists. This would not have changed if it were not for Deleuze. My encounter with Deleuze rectified this whole misunderstanding of the existentialist bonanza. Deleuze’s interpretation of Nietzsche transformed his figure from a Nietzsche-as-the-sad-philosopher into Nietzsche-as-an-affirmative-philosopher. Of course, in my reading of Harman’s book Tool-Being, the-existentialist-Heidegger became the-ontologist-Heidegger.

A necessary turning must occur in one’s passage across a field of texts. With Being and Time within my physical reach, the only problem would be finding time (ironically, this is a main issue!) in reading it closely.

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[End of Text 3]


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Recent upload! My 10,800-word Film Theory paper entitled The Constitution of Time in Lav Diaz’s Cinema (.pdf) is already uploaded in Academia open to critique!

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Text 4.

Looking for a Method. One of the major problems I am presently encountering in my Lav Diaz x Time project is on the question of methodology. A thesis, in a conventional sense, must have a methodology. The ontological framework I already unpacked in my paper The Constitution of Time in Lav Diaz’ Cinema seeks to find a position of Lav Diaz in relation to time. And upon arriving at the full conceptualization of the open image, I began to wonder: how does one proceed in analyzing each of Lav Diaz’s long films based on the ontological framework? It is a question of epistemology: What are the necessary epistemes or ‘tools for knowing’ in justifying the ontological framework? If one can observe, I have already conspired the familiar binary of ‘theory and practice’ i.e. the previous question can be reported as ‘how does one apply the theory to a certain practice?

Normally, theory and practice are always opposed to each other in state-of-affairs discourse. What is behind this binary is the relation between ontology, which presents the objects and their relations in a given study, and epistemology, which presents the ways of knowing how such objects are related to each other. In a way, in order to know the objects and their relation, one has to employ a certain means of knowing like a methodology. In short, an epistemological project constitutes finding a means, a methodology or a set of tools of knowing the relations among objects. The problem I guess lies in qualifying how the methodology can best show the relation among objects without the necessary attenuation of reality.

Methodology is not a cookie-cutter but rather it must function as a means of knowing and justifying the relations of among objects and the objects-in-themselves. In my case for Lav Diaz x Time, I am trying to negotiate the use of existing methodologies in formal film analysis and what I call ‘philosophical method’ – knowing by argumentation, which requires the basic tenets of rules of inference. The challenge for me is to construct a rigorous methodology that would employ both formal film analysis and philosophical method. This reminds me that I have to revisit again the film journal Film-Philosophy, edited by David Sorfa, to look through their archives in search of a film-philosophical method.

Felicity Colman’s edited book Film, Theory and Philosophy: The Key Thinkers (2009) made mention of Event Epistemology as a method in film-philosophy. Let me quote a section in the introduction at length:

‘[Event] epistemology… is an approach that explores or is representative of change, time, movement or aesthetic positions. An event can be understood as something indicative of shifts in thinking, a critique of past cycles of history, a new system; these paradigms have caused radical proposals for what the ontology of cinema can mean and produce.

[…]

When considering an event on screen… there is, of course, a different in treatment of an event as an actuality, a physical moment in time, and consideration of an event as a point of indicative of a paradigmatic or signifying system.

[…]

The paradigm of event epistemology can be characterized through its attention to the types of conditions that are generated through screen forms (for example, temporal conditions such as memory forms, imagination and time concepts). Event epistemologies will take the ideas and the concepts of film as the object for investigation. The core issues for event-epistemological paradigms are concerned with the metaphysical [emphasis added]. By metaphysical, I mean the cinema produces events that engage with thoughts and concepts: thing that have no material body but are nonetheless the stuff of existence. This includes abstract notions such as time and space, the dynamics of social situations, political residues, historical concepts translated into emotions (memories, feelings of nostalgia, anticipation, fear, desire, love, etc.), imaginary stimulus by fictive screen-worlds, and screen-situations that engender an embodied state.’[3]

Colman identifies the following theorists as event epistemologists:

  • Slavoj Zizek
  • Jean Baudrillard
  • Serge Daney
  • Johan Grimonprez
  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty
  • Vivian Sobchack
  • Laura Marks

It is quite interesting to encounter again Sobchack and Marks in the list. They have been considerably pegged as phenomenologists along with Merleau-Ponty. It makes me wonder how event epistemology is somehow oriented or considered as a method in phenomenology. Any other leads on other methods aside from Event Epistemology?

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[End of Text 4]


NOTES

[1] Jacques Derrida and Anne Dufourmantelle, Of Hospitality: Anne Dufourmantelle Invites Jacques Derrida to Respond, ed. Mieke de Vries Bal, Hent trans., Rachel Bowlby, Cultural Memory in the Present (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press 2000), p. 5.

[2] Ibid, p. 7

[3] Colman, Felicity, ed. Film, Theory and Philosophy: The Key Thinkers. Durham: Acumen Publishing Limited, 2009.

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