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In Cinema, Catastrophes Await Us

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First published in Kino Punch Issue 5, May 2017.

The Quest(ion) of the End

             What does cinema leave behind?

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The question, by its form, inaugurates a catastrophe ‚Äď a birthing of an open space, an open time, an alterhorizon, alterverse. If cinema indeed leaves us ‚Äėnow‚Äô, or will leave us in the near future, or has left us already, proceeding as if all forms of moving images, all visological and auditory epiphenomena, and all objects associated with the idea of ‚Äėcinema‚Äô have vaporized into nothingness, then what crisis await us? As a spectral being coming from the future of post-cinematic era, I come to ask: what life awaits us after cinema? Or to paraphrase the question: what is the post-cinematic condition?

            The disappearance of cinema, or the end of cinema, presents us an unbearable condition of existence. What initiates this essay into coming to being is the intolerable philosophical possibility of the rapture of cinema emergent from the process of absencing, or the process of coming to nothing, of moving towards the end, haunting the organicity of being. As Heidegger wrote in Being and Time, life, or existence, is partly or wholly conditioned by one’s death. The question of cinema leaving us also constitutes an eschatological or phenomenological rapture, a question of death in itself. As witness to this becoming-nothing of cinema, we also depart from the plurality of what might be, or the plurality of things to come. At the end of what might be the end of cinema, we are left within a labyrinth of ruins, a citadel of death, a sea of anomalous materials and an archive of catastrophes, waiting for the specter to return from the dead. If cinema indeed ceases to exist, there will be an archive, yes, but what kind of archive?

The Invisible End of National Cinema

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† In Patrick Campos‚Äô seminal book The End of National Cinema, the terminus of arrival is not the end but a Nietzschean curl. It is the end that severs from itself from ending. When Campos wrote the words: ‚Äė[‚Ķ] the end of national cinema, which is independence,‚Äô[1] what actuates is an end that circles back to the beginning ‚Äď the eternal return of the same. Yet, if indeed the end of national cinema constitutes the arrival of independent cinema, then what catastrophe awaits us? Or, what catastrophe awaits us if we sever ourselves from the idea of ‚Äėnational cinema‚Äô? In the shorelines of forgetfulness, Campos inscribes a catastrophe we cannot see. Indeed, the concept of ‚Äėnational cinema‚Äô can only signified from a particular formalization and politicization of discourse within a institutional hegemonic apparatus. In the shorelines of forgetfulness of everyday life, the idea of the national cinema is under the threat of constant erasure. National cinema no longer belongs to people. Institutions and capitalists markets have decimated its revolutionary potential as an instrument of proletarian revolution. Through the processes of disembodiment, standardization and rationalization, national cinema only became a tool that reaffirms state power, reinvigorates and replenishes the Capital, and refurbishes the ideological state apparatus of the ruling class elite.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Cinema became an instrument of hegemony: the eye of the state and the topos of capitalism. Campos attributes the disappearance of the ‚Äėnational‚Äô within these movements of deterritorialization, as can be seen in Southeast Asian Cinema. What Campos imagines is a transitionary end of national cinema as it transforms into transnational cinema. The dissolution of hegemonic borders of power of these ‚Äėnation-state cinemas‚Äô proves that the idea of national continues to be reconstituted even in its post-national and trans-national sense. What can be gleaned from Campos on this cultural transformation is a remnant of an unseen catastrophe synthesized by the triumphal machinations of the neoliberal political economy and cultural imperialism. Indeed, cinema has already undergone many invisible catastrophes since its birth in 1895 ‚Äď many ends, many Nietzschean curls ‚Äď disappearing and reappearing in several parts of the world under different historical and socio-political contexts.

Anthropocene and the End

            Invisible catastrophes precludes bigger ontological catastrophes. If cinema indeed leaves us, vision and visuality has to be reconstituted, uprooted, and destroyed along with the obliteration of the visual logic of the moving image. This reconstitutional process is prefigured arguably with the crisis of anthropocene, although Lyotard’s solar catastrophe might constitute the apocalypse that will eventually extinguished cinema in an eschatological sense. The crisis of anthropocene, however, appears to be the most imminent global catastrophe cinema has to go through. Its currency and global significance as the eschatological standard necessitates a productive confrontation. So what kind of catastrophe awaits in cinema in the age of anthropocene?

      Anthropocene refers to the crisis of over-determination of human agency in managing the limited natural resources of the planet. The crisis of the anthropocene narrativizes the productive-exploitative peak of human activity. It paints an image of an ecological and geological catastrophe signaled by the encroachment of global warming and the genocide of populations due to human-induced environmental disasters. Anthropocene is the eco/ego-logical fall of the human. In the age of anthropocene,, cinema’s materiality and industry, constituted by these productive-exploitative industries i.e. semi-conductor industry, plastic industry, silicon industry (for the lens) and telecommunications industry, will be irrecoverable and delimited. The material erasure of cinema comes also with its imminent erasure in the global subjectivity of things, actualize by the logic of the anthropocene that, up to now, continues to deconstitute cores and centers of subjectivity, deterritorializing, de-subjectivizing and ahistoricizing bodies, gestures, identities and forms.

What is a cinema without material? A ghost.

The End as Catastrophe of the Commons

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Diaz‚Äôs film The Day Before the End (2015), like Campos‚Äô book, also indexes the ‚Äėend‚Äô as a catastrophe, but this time, what Diaz attempts to paint is the ‚Äėend‚Äô as catastrophe of the commons. Unlike Campos‚Äô book that implicitly constitutes the ‚Äėend‚Äô as the invisible deterritorialization of hegemonic centers through the globalized capital, Diaz‚Äôs film reflects on the heretical condition of the linguistic end of the human. In the film we see three poet-heretics of different locutions. What Diaz vaguely paints is the image of the Tower of Babel in polysemic disarray. Like Jean-Marie Straub and Dani√®le Huillet‚Äôs sirens in From the Clouds to the Resistance (1979), these three heretical sirens signal the end as the triumph of silence or perhaps the end of human speech. The three heretical sirens (played by Hazel Orencio, Noel Miralles, and Noel Sto. Domingo) are figures of the human at the edge of the anthropocene, grappling perhaps the last subjective utterance of the human. Here, in Diaz‚Äôs frames, we come to an end.

What happens next is the transformative passage of all life to a new epoch: the epoch of ruins at the shoreline of disappearance and absence. The post-human era will be indexed as the end of the human and also as the end of cinema. What cinema leaves behind is an image of itself as a total abyss, for in the end, human visions ceases to exist, Visible light will no longer be tenable in the post-human era as new forms of affective sensibility associated with other electromagnetic waves like infrared, radio waves, and gamma rays will be explored in replacement to the visible-light-centered apparatus of cinema. All these, too, will come to an end.

Even in post-cinema, catastrophes await us.

May 2017
Quezon City, Manila

 


 Work Cited

[1] Campos, Patrick F., The End of National Cinema: Filipino Film at the Turn of the Century (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2016), p. 24

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Marking the 100th Year of the Great October Socialist Revolution

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In solidarity with the people, and in celebration of the 100th year of the Great October Socialist Revolution, I will dedicate a series of blog posts commemorating the basic concepts of Marxism and also problematizing some contemporary (post)-Marxists texts in relation to the orthodox approach of Marxist analysis that hinges on the base-superstructure¬†and historical materialist¬†methods in looking at social phenomena and immanent power relations in society. I’ve listed some of the texts below that I plan to read in the next few months while I prepare my thesis proposal for MA Media Studies (Film):

  • The German Ideology by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • The Communist Manifesto by¬† Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State by Friedrich Engels
  • Materialism and Empiriocriticism by Vladimir Lenin
  • The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism by Vladimir Lenin
  • The Theory of the Subject by Alain Badiou
  • A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
  • Communist Hypothesis by Alain Badiou
  • Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino by Joma Sison
  • Reading Capital by Louis Althusser, Roger Establet, Pierre Macherey and √Čtienne Balibar
  • Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory by Raymond Williams
  • On Contradiction by Mao Tse-Tung
  • Specters of Marx by Jacques Derrida
  • Sublime Object of Ideology by Slavoj Zizek
  • Althusser’s Lesson¬†by Jacques Ranciere

Some of these texts have been dealt with by other scholars. My goal is to read them with a renewed critical focus on their ontological assertions on temporality/time and technology.

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Notes on a Documentary Featurette: ‘Rear Window – Pelikula Pilipino (Filipino Films): Lav Diaz’


Duration: 14′ 00” // Date: April 5, 2017

TeleSur English, which is, according to their Facebook About Page, ‘a Latin American-based media outlet committed to principled journalism with a global outlook from the SOUTH,’ hosted an interview with Lav Diaz when Diaz was in London last month. This documentary featurette contains¬†a discourse on politics and praxis where Diaz reaffirms his political position on the Duterte Regime. Here are some of my notes on the interview:

  • Marcosian Imaginary in Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan: It was crystal clear in this interview that Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (2014) is a film about the young Ferdinand Marcos. Diaz outwardly expressed that Norte is his examination of the birth of fascism in the Philippines.
  • Diaz against the Duterte Regime: In this interview with screenwriter Emilie Bickerton, Diaz expressed his dissenting opinion on the Duterte regime. He described Duterte as a ‘mad man’ and detested Duterte’s¬†drug war and his idolatry (?) to the Marcoses.

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  • Language and Class: Diaz also discussed with Bickerton the class divide¬†on the local language, as reflected in his film¬†Norte Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (2014) when the character of Angeli Bayani, Eliza, speaks with the lawyer of his imprisoned husband. In the film, Eliza expressed discomfort on the foreignness of the legal provisions that disallows her to file a motion for reconsideration or appeal to the court. In the interview, Diaz sought to stratify the class divisions in Filipino society via language by placing Spanish and English language as spoken by the upper class and Tagalog by the ‘masses’ with omission on the existence of¬†regional languages like Bisaya and Hiligaynon.
  • Diaz against Historical Revisionism: Diaz also expressed his disappointment with the contemporary Filipino youth for their¬†lack of engagement with the historical past, in particular, as it can be implied, a strand of historical revisionism that emerged prior to the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
  • Art as Pedagogical Instrument: Diaz invoked all ‘artistic mediums’ to join forces in fighting the state apparatus and the ‘apathy and indifference’ in Filipino culture. Diaz believes, as he¬†has been saying in other interviews, that art and/or¬†cinema can educate (and acculturate), that they are pedagogical instruments.
  • Lav Diaz and Foucauldian Genealogy: The interview ended with a¬†note¬†from Diaz regarding the importance of an ‘examination of the past’¬†in reference to the present. For me, this configuration on historicizing is essentially Foucauldian: a genealogical critique requires that, in order to understand the present, an ‘examination of the past’ must be made.

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More to come in the future…

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Notes on the Video Interview: ‘Emancipated Cinema: A Conversation with Lav Diaz’

Link to post.

Mubi.com is conducting an almost year-long retrospective on Lav Diaz’s oeuvre titled It’s About Time: The Cinema of Lav Diaz [link], exclusively playing worldwide October 8, 2016 – July 27, 2017. Their blog website, MUBI Notebook, has also been generous of critically acknowledging Diaz’s cinema in writing since¬†2010 (see here).

This interview is one of many interviews Diaz conducted with MUBI.com although perhaps this is the first time that MUBI.com engaged with Diaz using an audio-visual format compared to their usually interview transcript type. With regards to the content of the interview, most of the questions are fairly rehashed versions of the frequently asked questions in Diaz’s career: about his process, his prejudice, his idea of cinema, his memory of cinema, etc. These questions are author-centered, most of which are meant to profile Diaz as an artist-filmmaker, an orginator of a ‘new’ cinema. The interview is also meant to supplement the on-going retrospective, so it works as an appendage of sorts. As¬†a researcher who have read and re-read the transcripts of Diaz’s interview published since 2000, the purpose of this post is to respond to some of Diaz’s theoretical, practical and praxiological assertions, generalizations and conceptualizations in interview. The goal is to unmask any form of idealism in Diaz’s answers.

Here some of my notes from the interview they’ve done:

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MUBI: What is your earliest memory of cinema? ¬†[0′ 09”]

  • Childhood during Pre-Martial Law Period. Diaz narrated some specific memories of his childhood in Maguindanao, in particular the period in his life when his family stayed in Datu Paglas. The period was probably between 1958, his birth year, and 1970-71, when he was thirteen or fourteen years old, a year before the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines.
  • Diaz’s Provincial Cinephilia/Formation of Regionalist Subjectivity. He¬†recalled¬†a particular memory when his father would took him (and his siblings?) to a town three to four hours away from Datu Paglas (probably Tacurong City) where four stand-alone cinemas¬†stood. The four cinemas showed double bills every weekend.
  • Film School.¬†And looking back, with reference to a present idea of film school, he considered this experience as his ‘film school‘.

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MUBI: How important is it to keep the number of people on your crew to a minimum?¬†¬†[1′ 33”]

  • Diaz against the large-crew set-up in filmmaking. Diaz expressed his preference towards a ‘lean and mean’ cinema. Diaz disagreed with the idea of cinema people overdoing the filmmaking process by employing many technical staff (i.e. camera department with 25 to 75 people). He said that this large-crew set-up create a lot of troubles and that the artist-filmmaker loses artistic-aesthetic focus and subjectivity in the process.
  • On the importance of attaining Aesthetic Focus. Diaz prefers an approach to cinema geared towards attaining an aesthetic focus (i.e. ‘focus on the story, focus on the characters, focus on creating some geographic template… trying to find the more realistic templates for the film. The geographic template will create the aesthetic template. A better understanding of the milieu of the character.’).
  • Artist-Filmmaker as Individual rather than Collective Subjectivity. This essentially brings us to¬†Diaz’s aesthetic film authorship as a subjectivity formed¬†from an individualist rather than a collective domain of film making practice. For Diaz, the vision of the filmmaker-as-artist or as-aesthetic-mover has to come through. This is his¬†praxiological paradigm.

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MUBI: Besides economics, what do you find appealing about digital filmmaking?¬†¬†[3′ 15”]

  • From Digital-as-Emancipation to Emancipation as Reinforcing the Author-Function. Diaz vaguely conflates the idea of digital ¬†with the idea of emancipation. But Diaz’s idea of emancipation is not really the radical sort associated with¬†mass movements in the past. Let us be clear here in drawing the line on the politics encrypted in Diaz’s idea of emancipation. For Diaz, this emancipation¬†can be viewed only in the purview of the artist-filmmaker. In some sense, Diaz’s idea of emancipation via digital reinforces the authority of author, the artist-filmmker. ‘Emancipation’ here is a compromised concept, a concept not critical of the author-function, but rather a reinforcing one.
  • Digital is Liberation if and only if it liberates the filmmaker. For Diaz, the digital revolution is¬†the emancipation of the artist-filmmaker from the techno-economic closure of celluloid filmmaking. For Diaz, the digital revolution awarded filmmakers a personalized filmmaking practice: ‘Now we own the tool, now we own the guitar. Now we own our brush. Nobody is imposing on you.’ For Diaz, having this freedom to create via the¬†digital medium is ‘more important than having big budget’ recalling his experience with the studio system in the late 1990s.

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MUBI: Your films are often described as “Slow Cinema.” What do you think about this label?¬†[4′ 55”]

  • Lav Diaz Against a Dominant Orientation of Cinema. For Diaz, the idea of slow cinema emerged as opposition force against the dominant orientation that cinema must¬†comprise of two characteristics: (1) fast cuts and (2) an average duration of two hours. Abridgment of narrative and duration is¬†one of the dominant formal orientation of cinema which Diaz is against. This dominant orientation in cinema is, for Diaz, an imposed practice¬†perhaps, although not mentioned explicitly, by the free market.
  • Art vs. Industry….Again? Diaz equates art¬†as an abolition of the film industrial¬†imposition on cinematic duration: ‘art is free’. Diaz¬†creates a¬†diametrical opposition between art and industry. This prejudice towards industry is¬†actually surprisingly unchanged since his essay Aesthetics of Batang West Side (d. 2001). Diaz’s insistence for the abolition of the industry control over aesthetic choices of the filmmaker paints a contradiction in his praxis. The contradiction emerges from the recent production of his films¬†Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (2016) and Ang Babaeng Humayo (2016). His contradictory approach to filmmaking makes me wonder:¬†What constitutes the politics of emancipation of a filmmaker if¬†one¬†is already in collaboration with the industry, and therefore complicit with the culture of exploitation of the industry? For Diaz, the elimination of a profit¬†motive and the change of perspective from cinema-as-profit or¬†cinema-as-entertainment to cinema-as-culture or ¬†cinema-as-art frees the filmmaking from the imposing clasp of the market-driven industry.
  • The Market for Long Durations. Diaz¬†declares that he does not do cinema for the market. However, his recent excursions with market-driven local, transnational and international producers and ¬†distributors like Star Cinema (PH), Kino Lorber (USA), ARP Selection (France), etc., all of which are registered film distribution companies with corporate orientation in their business models, prove otherwise.¬†Diaz has overlooked the role of cultural capital (Bourdieu) in constituting the market for his cinema. Diaz¬†won major awards in several of major film festivals in Europe (in particular: Locarno, Venice and Berlin).¬†His rise to a global auteur status gave him enough cultural capital to establish a market for his films. His films indeed cater to an art-elite film festival-going segment of the mass market. Hence, this denial of market-driven praxis constitutes Diaz’s contradiction as well as the limitation of his critical attribution for an emancipative path through cinema. This contradiction¬†creates¬†a new window to us with regards to how we can critically study¬†Diaz’s politics of duration. We might be tempted to accept Diaz’s declaration as is without looking outside its rhetorical frame. Diaz’s politics of duration is not limited to his ideation of what cinema is. Instead, the study of politics of duration must expand towards understanding the regimes of ideology, technics and temporality that constitute¬†his impetus to say so. Is the¬†regime of capitalism, through its dispersal encroachment in the realm of digital and digitality, which gives us a sense of false freedom, co-opts the radical potential of Diaz’s cinema? If¬†slow duration has emanciptory potential to¬†provide an alternative politics of time to a world immersed in fast-cuts and the instant, then what kind of praxiological paradigm does it entail?¬†What constitutes a radical duration? What is the relation of a radical duration with a revolutionary duration? These questions are paramount to my thesis on Lav Diaz.
  • Diaz and Genres. Diaz discussed about adapting genre paradigms in his cinema. For Diaz, genre is not a problem¬†for its ‘usability’, as paradigms.
  • Long=Short: On the Ontology of Durations. In this interview, as well as in¬†some interviews he conducted in past, Diaz homogenizes the ontological difference between long and short cinema. This is however problematic¬†in a political economic sense. From a materialist perspective, a material distinction exist between long and short durations. No two regime of temporality are alike or reducible to One. As Badiou puts it, One always become Two.¬†For Diaz, the ontology of cinema cannot be made on the basis of duration. This is someway similar to how Deleuze constitute the idea of difference: that¬†there can only be a difference-in-kind and not a difference-in-degree. Well, if indeed duration is of the order of degree, then Diaz’s insistence of homogenization is valid. Yet,¬†the problem¬†with this proposition is that duration is not in the order of degree, but in order of substance and material. In cinema, duration is a material characteristic. It is corporeal. One of the challenges of my research is to determine whether duration is a difference-in-degree or a difference-in-kind.

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MUBI: How free are your actors with characterization and improvisation? [8′ 38”]

To be continued…

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Movie Posters of Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left, 2016)

Below is a visual presentation of different official and unofficial posters of Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left, 2016). As of today,  the film has been distributed to three countries (Philippines, France and Italy) by Creative Programs, Inc., ARP Selection, and Microcinema respectively. As of February 2017, Kino Lobrer acquired rights to all types of media related to the film for North American Distribution.

2017 – North American Poster :: Kino Lorber

WWL Poster for web

2016 – French Poster :: ARP Selection

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2016 – Philippine Poster :: Star Cinema / Creatives Programs, Inc.

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by artist – unknown

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Another study by Raphael Laureta.

 

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Tolentino on Clique Formation and Segmentation in Philippine Indie Cinema

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“While the spirit of indie filmmaking calls for a solidarity of the margins, what is consequently being formed in the indie filmmaking scene is segmentation and fraternal links based on filmmaking styles, funding cliques, and international festival exposure. There was a time when indie filmmakers would help each other out in the financing and production of their films. But what is happening are indie filmmakers of the same persuasion assisting each other. The fizzling out of the “indie spirit” stems from the construction of segmentation of filmmakers based on filmmaking practices. When segmentation occurs because of the filters of funding source and exposure to international film festival markets, then what becomes of indie cinema is an unprincipled and wavering kind of film practice, no longers contingent on the very idea of divergent filmmaking practice. The look and feel of indie cinema is reproducible, but the spirit behind indie filmmaking is not. The materiality of indie cinema still lies in its capacity to offer itself as a divergent film practice outside mainstream cinema and within its own confines.”¬†(p. 13)

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Hello 2017!

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Dropping by to say hi!  This note is intended to be short, just a run down on what happened to me these past few weeks of the year and some updates on my research on Lav Diaz:

  • At last, after two and half years, I’m done with my coursework for MA Media Studies (Film) last December 2016. I am currently awaiting for the decision of the Graduate Studies Department of UP CM if whether I am indeed qualified to take the dreaded MA Candidacy Exam this coming February 2017. Wish me luck!¬†
  • UPDATE: MA MS (Film) Comprehensives exam will be on February 11! Shiet! I got 25 books and 10 films to speed read and speed watch in less than a month. I’ll be charting my progress here, so stay tune. Hope I can put some of my digests on chapters/essays here. Wish me luck for the compre exams.
  • Also, after being unemployed for two years, I already landed a job last August 2016. So there.
  • As for my research on Lav Diaz, I’m currently doing a historical study of Diaz in relation to technology and the political economic history of Philippine cinema, following the framework of cultural materialism/techno-criticism. It’ll be a baseline study wherein I can finally look into Lav Diaz beyond his aesthetics and content and dwell on the necessary historical problems that haunt his cinema. One of the main questions that I want to problematize in this study is what were the technological and socio-economic conditions what led to the emergence of Diaz’s long form style.
  • Will try to draft something for DLSU’s 8th KRITIKA: National Workshop on Art and Cultural Criticism 2017 due tomorrow, Jan 15 and KRITIKA KULTURA CRITICISM¬†WORKSHOP due on March 15. I already have ready-made unpublished essays. I just have to refine them. Hopefully, I will not be too distracted tomorrow.

Let’s rock on for 2017! Goals for 2017: more publications, more conference, more blogpost, ¬†more papers!

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…The Interlude… (or Can the body of Wolverine be a finalize unquestionable image?)

Two, which stands between¬†one¬†and¬†three, is a gift – a gift of space – a space where one can inscribe residual thoughts, thoughts that remain a secret if undisclosed. This is a space of enchantment. Do not be fixed or settled.¬†This is a temporary passage in the hypertext,¬†a passage¬†between the two main texts:¬†the text prior¬†and¬†the text to come,¬†serving¬†as a bridge, bridging the ‘between’, servicing and serving as a text-bridge, or a bridging text between two different lands of interiority, ‘outside’ and never inside, an extro-bridge that extends to two territorialities: a territoriality of the past and a territoriality of the future.

This writing is a residue, a¬†precipitate, an excess of thought¬†from numerous engagements with other texts, images, gestures, residually escaping from the coding process of the brain.¬†Residual thoughts are weak forces. It has a liminal spirit – part of a ruin but out of place, a remainder, a microscopic dust left underneath a productive machine. A residue can be an interlude, a peripheral malaise, just like this, just like the moment when I wrote this in an exchange: “Minsan may legibility siya like in mainstream cinema, we have the abs of wolverine sa Days of Future Past. abs yun kahit anong gawin natin.” [link]

The residue comes in a form of a question: is the body of Wolverine in¬†X-Men: Days of Future Past¬†(2014), as seen in the series of photographs on top, be a finalized unquestionable image, an image that cannot be undone, destroyed and rethought? Is the image¬†perfect¬†and¬†enclosed? Will it, in the course of time, preserve its musculature – its dents, curvature, bulges – as a ‘fully’ inscribed image?

These questions are¬†peripheral threats. They threaten the cleanliness of the finalized image. Dusts can be small, but their very smallness, their microscopic constituents, their dissemination across the field of question creates a peripheral mess, the very undoing of the main structure. We assume, in many ways, that the main structure¬†–¬†the apparent body of Wolverine¬†– is more important than the residue¬†–¬†that which is folded in the image yet disembodied, undisclosed, a secret musculature beneath the musculature¬†within which the residue arrives as wastage, as remnants of the violent process of hegemonic inscription, composing the¬†marginalia¬†of a central machine – the Hollywood machine. It acts as a subversive force, subverting the dominance of any text: an image, omnipresent in our society –¬†the image of hegemony¬†– the Hollywoodized, extrasexual image. This political gesture of residualizing, which is a form of questioning, also enacts a forward stance – an insistence that this image of Wolverine cannot be final, that it has, hidden beneath its affective structure, the very mechanism of its undoing.

The residual power of thinking participates in the image’s undoing. To undo this finality, this capture of Hollywood, we have to rethink again of what the image is. Residual thoughts are ontological and, at the same time,¬†ontogenetic. It offers the image a chance to live, and it opens our eyes to new ways of seeing, an image is always in co-evolution with its ontogenetic material. The image is self-positing, as Deleuze would say in¬†What is Philosophy?.¬†It is¬†independent of its viewer or its creator. It has a ‘life’ on its own, preserved in¬†blocs of sensation. An image is mobilized by¬†sense¬†i.e. seeing, proprioception, etc.¬†not because it has an agent that controls the propagation of its affects, but it is self-positing. It is also independent of the viewer. Why? Because the viewer is no longer necessary in the life of the image, as in the case of Mona Lisa (La Gioconda), its passage in time is not dependent on its viewer. It is, on its own, self-preserving and its life is preserved in the blocs of sensation that constitutes its body. ¬†But how do we undo this image? How can it escape the capture of language?

Affect escapes – it always escapes language, confinement, and consolidation. Affect is what preserves the image of its vitality, its¬†likeness, its morphology, its living ‘body’. It is nonlinguistic, out of phase with matter, and it’s where the image’s emergence begins. This “escape of affect” is continuous, which gives the image an imperceptible layer – a residue, a shadow, an asymmetry. This imperceptible layer remains untranslatable: in looking at the body of Wolverine, one no longer seizes words. One finds oneself at a breaking point of language. From the image of Wolverine’s body, affect takes over the body. This is not a linguistic event that has means and ends, an objective with a determinable¬†start¬†to¬†finish. It is an¬†affective instantaneous flash.¬†Contours of Wolverine’s musculature are figures of intensities. We do not take them as is (a denotative ‘is’), because it leaves us in a state of unease. The image slips, mutates and transforms in our minds. Our mind wishes to organize it, to perform a regulation of its intensities, but some of the intensities escape because the image does not reside in language. Some of its parts can be ‘seen’, ‘perceived’, but not spoken, written or described.

The image of Wolverine has its own harmonics – a vibrational character. It is in fact a harmonic string, positing its own music. Why is that? It releases an intensity transduced and attenuated by lenses of material excesses within an empirical field. But is this arousal or sexual response a bodily event localized in the body of the observer? The empirical field extends beyond the body. Let’s look at this way: the image and the receiver’s body are not the only participants of this transversal movement of intensities. The receiver’s body is not the subject of intensity closed in on it. When the body is aroused, it also releases an expressible set of intensity, which also affects the surrounding bodies within his periphery. His body might give off heat to the surrounding air, or he might give a laugh or a sneer, which is an aural affect, heard by himself and by other ‘hearing’ receivers around him. Transduction of affect is always within a field in which the interaction between the image and the body is not a binary relation, but rather a¬†field relation,¬†a relay of various signals across an array of sensible objects within a specific field.

The empirical field renders all images and expressions in a state of deconstitution or deconstruction, not finally inscribed or¬†present. It does not impose the present or presence but rather it recomposes a past-future of the image. In the propagation of image within an empirical field, the¬†present (or rather the presence)¬†of the image deconstitute as it constitutes itself. It is an immanent body –¬†not yet there but going there, in process, a becoming,¬†still emerging, bulging out, emitting light particles of different quality. For the power of the image resides not it is perfection, but its ability to deconstitute, to produce a spectre – a haunting presence that would titillate the sensing body – the viewers – to their very ends.

Pornography works that way. A pornographic image is powerful not because it is¬†perfect and finalized¬†but because its power resides in its spectrality – it titillates the brain via¬†erotic haunting¬†– the brain is literally ruptured by the process of erotic haunting, sending shock waves across the geography of the body, transforming the body anew. During the haunting, the brain is at its height of creative process. It circulates the intensities from images of naked bodies on screen as a vortex of sensations. These intensities are disseminated and dissipated in every nerve ending across the body as a violent jolt.¬†In this way, pornography becomes a form of incorporeal violence. This creative impulse is not a natural process. It is learned by multiple viewings and multiple ‘performances’ to oneself – a habituated pleasure. Masturbation is a creative act. It requires the brain and the body to co-produce and co-create network of signals, intensities and sensations: all of which moving at hyperspeed within an empirical field. This pleasurable moment is irreversible and infinite, the similar infinity one feels in a state of hallucination. It is asymmetrical, decentered, and subversive, with¬†a temporal dimension out of phase from the dominant, linearized¬†present¬†time. Arousal is, in other words, a¬†differance,¬†a pleasurable differance, no longer of the present but a multitemporal event, differed and continuously differing from the present.

It can be said that the body achieves a creative evolution when undergoing a process of pleasure. Pleasure is emancipatory and radical. It brings the body to a place ‘beyond’ place, to an¬†event ‘beyond’ the bodily event. Pleasure is a residue of the signification process, a remainder of stratification, neither outside nor inside the main text, but distributed across an empirical field. The image of Wolverine is not a¬†finalized¬†image, inscribed¬†perfectly.¬†It is not totally hegemonic. It rather contains a microscopic emancipatory potential because of its¬†immanent and asymmetrical character. One more thing: the image of Wolverine does not have interiority, because as all images are, it is always pointing outward. It is always exteriorizing itself. Nothing remains. Its base, which one cannot see, the 1/0 codes simulated by the digital machines of this website, runs in parallel to this extensity, this intensive extensity of the image. Its transmission from base to the empirical field is feed-forward.

CITATION

Mendizabal, A. D. (2015). …The Interlude… (or Can the body of Wolverine be a finalized unquestionable image?). Retrieved January 17, 2016, from http://adrianmendizabal.blogspot.com/2015/08/note-4-nonface-interlude-lav-diaz-and.html

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Tracing and Mapping Time

heremias

This is just a quick update on my research project. Some exploratory notes on the domain of research. 

My research project on Lav Diaz is becoming a rigorous cartographic project of existing literature exploring the domain of all possible and impossible fields that might actually play in dispensing and distilling the idea of cinema and time. It is unforgivable to perform cartographic sketch for a filmmaker coming from only one root or one guiding framework. Frameworks are arborescent structures. They are centric and centered on subjectivity and historical & cultural determination decreasing potentiality of the plane generative of pure events. The plane for this project must manifest as a empirical space for contending issues which includes not only the problematics of time and cinema but also the following: ontology of representation which dates back to Plato, emancipatory power of cinema , the author/auteur, affect and perception, spectatorship, political economy of time, ethics, the Other and the Minoritarian, digital era, etc.

After tracing and mapping ‘time’ from all¬†directions: from Rodowick (digital x time) to Flusser (post-history) to Bliss Cua Lim (postcolonialism x time) to Agamben (time vs. history) to Deleuze (who reads Bergson, Spinoza and Kant) to Guattari (transversality, ecology) to Derrida (time’s invisibility, differance, trace, critique of metaphysics of presence) to Massumi (perception x time), I am¬†now entering ¬†a differential passage.

  • Toni Negri for labour time
  • Bernard Stiegler for technology x time
  • Jacques Ranciere for¬†image x politics and his writing on Bela Tarr
  • Quentin Meillassoux for his¬†striking proclamation of ‘time as absolute’ in After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency‚Äč
  • Ray Brassier for relation of time to extinction
  • some contemporary writings on slow cinema (recently Justin Remes’ Motion(less) Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis)

The project is becoming a hyperplane, a manifold of intersecting discourses, which will eventually collapse into a field or a network of relations that would answer the question: What is the relationship of time and the film image? 

Time is the most difficult component of the project, while Diaz’s cinema remains as an object of philosophical and critical analysis. The relation of time and Diaz’s cinema¬†is¬†a difficult mix of philosophy and cinema studies.¬†I can, however, remain considerably ‘disciplined’ by focusing only on film studies aspect¬†reviewing and integrating only the¬†literature available within the film discipline along with extensive formal film analysis, generating a work of secondary literature. The¬†addition of¬†time as a component to the research¬†stretches the¬†domain¬†of¬†the project.

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