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    Final_Thesis_Debord_Subtitle Final_Thesis_Debord_Subtitle Document Transcript

    • 69 Chapter 2: Becoming-street: In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni as cinematic dérive [Dispute 2: The use of genres, categories, and series: The cinematic image—static stalemate or somatic checkmate?] “Perhaps thinking’s lot is just to bear witness to the rest, to the untameable, to what is incommensurable with it. But to say witness is to say trace, and to say trace is to say inscription. Retention, dwelling.” —Jean-François Lyotard, “Domus and the Megalopolis”1 “Behind the infatuation with technology a revealed truth lies hidden, and as such is unquestionable: we must ‘dwell.’” — Raoul Vaneigem, “Comments against Urbanism” 2 Dwelling, Inhabitation The second phrase dispute in the différend that is modern cinema is the use of pre-existing cinematic genres, categories and series as practiced in the films of Guy Debord. In this dispute, Debord rendered the cinematic image as not static. As opposed to Godard’s work, Debord seeks to extend the cinema outside of its iconic representation. The conflict, therefore, is unlike Pasolini’s dispute, where the fiction of a film rendered the camera as its own subjective point of view. This conflict provokes a film into literalizing movement, one that places the image as a leak effect that extends beyond the film’s frame. Guy Debord’s sixth film In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni made in 1978 is one that literalizes movement.3 Movement as dwelling, as a “corporation.” In its use of appropriated images from various films of the city of Paris to Debord’s own footage filmed in the Venice canal, In girum disengages the medium of film from its static confines as mere image. In girum asks of the viewer to literalize movement in order to engage in a response with what lies outside of In girum’s own film frames. I try to argue that In girum acts itself out as a pedestrian encounter, and, in so doing, formulates a mode of existence. In this essay, I place In girum as a film that functions more like the Situationist practice of the dérive rather than the détournement. In its alliance with the dérive, In girum acts as psychogeographical—a film as an encounter that marks the spectator as an “inhabited” subject. Before treading into the Situationist notion of the psychogeographical, dérive, and détournement, a brief explanation into what I term “inhabited” should be clearly stated. By a subject being “inhabited,” I read the viewer in this essay as encountering a critique that is provoked by the visual-textual “experience” of a film, and the necessity of extending that very relation it creates towards the social world that it indexes. 4 Inhabitation not in the sense of a mimetic corporalization, but as a coexistence, a corporation. Moreover, “experience” should be understood as a process by which subjectivity is constructed through forms of affect rendered from discursive formations of social practices. Rather than being fixed, experience, located in the flux of social interaction, discursively challenges, shifts, and/or changes a subject.
    • To inhabit is to dwell with others (an other is also an image), to be, as Jean-Luc Nancy argues, in the singular-plural—the “I” amongst the “we” in our present turmoil.5 In this essay, therefore, the medium of film is a social phenomenon, and the cinematic image is understood as a social arena where the body is virtually placed. The inhabited subject, however, does not identify with the cinematic image as a mirrored likeness of him/her self, as Christian Metz reads it. 6 Inhabitation is not identification, it is, rather, a co-presence with the cinema. It is within and between the experience both internal to the film (as a medium) and outside of it (as a critique of its very own sociality) that an inhabited subject is placed—the instances lodged between the cognitive and the somatic. It is in these two instances that an inhabited subject is defined as a social subject that rubs against and intersects with the cinema.7 The Psychogeographical For the Situationists, the psychogeographical was related to psychogeography, or the “study of the specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”8 To encounter the psychogeographical was to practice a dérive, which entails a group or individual inhabiting the terrain by chance. As Debord outlined in “Reports on the Construction of Situations and on the International Situationist Tendency’s Conditions of Organization and Action” in 1957, the dérive was a “rough experimentation toward a new mode of behavior.” It is “a practice of a passional journey out of the ordinary through rapid changing of ambiances, as well as a means of study of psychogeography and of situationists psychology. But the application of this will to playful creation must be extended to all known forms of human relationships, so as to influence, for example, the historical evolution of sentiments like friendship and love.”9 Whether in a group (the Situationist’s preferred method) or as an individual, whether set between specific timeframes that last for several hours (preferred method) or several days, whether by foot or car, the dérive engaged the participant in the process of familiarizing (or de-familiarizing) him or herself with the elements of urban landscapes customarily seized as habitual representations. To dérive was to absorb the city in order to witness it as a phenomenon that crafts interactions—to thrive with its multiplicity of relations (whether human, geographic, or architectonic). In practicing a dérive, a single individual or group mingled with the elements and arrangements of a city to become attuned to its sensations. The dérive revolves around a playful and constructive behavior which calls on the subject to “drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.”10 The dérive involved a release from preconceived notions that are held within a topographical and geographical landscape, and thereby recognizing the instability and chance that pervades a terrain by the pedestrian relationships one encounters on the street. The dérive is linked with urbanization and its effect on social relations within architectural landscapes, but it also incorporates the “emotional disorientation” that is involved with sudden experiences that an individual or group encountered during that voyage. It was an experience of movement, transience, and contingency—the dérive renounced life as a static image. As Debord formulated in The Society of the Spectacle, the “modern conditions of production” accumulates itself as “spectacle” and, furthermore, makes everything that was lived “become mere representation.”11 Images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream, and the former unity of life is lost forever. Apprehended in a partial way, reality unfolds in a new generality as a pseudo-world apart, solely as an object of contemplation. The tendency
    • toward the specialization of images-of-the-world finds its highest expression in the world of the autonomous image, where deceit deceives itself. The spectacle in its generality is a concrete inversion of life, and, as such, the autonomous movement of non-life.12 By practicing a dérive, the Situationists sought to restructure the “non-life” inherent in the autonomous image of a ready-made society. It was a means to stamp a form of alternative existence within the ambiance of the street. The image of the map, with its abstract, detached, and non-existential underpinnings, was re-appropriated to counteract the city as image, as mere representation. With the aid of old maps, aerial photographs and experimental dérives, one can draw up hitherto lacking maps of influences, maps with inevitable imprecision at this early stage is no worse than that of the first navigational charts; the only difference is that it is a matter no longer of precisely delineating stable continents, but of changing architecture and urbanism.13 Besides the possibility of encountering a “possible rendezvous” and experience a “loose lifestyle” with “certain amusements” during a dérive, one was also to discover the unity of an ambiance embedded in the city that was heretofore separated and unarticulated. In the process of chance movement, one also finds the city’s “principle axes of passage, their exits and their defenses.” One arrives at the central hypothesis of the existence of psychogeographical pivotal points. One measures the distances that effectively separate two regions of a city, distances that may have little relation with the physical distance between them.14 By engaging in the practice of the dérive, the participant found a unitary urbanism that held hidden meanings left by its residents or its architecture. Unitary urbanism is the process of merging practices of the arts with other procedures to construct an environment whereby the dérive and psychogeographical experimentations can coalesce as a critique of the very separation urbanism entrenched. In combining two separate sectors of the city and incorporating a lived experience filled with chance and ambiguity, the dérive dislodged the map as static representation. To Dérive: Index and Haecceity To dérive was to shatter the iconic hold of the city as image in order to playfully and directly meander against the static formulation that very image espouses. In this light, Charles Sanders Perice’s triadic conception of an images materiality must be bore in mind. Peirce’s triadic conception of the sign — icon, index, and symbol—can help illustrate the dérive and détournement. A sign that is a symbol is governed by rules, conventions, and custom uses, such as a visual or oral language. An icon bears a distinct similarity between the object signified and its sign. Icons directly resemble the object they signify, even though they are not directly connected to the object they represent. An index, on the other hand, must directly be connected to the object, it must root itself in its existential and singular uniqueness. Unlike icons, indices, since they are attached specifically to an object, must leave traces, but those traces will never resemble the indexical object they signify. A rap on the door is an index. Anything which focuses the attention is an index. Anything which startles us is an index, in so far as it marks the junction between two portions of experience. Thus a tremendous thunderbolt indicates that something considerable happened,
    • though we may not know precisely what the event was. But it may be expected to connect itself with some other experience.15 The index is without content unless it is attached to a temporal and existential object, it is a “hollowed- out sign.”16 As Mary Ann Doane argues, “[t]he index is reduced to its own singularity; it appears as a brute and opaque fact, wedded to contingency. In this way, Peirce theorizes the index as potentially outside the domain of human subjectivity. It is pure indication, pure assurance of existence.” 17 It is akin to the mid-evil theory of haecceity, developed by John Duns Scotus, that differentiated individuation as a non-qualitative property.18 Each object has a this-ness that individuates it from others of its own kind. In Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari extend the notion of haecceity to encompass more than just an individual object or subject, but an aggregate. “It should not be thought that a haecceity consists simply of a décor or backdrop that situates subjects, or of appendages that hold things and people to the ground. It is the entire assemblage in its individuated aggregate that is a haecceity… .”19 In this respect, Deleuze and Guattari allow for a more open reading into the uniqueness of haecceity, it can be rendered as a block rather than a strict unique individuality. By extracting from haecceity the notion of an “assemblage” of individuation, Deleuze and Guattari are thus able to render the concept as more than just a “person, subject, thing, or substance.” As aggregates that secret their own individuation, haecceities are capable of initiating movement and can direct a “metamorphosis of things and subjects.” As such, they produce becomings, blocks of co- existence. Becomings are an alliance, a becoming-ness of something in particular—a women, a child, a wolf, a street. “Becoming is involution, involution is creative. To regress is to move in the direction of something less differentiated. But to involve is to form a block that runs its own line ‘between’ the terms in play and beneath assignable relations.”20 As Deleuze and Guattari highlight, becomings are not imitations, nor are they mimetic identification. Rather, becoming “is a verb with a consistency all its own; it does not reduce to, or lead back to, ‘appearing,’ ‘being,’ ‘equaling,’ or ‘producing.’”21 It is a non-relation that becoming propels, not identification but corporation—to co-exist in a latitude. In this effect, it is a zone of proximity or a copresence. As an unnatural alliance, becoming is a proximity that is “at once topological and quantal, that marks a belonging to the same molecule, independently of the subjects considered and the forms determined.”22 Situating “becomings” within Debord’s cinematic practices engages the image with a notion of reciprocity and mutuality with the street. Rather than being a fixed and entrenched image, the notion of “becomings” wrenches the cinematic experience away from the notion that the film medium is ensconced as a monologic entity. By “becoming,” the image moves towards a somatic encounter with the viewer through corporation and inhabitation—a becoming-street or a becoming-cinema. Like the existential trappings of the Peircian index or the becoming of a haecceity, the dérive connects the traces and shadows of chance occurrences and events in a city. For the Situationists, the city was Paris of the 1960s, a city that the Situationists experienced as drastically changing due to urban planning. In “Comments Against Urbanism,” Raoul Vaneigem stressed the effects of urbanism and industrial technology as a form of alienation. “Alienation within easy reach: urbanism makes alienation tangible.”23 Henri Lefebvre, instrumental in the formation of many Situationist thoughts before being ousted from the group in 1963, developed his whole critique of everyday life by drawing out Karl Marx’s notion of alienation. For Lefebvre, alienation arises out of an “uneven development” when technological modernity intervenes into every matrix of existence. Through the rise of new housing, appliances, television, and
    • cinema, the quotidian is altered into an alienating experience—an experience that seeps into the daily routine of living (be they habits, gestures, or social interaction themselves). Rather than remain within the confines of denigration, alienation, as it manifests itself vis-à-vis modernity qua industrialization, can turn against itself when one engages in a critique of everyday life. Far from suppressing criticism of everyday life, modern technical progress realizes it. This technicity replaces the criticism of life through dreams, or ideas, or poetry, or those activities which rise above the everyday, by the critique of everyday life from within: the critique which everyday life makes for itself, the critique of the real by the possible and of one aspect of life by another.24 Working within this line of thought, the dérive extracts from the industrially evolving city a form of existence and connects it with a concrete lived experience. The activity focused on a group or individual who left new traces within an urban environment by becoming an aggregate with it, by a corporation: a becoming-street. The dérive was situated in the historical present for the Situationists: not posterity, but contemporaneity. As Vaneigem extrapolates: The layout of a city, its streets, walls, and neighborhoods form that many signs of a strange conditioning. What sign should we recognize as our own? A few graffiti, words of rejection or forbidden gestures, hastily scrawled, in which cultured people only take an interest when they appear on the walls of some fossil city like Pompeii. But our cities are more fossilized.25 Palindrome(s): In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni Working with the image as an accomplice in shattering the formation of static representation, In girum re-situates the viewer within the geography of the street through the medium of film. Like the dérive, it travels through mediated images in order to leave a mark within the narrative of the cinematic spectacle. The film itself can be seen as a topography of the cinema, as a playful stroll through the medium. A pedestrian walkway of sorts, comprised of images that Debord re-threaded for the viewer to enact a non-arbitrary relation with the cinema—that is, a viewing relation that tears the veil of social mediation from the image as constructed by the cinema. In girum moves outside the centrality of the image as an icon to establish an expanded voyage that extends beyond the screen. In girum is a “rap on the door” that connotes an existence that must be stumbled on outside of the theatre and effectively in the streets. The film, therefore, formulates a mode of existence. In girum’s title is an anonymous medieval Latin palindrome, “We turn in the night and are consumed by fire,” which can denote either the ever-identical sameness inherent in the spectacle or the necessity of retrenching and repeating the act of viewing in order to play out the films demand for recuperating what has been lost from the “society of the spectacle.”26 The film is an autobiographical account of Debord’s activities with the Situationists, and a retrospective look into the times and places they inhabited.27 By recounting such an “important subject” as himself, Debord emphasizes that he “cannot produce a cinematic ‘work’ in the usual sense of the term.”28 The film, one that “disdains the image- scraps of which it is composed” of, is a paradox—the author of The Society of the Spectacle is using spectacular images created by the culture industry in order to shatter their totalizing effect on society. The film, unlike his previous five, is strictly about “real life” not the spectacle. The extended use of appropriated films within In girum “interrupt the discourse … to support it [the theme of real life] positively, even if there is an element of irony.”29
    • The voice-over narrative within the film, read and written by Debord, is superimposed with filmed images of Zorro, the comic book character Prince Valiant, and the use of films, such as Marcel Carné’s Les Visiteurs du soir and Les Enfants du paradis, Jean Cocteau’s Orphée, and Carol Reed’s The Third Man. Unlike his other films, Debord also filmed portions of the images and wrote the text specifically for the film.30 As such, In girum plays with the notion of cultural authenticity and détournement—a playful provocation that seeks to undermine the spectacle. The process of détournement, which has been anglicized rather than translated, connotes a detour, an abduction, a hijacking of culturally produced images and refurbishing them with another code. It is a process of negating the negation of their original meaning—a negative dialectic. By détourning pre- fabricated cultural images and words, a “synthetic organization of greater efficacy” that mutually interferes their original meaning is implemented.31 It was conceived of as a “parodic-serious” stage in the formation of culture, where “the accumulation of détourned elements, far from aiming at arousing indignation or laughter by alluding to some original work, will express our indifference toward a meaningless and forgotten original, and concern itself with rendering a certain sublimity.”32 Détournements are wedded to the icon of which they refer. For instance, the aesthetic of the widely distributed genre of the comic book was used by the Situationists in their practice of the détournement. In order to saturate the image with another meaning, while still being attached to the very icon of that medium, the genre’s speech bubbles were incised by the Situationists with critiques relating to the spectacularization of society.33 In this respect, the détourned content found in the speech bubbles bind themselves to the comic book genre, they are enmeshed with the icon of which they refer. One aspect of the practice that tried to distinguish itself from the images or words that were détourned was “ultradétournement” or the use of gestures, words, and actions that operated in everyday life. With the specific use of ultradétournement, the Situationists wanted to place the practice outside the flat field of the image and into the vernacular . Therefore, it may not be such a great stretch to parallel the practice of ultradétournement with the dérive. And if the practice of the latter entails the “changing landscapes from one hour to the next,” thereby resulting in a “complete disorientation,” ultradétournement can be seen as a physical embodiment of the détournement.34 Détournement was a practice in “sublimity” and a “parodic-serious stage” within the cultural landscape that exposed the indifference of meanings images held when circulated widely. While culturally produced images were signs of a desublimated “happy consciousness,” as Herbert Marcuse would define them,35 they simultaneously disregarded the spectator as the signifying referent—a fundamental aspect of spectacular society that Debord insisted upon. As Debord reiterated, the “spectacle is not a collection of images: rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.”36 The establishing image of In girum is a shot of a movie audience photographed from the screen. The spectator of the film is effectively staring at themselves, with Debord reiterating that “nothing of importance has ever been communicated by being gentle with a public, not even one like that of the age of Pericles; and in the frozen mirror of the screen the spectators are not looking at anything that might suggest the respectable citizens of democracy.”37 If the experience of witnessing a film within a theater is immediately détourned as an image to comment on the cinematic experience, Debord then goes further and projects images that extend outside of that particular ambiance and into daily inhabitation. The next frame is an establishing shot of “neo-dwellings” or homes, followed by a mother giving a bath to her son, then a tracking shot towards a bed in the same room. The subsequent shot projects a crowd of movie goers waiting to enter a theater which quickly segues into panoramas of factories and the
    • waste they produce. Debord wastes no time in détourning images in order to interfere with their mediated meaning. As these images flash on the screen, Debord comments: The advertising manipulators, with the usual impudence of those who know that people tend to justify whatever affronts they don’t avenge, calmly declare that “People who love life go to the cinema.” But this life and this cinema are equally paltry, which is why it hardly matters if one is substituted for the other.38 In the opening sequence of the film, Debord stresses through visuals that the cinema is bound to an outside that is itself undifferentiated within the spectacle of exchange. The wastes of a factory are likened to the cinematic products that audiences wait in line to view. Furthermore, such waste is also transposed into the home of the mother and child; such “characters” become leveled within the one- dimensional market of spectacular mass consumption. They are therefore woven into the equal equation of a paltry exchangeability. As Thomas Y. Levin articulates in regards to this specific sequence within the film: “According to Debord, the mimetic appeal of a cinema based on the principle ‘when one loves life one goes to the movies’ stems not from the supposed ‘realism’ of the depiction but rather from the fact that, since this cinema is just as impoverished as the real world, both film and world are similar in that they are contemplated with the same indifference.”39 While these introductory images locate themselves towards the outside, they still refer back to the image as icon. They are détourned images that are fixed and contiguous with their icon as pure resemblance. Because they are icons, they do not need to existentially refer back to the image reproduced. And in order to surpass this one-dimensionality of détournement, Debord positions In girum as a movement. As Debord made explicit, the central themes in In girum are grounded in movement. The entire film (including the images, but already in the test of the spoken “commentary”) is based on the theme of water. Hence the quotations from poets evoking the evanescence of everything (Li Po, Omar Khayyam, Heraclitus, Bossuet, Shelley?), who all used water as a metaphor for the flowing of time. Secondarily, there is the theme of fire; of momentary brilliance—revolution, Saint- Germain-des-Prés, youth, love, negation in the night, the Devil, battles and “unfulfilled missions” where spellbound “passing travelers” meet their doom; and desire within the night of the world (“note consumimur igni”).40 Debord’s direct regard for a kinetic synthesis in the film, between the image and the spectator, is also mirrored in the structure of In girum. The beginning sequence that détourned images in order to break the hold of iconicity traverses over into a visual dérive. At one moment within the film, and one which signals a drastic shift from détournement to the dérive, Debord uses a complete theatrical preview for a Western. However, at the end of the exposition, Debord adds: “What needs to be proved by images? Nothing is ever proved except by the real movement that dissolves existing conditions—that is, the existing production relations and the forms of false consciousness that have developed on the basis of those relations.”41 The shift from a critique of imaging within the realm of the spectacle—imaging as an affective process that foregrounds forms of subjective identification through iconic signification by means of technological reproduction and agglomeration—is displaced into the social world where these images
    • are produced rather than re-produced.42 This visual move, one that is stressed by Debord not only as theme but also, as I see it, as visual structure, is emphasized with no less than the following: tracking shots from a boat in Venice; Zorro’s movement within an action film; images of Colonel Custer engaged in war; still images of maps of Europe; aerial photos, stills, and tracking shots of Paris; and external and internal shots of people moving within the public realm. It is in the streets, as participants of everyday life, that the Situationists wished to efface the acquiescence of spectacular culture. We did not seek the formula for overturning the world in books, but in wandering. Ceaselessly drifting for days on end, none resembling the one before. Astonishing encounters, remarkable obstacles, grandiose betrayals, perilous enchantments—nothing was lacking in this quest for a different, more sinister Grail, which no one else had ever sought.43 And as with life, so with cinema. Debord reiterates that In girum does not want to perpetuate the language of film, but rather preserve from the medium “the reverse shot of the only world it has observed and a tracking shot across the fleeing ideas of an era.”44 Debord continues his narration with the following sentence, superimposed with a tracking shot of troops landing on a beach, “I pride myself on having made a film out of whatever rubbish was at hand; and I find it amusing that people will complain about it who have allowed their entire lives to be dominated by every kind of rubbish.”45 In girum has a heavy militaristic tone, one which connotes new strategies for fighting against spectacular society. Debord’s board game invention, based on Clausewitz’s theory of war, “Kriegspiel” (War Game); appropriated scenes taken from Michael Curtiz’s The Charge of the Light Brigade; a navel battle sequence shot during WWII; and images of the American Civil War all reflect the strategic and militaristic tone of In girum. As Debord reiterates within the film: “It’s a beautiful moment when an assault against the world order is set in motion.” 46 In girum and the Naked City Whereas the beginning of the film directly references the use of the détournement, the rest of the film incorporates a visual dérive. It places seemingly incoherent topographical and geographical images of Paris, including appropriated cinematic images of the city such as Carné’s Les enfants du paradis, as an urban environment. These moments designate movement, and, furthermore, serve as a visual cue to inhabit such desperate separations. Debord’s work The Naked City, a frequently reproduced image consisting of cut-up sections of a map of Paris with arbitrary arrows pointing in many directions, illuminates his cinematic practice in In girum.47 The work fragments the city in order to find an active, yet hidden, unitary urbanism that thrives within the geographical landscape. The Naked City, and many other constructions created by Debord and Asger Jorn that dissected the map as a medium in order to reassemble the mediums totality as a signified of individual separation between different locales, sought to unite the split that various sectors of the city were undergoing due to major new projects of urbanization within Paris. Constructions of such maps were one step towards the actual implementation of a dérive, whereby groups or individuals transformed such disconnections by inhabiting the terrain through a “critique of separation.” While The Naked City directly references and emphasizes unitary urbanism through the use of the dérive as a practice to counter a gentrified and repressed urban landscape, the title is appropriated from
    • an American film that, as Tom McDonough has demonstrated, treats the city as a social body that is denuded of its power through the use of its own architectural symbols.48 That is, those very visual manifestation that signify displacement within a city can also be used to replace that very separation they signify—neighborhoods, quarters, edifices as molar emblems of economic, social, and cultural separation. As Debord described in “Theory of the Dérive,” the map can function as an ulterior dismantling of fixed representations associated with abstract representations of city streets and city quarters. Today the different unities of atmosphere and of dwellings are not precisely marked off, but are surrounded by more or less extended and indistinct bordering regions. The most general change that the dérive leads to proposing is the constant diminution of these border regions, up to the point of their complete suppression.49 The Naked City sought to place movement and existence as inhabited—that is, as a call towards placing the body within the very separation that urbanism was in the process of disjuncturing. As Vaneigem would stress: “The capitalist training of space is nothing but training in a space where you lose your shadow, and end up losing yourself by dint of seeking yourself in what you are not.”50 Placing one’s shadow back into the very space where it is lost was to re-affirm the existence of resistance against such a loss. The Naked City functioned as one manifestation towards the implementation of moving one’s shadow towards the location where such loss is signified. And one can argue that, as The Naked City underscores a dérive, In girum also pulls its viewer closer to a viewing movement rather than moment. Urbanization and technology, coupled with the quixotic tendencies of spectacular society, were in the process of ravaging the urban and socio-cultural landscape that Debord signified in In girum. The haphazard mélange of aerial and bird’s eye views of Paris and the Île de la Cité, alongside Debord’s own filmed portions of In girum shot from a boat in the canal’s of Venice, and the images of café’s, streets, and public areas, are threaded so as to re-cuperate action, that is, to inhabit them. These images are as vast as they are hollow, to the point that they engulf the film frame—annihilating and over-saturating the frame and screen with their presence. Within their anonymous and hallowed out significance, they incessantly signify somebody, a body, to inhabit the frame or the locations to which they point. These images are not a “stoppage,” as a suspension between image and meaning, but images as leakage, as an incurving outsource from the unseen to the seen and back again. The title In girum is, after all, a palindrome. If a “capitalist training of space” subtracts the shadow (rather the existence!) of subjectivity, In girum re-tacks the movement of the body in the cinematic sphere— theatre, narrative, and imaging as other forms denoting a “capitalist training of space” —in order to incorporate the indexical trace of inhabitation within the visual landscape. Like The Naked City, and the film of which the title refers, In girum “lays bare” the division between reality and film as illusion. It forsakes visual complacence towards the image and encourages a visual representation of its own alienation. As movement, as a dérive, In girum annexes the cinematic spectacle from its confined relation to an elsewhere that is located where-ever, and places it in the geographic of existence as inhabited by individuals. In girum demonstrates that the cinematic landscape requires moments that are lived as movement within a visual geography. The film re-inscribes a shadow or trace of existence that was stolen from the spectacle by creating the film as dérive—much like bodies cast shadows on the street.
    • Appropriately enough, in In Girum, Debord appropriates Carol Reed’s canonical image of Orson Welles in The Third Man, and other images of shadows, while discussing Ivan Chtcheglov—author of “Formulary for a New Urbanism” written in 1953 at the age of 19. The text greatly inspired the Lettrist International and their subsequent reincarnation as the Situationist International. Chtcheglov was arrested while attempting to destruct the Eiffel tower, and was subsequently committed to a mental hospital where he remained for many years. As Debord testifies in In girum, while an image of Chtcheglov’s blurred face is marked on the screen: But can I ever forget the one whom I see everywhere in the greatest moment of our adventures—he who in those uncertain days opened up a new path and forged ahead so rapidly, choosing those who would accompany him? No one else was his equal that year. It might almost have been said that he transformed cities and life merely by looking at them. In a single year he discovered enough material for a century of demands; the depths and mysteries of urban space were his conquest.51 Perhaps the loss of Chtcheglov’s identity and physicality from society left a mark within the city, a trace of existence, that cannot be removed from the urban landscape. Coupled with the strategic tone of the film, Chtcheglov’s presence in In girum demonstrates the need for imprinting ulterior forms of lived experience within the city. Debord continues his dialogue as follows: The powers that be, with their pitiful falsified information that misleads them almost as much as it bewilders those under their administration, have not yet realized just how much the rapid passage of this man has cost them. But what does it matter? The names of ship-wreckers are only writ in water.52 The movement of water is referenced again, a reference taken from John Keats and adopted by Percy Shelley, and one that seeks to undermine concrete historicity based on stable facts in favor for a remembrance inhabited by fluid experience. While Debord’s formulation of spectacular society can be read as a social and cultural entity that eliminates corporality, Debord positions movement, action, and presence in In girum as instances that undermine such a subtraction. And it is here where we find the importance of a person’s, and in this case Chtcheglov’s, imprint onto the sphere of social relation as existence, as a shadow that cannot be rubbed off from the reality of inhabited everyday living. This shadow (Chtcheglov’s? Viewer’s? Passer-by?) leaves an indelible mark on the social terrain—be it on celluloid, by memory, or on the sidewalk. In girum acts as a cinematic index, with all its existential connotations, as that which recuperates such un-recognized and un- articulated moments within lived experience. It holds shadows in order to cast them outside. Physical corporality may be extinguished within the imaging mechanisms of cinema as technological apparatus, and likewise within the leveled relations taking place in a ravaged form of capitalist urbanization, but shadows still lurk within the public sphere of everyday life and, by extension, in the cinema. Chtcheglov’s inclusion within the film acts as an indexical trace. This sequence, filled as it is with allusions to shadows, announces a shift in the viewer’s positionality as one which must be inhabited beyond the screen—it veers away from an emplotment fixated within the frame and spreads its relation to an else-where that connects itself with some other experience. Haecceity as an aggregate (becoming- street) and as an indexical trace, In girum turns the imaging mechanism of the cinema into a relation, always already mediated, which engenders a coexistence between image and its inhabitation—from consequent to antecedent. The body as a prehensile activation, not a strict corporalization, but an implicit corporation—coexistence as becoming-street as becoming-social which film seemingly
    • subtracts. The viewer is situated within the topography of cinematic reproducibility through images that connote an existence that is waiting for a body to attach itself to its shadow. Leaking in In girum In an essay devoted to Guy Debord’s films, Giorgio Agamben asks what are the conditions of possibility, or transcendentals, for montage. Agamben notes two: repetition and stoppage.53 Repetition, according to Agamben, “restores the possibility of what was, renders it possible anew; it’s almost a paradox. To repeat something is to make it possible anew. Here lies the proximity of repetition and memory.”54 Agamben argues that Debord places repetition “at the center of his compositional technique, [he] makes what he shows us possible again, or rather he opens up a zone of undecidability between the real and the possible.” The other transcendental for montage is stoppage, and works as a “prolonged hesitation between image and meaning. It is not merely a matter of a chronological pause, but rather a power of stoppage that works on the image itself, that pulls it away from the narrative power to exhibit it as such.” 55 As Agamben asserts, what lies next to both of these transcendentals is the capacity to “de-create the real.” In signaling these two transcendentals as imperatives within Debord’s cinematic practice, Agamben follows the aesthetic prescriptive set out by Jean-Isidore Isou, a founder of the Lettrist International whose theories on the cinema, and art in general, greatly influenced Debord. Isou differentiates two trajectories that the artistic medium can advance: the phase amplique (amplic phase) and the phase ciselante (chiseling phase). As Thomas Y. Levin has demonstrated, the phase amplique “refers to the period during which an art form is elaborated, develops its stylistic vocabularies, and employs them to explore and give expression to subjects other than itself. In cinema this would correspond to the development of narrative techniques (flashback, subjective camera), the evolution of various genres, the exploration of the camera’s documentary capacities, and so on.”56 The phase ciselante, however, acknowledges that the phase amplique has run its course and has become defunct and “bloated,” as Levin terms it borrowing the word from a Lettrist film titled Traité de bave et d’éternité.57 In other words, the medium becomes a form of its own “decadent excess,” and the phase ciselante rejects anything that lies outside of the medium itself. With this phase, a “self- reflexive involution” occurs with the aesthetic medium and, as a consequence, all the basic and formal tendencies that a particular medium bases itself on is “subjected to a radical interrogation.”58 As the term suggests, ciselante denotes an effacement of the image and finds its corollary with the Situationist practice of the détournement. Agamben correctly suggests that this stoppage or chiseling practice, this détournement as it were, is the “power to interrupt” to break the hold between an image and its meaning. Agamben further articulates that the “image worked by repetition and stoppage is a means, a medium, that does not disappear in what it makes visible. […] The image gives itself to be seen instead of disappearing in what it makes visible.”59 By practicing a détournement, an image’s iconicity is coded with another meaning, it is not shattered. Détournement requires the icon of which it refers, and it is only when the original image is understood as such, precisely as a by-product of imaging, that détournement works effectively. While Agamben’s articulation of repetition acts itself out in In girum, the notion of stopping or stoppage does not. With In girum acting as a dérive one must invert the notion of “stopping” and “interruption” and understand it rather as the “bloating,” as an excess, associated with, although removed from, the phase ciselante.
    • If we follow Debord’s theme of In girum as “water,” as a “flowing of time,” the film holds these images, of the city, of streets, and of movement as action, in order for them to burst, and subsequently leak. If we go even further, Debord reiterated that In girum was not a film on the spectacle but about “real life.” As such, the “medium” which is being channeled in the film is the social world of the street, of the sidewalk, of the world. In girum deploys “real life” with a “radical interrogation” that flows, rather tumults, out into the open where these images are subjected—causing a fissure with their entrenched emplotment in lived experience and a focusing on their necessity of inhabitation. Time-Image The retrospective problem in Deleuze’s work that I have been trying to express through Pasolini’s thoughts on Godard since the last chapter is reconciling the non-relation of a film with a relational link to the actual author of a film. As I am trying to demonstrate, both Debord and Pasolini categorized Jean-Luc Godard’s aesthetic as one that already held a certain territorialized relation to a certain audience. Debord argued that Godard represented “formal pseudo-freedom,” while Pasolini was adamant that his work was already codified and therefore did not induce a new relation to thought. In both cases, there was already, by the mid-1960s, a certain resistance to what Deleuze would later term the “time-image”— precisely because that very image, according to Debord and Pasolini, was already codified or territorialized. Therefore, Deleuze’s reading of Godard’s work, as aesthetically and philosophically exemplifying the time-image, has certain stakes in the formation of modern cinema. Deleuze’s conception of Godard’s re-linkages within a film, the re-linkages of series or categories that characterize appropriations from existing genres of cinema, is one that merits discussion, only because it is exactly these appropriations that the Situationist International leveled against Godard. In discussing their criticism against Godard, and in light of Deleuze’s philosophical placement of this tactic as exemplifying the time-image, a brief discussion on the time-image would shed light on the differences between Godard’s and Debord’s film practices. In highlighting the disjunctures between Godard and Debord, my aim is to resituate the influence of Debord’s film practices within cinematic discourse. As Thomas Y. Levin argues: Godard’s indebtedness to Debord, from whom he learned a great deal, itself merits a particularly detailed examination. In what appears to be a rather marked instance of unacknowledged appropriation, an inordinate amount of Debord’s concerns reappear in later works by Godard, both in terms of iconographic or thematic concerns and on a formal level as well.60 By 1969, Godard would admit in an interview, “You know. I more or less agree with the Situationists; they say that it’s all finally integrated; it gets integrated in spectacle, it’s all spectacle.” 61 Indeed, after Le Weekend (1967), Godard would drastically disengage from the films that categorized him as an auteur in the nouvelle-vague and begin his endeavors with Jean-Pierre Gorin and Anne-Marie Miéville in the Dziga Vertov Group. The group, which basically consisted of Godard and Gorin, aimed to document and analyze socio-political tensions of the period à la Dziga Vertov—not to make political films but to make films politically. Tout va bien’s postscript film Letter to Jane of 1972, where Godard and Gorin go so far as to analyze and deconstruct the infamous picture published in L’express of Jane Fonda (“Hanoi Jane”) visiting Vietnam “element by element,” especially recalls Debordian tactics of the cinema: montage of a newspaper image of Fonda, stills from the cinema (that is Godard and Gorin’s Tout va bien), and sound images that impound the spectator (much like the appropriated sound elements Debord abducted into his own films).
    • In 1966, Susan Sontag would profess: “Godard’s films are particularly directed toward proof, rather than analysis. Vivre sa vie [released in 1962] is an exhibit, a proof, a demonstration. It shows that something happened. Not why it happened. It exposes the inexorability of an event.”62 By 1968 the reverse would hold true, Godard analyzes rather than show proof. In other words, rather than place the image as pure consequent and nothing but consequent, by the late 1960s, and well into the 1970s, Godard would go from the consequent of the image to its antecedent by analyzing what the image does in fact mean. Letter to Jane is one extreme example of this shift, as well as the Dziga Vertov Group’s Ici et ailleurs that was commissioned by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a film that documents Palestinian culture and its people by undermining the static representation of the culture as filtered by the press. Not proof, but analysis: a dramatic shift in Godard’s oeuvre that displaces many of his cinematic concerns from the 1960s. But before such a shift, Godard remained focused on the image as proof. And it is in this period of Godard’s cinematic output that Deleuze formulates his notion of categories and series as being an element of free indirect discourse in the time-image. These categories and series, beyond just being cinematic genres, can also encompass words, things, acts, people, which mark a discontinuity from one another, thereby inducing reflection—as a radical interrogation in the belief of this world. In Deleuze’s conception of cinema, the historicity of the time-image is rooted in post World War II cinema, and its aesthetic was ushered in by that historical trauma. A break occurred within the experience of witnessing images, a brake from causality and ontology. Subsequently, this break constituted a new perceptive encounter with cinema itself. The time-image cuts the advancement of meaning based on the causality of sensory-motor links. The progressions of visual and aural manifestations are no longer mediated by movement, but through time as witnessed by that ineluctable trauma. “The image had to free itself from sensory-motor links; it had to stop being action-image in order to become a pure optical, sound (and tactile) image.”63 The movement-image, the cinema of action, was dependent on movement in all aspects—from montage, camera framing, narrative, and protagonist. What used to be extended into action in the movement-image becomes transposed as optical and aural manifestations that require full exposure for themselves.64 The pure state of time manifests itself as disjunctured—continuity in montage is now discontinuous; speech is divorced from the body to become its own image; and the protagonist is no longer an actor but a seer. These are pure optical and sound situations, in which the character does not know how to respond, abandoned spaces in which he ceases to experience and to act so that he enters into flight, goes on a trip, comes and goes, vaguely indifferent to what happens to him, undecided as to what must be done. But he has gained in an ability to see what he has lost in action or reaction: he SEES so that the viewer’s problem becomes ‘What is there to see in the image?’ (and not now ‘What are we going to see in the next image?’). The situation no longer extends into action through the intermediary affections. It is cut off from all its extensions, it is now important for itself, having absorbed all its affective intensities, all its active extensions. This is no longer a sensory-motor situation, but a purely optical and sound situation, where the seer [voyant] has replaced the agent [actant]: a ‘description.’65 Deleuze foregrounds his analysis between the audio and the visual as two diverse autonomies within the time-image.66 The audio-visual techniques of films are bound by “heautonomous images” which
    • plunge into each other with a “fault, an interstice, an irrational cut between them.”67 The disjuncture between the visible (what we see) and the articulable (what we say) is therefore sundered.68 Deleuze places the visual field of a film as an archeological and stratigraphical layer that constitutes a non-discursive practice. This non-discursive representation of space is diffuse, in the Foucaultian sense, both as representation and as topographicality within the film. These stratigraphical layers are presented by irrational cuts or as depth-of-field shots that indicate “any-space-whatevers” in the form of abandoned landscapes and non-figural space juxtapositions (a film frame entirely engulfed by white steam or black night) in a given visual series. These spaces that insert themselves as if out of nowhere connote pure relations exhibited as optical presences for themselves. They describe layers of time that are disconnected in space, and, therefore, must be read in order to effectuate a layer of virtual memory. Meanwhile, the speech-act becomes a discursive practice when sounds are disembodied and decarnalized. Sounds now float freely without an orator and without justification in the time-image. They are there for themselves as exhibitions of pure sound. They therefore become forms of resistance in their own right as distilled aural images in the guise of “story-telling,” a going beyond between the dichotomy of the real and fictional, within a time-image. The speech-act becomes a free and indirect relation either from the author, the character, and/or spectator. Borrowing Pasolini’s distinction of free indirect discourse, Deleuze foregrounds his argument by placing this cinematic tactic as intervening between the director as author and the characters within his/ her film or, conversely, between the character and him/her self. “There is formation of ‘free indirect discourse’, or a free indirect vision, which goes from one to the other, so that either the author expresses himself through the intercession of an autonomous, independent character other than the author or any role fixed by the author, or the character acts and speaks himself as if his own gestures and his own words were already reported by a third party.”69 There is, in other words, an indiscernibility between fiction and reality, an abyss that creates a time-image that blurs objectivity and subjectivity. The auteur and protagonist are now folded into a film, but simultaneously remain removed from it as well. Since the time-image is predicated as an a-synchronous juxtaposition between optical and sound situations, the relations between past/present/future are all obliterated as signifying powers. The irrational cut that develops between an a-signifying visibility and a decarnalized sound image is a confrontation with thought that naturally conceives of chronological time and geographical space as resolving each other in movement. The time-image, therefore, cuts this resolution completely. The interstice between the visible and the articulable manifests the powerlessness of thought in achieving an any-harmony-whatever. It is a relation to a non-relation that cannot be commensurable. The disjuncture between the visible and the articulable underscores the tension between thought and being—the power to confront what lies beyond representation, what lies in the unthought of our own thought. As a result, there can be no more linkages, but re-linkages that highlight the aberrant, arbitrary, and incommensurable gap that characterizes the disjuncture between the visible and the auditory. It is, in other words, a disjuncture with a naturally conceived sensory-motor link between sound and visualities—consciousness plunges into a duration. Therefore, the time-image is a relation to a non-relation, but one which ultimately depends on and is conceived by an author’s aesthetic. The multiplicity of sounds and visibilities that proliferate in the time-image explode this internal monologue of the film into shards of series or categories that are incommensurable with each other, such as Godard’s appropriations of genres and their juxtapositions. There are only false continuities
    • that must be constituted in order to achieve a confrontation between art and the creation that lies on the cinematic screen as a series of non-metaphorical and literal images that impound the viewer with information For Deleuze, Godard’s use of snatching categories and genres from cinematic practices, such as musical and dance in Une femme est une femme (1961) and the café scene in Bande à part (1964), makes the images and sounds of these films reach their limit as genres therefore evoking reflection. For example, Une femme est une femme exasperates the limits of the cinematic genre that is the American musical. Supposedly a musical, Une femme est une femme is not, by any means, a musical at all. Throughout the film, the identity of the musical genre is sundered by the startling eradication of a natural progression from one sequence to the next. In one sequence, while Angéla, played by Anna Karina, is walking on a Parisian street, music crescendos and swelters as if in preparation for either a song or dance number. Nothing of the two ever coalesces within the film, all sequences that are meant to signify the makings of either song or dance abruptly stop to make way for ambient noises relating to the what is actually signified: whether a street, a strip-club, or an apartment. This, in Deleuzian terms, is an irrational cut, one that transforms the nature of cinema’s very own essence. While Une femme est une femme seemingly appropriates the musical film genre, it in fact retaliates against that very genre. In this case, Godard’s appropriation and quite literal banalization of a specific film category, the musical, forces that very genre to double against itself. The viewer, holding onto the notion of Godard’s film as a musical, is caught within the net of reflecting on the very being of cinema and his or her prior engagement with it. The stable ground that delineates and therefore defines the formation of categories is destabilized. Following Deleuze’s argument, the pre-existing notion that one is going to witness images and sounds of a musical are all flushed towards a reflection on the meaning of cinema itself. As a director, Godard, too, uses the musical genre to indirectly assert a free, indirect position with film itself. Godard, as a cinematic author, is intent on banalizing the existing roles and definitions that films are grounded on by turning the musical genre against itself. The structure of the musical genre therefore acts as the active agent in realizing “free indirect discourse.” Godard directly appropriates key characteristics of the musical genre in order comment on the topoi of film. In shifting, and thereby underscoring, established cinematic categories, he remains in the film through the voice of the genre itself. In Une femme est une femme, Godard is folded into the film as another in the guise of genre while remaining outside of the film still intact as the actual director. Three years later, the work of Michel Legrand, who wrote the original score to Une femme est une femme, reappears in Bande à part as the composer as well. In a particular sequence of the film, where Odile uses the restroom in the café where she performs the “Madison” with Franz and Arthur, Godard snatches Legrand’s musical score from another prominent French film, Jacque Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg). Released as Bande à part was beginning to shoot, Godard’s use of Legrand’s work in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is played as an homage to their previous work together in Une femme est une femme and Vivre sa vie. After Bande à part, Godard and Legrand would cease to have a working relationship, and the opening credits of the film mirrors that end, the composers name is presented as: Et pour la derniëre fois (?) à l'ècran... Michel Legrand ('And for the last time (?) on the screen: Music by Michel Legrand'). Within this framework, the musical appropriation from Cherbourg therefore remains within the internal logic of the film itself. While reality and fiction are blurred, the suggestive pun of the appropriation, in a Situationist reading of this sequence, does not possess a critique on the cinema as
    • such. Rather, it remains within the arbitrary logic of Godard’s career. One can argue with the Situationists that Godard is circumambulating within the fictive universe of his own making. For Deleuze, Godard’s use of genres, categories, and appropriations exemplifies a “new synthesis” with the cinema by incorporating a “reflective status of genre” which, in turn, “constitutes the limit of images which do not belong to it [genre] but are reflected in it.”70 Deleuze continues: “Losing its capacities for subsuming or constituting in favour of a free power of reflection, genre [in Godard’s use of it] may be said to be all the purer for marking the direction of pre-existing images, more than the character of the present images.”71 On the other side of this spectrum, for the Situationists, Godard, rather than inducing a “new synthesis” or “reflection,” represented “formal pseudofreedom” and a “pseudocritique of manners and values.” In Godard the repetition of the same clumsy stupidities is by definition breathtakingly innovative. It is beyond any attempt at explanation; the admirers consume it as confusedly and arbitrarily as Godard produced it because they recognize in it the consistent expression of subjectivity. This is true, but it is a subjectivity on the level of a concierge educated by the mass media. Godard’s “critiques” never go beyond innocuous, assimilated nightclub or Mad magazine humor. His flaunted culture is largely the same as that of his audience, which has read exactly the same pages in the same drugstore paperbacks.72 While for Deleuze Godard initiated a moment of “plurilingualism” and therefore induces not final answers but “reflection on the image itself,” the Situationists thought otherwise. Godard’s success as a filmmaker who appropriated such a vast popular vernacular into the cinema encroached onto the Situationist practice of détournement. They were aware of it, and responded to the fact that Godard’s use of appropriation was one that combined devalued neutral elements, rather than dialectically devaluing/revaluing the elements with an ulterior ambivalent and playful meaning. In other words, for the Situationists, Godard toyed with elements that were too obvious, and therefore neutral, to even begin a critique on whatever element he so happened to engage in, such as the musical genre. “This acceptance of devaluation [in collage as détournement] is now being extended to a method of combining neutral and indefinitely interchangeable elements. Godard is a particularly boring example of such a use without negation, without affirmation, without quality.” 73 As the Situationists saw it, “Godard’s ‘critical’ art and his admiring art critics all work to conceal the present problems of a critique of art—the real experience, in the SI’s [Situationist International’s] phrase, of a ‘communication containing its own critique.’”74 Returning to Sontag’s 1966 reading of Godard’s films as providing proofs rather than analysis, we can see why the Situationists intensely argued against his form of appropriation. For Sontag, “proof differs from analysis.” Proof establishes that something happened. Analysis shows why it happened. Proof is a mode of argument that is, by definition, complete; but the price of its completeness is that proof is always formal. Only what is already contained in the beginning is proven at the end. In analysis, however, there are always further angles of understanding, new realms of causality. Analysis is substantive. Analysis is a mode of argument that is, by definition, always incomplete; it is, properly speaking interminable.75 While Sontag is explicitly referring to Godard’s Vivre sa vie, she does not contain her reading only to that film. Indeed, as she mentions of all his films created up to the point of the writing of her essay in
    • 1966, “Godard’s films are particularly directed towards proof.”76 As such, its not the “why it happened” that is put in relief, but the “that something has happened”—the “inexorability” of the event as Sontag stresses. Vivre Sa Vie, for example, is about a woman who, because of her economic depression, turns to prostitution and is subsequently killed in the melodramatic finale. No analysis (political or otherwise) of any kind, strict proof—proof of an image. The presence of the protagonist Nana, played by Anna Karina, immediately begins the film. Godard introduces her to the audience by keeping Nana as a profile, as a mug shot (from left, right, and back, front), as an image of herself. This act places Nana as a document, as a documentary image that will be sustained throughout the film. As such, there are indeed no justifications for her actions within the narrative. Nothing is explained, everything happens haphazardly. Nana is a “seer,” an “actor-medium” as Gilles Deleuze formulates the use of character in the time-image. A new type of character for a new cinema [time-image]. It is because what happens to them does not belong to them and only half concerns them, because they know how to extract from the event that part that cannot be reduced to what happens: that part of inexhaustible possibility that constitutes the unbearable, the visionary’s part. … A new type of actor was needed: […] capable of seeing and showing rather than acting, and either remaining dumb or undertaking some never-ending conversation, rather than of replying or following dialogue.77 Why is Nana leaving her husband? Why does she not have any money? Why won’t her friends give her money? Why in fact does she become a prostitute? Godard does not give answers. Put another way, in Vivre Sa Vie he does not analyze, he only gives proofs for the story to unfold. The inescapability of the events that constitute Nana’s life catapults the viewer into pure surrender. There is no redemption for the spectator, no saving grace. In episode XI of the film, a conversation between her and a philosopher (recited by Bruce Parain) foreshadows her death at the finale. Both speak of language, its futility or necessity, and Parain begins to discuss the death of Porthos who, after running from dynamite he had planted, began to question the notion of walking and subsequently was killed by walking into that very dynamite. In this scene, Nana looks fixedly into the camera frame. The point of view of this frame, one can argue, is that of a witness (corporeal or not). The glances exchanged between Nana and the camera are non- reciprocal—there is no sense of exchangeability. The use of the point of view shot locks Nana as a character that must show herself as document— as an irretrievable distance between the witness and his/her complicity in her death. A complicities affair that cannot commensurate any sense of action—a distilled gesture that equals death. Film cannot change fate, only provide the proof of its existence. In that moment of exchange between Nana and the camera, a somatic stalemate coalesces. Masochistic at best, the cinematic joy of looking leaves the viewer enmeshed within the diegesis of Vivre sa vie. The extended sequence of Nana watching Carl Dreyer’s Passion of Jeanne d’Arc is one other example in the film (as well as the Edger Allan Poe sequence, in which Nana’s lover recites Poe’s short story The Oval Portrait, actually recited in a blatant voice over by the artist—as cinematic painter—Godard himself). As Harun Farocki explains about the former example where Nana watches Dreyer’s Jeanne d’Arc:
    • The parallels between Nana and Jeanne seem more diagetic to me. Nana knows that she is in a crisis, but she doesn’t entirely understand why. She goes to the movies in the hope of finding out; after all, Jeanne d’Arc is also a woman in trouble. But in fact this is not a situation in which art comments upon life, but only one in which life imitates art.78 For the Situationists such “imitations” are not without their consequence, “imitations” which they adamantly tried to denounce by practicing the dérive and the détournement. And the appropriation of Dreyer’s Jeanne d’Arc as a literal transposition for Godard’s Nana is also without its consequences, but these causal connections of “imitations” are eliminated. The “modernity” of such severed causal links are what Deleuze would term the “time-image.” Yet the Situationists could not sever that link, precisely because that link was a form of acquiescence into the spectacularity of cultural mediation. In other words, Godard’s “appropriations” remain within the narrative logic of each film rather than displace those very appropriations outside of the frame. Likewise, in Bande à part, many of the cultural references, such as the namesakes of the three main protagonists, Arthur (eluding to Rimbaud), Odile (taken from Raymond Queneau’s novel Odile), and Franz (that is Kafka), rely on the fictive atmosphere of the narrative itself. The infamous gag within the film (one which eerily resembles a dérive), has Arthur, Franz, and Odile try to “do better” than the American who experienced the Louvre in under 9 minutes and 45 seconds. This sequence is placed as an homage to other cinematic works, namely Paris in Five Days and The Kiss. Such cultural references do not analyze, or as the Situationists said it, they “conceal the critique” of cinema—that is, its power as a form of communication to elicit an affective and existential index to the actual, existing street outside. Rather, Godard’s cinematic references are hermetically sealed within that tale, as iconic puns that cinema cognoscenti must decipher. Somaticization Indeed, it is here that the break between “action” and “thought” as articulated by Deleuze as the “movement-image” and “time-image” become apparent. For if we couch the two Deleuzian concepts of “actor” and “seer” in Situationist terms, such concepts would be inimical for what is at stake for cinema—to engage in a somatic response. For the Situationists, Godard’s critique is lodged within the parameters of the film’s narrative, it does not analyze the social world through cinema’s own inherent communicative aspects. His images leave their imprint within the ground of the film rather than shifting it to the realm of the street (which Godard used profusely in many of his films). Godard snatches appropriations from the world and leaves them to remain as discontinuous, they do not diffuse “out” but rather remain “in,” as evidentiary notations embedded within the filmic narrative. Opposed to the discontinuity dependent upon cinema as a closed system, Debord’s In girum points to an external “this,” a haeceeity or index as it were, that acts as a corporation, a becoming-street. As an aggregate that forms a block of corporation, In girum is a possible rendezvous with the street: a cinema of banality and of the vernacular rendered through “image-scraps” that are iterations of a production rather than re-production of movement. Between Debord’s re-binding of aberrant images that recollect the body as that which undergoes a flow or leak-effect, In girum recuperates the index of the actual street through its virtual counterpart on the screen. The viewer lies between the fold of these two instances, as the embodied signifier that effectuates a moment of leakage—an embodied seer at the junction of action, thought as somatic. A somaticization of viewing, the cognition of moving, or, more precisely, moving from the cognitive.
    • The film as a dérive does not use images as a détournement, they are not signified icons that revert back to themselves. Rather, they mark their meaning form the external referent that an index, as an empty sign, must acknowledge: the assurance of an existence that progresses from outside of the screen. Precisely for this reason, In girum formulates a mode of existence: it attaches the trace of the external, within and without the film, in order to collapse the distinction between interior and exterior, seen and unseen. It is a continuum, one that is grounded with an externality marked by the film as dérive. A corporation that leaks from the film’s surface to the street, from the screen to the body, and from the physical body to its shadow imprinted “out” there. 1 Jean-François Lyotard, “Domus and Megalopolis,” in The Inhuman: Reflections on Time, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991) 197. 2 Raoul Vaneigem, “Comments against Urbanism,” in Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Text and Documents, trans. John Shepley (Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2002) 126. 3 Debord’s films cannot be seen, they must be read—the films are therefore at a remove from the spectacle but are also enmeshed with its connotations. After the assassination of Gérard Lebovici, Debord’s friend, publisher, and producer, Debord removed all his films from circulation as a protest. After the murder, the French press would insist that Debord was involved in the assassination even though it was clear that he was not. Debord sued several newspapers for libel, and was eventually successful in legally exonerating himself from the associations the media forced onto him. He would later write comments on the media assault in Considerations on the assassination of Gérard Lebovici, trans. Robert Greene (Los Angeles: Tam Tam Books, 2001). 4 Critique should be read here in the Foucaultian sense. See Foucault, “What is Critique?” in The Politics of Truth, ed. Sylvère Lotringer, trans. Lysa Hochroth (New York: Semiotext(e), 1997) 32. “I will say that critique is the movement by which the subject gives himself the right to question truth on its effects of power and question power on its discourses of truth. Well then!: critique will be the art of voluntary insubordination, that of reflected intractability. Critique would essentially insure the desubjugation of the subject in the context of what we would call, in a word, the politics of truth.” 5 Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular Plural, trans. Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O’Byrne (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000) 1-99. 6 See Christian Metz, The Imaginary Signifier, trans. Celia Britton, Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster, and Alfred Guzzetti (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982) 42-57. 7 See Teresa de Lauretis, “Semiotics and Experience,” in Alice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema (Bloomington Indiana University Press, 1984) 158-186. 8 Situationist International, “Definitions,” in Situationist International Anthology, ed. and trans. Ken Knabb (Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981) 45. 9 Debord, “Reports on the Construction of Situations and on the International Situationist Tendency’s Conditions of Organization and Action,” in Anthology, 24. 10 Debord, “Theory of the Dérive,” in Anthology, 50.
    • 11 Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone Books, 1994) 12. 12 Ibid. For a critique on Situationist ideologies that revolve around this “former unity of life” being “lost forever,” See Jacques Rancière The Politics of Aesthetics, trans. Gabriel Rockhill (London; New York: Continuum Press, 2004) 9-11; and Jean-Luc Nancy, Being Singular Plural, 47-73. For a more affirmative reading of Debord and the Situationists, see Giorgio Agamben, “Marginal Notes on Commentaries on the Society of the Spectacle,” in Means Without End: Notes on Politics, trans. Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000) 73-89. In Politics, Rancière seeks to circumvent the “nostalgia” that afflicts aesthetic thinking (aesthetics understood as a “specific regime for identifying and reflecting on the arts”) that leads it to a “deliberation on mourning” which he sees is reflected in Situationist ideas that refer to a “unity” lost forever. Likewise, in Being Singular Plural Nancy seeks a trajectory of “being-with” as a plurality of co- existence that is not “lost,” but rather achieved continually through a contact of “being-together.” Nancy treats the Situationist critique of the spectacle as a “symptom,” and therefore this “being- together-at-the-spectacle” “understands itself as an inversion of the representation of itself, which it believes to be capable of giving itself as originary (and lost)… .” (51) Being gives itself as a singular plural and, in this way, organizes itself as its own stage. We present the “I” to ourselves, to one another, just as “I,” each time, present the “we” to us, to one another. In this sense, there is no society without the spectacle; or more precisely, there is no society without the spectacle of society. Although already a popular ethnological claim or, in the Western tradition, a claim about the theatre, this proposition must be understood as ontologically radical. There is no society without the spectacle because society is the spectacle itself. (67) Nancy’s’ use of “spectacle” here should not be taken for or confused as strictly pejorative. It is the “co- appearance” of a simultaneity between being-singular (“I”) and plural (“we”) at one and the same time: “being-with” each other in the singular plural. “[C]o-appearance forms a stage that is not a play of mirrors—or rather, how the truth of the play of mirrors must be understood as the truth of the ‘with.’ In this sense, ‘society’ is ‘spectacular.’” (68) 13 Debord, “Theory of the Dérive,” in Anthology, 53. 14 Ibid. 15 Charles Sanders Peirce, Collected Papers of Charles S. Peirce, ed. Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, vol.2: Elements of Logic (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932) 267. 16 Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002) 92. 17 Ibid., 94. 18 See Gary S. Rosenkrantz, Haecceity: An Ontological Essay (Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1993).
    • 19 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, “Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming- Imperceptible…,” in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987) 262. 20 Ibid., 239. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid., 273. 23 Vaneigem, “Comments Against Urbanism,” in Texts and Documents, 123. 24 Henri Lefebvre, Critique of Everyday Life, trans. John Moore (London: Verso Books, 1991) 7; see also 69-83 and 178-80. Kristin Ross’ interview with Lefebvre retraces his involvement with the Situationists, see Ross, “Lefebvre on the Situationists: An Interview,” in Texts and Documents, 267-283. The architectural works of Constant Nieuwenhuis contemporaneously evolved from the dialogue inspired by Lefebvre and the Situationists on the alienation effect industrialization had on city life. See The Activist Drawing: Retracing Situationist Architecture’s from Constant’s New Babylon to Beyond, eds. Catherine de Zegher and Mark Wigley (New York: Drawing Center; Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001). Also, Mark Wigley, Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire (Rotterdam: Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art: 010 Publishers, 1998). 25 Vaneigem, “Comments Against Urbanism,” in Texts and Documents, 121. 26 The last image on the screen, before Debord reiterates that “[as] these final reflections on violence continue to demonstrate, for me there will be no turning back and no reconciliation. No wising up and no settling down,” is a subtitle that reads “[to] be gone through again from the beginning.” See, In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni, in Guy Debord: Complete Cinematic Works, trans. and ed. Ken Knabb (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2003) 193. 27 As Thomas Y. Levin has pointed out, when first planning a film on the activities of the Situationists in 1964, Debord proposed a more telling title: Eloge de ce que nous avons aimé (Homage to the Things we Loved). See Thomas Y. Levin, “Dismantling The Spectacle: The Cinema of Guy Debord,” in Texts and Documents, 408. 28 Guy Debord, In girum, in Complete Cinematic Works, 150. 29 Ibid., 223. 30 Debord’s previous films, Hurlements en faveur de Sade (1952); Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps (1959); Critique de la séparation (1961); La Société du Spectacle (1973); Réfutation de tous les jugements, tant élogieux qu’hostiles, quit ont été jusqu’ici portés sur le film “La Société du Spectacle” (1975), all used pre-existing images and texts using the activity known as détournement which will be discussed below. 31 Debord and Gil J. Wolman, Methods of Détournement, in Anthology, 9. The practice of détournement is further split into three categories: minor détournement, deceptive détournement, and ultradétournement. Minor détournement uses elements that have no importance in themselves, such as press clippings and comic books, and derives its meaning from the new context in which it is placed.
    • Deceptive détournement, also known as premonitory proposition détournement, is the détournement of an element that is intrinsically significant in itself, such as using film sequences by Sergei Eisenstein and D.W. Griffith. Ultradétournement are “tendencies for détournement to operate in everyday social life,” such as gestures, secret codes, passwords, and languages. 32 Ibid. 33 For an example of a détourned comic book, see Debord’s Panegyric: Volume 2, trans. John McHale (London: Verso Books, 2004) 117. 34 Chtcheglov, “Formulary,” in Anthology, 4. 35 See Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964). 36 Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, 12. 37 Debord, In girum, in Complete Cinematic Works, 133. 38 Ibid., 134. 39 See Levin, “Dismantling the Spectacle,” in Texts and Documents, 405; original emphasis. 40 Debord, “Themes of In Girum,” in Complete Cinematic Works, 223; original emphasis. 41 Debord, In girum, in Complete Cinematic Works, 144-145; emphasis added. 42 On cinema’s imaging and iconicity, see de Lauretis, Alice Doesn’t, 37-53. 43 Debord, In girum, in Complete Cinematic Works, 172. 44 Ibid., 146. 45 Ibid. 46 Ibid., 178. 47 Debord and Asger Jorn began producing such images in Mémoires, see Debord, Mémoires: Structures Portantes d’Asger Jorn (Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert aux Belles Lettres, 1993). For an interesting analysis between the Situationist practice of using maps and Conceptualist art’s appropriation of the medium, see Peter Wollen, “Mappings: Situationists and/or Conceptualists,” in Rewriting Conceptual Art, ed. Michael Newman and Jon Bird (London: Reaktion Books, 1999) 27-46. 48 See Tom McDonough, “Situationist Space,” in Texts and Documents, 245. Perhaps the nearest and most literal connection between the map as an image, the dérive as the practice that denudes its authenticity, and the cinema as an index of affective existence within these two parameters, is found on the cover of the original publication of Debord’s complete cinematic works published in 1978—the
    • dust jacket is a détourned map of Paris’ Métro. See Oeuvres cinématographiques completes, 1952-1978 (Paris: Editions Champ Libre, 1978). 49 Debord, “Theory of the Dérive,” in Anthology, 53. 50 Raoul Vaneigem, “Comments against Urbanism,” in Texts and Documents, 121. 51 Debord, In girum, in Complete Cinematic Works, 170-171. 52 Ibid., 171; emphasis added. 53 See Giorgio Agamben, “Difference and Repetition: On Guy Debord’s Films,” in Texts and Documents, 315. 54 Ibid., 316. 55 Ibid., 317. 56 Levin, “Dismantling the Spectacle,” in Texts and Documents, 338. 57 Ibid., 338. Levin’s appropriation of the term “bloat” to connote the phase ciselante, in Isou’s cinematic practice, is more striking when he cites the entire passage from Traité de bave et d’éternité. The protagonist speaking, Daniel, is explaining his thoughts on the cinema to members of a “ciné-club audience.” I think first of all that the cinema is too rich. It is obese. It has reached its limits, its maximum. The moment it attempts to grow any further cinema will explode. Suffering from a case of congestion, this pig stuffed with fat will rip apart into a thousand pieces. I announce the destruction of cinema, the first apocalyptic sign of disjunction, of the rupture of this bloated and pot-bellied organism called film. 58 Ibid, 388. The phase ciselante can also serve as a precedent for what Rosalind Krauss describes as the “post-medium condition” in reference to Marcel Broodthears in “A Voyage on the North Sea”: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1999). 59 Ibid., 318. 60 Levin, “Dismantling the Spectacle,” in Texts and Documents, 425-426. 61 Cited in Anthology, 385. 62 Susan Sontag, “On Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie,” in Jean-Luc Godard: A Critical Anthology, ed. Toby Mussman (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1968) 89. 63 Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989) 23.
    • 64 Deleuze borrows from Alain Robbe-Grillet the notion of a fixated opticality that structures the noveau-roman’s insistence on the presence of objects as that which makes the significant endure in an objects very presentation. See Robbe-Grillet, “A Future for the Novel,” in For a New Novel: Essays on Fiction, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1965) 20. 65 Deleuze, Cinema 2, 272. 66 See Deleuze, Foucault, trans. Seán Hand (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988) 65. “As long as we stick to things and words we can believe that we are speaking of what we see, that we see what we are speaking of, and that the two are linked: in this way we remain on the level of an empirical exercise. But as soon as we open up words and things, as soon as we discover statements and visibilities, words and sight are raised to a higher exercise that is a priori, so that each reaches it own unique limit which separates it from the other, a visible element that can only be seen, an articulable element that can only be spoken. And yet the unique limit that separates each one is also the common limit that links one to the other, a limit with two irregular faces, a blind word and a mute vision. Foucault is uniquely akin to contemporary film.” 67 Deleuze, Cinema 2, 251. 68 Deleuze, Foucault, 64; and Deleuze, Cinema 2, 279. 69 Deleuze, Cinema 2, 183. The implication of Deleuze’s use of Pasolini’s “free indirect discourse” is elaborated on in the previous chapter. 70 Ibid., 184. 71 Ibid. 72 The Situationist International, “The Role of Godard,” in Anthology, 175. 73 Ibid., 176. 74 Ibid. 75 Sontag, “On Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie,” 88. 76 Ibid., 89. 77 Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2, 19-20. 78 Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki, Speaking About Godard (New York: New York University Press, 1998) 11.