Friday, April 30, 2010

Sense of Things

"We cannot interpret the signs of a loved person without proceeding into worlds that have not waited for us in order to take form, that that formed themselves with other persons, and in which we are at first only an object among the rest. The lover wants his beloved to devote to him her preferences, her gestures, her caresses. But the beloved's gestures, at the very moment they are addressed to us, still express that unknown world that excludes us. The beloved gives us signs of preference; but because these signs are the same as those that express worlds to which we do not belong, each preference by which we profit draws the image of the possible world in which others might be or are preferred." (Gilles Deleuze, trans. Richard Howard, Proust & Signs, p. 8)

Why did cinema not produce "historical analyses, theories, essays, memoirs" (as Guy Debord asks in In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni)? When Susan Sontag advocated an "erotics" for art in the 1960s (a call-to-arms that would have many a sensuous-formalist gearing up even today), I wonder how healthy any of that would have been. That is, an erotics which seeks only to find satisfaction in its own pleasure - a cinephilia dying that couldn't come to terms with its own obsolescence. This despite the fact that nothing like it ever really lived long. The erotics of a particular mode of elite spectatorship (though this 'elite' is not definitively elitist, nor could it be unduly described, simply, as just marginal) ... this passes, this family resemblance of cinephilias that have nevertheless been quick to forget and quicker to forgive its own common afflictions.

(If someone has sought out Serge Daney's work on television, who among these have done some more to really search out critical discussion of television? Can a given cinephile can take a stance on television that is well-considered? It's worth thinking about.)

The sense of a thing, and the "erotic" attachment to it, when robust does ( - must - ) create an offspace, the field of other possible worlds; myopia reinvests this kind of negativity in a continual reworking of the cinema, so that we find all the answers to all the problems we think we've discerned, located, worked on. But all we've done is bury deeper a certain lack. (This is why that fellow who's chained to the cinematheque quotes: "Cinephilia is a lack of ambition.") Cinephilia is among other things historically marked by a confusion over what's to be found in an image, why we're looking there in the first place.

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