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September 1998, Week 5


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"Edward R. O'Neill" <[log in to unmask]>
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Mon, 28 Sep 1998 14:21:37 -0700
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In response to some of Damian Peter Sutton's questions about
Deleuze and film studies,
> I have a couple of questions which subscribers might like
> to answer?
> Why do Deleuze's theories on cinema ( in Cinema 1: the
> movement-image, and Cinema 2: the time-image)not figure
> more prominently in film theory, particularly in the UK,
> when they provide a strong (if truncated, 1917-80)
> historical trajectory?
I believe there was an issue of the journal _Iris_ not long
ago dedicated to Deleuze's work.  Perhaps there some writers
broach the question of why Deleuze has not been more
strongly integrated within Anglo-American film studies.  D.
N. Rodowick's book on Deleuze's film theory has some points
to make on this subject, as well.
Quite broadly I think one can simply say that none of the
dominant paradigms, whether organized around language, the
unconscious or cognition, have much room for Deleuze's
taxonymy of signs.  (*Nota bene*:  Deleuze does not offer a
history of film, nor a theory of film history, and he says
so himself.)
Some of my own observations on the subject can be found in a
review of French and German essays on Deleuze and cinema:
Edward R. O'Neill, "Apprehending Deleuze Apprehending
Cinema," Film-Philosophy: Electronic Salon, 26 January 1998
> Why do courses insist on psycho-analysis as a basis of
> theoretical study, rather than a phenomenological, or
> Bergsonian approach?
The explanation lies in the history of film studies for the
last 30 years.  Since Bergson's work has so little contact
with psychoanalysis, structuralism, semiology, neoformalism
or cognitive science, there is little possibility Bergson
himself, let alone Deleuze's interpretations of him, will
rapidly become incorporated into film studies.
Another way of saying it is:  for a long time people were
more interested in sociolects than in idiolects, in shared
codes which made texts legible, rather than singular and
unique perceptions of texts.  Thus phenomenology was not
seen as particularly useful.
Further, since Derrida's early work positions itself as a
nail in the coffin of phenomenology, many who had been
interested in phenomenology then shifted over to something
perceived as 'further down the line'--such as the work of
Derrida or Foucault.
In other words, it's a question of paradigms, not of which
argument is better.  Yes, you can insist that Bergson would
make a better basis for talking about spectatorship, but
people aren't going to turn around and do it because there's
something larger than an argument:  that's a paradigm, and a
paradigm decides what arguments are relevant.
> And as a theorist with strong interests in the
> intertextuality of media culture:
>  Why does film history as taught in colleges not develop
> some of the links made by Bazin, Kracauer and Barthes in
> discussing semiology from film to photography and vice
> versa?
Actually, discussions of the relation of film to photography
are becoming more numerous, but one has to root around for
them.  The recent English-language translation of Jacques
Aumont's book is one example.
These are just a very few thoughts on a very broad set of
Edward R. O'Neill
General Education/Sociology
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