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DeleuzeMediators

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago

Mediators

 

Gilles Deleuze

 

 

If things aren't going too well in contemporary thought, it's because there's a return under the name of "modernism" to abstractions, back to the problem of origins, all that sort of thing...Any analysis in terms of movements, vectors, is blocked. We're in a very weak phase, a period of reaction. Yet philosophy thought it had done with the problem of origins. It was no longer a question of starting of finishing. The question was rather, what happens "in between"? And the same applies to physical movements.

 

The kind of movements you find in sports and habits are changing. We got by for a long time with an energetic conception of motion, where there's a point of contact, or we are the source of movement. Running, putting the shot, and so on: effort, resistance, with a starting point, a lever. But nowadays we see movement defined less and less in relation to a point of leverage. All the new sports - surfing, windsurfing, hang-gliding - take the form of entering into an existing wave. There's no longer an origin as starting point, but a sort of putting-into-orbit. the key thing is how to get taken up in the motion of a big wave, a column of rising air, to "get into something" instead of being the origin of an effort.

 

And yet in philosophy we're coming back to eternal values, to the idea of the intellectual as custodian of eternal values. We're back to Benda complaining that Bergson was a traitor to his own class, the clerical class, in trying to think motion. These days it's the rights of man that provide our eternal values. It's the constitutional state and other notions everyone recognizes as very abstract. And it's in the name of all this that thinking's fettered, that any analysis in terms of movements is blocked. But if we're so oppressed, it's because our movement's being restricted, not because our eternal values are being violated. In barren times philosophy retreats to reflecting "on" things. If it's not itself creating anything, what can it do but reflect on something? So it reflects on eternal or historical things, but can itself no longer make any move.

 

Philosophers Aren't Reflective, but Creative

What we should in fact do, is stop allowing philosophers to reflect "on" things. The philosopher creates, he doesn't reflect.

 

I'm criticized for going back to Bergson's analyses. Actually, to distinguish as Bergson did between perception, affection, and action as three kinds of motion is a very novel approach. It remains novel because I don't think it's ever been quite absorbed; it's one of the most difficult, and finest, bits of Bergson's thought. But this analysis applies automatically to cinema: cinema was invented while Bergson's thought was taking shape. Motion was brought into concepts at precisely the same time it was brought into images. Bergson presents one of the first cases of self-moving thought. Because it's not enough simply to say concepts possess movement; you also have to construct intellectually mobile concepts. Just as it's not enough to make moving shadows on the wall, you have to construct images that can move by themselves.

 

In my first book on cinema I considered the cinematic image as this image that becomes self-moving. In the second book I consider the cinematic image as it takes on its own temporality. So I'm in no sense taking cinemas as something to reflect upon, I'm rather taking a field in which what interests me actually takes place: What are the conditions for self-movement or auto-temporality in images, and how have these two factors evolved since the end of the nineteenth century? For once there's a cinema based on time rather than motion, the image obviously has a different nature than it had in its initial period. And cinema alone can provide the laboratory in which to explore this, precisely because in cinema, motion and time become constituents of the image itself.

 

The first phase of cinema, then, is the self-moving image. This happened to take the form of a cinema of narration. But it didn't have to. There's a paper by Noel Burch that makes the basic point that narration was not part of cinema from the outset. What led movement-images - that is, the self-moving image - to produce narration, was the sensory-motor schema. Cinema is not by its very nature narrative: it becomes narrative when it takes as its object the sensory-motor schema. That's to say, someone on the screen perceives, feels, reacts. It takes some believing: the hero, in a given situation, reacts; the hero always knows how to react. And it implies a particular conception of cinema. Why did it become American, Hollywoodian? For the simple reason that the schema was American property. this all came to an end with with the Second World War. Suddenly people no longer really believed it was possible to react to situations. The postwar situation was beyond them. So we get Italian neorealism presenting people placed in situations that cannot advance through reactions, through actions. No possible reactions - does that mean everything becomes lifeless? No, not at all. We get purely optical and aural situations, which give rise to completely novel ways of understanding and resisting. We get neorealism, the New Wave, and American cinema breaking with Hollywood.

 

There's still movement in images, of course, but with the appearance of purely optical an aural situations, yielding time-images, that's no longer what matters, it's only an index of something else. Time-images are nothing to do with before an after, with succession. Succession was there from the start as the law of narration. Time-images are not things happening in time, but new forms of coexistence, ordering, transforming...

 

The "Baker's Transformation"

What I'm interested in are the relations between the arts, sciences, and philosophy. There's no order of priority among these disciplines. Each is creative. The true object of science is to create functions, the true object of art is to create sensory aggregates, and the object of philosophy is to create concepts. From this viewpoint, given these general heads, however sketchy, of function, aggregate, and concept, we can pose the question of echoes and resonances between them. How is it possible - in their completely different lines of development, with quite different rhythms and movements of production - how is it possible for a concept, an aggregate, and a function to interact?

 

An initial example: in mathematics there's a kind of space called Reimannian. Mathematically very well defined, in terms of functions, this sort of space involves setting up little neighboring portions that can be joined up in an infinite number of ways, and it made possible, among other things, the theory of relativity. Now, if I take modern cinema, I see that after the war a new kind of space based on neighborhoods appears the connection between one little portion and another being made in an infinite number of possible ways and not being predetermined. A sort of disconnected space. If I say the cinematic space is Reimannian, it seems facile, and yet in a way it's quite true. I'm not saying that cinema's doing what Reimann did. But if one takes a space defined simply as neighborhoods joined up in an infinite number of possible ways, with visual and aural neighborhoods joined in a tactile way, then it's a Bresson's space. Bresson isn't Reimann, of course, but what he does in cinema is the same as what happened in mathematics, and echoes it.

 

Another example: in physics there's something that interests me a lot, which has been analysed by Prigogine and Stengers, called the "baker's transformation." You take a square, pull it out into a rectangle, cut the rectangle in half, stick one bit back on top of the other, and go on repeatedly altering the square by pulling it out into a rectangle again, as though you were kneading it. After a certain number of transformations any two points, however close they may have been in the original square, are bound to end up in to different halves. this leads to a whole theory, to which Prigogine attaches great importance in relation to his probabilistic physics.

 

On, now, to Resnais. In his film Je t'aime, je t'aime we see a hero taken back to one moment in his life, and the moment is then set in a series of different contexts. Like layers that are constantly shifted around, altered, rearranged so that what is close in one layer becomes very distant in another. It's a very striking conception of time, very intriguing cinematically, and it echoes the "baker's transformation." So I don't feel it's outrageous to say that Renais comes close to Prigogine, or that Godard, for different reasons, comes close to Thom. I'm not saying that Renais and Prigogine, or Godard and Thom are doing the same thing. I'm point out, rather, that there are remarkable simlarities between scientific creators of functions and cinematic creators of images. And the same goes for philosophical concepts, since there are also concepts of these spaces.

 

Thus philosophy, art, and science come into relations of mutual resonance and exchange, but always for internal reasons. The way they impinge on one another depends on their own evolution. So in this sense we really have to see philosophy, art, and science as sorts of separate melodic lines in constant interplay with one another. With philosophy having in this no reflective pseudoprimacy nor, equally, any creative inferiority. Creating concepts is no less difficult than creating new visual or aural combinations, or creating scientific functions. What we have to recognize is that the interplay between the different lines isn't a matter of one monitoring or reflecting another. A discipline that set out to follow a creative movement coming from outside would itself relinquish any creative role. You'll get nowhere by latching onto some parallel movement, you have to make a move yourself. If nobody makes a move, nobody gets anywhere. Nor is interplay an exchange: it all turns on giving and taking.

 

Mediators are fundamental. Creation's all about mediators. Without them nothing happens. They can be people - for a philosopher artists or scientists; for a scientist, philosophers or artists - but things too, even plants or animals, as in Castaneda. Whether they're real or imaginary, animate or inanimate you have to form your mediators. It's a series. if you're not in some series, even to a completely imaginary one, you're lost. I need my mediators to express myself, and they'd never express themselves without me: you're always working in a group, even when you seem to be on your own. And still more when it's apparent: Felix Guattari and I are one another's mediators.

 

The formation of mediators in a community is well seen in the work of Canadian filmmaker Pierre Perrault: having found mediators I can say what I have to say. Perrault thinks that if he speaks on his own, even in a fictional framework, he's bound to come out with an intellectual's discourse, he won't get away from a "master's or colonist's discourse," an established discourse. What we have to do is catch someone else "telling tales," "caught in the act of telling tales." Then a minority discourse, with one or many speakers, takes shape. We here come upon what Bergson calls "fabulation"...To catch someone in the act of telling tales is to catch the movement of constitution of a people. A people isn't something already there. A people, in a way, is what's missing, as Paul Klee used to say. Was there ever a Palestinian people? Israel says no. Of course there was, but that's not the point. The thing is, that once the Palestinians have been thrown out of their territory, then to the extent they resist they enter the process of constituting a people. It corresponds exactly to what Perrault calls being caught in the act of telling tales. It's how any people is constituted. So, to the established fictions that are always rooted in a colonist's discourse, we oppose a minority discourse, with mediators.

 

This idea that truth isn't something already out there we have to discover, but has to be created in every domain, is obvious to in the sciences, for instance. Even in physics, there's not truth that doesn't presuppose a system of symbols, be they only coordinates. There's no truth that doesn't "falsify" established ideas. To say that "truth is created" implies that the production of truth involves as series of operations that amount to working on a material - strictly speaking, a series of falsifications. When I work with Guattari each of us falsifies the other, which is to say that each of us understands in his own way notions put forward by the other. A reflective series with two terms takes shape. And there can be series with several terms, or complicated branching series. These capacities falsify to produce truth, that's what mediators are about...

 

The Left Needs Mediators

A political digression. Many people expected a new kind of discourse from a socialist government. A discourse very close to real movements, and so capable or reconciling those movements, by establishing arrangements compatible with them. Take New Caledonia, for example. When Pisani said "Whatever happens, there'll be independence," that in itself was a new kind of discourse. It meant: instead of pretending to be unaware of the real movements in order to negotiate about them, we're going to recognize the outcome right away, and negotiations will take place in the light of this outcome set in advance. We'll negotiate ways and means, the speed of change. So there were complaints from the Right who thought, in line with the old way of doing things, that there should above all be no talk of independence, even if we knew it was unavoidable, because it had to be made to depend on very hard bargaining. I don't think that people on the Right were deluded. They're no more stupid than everyone else, but their method is to oppose movement. It's the same as the opposition to Bergson in philosophy, it's all the same thing. Embracing movement, or blocking it: politically, two completely different methods of negotiation. For the Left, this means a new way of talking. It's not so much a matter of winning arguments as of being open about things. Being open is setting out the "facts," not only of a situation but of a problem. On the Caledonian problem we're told that from a certain point onward the territory was regarded as a settler colony, so the Kanaks became a minority in their own territory. When did this start? How did it develop? Who was responsible? The Right refuses these questions. If they're valid questions, then by establishing the facts we state a problem that the Right wants to hide. Because once the problem has been set out, we can no longer get away from it, and the Right itself has to talk in a different way. So the job of the Left, whether in or out of power, is to uncover the sort of problem that the Right wants at all costs to hid.

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