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Alchemies of Thought in Godard's Cinema: Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty Author(s): Elena del Rio Reviewed work(s): Source:y : Universit y of Wisconsin Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3685732 . Accessed: 16/12/2011 13:53 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates y our acce p tance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. University of Wisconsin Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to SubStance. http://www.jstor.org " id="pdf-obj-0-2" src="pdf-obj-0-2.jpg">

Alchemies of Thought in Godard's Cinema: Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty Author(s): Elena del Rio Reviewed work(s):

Source: SubStance, Vol. 34, No. 3, Issue 108: French Cinema Studies 1920s to the Present (2005), pp. 62-78 Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Accessed: 16/12/2011 13:53

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Alchemies of Thought in Godard's Cinema: Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty Author(s): Elena del Rio Reviewed work(s): Source:y : Universit y of Wisconsin Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3685732 . Accessed: 16/12/2011 13:53 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates y our acce p tance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. University of Wisconsin Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to SubStance. http://www.jstor.org " id="pdf-obj-0-36" src="pdf-obj-0-36.jpg">

University of Wisconsin Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to SubStance.

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Alchemies of Thought in Godard'sCinema:

Deleuze and Merleau-Ponty:

Elena del Rio

Notwithstanding alleged failure to meet the challenges

Deleuze's

indictment

of phenomenology

for its

of immanence

and difference,

Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze's philosophies and their implications for a theory of cinema remain close in many important respects. Both Merleau-

Ponty's phenomenology of perception and Deleuze's transcendental

empiricism dismantle epistemological systems that are grounded in non- corporeal acts of signification or cognition. The drive to determine a clear

dividing line between subject and world, perceiver and perceived, objective reality and subjective experience, is equally suspected and accordingly undermined by both thinkers. In the continuity of human body and world that both these philosophies propose, a sensational and

affective approximation to the world replaces the purely mental and visual methods of the disembodied cogito. As made apparent in his book

on Francis Bacon, Deleuze shares Merleau-Ponty's emphasis on the world- body of sensation as a continuum between viewer/artist and art work:

"sensation has no [objective and subjective] sides at all; it is both things,

indissolubly;

it is being-in-the-world,

the same time I become in sensation

as the phenomenologists

say: at

and something

arrives through

sensation, one through the other, one in the other" (FrancisBacon, 27).

But despite the many ideas Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze share, it is

also important to acknowledge

the difference that separates them-a

difference that renders their respective modes of thinking unique and therefore equally necessary. As many commentators have noted, Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze part ways at the juncture where sensation and affect are variously theorized as either belonging to the realm of

subjectivity or as operating in a desubjectified field of forces. Thus, while for Merleau-Ponty sensation and affect are subjective phenomena arising

out of an intentional and individuated

rapport with the world, Deleuze

regards the sensational and the affective as material flows whose individuation and exchange does not rest upon subjectified intentions, but rather upon the workings of a non-organic, anonymous force or life.

? Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin System, 2005

62

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Alchemiesof Thought in Godard'sCinema

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I would like to use the cinema of Jean-Luc Godard as a testing ground for the potential reversibility, as well as the tensions, that arise when one applies Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze's diverse modes of thinking to a kind of cinema that seems equally suited to both. In many notable ways, the examples of Godard's 1980s cinema that I will discuss--Passion (1981), Scenario of Passion (1982), and Histoire(s) du Cinema (1989)- can be seen as film performances of paramount philosophical concerns in Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze's writings. The micropolitics of perception exemplified in Godard's cinema counters the ideology of the visible at work in Western forms of representation by restoring the materiality and physicality and the sense of duration to acts of (technological) perception. Godard strips the image of its representational properties, while foregrounding the incantatory qualities that turn the image into a disclosing event or gesture. Godard is not interested in the visible as a static aesthetic form or fixed ideological construct; rather, his attention to bodily gesture and movement acts out an involvement with the visible as a mode of constant becoming, where figures come into being from a latent ground of visibility and virtuality. Furthermore, the body figures so prominently in these films by Godard as to transform what initially might be construed a proliferation of individuated bodies into a corporeal continuum of sensation and affect. But besides using the image to interrogate the material and sensory

continuity

between

body

and world,

Godard's

cinema

explicitly

addresses the very point of contention between Merleau-Ponty and

Deleuze: the subjective versus the non-subjective perspectives. Godard's tendency to include his own body in these works does not answer the

question by either privileging the subjective or the non-subjective. Instead, as I will try to show, Godard's ambiguous stance between a

potentially narcissistic self-presentation, and the dissolution of identity

into anonymous

material sensation affirms the continuity of subjective

and non-subjective as overlapping, coexistent planes. In this way, Godard's films unwittingly reveal the philosophical impossibility of keeping the subjective and the non-subjective locked into a binary relation. For while Merleau-Ponty's position may emphasize the subjective pole, his phenomenology does contemplate the role of the

prepersonal and pre-reflective in a way that approximates his thinking to the anonymity of material forces and affections espoused by Deleuze.

Conversely, although Deleuze undoubtedly favors the molecular plane of consistency/immanence over the molar plane of organization, he does admit in A ThousandPlateaus that an excessive stripping away of subjective

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forms and functions may result in a dangerous regression to the undifferentiated. In this text, he asks whether it may be "necessary to

retain a minimum of strata, a minimum of forms and functions, a minimal subject from which to extract materials, affects, and assemblages" (270). It is not my intention here either to prioritize Godard's film work over the philosophical work of Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze, or vice-versa. Instead, if any priority should be acknowledged from the outset as an underlying concern of this essay, I would point to Deleuze's insistence upon the naturally shared affinities between cinema and philosophy:

"Cinema not only puts movement in the image, it also puts movement in

the mind ..

.One naturally goes from philosophy to cinema, but also from

cinema to philosophy" ("Interview with Deleuze," 366). In the same non- hierarchical spirit that animates Deleuze's words, I will try to avoid a model of reflection whereby one discipline is considered the dominant or privileged term in relation to the other. Instead, I will attempt to show how cinema and philosophy can resonate with each other by enacting

the same problems and posing the same questions. Godard's cinema and Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze's philosophies are thus different terrains with conditions similar enough to allow for the same tremors of thought

to occur("Interview with Deleuze," 367). And it is in the intersection between the two disciplines that I would like to situate this analysis.

More specifically, I will set such dialogic encounter of cinema and philosophy in relation to two areas explicitly explored in Godard's

cinema: the filmmaker's passive and receptive role in his conception of

the film, and the use of montage as a privileging of the temporal and affective dimensions of the image over its mimetic properties.

Witnessing the (In)Visible / Actualizing the Virtual In the words of Jean-Luc Douin, the anecdotal level of Godard's film Passion may be explained as follows: "We see a Polish filmmaker (Jerzy

Radziwilowicz) engaged in making a film where he stages some tableaux vivants executed by the great masters. The filmmaker is attracted to the

manager of the hotel where he is staying (Hanna Schygulla). This woman is married to a factory manager (Michel Piccoli) dealing with his workers'

impending

strike. The factory manager is assaulted by a union worker

(Isabelle Huppert), who in turn is in love with the Polish filmmaker" (Godardpar Jean-Luc,213). This banal plot aside, Passion stages the kind of perceptual drama that is already afoot in Godard's 1965 film Pierrot le

Fou -a drama Pierrot/Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo) tenuously reveals

as he reads from a book about Velazquez

during the film's opening

SubStance #108, Vol. 34, no. 3, 2005

Alchemiesof Thought in Godard'sCinema

65

sequence: "After fifty years, he did not paint anything definite

...

He did

not capture anything in the world except the mysterious exchanges that drive forms and colors to penetrate each other."

Like the Spanish

master

Velazquez,

embarked

on a search

for

transparency and shadow, Godard shows no interest in representing sharply defined characters or situations. Instead, the filmmaker's gaze

turns its activity of seeing back on itself, looking not to what appears as visible, but to the visible's mode of appearing. At the most fundamental

level,

the tableaux vivants in Passion conduct

their investigation

of

appearance by stressing the shared reliance on lighting of both painting and the cinema. Godard uses the first tableau, Rembrandt's Nightwatch, to meditate on the ontology of the painted image and the cinematic image alike. While the camera slowly scans the faces of these characters, a

female voice-over says: "It's not a lie, but something imaginary. Never exactly the truth, but not the opposite either. It's something separated from the real world by calculated approximations of probabilities." As

Godard interrogates

the

coming

into

being

of figures

from

the

indeterminate and latent ground of the visible, his gaze bears a striking

resemblance with the painterly gaze described by Merleau-Ponty:

Light, lighting, shadows, reflections, color, all the objects of his quest

are not altogether real objects; like ghosts,

they

have

only

visual

existence The ...

painter's gaze asks them what they do to suddenly

cause something to be and to be this thing, what they do to compose

this worldly talisman and to make us see the visible. (Primacy of Perception, 166)

If Godard's preference for tracing the visible's mode of appearing can

be elucidated

through

a phenomenological

perspective, so it can be

through Deleuze's theory of cinema. When describing the power of the

affection-image in the cinema, Deleuze stresses the same fundamental

conditions

conditions

of perception

that draw the phenomenologists'

attention,

he calls "pure singular

qualities

or potentialities

...

pure

possibles" (Movement-Image,102). In reference to G. W. Pabst's film Lulu, he writes:

There are Lulu, the lamp, the bread-knife, Jack the Ripper: people who are assumed to be real with individual characters and social roles, objects with uses, real connections between these objects and these people-in short, a whole actual state of things. But there are also the brightness of the light on the knife, the blade of the knife

under the light, Jack's terror and resignation, Lulu's compassionate

look

...

these

of things. (102)

are very special effects: taken all together,

they only

refer back to themselves, and constitute the "expressed" of the state

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Thus Deleuze distinguishes the actualstate of things of the visible, which

in cinema coincides with objects, characters, and their actions at the

level of plot, from the affective qualities brought on at the point where

faces or whole bodies are touched by different

configurations

and

to be

or exhausted

the

by

movements of light. Like Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze is equally intriguedby

the question of what the light does "to suddenly cause something

and to be this thing." And he reaches a similar conclusion: what is

expressed by the image is never entirely explained

spatiotemporal connections the plot

establishes as sufficient rational

precipicemay be the cause of

produces on a face

...

For the

causes. As he remarks, "howevermuch the

vertigo, it does not explain the expression it

expression exists without

justification

...

as

expressed, [it is] already the

event in its eternal

aspect" (102).

Godard's semi-scientific, semi-philosophical observation of the

primordial elements that ground appearances

and their

perception

demands attention not only to lighting, but also to gesture and

movement. In his filmic recreationof Rembrandt's Nightwatch, the female

voice-over accompanying the image also emphasizes the capacity

of the

body to speak for its subject: "Don't scrutinize the structure or the

distances

...

do

like Rembrandt, examine

human beings attentively, at

Immediately thereafter, the

length. Look at their lips and into their eyes."

film cuts to an image of Isabelle Huppert, the factory worker, her back to

the camera, looking sideways, with her eyes and lips unmistakably

fleshing out her expectancy and

her frustration.Godard's belief in the

revealing

and

function of the

gesture is fully shared by both Merleau-Ponty

their respectivewritings on film.

In "TheFilm

Deleuze, as shown in

and the New Psychology,"Merleau-Ponty writes:

Anger,

shame, hate, and love are not psychic facts hidden at the

they are types of behavior or

bottom of another's consciousness:

styles

of

conduct which are visible from the outside. They exist on

(52-53)

this face or in those gestures, not hidden behind them.

Implicit in Merleau-Ponty's reading of gestural style is

distinction between signs and their significance, between

and its meaning

that the

body

lived-body where

Eye,41).

the lack of

the

gesture

as affectivecontent. Thus the meaning and intentionality

resonatewith the phenomenological notion

primordial

ground of semiosis. As film

it is at the radical level of the

captured in Isabelle's gesture

functions as a

phenomenologist Vivian Sobchack notes,

the genesis of speech and writing occurs (Addressof the

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Alchemies of Thought in Godard's Cinema

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Turning to Deleuze's cinema books, we find an equally strong

emphasis on

the body as the constantly moving and deterritorializing

unthought.

Deleuze's

surface that can put us directly in touch with the

attention to the

close-up

as an instance of the

is

expressive powers of

the bodily

faciality in The Movement-Image

matched by his concernwith

attitudes and postures that form the locus of affectionin The Time-Image.

Here, he writes of cinema's capacity to restorebelief in the world via the

body:

The

itself

body

is no

longer

the obstacle that

separates thought

from

It

is on the

contrary that which it plunges

into

...

in

order to

reachthe

unthought

...

thebody

forces

us to think what is concealed

from thought,

life

...

To

think is

to lear

what a non-thinkingbody is

capable of,

its

capacity, its postures. (189)

In Passion, Godard materializes the sense of embodiment of the

painterly gaze by allowing the figures to move and change positions in

front of the camera. This mobility, enacted as a series of entrances and

exits, appearances and disappearances, of the human figures, recreates

in cinematic form the intermediate

stages

in the

process of painterly

creation-its invisible hesitancies as well as its visible choices. But even

more importantly, the "otherness"of the cinematictableaux in relationto

the paintings lies in a conceptual differencebetween the painting and its

reenactment as a performative event. Rather than representing static

wholes aspiring to reproduce the original painting

Godard's tableaux act upon

with

exactitude,

representation to

inquisitive mode,

 

Standing

our senses as moving fragments that

reintroduce the body and the notion of temporality into the acts of

perception and expression. Implying

a shift from

performance,

these tableauxconstitute unique and original events of

perceptual interrogation in their own right.

While

Passion investigates the perceptual conditions of painting and

the cinema, Scenario of Passionis doubly marked by this

for in it Godardtraces the conception and birth of Passionitself.

before a blank screen, and waiting

for the film to materializeon it, Godard

tells us about his preferred method of creating a screenplay--seeing

comes before writing.

The world describedin Passionhad to be seen first, to see whether it

existed before being filmed

...

You have a writer's job, but you don't

want to write. You want to see, to receive. You'rebefore a white

page,

a beach, but there's no sea. You can invent the waves. You

have only a vague idea, but [it] is already movement.

In Scenario, Godard becomes a

witness to the process whereby latent/

virtual movements and tendencies sediment in the form of a particular

film. As practicedby Godard, the work of seeing involves the acceptance

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and testing of possibilities that already exist at the level of the virtual, and not simply the creation of something out of nothing. This distinction is important because it subverts the dichotomy of actual and virtual by

placing these terms in a processual

continuum. In Ronald Carrier's words,

"while the virtual and the actual differ from one another, they are not

opposed to one another because they are both real" ("Ontological

Significance," 194). As he engages in the labor of "seeing," Godard comes close to describing his job as a process that turns the virtual into actual, hence he does not begin with stories, but with places and movements. The actors have to be seen before they are assigned their lines, and, instead of embodying roles, they are to be considered first and foremost as

inscriptions of movement.

Godard

rejects the position

of perceptual

mastery

sometimes

attributed to the filmmaker in favor of a kind of perceptual work or labor. Just as in Histoire(s) Godard's body is seen moving and speaking amidst the visual and aural apparatuses of the film's body, in Scenariohe shows himself not as a disembodied creator of the film's script, not even primarily as a pair of eyes, but rather as a perceiving hand that strives to trace the movements and gestures that constitute the possibility of a story. Jacques Aumont has described Godard's corporeal investment in Scenario as "the bold mise-en-scene of a body embracing the fantasy- screen" ("The Medium," 207). As Aumont has also noted, it would be easier for Godard to do his job as a filmmaker blind than without hands

(209).

In the case of Godard, the act of "embracing" the screen is no mere

metaphor, but rather a literal action that brings together the filmmaker's body and the screen as body temporarily in one single corporeal assemblage. The synthesis Godard achieves with the screen is powerfully conveyed at the end of Scenario, where Godard literally embraces the

screen, thereby underscoring his role as a kind of shepherd or guardian of the cinema. Recalling his playful tendency to split words into their phonetic materiality and their semantic content, Godard uses the French phoneme "mer" to mean simultaneously "sea" and "mother." Godard addresses himself to an anonymous man standing on a pier and encourages him to go back home to the outstretched arms of both sea- mer-and mother-mere. The affecting aspect of this moment lies in the way Godard puts his arms around the man's body, keeping him in a kind of protective aura as he walks away from the sea and back into the land.

Godard's gesture shows a total, uncompromising belief in the image- the ability to dwell in the image and to let the image inhabit his body.

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The filmmaker thus performs what he himself says at one point in Scenario:

"The screen is a wall made for jumping over." Crossing over to the other

side, Godard becomes at once everyman, child, mother, seer, and above all, cinema. Rather than simply authorizing images and sounds, he witnesses the autonomous unraveling of the cinematic process - a process that includes but outstrips him. At this juncture it would be pertinent to recast the central question

that I posed in my opening remarks: Is Godard's explicit contemplative

activity in Scenario better understood

by

reference

to

the

phenomenological idea of expression as creation or emanation from consciousness, or is it more appropriately situated in a subjectless field of perceptions, sensations, and affects? Does human consciousness-

however embodied

or even

transcendence

to

a chaotic

prereflective-lend

organization and

circulation

of material

flows,

or

is

consciousness simply one material flow overlapping with others? Rather than attempt to offer a definitive answer, I will argue that Godard's way of being-in-the-world as a filmmaker has a somewhat deconstructive effect on the binary structure of such questions. That is, Godard's presence instantiates a web of actions and passions that is irreducible either to conscious subjectivity or to a subjectless circulation of perceptions and affects. Instead, I would say that Godard lends his mind and his body to a process that allows these perceptions and affects to take place. In so

doing, he acts as a stage, channel, or catalyst-the meeting point where certain processes of perception, sensation, and affect can converge and interact to produce something new. Godard's reflexive activity searches

and investigates, yet his prevalent attitude is that of one who waits for something to be brought forth from its latent state. As he says in Scenario referring to his own role, "you're there in the dark, lying in wait for

sound and language." If we look at Histoire(s), the video work that I will come back to later,

Godard's agency continues to be inscribed as a perpetually

reconfigured

combination of actions and passions. Here, the continuum of filmmaker

and electronic

typewriter

forms

a bodily

assemblage

that gathers

intensity from Godard's own presence, while at the same time rendering

it remarkably impersonal. In Histoire(s), Godard undertakes a writing of

cinema history through cinema's own images and sounds, repeatedly insisting on the irrelevance of he or she who might tell the story of the

cinema: "L'HISTOIRE-PAS CELUI QUI LA RACONTE" (The [hi]story,

not s/he who tells it), he says; it is the images themselves, Godard implies,

that write their own concealed

history. Furthermore, Godard uses a

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typewriter whose electronic memory allows it to act independently of the human writer. This electronic machine functions to dissolve the very idea of authorship into a complete physical involvement with the object

being examined: the body of cinema itself. As the typewriter spits out

Godard's words, these rhythmic sounds become

a live soundtrack, which

in turn models

the very rhythm

of the images

as they

appear and

disappear in front of our eyes. The process of turning thoughts

into

sounds

rids Godard's statements of their analytical baggage,

lending

them instead the gravity and material weight of bodily processes. With this series of transformations and unlikely combinations, Godard proves that his true vocation is not so much to be a masterful cinematic author as it is to experiment with and observe the autonomous processes of a

kind of cinematic alchemy.

argues, phenomenology and Deleuze's philosophy lies in their respective stresses on generality and singularity as constitutive of sense. The common sense

As Leonard

Lawlor

much

of the difference

between

espoused by phenomenology constitutes for Deleuze the loss of

singularity, ultimately resulting in a "cliche [or] generality under which particulars would be subsumed" ("End of Phenomenology," 16). Yet,

according to Lawlor, the generality of sense Merleau-Ponty speaks of

"cannot be reduced

to

a law

or formula"

(23); rather, the notion

of

generality itself is always rooted in the singularities of the sensible (23). Godard's is undoubtedly a cinema of singularities and multiplicities that can hardly buttress the kind of familiar expectations forged by common sense or general opinion. The function of Godard's conscious agency in the midst of his cinema is to provide a sensitive point or conscience where singularities of perception and affection can form, coalesce, and continue to transform even beyond his punctual intervention. Lawlor refers to this conscience as a "boiling point," perhaps borrowing from the kind of scientific, empiricist discourse Deleuze himself uses in his first cinema book, where he writes that "[Affects] have singularities which enter into virtual conjunction and each time constitute a complex

entity. It is like points of melting, of boiling, of condensation, of coagulation, etc."(Movement-Image,my emphasis,103). Godard's positioning between activity and passivity can also be explained by reference to what Carrier calls a "passive/connective synthesis," which provides a way of addressing human being and even

agency

while

consciousness.

avoiding

the

potential

pitfalls

of a discourse

of

Carrier defines the passive synthesis as "tak[ing] place

prior to conscious activity" ("Ontological Significance," 191). The passive

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Alchemiesof Thought in Godard'sCinema

71

synthesis thus seems rather analogous to the notion of pre-reflective/ unreflective vision, the transcendental field of the prepersonal and

anonymous described by Merleau-Ponty. Drawing

from Brian Massumi's

example of the natural process of sedimentation (User's Guide,48), Carrier

explains that human affections are produced through a similar process involving a series of contractions and contemplations:

Grains of sand come to rest next to one another,

layer

of muck at the bottom of a

...

and

element drawn from a flux

body

accumulating in a

grain

is an

of water. Each

contracted into the muck at the

bottom. Which grains are selected to make up a particular muck is at

once a matter

of

chance

...

and

of

necessity

...

The

process of

being

sedimentation results in

(the muck), which is the

grains

of

in terms of

human being is ...

and unconscious

produced

by

the

the production

product

of a

of a new individual

process

of contraction (of the

sand) and contemplation(the selectivity being explicable

physical laws)

...

For

Deleuze and Guattari, an individual

composed of a multitude of such contractionsand

at several levels at once

...

The

subject

agency is the product

of

product

of a

complex

contemplations taking place

as conscious

the

synthesis

of

agent,

insofar as its conscious

actions, is itself the ongoing

passive synthesis

...

as

collections of affections

connective synthesis of contraction and

caughtup

in a

multiplicity

191-

contemplation, an individualhuman being is

of series of

actions and passions. ("OntologicalSignificance,"

92)

Like the grains of sand that accumulate and contract through a selective process over which they have no grasp or control, the passage of Godard's

virtual images into actuality is equally bound by laws of both chance and necessity. Thus, for example, the fact that the first image appearing in Godard's screen in Scenario is that of a woman (Hanna Schygulla) running with a bouquet of flowers toward a car must be at once a matter of pure randomness and of absolute necessity. While it does not follow any readily apparent logic, it nevertheless must be connected to a multitude of other material flows and affects that determine its appearance at that particular moment in time beyond all conscious

predictability or calculation. Godard as subject is thus not altogether absent from the "complex and unconscious passive synthesis" that takes place in Passion and Scenario of Passion. Moreover, passivity does not mean absence of action. On the contrary, the passive synthesis implies a

heightening of the power one has of being acted upon, no less a power than that involved in acting itself. And this is what I think the very title of Godard's film points to: Passion names the transmutation of perception into affection by virtue of the power Godard has to be acted upon or to be

affected by the very things or images he perceives.

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The Cinematic Body without Organs: Montage as Auto-Affection

Whether in

their emphasis on art or nature, Passion and Scenariorevel

in open spaces and in the phenomenological enigmas of perceptual receptivity. Such philosophical inclinations are matched by a cinematic style of sweeping camera movements and long takes--a decisive preference for space and mise-en-scene over time and montage. In

Histoire(s), on the other hand, Godard collapses

all sense of discernible,

locatable space into the dimension of temporality. Here, the work of montage transforms perception into sensation. As Godard juxtaposes image and sound fragments from a myriad of films and other textual

sources, the resulting amalgamation of incompossible realities produces

nothing of the order of usable perception, instead triggering pure affective intensity. In Histoire(s), Godard takes the cinema beyond the intentional

phenomenological project of the lived-body to situate it firmly within the deterritorialized plane of the Body without Organs (BwO). Montage

is the method that enables Godard to harness the force of the image in

such a way as to evacuate its identitary form and function, and

to

transform this force into a ceaseless becoming in excess of all use reason.

or

My argument here is that Histoire(s) performs the history

of cinema

as the becoming of a BwO. Godard's work conforms to the basic premises of this Deleuzian notion. To sum these up, the BwO is not opposed to the

organs, but to the organism's restricting organization, which, in Deleuze's

words,

"tr[ies]

to

stop

or

interrupt

the

movements

of

deterritorialization" (Thousand Plateaus, 270). The BwO belongs to the plane of consistency, where individuations are formed and dissolved according to desubjectified forces or affects called haecceities. These "consist entirely of relations of movement and rest between molecules

or particles, capacities to affect and be affected" (261). Initially, at least, Histoire(s) presents itself to us as a seemingly chaotic and borderless multiplicity of bodies. But, regardless of patterns and tendencies that we may be able to discern through multiple viewings,

the deterritorializing effects of its images remain. As in Scenario, Godard's own body is also visible at some points in these video works, either

quoting from books or manipulating different writing or filming machines. Another form of possibly individuated bodies is, of course,

the staggering number of both well-known actors and anonymous people

that populate the screen, and lastly, Godard's decision to offer an embodied

history of cinema by establishing

a strong corporeal link between

the

movements

and gestures of collective history and those performed by

SubStance#108, Vol. 34, no. 3, 2005

Alchemiesof Thought in Godard'sCinema

73

the individual body. But any attempt to separate out the different corporeal axes of Histoire(s) is likely to be superseded in the viewer's experience of these works by a more enveloping and overwhelming sense of embodiment that does not withstand analytical distinctions between planes or levels. Simply put, all of these different bodily manifestations

coalesce in one single body, a univocal plane of consistency that disregards clearly defined borders or identities, hence a BwO.

Enormously

effective

anonymous

corporeality

in producing

characteristic

the all-enveloping

sense

of

of Histoire(s)

is Godard's

manipulations of the speed of the image. Through a jerky succession of frames, Histoire(s) decomposes the cinematic construction of movement. As Godard attempts to visualize the minimal units of bodily mo