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How to Tell the Proper Time? Finance and Cinema
In a real-time, single fifteen-second take shot with a still camera, a man walks
slowly, the end of his stick feeling its way across slightly uneven earth, dotted with stones, blotched with green. He moves diagonally across the frame, his body hugging the low raised mound that runs upward from the lower left-hand corner to the upper right-hand corner of the frame and divides one field from its neighbor. The shot continues in real time as the camera pans down and stays frozen to capture the movement of two feet that travel from the frame’s lower right edge to the upper left edge, following the track laid down by the stick. A jump cut moves the camera outward into another shot in which the man, Wannihami, is silhouetted against the trees and sky, walking across a wide expanse, spade across his back. The camera is immobile, and Wannihami’s real-time movement bisects the frame. He walks out of the frame; the film cuts. When Wannihami reappears he has reached his destination; the camera lingers on him standing in front of a grave, trees behind his upper body. Spade in both his hands, he lowers himself to his task. The film then cuts fluidly between Wannihami’s feet darkening the frame’s upper left corner, and the spade swinging past them in an arc in and out of the frame. The rest of the frame is filled with the earth covering a coffin; Wannihami’s body centered on the screen hunched forward to its task, arms hard at work; a close-up of Wannihami’s face calmly intent, resolutely at rest as his hands fill the screen, entering from the right to scrabble at the softening ground. Each scene is only two or three seconds long, each taken from a different angle, each recorded with a still camera, though the cuts produce the illusion of a moving camera. The circular repetition of the scenes, the circular movements in each frame, turn the linear frame-by-frame temporal continuity into one action that keeps on coming back. The only sounds are ambient: stick tapping, the soft suss of wind, Wannihami’s spade scratching
GLQ, Vol. 1, GLQ 13:2 – 3pp. 000 – 000 997 10.1215/10642684-2006-034 DOI Paul EeNam Park Hagland Duke University Press © 2007 by Duke University Press
GlQ: A A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS GlQ: JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS
as it tears at the hard packed earth, Wannihami’s hands clawing the ground as it begins to break apart. As Wannihami walks to this place of burial, a minute-long single shot taken with an immobile camera reveals a woman holding a water pot against her hip, standing before a water source, who spots Wannihami outside the space of the frame. She startles, drops her pot, and hurries out of the frame. The film returns to Wannihami’s repeated labors, shot after shot. Suddenly the center of the frame is dense with people who begin running down into it from every direction; they take over Wannihami’s task. The digging becomes a social event; the film cuts back and forth between Wannihami’s brother-in-law digging and people crowding the frame, huddled over the grave. The coffin is pulled out, shouldered across bodies, its seal broken and opened. Wannihami’s hands reach in. What the coffin inters, revealed as it pops open, are sticks, shards of timber, rocks. What ought to have been in the coffin was a body, the body of Wannihami’s son, Bandara. The scene echoes the opening sequences of this film, Purahanda Kaluwara (Death on a Full Moon Day), the one that introduces us to Wannihami, the blind father, whose Tiresias-like vision gifts the film one of its narrative continuities or story lines. In this early series of scenes, the camera also follows the end of a stick feeling its way across slightly uneven earth, cracked dry, dotted with stones and blotched green. Two feet follow the stick. Wannihami’s stick enters the frame from the lower left corner, pursued by one foot, then a water gourd, and finally both feet. The camera stays still until the feet begin moving away out of the frame through the upper right corner. The camera then proceeds along with Wannihami’s feet, accompanying him from behind as he squats, and in the middle of his movement down to sitting, cuts to the front. We see Wannihami dividing the frame in half, water to his right, cupping the lower corner of the frame with light. Again, the only sounds are ambient: the nimble touch of a stick feeling its way, feet shuffling behind, the soft suss of wind and water. As Wannihami sits, the camera follows him downward; his stick is across his shoulder, body leaning forward into it and his hand is stretched out with a clay cup toward the water. The film ends with Wannihami squatting before the same tank, rain washing his face as he watches boys playing in the water. Water is echoed by the coffin. Water opens the film. Water closes the film. Water and coffin: both turn iconographic and become characters in the film. Purahanda Kaluwara, directed by Prasanna Vithanage, a well-known Sri Lankan director of independent films, was produced in 1997, released for screenings in international film festivals, and banned by the Sri Lankan government when it was to be shown in Sri Lanka in 1999. It was finally screened in Colombo
families were struggling to survive and one of the few options they were left with was to send a member off to join the military and onto war. In refusing to resolve itself into heterosexuality as heteronormativity. permitted the film to be shown in theaters in Sri Lanka.7 this . complicities. and paddy cultivation had come to a virtual standstill. and to pay off taxes owed to the government. Purahanda Kaluwara stages queerness through looking askance: at the reproductive futurities fleshed out in the seductions. or mandated by neoliberal nationalisms. Young men signed up for an uncertain life in the army. where one of several free trade zone factory areas is located.5 What is it about this film. and material things. crops were hard to grow. that lends itself to my interrogation of queer temporality? Scholars who track queerness in the global South through the materiality of bodied subjects professing to a gay. the army felt that the film “discouraged soldiers and neglected military families. labor. Global factory production. The money they earned at war took the form of salaries and compensation paid for lost parts of bodies. and the Court granted the release of the film with a problematic judgment that. and on future recruitment.6 Rather. This money. in the form of both a literal factory economy and a war economy. Time To Tell 275 on September 28. 3 Purahanda Kaluwara is a complex film told in a deliberately straightforward fashion. 2001. Vithanage had run into trouble with the army while he was shooting the film.” the north-central province of Sri Lanka. south of the area in which the Sri Lankan army and Tamils under the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) have been at war for many years. or transgender identity. and pressures offered. houses. Young women went off to unreliable labor in factories in free trade zones. or paid out to families on the death of soldiers. brought or sent home. on military morale. fighting for artistic freedom and freedom of speech. because of its supposed effect on soldiers. sold. bisexual. to pay off loans borrowed in times of trouble and owed to money lenders. and death. a visual meditation on the political economies of water. It is the story of a family and a village near Anuradhapura. 2 Vithanage took his case before the Supreme Court. supplemented the local agricultural economy. When the film was shot. will find no satisfaction in Purahanda Kaluwara. roofs. an old capital of Sri Lanka famous for its early irrigation systems and man-made lakes. to urban areas. though it did not address the terms of Vithanage’s demand. or to the Middle East as housemaids. the site of pilgrimage for Buddhists and historical tourists. provided the capital to invest in local projects.4 The village sits at the heart of what is considered a “dry zone.”1 The Sri Lankan government had finally banned the film under the emergency powers granted to itself after the Elephant Pass debacle in 2000. or even through “acts” that might read back into identitarian form. lesbian. the area had been under the grip of drought for three years.
Attachments formed specifically under these conditions are those that appear to call forth melancholy. Families who commonly conduct a wake and bury their dead are not permitted to look at the face of their loss. Like other Sri Lankan films such as Me Mage Sandai (This Is My Moon) directed in 2000 by Ashoka Handagama. and their logic of incorporation. and written in many languages since the seventh century rely on melancholic feeling for their aesthetic juice (rasa). must live with the . are the promissory notes on which a seemingly unhampered form of proprietary heterosexuality can gather its allure and assure its calm future. Sunanda’s fiancé will probably have to sign up for war. Money paid out in the event of maiming or death. 276 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS film finds its lineage in the ruminations of writers who contemplate temporality in early modern Europe. are relying on Bandara’s salary and then the compensation paid out at his death to enable their marriage. Melancholia was one of the feelings anyone who lived the life of a lover in poetry had to have. and psychic relationship between the dead and the living manifested through the coffin at the heart of burial during war — the dead whose countenances must not be seen and who are entombed in the ground as well as in the psyche. a bricklayer. It is through war that dead bodies. affective. and the political economy that it birthed. She and her fiancé. yield capital to proprietary heterosexuality. One is the literal. Melancholy has a long-standing and venerable poetics in South Asia. scripted. Without Bandara’s salary or the death compensation.8 The possibilities shaped out of marital heterosexualities can only come to fruition through the supplement of the salaries accrued in war or by capital offered in compensation for a soldier’s mutilation or death.”11 The war in Sri Lanka produces the conditions under which various desires are shaped. and before they burn it and release the ashes. Sunanda works secretly in a free trade zone factory. Love lyrics sung.9 The one couple awaiting their turn at proprietary heterosexuality is Wannihami’s daughter Sunanda (her name translates as giving pleasure or delight) and her fiancé. salaries earned in the service of judicially sanctioned murder. Other families who sit with the body after they wash it. Incorporation is a word that simultaneously traverses multiple political economies.10 Both films are engaged in the “quenching of reproductive timing. The first arises from the dearth of wood for burning corpses and the demand that families not see the bodies of dead soldiers. brought the melancholia of love lyric into the syncopations of everyday life by giving rise to two kinds of circulation. at the end of the film the future of the marriage remains uncertain. Purahanda Kaluwara breaks down the temporal logic of reproduction: reproduction of an order of heterosexuality emboldened not so much by marriage and its division of labor as by the breeding of capital through economies of war. But war in Sri Lanka. too.
but since this future is simultaneously also a possible or probable one. sent them home in closed coffins.12 In this future. These families. The most corporealized forms of global finance are insurance and pensions (literal cash transferred from a salary to a corporation). In this essay I turn to physics.13 Purahanda Kaluwara takes on space-times as fields of reproduction — heterosexuality. is of capital in the forms of insurance and pensions (as incorporated finance or finance that gambles on corporeality and finance that gives life to the future of corporations). This cash provides a large bulk of the money that travels across borders. does not in and of itself repudiate the logic of incorporation through death. War instantiates desires here (including those for proprietary heterosexuality) that rely on certain forms of futurity such as those embodied by compensation — paying in the present (as debt and surplus) to accumulate credit toward an envisioned or expected possible or probable future. which blasted bodies open. and nationstate rebirthing. reproduction may never get there. incorporation. which supplements that of affect and material. and incorporation to delineate the processes through which Purahanda Kaluwara. as in the case of Judith Butler’s exegesis. Corporealizing desire. in taking on reproductive temporalities. Time To Tell 277 unseen entombed dead interred forever in the ground near where they live. Eternal entombment without viewing. accustomed to seeing and then releasing the dead. All these forms of circulation deploy rhetorical calls for the renewal of dead matter for their literal and/or persuasive effects. so essential to melancholia.14 . reproduction arrives at its proper conclusion. wake unlived. That war. faces unseen. sifts into the dailiness of other attachments and eventually. Other financial transactions are dematerialized. temporality. necessary to most queer projects conducted in and about South Asia. The other circulation. supplementarity. provided the political economy that brought forth the entombed incorporations of melancholia. All these circuits stage the temporalities of the nation-state as they are produced through their relation to war capital. This is its queered project. Insurance and pensions are the monetary assurances provided by the improperly entombed dead soldier who went to war for his family that the financial forms to which he gave his life (as an insured or as a pensioned working life) would come back to his family in lieu of him. seems to become necessary to the self itself. war. offers a particularly potent example for queer projects entailed in interrogating the reproductive futurities of contemporary capitalism and the naturalization of the selves “on offer” through investments in capital. It is no accident that Freud wrote “Mourning and Melancholia” in the horror of World War I. are unfamiliar with living with a corpse close by.
they are usually constituted against a graph with two axes that can then generate lines or circles into the three-dimensional spatiality of Descartes or by the movement into chaos. coagulated and released. Mourning. as space-time distorts through the gravity effects of politics. When such temporalities are rendered more complex. Both these orchestrations seem to be mobilized against a flat space. Time in the film is not standard cinematic time — it is not a freestanding. conversations. music. Vithanage. or they might move as far as Maxwell. tropes. they rarely move much further than the Galilean-Newtonian. the film visualizes temporality as much more than merely a mandate to undo the time of reproduction. measuring itself out in ordered increments that recapitulate the sequence of film frames. chronosomas. one following upon another. is intimate with the tempos of capitalism and the visual chronopoetics of capitalism’s drumrolls. ritual. it slows down to a standstill as it follows movements across frames. Many orchestrations of capitalism’s times turn to the linear. space. rain. entanglements. a filmmaker whose mandate is realism. or by the Newtonian constitution of time as simply there. poetics. the ruler against which one moves back and forth. Euclid’s two dimensions that enable a scripting or writing of geometric forms. as the backdrop against which nature plays its games. events. Time is instead embodied. shaped. given Newton’s own allegiances to capital written as his memorials and papers on currency. and feeling all give temporalities the densities of various space-times. fleshed. Space-times are established through objects.15 The physics of time established over the course of the film’s action allows the film to move in and out of the mobilities of temporalities. Even when people speak of the space-time of capital. 278 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS Supplementary Temporality? Purahanda Kaluwara. emboldened. and complexities using chronopolitics. is a rumination on time. coinage. they are thinned and thickened. This is apropos. flattened ruler. or the cyclical that forms a return. and across time that is the hallmark of James Clerk Maxwell’s generalization of the second law of thermodynamics. chronotopes. actors. it cuts across movements of objects. It is through the visual and aural mediations of temporality that Purahanda Kaluwara tells its queered narrative. Vithanage’s most perfect film to date. religion. value. The film performs its time through pacing: the camera lingers on Wannihami as he sits thinking. This film attends to those tempos as interferences. and trade as the warden and then . thought. in a closed system. religion.16 Time as simply there proffered Newton the possibilities through which speeds or accelerations of bodies were to be drawn. releasing them to ambient time and then speeding up to shift into a different kind of temporality.
futurity followed the same rules. One’s quotidian intimacy with the clock is managed through either sound or sight. settling easily into their gradations.” the time I might have lost to the labor of writing. and Galilean-Newtonian visualizations of temporality either produce space and time as a backdrop or separate the two and convene temporality as an axis. Consider. infinite ether-filled space. or the stretching of time’s clock sitting at the heart of the Gregorian calendar in this story. linear apportionings of time as a calculative device (93). . that I was to expend in the labor of preparing for the class I am to teach the next day. One is produced through the feeling I have as I write of a sense of time’s passing. It is not that these “other” times are simply lost. The temporality of Galilean-Newtonian mechanics was and continues to be the time of the continuous now. traveling indefinitely into the future in a monochromatic direction. Under this regime the past could be foretold in an easy way. Maxwellian. Ensconced in my lament (I can’t believe . what Gayatri Spivak in another instance considers “the body’s timing displaced onto the value-form. however. a point of density that does not have any effect on the space around it. given that Maxwell lived during a middle-Victorian era replete with the emergence of industrialization and the railways. the “temporal monoculture” of the clock or the week. one hears ticking or sees the hands moving. the kind of seemingly secular practice one might narrate if one were writing about time in the style of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ruminations in Philosophical Investigations: I look up from writing this essay and say to myself. “I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to write this. they are found . perhaps even a sense of not inhabiting the temporality given to me by a clock. these elements assume a godlike observer whose capacities must be different from and outside the object being observed. The other is constituted through a clock as something I turn to as I calculate how much more time I might have in my linear day.19 The familiar image of this particular spatialized time is the clock. What is divvied up and given to other disciplinary places to calculate are the coagulations of temporality through lament. or in my linear week apportioned into events. a framing through which bodies moving in space can be transported or can travel. infinite time and finite body. whose finitude is settled as limitations in space. I have only an hour left. The elements are clear. just by going back to the now of that past. or putting together an agenda for the meeting I have to run the next day. . Euclidean.18 The body’s temporality is given through its position in ether-filled space. seconds graded exactly. I have only) is perhaps also a form of labor time.” Here I am speaking at least two different kinds of time. Time To Tell 279 master of the mint in Britain and his attempts to establish a gold standard. 20 The most common retellings of this story of my day turn to its simplest monological avatar.17 This is also apropos. a case of clock use.
contorts space-time. dilated or shrunk. makes no sense. the lengthening of the feeling of time in work with the sun shining. How is the dance of supplements choreographed? Set to one side in this dance. 21 Anyone who has mourned knows well the feeling of looking up after one has been lost in grief or looking back after sitting next to someone whose life is fading away and realizing that what the clock tells you will never come close to what you experienced. each word from another person either passes by without notice or assumes a clarity and density rarely felt in everyday living. thinning. back to fragments of a glance. sees the other moving as though distorted: expanded or contracted. the places where they have been established and the places from which they emerge once more as a challenge that supplements the clock. It is precisely because one has both and one knows both or feels both that each has the qualities that make it what it is. the softness of a scent that opens out into a long embodied memory heavy with details. 22 Laid aside are all the adjectives that give not just the textures. precisely because the two sorts of things need each other to be seen and noticed. To separate them into one sort of space-time traversal and another. it is their intimacy with one another that gives each their valence. transforms space-time. of capital and of labor. which tightens and loosens. of psyche. We could see this literally as more than one clock. of bios. even as one tells the story of one’s day gone by in the instance past the moment one is describing. the thickening and heaviness around the porous and sticky gravitational pulls of lament. one space-time and its other. The best picture one can draw of mourning is an askew spiral. stretching. each of which. of ethnos. moving slower or faster. renders it thinner or thicker. Mourning. seen from the vantage point of the other. These times obey the conditions for supplementarity. for example. are coagulations. as proper to another description. wending their path easily along a line. The incredible suffusion of feeling so necessary to mourning. The full space-time of mourning is not particularly linear: the series of events through which a mourner releases a lost person’s life and death rarely follow upon each other in an ordered incremental way. Mourning demands returns. Referential calculative times — the rhetorical devices used as pointing devices to establish both presence and difference from — have emerged as the kinds of infinite times that stand in for the time of the nation. One way of conceiving the relationship between the movement of the clock noticed as a series of instants moving forward and these other space-time traversals is offered to us through Einstein and is that of the supplement. the almost meditative state one enters where each touch of a look. 280 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS again and again in the proper places given to them. .
gives itself as it moves away. 24 The national. . and historical temporalities associated with reproductive capital are engaged in the logic of the supplement. [of temporality] which come to supplement the absent presence are the illusions that sidetrack us. is added or rather is assimilated the experience of frustration. ethnographic. is this structure “almost inconceivable to reason. A terrifying menace. each almost inconceivable to reason. . Donner le change [“sidetracking” or “giving money”]: in whatever sense it is understood. each a protection. to the anguish of death and castration. . The sign. Something promises itself as it escapes. . . this expression describes the recourse to the supplement admirably.” Almost inconceivable: simple irrationality. the representation. exceeding all the language of metaphysics. procuring it for us through the proxy [procuration] of the sign. each promising something as it escapes. Such is the constraint of the supplement. The supplement is maddening because it is neither presence nor absence and because it . This is why it cannot be given up. is less irritating and waylaying for classical logic [and classical physics]. 23 At the heart of Jacques Derrida’s discussions of supplementarity is desire. . The supplement has not only the power of procuring an absent presence through its image. and strictly speaking it cannot even be called presence. solidities. against that very menace. And sexual auto-affection. neither begins nor ends with what one thinks can be circumscribed by the name of masturbation. psychological. not just any desire. to this strange economy of the supplement. it holds it at a distance and masters it. . such. each a supplement in turn. It is from a certain determined representation of “cohabitation with women” that Rousseau had to have recourse throughout his life to that type of dangerous supplement that is called masturbation and that cannot be separated from his activity as a writer. . Auto-affection is pure speculation. the opposite of reason. For this presence is at the same time desired and feared. the image. But one stroke must be added to this system. relativities of space-times but the conditions under which these shape themselves through an observer. Time To Tell 281 tempos. . that is auto-affection in general. To culpability. . What is the scandal they procure? The presence that is thus delivered to us in the present is a chimera. but pleasure in the menace of death. . . the supplement is also the first and surest protection.
becomes an object moving in time. gravitation. It has no texture. they tend to separate out different kinds of temporalities invoked or produced while the film is running. The watcher. and frames and story are transformed almost without notice into the equivalent of moving objects. each moving at its own particular speed. running alongside one another at contiguous or different speeds. these filmic temporalities are constituted as those engendered by objects isolated from one another. become two of the fixed places of habitation. Space-time becomes spatialized time or temporalized space. The temporalities of Purahanda Kaluwara evoke supplementarities. Times get articulated as speeds. where is desire?26 The desire of and for reproduction is the impetus that directs us to the supplements of calculative temporalities. neutral. Time does not actually do anything. The story lives in frames of a fixed size that move relentlessly along. the space of a darkened cinema hall. Other temporalities include those that delineate the movement of the story as it is shown on the screen. cultural studies. entanglements. engage with them. all these objects move in relation to a time conceived of as abstract. or Gilles Deleuze speak about film. the filmgoer. 25 I think that the illusions Derrida speaks of. Objects that move in Newtonian space and Newtonian time do not possess any necessary relation to . How does Purahanda Kaluwara do this?27 When film theorists like Laura Mulvey. The spaces of a frame. in the most quotidian of their discussions on filmic times. the cinephiliac of classic Western cinema inhabit the space of the theater turned into the simple darkness that facilitates their complete absorption in the film. 29 If one visualizes speed in a Newtonian fashion. The poetic turns of a desire for presence are incorporated as objects that move in a Newtonian-Galilean space in the time of the now. abstracted. The supplement gets spatialized. and interference. the temporality of diegesis or of narrative. Supplementarity permits the reproduction of capital as the times of probability. which runs the frames that follow inexorably upon one another at a particular speed — at about twenty-four frames a second. is equally neutral and abstracted and untextured. the nexus of which is desire — what is the work of the supplement. 28 One is the temporality of the apparatus. which inhabit confusion. and in doing so offer the temporalities of interference. arise in the places where metaphors of physics are picked up by the social sciences and are turned to even in literary. Mary Ann Doane. (154. space. 282 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS consequently breaches both our pleasure and our virginity. brackets in the original) Complexity. and thus becomes Newtonian. and complexities as supplements. though filled with ether. each with its own necessary and unchanging form. entanglement.
30 One other form of description that takes its cue from physics turns to discussions of the second law of thermodynamics: this law mobilizes time in a linear fashion moving unavoidably onward unidirectionally. and everything that happens takes place through the stillness. these expectations were presaged both in very early cinema as well as in cinema whose inclinations tended toward death. Here time is allocated its proper allegorical metaphor. In a post digital universe. Purahanda Kaluwara immediately enlists its visual attachments to early representations of realism in film and photography. two-thirds of the way down. plot and story must supplement one another. and the two are separated by a heavy band of dark trees that block light. at the very least. one of the longest shots in the film. The first transformation is through credits written in fairly small letters that roll along in the lower left-hand corner at a reasonably regular pace in syn- . reversed. the camera is still throughout the take. As Lev Manovich. Here. the relationship between space and time — the space-times of the frames’ progression. The shot is unpeopled. Three movements transform into a film what feels like a series of repeated frames that produce the illusion of an unmoving vista. backed up. gray pencil line of bright water echoing the rising light of morning runs into the frame’s space. Many of the expectations that seem to make their first appearance with digital cinema are not automatically constrained by or contained within this particular cinematic format. So the various times of cinema and spaces of cinema are not necessarily produced as supplementary. The bottom two-thirds is colored in by fields. and Mulvey have pointed out. Time To Tell 283 one another. 32 But unlike early actualities no events as they are commonly understood occur over the course of the shot. The top third is filled with sky colored in by the luminosity that signals the end of the night and the beginning of a day. From the right side of the frame. and reconstituted. In an emulation of “actualities” (and their contiguities with neorealism and cinema verité) that record the movements of “real” events or a “real” event.31 Let us return to the opening of Purahanda Kaluwara and the progressions that establish the profusion of stories that inhabit its visuality. The arrow of time becomes the mnemonic device that gifts life to the movement of frames and the march of history. the movement of the movie can be halted. neither space and time nor moving objects are supplements of one another. Victor Burgin. the arrow. when film has been transferred onto DVD or video. The frame is broken into three parts. their articulations with diegesis and narrative. This shot also resonates with a genre of nineteenthcentury naturalist nature photography. a thick. Purahanda Kaluwara begins with a one-minute take.
But the speeds of each. 284 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS copation with the speed of the film. Supplementarity is also carried in the intimacies produced between the modernity established in the roll call of names. but in the familiarities between each “thing” established. are the effect of the syncopations between each and the sequence of the frames. diegetic. The very simplicity of the opening sequence is seductive. The semiotics of stillness. and sound elements into their component parts. and life. not always in alignment with one another. and death plays against those of movements. cannot separate out the various cinematic. nothing happens that might feel to viewers of classic Western cinema as though they were participating in an event or events that forwarded a story line or that produced that sort of conventional narrative. through the dissolve into the next ten-second shot. 33 The second transformation is through light that begins to lighten the picture slowly from the right-hand side fifty seconds into the shot. . and time seems to run faster in the credits and seems foreshortened or stretched with the rhythm of the chants. One can easily feel as though space and time were backdrops against which the film was making its visual case through the separation of every object in the film that revealed itself in motion: frames. Syncopations as interference patterns or as entanglements are produced through supplementarity. the turn to nature and the emerging day cut by resonances that hark toward nineteenth-century conventions of photography and film. that is. This wash pulls the eye outward so that the picture feels as though the space it was occupying is wider than that enclosed by the four lines of the frame. not as inevitable arrow. it has the capacity to marshal a desire for a Newtonian physics. film. sound. A viewer watching the movie unfold. and never in alignment with water and light in the film. the ways in which time seems to linger on as the water flows or the light slowly and gently seeps into the frames. provoke a viewer to recognize them as a form of visual music and not just as words. attending to them pulls a viewer’s eye to notice that the water is not at rest: it is washing slowly back and forth into and away from the right-hand edge of the picture. photography. Because nothing special happens during this sequence. as space-time. a narrative does not carry the pacings engendered through this portion of the film. credits. water. in this case. The third is the music of the chants whose sound continues past the first shot. Precisely the differences between the speed at which the credits appear. Movements seem simple. the picture no longer sits in the frame. listening to the sounds as they roll. the turn to a day that begins with a series of chants that call out to a long lineage of Buddhist openings to a particular day. Times are produced not as a neutral zone. and light. The times of each element are in a supplementary closeness to one another.
This lexicon of prepositions permits a transition between the metonymized night — full moon — and a quality. Vithanage wanted to translate his film’s title in a Benjaminian fashion. the darkness of that opening day carried by the line of trees in the film’s first shot. the Peircian index of film critics and the index that comes from sphuta (manifest. from kalu. The title is indexical — what this indexical turn is premised on is its doubleness. The title of this film and its translation establish without show of cause the temporalities embodied in the film: in these opening sequences of the film. This coagulation of time around death demands another ceremonial iteration. The associations that establish the differentials. administration of the precepts. darkness as transitive or translation: the darkness of the full moon. understood). still-camera shot that reveals a white stupa glowing behind a water tank. lit bright. through. and so on — that wed the words to each other. The title as index is a trace that points to something and so fills out the question asked in relation to the index. the day of Poya — the days of the full moon. known. each transition produces a differential. full moon through darkness. What the grammar embedded in the title offers a film critic is another way to understand how the frames might link up in time — not merely as a sequential iteration but conjoined by a range of possible prepositions that produce temporalities through the poetics of belonging. full moon darkness turns into death on a full moon day. these sermons and chants form a soundtrack that continues over from the first shot to a second shorter. reiterate the breaks between the frames of the film. dharma sermons. The grammar of the phrase settles the connection between the two words through a series of possible prepositions — of. the recitation of chants that . from darkness to full moon. from. which are made through the compounds that constitute each word and then marry the words to one another across the breach between them. time coagulates around the death harkened by the chants. Time To Tell 285 Purahanda Kaluwara signals its attention to these sorts of temporalities with its title. Poya is the day when the semiotics of darkness in the film will inhabit the day of the moon. “What is this?”34 The full moon that the title points to is not just an analogue for night. Kaluwara means darkness. and the pirith chanting of protective suttas. of suttas as chants that pass merit on between people and time on between shots. when the country shuts down every month for a Buddhist holiday — when no harm should be done to any other living being or to the world. Purahanda is a Sinhala word that means full (pura) moon (handa). Poya is a sequence of time whose rhythms from the break of day into the night of the moon are determined for religico-Buddhist practitioners by purification pujas (offerings that often include flowers). As a calendrical day. It also registers a day on the lunar calendar. dark. a term familiar to Buddhist grammarians.
several different times were in common use: the time zones of each presidency. apportioning a year into days of work and days of mandated celebration and rest. for Vithanage the ethnotemporal. The battle over time had started immediately before 1857 when the railways were being set down (funded partly because they offered Indian cotton as a replacement for American cotton). and also the traumas that attend colonial modernity in general. 286 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS pass merit on between people central to both Poya and death ceremonies. the time held on the train (the central time of Jabbalpur) where conductors traveled with clocks and tables set to calculate the constant differences established as the train traversed zones. but the question of time had still not been decided. and labor across its borders (figured in the movie through the end of the work shift in the factory in which Sunanda works and the compensation given at the death of Bandara). is a hegemony that instantiates violence — the violence embodied in religious nationalisms and the reproductive temporalities that enable them. The twenty-four-hour clock and a common time zone for South Asia were the arbitrages that worked out of the probabilities brought into being through colonialism: these chronometrics were the reproductivities associated with the move between corporate and mercantile capitalism and . goods. Before 1857. that is. Post-1857. and their relationship to different zones of time was being considered with a great deal of trepidation by the East India Company. Death shapes the ethno-temporal itself. the clock whose chronopolitics every economy uses to transact money. the war of independence in India. Rather. but the contours of the battle were shaped by the discussions of shock. these speak futurities in certain kinds of spatiotemporal loops of supplementarity. Technologies helped suture over the trauma of death in 1857. Vithanage’s film does not resort to the simply ethno-temporal. 35 Both were adopted as the outcome of internecine battles between two different arms of the crown state (the railways and telegraph) in the period of consolidation that followed the violence of 1857. in the 1860s. and the time held by the telegraph company (the South Indian time of the Madras observatory). the ethno-temporal is deliberately debased by and produced in an interference pattern through other calendars — the Gregorian calendar. the American Civil War had helped ensure the funding for the railways. it does not champion adherence to “traditional” or “indigenous” temporalities that compete with the time of capitalism in simple opposition. The telegraph finally won. dividing it into time zones. The Gregorian calendar accompanied by the twenty-four-hour clock: both settle their mandate across South Asia. and the bodied calendar of drought and rain. not the shock often associated with the railways but the shock that accompanied the deaths and the losses associated with war and with the breaking of an assumption of untrammeled colonial hegemony.
gone for so long. Here we have stories that narrate bodied temporalities: the technologies of modernity that offer villagers resources to enable them to collect water more rapidly than Wannihami and so to ameliorate their circumstances over a future of drought. The camera then jump cuts up to a bird. Time To Tell 287 shock/death. and a young man. the true monk/sage who travels on foot. staff in hand. we jump to a tractor backing up to the same water hole that fills the center of the screen. seated in the right center of the frame is collecting water. and asks him to help repair the thatched roof before the rains begin. Blind Wannihami is introduced through the iconography of the bhikku. The camera cuts to a road slicing the diagonal of the wooded frame. whose circling is followed by a camera moving for the first time in the film. the road moving toward the front of the still screen. having left the goods of everyday life behind him. nature. This sequence of shots closes with the description with which I opened this essay. and carries through the dissolve to a shot of a white stupa rising behind the water. of Wannihami traveling to get water. 36 The opening shots do not replace each other. The shots form themselves along the line of time. The film leaps again to Wannihami. electric power lines running along with it. subjective temporalities — all of them together staging supplementarity. Wannihami’s blind sight becomes one in which . but its pacing deliberately undercuts its linearity. a kind of seeing that would allow them to know the future of the seasons. As Wannihami. but at the same time denude them of the capacity to gather weather information on their skin. each one slices across the next. will return in four days. Wannihami’s future son-in-law. holding a plastic container sliced down to serve as a collecting device. and subjectivity. possibly a vulture. Vithanage follows his mandate as a conventional realist and organizes the film’s events along a linear time line. championing religious. religion.” or subjective temporality. the herald of death. gathering up water. In a dance with this time. pirith chanting. and a dog crossing the road in the background. thickening. What are the temporalities embodied in Purahanda Kaluwara? The film does not resort to supplementarity in the expected ways. with the camera at rest a car travels across the frame from upper left-hand corner to lower right-hand corner. going from house to house. who tells him that the rains. which would give them access to a foretelling. feeling his way moment by moment. which was mandated as the neutral secular time of modernity. “ethnic. slowly and deliberately. or thinning the temporalities on offer: the times of ritual. modernity. which stretches from the opening sequence of water in the sun rising on the day of Poya. coagulating. living on offerings put into a bowl that is one of his few accoutrements. rather. were the other times — religious ethno-temporalities. The next sequence of shots sutured by jump cuts turns again to water.
It is portrayed as a figure in nature that mediates between rural modernity and something else. past. They . For the offering of water during the death ceremonies. someone who is in the midst of building a house funded by the salary his son. accompanied by a local monk. the planets as mal. Even as he feels the knowledge of the weather. drought. During the death ceremonies. clear attachment to a precapitalist rural. factory labor. and a projection into a future. sends home. It is poured into a cup and spills over during the death ceremonies. The chants are recited to hold off what is likely to befall (vipatti) people. is enmeshed in the finances of war. in their religious incarnations. Vipatti is a compound word formed from the verb pat (to fall). war. Pirith is also chanted to bring good — sampatti or siddhi. ethnic. or safety and protection. most events of this sort include an elaborate or a simple version of pirith. danger. It appears as rain falling on Wannihami after his son’s coffin has been delivered to the house. Pirith is a version of the word paritta. Despite his ability to feel weather through his skin as though he were a rural shaman. all the relatives of the dead person gather together on a mat. 288 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS he can see into a certain kind of future. This future is not the future given to the same world by the iconology of development. as we are told later on in the film. and it closes the film as rain trickling down Wannihami’s face while he is at the lake or tank listening to the sound of young boys splashing. vi translates pat into its negative: disease. he is also. It livens the foreground against which the stupa is shown. Both are strange gravitational attractors that shape space and time through practice. the future necessary for the survival of the rural world in which he lives. Water and death I would like to return to the opening paragraphs of this essay and explore the ways in which the economies of water and death interfere with one another and produce complexities. a public puja is performed that is akin to the pujas offered during Poya. death. poverty. and spirits who carry malodorous intent. Death and the full moon day come together. too. depending on the financial status of the sponsor (which is the issue at stake here). The future of his life comfort. Vipatti calls forth the depredations of modernity. Bandara. Both are emboldened by pirith chants (with which Vithanage opens the film). These ceremonies are intrinsic to Sri Lankan Buddhists’ sociality and domesticity. Water makes its first appearances in the opening of Purahanda Kaluwara. Water is an offering. famine. So pirith is about a present. in Purahanda Kaluwara Wannihami is not some purist figure with a simple.
his eyes flickering to the movement of the water. The film gives us the ceremony in a series of pictures in several shots taken by an immobile camera. Orange robes color the background and blend into the foreground. This shot cuts to another three-second still life: a series of three grass fans angled to the right. The water washing into the bowl carries the time in this sequence.] The water that is poured transfers merit from the living to the one who has died. the pitcher and water drop out of the frame. ceremonies follow. Both the act of pouring and the transfer of merit is an offering — a dakkina — that will allow the person who is dead to avail of this merit and use it to get some relief from the new world into which he or she might have been born or through which he or she wanders restlessly. Here. . Their voices have begun the pirith verse that carries over to the final shot in the composition: bodies encircle the pitcher pouring water. As the water is being poured. is clearly the one in charge. Even so what is given from here accrues to the departed. Just as the full flowing rivers fill the ocean. the oldest one. The film cuts again to a close-up of three priests whose faces echo the fans. dane. Three months after the person has died the family holds an almsgiving ceremony. Wannihami is absolutely still. [Just as the water fallen on high ground flows to a lower level. Wannihami’s grandchild is toward the middle right. Even so what is given from here accrues to the departed. Eleven seconds into the shot the camera begins to move in toward Wannihami and the child. of which the middle one is the only one in focus. the monks chant a version of the following suttas from the Tirokuddha Sutta of the Khuddakapatha: Unname udakam vattam yatha ninnam pavattati evameva ito dinnam petanam upakappati. Time To Tell 289 pour water from a pot into a cup sitting on a plate until the water overflows. it is both punctum and index pointing to death and a future after it. Everything is still except the water. the middle priest. More almsgiving. The first is a four-second. the camera continues to move in as the child’s face continues to flicker with touches of feeling. only their memory remains. Hands enclose the top of the pitcher and reach out toward it from the left. slight expressions flitting across his face. Yatha varivaha pura paripurenti sagaram evameva ito dinnam petanam upakappati. almost still life: a pure white pitcher emerging from the right pouring water down the middle of the frame into a bowl sitting solidly at the bottom.
When the dane can be given only if the dead provide their own compensation. so much for an entire body. are incapable of accumulating merit for themselves. given directly by those alive to those who are dead. A deduction (surplus) is taken from a soldier’s salary. by the upajivi to themselves.” improper Compensation and the Corpse Dane is about compensation. the life of the dead. the act of giving has to be selfless and it has to be complete. for the living. out of this an insurance policy or death-benefits policy is bought on his behalf. in the form of spirits. This merit is to ameliorate any difficulties that the dead person might be experiencing in his or her new life or new state. the state. if they are disabled.37 The insurance company. What happens when. The dead are said to live or sustain themselves (upajivi) on another giving (paradatta) or on what has been given by another. it is this policy that is returned either to him or to his family should he be maimed or should he die. through their death. the paradatta for the upajivi is given to the upajivi. from one present to another future. The necessary paradox in Purahanda Kaluwara is that the only group that gives in the way appropriate to this form of giving is the other soldiers who fought with Bandara and who bring Wannihami the money they have collected to help the family pay for their colleague’s death ceremony. as they pass. live. so much for the loss of an arm. a leg. 290 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS too. and these policies often help them acquire a bride. giving by another. or petas. through their death. it entails the selves of the living. the dane is given through the compensation that the dead person leaves the person who is alive? Dane is supposed to be about a selfless handing over of the merit one has accumulated in one’s life. Each policy is very specific. capitalism’s form of “merit. something unnatural makes its appearance. so it is up to the living to give them of their present what the dead need to live out a different future. it has to be outside the circuits of reproductive capital. The point in this act of giving is that it is about oneself as alive. In other words. This form of giving is the circularity at the heart of reproductive capitalism in a war economy. and the soldier all gamble with life and money. the capital that enables the paradatta. but only the soldier loses the gamble. an eye. The dead. the state has grafted itself onto the ceremony in the form of death benefits. In this sort of giving. as in Purahanda Kaluwara. Something essential is abrogated in taking this money for dane. It is on these policies that soldiers. The gamble . to be given back to them. so that those alive can perform the ceremonies that give their merit to those who have died. Merit is handed over in the giving. merit is transferred from the living to the dead.
the coffin is the index of the dead body. has been drafted by an insurance industry that finances the compensatory mechanisms of a war state. The coffin fills the screen. Vithanage explores this contradiction through various forms of attachment: the priest’s attachment to the war state instantiated in his offer to Wannihami that a bus stop commemorating the dead hero Bandara be erected on the road we saw at the beginning of the film (the bus takes soldiers and workers into town and back. will be upajivi. though Buddhism lives on non-violence). giving by another. and two hands reaching down from the top of the frame pull the middle open and slowly lay the coffin bare to the air as though it were a body being sliced apart down its length. its boards flattened out. with which I opened this essay. Passing merit on. on the image. and Bandara’s siblings’ attachment to the compensation shaped through their failed attempts to get Wannihami to sign the government forms that will release the compensation to the family. essential if the money gambled on the death of Bandara is to be given to the proper people. 38 The promise that will ensure the compensation’s arrival is that Bandara’s coffin. not its contents. for it signifies the presence of the body without being the body. recycle themselves. sustenance for the dead living beyond their death. For five seconds an unmoving camera films the coffin slowly opening. The corpse’s presence assumed through the coffin is the assurance of death. must be buried. But both the corpse and the coffin are improper signifiers of death. to service the reproductivities that maintain capital and proprietary heterosexualities. Opening the coffin will forfeit the family the money that they will get from the “presence” of Bandara’s corpse — paradoxically. so that the temporality of the digging embodies the temporality of grief: memories repeated and time extended. without moving. Merit turns away from queered possibilities. The scenes of Wannihami digging. The film cuts to a white-sheeted open coffin. Time To Tell 291 with money and death or with money and life is a contradiction in the demand or desire to give. The camera lingers. queered futurities. This time holds tension in its hands and seems to stand frozen as the coffin is opened. an index that is supposed to be the truth. will not be opened. For the state at war. They are signifiers that obey the logic of . the corpse. sealed shut. Following the state’s conditions for its own belief to be upheld is essential for the arrival of the compensation. this is the coffin. The indexical truth of the corpse is the sealed secret. The indexicality of the coffin is the assurance that paradatta. The film plays with the tension of revelation. with the coffin that promises its presence. but is not quite. which does not necessarily service proprietary heterosexuality. three pieces of wood inside. as though a coroner were opening up a corpse whose bodily secrets she needed to read. To ensure that the death is believed and accepted by the state.
the logic of reproduction in a war economy. compensation that was the surplus extracted from Bandara during his life as a soldier. These economies are the conditions for melancholic desire in which the secret must not be opened so that the body remains in the coffin that becomes its crypt. Presence is a gamble. which obey another symbolic. the supplement. and wife. such that death. the gamble instantiated through insurance: will there or won’t there be a body in the crypt. is the foreclosure necessary to a war economy. there is no dead body. There is nothing left of the body which will turn it from spirit to embodied ghost returning insistently for compensation. Incorporation requires a corpse. The times of war are subjective.39 This poetics of the secret is a reproductive economy. the process of proper mourning. keeps a particular symbolic economy in place? The rituals of death for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. that is taken from him and his family when the signifier that stood in for his corpse was opened up to reveal its secret. require the dead body to be burned. What allegiances are instantiated through the temporalities of capital? What futures are told through them? Time is bound in the bodies of war hero. ritual. attachments to each replacing the other produce the conditions for supplementar- . The temporality of capital: for it you need incorporation. circling through desires for revelation and a refusal of revelation. This is the precise irony staged when the coffin is opened and inside are rocks and sticks. ethnographic. 292 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS the temporal loop of supplementarity. All these figures are installed as reproductive futurities. whose presence is as the crypt and whose death is an index that determines which party will win out in the game of financial chance. so that there is nothing left of the body to recognize. capitalist. What are the exchanges that must be tracked so that this logic. In Purahanda Kaluwara the practice of incorporation is produced through an improper death. told through the secret of the coffin/crypt. neither sufficient to permit the body its proper resting place in death. When the coffin that tells the presence of the dead body is opened. The dane offered to Bandara will now be given as it should (as pure merit) because his body was not permitted to occupy the place the state wanted for it. their normalization ensured through wartime. free trade zone worker. which requires that the coffin stay closed. and with this opening the family abrogates the compensation to which it was entitled. a logic where the father lives beyond his son and must grapple with the truth of his death. the corpse revealed. the economy of neoliberal religious nationalism. the encrypted corpse — not introjection. these bodies both coagulate and allegorize time. This is the economy of relief at the heart of capitalism.
But perhaps it offers another kind of refusal instead.wsws. . 25 September 2001. were participating in the logic of capitalist reproduction. the viewers of Purahanda Kaluwara. found itself queerly at odds with a war economy that would ordinarily demand homage only to the exterior of a coffin. The film builds to this point and paves the way for its audience to await the denouement with desiring trepidation. and nationalist times into history or to subjective temporalities. that we. too little wood to give the body that ought to have been in the crypt its appropriate leaving. present. In April 2000. and we see this logic even as it is being reinstituted through the not-enough-wood that is the aftereffect read back to a war economy. Many viewers have read this scene as an indication of Wannihami’s refusal to believe in his son’s death. but one 2. There is a great deal of information about the ongoing armed conflict at the heart of the movie. Time To Tell 293 ity. which allowed the Sri Lankan army to recoup and push them back. www.41 Notes 1. Perhaps blind Wannihami can see another future for his son’s death. or supplies. too. the past. And the denouement is precisely what it ought to be if we were to see the logic of the supplement. Waruna Alahakoon.org/articles/2001/sep2001/pura-s25 . 2006). The film closes with a vision of Wannihami. one that might have been the reason why the film. water trickling slowly down his face. the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) forces had forty thousand Sri Lankan troops backed into and trapped in the Elephant Pass Peninsula without food.40 Each is an incorporation. he forestalls supplementarity. capitalist. or the memories that might accompany my lament given over to psychology or psychophilosophy. attending to the sound of children playing. a salvific future that turns away from incorporation and the politics of the temporalities of reproduction. in opening a crypt and not finding a body. and looks askance at the affective attachments that circulate ethno-.” World Socialist Web Site.shtml (accessed January 21. Incorporation is both the corporate form and the corporeal form. That sight reminds us. What queered reading of time does Prasanna Vithanage offer us through the figure of blind Wannihami? When Wannihami leads the way to opening his son’s coffin. and future entailed in it and the temporalities that make it mobile. each crypt has been opened up over the course of this essay. “Sri Lankan Court Orders Release of Banned Film. There is nothing in the crypt except stones and wood. each a crypt. or labor time given to political economy. as the flesh of each incorporation is peeled off the corpse to reveal the sticks and rocks inside. water. The LTTE assault was halted for a few days.
the minister who had banned the film overreached his jurisdiction. . and “Garment Girls and Army Boys. See interviews with Vithanage on www. 2006). Nivedita Menon’s recent work on denaturalizing heterosexuality in India. 2004). 4.shtml (both accessed January 21. 2000). and productions of desire as nonbodied. On the contrary.” www. “The court ruling does not protect freedom of artistic expression in any serious sense. See Michele Ruth Gamburd. One of the few interrogations of desire for bodies.org.” Cinesith 4 (2005): 23 – 29. 5. Recovering Subversion: Feminist Politics before the Law (Delhi: Permanent Black.” Cinesith 1 (2001): 4 – 13 (includes a chronology of the case against Vithanage).org/articles/2001/mar2001/srif-m20. can be seen in Anjali Arondekar’s forthcoming For the Record: On Sexuality and the Colonial Archive in India (Durham. 2001. 294 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS 3. The Kitchen Spoon’s Handle (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. See also two articles by Sunila Abeysekere on the visual history and economy of filmmaking in Sri Lanka in which this film is cited: “Imaging the War in the Sinhala Cinema of the 1990s. ed.org/articles/2000/ sep2000/pura-s27.shtml. “Sri Lankan Court Orders Release of Banned Film. Culture and Civil War in Sri Lanka. she still wants to produce queer bodies. Woost (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. As Alahakoon makes clear in the article he published on September 25. recent collection that provides a glimpse into some of the economic ramifications is Economy.” www. the court declared that Vithanage’s rights were infringed by the minister’s incorrect application of regulations and provisions. 6. which is not unusual for most contemporary discussions of sexuality in South Asia.wsws. “Further Court Delay to Sri Lankan Legal Challenge of Film Ban. the production of desire. Wimal Dissanayake and Ashley Ratnavibhushana offer a comprehensive analysis of Sri Lankan cinema in Profiling Sri Lankan Cinema (Boralesgamuwa: Asian Film Centre. according to them. The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka permitted the film to be shown because. As Vithanage points out. I am speaking here about desire. 2004).” Since the ruling did not offer Vithanage redress on the basis of his claim before the court that his freedom had been infringed upon. Though she addresses heteronormativity as a field. tangles with the act-identity distinction.wsws.wsws. in “Imaging the War. 2000). and the production of presence as knowledge circulated in relation to desire: a desire for bodies and the political work they seem to enable. it was a problematic ruling. NC: Duke University Press). some women who worked in the free trade zones also had to work as sex workers. I also conducted interviews with women at the Migrant Worker’s Union in June and July 2003. Deborah Winslow and Michael D.” also talks about local money sent home by men and foreign exchange accumulated by women.” See also other articles by Alahakoon on the same Web site that describe this process: “I Appeal to All Thinking People to Stand up for Pura Handa Kaluwara: A Dialogue with Sri Lankan Film Director Prasanna Vithanage. Abeysekere. Waruna Alahakoon.
International. and social/political and financial capital. ed.” special issue. 2001). Kathleen Blee and France Winddance Twine (New York: New York University Press. intimate. 8.. Heterosyncracies: Female Sexuality When Normal Wasn’t (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. see Karma Lochrie. Shyam Selvadurai’s novels Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens. the mean. and sexual relationships with members of their own gender or with a transgender person even when they are married to someone of the opposite gender. there is no necessary primacy of capital reproduction that originates from men’s labor and in turn provides the financial support for the kind of heterosexual reproduction constituted as marital. refuse the simple folding of heteronormativity into heterosexuality. Buddhist. 2005). . Women working in free trade zones and as migrant workers might use their accruing capital likewise.” Cultural Studies 17.” in Feminism and Anti-Racism: International Struggles. 2005). Despite this. Hindu. the globalized free trade zone economies and migrant worker economies are primarily female. they might turn this capital over to relatives. Proprietary heterosexuality is not the same as compulsory heterosexuality or heteronormativity. Marriage in Sri Lanka and in most parts of South Asia is not necessarily folded into an economy of romance (heterosexual or otherwise) or into marital fidelity. One can have access to proprietary heterosexuality and think of it as the best way to live. 220 – 49. Muslim. personhood. and “Re-Scaling Trans/national ‘Queerdom’: 1980s Lesbian and ‘Lesbian’ Identitary Positionalities in Delhi. 1999). no. 11. Carla Freccero. See also readings of “single women” by Paola Bacchetta: “Extra-Ordinary Alliances: Women Unite against Religious-Political Conflict in India. See. “The Staging of Time in Heremakhonon. both set in Sri Lanka. Queer Racisms. 7. What I call “proprietary heterosexuality” is heterosexuality that accumulates and is bolstered by rights over property.and Postmodern (Durham. which in their turn transform the possible sources for the finances that enable a marriage. Marriage does not ensure a purist rendition of heterosexuality. NC: Duke University Press. married women and men may have affective. 1 (2003): 94. Pre. The prevalent economies in alliance with one another are variously gendered: the war economy is primarily male. or Christian women who have relationships outside marriage are more likely to face social opprobrium and ostracization than men. Men might bring capital accrued in war to finance their own marriage. 10. Queer/ Early/Modern (Durham. In sum. and the normal. the average. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.g.” in “Queer Patriarchies. e. even if the political economy in which one lives does not accede entirely to the scientized conventions of the norm. Carolyn Dinshaw. NC: Duke University Press. Antipode 34 (2002): 947 – 73. In this film Vithanage points out the co-implications of these configurations. 9. Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities. Time To Tell 295 For the most recent take on the arrangements between heterosexuality and heteronormativity.
About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution [New York: Touchstone. 43. 1967). “Imagining Risk. “Matter and Time. Treasury Papers. into equal increments. Great Britain. Grosz’s exegetical explorations take these readings on in a remarkable fashion. For a discussion on circularity that attempts to refigure the reading of the “eternal return. NC: Duke University Press. no. Thinking through the space-time of relativity. 166 – 71. French and European philosophers and psychologists such as Bergson. see Geeta Patel. 2004). pensions. Lacan. they are intimately woven together so that space will shrink as time expands. “Einstein’s space-time is in many ways just another field.com/editions/1701 – 25 – mint-reports. Lyotard. 17). See Davies for more on the physics of space-time and the effects of gravitational attraction. but she does not quite get to the physics that might have enabled her to see the return as a spiral that configures temporal space. To bring time and space together one has to conceive them in a fourth dimension that can no longer be easily graphed or drawn two-dimensionally. and Achille Mbembe. See Michel Foucault.” in The Inhuman (Stanford: Stanford University Press. For a prolonged discussion on the foreclosure of matter in Cartesian thought.html (accessed January 29. See Bruno Latour. What I am trying to do here. Society Must Be Defended (New York: Picador. no. 16.” forthcoming in Anthropological Theory. see the thirteen articles listed under Sir Isaac Newton’s mint reports. 2006). New York: Kelley. 15. For additional information on Newton’s stint at the mint.” Public Culture 15. 1995]. 1626 – 1730 (1896. Select Tracts and Documents Illustrative of English Monetary History. in William A. Evolution. 65-89. “When Marriage Falls: Queer Coincidences in Straight Time. www. Autograph in Newton’s hand. The Nick of Time: Politics. 36. 18. Space and time cannot be disentangled from one another. see Jean-François Lyotard. and Treasury Papers. vol. Derrida. See Tom Boellstorff. “Necropolitics. 14. 1997). vol. 1 (2003): 11 – 40. and the Untimely (Durham. 135 – 36.” this issue. to be set alongside the electromagnetic and nuclear force-fields” (Paul Davies. no. Freud. 13.” see Elizabeth Grosz. 296 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS 12. 1991). Alternatives to this picture include those of Riemannian space. . Shaw. For a fuller discussion of the temporalities of compensatory life finance such as insurance. each of which embody in themselves different space-times whose differences are established through their associations with each other. 208. rpt. as time. one can no longer abstract space and time from each other and slice space-time. All these forms of finance constitute forms of person that are emboldened through fantasies of care. and Deleuze have a long history of engagement with early and contemporary physics. loans. and credit.pierre-marteau . as I coagulate and thin space-times. is to think about objects moving in relation to one another. 76. James Clerk Maxwell (1831 – 79) was a Scottish mathematical physicist known for his work on electricity and magnetism and the kinetic theory of gases. 17.
For a few citations appropriate to this discussion. 9 – 11. “Staging of Time. 22. melancholia. 20. and other modes that owe their lineage to Freud without referring to Freud’s own rare discussions on time. The literature on relativity is vast. and so on together. writing about a movie made in Sri Lanka. Recent proposals to amend theories of quantum gravity include those in which particles that have energies above or beyond Planck’s energy break down existing theories of quantum and space-time manifests as “foamy” rather than smooth. 26. grief. “Revising Relativity: Physicists Try to Outdo Einstein. so that they no longer stand apart in a Newtonian universe. 41 – 43. Albert Einstein. Complementarity. Katherine Hayles. presence. One recent rendition of temporality that narrates time. see N. waves. For an articulation of the relationship between temporality (as history) and desire. Time To Tell 297 19.” Scientific American. See Plotnitsky. 64 (2000): 47 – 66. NC: Duke University Press. no. Collins. and praxis established between Sri Lanka and India is always in conver- . memory. 155. the South Asian geopolitical equivalent of the United States. The relationship of knowledge. “Ghostly Appearance: Time Tales Tallied Up. “A Relativistic Account of Einstein’s Relativity. brackets in the original. November 2002. 21. Relativity: The Special and the General Theory (New York: Crown. For the time being. Meanwhile. There is an extensive literature that takes on this portion of physics. 1984). as in Graham P. which emerged out of engagements with Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg’s work on complementarity. and desire in the supplement. 27 – 28. difference. 23 – 24. 25. Complementarity: Anti-Epistemology of Bohr and Derrida (Durham. as a one-time citizen of India. All three are terms from physics that bring different events. no. 1994). Sri Lanka’s contemporary financial future is driven by Indian attempts to “penetrate” new avenues for capital consolidation and expansion. 1 (1988): 3 – 44.” Social Studies of Science 18. and Arkady Plotnitsky.” 94. 23. a country that has been spoken of in the past as the country Indians want to emulate in its drive to incorporate corporate capitalism. 1993). see Geeta Patel. 24. and death powerfully through contemporary discussions of space-time is Kath Weston’s Gender in Real Time: Power and Transience in a Visual Age (New York: Routledge. The Cosmic Web: Scientific Field Models and Literary Strategies (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. I will speak about how I understand space-time in relation to mourning. 1976). “The Chain of Supplements. 2002). Derrida brings sexuality to the production of presence. Spivak. Jacques Derrida. what is my desire in writing this essay? My desire is mobilized as a prior citizen of the superpower in South Asia.” in Of Grammatology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. In situating masturbation.” Social Text.
I take Spivak’s recent call to literary politics to heart — my essay must be an accounting of this particular ethico-temporal reproductive relationship to capital. their distortions. and Laura Mulvey. 2002). such as Doane’s on the index (which deliberately trades on Charles Sanders Peirce) and on the punctum (which takes on Roland Barthes). 28. but also reveals its problematics in my own desire to see. both as longing to be and longing to become. as someone who moves between the spoken registers of the film and the subtitles that make meaning in another language. Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (London: Reaktion Books. I am simplifying subtle and complex arguments to make one particular point. 2002). November 2. Mulvey’s on the event (as carrying weight). and on delay (in the cinema of Abbas Kiarostami). Department of Sociology. time travel backward. Some of the questions Einstein raised had already been raised by engineers on the East India Company roster in the 1850s when they were considering the ramifications of the new railway they were planning. and supplementarity (even if the analyst might not fully comprehend the physics with which she engages). Indians travel to Sri Lanka assuming themselves to be the prior Platonic ideos (form) of which Sri Lanka is always an incompletely considered. These analyses have to engage space-times. 2006). The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity. 27. MA: Harvard University Press. 298 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS sation with capital. See Mary Ann Doane. See my “Time Travels: Fighting over Time” (paper presented at University of Colombo. Time was fought over again in the 1870s when the railway and the telegraph were struggling to establish their mandate over time in the Subcontinent. Space does not permit me to explore the ramifications of the relationship between conceptualizations of time established by Einstein and Bohr and Heisenberg and later explorations that emerge out of quantum mechanics. Suffice it to say that Buddhist notions of time and those established by twentieth-century physics are not so far apart. demand pictures of temporality that cannot take recourse in Newton or in Maxwell’s second law of thermodynamics. the other is the turn away from supplementarity. Contingency. the Archive (Cambridge. . Time has been central to discussions about film from the advent of writings on chronophotography and from the earliest writing about film. I speak in this essay not as a knower but as someone who is as much in the project of learning as many of the future readers of this essay and as someone whose knowledge of Sri Lanka is enabled by a constant attention that betrays my shortfall and debts. One is the consistent return to Newton and Maxwell. Several sorts of discussions on film. fully known imitation. such as black holes. I come to Sinhala through Indian languages such as Sanskrit and that gives me purchase. It is in this vein that I speak. What I am contending with in this particular discussion is the rhetoric of two moves in commonplace understandings of and in some theoretical elaborations on cinema.
The shift to Einstein occurs with discussions of the possessive spectatorship that stills filmic movement. 34. 2004). special effects. visible time in the cinema is equal to ‘real time.” Time does not only reside in the apparatus. all of which make up the illusion of real time. apparatus and diegesis. Doane. In my analysis of Purahanda Kaluwara. ed. Championing neorealism as the representational form through which the powerless could be represented visually and in the written word. Victor Burgin. Lev Manovich. in the story. and carry time through their movement. I am attending to supplementarity both in relation to the inside-outside. see Neloufer de Mel. precisely. The movements send a viewer to somewhere beyond the frame. and other distortions of time become. turn to Einstein. back up. frame by frame. . (Fast motion. Death 24x a Second. Emergence of Cinematic Time. relegated to the marginal status of the heavily coded — and rare — moments)” (Doane. MD: Rowman and Littlefield. 32. some. playing with government newsreels and other modulations that establish the interweaving of ideology with realist praxis. “What Is Digital Cinema?” in The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media.’ and any manipulation or troping of time takes place in the invisible realms of off-screen space or the interstices between shots. Not every discussion on film takes place through the exegeses of Newtonian mechanics. or the sort of pensive spectatorship that emerges from the kind of autocracy that viewing films in a DVD or video format permits viewers. Time To Tell 299 29. and in relation to what sits in each frame. a play that does not merely reside in the mise-en-scène. MA: MIT Press. 30. watch a film in slow motion. such as Deleuze. review. slow motion. where single elements appear to move across or in a still frame. 91 – 95. 189). allowing them to stop. Cinematic Time. they point to another place where the meaning of that movement lies. 31. The Remembered Film (London: Reaktion Books. I am taking on this notion of time’s “locale. 2001). rewind. produces those movements as both indexes and as a punctum. have been seminal to debates on aesthetics in South Asia on and off since at least the mid-nineteenth century. Precisely because cinema is a visual form with a play established between elements. and the freeze frame. each frame holding one facet of many different mobilities. Mulvey. Women and the Nation’s Narrative: Gender and Nationalism in Twentieth-Century Sri Lanka (Lanham. it also lives in the various pictorial and moving elements in the film. 2000). Peter Lunenfeld (Cambridge. “For the most part. For the Sri Lankan renditions. The temporalities of each are produced through their contiguities with the others. The relationship between movement and stillness in Vithanage’s film. Mulvey explores some of the same ramifications of indexicality. But most discussions tend to hold on to Newton when they talk about the movement of the frames. 33.
Nancy Margaret Paul and W. a response to political exigencies. “War” includes literal war. Matter and Memory. In both these discussions war is not an abnormal state of the state. Erotohistoriography. Scott Palmer (New York: Zone Books. This information draws on my interviews with Sri Lankan soldiers in October 2002. and Foucault. 1988). Sri Lanka changed its time a few times — each change. See Henri-Louis Bergson. actually normalizes war.” in General Psychological Theory (New York: Simon and Schuster. 164 – 84. as well as the conditions through which the “state of the camp” becomes quotidian. or. 37. A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist.” Social Text. In “Time Binds. “Necropolitics”. Society Must Be Defended. but the necessary origin through which contemporary forms of nation-statehood came into being. 41.” 36. that they are in a state of war that is anomalous. For discussions of the psychological studies of subjective temporality that increased dramatically in number in Europe in the 1930s. See Mbembe. see Robert Levine. See my unpublished “Time Travels. 38. The rhetoric of justification deployed by nations. 1997). He has counterparts in most other religious lineages: the wandering dervish in love from Sufism and the yogic practitioner from Hinduism are two instances. The bhikku is a figure that appears in many religious and literary texts from Buddhist countries. nos. 39. trans. 1997). 40. See Sigmund Freud. Elizabeth Freeman offers a lovely rereading of both Freud and Maria Torok’s descriptions of incorporation. 84 – 85 (2005): 57 – 68. or How Every Culture Keeps Time Just a Little Bit Differently (New York: Basic Books. “Mourning and Melancholia. They carry the burden that the family cannot carry without access to Bandara’s insurance policy. 300 GlQ: A JoURNAl oF leSBiAN ANd GAY STUdieS 35. 26 – 51. I am simplifying a bit here to make a point. The soldiers occupy an anomalous position in the film. was a slight difference from the zones established in South Asia in the 1870s. .
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