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California State University, Chico, United States of America
When language “appears in perpetual disequilibrium or bifurcation,” passing “through a zone of continuous variation, then the language itself will begin to vibrate and stutter….” (108)
A man, a lawyer, and a woman stand in front of a jail cell. The young man behind bars has been implicated for she did, a fatal hit-and-run accident. She turns towards him, dividing the emotional and visual space into the direct space between the two of them, and the space behind her now where the lawyer stands. She says, “just say that you drove the car.” What she says is meant differently for the two sets of ears. The young man behind bars is despondent; he knows how it will turn out.
It is Bette Davis who carries the scene in John Huston’s In This, Our Life (1942). The meaning of the space and the meaning of the speech is bifurcated. The young man says finally that it is no use to protest innocence, which she repeats to the lawyer saying it’s no use talking to one of them.
The “them” here is black people. Playing upon that carefully staged bifurcation, Davis’ character overtly invokes biases of race and class, which she expects the lawyer, white like herself, to affirm.
James Baldwin writes about how this scene played in Harlem. What had been a sub-text becomes central. “Blacks,” Baldwin writes, “are often confronted, in American life, with such devastating examples of … this swift and graceless descent that would seem to indicate that white people have no principles whatever.” (61) For having ‘exposed and shattered’ the white myth, Baldwin writes, Davis became “the toast of Harlem.”
Marlo Brando also stuttered this way, in those films where he had license to mold his delivery and comportment to layer meaning exposing social vibration.
4:30pm - 5:00pm
Deleuze, Benjamin and the Deterritorialization of Film Subjectivity
Andrew M Jampol-Petzinger
Fordham University, United States of America
Although Deleuze and Guattari are perhaps best known for their account of capitalism as essentially “deterritorializing,” their presentation of this phenomenon in Anti-Oedipus is also critically paired with a fuller conception of capitalism as “deterritorializ[ing] with one hand, what it reterritorialize[s] with the other” (Anti-Oedipus 257)—that is, coupling its de-racinating effects with a strong entrenchment of conservative values. Indeed, the linking of these two moments is frequently overlooked in progressive discourse that ignores the long tradition of Marxist thought avowing capitalism an essentially archaizing form of social organization.
One thinker who—like Deleuze and Guattari—noticed this “deterritorializing/reterritorializing” quality of capitalism was Walter Benjamin, who, in his famous “Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” argued that it was capitalism’s reaction to the revolutionary effects of technological development that solidified the connection between capitalism and fascism. According to Benjamin, it was through technologically novel forms of media like film and photography that revolutionary forms of subjectivity could facilitate new modes of mass political engagement adequate to the challenges of mass society—a kind of unconscious subjectivity he called “reception in distraction” (“Work of Art” 269).
In this paper, I consider this interesting and perhaps unlikely point of contact between Deleuze and Guattari and Walter Benjamin on the concept of film as essentially “de-territorializing” mass subjectivity. By linking this account to a more general critique of capitalism we will be better able to problematize conceptions that treat capitalism as “simply” destructive of traditional values.
5:00pm - 5:30pm
Refugees as Multiplicities
Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
With reference to Deleuze and Guattari on nomadism as a multiplicity, and Rosi Braidotti on nomadic subjectivity, this paper will consider some of the nomadic performances, activities and characteristics of the Théâtre du Soleil. The theatre company has been experimental in developing new artistic forms, and egalitarian in welcoming different nationalities, languages, and ethnicities. Though Deleuze did not comment on their work, it exhibits specific features favoured by Deleuze and Guattari, such as transnationalism, communal property, becoming minoritarian, and desubjectivation. The dramaturgical strategies of Hélène Cixous and the innovative directing of Ariane Mnouchkine allow for multiple subjectivities and potentialities, especially in The Last Caravan Stop (Le Dernier Caravansérail), which traverses the world with boat people and other migrants, leaving behind their national identities. Alluding to Eugene Holland’s notion of ‘nomadic citizenship’ and Hardt and Negri’s concept of ‘global citizenship’, the paper will conclude with some suggestions about the tactical advantages of nomadic performativity in promoting multiplicities and human rights, and overcoming problems of identity politics, colonisation, and nationalism.