Time Image and politics of Hurdling into a Herd

Gilles Deleuze books on Cinema 1 and 2 can open several ways to understand contemporary politics around us. Deleuze uses the world war II as a broad marker that divides films with movement image and films with time image. Deleuze does not reduce his work on cinema as limited to the world of films. He says in his preface to Cinema 2 that he is interested of movement and time in cinema and movement and time in philosophy. This is why maybe we can try to view movement and time in politics. Hamlets words that time is out of joint signify that time is no longer subordinated to movement.

Deleuze’ books on Cinema are not related with cinema and reality. Deleuze tries to understand cinema and thought. Deleuze seems to take us to our encounter of our thoughts and cinema. When we are watching films, we are turned away from our own thoughts . We are drawn to perceptions that are not ours. Because of this films enable us to encounter things that we have not encountered before. Deleuze says that cinema enables us to encounter the genuinely new.

Deleuze treat film makers as thinkers. He thinks cinema as composition of signs and images. To him it has pre-verbal intelligible content (pure semiotics). Deleuze, therefore, is interested in images and signs. Deleuze is interested in the movement image and time image. With the movement image, time is subordinated to movement and action and with time image movement and action are subordinated to time. We still need deeper explanation to understand the concepts of movement image and time image .

Image to Deleuze is not a picture. Thus, a moving image is not a moving picture or a motion picture. To Deleuze image is a assemblage. It is a system of relationships that makes the image perceptible and visible. It has relationships of time that cannot be seen in the represented object. In a movement image characters are placed in narrative situations in which they generally perceive things, are affected by those things and take action. The movement is… one perceives something and gets affected by it and an action is taken as response to it. We therefore, have chain of perception images, affection images and action images. Deleuze says signs are assembled by sensory motor schema. It is common sense way of living in the world. Our politics, thus, calls us into being. We perceive, feel affected and act . Politics becomes an assemblage of perception signs, affection signs and action images. This is not that simple and linear. There is dance of these images and there is complex interplaying among them.

In his book, Cinema 2, Deleuze deals with time image . Movement image is movement of perception to action while time image is an interruption of this chain by thought and memory. Movement and action are subordinated to time . Time drags and the character cannot lead to action. Characters are left to wander and wait. Deleuze says sensory motor schema is replace by pure optical and sign situation. This means action is replaced by thought and memory. While movement image drives usual politics, time image gets us fixed over a traumatic past. Although we cannot fully share those traumatic memories and they affect us differently, it confuses and renders us unable to act. This is why a politics that we might otherwise call fringe politics takes the main stage as majority becomes dazed by the weight of the painful past. Perhaps, we my not agree with this extension of Deleuzean cinema theory into politics. Yet we have give it a try. It might offers us an insight into how big identities linked to the nation, religion or ethnicity massify people and render them silent while a fringes group plays a politics of loyalty and betrayal. We may also understand how capitalism and consumerism massify and oedipalize us. The challenge to become anti-Oedipus and refuse to be hurdled into a herd so that a distinct minority takes control of our resources in indeed a ethical imperative of our time.

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