Notebook (paradiso)

February 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

still from Broadway by Light, William Klein, 1959

“This is often how he leaves a movie theatre. How does he go in? Except for the – increasingly frequent – case of a specific cultural quest (a selected, sought-for, desired film, object of a veritable preliminary alert) he goes to movies as a response to idleness, leisure, free time. It’s as if, even before he went into the theatre, the classic conditions of hypnosis were in force: vacancy, want of occupation, lethargy; it’s not in front of the film and because of the film that he dreams off – it’s without knowing it, even before he becomes a spectator. There is the ‘cinema situation’ and this situation is pre-hypnotic. According to a true metonymy, the darkness of the theatre is prefigured by the ‘twilight reverie’ (a prerequisite for hypnosis, according to Breuer-Freud) which precedes it and leads him from street to street, poster to poster, finally burying himself in a dim, anonymous, indifferent cube where that festival of affects known as a film will be presented.

What does the ‘darkness’ of the cinema mean? … Not only is darkness the very substance of reverie (in the pre-hypnoid sense of the term); it is also the ‘colour’ of a diffused eroticism; by its human condensation, by its absence of worldliness (contrary to the cultural appearance that has to be put in at any ‘legitimate theatre’), by the relaxation of postures (how many members of the cinema audience slide down into their seats as if into a bed, coats or feet thrown over the row in front!), the movie house (ordinary model) is the site of availability (even more than cruising), the inoccupation of bodies, that best defines modern eroticism – not that of advertising or striptease, but that of the big city. It is in this urban dark that the body’s freedom is generated; this invisible work of possible affects emerges from a veritable cinematographic cocoon; the movie spectator could easily appropriate the silkworm’s motto: inclusum labor illustrat; it is because I am enclosed that I work and glow with all my desire.

In this darkness of the cinema… lies the very fascination of the film (any film). Think of the contrary experience: on television, where films are also shown, no fascination; here, darkness is erased, anonymity repressed; space is familiar, articulated (by furniture, known objects), tamed: the eroticism – no, to put it better, to get across the particular kind of lightness, of unfulfilment we mean: the eroticisation of the place is foreclosed: television doomed us to the Family, whose household instrument it has become – what the hearth used to be, flanked by its communal kettle.


The film image (including the sound) is what? A lure. I am confined with the image as if I were held in that famous dual relation which establishes the image-repertoire. The image is there, in front of me, for me: coalescent (its signified and its signifier melted together), analogical, total, pregnant; it is a perfect lure: I fling myself upon it like an animal upon the scrap of ‘lifelike’ rag held out to him; and, of course, it sustains in me the misreading attached to Ego and image-repertoire. In the movie theatre, however far away I am sitting, I press my nose against the screen’s mirror, against that “other” image-repertoire with which I narcissistically identify myself (it is said that the spectators who choose to sit as close to the screen as possible are children and movie buffs); the image captivates me, captures me: I am glued to the representation, and it is this glue which established the naturalness (the pseudo-nature) of the film scene (a glue prepared with all the ingredients of technique); the Real knows only distances, the Symbolic knows only masks; the image alone (the image-repertoire) is close, only the image is “true” (can produce the resonance of truth). Actually, has not the image, statutorily, all the characteristics of the ideological? The historical subject, like the cinema spectator I am imagining, is also glued to ideological discourse: he experiences its coalescence, its analogical security, its naturalness, its ‘truth’: it is a lure (our lure, for who escapes it?); the Ideological would actually be the image-repertoire for a period of history, the Cinema of a society; like the film which lures its clientele, it even has its photograms; is not the stereotype a fixed image, a quotation to which our language is glued? And in the commonplace have we not a dual relation: narcissistic and maternal?”


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