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01 March 2011 @ 07:52 pm
live blogging from cinema class  
The class, we will recall, does have an investment in east asian cinema - again the two questions that come in with that term are:

1) is there the possibility of actually defining a national cinema
2) there seems to be an acknowledgement that there is a national cinema just at the time when it becomes deeply problematized (when you should  not or cannot actually identify a national cinema)



Japan, strangely, had a film industry that survived a lot of things (like earthquake, colonial period, occupation, etc).  Japan during colonial period saw film as a tool that could be linked to the aims of the state.  So the history of the film industry in the world is linked to far more than film - Japan's setting up of Korean and Chinese film studios.  Legacy of French occupation in Africa meant they left a lot of film institutes behind - thus Black African Cinema had a francophone element.

Some of the theoretical readings are designed to undermine the concept of a national language (and thence undermine national cinema).  De Mann might suggest we're most estranged from our own language.  So De Man and Derrida enter into this conversation in a startling way.

Lacan suggests we are constituted in and by language - it's not merely that which we acquire or deploy, but fundamentally who we are.

Setting those two concepts together with each other - how can you look at language in cinema?  Looking at the two tiers:

1) language that is used in the dialogue, etc.
2) film language, the language of film itself

Remember, there was the period where film scholars got into early cinema, and it took a while (through trial and error) for filmmakers to understand how audiences understood what was happening on screen.  For example - chases on screen - began first as linear chases.... but then there was a cross cutting of simultaneous action (intercutting between three unrelated spaces) and audiences will understand this even though there is a sequence. 

By and large we are pretty much all well versed in this language.  We understand with the close up that the film-maker can direct your attention/gaze, or pull back to make you see an entire scene.

So at the same time we're looking at linguistic languages, we need to think of cinema ... is it a universal language?  or is there something else going on?  we need to continually think about cinema as language and think about what kind of language (Benjamin's Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - he suggests in there that cinema has destroyed art - because individual works used to have an aura and that exists in one place and one place only, but the reproducability of cinema renders it without origin - thus it never can be located for him). 

When you think about this there's a larger framework for understanding....


Back to the De Mann - get to the inhuman

how do we use 'fragment' - because fragment is always something that is part of the whole.  Is it possible to understand fragment as something other than part of the whole?  De Mann has the concept of the fragment that isn't linked to the economy of the whole.  Look at literature in the 20th Century (small writings by Kafka) - these get folded into longer novels sometimes but often don't, they're incidental writings ... they indicate something without being part of a puzzle. 

De Mann sets up that there might be a resistance to Benjamin's 'sense of totality' 'pure language' or 'sublime largeness' that is outside individuals and replicated in texts.  The standard is the metaphysical (religion), but it is the encounter with something that pushes us beyond our ability to understand (and that moment is jouissance).  Benjamin is suggesting this isn't some lost language, but every text exists in relation to and relief from this totality of language that is pure language.  Aki thinks that De Mann is trying to show there's a very secular materialist side of Benjamin (not the metaphysical).  In order to do this De Mann performs a slight of hand where the sacred is substituted by him for the inhuman (but what is inhuman in our experience of ourselves).  Pretty radical because we don't think of ourselves as being constituted by

nonhuman - more of a spatial differentiation - there is a realm of the existance of things that we call human, and others that we would not put into that category, but there is no hierarchy
inhuman - there is a hierarchy - it is the space of the ethical, appropriate, proper, or subhuman - in ability to rise to a certain standard that is moral, or someone who is unable to interiorize the social values of that we determine to be human.


Going to the De Mann page 87:
The way in which I can try to mean is dependent upon linguistic properties that are not only [not] made by me, because I depend on the language as it exists for the devices which I will be using, it is as such not made by us as historical beings, it is perhaps not even made by humans at all....

Aki reads this as:
So I may mean something, that's not in doubt, but once I put it into language my intention is lost to apparatus - language is the place of a certain outside, of a radical outside, that i come to inhabit as if it inhabited me, as if it is natural. 

Look at the epidemic of autism - is there a crisis or has it always been with us?  One of the key features is that it's a slow or delayed acquisition of language.  Is it the first stage of the next step of human beings (part of a new state of being? they're in the vanguard, perhaps, but they appear to us as disordered), or is it a widespreading disease.

Temple Grandin - autistic person who bridges to the animal world - she suggests she thinks in images, not in words - this is, she says, the same way animals think.  Aki compares reading her to reading Borges, because she's so phenominally interesting. 

This idea that language might not be human would be completely terrifying because so many of our social practices are about interiorizing and naturalizing the narrative of language.

Koreda Hirokazu, Japanese filmmaker, originally documentary filmmaker.  Made social documentaries (not really particularly political, but cultural and sociological stuff).  Worked for Japanese TV.  What he says is his training in documentary keeps him at a distance - so there's a very strange absence of interiority in his work. 

Airdoll - based on a manga.  an Air Doll comes to life.

1) a non human being becoming human
2) meta text of korean actor becoming Japanese

so, is the second almost a provocation without getting/expecting a response? 
what about the language that's being introduced here?  all the translating that's going on



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