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Godard :: Prostitution :: Ethics

I was previously writing about Godard’s return to the theme of prostitution in 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, which is a rewriting of the same theme in Vivre sa vie from five years prior. The central thematic: what does it mean to lend oneself to others, but also to give oneself to oneself? We give lend ourselves to others – does it matter to whom one is lent? (more…)


Godard :: Prostitution :: Image

In the opening sequences of Vivre sa vie (1962), Godard famously quotes Montaigne’s maxim “it is necessary to lend oneself to others and give oneself to one’s self.” For the Godard of Vivre sa vie, this maxim gives broader life to the story of Nana, a woman whose descent into prostitution the film documents. Prostitution is an ambiguous metaphor in Vivre sa vie, perhaps at the very moment at which it should be decisive. (more…)

Cinema :: Photograph :: Speaking

A banal claim: cinema is largely structured by the interplay of sound and image. Nothing in that claim is worthy of serious contestation. But it is of course worthy of searching, complicated filmmaking. Godard’s most searching work is always, to my mind, obsessed with laying bare the complicated web of relations – in particular, those initiated by the auteur – that generates a sound or an image. The reflection on the assembly-line model (or metaphor?) of cinematic construction that at times overwhelms Ici et ailleurs, complete with alienated workers (images) and exploitative bosses (Godard, Gorin), is at once revealing self-criticism and evidence of the unlimited reach of Marxism’s enduring insights.


Godard :: Image :: Responsibility

I’m fascinated with Godard’s theorizing – both in cinema and in reflection on cinema (if one can even draw much of a distinction in his work) – the ethics of representation. Documentary filmmaking, which for Godard is hardly distinguishable from serious fiction filmmaking, is an especially pressing context for the question. What is asked of the filmmaker, the director, that auteur who bears so much responsibility? (more…)

Relation :: transmodernity :: contact

Glissant’s transmodern moment, which is something just different than the transmodern in Dussel’s sense, lies in his conception of relation identity. Relation identity uproots subjectivity – and so also collectivity – with a nomadic, rhizomatic conception of connection. Glissant takes the difficult path, here, opting for the affirmation (with all danger, detour in place) of both the pain and pleasure of separation from coloniality. In Poetics of Relation, he writes:


Origins of the Nomadic :: Deleuze & Glissant

“Whether they are collective or individual names, the pre-Socratics, the Romans…all the proper names which come and go in Nietzsche’s texts are neither signifiers or signifieds, but designate intensities on a body which can be the body of the Earth, the body of the book, as well as Nietzsche’s own suffering body: I am every name in history…There is a kind of nomadism, a perpetual migration of the intensities designated by proper names, and these interpenetrate one another as if they are lived on a full body. The intensity can be lived only in relation to its mobile inscription on a body, and to the moving exteriority of a proper name, and this is what it means for a proper name to be always a mask, the mask of an operator.” (Deleuze)

I’ve been looking for the doubled site between Deleuze and Glissant on the question of nomadic thinking and rhizomatics. (more…)

The Ethics of Film Trailers :: Lanzmann

I recently revisited some writing on Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, considering how his use of image and sound (what I would call, not without some conceptual leaps, a single-shot montage) might enact a Levinasian conception of the relation between the Saying and the Said. My interest in Lanzmann’s film is therefore two-fold: how it conceives and enacts cinematic language and the sense of the ethical in that conceiving and enactment. Lanzmann is famously stringent on both accounts. (more…)