Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tiredness and waiting

Chaudhuri reads Ray’s expression of bodies through Deleuze:

‘Give me a body then’: this is the formula of philosophic reversal. The body is no longer the obstacle that separates thought from itself, that which it has to overcome to reach thinking. It is on the contrary that which it plunges into or must plunge into, in order to reach the unthought, that is life. Life will no longer be made to appear before the categories of thought; thought will be thrown into the categories of life. The categories of life are precisely the attitudes of the body, its postures.

‘We do not even know what a body can do’: in its sleep, in its drunkenness, in its efforts and resistances. […] It is through the body (and no longer through the intermediary of the body) that cinema forms its alliance with the spirit, with thought. ‘Give me a body then’ is first to mount a camera on an everyday body. The body is never in the present, it contains the before and the after, tiredness and waiting. […] Perhaps tiredness is the first and the last attitude, because it simultaneously contains the before and the after; what Blanchot says is also what Antonioni shows, not the drama of communication, but the immense tiredness of the body, the tiredness there is beneath The Outcry, and which suggests to thought ‘something to communicate’, the ‘unthought’ of life.[18]

I want to stay for a moment, with Deleuze’s suggestion about tiredness as both ‘before’ and ‘after,’ as a state of being where time escapes the present by bridging a moment prior to with a moment yet to come. Tiredness – and waiting – is in fact, the most important trope defining Pratidwandi. […]

In an essay called ‘Nomad Thought’ Deleuze, in the course of an investigation of Nietzsche, produced a minor political manifesto. Society, Deleuze suggested, has developed historically, three ways of “encoding” populations: the law, the contract and the institution. In opposition to the dominance of these regimes of encoding, ideologies like Marxism and Freudianism proposed “recoding”: Marxism said the state had made people “sick” and a different state would cure them; Freudianism said the same with regard to the family.[27] The reason Nietzsche appears as a radical alternative in this larger trajectory is because he advocated “an absolute decoding.”[28] 

Deleuze performs, following this revelation, an exegesis of some themes in Nietzsche’s works. Only the last of these concerns me here. Referring to his discussion of the formation of primitive empires in the Genealogy of Morals, Deleuze argues that the process of formation or encoding might be read as the “production of two strictly correlated but different phenomena.” While in the centre there is a consolidation of power, the harnessing of an “administrative machine,” in the peripheries, people come together in “nomadic” unity, constantly decoding themselves. The nomadic “war machine” and the bureaucratic administrative machine are not discreet entities, both exist in constant tension with each other, and according to Deleuze, they continue to oppose each other even when they merge. However, although he is drawing on a historical moment, the argument is not a historical one. In contemporary societies too we find nomads – and these nomads are not migrants, they do not move. In fact, Deleuze argues, perhaps the greatest nomadic challenge in our times is to “stay in the same place while escaping the codes.”[29]

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