Deleuze and Cinema

I would like to preface this post by stating my intentions for my blog entries. First, I would like to state that I am not a film studies scholar. Second, my primary goal for this course is to connect my research interests, within the rhetorical tradition, with the work of Deleuze and affect theory.

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*Note: This is a Deleuze quote, not a honey boo boo quote.

First, I think it’s important to unpack the importance of Deleuze to my research interest, as well as explain his relevance to his course. Gilles Deleuze is a critical theorist, who wrote at the same time as great authors like Michele Foucault, Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida. Deleuze, along with college Felix Guattari, produced scholarship that aimed to establish theoretical concepts to understand the ways in which society manages and controls populations. However, Deleuze does not fall into the same Post-Structuralism trap as Foucault. More specifically, Foucault, who’s arguably one most of the most important theorist for establishing theoretical concepts for understanding power, however, does not provide a methodological praxis for escaping the power relations he critiques.
I know what you might be thinking; why is Deleuze relevant to film? Recently there has been a proliferation of Deleuzian scholarship. However, Deleuze’s two books on Film have not received much love from recent scholarship. Before this course, I often overlooked Deleuze’s work on film because I thought they were not relevant to my scholarship on power and affect. However, this past semester I took a rhetorical theory course that focused specifically on the work of Kenneth Burke. For those who don’t know Burke, he argues that life, and rhetoric, is a drama. In the same vein, Deleuze claims life itself is a cinema. With that in mind, Deleuze found that it was important to theorize film in addition to political philosophy.
For Deleuze, the purpose of film is to show a silver of reality. Deleuze is obsessed with the idea of the machine. Put differently; everything thing is a machine and matter (individuals, structures, objects, materiality, and so on) becomes the gears that run machines. Put more succinctly; film offers a glimpse into the gears that move our world. Deleuze’s, and his limited with Guattari, becomes primarily inspired by the philosophers Leibniz, Bergson, Bataille, Spinoza, and others. From each of these authors, Deleuze establishes a reading that examines the phenomenological, emotional, and passions of films.
As stated in my last post, I have been infatuated with affect theory. Deleuze and Guattari’s seminal text A Thousand Plateaus builds upon Spinoza’s work on ethics and emotions. Deleuze and Guattari find language as being an ineffective model for communication. Deleuze’s argument is that any attempt to use language to represent our messages inevitability fails to describe the emotions and passions that go beyond the language. In other words, the use language as a medium to represent our feelings, at best, can gesture towards our feelings, but cannot adequately describe the forms intimacy we experience with one and others.
My goal for the rest of the semester is to use the work of Deleuze to analyze (when applicable) the films we watch in class. I’m looking forward towards the rest of the semester as I explore with Deleuze.

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