Filming philosophy

What kind of relation does Deleuze’s thought have not simply with the exterior forces it confronts but with those that constitute its field of transmission, reception, elaboration and application? The idea for this project grows out of a long-term dialogue with Deleuze’s philosophy, which has undoubtedly played a major role in shaping our own life and ‘career’ (or, rather, non-career) choices, but more specifically of our recent encounter with Deleuze’s lessons at Vincennes through their video documentation, which itself raises a number of important questions regarding the problematic relationship between thought and images and between an event and the traces it leaves.

The dangerous fascination this document exerts partly arises from the image it evokes (or the fantasy it summons) of a subversive social, cultural and political laboratory (a coming community) where normal institutional codes, power relations and practices of transmission appear to be, if not suspended, then at least destabilized and problematized as concepts and questions formulated by Deleuze (and Guattari) are reframed and refined in terms of a process of becoming which engages with an ‘outside’ (workers struggles, political and social issues, students’ own problems, experiences and fields of interest) whose atmosphere (the tangle of behaviours, attitudes and affects secreted by a particular moment in history) actively pervades the lecture room.

Constitutive of this fantasy space is the video camera itself and the experiment of ‘filming philosophy’ (as opposed to filming philosophers) it embodies, placing a certain measure of ‘panopticonic’ control (in a kind of inverted surveillance) in the hands of students while maintaining a sympathetic attunement to the impersonal character of Deleuze’s thought in that its gaze is never subjectivised or localised but constitutes a mobile, potentially collective enunciation.
But how does one ‘film philosophy’? What exactly is being filmed and what is it that materializes/surfaces in this encounter? (This seems an interesting question to address in light of a recent trend in documentary of ‘filming philosophers’ – Derrida, Zizek etc).

Another aspect of the video’s fascination for us is its status as relic or remainder, a partial object testifying to the aforementioned ‘atmosphere’ of a vanished epoch, index of a fetishized relationship to what we perceive or imagine to be a period of greater ‘openness’ and social and political ferment. The images open up a distance between the event and its aftermath which is also a space of desire. We are left wondering about the fate of Deleuze’s arrow in its passage from the lecture hall to the outside in the life practices and trajectories of those whom (we imagine) most directly receive its ‘wound’.  But it’s not simply a matter of replacing these archive images with others from the present that would update them and lock past and present in a reassuring circuit of recognition. Indeed the video seems more and more to us the index of an unachieved and unarchived (inarchivé) cinema to come, the rushes of a film that doesn’t yet exist, that must be made, constructed, fabricated, a film that will draw voices and bodies into new impersonal becomings  and assemble between them a complex refrain of territories, speeds and intensities.

Parallel to this is the question of the impact of Deleuze’s thought on a current generation of students imbricated in processes of transformation that are affecting not only the structure of university and its perceived role within the wider framework of society (the current reform) but the biopolitical matrix that informs their ‘life politics’ and prospects, shaped by certain forces of ‘liquid modernity’ which paradoxically reterritorialize elements of Deleuze’s conceptual toolbox.

For this project we intend to use the Deleuzian “toolbox” creatively to explore some of the above-mentioned areas of inquiry by making a video occupying the “intermezzo” between documentary, video art, fiction, essay and autobiography.

(Autumn 2007)

Jihlava Film Festival 2009 – Czech Republic


2 Responses to “:: filming philosophy ::”


  1. 1 Gopalan Ravindran
    août 23, 2009 à 4:02

    This represents a great tribute to Deleuze. As an academic fan of Deleuze in India, I share strongly the project’s practical concerns and applications.best,ravi


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