Chantal Akerman’s Là-bas: The Suspended Image and the Politics of Anti-Messianism Chrysanthi Nigianni July 2013 Feature Articles Issue 67 | July 2013 It is this double exigency-recognition of the closure of the political and practical deprivation of philosophy as regards itself and its own authority– which leads us to think in terms of re-treating the political. This phrase is taken here at least in two senses: first, withdrawing the political in the sense of its being the ‘well-known’ and in the sense of its obviousness (the blinding obviousness) of politics, the ‘everything is political’ which can be used to qualify our enclosure in the closure of the political; but also as re-tracing of the political, re-marking it, by raising the question in a new way which, for us, is to raise it as the question of its essence. – Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (1) When everything has been said, when the main scene seems over, there is what comes afterwards… – Antonioni (2) 1.1 I ’ve thought of her film work as philosophy. And by this I don’t mean that it just embodies previously published philosophical ideas, but that it actually realizes a historically innovative philosophical contribution. What exactly does it mean to assert the possibility of film as philosophy? And what is the philosophical and political claim Chantal Akerman’s 2006 film Là-bas makes? According to Gilles Deleuze, what makes cinema deeply and inherently philosophical is its ability to open up problems that require in turn a new thinking. However, in order to give some credibility to the argument that films can be philosophy, the philosophy contained in the film must somehow be presented in a way that depends on some feature of film as an artistic medium. This will protect the film from being seen as a simple heuristic means in our philosophical enquiries, or as a springboard for discussions of some philosophical interest. Moreover, the claim ‘film as philosophy’ poses inevitably the question of how one understands philosophy. Can a visual medium like cinema do philosophy, or even better a philosophy? If philosophy is regarded as an academic discipline with a highly specific methodology, then such a claim sounds all too weak. Following Christopher Falzon’s argument, the history of philosophy is characterised by ‘a deep philosophical prejudice against the visual image as an avenue to philosophical enlightenment.’ (3) Many philosophers, from Plato (4) onward, have opposed philosophy (or the ‘world of knowledge’) to visual images (‘images and shadows of reality’), with philosophy defined as a source of rational conviction, while the visual has been considered to deceive viewers by appealing to their emotions. Yet Falzon argues that the image is what both philosophy and cinema share: [P]hilosophers have always resorted to a multitude of arresting and vivid visions to illustrate or clarify their position, to formulate a problem or to provide some basis for discussion. Philosophy is full of strange and wonderful images and inventions of this sort. (5) So maybe it is in the cinematic image that we should look for the intrinsic qualities that make cinema capable of philosophising, or even better of producing its own thinking. According to Deleuze: It (the cinema) affects the visible with a fundamental disturbance, and the world with a suspension, which contradicts all natural perception. What it produces in this way is the genesis of an unknown body. (6) Deleuze perceives the cinematic image as the source for what can yet be thought, suggesting the possibility of a cinematographic philosophy precisely because cinema and the cinematic image engage directly to the ‘problem’ of time. (7) According to Deleuze, time constitutes a significant philosophical problem. Our conception of time delineates the way we perceive, understand and describe reality; or else, the real is constructed in time, since for Deleuze, drawing on Bergson, time possesses an ontological priority. By giving back to time its neglected ontological priority, cinema creates a new image of thought which rather than representing the real, it recreates it constantly, putting thus the notion of truth in crisis (disturbing a commonsensical seeing). (8) Hence, cinema is able to render visible the image of thought of philosophers like Kant, Nietzsche, Spinoza – who have argued for the falsifying force of time. (9) 1.2 Chantal Akerman’s film work is an exploration of time, movement and space. The deliberate stillness of her image puts into crisis our ‘natural’ perception and subsequently our conception of movement and time gets disturbed. Long takes, stubborn fixedness and a camera that stares produce another ‘seeing’ and a sense of additional reality (rather than a description of what already exists). As Jacques Derrida has argued: ‘One can only be blind to time, the essential disappearance of time, even as, nevertheless, in a certain manner, nothing appears that does not require and take time”. (10) If our sense of reality, all appearance and disappearance, is based on the disappearance of time, Akerman’s cinema by giving time the leading role, by making it visible, creates a monstrous (non-human) image (11) of an additional reality: an image that occasionally becomes unbearable, a too much to bear for our common perception; an image that paralyses vision commonly understood as orientation and action and that invites instead intuition, in the Bergsonian sense of a deep apprehension of duration. (12) As Ivone Margulies argues in her book Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday: Akerman’s use of both repetitive compositions and extended real-time shots raises questions about the destabilising, supplementary effect of detailed description. The insistence on remaining with the scene even after its narrational or referential information has been decoded, inevitably solicits an estranged experience of the image. (13) Particularly with Là-bas, Chantal Akerman creates what I call the ‘image of suspension’ as a new thinking-image that politicizes the notion of time and temporality. By giving time an ontological priority, the suspended image breaks away from a valorisation of visuality, which has historically supported the privileging of space over time (psychoanalytic concepts of scopophilia, voyeurism, and the gaze are still dominant and key terms in order for us to think of the cinematic image). Instead the suspended image assumes a different perception and thinking that break away from the norms of representation. Hence, an image that does not serve (re)cognition and thus does not command action, but persists and endures as the power to be affected; an image that speaks without giving orders, without claiming to represent anything; an image that requires from us solely to acknowledge the appearing of time as the only event. ‘When Jews in France say to each other ‘ “Tu vas là-bas” they usually mean: “are you going to Israel?” We have the place where we live and we have ‘là-bas’. (14) The film Là-bas was shot in 2005 in an apartment in Tel Aviv. Most of the film runs indoors and the outside world becomes visible through the window blinds (we’re looking at people sitting in their balconies) or by the ambience of the flat, which is nothing other than the sounds of the city (traffic, children playing, voices from the street and the nearby flats). The only outdoor shooting takes place briefly in a nearby beach while the camera remains distant from the sea and the people strolling. The indoor static shots are often accompanied by the voice of the director: she responds to phone calls, reflects loudly on readings and events, narrates childhood memories, informs on the aftermath of an explosion that took place one block further from her residence (‘Four dead’, ‘All of that was supposed to be over’). The present and the past blend in an a- temporal narration, in a sort of visual and sound nakedness (an interior that is not personalized, (15) the generic sounds from the city). With Là-bas Akerman refuses to make a film ‘about’: about Israel, about politics, about trauma, about power, about violence. (16) She makes a film that negates the aboutness of film, the aboutness of the image (17); a film that sees but cannot represent; a film that sees but does not grasp or seize; a film that has learned to see as pure and unintended contact. At the heart of one the most debatable political spaces (Tel Aviv) Akerman dares to create a film of the seer and not of the agent troubling our political consciousness. Far from seeing the film’s refusal to take a clear and explicit stand on the complex political issues surrounding Israel today as political apathy or indifference, this paper argues for the mobilisation of a different kind of politics (a politics of passive vitalism) that draws on a different aesthetics – an aesthetics of vitalism that characterises the image of suspension. It will be argued that in this new aesthetics we can find different possibilities to conceive of political bodies and their relation to images outside representation, recognition and belonging. The notion of suspension is rather ambiguous and polyvalent, varying from definitions of abrogation or cessation, to temporary debarment, postponement and/or prolongation. It could thus be seen as a rupture of a (linear) flowing time since any notion of stoppage always assumes a before and an after, a moment of time that either borrows from the past (a prolongation of what is passing by) or foretells the future (as cessation of the past). According to Deleuze, it is in the time-image that the interval, the space of the between, acquires an autonomous value so that the “film ceases to be ‘images in chain…an uninterrupted chain of images each one the slave of the next’, and whose slave we are.” (18) In Là-bas Akerman explodes the interval, annihilates it by giving it absolute autonomy as the only existent. There is no longer a between two images. The interval, the betweeness, becomes the Whole, all that there is. We thus feel that time and movement has ceased in Là-bas, since succession feels almost to have stopped. The unchanging visual scene takes us away from the realm of action and reaction, the realm of mechanism, and no truth is sought to be discovered, or to be articulated. For Bergson, it is this lack of mechanism, of action-reaction, it is in the interval we have life or memory, with the Bergsonian memory referring to an ‘all it could have been’ rather than a personalised memory, signifying thus Life in its actuality as well as in its virtuality (a ‘would have been’). It is in this sense that the image of suspension brings about a different aesthetics (that of vitalism) that mobilises new definitions of the political. In the image of suspension the sensori-motor schema (19) is suspended, a suspension that in turn gives rise to a virtual image – often a memory, a dream, a thought; suspension as what gives memory to matter. (20) 1.3 But what is vitalistic about the image and particularly the cinematic image? Deleuze draws on the Bergsonian conceptualisation of image, in an attempt to escape the traditional definition of the image as semiological sign, as the representation of an a priori thing. (21) Rather than seeing in the image a representative force, Deleuze perceives in it an expressive and affective one, so that, according to him, we can no longer talk about the image of a body, but about the body-as-image. For Bergson, image is not simply a visual image but the complex of all sense impressions that a perceived object conveys to a perceiver at a given moment. So perception, far from being the faculty of the subject (related to cognition), is the im-pressions (22) (senses, affects) the object and subject give and receive in their interaction. For Bergson the world is made up of images, of things as they appear, in their ‘superficiality’ – world then as a surface, a huge screen, a matrix of actions and interactions. He thus rejects the distinction between ‘being’ and ‘being perceived.’ Deleuze, following Bergson, argues that there is a profound link between signs, life, and vitalism: it is not the subject or the system (the Law of the Language/Phallus) that signifies, rather signification and subjects are seen as the effects of the sense (as sensation), and of material interactions. There’s a profound link between signs, life, and vitalism: the power of nonorganic life that can be found in a line that’s drawn, a line of writing, a line of music. It’s organisms that die, not life. Any work of art points a way through for life, finds a way through the cracks. (23) Akerman’s cinema is a material capture of the processual rather than being representational: a process of affectivities, intensities, rhythms, matter, speed and movement. However, Akerman’s image escapes the tired notion of vitalism in its Romantic form usually related to a notion of a transcendent-unknown-mysterious creative, living force or genius, as well as, with notions of depersonalisation or renewal/regeneration. (24) As Claire Colebrook comments, the latter kind of vitalism – what she calls active vitalism – has dominated aesthetics since Kant producing a rather normative image of life and creativity– a metaphysics of life force as ‘explaining’ human spirit. (25) In the view of active vitalism. Life has a proper trajectory towards fruition and the realisation of its proper form; art is the process whereby deviations, failures or corruptions of the vital power may be retrieved and re-lived. (26) An aesthetics of active vitalism perceived as praxis strives to overcome the banal or the common (an example of this is the imperative to make life an art work in- progress, or the imperative to restore creative spirit and fulfil life’s potentials), and equally a politics of active vitalism strives to overcome imposed norms that reduce individual autonomy, aiming instead at an ever expanding notion of freedom. Following Colebrook’s reading of Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of (dominant/active) vitalism in their work What is Philosophy? (27), the vital political self ‘acts but is not’, in other words, works as a critique and negation of the norm, the image, the figure or the stereotype (i.e. the politics of performativity in the case of sexual politics (28) or the politics of deconstruction in terms of race politics). Politics and political activism then are usually solely conceived of as different degrees of act in relation to the (normative or ideal) image and consequently, our political activism gets reduced into the following questions: Is our relation to the normative or the authoritarian image enough productive, properly political, enough transgressive, enough resistant? What kind of images of belonging should we mobilize? Thus, an active vitalism, in its political and aesthetic expressions, strives for some active representation of ‘a life that must know and recognise itself and always remain in command of the production of affects’ (29); a politics of images of/about life (be it critical, anti-normative, representative, etc.), a production of affects in the service of political subjectivity. 1.4 The film Là-bas refuses to provide us with images of / about life (in Tel Aviv). It does not make any judgment or does not privilege any kind of depersonalisation (on the contrary it is highly personalised.). It does not seek a way out, nor is it interested in rendering productive the minority voices. It does not look forward to a change, nor holds a nostalgic backward look. Breaking away from an epistemology of regular time tied to space (30), the film captures, or better arrests the time of a ‘now’, not as action with references to past and future events, but as an a-temporal en-during, almost like a living without a tense. The voice over informs on past, childhood memories and gives present reflections but its monotonous rhythm together with the static shots unburden it from any psychological and emotional charge that would mobilise a certain political sentiment towards certain political attitudes (the political economy of affect). A voice that feels attuned to the stillness of the image; an illusion of the ‘metaphysics of presence’, a false confirmation of the “I” that exists as this or that subject position (i.e. the woman of her childhood memories, the second generation child). Who is speaking? There is no longer even a place from which to ask. Chantal Akerman refuses to take up the space, to make herself (or a self) visible in front of the camera. Occasionally, we see only her shadow or her reflection on the window’s glazing. She is, but does not act. We are left only with the inhuman eye of the camera and with time. The camera is there to record not to grasp or understand. The objects and the setting in the film almost take on an autonomous (material) reality freed from human perception: ‘suspension of human presence, passage to the inanimate’. (31) Objects appear as independent of the subject, endowed with their own properties, objects as events: ‘the glowing rectangles of light made by windows and a door in her sublet apartment’ (32) is a light which emanates from the objects themselves, creating surrounding images that turn toward the body-behind-the-camera and to our body as viewers. Action is floating in the situation rather than being brought to a conclusion. Unlike the aesthetics of an active vitalism that puts forward a fruitful image as a synthesising, unifying view of the world (a directional image from the body to the world), Là-bas feels sterile and receptive in its feeling of that which is not itself (33), of a world that cannot be possessed or mastered by the image; an image of immense brutality since it sees and hears but does not respond. I don’t feel like I belong. And that’s without real pain, without pride. No, I’m just disconnected. From practically everything. I have a few anchors. And sometimes I let them go or they let me go and I drift. That’s most of the time. Sometimes, I hang on. For a few days, minutes, seconds. Then I let go again. (34) By bringing out the inhuman powers of the time of suspension (time as internal differentiating, difference as nuance), (35) the film runs still, expressing an undecidability between prolongation and cessation, postponement and debarment; an undecidability that in turn puts forward a new aesthetics and a new politics of vitalism, not as representation, belonging or negation (active vitalism) but as negotiation of the multiple affections and attachments that compose the body-behind- the-camera and the image-as-body. Hence, the suspended image produces suspension as another temporality and not as a disruption of time: a temporality of enduring as the qualitative changing in time. It thus urges us to think of different durations that often pass invisible, and the void as the only possible site of the event. ‘It is the stillest of the words that bring on a storm.’ (36) The suspended image urges us to reflect on the time of the event outside linearity and cause-effect relations. It rather locates ‘the point of the inner limit, or inherent impossibility of a given discourse (philosophical or artistic) and activates this precise point as the potential locus of creation.’ (37) The suspension in Là-bas puts forward new questions and a different problematisation of trauma: What is the temporality of rupture, of trauma without a before (historical explanation) and an after (future imperatives for transformation or recuperation)? What is the temporality of trauma outside its pathologisation and historicization (that is outside narratives and interpretative mechanisms)? What happens when we stay within the trauma while being denied the possibility of resolution through past references (flash backs) or the possibility of a next image that will set the action on? What is the duration of trauma outside knowledge? Unlike so many films on trauma (historical trauma, personal trauma), Chantal Akerman makes a film that does not look at trauma from the other side (that of historical time or the chronicle ordered time), with the trauma being depicted as disruption and breakage (38) in the form of flashback. The suspended image of Là-bas is the reflection-image of the trauma itself: an image that is suspended and suspends the outside historical world. In Là-bas, Chantal Akerman does not give an account on the political situation in Israel, finding it impossible to deal with the matter. When an explosion happens in a nearby block she comments, among other things, ‘it put things in perspective and then sorrow returns’. The film expresses the impossibility to account for trauma: her trauma in which the past is never over (a second generation child of the Holocaust), the trauma of the explosion that threatens a living present. In her book, Parting Ways, Judith Butler argues (evoking active vitalism): To paraphrase Derrida, precisely because one cannot give an account, one must give an account. The capacity for narration suspended or debilitated by the trauma is precisely what emerges as the sign evidence of a capacity to live on and survive.” (39) A capacity that the film denies to the viewer as a possibility and the director to herself, affirming an impossibility to live: ‘I don’t know how to live (…) Sorrow returns’ (40); a living-with-the-trauma outside resolutions of understanding. I read very complicated books about the Jews. I take notes, I re-read them, I try to understand. Sometimes I understand. Or I get a whiff of something. Something that’s already there inside me but I can’t express. I re-read my notes. Once again, I tell myself it’s really complicated. (41) Past stories of her aunt’s mental illness and eventual suicide are put alongside with the event of explosion and the recent suicide of the mother of a well known Israeli writer; fragments of narration, descriptions, but no account. The suspended image of Là-bas exonerates the suspension of account, and puts trauma at the centre of the image. Not a film about trauma but the suspended image-as-trauma, cut off from past and future accounts, without a will for accountability. A trauma that is but does not act. A trauma already là-bas, already down there, before the ‘I’. “My wound existed before me…I was born to embody it.” (42) The suspended image of Là-bas gives a specific form in time and space that “threatens to destabilise or de-actualise its being” (43): its being liveable, its being political (as active vitalism) through suspension and the stillness of the event as internal implosion. 1.5 Là-bas has no action or actor other than time itself. (44) It thus forces us to direct our attention less to what is there and instead engages us to connect to the multiple perceptions that compose it in time, to all those barely discerned perceptions, to “networks of perception and imagination which create points of view, and that can produce entirely different relations and configurations” (45); perceptions that produce a truly foreign body. The film Là-bas creates indeed a truly foreign body, a melancholic body ‘that is and does not act’. A vital body precisely because of its radical passivity and of its distance from the ‘I viewpoint’ that commands; a body that eschews self- recognition mainly because it does not possess its time or its space. It is precisely this lack of ownership of space, of time, of life, even of the self that enables the intuition of other durations, and which opens up a different ethics of relating to Life and Earth as not one’s own (against the tradition of huMANism as possessive individualism). I’m here, in an apartment, which is not mine. Basically, I don’t know how to live. Out of the feeling that if I sink, well then I should just sink. I should just deny myself. Like I usually do. Except sometimes, in spurts. (46) The suspended image of Là-bas refuses to put forward forces of belief, hope or anticipation. Against the Jewish tradition of an ethics of transcendence, Chantal Akerman creates a flat image of a ‘here and now’ that does not seduce; an immanent image as inward flexion and not a utopian image of a ‘down-there’ (là-bas/Israel) as the land of salvation. A radically anti-messianic image that initiates a new thinking of time: a rather emptied time, a vacuum, or what Deleuze calls the ’dead time’, since it is not conceived of, or measured by what is happening or what is coming, but a time that simply is; a time that persists, and insists. Thus, the suspended image creates an intensification of the present moment, which reveals heterogeneity and changing as the internal condition of Life (both organic and inorganic) outside language and human intervention. Là-bas produces a radical political body of an ‘I’ as always a second comer, one caught in suspension: not a messianic body-to-come as the self-righteous Subject, the political Promise, the Truth, the Revolutionary but always the ‘second’ coming of the ‘I’, as radical counter-messianism (47) and falsification. Something in me has been damaged. My relationship with the real, with daily life. How do you make a life in non-rarefied air. A minimum of order. A minimum of life. (48) Là-bas is an involution in time rather than an evolution in space (49); a politicisation of trauma and damage not in the form of historical, political and psychological interpretations and truths, but as the capacity to be affected and effectuated in time differently: a different sense, a different expression, another feeling, a feeling of utter powerlessness. (50) Suspended time does not command a future, an à-venir (to-come!), but persists and insists as internal variation. In Là-bas, to come second, to be this ‘highest’ point of evolution, progress and rational development is not to have an existential priority; it is to be belated. (51) This article has been peer reviewed. Endnotes Jean-Luc Nancy and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Re-treating the Political, (Psychology Press, London, 1997): 112. Antonioni as quoted in Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2 – The Time-image, (Continuum, London, New York, 2005): 7. Falzon, Christopher, Philosophy Goes to the Movies: An Introduction to Philosophy, (Routledge, London, 2002): 4. Plato, The Republic, Book VII, paragraphs 514-520, pages 119-141. Translated by Paul Shorey (Cambridge Mass., Harvard University Press, 2006) Falzon, Christopher, Philosophy Goes to the Movies:An Introduction to Philosophy, (Routledge, London, 2002): 4. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2 – The Time-image, (Continuum, London, New York, 2005):194. According to Deleuze : ‘What is specific to the image, as soon as it is creative, is to make perceptible, to make visible, relationships of time which cannot be seen in the represented object and do not allow themselves to be reduced to the present.’ (Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2 – The Time-image, (Continuum, London, New York, 2005): xii. Deleuze draws a direct relation between time and what he calls ‘the power of the false’ in thought that breaks away from truthful linear narration and redefines consistency in thinking outside judgment, rigidity and cause-effect relations. Time as change, without a retrospective or a prospective power to determine any past or future truth: ‘The power of the false is time in person, not because the contents of time are variable, but because the form of time as becoming questions every formal model of truth.’ (Deleuze in Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine, (Duke University Press, Durham and London, 1997): 16. ‘Critique in the Kantian sense, which asks how a thing is known is a central question for both cinema books. From a Kantian perspective, the important distinction is between time in its essence and in its form of being known. With Nietzsche the critique implied by the direct time-image takes a different form. Important here is the critique of value and how the powers of the false are related to a will to power and the eternal return. Following Spinoza, Deleuze asks how time-image affects our power to think?’ (Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine, (Duke University Press, Durham and London, 1997): 122) Jacques Derrida, Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money, trans. Peggy Kamuf. (Chicago: Chicago U P, 1992):6. ‘[W]here the concept of time could almost be a substitute for the image’ (Ivone Margulies, Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday, Duke University Press,1996): 68. ‘If we place ourselves from the first, by an effort or intuition, in the concrete flow of duration. . .we shall then find no logical reason for positing multiple and diverse durations. . . . The intuition of our duration brings us into contact with a whole continuity of durations which we must try to follow, whether upwards or downwards’. (Henri Bergson, The Creative Mind- An Introduction to Metaphysics, Carol Publishing Group, New York, 1992): 48-49. Ivone Margulies, Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday, (Duke University Press, 1996): 69. Chantal Akerman, www.wooltonpicturehouse.co.uk/film/Down+There+%28L%E0-Bas%29 ‘Any-space-whatever’: what we see of the room is not as generic as hotel rooms, but chairs, picture frames, and a bottle-shaped vase that could be anyone’s anywhere. ‘When X.C. [producer Xavier Carniaux] proposed that I make a film on Israel, I immediately had the impression that it was a bad idea. An impossible idea even. Almost paralyzing. Almost nauseating.’ (Chantal Akerman, www.wooltonpicturehouse.co.uk/film/Down+There+%28L%E0-Bas%29). ‘The term aboutness signals representation, which is at the heart of any debate over the ontology of truth.’ (Linda Martin Alcoff, ‘Becoming an Epistemologist in Becomings – Explorations in Time, Memory and Futures, ed. Elizabeth Grosz, (Cornell University Press, New York, 1999): 70). Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema 2 – The Time-image, (Continuum, London, New York, 2005): 180. ‘But precisely what brings this cinema of action into question after the war is the very break-up of sensory-motor schema: the rise of situations to which one can no longer react, of environments with which there are only now chance relations, of empty or disconnected any-space-whatevers replacing qualified extended space. These are pure optical and sound situations, in which the character does not know how to respond, abandoned spaces in which he ceases to experience and to act so that he enters into flight, goes on a trip, comes and goes, vaguely indifferent to what happens to him, undecided as to what must be done. But he has gained in an ability to see what he has lost in action or reaction: he sees so that the viewer’s problem becomes ‘What is there to see in the image?’ (and not what are we going to see in the next image?)’ (Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2 – The Time-image, (Continuum, London, New York, 2005): 261. ‘When we think of this present as what ought to be, it is no longer, and when we think of it as existing, it is already past…. All perception is already memory’ (Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, (Zone Books, New York, 1999): 166-67. A definition, which resides on the distinction made initially by Plato between matter and form, and that was later on reproduced by Saussure’s theory of the signifier – signified distinction. I use the term ‘impression’ in the way Sara Ahmed uses it: ‘We need to remember the ‘press’ in an impression. It allows us to associate the experience of having an emotion with the very affect of one surface upon another, an affect that leaves its mark or trace’ (Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, (Routledge, New York, 2004): 6. Deleuze, Gilles, (1995), Negotiations (1972-1990), (Columbia University Press, New York, 1995): 143. ‘The supposition of a ‘vital principle’ or ‘power’, a mysterious, non-mechanical life-force whose energies animated the living world, became central to a new understanding of nature, whose self- activating powers were comprehensible neither via the laws of motion nor as directly manifesting the hand of God, but as unique to living matter’ (Catherine Packham, Eighteenth-Century Vitalism: Bodies, Culture, Politics, (Palgrave, London, 2012): 2. ‘Such high modernist or Romantic modes of defamiliarisation and renewal that would reawaken the creative force from which our lived world has been synthesised are essentially normalising insofar as they refer back to the subjective or grounding conditions from which works must have emerged and which can be retrieved, recognised and re-lived as our own’. (Claire Colebrook, ‘Queer Vitalism’, in New Formations, Deleuzian Politics?, Editorial: Jeremy Gilbert, Chrysanthi Nigianni, (Issue Spring 2010): 89. Claire Colebrook, ‘Queer Vitalism’, in New Formations, Deleuzian Politics?, (Ed: Jeremy Gilbert, Chrysanthi Nigianni, (Issue Spring 2010):12. ‘Vitalism has always had two possible interpretations: that of an idea that acts, but is not – that acts therefore only from the point of view of an external cerebral knowledge …; or that of a force that is but does not act – that is therefore a pure internal awareness. … If the second interpretation seems to us to be imperative it is because the contraction that preserves is always in a state of detachment in relation to action or even to movement and appears as a pure contemplation without knowledge’ (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Felix, What is Philosophy?, (Verso, London, New York,1994): 213. ‘A politics and vitalising imperative follows: do not be seduced by normativity. Recognise that the self who is performed and recognised is at odds with the less stable – one might say ‘queer’ – vital self who acts (who ‘acts but is not’). I would suggest that this form of active vitalism, as critique and negation of norm, image, figure or stereotype is not only the dominant in theory, but also in popular culture and public policy.’ (Claire Colebrook, ‘Queer Vitalism’, in New Formations, Deleuzian Politics?, Ed: Jeremy Gilbert, Chrysanthi Nigianni, (Issue Spring 2010): 90. Claire Colebrook, ‘Queer Vitalism’, New Formations, Issue Spring 2010, Deleuzian Politics?, Editorial: Jeremy Gilbert, Chrysanthi Nigianni, (Issue Spring 2010):14. ‘[A] territorialized time; regular or not, it’s the number of the movement of the step that marks a territory’ (Gilles Deleuze, ‘Vincennes Seminar Session of May 3, 1977: On Music’, Trans T.S Murphy, Discourse Journal; for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 20 (3), 1998, (Autumn): 205-18. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2 – The Time-image, (Continuum, London, New York, 2005): 274. Bill Arning, ‘Down There (La-bas)’, in Chantal Akerman – Moving Through Time and Space, (The Art Museum of the University of Houston, 2008): 41. ‘[T]he vital is not that which springs forth from itself to synthesise, unify and produce its world; it is receptive in its feeling of that which is not itself, often yielding nothing more than the isolated or punctuated affect of encounter’ (Claire Colebrook, ‘Queer Vitalism’, New Formations, Deleuzian Politics?, Ed: Jeremy Gilbert, Chrysanthi Nigianni, (Issue Spring 2010): 89. Chantal Akerman, from the film Là-bas, (2006). ‘The vital difference can only be experienced and thought of as an internal difference; it is only in this sense that the ‘tendency to change’ is not accidental, and that the variations themselves find an internal cause in that tendency’ (Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism, (Zone Books, New York, 2002): 99. Nietsche, in Alenka Zupančič, The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two, (MIT Press, 2003): 8. Alenka Zupančič, The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two, (MIT Press, 2003): 8. ‘The flashback, the nightmare, the return of traumatic memory, are distinct from historical memory, insofar as they concern an event that has not been integrated into historical time, ordered by a relation to the past and the future’ (Charles Shepherdson, Lacan and The Limits of Language, (Fordham University Press, New York, 2008): 107. Judith Butler, Parting Ways- Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism, (Columbia University, New York, 2012): 192. Chantal Akerman, from the film Là-bas, (2006). Chantal Akerman, from the film Là-bas, (2006). Joe Bousquet in Gilles Deleuze, Essays Critical and Clinical, transl. by Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco, (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1997): xxix. Claire Colebrook, ‘Queer Vitalism’, New Formations, Deleuzian Politics?, Ed: Jeremy Gilbert, Chrysanthi Nigianni, (Issue Spring 2010): 80. ‘The only subjectivity is time, non-chronological time grasped in its foundation, and it is we who are internal to time, not the other way round. That we are in time looks like a common place, yet it is the highest paradox. Time is not the interior in us, but just the opposite, the interiority in which we are, in which we move, live and change’ (Deleuze, Cinema 2 – The Time-image, Continuum, London, New York, 2005: 82. Claire Colebrook, ‘Queer Vitalism’, New Formations, Issue Spring 2010, Deleuzian Politics?, Ed: Jeremy Gilbert, Chrysanthi Nigianni, (Issue Spring 2010) :14. Chantal Akerman, from the film Là-bas, (2006). Derrida’s messianism argues for a politics and ethics of futurity that is attuned to the messianic order, a more Jewish, biblical time: a time of a promise and anticipation constituted by both a demand to “come!” together with a “don’t come!” since the Messiah should never appear but should be protected from ordinary time, from the present, being preserved instead only as a promise, as an appeal to a future that remains absolutely other. For an extended discussion on messianic time see John Caputo’s book, The prayers and tears of Jacques Derrida, (Indiana University Press, 1997). Chantal Akerman, from the film Là-bas, (2006). “But a real evolution, if ever it is accelerated or retarded, is entirely modified within; its acceleration or retardation is precisely that internal modification. Its content and its duration are one and the same thing.” (Henri Bergson, The Creative Mind- An Introduction to Metaphysics, (Carol Publishing Group, New York, 1992): 20. To “make use of this powerlessness to believe in life, and to discover the identity of thought and life” (Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2 – TheTime-image, (Continuum, London, New York, 2005): 164. I am thankful to Claire Colebrook for this last thought. I am citing her informally here.