Unreal Nature

September 26, 2010

The Missing People

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:51 am

… The author takes a step towards his characters, but the characters take a step towards the author: double becoming. Story-telling is not an impersonal myth, but neither is it a personal fiction: it is a word in act, a speech-act through which the character continually crosses the boundary …

This is further from Cinema 2: The Time-Image by Gilles Deleuze (1989):

… in classical cinema, the people are there, even though they are oppressed, tricked, subject, even though blind or unconscious.

… In American and Soviet cinema, the people are already there, real before being actual, ideal without being abstract. Hence the idea that the cinema, as art of the masses, could be the supreme revolutionary or democratic art, which makes the masses a true subject. But a great many factors were to compromise this belief: the rise of Hitler, which gave cinema as its object not the masses become subject but the masses subjected; Stalinism, which replaced the unanimism of peoples with the tyrannical unity of party; the break-up of the American people, who could no longer believe themselves to be either the melting-pot of peoples past or the seed of a people to come (it was the neo-Western that first demonstrated this break-up). In short, if there were a modern political cinema, it would be on this basis: the people no longer exist, or not yet . . . the people are missing.

… Sometimes the third world film-maker finds himself before an illiterate public, swamped by American, Egyptian or Indian serials, and karate films, and he has to go through all this, it is this material that he has to work on, to extract from it the elements of a people who are still missing (Lino Brocka). Sometimes the minority film-maker finds himself in the impasse described by Kafka: the impossibility of not ‘writing,’ the impossibility of writing in the dominant language, the impossibility of writing differently (Pierre Perrault encounters this situation in Un pays sans bon sens, the impossibility of not speaking, the impossibility of speaking other than in English, the impossibility of speaking English, the impossibility of settling in France in order to speak French . . .), and it is through this state of crisis that he has to pass, it is this that has to be resolved. This acknowledgement of a people who are missing is not a renunciation of political cinema, but on the contrary the new basis on which it is founded, in the third world and for minorities. Art, and especially cinematographic art, must take part in this task: not that of addressing a people, which is presupposed already there, but of contributing to the invention of a people. The moment the master, or the colonizer, proclaims ‘There have never been people here,’ the missing people are a becoming, they invent themselves, in shanty towns and camps, or in ghettos, in new conditions of struggle to which a necessarily political art must contribute.

… precisely because ‘great talents’ or superior individualities are rare in minor literatures, the author is not in a condition to produce individual utterances which would be like invented stories; but also, because the people are missing, the author is in a situation of producing utterances which are already collective, which are like the seeds of the people to come, and whose political impact is immediate and inescapable. The author can be marginalized or separate from his more or less illiterate community as much as you like; this condition puts him all the more in a position to express potential forces and, in his very solitude, to be a true collective agent, a collective leaven, a catalyst. What Kafka suggests for literature is even more valid for cinema, in as much as it brings collective conditions together through itself. And this is in fact the last characteristic of a modern political cinema. The cinema author finds himself before a people which, from the point of view of culture, is doubly colonized: colonized by stories that have come from elsewhere, but also by their own myths become impersonal entities at the service of the colonizer. The author must not, then, make himself into the ethnologist of his people, nor himself invent a fiction which would be one more private story; for every personal fiction, like every impersonal myth, is on the side of the ‘masters.’ It is in this way that we see Rocha destroying myths from the inside, and Perrault repudiating every fiction that an author could create. There remains the possibility of the author providing himself with ‘intercessors,’ that is, of taking real and not fictional characters, but putting these very characters in the condition of ‘making up fiction,’ of ‘making legends,’ of ‘story-telling.’ The author takes a step towards his characters, but the characters take a step towards the author: double becoming. Story-telling is not an impersonal myth, but neither is it a personal fiction: it is a word in act, a speech-act through which the character continually crosses the boundary which would separate his private business from politics, and which itself produces collective utterances.

-Julie

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