… every act of creation is also an act of resistance.
This is from the essay ‘Difference and Repetition: On Guy Debord’s Films’ by Giorgio Agamben, found in Art and the Moving Image: A Critical Reader edited by Tanya Leighton (2008):
… let’s return to cinema’s conditions of possibility, repetition and stoppage. There are four great thinkers of repetition in modernity: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Gilles Deleuze. All four have shown us that repetition is not the return of the identical; it is not the same as such that returns. The force and the grace of repetition, the novelty it brings us, is the return as the possibility of what was.
[line break added] Repetition restores the possibility of what was, renders it possible anew; it’s almost a paradox. To repeat something is to make it possible anew. Here lies the proximity of repetition and memory. Memory cannot give us back what was, as such: that would be hell. Instead, memory restores possibility to the past. This is the meaning of the theological experience that Benjamin saw in memory, when he said that memory makes the unfulfilled into the fulfilled, and the fulfilled into the unfulfilled.
[line break added] Memory is, so to speak, the organ of reality’s modalisation; it is that which can transform the real into the possible and the possible into the real. If you think about it, that’s also the definition of cinema. Doesn’t cinema always do just that, transform the real into the possible and the possible into the real? One can define the already-seen as the fact of perceiving something present as though it had already been, and its converse as the fact of perceiving something that has already been as present.
[line break added] Cinema takes place in this zone of indifference. We then understand why work with images can have such a historical and messianic importance, because they are a way of projecting power and possibility toward that which is impossible by definition, toward the past. Thus cinema does the opposite of the media.
[line break added] What is always given in the media is the fact, what was, without its possibility, its power: we are given a fact before which we are powerless. The media prefer a citizen who is indignant, but powerless. That’s exactly the goal of the TV news. It’s the bad form of memory, the kind of memory that produces the man of ressentiment.
[ … ]
… Deleuze once said of cinema that every act of creation is also an act of resistance. What does it mean to resist? Above all it means decreating what exists, de-creating the real, being stronger than the fact in front of you. Every act of creation is also an act of thought, and an act of thought is a creative act, because it is defined above all by its capacity to de-create the real.
My most recent previous post from this book is here.