I’m recovering from a hard drive crash that occurred late last week. The only significant part of Ecologies of the Moving Image that I’ve completely lost are some fairly substantial recent revisions and additions to Chapter Six. I can reconstruct other pieces from earlier saves and from revisions made on hard copy print-outs. The crash will slow me down, but I still expect to complete the book by the end of December. Here’s a progress report…

As I’ve mentioned before, the book presents an ecophilosophy of the cinema, rooted in the process-relational philosophies of Whitehead, Peirce, and Deleuze, with nods in many other directions (Spinoza, Bergson, Bateson, Heidegger, Guattari, Sobchack, feminism, postcolonialism, cognitivism, biosemitics, et al.). Its closest relative in current film theory may be media theorist Sean Cubitt’s one-two punch of The Cinema Effect and Ecomedia, the first an ambitious big-picture theorization of film (drawing, to some extent, on Peircian phenomenology) and the second a more impressionistic but challenging and, in some ways, groundbreaking foray into ecocriticism. EMI, however, is intended as a synthesis that draws together insights from a range of approaches — including those focusing on affect and cognition, narrative, spectacle, the gaze, Deleuzian becomings, Jamesonian geopolitics, the Zizekian Real, et al. — and that, at the same time, strikes out into new (process-philosophical) terrain. It is ultimately driven by an eco-social aesthetico-political agenda that it shares with other “ecocriticisms,” but that has rarely been developed to any extent in film studies. We’ll see how successful the final result is.

(Added later: If that all sounds far too eclectic, so be it. I’m less concerned with being faithful to the traditions I, avowedly, poach from than I am with making sense of the world — in this case the world in the wake of the moving image — using concepts drawn from whatever source is at hand. That, to my mind, is being faithful to a process-relational understanding of things.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The chapter and topic breakdown right now reads as follows. The first four chapters are written; the last two and Epilogue are still being worked on, so expect a bit more filling in with those.



Journeys into the Zone of Cinema

Two perspectives on the visual — The cinema as cosmomorphic, or world-making: geomorphic, biomorphic, and anthropomorphic — Stalker as paradigmatic model: Tracking the cinema, stalking the psyche — The argument — Overview of the chapters



A Process-Relational Account of the Cinema

The three ecologies of images: material, social, perceptual — A process-relational account of the world — Perceptual ecologies: How we get drawn into the cinematic world — Peircean semiosis: firstness, secondness, and thirdness — Spectacle, narrativity, and signness — Film’s hyper-signaletic moments



The Geomorphology of the Visible

Geomorphism in life and in image — An initial typology — Picturing ‘nature’: Landscape aesthetics as socio-natural production — Anchoring the filmic world — Staking claims and territorializing identities: Making the West — Dovzhenko’s cinematic pantheism — Nature, holism, and the eco-administrative state — Industry, existential landscapes, and the firstness of things — Post-westerns, pantheism, and the ecological sublime — Kinetic landscapes, the exhilaration of movement, and the differentiation of space — Cinematic tourism, object fetishism, and the global landscape — Enframing the world, or expanding perception? — ‘Burn but his books’: Deconstructing the gaze from both ends



First Contact, Utopia, and the Ethnographic Impulse

The ethnographic paradigm — Nanook/Allakariallak and the two-way gaze — King Kong and the imperial gaze: From ethnographic to cinematic spectacle — Upriver journeys, hearts of darkness, and spaces of first contact — Green identities: Images of environmental conflict and community — New ethnographies and indigenous media — New humanities: Toward a new people and a new Earth



Journeys Across the Final Frontier

Biomorphism, chiasmus, and the interperceptivity of the living world — Pointing, seeing, gazing, touching — Animation and the plasmatic — Horror and the uncanny — Animal ethnographies at the boundaries of the human — Ways (not) to become grizzly



Recapitulation of the argument — Trauma as firstness, secondness, and thirdness — Disaster films and the post-apocalypse — Strange weather, network narratives, and the kernel of the traumatic Event — Spectacle, affect, and the eco-sublime — Visions of the pre-apocalypse: Avatar, Syriana, Children of Men, Fast Food Nation — Returning to the Zone: Aesthetics, ethics, and ecologics of the image-event



Homing In: Digital Life in a Biosemiotic World

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